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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Police: We Still Do Not Have a Clear Motive; Gulf Coast Braces for Possible Hurricane; Trump Rolls Back ObamaCare Contraceptive Mandate; ACLU, Massachusetts To Sue Over Birth Control Rule Change; Body Of 4th U.S. Service Member Found After Ambush; Identities Of U.S. Green Berets Killed In Nigeria Released; Trump Admin Deals Blow To ObamaCare Birth Control Mandate; Democrats Pressured To Return Weinstein Donations; Puerto Rican Govt: At Least 36 Killed By Deadly Storm; Officials Only 10 Percent Of Puerto Rico Has Electricity. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 6, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNDERSHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I believe we are still probably about four days away from allowing that to happen.
[16:30:04] And final thing I'd just like to close by saying to you that it's really imperative that the listening public have a very clear understanding that there are still a number of people out there that know that something looked out of place. Someone may have been acting suspiciously that night or in the years prior, the months prior, somebody that may have seen something or know something, much like the FBI SAC mentioned, if you know something, you need to say something. Please provide that information to us at that 1-800-CALL- FBI.
And we'll continue to update you as this investigation continues. Thank you very much.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That was Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill answering questions and giving the latest on the investigation into the horrific mass murder of 1 October on Sunday of 58 innocent individuals slaughtered by a gunman in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
It seemed like there were two big pieces of news. I want to bring in Kyung Lah, our CNN correspondent who's in Las Vegas.
Kyung, the biggest news seemed to be still no motive. They have not been able to ascertain any nexus to any terrorist group even though he acknowledged, the Undersheriff, that ISIS has been claiming credit for it. They say they have no evidence of that at all.
And also, they say they're very confident there was not another shooter in the room.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I made notes of both of that as well, Jake. I think you can hear the frustration in the undersheriff's voice. He says that they have chased down 1,000 leads. They've gone through his background, his social network. They've talked to people who know him. They looked at his political leanings, anything connected to him, his economic background, what he did day- to-day, and still nothing.
They have looked at those ISIS allegations that are out there and social media, saying that so far, there is no nexus to that. So, you can hear that frustration. Underscoring this, they are going to put up a billboard in this area asking people to come forward, putting up a phone number, because they say they don't have anything yet.
And that's what is so frustrating and perplexing about all of this. A 64-year-old man who manages to get all of this in there and planned for this long and still nothing.
The other thing I did note, Jake, is that they still believe someone must have seen something out of place and they are really hoping that that will lead them to some sort of answer about how this horrific plan was hashed and carried out, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Kyung Lah in Las Vegas for us.
I want to bring in on the phone, Art Roderick. He's the former assistant director for the U.S. Marshall Service.
Art, good to have you with us.
A lot of unanswered questions. Five days later. Is it unusual that five days after such a horrific event, law enforcement would still seem to have really no clear motive when it comes to this horrific crime?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): It's very unusual. I mean, we have covered, you know, all these mass shootings in the past, and usually within 24 to 48 hours, we've got a motive here. It's troubling that we don't have a motive after he planned this for so long. And number two is they still don't know what Tannerite, the explosives in the vehicle were for. Those are two very troubling questions.
And, you know, when it comes to the point where they are putting up billboards to get information, that truly means that they don't have a heck of a lot of info. And they are not getting a lot of stuff off the electronic, computers or whatever, whatever else he was using to communicate and also not a lot of information from the girlfriend. So, this is one of these cases that's a true outlier that, you know, they are just not coming up with a whole heck of a lot of information.
And, you know, I want to echo the fact that the security officer, Campos, is really a hero here. If he hadn't interviewed at that particular time, and shifted the shooter's, you know, attention away from the crowd, there probably would have been a heck after lot more casualties.
TAPPER: That's right. The undersheriff, McMahill, making the point that Jesus Campos is Mandalay security guard really deserves much more attention than he's gotten at this point. He said he went to see what was going on.
He drew fire. He was hit in the leg. He retreated. He called it in and then advised officers when they came on to the scene.
He is -- he called him a true hero.
Art, I want to ask you about this Tannerite because most people don't know what it is. Undersheriff McMahill said that it was found in a condition that did not resemble an explosive, improvised explosive device, an IED.
TAPPER: What is Tannerite and why might it be important?
RODERICK: Tannerite is like a flash powder, and, heck, we used it when I was training with U.S. Marshall Special Operations Group. When you are shooting targets at a far distance, it gives you an indication that you hit your target, a puff of smoke.
[16:35:03] So, you don't need a lot of Tannerite.
Now, 50 pounds of Tannerite, as was told earlier press conferences, a package of -- one package of 20, and I believe three packages of 10 pounds, he might be referencing that that was still packaged up.
And he gave the chemical compound of the Tannerite, which is a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate. Ands I guess if you struck the vehicle and new where those packages were, it could have caused an explosion. But I think he's referenced it wasn't in a pipe bomb or wasn't in a container that could have been exploded.
TAPPER: You can -- you can almost hear the frustration when the undersheriff spoke today and when the sheriff spoke yesterday. They have been very clear, the sheriff especially yesterday, that the gunman in his view had to have some help at some point.
What do you think somebody who has investigated individuals such as these, is it truly impossible that no one knew anything other than the mass murder himself?
RODERICK: Well, you know, looking at it, I thought by now we would have a motive. And if he was able to even hide the fact that there is a motive here, then there is a possibility that he didn't get any help. Only thing I would say, though, caveat and say, there are so many aspects that he planned so well, that it would seem like he would have to have somebody to help him, whether it was on the tactical front, the financial front, you know, there are so many -- logistics, you know, how to properly, you know, to make the weapons the way they were. You know, put all the accessories on those weapons.
So, it seems like more than likely, you know, logically, that he would have to get some help somewhere in anyone of those aspects.
TAPPER: All right. Art Roderick, formerly of the U.S. Marshall Service, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. We appreciate it.
Let's go now to CNN's Brian Todd who is also in Las Vegas.
Brian, what stood out to you most from this press conference?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think what stands out really is their frustration that they still have not established a clear motive. The Undersheriff Kevin McMahill just said himself that, you know, in past cases, terrorism cases, other cases of mass shootings and mass murder, through social media posts, through other electronic transmissions, they can sometimes ascertain a motive in these couple of days after an incident like this has taken place, and he says right now, we don't have that, and I wish we did.
The clear frustration is really evident that they just have not been able to establish a clear motive. They are also saying equivocally that they are confident, Jake, there was no other shooter, but they cannot say with absolute confidence that no one else was involved in this. Those were the two things that stood out to me with this news conference.
TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd in Las Vegas for us, thank you so much.
Coming up, it could be the fourth hurricane to hit the United States in just six weeks. People from Florida to Louisiana, including New Orleans, are preparing for the worst. We'll have the latest on the track of the storm, next.
[16:42:22] TAPPER: Breaking news in the national lead now.
Before you know it, it could be on a collusion course with the continental U.S. Within the next few minutes, we're going to get an update from the National Hurricane Center on Tropical Storm Nate.
Nate is on track to strengthen into a category one hurricane and slam the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans tomorrow night. This will be the fourth to hit the United States and six weeks following Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Nate has already been deadly. Twenty-one people died in central American and specifically Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, as the system triggered flooding and mudslides.
Let's go now to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.
Allison, where is Nate headed right now as it approaches the United States?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, we can actually narrow it down to very narrow field and path of where it's going to go. Then we look at what else is going on across the country.
For example, once it gets into the gulf, we know it's not going to go to the panhandle of Florida because we've got a high pressure system blocking it. But that prevents it from going too far east. But also, it's not going to affect Texas either because of this trough that's right there, this jet that has dipped down also associated with a very strong cold front, with severe weather, it's going to not only block it from going to Texas, but it's also going to define where Nate goes once it actually makes landfall, which is to take it further to the north and east, Jake, impacting at least another dozen states.
TAPPER: And New Orleans is urging people outside the city's levee protection system to get to higher ground. Show us why there's so much concern for those low lying areas.
CHINCHAR: Right. So, let's take a look back at the wall, where we can talk about some of the storm surge, because that's going to be a huge factor with this storm. Right now, cities like New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, are looking at storm surge about four to seven feet, further to the east and to Florida, places like Pensacola and Panama City, about two to four feet. So, for that reason, we have storm surge warnings out, but it's not just the storm surge. It's also the wind that's going to be a factor. You've got winds at landfall expected to be about 60 to 100 miles per hour. Then even further inland, cities like Atlanta, Knoxville, could experience wind gusts 50 to 60 miles per hour.
So, again, that's why you got a lot of these hurricane watches and warnings out, Jake, both in place for the storm surge, the threat for rainfall, but also for the very strong winds.
TAPPER: All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
Our politics lead, the Trump administration dealing a major blow to Obamacare's birth control mandate today. New rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services would give employers much more leeway to withhold contraception coverage on religious or moral grounds.
CNN's White House reporter Kaitlan Collins is with me.
And, Kaitlan, explain to our viewers what this might mean.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So, they're essentially walking back this mandate. It's the Obama era rule that required employers to provided women with birth control through their health insurance plans. And this new rule introduced today essentially allows for these broad exceptions for companies that say they have moral or religious objections to doing so. So to put it plainly, these nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies can decide to stop offering free birth control through insurance if they have these "sincerely held religious beliefs." This is something the President promised on the campaign trail to religious groups. And the Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had to defend it today at the press briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The President believes that the freedom to practice one's faith is a fundamental right in this country. And I think all of us do. And that's all that today was about. Our federal government should always protect that right and as long as Donald Trump is President, he will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, they're framing as this argument of religious liberty. But we've already heard some pushback on it. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had some really strong language saying that the Health and Human Service leaders under this administration are focused on turning back the clock for women's health care. But House Speaker Paul Ryan said he saw it as more of a landmark day for religious liberty. But it's bound to end up in court because we've already got the Attorney General for Massachusetts and this other groups like the ACLU threatening to file lawsuits over it.
TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much. It's Friday. Almost quitting time. Seems about time for another White House departure lounge announcement. Could the Secretary of State be in for a rexit before the night is through? That story next.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back. In our "WORLD LEAD" today, Nigerian troops have found the body of a missing U.S. Service Member. He went missing during a joint U.S. and Nigerian patrol mission. They were hit by hostile fire on Wednesday. This is the fourth confirmed death from that incident. Two other soldiers were wounded in action. The Pentagon released the identity of the three green berets who were killed that day. Staff Sargent Bryan Black of Washington State. He was 35 years old. Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson of Ohio was 38 years old. And Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright of Georgia was 29 years old. Our thoughts and prayers of course with their families.
Let's move to our "POLITICS LEAD" now. And we have our panel with us. And I asked a provocative question that I thought I raised in an anti- abortion pro-life fashion to you Mary Katharine. I'll throw it to you right now. Doesn't the Trump administration allowing more companies to not provide contraceptive coverage because of moral objections or religious objection, doesn't this theoretically mean more unwanted pregnancies and thus more abortions?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: We're talking about a pretty narrow slice here. Look, a couple of things to consider. Did you think that 2010 America was the handmaid's tale? If not, then we're not living in a handmaid's tale now. We're actually -- we have a more generous mandate than we did back then. This does not roll back the mandate entirely. It gives people with religious objections, you have to balance with these concerns that you're referencing. The chance to not provide this as part of their employment contracts, I don't want to live in America where nuns have to sue for their right to not pay for birth control because that is a moral concern for them.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, FORMER GOVERNOR, MICHIGAN: I mean, that was what the compromise that the Obama administration attempted to work out. But Jake's question was really important, which is if you are conservative, don't you want you want to see fewer abortions, fewer unintended pregnancies. And of course, the way you do that is by making sure that there's access.
HAM: There are many ways to -- there are many ways to provide access outside of a blanket government mandate. And another question.
GRANHOLM: So why would --
HAM: Hold on, hold on, hold on. If it was so important and we were in the handmaid's tale in 2010, why did not Democrats and Obama insist that this was part of the law? By the way, the reason it can be rolled back is because again, it was phone and pen legislation. Why wasn't it in there if it was so very important?
GRANHOLM: I mean, that's the whole thing. They negotiated a solution which was a rational solution. Now, this is going to go back to court. But the real issue is why should my employers or why should a women's employer be able to make the decision for her about whether she has access to contraception. I mean, it is a part of health care. There are, I mean. There's 62 million women who are potentially covered. Now not all of that is going to be affected, not all employers --
HAM: Not heaven close. There are 52 --
GRANHOLM: Wait a second --
HAM: Hold on. There are 52 companies that in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision have applied and said hey this is something we are concerned about.
GRANHOLM: Wait, you don't know -- wait, because -- and in the wake of that decision, it was just about people who had a religious mission.
HAM: Yes, that's what this was all about too.
GRANHOLM: No, no, but entities that specifically had, like religious schools, religious hospitals. This applies to everybody now. So, what is the CEO --
HAM: (INAUDIBLE) everyone could have moral concerns or religious practices?
GRANHOLM: No, (INAUDIBLE) women shouldn't have access to reproduction?
HAM: These are the two things we are balancing, these are the two things we're balancing.
GRANHOLM: Totally. And that comes out very well --
HAM: Contraception isn't -- contraception isn't in the -- in the (INAUDIBLE) but the right to religious --
GRANHOLM: The right to privacy is -- the right to privacy is -- but where does a corporation have the right to claim that? I mean, I can understand if it's an individual person who is the CEO of a company but like does Frito-Lay get to decide whether a woman has access to contraception or not? That is so broad. So I -- personally I'm very glad that the ACLU are bringing suit, and others are bringing suit as well, including the Attorney General of California.
HAM: Well, hopefully (INAUDIBLE) some nuns because that will be exciting.
GRANHOLM: No, no, that's not the point. That's exactly not what it says. That's why the Obama administration --
HAM: Except (INAUDIBLE)
GRANHOLM: No, the Obama administration specifically carved out religious missions. That's why -- I mean, there is a compromise there. You are right about that. And that's what was happening under the Obama administration. But what this does is open it up to any employer at all.
HAM: I think --
GRANHOLM: And by the way, for every dollar that you spend on contraception, you save $5.8 by the way in Medicaid costs.
HAM: Which is -- that's exactly right. Which is why 85 percent of private companies covered this without a mandate. I have moral objection to the mandate. I think a company can decide to compensate you in myriad ways, in any number of ways, including an (INAUDIBLE) whatever they want.
GRANHOLM: If you have an objection to it, then you don't have to cover yourself by contraception.
[16:55:03] TAPPER: I would like to jump --
HAM: The nuns do.
TAPPER: I would like to jump in with one new subject, if possible. Because I don't think you are going to achieve agreement on this one, call me crazy. Which is Harvey Weinstein who was named in New York Times of having settled at least eight cases with these huge money settlements of sexual harassment. There's apparently -- there are other stories brewing about his horrific alleged abuses of woman. Democrats have been, he's a huge Democratic fundraiser, did a lot of fundraising for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Malia Obama, I think interned at Miramax, his film company. We have now seen prominent Democrats from Senator Chuck Schumer to Elizabeth Warren, giving their campaign donations from him to various charities. And we have seen the Republican National Committee trying to make a big deal of this. Legitimate issue for Democrats to have to address?
GRANHOLM: Absolutely. I think that -- Democrats have been on the record really against serial predators. I mean, one might argue we would like to see the Republicans taking a strong stand against what has gone on in the past or even our current Commander in Chief. But let's just say that clearly anybody who is serial sexual predator, we should not on either side be accepting contributions from.
TAPPER: You have somebody in mind, Governor?
GRANHOLM: Well, I mentioned the current Commander in Chief, but anyway.
HAM: Well, it's interesting to me that one of the things in his statements that I think is a tell is, he was saying basically like, I'm going to work on a film about NRA guys and I'm about Trump, and I'm going to be really anti-Trump, and he's basically saying, come on, I'm liberal give me a pass. You shouldn't give him a pass.
TAPPER: I don't -- I don't think anybody is, but who knows, we'll see. I think it's more that he's powerful. But Governor and Mary Katharine Ham, thank you so much. And we'll see you both of you on Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION."
Today President Trump repeated, "we're doing a great job in Puerto Rico." There is -- on the ground in Puerto Rico is not quite as celebratory. The Puerto Rican government today increased the death toll from the hurricane to 36. Only 10 percent of the island has been connected to power. That is up from five percent but still, it's only 10 percent. Many still in desperate need of safe drinking water. One of our Correspondents who witness firsthand the destruction on Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria is Bill Weir. In fact, one of his beats is force of change, natural or not. The CNN original series the "WONDER LIST" with Bill Weir is starting its third season this weekend. It's going to take us some of the most remarkable breathtaking places in the world that are battling these forces. And Bill Weir joins me now. Bill, congrats on the "WONDER LIST" coming back for its third season. You're in Puerto Rico for several days visiting remote parts of the island. What did you see firsthand?
BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: They need so much help, Jake. It's hard to -- it's hard to even wrap your head around it on two dimensions watching it on the screen. What's you're missing there is the heat and the smell and the mosquitos now coming up and people sleeping without roofs, the specter of disease which always happens in tropical hurricanes zones like that. According to General Jose Reyes about 8,700 military service men and women on the ground there. For comparison, we had 22,000 on the ground in Haiti. And earthquakes are really hard to predict. And so the response so far, even though the people who are there and doing (INAUDIBLE) work, does not match the need by a long shot. So you're seeing mostly celebrities with ties to the islands or private citizens sending airlifts down there.
TAPPER: For the first episode of season three of the "WONDER LIST" you went to Patagonia which spawns both Argentina and Chile, following the story of the late millionaire turned conservationist Doug Tompkins, here is his widow talking about how they settled in Patagonia
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRISTINE MCDIVITT TOMPKINS, WIFE OF DOUG TOMPKINS: We were two foreigners buying up huge tracts of land, all pristine forest and not cutting the trees. We were foreigners, border to Argentina to the sea, and we didn't cut the trees. This is some kind of cult, but it was serious. There were death threats. You know, military planes flying over our house. There are all sorts of things quite serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: Yes, that was Kris, the widow of Doug Tompkins. They gave millions of acres to create national parks and the locals resent them to this day. So an interesting fight over the ethics of conservationist in other countries, how we would react if a foreign national try to buy Montana and just how precious these wild spaces are that are left on the planet.
TAPPER: It's an amazing show. Bill Weir, thanks so much. Congrats on the new season of the "WONDER LIST" with Bill Weir. It starts tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN. Be sure to tune in to CNN this Sunday morning for "STATE OF THE UNION" my guest will be Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Ron Johnson, you know two of the panelist Mary Katharine and the Governor. It all starts at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern. That's it for THE LEAD today I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend.