Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Authorities Believe Gunman May Have Fired At Fuel Tanks First; Authorities Believe Gunman Rigged His Car to Explode If Fired Upon; Vegas Killer Left Cryptic Hotel Room Note Containing Numbers; Trump's Chief of Staff Struggling to Manage White House Chaos; Trump Refuses to Explain "Calm Before the Storm" Warning Again; New Orleans Under Hurricane Warning As Deadly Storm Nears. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired October 6, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OutFront next, the breaking news, signs of a much bigger plot in Las Vegas. The source says the gunman booked several hotel rooms in the weeks before the shooting. His mini van loaded with explosives to detonate under gunfire. And what is on the notepad that he left behind in that Mandalay Bay suite?
Plus, new questions about how long John Kelly is going to last as Trump's chief of staff. A source telling CNN tonight, quote, Kelly is like the janitor. He's just like the latest guy brought in to clean up. Ouch. Are his days numbered?
And, is Trump treating national security like an episode of the Apprentice? Sadly, yes.
Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news. The first shots.
Investigators believe Stephen Paddock fired his first shots at two jet fuel tanks at nearby McCarran Airport. According to a source that he -- obviously if you think about the distance there was fired back from his hotel room. Authorities believe he fired on those tanks, aimed there and then opened fire on the crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas.
Two of the shooter's bullets struck one of the tanks but failed to actually explode it. The shots crossed over the concert site, so you can see there on the other side, you're right along the airport there at McCarran International hitting the tank which is about 700 yards from the sniper's nest. Seven hundred yards, that's a far shot. Could Paddock have been trying to blow up the tanks?
Also tonight, we're learning much more about the shooter and his meticulously planned mass murder. Inside his car, investigators found more than 50 pounds of Tannerite. Fifty pounds of this explosive carries a tremendous charge. You're going to see how much in just a moment.
If Paddock's car came under fire, let's say from law enforcement this could well have been the result.
And that's about half the amount of the explosive that was in his car. Imagine that in a garage underneath a casino.
We also now know tonight that Paddock traveled the world, taking at least 20 cruises and we're going to tell you more about where later on this hour as these are crucial clues. Another mystery, a note found in Paddock's room. Investigators say it's not a suicide note but it's unclear what it is because they are telling CNN that the numbers on the page are of significance to Paddock.
And we're learning that he may have considered using tracer bullets to increase his deadly accuracy so he could see. Let's show you a video that shows tracer bullets fired at night. So you can actually see what you're hitting.
The advantage of course to the shooter is it gives you a precise look at where shots are going. Increasing accuracy and almost certainly causing higher casualties. The disadvantage though is that the bullets would give away the shooter's vacation -- location, I'm sorry. And some suggest that because of that, Paddock may have simply decided against using them because he wanted to shoot for a longer period of time even though with perhaps with less accuracy.
Kyung Lah is OutFront tonight in Las Vegas. And Kyung, so many new details breaking tonight. But a lot more focus on what was in the shooter's car.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a chilling part of this investigation, Erin. What else could he have been planning? The undersheriff coming to the conclusion because of some of the explosive materials found in his car, that he believes the intent would be, quote, nefarious.
LAH (voice-over): Five days after Sunday's horrific shooting in Las Vegas, a focus on the explosive material found in the gunman's car which contained a suitcase and duffel back full of ammunition and 50 pounds of Tannerite.
UNDERSHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Sorry to tell you I don't know what he was going to do with all of that Tannerite. I wish I did.
LAH (voice-over): Bomb sniffing dogs led Police to the shooter's car parked at the Mandalay Bay Resort. This YouTube demonstration (INAUDIBLE) the power of 30 pounds of Tannerite. A little more than half of what the shooter had stocked.
The Tannerite may have been used for target practice or placed there with the intent to explode if the car were fired upon. Stephen Paddock's suite was filled with weapons and extra rounds, but a law enforcement source says he also attempted to purchase tracer ammunition at a recent gun shop only failing because the vendor says it was sold out. The glowing rounds seen here to help track accuracy in the dark. All it seems part of a deadly and premeditated plan.
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You have to think back to this individual's background. He's very organized, he's an accountant, an auditor. So he planned this out very well.
LAH (voice-over): CNN has learned Paddock also booked three separate rooms here at the Ogden in Las Vegas between September 17th and 28th. That same week, more than a hundred thousand fans attended the "Life is Beautiful Festival" well within view of those same rooms.
[19:05:02] RODERICK: I think he went there, looked at it and eliminated that as a possibility.
LAH (voice-over): Paddock and his girlfriend Marilou Danley were avid travelers according to law enforcement sources. They say Paddock has taken at least 20 cruises, many to Europe with stops in Spain, Italy, Greece, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Danley accompanying him on at least nine trips.
It was Paddock's discussion of travel that his hairdresser recalls most vividly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His girlfriend was with him and again, just kind of doing her thing. and he sat down and was telling me about her leaving to go to the Philippines and he was going to be home alone hanging out for a while by himself.
LAH (voice-over): She says that haircut and conversation was two months ago, indicating just how far back the timeline for this massacre may go. But among investigators, frustration mounting a week in.
MCMAHILL: We have run down more than what more than a thousand leads in this investigation. While some of it has helped create a better profile into the madness of this suspect, we do not still have a clear motive or reason why.
LAH: Now, Erin he did say that they wanted to -- investigators wanted to reiterate that no one else was in that hotel room at the time of the shooting. But the undersheriff stressing that someone must have seen something. You can hear that frustration in his voice as he was holding that news conference, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. And certainly you could.
Brian Todd is OutFront in Las Vegas as well and Brian, you know, this is some crucial new information that you're learning this hour about the shots. That perhaps his first aim was not at individual concertgoers. Maybe that was clearly part of the plan because of the amount of ammunition that he had. But he first aimed somewhere else.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. A source close to the investigation telling us tonight that Stephen Paddock fired on those aviation fuel tanks before he fired on the crowd in that small stadium there on the Las Vegas Strip. Those fuel tanks were about a thousand to 1,100 feet away from the area where the crowd was for the concert.
Now, sources had told us before that the fuel tanks were not punctured and that there was not a danger to the public. But now we're learning that he at least did train his aim on at least one of those fuel tanks. We believe at least one of them was hit. And again, sources are telling us they were not punctured and there wasn't a danger public.
However, you know, now it speaks to the intent of the shooter. Did he try to puncture one of the tanks with his bullets and maybe cause a huge explosion? Maybe try to divert attention before he started firing on the crowd, not clear. They're looking into all of that tonight, but we do know now that he fired into those tanks before firing into that crowd on Sunday night.
Also learning from the same source that the notepad that was found -- excuse me, the note -- the sheet that was found in his room contained only numbers not letters or words. That the numbers were told by sources are significant to the shooter, Stephen Paddock. But, we're was just told by the source they're not quite clear what the numbers mean, Erin.
So on that note, only numbers. No words or letters and they are analyzing those numbers to see what they mean.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Brian Todd.
And OutFront now, Nevada's Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison. Governor, good to have you with us again. You just heard we're learning that investigators believe the shooter may have shot at those fuel tanks first, right. Possibly to charge a major explosion.
By the way those two tanks is a far shot. That's real aim. Why do you think he did that?
LT. GOV. MARK HUTCHISON (R), NEVADA: It's a long way. That's a long way from where he was shooting. I've been out to the scene of that concert and it's a long shot. I can only assume what he was just trying to inflict as much harm and mayhem as he possibly could. It just shows how (INAUDIBLE) and sick this individual really is.
BURNETT: And Lieutenant Governor, you know, a source is also telling CNN as you just heard Brian Todd reporting that investigators have that notepad. We have kind of a picture of it, a little blurry in that room, but that's the notepad pen next to it with numbers on it. No words, only numbers, that they say is significant to the gunman.
Significant how? I know you're getting regularly briefed. Do you have any sense of the significance here?
HUTCHISON: Erin, we're looking down at every possible piece of information and evidence tracking down all the information we possibly can. As you know, over a thousand leads have come in that we continue to follow. This is one of them, this is part of the information and the evidence that's being investigated.
I don't have anymore information on that at this time. I can just tell you that there are over a hundred individuals now in the investigation looking at every clue, and we continue to work hard to come up with some answers.
BURNETT: So a hundred investigators working on this right now?
HUTCHISON: Yes, there's over a hundred investigations, a hundred people working on this investigation across the country when you put together the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department along with the FBI.
BURNETT: So, you've talked to me about the shooter's electronic devices. You know, you say they recovered them from his home and hotel room. You said investigators didn't have any trouble getting in there, right. They were able to break into them, no password issues or anything like that.
[19:10:04] Are there any clues in there or are they coming up empty right now?
HUTCHISON: Well, they continue to download and evaluate and scour those electronic devices. And so far based on our latest briefing, we haven't got any more of the information that we hoped to have on a motive.
Just keep in mind, Erin something that I know you've reported on, this is not the typical situation where you have somebody who leaves a suicide note or posts upon on social media or said something to somebody. This (INAUDIBLE) killer does not fit the typical profile or the mass killer. And so this investigation may take longer than maybe some of the others in the past because he's just not fitting that profile.
BURNETT: Yes. Well, Lieutenant Governor, you know, we know investigators that -- well, they said today at that press conference that they had reviewed and there was (INAUDIBLE) amounts of video from many different locations including Mandalay Bay. Mandalay Bay is a casino, right. I mean, there are videos everywhere.
Have you viewed any of that video? I mean, do they -- do you know that there's a full sense of he checked in at this time, the interaction at the front desk, every single time he went in, every single thing he did?
HUTCHISON: I haven't seen any of the video myself. I've been briefed and heard the briefings on what's being evaluated on those videos. But there's a lot of video as you say, Erin and they are -- the investigators putting together a timeline. I think they know about as much so they can possibly know about his movements.
For example, they know that there were multiple trips when he was bringing in the guns and ammunition. He was careful to do it at different shifts so there wasn't a lot of suspicion raised over an eight-hour shift and changed shift (INAUDIBLE). And I think kind of concealed himself that way.
So, I'm confident that we've got a video that we evaluated that, and we continue to scour to come up with more answers.
BURNETT: Which is important that he brought in all those guns in different times over a period of time, and as you say on different shifts so that nobody would be suspicious. Because the same people at the front desk perhaps would not see him.
You know, you mentioned 1,000 leads so far that have been run down. And we know that that is at least what you all had been chasing down. And yet, they're still not sure if someone else knew about the shooter's plan.
BURNETT: Lieutenant Governor, at this time, is it possible there is someone who knew, who was clearly supportive of it? Who is out there?
HUTCHISON: Well, one of the things that we are asking the public to do is to come forward with that kind of information. We've released a public information campaign, Erin where Clear Channel has partnered with the FBI. We'll have billboards across the city and across our community asking for the public to come forward with information.
To call 1-800-call FBI, 1-800-call-FBI. If you have factual information that we can use in this investigation, we're asking for the public's help. We don't need any windows, we don't need any rumors. What we need are facts that people may have that we haven't been able to process yet.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I thank you very much, Lieutenant Governor. Good to talk to you. Lieutenant Governor Hutchison.
HUTCHISON: Erin, thank you very much and if I may just close out by saying thank you on behalf of the Las Vegas community, to our friends across the country and the world. And in particular, thank you on behalf of the victims and victim's family. I just left the hospital of his victims who continue to be in intensive care fighting for their lives and the world is comforting Las Vegas and we're grateful. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right, thank you.
And next, the timeline. Every move in the weeks and months leading up to the massacre could leave clues that let people understand why and how.
Plus, the president's chief of staff tonight struggling. Struggling to survive, to control the White House chaos after the secretary of state called the president a moron. Are John Kelly's days numbered?
And breaking news, a deadly storm heading for the Gulf Coast at this hour. Nate has already left 21 people dead. That storm gaining power at this hour. Hurricane warnings now on that Gulf Coast.
[19:17:39] BURNETT: Tonight, investigators know where the Las Vegas shooter traveled. A law enforcement source telling us the shooter took at least 20 cruises which included some unusual stops. The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and then Spain, Italy and Greece. The shooter's known girlfriend was only with him on nine of those 20 cruises.
OutFront now, the former assistant director for investigations with the U.S. Marshals Art Roderick, Criminologist Casey Jordan and U.C. Irvine professor of psychiatry and human behavior James Fallon. Thanks to all.
Art, let's start with this. This is just yet another piece of who the shooter was, how he spent his time and right now, every piece matters.
RODERICK: Every piece matters and I mean, I think we heard the press conference earlier that, you know, they're going to be putting up billboards. If you know something, please call us. This means they're trying to fill out the complete profile of this individual's life for years going back years to figure out exactly what he did.
These trips are very interesting. Who did he meet, who did he talk to, who did he see? Hopefully, all these people will come in. Did he actually get on the ground in some of those locations that are kind of sketchy? You know, all this is going to be put together in this profile that they're putting together right now.
BURNETT: And James, you know, we also now know the shooter let that notepad which we've been talking about numbers, no words. Numbers that investigators believe are significant to the gunman. What could these numbers be?
JAMES FALLON, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR, U.C. IRVINE: This is a man who is the king of odds. He knows the probability of everything. He set up this whole banquet of slot machines, we were the slot machines, and he knew the odds of causing mayhem and then being able to get away. The first being at the tanks and then moving on until he got the mayhem and could escape.
So he had all these odds I'm sure laid out of not only carrying this out but making it out of there each step of the way. That's you know -- in a world where you don't understand love, you have some emotions, but you don't understand love, you have no emotional empathy, everything is a slot machine including all the humans. And I think he sequentially went through and he had a pad of paper in his mind all the time of probabilities that he could carry this out and show the world the brilliant man, you know, underappreciated brain that he is and in the end, he gets what he wants.
He gets us to be talking about it. He wants all of us to be talking about him after he's gone. This is heaven for him.
[19:20:03] BURNETT: I mean, Casey because the thing is, when it comes to that pad of paper, he knew, maybe he thought he was going to get out of there alive. They do believe now that he thought that at this time. But he didn't and knew that was very well possibility. He was prepared for that. It would appear that he left that note knowing full well that someone was going to find it.
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: There was no mistake. This guy was not an idiot. He was highly intelligent. I truly don't think he planned on getting away. I think, you know, not for anything, he was wearing slip on shoes and white socks. And he wasn't wearing anything, you know --
BURNETT: And we could see those pictures.
JORDAN: I mean, this is not a run away outfit. I think that he knew he was -- if he was able to get out, I think he just planned on doing more mayhem before he died, but he certainly didn't think he was going to get away with it. Those numbers mean something to him and we may never know what they mean. They could be bank account numbers, they could be probability.
But the odd thing is as an accountant, he is guy who dealt in harsh realities. He likes to put numbers into columns, everything had to be exact. So it's odd that somebody who is that meticulous, that linear would be a professional gambler.
I really have to wonder and I agree, you wanted to just show us how smart he was. If there's something we'll find out down the line, it is total financial ruin or terminal illness, something that could explain why he would plan this over the course of a year.
BURNETT: Right because it certainly was planned over a long period of time. I mean, Art in terms of what perhaps could have happened next. We learned today that the gunman's car had 50 pounds of Tannerite in it. Originally, you know, when they were starting this the numbers came up three pounds of it, 50 pounds is the number we had. Two suitcases also and there were hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
All right, you out those two things together, highly explosive if shot at. Here is what is about an explosion about half the amount of Tannerite in his car. OK, this is what explosion of half that amount looks like.
BURNETT: All right, this car was parked in the Mandalay -- at the Mandalay Bay parking garage in the lot that was under the casino under a convention center. When it exploded, he was trying to get out, someone shot at it. How much damage could (INAUDIBLE) does?
RODERICK: I think he's probably could have pancaked that garage. In other words, brought down a couple of levels on top of that vehicle. That's half of what he had in the vehicle, 50 pounds is a lot of Tannerite. We used to use it for target practice when you're shooting long distance targets so that you could see that you actually impacted the target.
That, you saw the shrapnel flying out from that vehicle. He had another 1,600 rounds of ammunition to it and nobody's going to get anywhere around that car, and a lot of people are going to be injured from flying shrapnel and rounds --
BURNETT: And anybody in that garage and what about structurally above that garage?
RODERICK: Structurally the same thing. I mean, that's -- that would create a crater basically. If it was on the ground it would have create a crater. In the garage, I think it would have collapsed a couple of levels there.
BURNETT: So James, you know, we are also reporting that the gunman got his haircut in the morning. Kyung Lah has been reporting this. These are as I said, the small details (INAUDIBLE) what we have.
He could come in from gambling all night, come home to Mesquite where he live near Las Vegas and he would be reeking of alcohol. What does this tell you, James? Does this fit any sort of what you are putting together of a profile?
FALLON: Well, you know, murder, gambling, alcohol, these are all feed into the same system of the brain. It's called the hedonistic hot spot of the brain. And so everybody's got their own personal sort of thing that turns you on.
I think as he was going along, he felt less and less pleasure out of the things he was doing. And, you know, felt probably more and more like fundamentally a loser, and he was going to -- while he had the energy, he was going to go out in a big way. So he was doing things that addicts do, right?
I mean, to try to get a buzz -- but if you're numb, if you're empathetically numb you can't experience love, where do you get it from? And pretty soon as you get older, that goes away. Then you're stuck. You're like what am I doing here? Well, I'll show you what I'm doing here.
BURNETT: Casey, you know, speaking of love, the gunman's relationship with his girlfriend certainly from his side doesn't appear to be anything like that. But maybe from her side, she says that it was but certainly not from his.
She was only on nine of his cruisers. And on his haircuts, the hairdresser would say she would come with him, but she would just sit there waiting for him out of earshot. This sort of fits with very subservient profile that has seem to build of here.
As you learn more about her, what do you think about her role in his life, and whether she had any inkling that something was amiss.
JORDAN: I don't believe she had any inkling at all and I agree with James that this man has so many traits of an addictive personality, definitely as a career gambler but also if he's drinking all the time. And that thrill -- the thrill is gone, he's looking for something even more enticing to keep his life spicy.
Now, we know that the girlfriend left her husband or got divorced from him and had a job but then didn't have a job after she met him.
[19:25:04] So the four years they were together, she lived in his home, she didn't work and she was under his thumb. I think that she was emotionally and psychologically, as so many partners of addicts are, codependent, enabling and just never challenged him. She was in denial.
And when they say how could the wife not know he had all these guns? Trust me, she didn't know. She knew better than to challenge him, she knew better than to question where he was or where he was going or why he wasn't going with her.
Why would a woman, when the husband says -- the boyfriend says here's a ticket, leave the country and she did. I would say why, why do I have to leave? But --
BURNETT: Right, that is not what any normal situation. It would be absolutely bizarre. Art?
RODERICK: Yes. No, that's a interesting take on the whole thing. I tend to see where you're coming with that. The -- when you look at this guy, I mean, you know, we have -- we were talking about this in the green room, what an outlier this individual is. We've covered a lot of mass shootings before.
In generally, we can categorize them fairly quickly and look at what he have done. And a lot of times it (INAUDIBLE) the moment. This guy is in a category by himself. He's like the Jeffrey Dahmer, you know, Ted Bundy, serial killer that kind of stands out there by himself.
So this case study is going to be very interesting to put together and take a look at when it's all said and done.
BURNETT: All right. All three of you, thank you very much.
And next, growing questions about how long John Kelly is going to last as Trump's chief of staff. A guy who everybody praised and says was going to be the guy to fix things. One source says he'll be around maybe for months and that's it.
And the calm before the storm. President Trump still refusing to explain what he meant by that cryptic and scary comment. Is he playing a dangerous game?
BURNETT: New questions tonight about Chief of Staff John Kelly, and his standing in the West Wing. Kelly you may remember was brought in to control the chaos at the White House and so many people around him, in fact, anyone's who's worked with him, has raved about him and his integrity.
But less than three months into the job, he's running into the reality -- same reality that others have run into it, including his predecessor Reince Priebus. There is no controlling Donald Trump. As one source tells CNN, quote, Kelly is like the janitor. He's just the latest guy brought in to clean up. Pretty insulting way to be described if you are Kelly.
Dana Bash has been working her sources on the story.
And, Dana, what are you learning about what happened on Wednesday morning between the president and Kelly?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we're told that the president was so furious at the Tillerson situation that chief of staff, John Kelly, was forced to navigate between the two men who are at this point, fed up with one another. In fact, sources familiar with discussions between Kelly and the president who I'm talking to, Elise Labott and Gloria Borger as well.
They say that Kelly suggested to the president in a nuance way that if Tillerson left, Kelly's own ability to do his job properly could be at risk. And, Erin, this is generating more than a few whispers here in Washington about just how long Kelly is going to last.
BURNETT: Right. And, of course, when you've heard of the Tillerson situation, right, Tillerson apparently calling the president an f'ing moron.
BURNETT: I mean, OK. So, what do you think this episode says, though, Dana? I mean, there are so many who said, Kelly coming in here, everyone who's ever worked with him, whatever you think of his politics, he's a man of integrity, he's good at what he does.
You need people like him in there. And now, that's in question. What is his standing in the West Wing?
BASH: Well, yes, we talked to one source tonight who said for John Kelly, every day ends in a why. W-H-Y. Remember, when Kelly was brought into the White House as you were talking about this, he was taking over for Reince Priebus and the headlines were blaring that Kelly was going to impose military style order on the chaotic administration.
He closed the president's open door Oval Office policy, he limited calls from the president's long-time friends outside the building, and it's not lost on sources that we talked to, that Kelly is running into the same buzzsaw that Reince Priebus faced because there is no controlling or managing Donald Trump.
I mean, think of the things that have happened in less than three months that John Kelly has taken over. Fire and fury, talking about North Korea. Talking about both sides being to blame in Charlottesville after the violence there, stoking the NFL controversy. Somebody said to me, look, it's a tough job and you are not going to change the president.
By the way, those are three examples. We could go on and on and on.
BURNETT: Yes, we could go on and on and on, and I know there are some close to Kelly who say what is the calculus by which he took this job? Was it out of patriotism or something else? And, of course, that's something the president makes him incredibly angry even to hear that somebody would be doing it in spite of him as opposed to because of him.
There are some, Dana, I know who said that the deck was always stacked against Kelly, wasn't it?
BASH: Yes. I mean, look, the president for example, he still finds ways to talk to his friends despite Kelly's attempt at limitations. One of those friends who I talked to said the president is praising Kelly for bringing discipline and chaos to his own White House. But as you know, covering Donald Trump a long time, his opinion on most matters including people around him, varies given the day and given the descriptions and circumstances of that day. And Kelly is not immune to that.
But, you know, for the first time that we remember, today, Sarah Sanders was asked at the White House briefing whether the president has confidence in his chief of staff. She said emphatically, yes, but the fact that question arose tells you a lot, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dana.
Please stay with me because obviously, there's a lot to talk about here. I want to bring Mark Preston in to the conversation.
I mean, you know, Mark, another thing I have to say here just as Dana is talking about Sarah Sanders weighing in here, she has no idea -- I mean, let's just be honest. I mean, how does she know because he could just come out in five minutes and say the complete opposite and make her look like a fool, right? I mean, that's the truth.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That is the truth. And it's interesting, when she was challenged today on another subject, she said, listen, I would trust the president before I would trust other reporters. Well, that's OK. I understand she thinks she's paid to say that.
But the bottom line is, when she stands at that podium, you can't always trust what she says. Not a knock against her so much is that a knock against that position, and that basically, you're parroting whatever you think the president is going to be happy to hear you say.
BURNETT: And, Dana, in terms of the chief of staff, right, one of the things that he did that I think surprised a lot of people that he did successfully was, for example, Keith Schiller, right, the long time aide, bodyguard, confidant in some ways of Donald Trump that we all know over many years, left in part because he was no longer allowed to just walk in, right?
[19:35:10] Kelly was able to impose an order and a discipline to control who was getting into Trump and speaking to the president. It seemed to me that at some point, that would chafe on the president deeply. He relishes being the person that everybody comes to.
BASH: No question. Again, as I mention and you know this. You know, he can say two contradictory things and really, really mean it. And one of them is that he believes that General Kelly has done a good job of changing the dynamics in his own White House.
The other at the other end of that, he does tell the friends who he's able to call, whether he sneaks them on this cellphone and God knows where in the White House, or whether he just gets them on the phone, you know, when he wants to because he is the president, that you know, he does change and makes it clear that he does enjoy the free wheeling dynamic that is always the way he has been from anybody who knew him in his business days. It is how he thrives.
BASH: It is a different situation, so he needs someone like Kelly, but it is a very, very tough one for anybody in this particular White House.
BURNETT: But, Mark, also though it is something that should concern everybody in this country. If you lose one chief of staff and then a few months later, you lose another one, an incredibly highly regarded general by many, I've spoken to some, right, who don't necessarily with his politics, they all speak to his integrity and patriotism. If he doesn't stay in this job, then who? Who wants this job?
PRESTON: Oh, you'll always find somebody that will want it, and it will be a Trump loyalist, and that will -- that will put us even on a faster path to destruction.
The fact is, you have this general who has this built in DNA of service to the country. That in itself might be keeping Kelly in the position that he's in, and when he took the job, the whole goal for him was to bring order to the White House, knowing he couldn't necessarily bring order to President Trump. Well now, it's just gotten very out of control, the chaos has truly reigned at this point and if General Kelly goes, you have to wonder, does James Mattis, another general who oversees the Department of Defense, would he go? That is when I think all the house of cards that is the administration right now collapses.
BURNETT: That would be destabilizing. That would be destabilizing.
BURNETT: I think we could all agree on that.
Dana, before we go, though, what does this mean? I mean, the people who again seem to be surviving all of this, the only people, Jared and Ivanka, with whatever e-mail crisis they're involved in now, but they are the ones, they are the ones who yet again will seem to survive.
BASH: No question. And, you know, look, blood is thicker than water, than politics and all the above. And they are still around. And they don't appear to be going anywhere. And the president doesn't seem to want them to go anywhere.
You know, another dynamic in this, particularly with regard to the Tillerson situation has been historically since the beginning of the administration, we know from reporting, the secretary of state chaffing at the idea that Jared Kushner kind of has his own national security portfolio. And that's just one example of potential problems. But at the same time, again, Erin, you know this because you covered this family in the business world, there's probably no one as close and he chose to bring them in, make them advisers and doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next, no one seems to be able to explain what the president means when he said this is the calm before the storm, not even Trump himself. And his VP completely punting tonight. Wait until you hear this.
And breaking news. Hurricane warnings now issued for New Orleans. Nate barreling towards the gulf, gaining strength this hour.
[19:42:44] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump doubling down. Still refusing to say what he meant when he threatened that in his meeting with military leaders, he said the meeting was, quote, the calm before the storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, what did you mean by calm before the storm yesterday? What did you mean by that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. You'll find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I guess it's funny to him.
Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.
Ryan, Trump refusing to say what he meant with this comment. He was surrounded by his military leaders and said this meeting was the calm before the storm. I guess he thinks that's funny, although they said today he didn't mean it as a joke.
The White House failed to offer any kind of a sensical defense or explanation of what he meant.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin.
In fact, the White House had multiple opportunities today to clarify exactly what the president was talking about and push us off from any idea that some sort of serious military intervention was afoot based on the president's comments last night. Listen to what Sarah Sanders said today in the press briefing in
response to a direct question on this topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said many times before, I know the president has, as I have from this podium on quite a few occasions, we're never going to say this advance what the president's going to do. And as he said last night in addition to those comment, you'll have to wait and see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So, again, we still don't know what we are waiting to see in this instance. As we mentioned last night, there are a number of foreign policy challenges that this administration is dealing with right now, whether it be North Korea or Iran. Of course, a fight against ISIS. No more clarity today from the White House exactly what the president was talking about.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Ryan Nobles. At least you would think in a week when the American people want to feel a calm from their commander in chief, certainly not getting it.
Former U.S. State Department spokesman and former Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, is OUTFRONT, also retired rear admiral from the Navy.
John, look, no one wants to touch this. Tonight, the vice president, Pence, was asked what President Trump meant. And I just want to play for you. Here's how he answered that question moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just refer you to the White House for any -- further exposition on that comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, Pence is the vice president, John, so he is the White House.
[19:45:00] So, no one knows. And even his top advisers aren't going to call the president out for scaring people or anything. Is it dangerous?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, I think it's irresponsible for sure, for any commander in chief to make an idle vague threat like that, because it sends messages to not just allies, but adversaries and people all over the world including our troops. Now, we found out a fourth now soldier down in Africa. I mean, this is, these have real consequences.
That said, I think when you listen to the vice president's comments, it just convinces me any way all the more that his comment last night was untethered to any real operation anywhere. He was simply playing for the cameras. I think it was just a photo-op. He was surrounded by the admirals and generals and wanted to make a show of it.
If he had been really been tying in some sort of operational event in the future, I think you would have heard the vice president probably say, hey, look, we don't talk about operations, you know, our military is engaged all around the world. Instead, he kicks it to the White House. I honestly think it was him playing to the cameras.
BURNETT: Playing to the cameras. Now, look, the president though on something that was not playing to the cameras, was much more serious, I guess in one sense, was criticized for what appeared to be an insult to military commanders, which, of course, would not be the first time he has done that.
Here's what he said yesterday and of course in the past. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: Moving forward, I also expect you to provide me with a broad range of military options when need, at a much faster pace.
I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.
The generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where embarrassing for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: What do comments like these mean to the military, noting that he continued with this sort of vein as recently as last night?
KIRBY: I think what he said yesterday in that room, in terms of I need options from you faster with cameras there doing it publicly, that had to be a punch in the gut to these guys. They thrive on earning the trust and confidence of their superiors and when you hear something like that on camera from your commander in chief, you're probably looking around saying, jeez, is he talking about me, is he talking about my command? Do I need to do something different?
But I'll tell you what, two things here, Erin. One, operational planning is something the military does really well. I know almost all those men that were at that table yesterday. I can tell you, they take it very seriously. They don't -- they don't hue to bureaucracy.
Number two, sometimes, operational planning takes time and you want your military commanders to be able to do it in a thoughtful, measured, deliberate way. So, I think it was totally irresponsible for him to do this and completely uncalled for.
BURNETT: All right. John Kirby, thank you very much.
KIRBY: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news. Get out now. That's the message now for hurricane warnings posted along the Gulf Coast. Nate gaining strength and threatening New Orleans. And so many every day heroes playing a role in saving lives in the Las
Vegas massacre, including the countless taxi drivers who drove into the danger to help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a guy shot in the corner!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:50:53] BURNETT: Breaking news, New Orleans under a hurricane warning as Nate gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm has already killed at least 21 people in Central America and it is expected to get stronger as it comes up to the Gulf Coast, making landfall as hurricane. New Orleans mayor is doing a mandatory evacuation.
Nate would be the third named storm to reach the U.S. mainland in just six weeks. Of course, Harvey and Irma before. We're not even putting Maria on that list, of course. It wasn't a mainland.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is at the CNN weather center.
And, Allison, what's the latest track here?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, the track has really moved a little bit further to the west, now including the city of New Orleans.
Here's the latest, winds picked back up to about 60 miles per hour, wind gust up to 70 miles per hour. From here, it will head back out into the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. The warm water is the fuel that's necessary for the storm. So, because of that this is why we expect intensification up to a category one strength storm as it makes landfall.
But the question has been, why does this track? Why is it not continuing to the northwest and likely going to impact Texas? Well, here's what we want to show you.
First off, it's not going to go too far east, because you have a giant high pressure system sitting over the panhandle of Florida. That's going to prevent it from ending up over there. Why not further west going in the same direction it has been? Well, you've this trough that's associated with a cold front, which, by the way, is producing really bad severe weather as we speak over the plains.
That is only to not only prevent from impacting Texas, but it's also going to have an impact on where it goes after it makes landfall. Take for example this, it's going to be the steering mechanism to push the storm off to the north and east, thus allowing it to impact cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York as well as Boston. BURNETT: So, I can see that track now. Also, when you're saying the
storm hitting as a category one, sometimes it's the flooding that can does mass devastation, and I know in this case, certainly we saw that with Harvey. That is a real question and concern tonight with Nate.
CHINCHAR: You're right. And I think so many people are focusing on the number, oh, this isn't a three, four or five, that we've already had this, won't be big deal -- keep in mind, the category strength only has to do with the winds. It has no bearing whatsoever on the storm surge or the flooding potential and those are going to be high with this particular storm.
Take for example, New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile looking at five to eight feet of storm surge. The area surrounding it will be about four to six feet and then out to the east, about one to three feet.
So, that's the thing that, Erin, I think people need to focus on. The category may not be as high as, say, Irma or Harvey were, but the storm damage, the impacts from this could still be just as impactful.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Allison. As we watch that.
Next, taxies turned into ambulances, heading into the chaos in Las Vegas. More people risking their own lives to help others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked around, there's nobody else. All the taxicabs they just left -- I said I have to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:56:32] BURNETT: Tonight as investigators search for a motive, a why, in the Las Vegas massacre, we are hearing more amazing stories of humanity and survival. So many of those who were injured in the shooting were helped by people they don't know. And in many cases, it was cab drivers who literally drove into the fire to help them and get them to the hospital.
Stephanie Elam is OUTFRONT.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fireworks, that's what cab driver Winifredo Maquindang thought he heard as he waited to pick up a pair at Mandalay Bay Sunday.
WINIFREDO MAQUINDANG, CAB DRIVER: And then another fire, rapid fire.
ELAM: With bullets still flying, he drove across the street to help.
MAQUINDANG: I said, oh my god, it's like a -- zone. Everybody was screaming, panic, crying, people on the ground. I see a lot of wounds in the back, in head. ELAM: People crowded around him banging on the car begging for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you please come to the corner. In the corner, I got a guy shot in the corner.
ELAM: So, he jumped out and opened his doors, rescuing six people, all of them shot.
(on camera): And what kind of wounds did you see?
MAQUINDANG: Oh, really bad, one in the back, one in the neck, but I didn't know if he's, he was telling me he's dying, he's dying, while I'm driving.
ELAM (voice-over): Maquindang rushed his wounded passengers to Sunrise hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're (EXPLETIVE DELETED) amazing. Thank you.
ELAM: Not knowing any of their names, he still has no idea if they're alive.
(on camera): Does it weigh on you that you don't know what happened to them?
MAQUINDANG: Sometimes you cannot sleep thinking about what's going on, you know, it really takes a toll on me.
ELAM: Like Maquindang, many others raced to the scene to help. Transporting wounded who are also left wondering who came to their aid.
Rocky Palermo tells Erin Burnett how someone selflessly helped him after he was shot.
ROCKY PALERMO, SHOT DRUING THE LAS VEGAS COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL: They stopped in the car, there was already four people in the vehicle, there wasn't enough room for me, somebody gave up their seat, they weren't injured, somebody gave up their seat for a complete stranger to go and take their seat. If it wasn't for all that happening, I -- we wouldn't be having a this conversation at all.
ELAM: Another taxi driver, Cori Langdon, was also at Mandalay when the mayhem began. People started jumping into her car.
CORI LANGDON, CAB DRIVER: They said go, go, there's an active shooter there's people dead every where. And then, suddenly, all these other people started to get into my cab. I think I had five or six people in any car. So, I said, OK, nobody else, nobody else.
ELAM: For Maquindang, there was no choice, he had to help.
MAQUINDANG: I'm just a human being, you know. I need to help these people. I look around, there's nobody else.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ELAM: And Maquindang really was at a loss on where to find the hospital, he had only moved here recently. This was his fourth night on the job. So, the woman who was sitting in the front seat, she had been shot in the shoulder he asked her to look it up on Google Maps to find out where the hospital was so that he could drive them there.
But all of this, Erin, when you look at this, in the face of such depravity, such humanity, people in a split second showing the content of who they are. Just amazing stories, Erin.
BURNETT: Just amazing stories we had seen. And people, like we were talking to Jonathan Smith the other day, he said, I'm not a hero I did what anyone would do. No, a lot of these people did what so many people wouldn't have done. But they did it and inspire us all.
Thank you so much.
"AC360" is next.