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Las Vegas Shooter's Motive Still A Mystery; Source: Las Vegas Shooter Tried To Buy "Tracer" Ammunition; Congress May Consider Bump Stock Ban; Rep. Sanchez: Time For New Generation Of Dem Leaders; Trump Speaks At White House Hispanic Heritage Event. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:53] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: That are some sad pictures there and certainly hit home. Las Vegas police saluting their fallen brother-in-arm Officer Charleston Hartfield, one of the 58 innocent lives taken Sunday of the Las Vegas shooter.

Still a mystery to investigators this morning why did the shooter do this. But at this threats (ph) the emerging picture. A failed attempt to buy ammo that could have made the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history even worse.

Our justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz joins us now. Shimon, please, any closer to cracking the motive puzzle?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: No. Quite frankly, there are not. I just got up the phone with a source a little short time ago. You know, our other justice correspondent Evan Perez has been on the phone with people. And we have talked to several law enforcement officials who say they are still trying to figure out the motive. They've talked to his girlfriend. They've talked to his family. They've gone to gun shows that he's been doing, gun stores.

They have all of his electronic media, computers, his phones and still, John, really no one is closer to figuring out the motive behind this. What would cause this man to sort of go into this rage and fire off all these shots, killing all these people. It's still perplexing to investigators.

KING: And as we do our reporting, a source telling CNN the shooter tried to buy a specific type of ammunition called tracer rounds. Explain what those are and why that matters?

PROKUPECZ: So essentially these are bullets that are sort of -- they light up the sky. Kind of like fireworks. You fire them and they just light up. It gives the shooter an idea of where the bullets are landing. You know, most of the time these kinds of bullets are used in the military in the war zone so that other shooters, other, perhaps, soldiers who are firing their weapons can see where some of their fellow soldiers' bullets are landing.

It's also used in some situations when you're not using a scope. So that you can essentially see where the bullet is going and where it's landing. We're told he tried to purchase these at a gun show in Phoenix, the carrier, the person of the gun show either didn't have them or just, you know, for whatever reason, he could not buy them.

KING: Now the piece of the puzzles. We try to put together. Shimon, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.

All those killed in the Vegas massacre now have been identified. Meaning families can bury their loved ones. And lawmakers will perhaps in a new twist to an all two currently under debate here in Washington. After every mass shooting in recent memory, gun control talk, but no gun control action.

Now, a rare (ph) bipartisan willingness to consider outlawing bump stocks. That's the device that allowed the Las Vegas killer to spray hundreds of bullets a minute. Here's one complication. If there's legislation brought to the floor in Congress about bump stocks, will Democrats demand more?


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I'm hopeful that we will be able to take action. There is an opening here and it's time to do something sensible. The narrow is to get at what just happened, but you also could look at revisiting the background check issue which is a gun show loophole.


KING: And so what will happen? There is bipartisan and Republicans say they're willing to step up take the lead on this which doesn't happened all that often after a mass shooting like this. That seems pretty clear to me if you brought legislation to the floor saying bump stocks are illegal, period. And the discussion, they would pass overwhelming (ph).

The question is if Democrats starts sating what about magazine clips, what about the gun show loophole, then we go where every other gun control debate has gone.

PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I would jump back, John, and say I think that the DREAM Act came to the floor it would pass too. So I'm skeptical that this is going to get to the floor. And I'll be curious of what.

This is not at the NRA. This is an anti-gun control party. This is like one thing the Republican Party right now today is. And I'm not sure this is -- I will be curious after two weeks from now when this issue is not being covered this extensively, that it'll move. My sense is that the bill gets to the floor. I'll obviously very surprise if Democrats actually voted against a gun control bill.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: But (INAUDIBLE) giving them some cover as of yesterday afternoon. And the unique thing about this one if they can get it together for unique, Republicans did not know what bump stocks were. I can't tell you how many people my colleagues and I talk to in the Hill this week that were just -- I've never heard of a bump stock. I had to ask my kid what bump stock, what is this. I'm not pro automatic weapon, but this is the not the equivalent. But it gets a semi automatic pretty close to what a fully automatic riffle is going to be.

[12:35:04] So, you've got probably a good road ahead that can stay clean. But I also thought it give me a great examples. I'm glad you brought it up. is that you can load these things up with things that seem like they are the most important and everybody's heart is in the right place and they're trying to do the right things but there becomes as big ideological mess.

And the one thing that's really unique about the bump stock issue is that you do -- it is novel. It is this -- we didn't think of this. This was not part of our philosophy in being pro gun. So it's easy to get through. But they have argued and argued and argued with --

KING: It is easy to get through, but listen here to the executive director of the NRA. A very powerful group which says, yes, we don't like this bump stock thing either. We think this is bad that you just turn a semi automatic rifle into essentially machine gun, an automatic rifle. But the NRA does not want Congress to pass a new law. They want the Trump administration to write a new rule.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: And if you take a look at it, I mean, any look at it, it takes a semi automatic firearm and it makes it perform like a fully automatic firearm. It makes it function like one.

And what the NRA has said is we ought to take a look at that and see if it's in compliance with federal law. And it's worthy of additional regulation. That being said, we didn't say ban. We didn't say confiscate.


KING: That which raises an interesting question. If you have legislation that says ban, does the NRA oppose it? Does the NRA say it will go on this report card? The NRA say if you vote for this, we will spend money against you maybe in a Republican primary?

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. The -- I mean, you mention that the Republicans on the Hill didn't know what that bump stocks were. I talked to folks who talked on the upper levels of the leadership at the NRA, they didn't know what bump stocks were.


BENDER: And this really freaked them out. And the idea that you can turn this semi-automatic into automatic. But this also raises the question if -- and I think what Wayne LaPierre is getting out there is if you put a ban on the floor of this that would ban a device that turns something into an automatic weapon, then even the initial question is why not a full ban on all automatic weapons which is not the case. And I think made after 85 is legal right now.

So you start to -- it's a slippery slope here. And this is exactly what the NRA is worried about. This is exactly what -- how the Republican Party became an anti-gun control party. We've seen -- and we've already seen Tom Massey on Twitter saying, hey, we Republicans control the Senate, the House and the White House and we're talking about gun control measures.

Breitbart is going after the called Kellyanne Conway week. They went after Flores and Cornyn saying they are caving. I mean --

DEMIRJIAN: This is a crazy thing though. If Democrats are going to slow the momentum, they are going to just let this argument develop, right? If they will just let a ban, a tiny ban get across the floor, you get the momentum going in the other direction potentially, right? And that's what the NRA is afraid of. So it's still funny that they are kind of coming at the same fear crass argument. But it might end up under cutting.

KING: Yes. I think that the big question is what does the President end up hearing. Does he end up anywhere in the short-term? Because you're right, Perry you made the point. Every day to pass, we've seen this in the past even after those kids were mowed down in a school and the whole country was in stunned shock as it the country should be after Vegas. With every day that pass, the air came out but let's do something about it.

Listen. This is Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, "Nobody gives me more cover in my district than Donald Trump. They believe in Donald Trump and they believe that if he thinks they should be illegal, they should be illegal." Republican members, if you're going ask them to cast that vote, they want the President of the United States out front and center more than once saying do this for me.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Look, it's a lot like the health care issue where for two weeks when the House bill was out there tangling and struggling for life, people didn't know where the President stood. And on these big controversial national issues, it really is important for the legislative branch and the executive branch to work hand and hand. I think for a time after Trump was elected, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan thought we can work with this because we can drive legislation and Donald Trump will serve nearly as a signature.

I think now it's very clear that that's not the way things work. We really do need an active president, particularly when the Republican Party, the base -- not even the base, but the soul of the party right now is Trumpian. It's not McConnellian or Ryanian. And the President needs to make a national case for this if it something that he cares about or if it's something that's going to succeed legislatively.

KING: And you're looking at the box in your screen. The President of the United States is at the White House. He has a Hispanic Heritage Month event today. We don't expect him to address this issue but we do expect to hear from him momentarily. We're keeping an eye on to the momentum question. Listen to Carlos Curbelo here. A suburban Republican, a more moderate Republican who says I want to do this, I want to do this now because he understands every day that passes makes it less likely you'll get it through.


REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: And then I think a lot of people are going to call for more. But I don't want to diminish what we're doing. For decades, compromise between Republicans and Democrats on this issue has been elusive. We have gotten absolutely nothing.

[12:40:02] This might be a small, but I think a very important step towards moving to a more rational conversation about sensible gun policy in this country.


KING: So you have both sides of the coins here. Democrats say if this train is leaving the station, let's try to add other things to it. Because this might be the only train that leaves the station and gets to a final destination. What the NRA worries about is even if you pass a simple bill, one step this gets passed, months pass, maybe an election passes, those guys come back to Washington and they think, it isn't so dangerous to talk about these things.

BACON: Not all about these. But that's one of the 20 congressman in the district Hillary Clinton wants who's a Republican. So, he is saying only what he should be saying, you know. And those members don't tend to drive a lot of legislation.

I want to hear what Mark Meadows thinks, I want to hear what Ted Cruz thinks, I want to hear what Donald Trump thinks. That's where we going to get this something like this pass because otherwise most members thinking, if I -- for the Science, it was even the voting for gun control bills, if you're a Republican drops your amount of ability to win. So I think there's got to be conservative buy in here whether from the Trump or from the Freedom Caucus first.

DEMIRJIAN: And there's a window. I mean, I talked to Mark Meadows yesterday and he basically said I'm not blocking -- he's open to the discussion he wouldn't commit to doing it, but he's one of the people who said I did not know what this was. I had to call my son and ask him.

JOHNSON: Why do these people think their kids are going to know what bump stock is?

DEMIRJIAN: It makes me sound cool (ph).

JOHNSON: It sounds like a video game.


BENDER: Yes. And I think that goes -- I think like not to go back to Breitbart coverage, but I think that's the same sort of thing there. There's no explainers on what bump stocks are in Breitbart. It's -- they're taking the position of not giving an inch no matter what they are.

KING: Not giving an inch no matter what they are which gets me back to the question of the President. So as a private citizen especially when he's thinking of earning (ph) for president is a reform party candidate, an independent third party go back in 2000, he was for the assault weapons ban. But everything we have seen from Donald Trump sense as Republican candidate for president, it has been -- I'm with the NRA, spoke at the NRA convention.

He was, you know, no way, it's not going to happen and I'm not going to touch the Second Amendment. You know, there are some people out there who said this is a thing you attach to a rifle. You're not touching, not taking away guns. You're not affecting the Second Amendment but you have to communicate it that way.

Because the NRA in the past just communicated any conversation about taking something off the market for more restrictions on something as a first step that lead to a slippery slope. Is this President prepared to get out there and say, in this case, we have to do this?

DEMIRJIAN: No. We saw him saying we're not going to talk about gun control in Las Vegas. I mean, if he changes his mind in the next few days then, you know, I'm wrong. But at this point his first opening step was to say we're not going to talk about this right now.

And remember -- I mean, he could change his position, but that also may have been informed by the fact, you know, Las Vegas was in the context of being really upset him over Puerto Rico. He didn't want to make any more enemies especially with his own party. It is something that goes all of this base specially if he is getting pressure from the right. I mean, he have to really change tack and it's not clear that this is so much his moment of courage to do that.

KING: But it gets you at that paradox to the Trump presidency. He likes wins.

DEMIRJIAN: I was going to say --

KING: If you had a Republican President who could sign a simple bipartisan, a Republican President who did what he could describe as reasonable rational common sense murder control. You don't need have to call it gun control. You can call it murder control and sign that. And then say to the NRA, of course I'm not going do more.

And today, does he want the win or does he, as we've seen the other side of the paradox is he worries most of all. I didn't win the popular vote. I have this 30 percent, 35 percent base and I will keep them at all cost.

JOHNSON: But the base ball is Trump. Trump doesn't follow the base. I think this would be an easy bipartisan win for him. I think the question is whether it captures his interest or his mind in some way.

This is not like legislative jujitsu. I think the White House reached out to the NRA and communicate with them behind the scenes in a pretty easy way. But we have seen Trump deal self-defeating goals (ph). It does seem to me that there are certain issues that capture his interests and certain issues that just don't. I think you're right that this doesn't seem to have really captured his imagination for whatever reason.

BACON: The tweets on Saturday and Sunday --


KING: You're right. He could do this with the NRA. The question is would he give the NRA what it wants which is an administrative rule, not legislation. They're just afraid. If you put one law on the books, that the moderate Republicans who have been frightened away from this issue will say, that wasn't so bad.

DEMIRJIAN: Then the question has falls to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan who have not necessarily shown a whole lot of courage in stepping out in front of the President at any juncture. But -- I mean, the President doesn't actually have final say on this. The momentum builds enough in Congress and people want to do something.

BENDER: Couple quick points here. One is they just shows how complicated things have gotten in Congress, right? A straightforward issue to your point here. This is just impossible to see a straight line for this from Trump.

My colleagues and the White House team, Peter Nicholas going to look at the White House's talking points on gun control right after the shooting. And it was. It was a -- we're not giving an inch. There's no reason for any negotiation here until yesterday.

So we've already sheen the shift. Sarah Sanders from the podium saying this is a conversation. We're open to this conversation we're willing to have.

[12:45:07] And, you know, I don't think -- I think this White House if they see a way to do this administratively, will do it. They've never criticized President Obama for taking executive actions. They criticized him -- Trump criticized him for taking executive actions he doesn't agree with.

And I don't see him -- if he can avoid Congress he wants the win. He doesn't care if McConnell or Ryan are close here or showing (ph) what happened.

DEMIRJIAN: He's going to be convincing that it's a win, that's the thing. He's not -- I think he's going to take it all in him. If he's not sure if it's a win, he loves having people there to blame. And if there's nobody there to blame, it is a rule (ph).

KING: You know, Sarah Sanders' point is fascinating in the sense that on day one she said how dare you, that insensitive to even ask about that in the wake of the Vegas shooting.

In the next day, she said, on that day when she said it was insensitive to act, the President doing his trip was talking to members of the Congress on the trip with him about the possibility of doing this. So, there you go. A little inconsistency there.

We'll take a quick break. We're watching this event at the White House. We're seeing the President comes in. Up next, discord, dysfunction and discontent. Guess what? That's a bipartisan problem in today's Washington.


KING: Live pictures there at the White House. The President of the United States due any second now at a White House event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

We'll watch from the President comes in. We'll keep an eye on that picture. As Donald Trump enters month nine, it turns out Democrats and Republicans in Trump's Washington that's something in common. Major internal discontent and dysfunction.

The Democrats first, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of California, a member of the House Leadership saying this week what many House Democrats privately have been thinking for sometime. Sanchez said it's time for their 70 something leadership team led by Nancy Pelosi to step aside.


REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Our leadership does a tremendous job, but I do think we have this real breath and depth of talent within our caucus. And I do think it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders.


KING: A little tension and dysfunction there. Let's go to the Republican side. Politico obtaining a recording of Vice President Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, telling some of the party biggest donors not to support Republican lawmakers who aren't fully supporting the President's agenda.


[12:50:14] NICK AYERS, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him. If this sounds crass, we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him.


KING: It does. You were saying it does. It does. So there is -- yes, there are different ways to look at this. In the Democratic Party, it's a generational thing. You have Linda Sanchez, this is striking in the sense that if you -- sorry America, but sometimes we do get inside Washington in INSIDE POLITICS. And she's a Californian.

Nancy Pelosi has always kept one or two Californians on the leadership team. If you have the California delegation because of its size, it gives you a pretty good head start in any internal fight in the Democratic Party, in the House of Representatives. For a California Democrat to say -- and to be clear, she said after the next election. She's not saying tomorrow, she's not saying before the 2018 midterms but she's saying let's get to the midterms. And even if we take back the House in the midterms, Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn should step aside. Nancy Pelosi views that as treason.

BENDER: It sounds like Representative Sanchez needs to be purged from the Democratic Party. You know, right? I mean, people have come at the minority leader here as time and time again and she is withstood all of this.

I think there are some valid points there. Democrats had to do a -- you're kind of living to this before. Democrats have a lot of questions internally that kind of -- have been papered over. Certainly the spotlight is away from them and everything is on Trump and the Republicans, but these are questions that the Democrats have to answer.

KING: And adding to the Democrats. They have a lot of policy disagreements. And some of them are geographical, some of them are, you know, single payer health care versus a more business approach, whatever. Some of that for the Democrats were just playing generational.

You have these people, look, politicians have the ambition, shocking. And you have this group that's been around for a long time and they think, well, Nancy is going to leave eventually, right? Well, that she leaves, is Steny going to get it? And then what about Clyburn.

I can go back four, five years ago and talks about, you know, trying to negotiate the three are living together and the other two are like what? Are you nuts? We're going to say -- so that's the Democrats side.

On the Republican side, you have Nick Ayers who is an up and coming young star in the party who has latched himself on now to team Pence and team Trump. It is kind of crass, right? What happened to the big tent that we want a big diverse happy family?

JOHNSON: I think what surprised me about the Ayers comments is that he said, you know, donors should close their wallets until Congress gets on board with the White House's agenda. It seem to me not to acknowledge that the White House plays much in the role and getting its agenda pass and to single out Congress for its dysfunction.

There's no doubt the Congress have plenty of dysfunction, but it seems to me that the White House and its dysfunction has played an enormous role in the legislative failures of the Trump era.

KING: Here we go. The President of the United States with his Labor Secretary at the White House. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You should, you should. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

And it's great to be with you and Secretary Acosta, Treasurer Carranza, and to every Hispanic American serving in the White House and all across our administration. Thank you very much.

It's a great privilege for the First Lady, Melania, and I to be with you all today. Thank you very much.

We want to welcome our ambassadors, members of Congress, local officials, and Hispanic community and faith leaders, and guests from across the White House. You are really special people. You've worked so hard with us. Today's performers, Julissa. How was she? Was she good?


TRUMP: I heard she was fantastic. And Yes Movement Orchestra, and the work that they've done and the incredible job that they've done. Thank you very much. We're honored to have you all here to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Right? Please, First Lady. Please, come up. Come up. And, by the way, we just got back from Puerto Rico together, and it was really quite a sight. We're doing a great job there, and they are great, great people. They are great people. They've been through a lot.


TRUMP: Thank you.

As we gather for this celebration, our hearts remain heavy and sad for the victims of the horrible mass murder in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, in Nevada, I visited with brave survivors still recovering in the hospital, and with heroic police officers, first responders, and everyday Americans who acted with speed and courage to save countless lives.

[12:55:20] No evil on this earth is more powerful than the love and courage of the American people. All of America is praying for the wounded and the grieving, and we will be with them today and we will be with them forever.

And I spent a lot of time going through the hospital with Melania and seeing some incredible people who were so seriously wounded. We will never leave their side. We're also praying for the people of Puerto Rico. We love Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico.


TRUMP: And we also love Puerto Rico. And we're marshaling every federal resource at our disposal.

Earlier this week, I traveled to Puerto Rico to oversee federal response to the two devastating hurricanes. Remember, it was two. It was one, and then it was another. And that second one was brutal. And they struck that great and beautiful island. And we now have more than 15,000 federal personnel on the island -- 15,000. We will not rest until that job is done.

Puerto Rico has a long road of recovery ahead, very long road. But we know that its people are proud and they are resilient, and they will come back strong. And I've spent a lot of time with Governor Rossello, who is a terrific man, a terrific person on Tuesday. And we will be there all the time to help Puerto Rico recover, restore, rebuild. We're working together very closely with your great governor and your congresswoman, who is terrific, Jessica. Terrific.

We stand with them and with all of those who have suffered through natural disasters over these past several weeks, including those in Texas and Florida. And Louisiana got hit, and got hit very hard. And the state of Alabama was incredible. They helped so many people coming up from Florida. And Georgia, likewise. So many incredible people.

And also, we have to remember this, the Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Governor Mapp, who's become like a friend of mine -- I spoke to him so much on the phone. The job he's done -- they were hit so hard. And not much was left. But they're rebuilding, and the spirit is incredible. U.S. Virgin Islands.

We're also keeping in our hearts and prayers all of those affected by the disastrous earthquake in Mexico. In recent weeks, through extremely difficult times, we've seen Americans coming together from all races and all backgrounds to unite as one people, under God. And I will tell you, we sent crews to Mexico, and the President was very gracious; called me yesterday and thanked me.

We have some really talented people. They went there to help to solve that unbelievable, difficult problem that they have. That earthquake was devastating, and I appreciate the President of Mexico. And they were so kind in their response, but that was a tragic event. And our people did a fantastic job. So I want to thank all of our first responders and the people. Thank you. Thank you. And you have a wonderful President in Mexico, I can tell you that.

When America is unified, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. When we empower the hopes of our people, especially these young, fantastic people right in front of me who performed so brilliantly -- when we embrace the dignity and the beauty of human life, and then you just look out, there is no task too large and no dream beyond your reach. No dream. There's no dream beyond your reach. You know that, right? I'm talking to some very young people up front that you can't see.

No matter who we are, or where we come from, we are all Americans, and we are all bound together by our --