Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Police: "Keeping An Open Mind" About Motivation Of London Incident; Police: It Doesn't Appear Vegas Shooter Had An Accomplice; Police Dig For Clues As Motive Remains A Mystery; Hurricane Nate Strengthens, Likely Cat 2 By Landfall; Trump Reaches Out To Top Senate Dem On Health Care; Diplomats, W.H. Source: Tillerson's Days Are Numbered; Reno Holds Gun Show One Week After Gunman Kills 58. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 7, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Nearly 30 million people are in its path. The hurricane is now packing 90-mile-per-hour winds and residents are bracing for torrential rain and in some areas storm surges of up to 11 feet.

We've got reporters on the ground in all the areas facing a major threat right now. First let's go to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers in the weather center for the latest forecast -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Fred, I think if you turned away from CNN for a couple hours and you're tuning in now, you're going, wait, 90? 105? Where'd that come from? Well, it came from a very warm body of water named the Gulf of Mexico.

And the warmest part of the water right now, called the loop current. It goes around Cancun and up toward New Orleans and then back down again and around through the Florida straits. But we're seeing the wind speeds now increase. Hurricane hunters seeing the pressure go down.

When I tweet that, saying the pressure is going to go down, everyone is asking, is that good or bad? If the pressure goes down, the winds go up. It's like a low pressure in the winter where the lower the pressure, the closer you are you are to a blizzard.

So, the lower the pressure, the worse it is for a hurricane as well. Everywhere that you see red, that's a hurricane warning. There's going to be damage everywhere there's red and that includes New Orleans.

I know we're talking about Biloxi and Gulfport and all that but this storm, the western eye wall, will be very close to New Orleans proper, so probably a wind speed there of 75 or 85 miles per hour where the right side of the storm, the east part of the eye wall, will be 105, maybe even greater than that, and that's where the storm surge will be as well.

From Plaquemines Parish right on up Biloxi, not quite to Mobile, but 11 feet of surge now. Now we had 20 feet in Katrina so it's not that, but it's a big surge and a big wind gust too.

Biloxi, the forecast wind gust is 123 later tonight. That's just a gust but that is a lot of damage, lot of shingles gone, maybe even a roof or two out of there so I need you to prepare for this. You still have a few hours. It's not water right now, but you don't have too many hours. This makes landfall somewhere before midnight tonight.

WHITFIELD: All right. People need to be vigilant. Stay tuned and respond.

MYERS: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: In a smart manner. All right. Thank you so much, Chad Myers. Appreciate it. So, this state of emergency, it has been declared in Louisiana and mandatory evacuations are under way outside of New Orleans and that's where we find CNN's Kaylee Hartung.

So, Kaylee, you talk about, based on the topography there, people are, in general, fairly prepared, but how urgently are they getting ready for this storm?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, right here in the Irish Bayou neighborhood, we're about 20 miles east of New Orleans just before you cross Lake Pontchartrain to get to the north bank. This is one of those areas under mandatory evacuation.

Officials wanting people out of here by noon because flood gates just like this one behind are going to be closing around this area. You can see it's a combination of the land of the levee, the concrete and the steel of that gate that combine to protect so much of this low- lying land.

And speaking to folks in this area, this is life for them, living in these low-lying areas, as you said, they are prepared for times like these. They know how to secure their homes, secure their boats, pack up their things. Often times, they're hopping in their RV and hit the road.

In this area, they are projecting we could see a storm surge of 6 to 9 feet so nobody messes around with that. Folks we've seen hopping in their RVs, putting their dogs in there with them and getting out of town. Inside the city of New Orleans, though, much more difficult to really see the visible signs of people making necessary preparations.

A big reason for that, that city is protected by a storm defense system built after Hurricane Katrina, more than $14 billion went into that system. The time people need to be paying attention to there, 7:00 p.m. that's when a curfew will be in effect citywide in New Orleans -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much.

All right. Mississippi is asking residents along its gulf coast to get out of the way of Nate and evacuate. CNN meteorologist, Derek Van Dam joins us now from -- are you in Gulfport or Biloxi? DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: In Biloxi. Good morning.

WHITFIELD: That wasn't right. Sorry about that. All right. Biloxi.

VAN DAM: No problem. That's all right. We're in Biloxi and we are right along the famed Interstate 90 corridor, a hurricane evacuation route. There have been several events that have either been delayed or cancelled, including a Beach Boys concert that was supposed to play tonight.

We have the driving coastal car show that's supposed to be taking place right now. That has been moved. This area here is no stranger to hurricanes. We look back to 2005, Hurricane Katrina, that is obviously the benchmark hurricane for this area, and so many people comparing this storm to Katrina, but it's not fair to do so, because each storm is different. We know that.

[12:05:11] So, Hurricane Nate, worst conditions here in Biloxi starting about 8:00 p.m., deteriorating overnight. We know that. But behind me, again, is Interstate 90 and that symbolic lighthouse there as well, that withstood Camille and Katrina.

And a lot of people didn't choose to rebuild on here because they were completely wiped us by the storm surge so that's one of the main concerns here. Just because we face the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow nature of the beach here really makes this area prone to storm surge.

We know that's one of the greatest killers during a hurricane, 7 to 10 feet, the official forecast, perhaps higher than that now with a strengthening storm with winds we understand could be 110 miles per hour by the time Hurricane Nate makes landfall. There are evacuation centers that have been set up here. They're opening at 2:00 p.m. today in Biloxi -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Derek, thank you so much. We'll check back with you in Biloxi.

All right. I want to bring in the mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi, Billy Hewes. Mayor Hewes, thanks so much for being with us. So, Nate is fast moving and now a likely Category 2 upon landfall. How concerned are you? How urgently are you trying to use the resources to get the message out to your coastal residents?

MAYOR BILLY HEWES, GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI: Well, we've learned through a lot of on the job training that no matter what category it is, you want to get prepared. We've been watching this storm. This time of year, we always have an eye on the tropics and the gulf so as this thing has come close, we've had to make some major adaptations to events we've had going on down here.

We have a music festival that we compressed into two days. Today, the focus is on making sure that people who need to get out of harm's way particularly in the low-lying areas, that they go to shelters that open at 2:00 today. Folks who may be visiting out of town, for those festivals, with RVs, if they haven't left already, they're being encouraged to do so right now so we're pretty prudent. We're being very methodical.

I just left a meeting with our county emergency operations center and we'll be having another meeting for our city personnel this afternoon, but we've had a lot of practice here. Most folks are starting to make sure items are taken out of their yard, batten down real well.

And again, if they need to leave, get out of harm's way, that's the most critical. Governor Bryant said yesterday, our goal is no loss of life. We can fix stuff.

WHITFIELD: Well, Mayor, you mentioned you've had a lot of practice there, but sometimes what comes with residents who have had a lot of practice, they also develop a certain level of complacency and feel like, you know what, I've been through the one before and the one before that so maybe I'm just going to stay put. How are you dealing with that?

HEWES: We're taking a very serious approach to it. Anybody who lived through Katrina understands that complacency kills. We thought nothing could have been worse than Camille back in '69 and Katrina taught us a very valuable lesson.

Nobody has forgotten that. Whether it's Category 1, 2, or above, we need to take the proper precautions, stock up, get ready for a long haul. You basically -- you plan for the worst and expect the best.

WHITFIELD: And what about those shelters? You mentioned lots of shelters. You've gotten the word out. Are people already beginning to mobilize in some cases and start to fill up some of your shelters ahead of the storm?

HEWES: Well, they can't into them until 2:00. We think there's ample time for that. A lot of folks will shelter in place if they're not in low-lying areas. Our Transit Authority is going to be providing shuttle service, starting from 2:00 to 6:00 before the winds get too bad or anybody needing transportation to those.

We've already given evacuation order for our marinas to people to take their water craft out and move them around in back. But the major concern right now is the surge. Particularly in our back bays and rivers and creeks, those areas. The front beach will take some, but the major damage is likely to occur further inland in those tributaries.

WHITFIELD: All right. Mayor Billy Hewes, Gulfport, Mississippi, we wish you the best. Thank you so much. Stay safe.

HEWES: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Also, we're following this breaking news overseas out of London. Police are now saying they are, quote, "keeping an open mind" about the motivation of an incident in London where several pedestrians were hit in a collision with a car. CNN's Nic Robertson is there. So Nic, earlier, police said the incident didn't appear to be terror-related. Now keeping an open mind. What's going on?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. This is a clarification by the police. It's not uncommon in these situations. We had an incident here about a month and a half ago where a man who was in -- was in what could have been -- what appeared to be a terror- type incident with a sword outside Buckingham Palace where the queen lives.

[12:10:03] Within an hour or so, the police said not terrorism, but by the next morning, they revised that. The man had been shouting threats and it was very clear this was terrorism and that was decided the next day.

So, in this case, the police now seem to be maintaining a little more caution in their view, perhaps in light of that case until they can get to the bottom of this. But keeping an open mind, not ruling out terrorism at this stage.

What we've been able to see from the scene shortly after the incident, a black car smashed into a couple of other vehicles. The door opened, and four bystanders have wrestled a man to the ground.

Now, the police say that they've detained a man, but it's not clear that this man came from the vehicle. It's not clear that a man wrestled to the ground by what appear to be bystanders there was actually the same man that the police have detained.

But this happened at the scene by a vehicle that appears to have been involved in a road traffic accident with the driver side door open on that vehicle. So, at the moment, the police are not releasing details of how many people injured or what sort of casualties.

We, CNN, have witnessed two people being taken into ambulances in wheelchairs, one person under a red blanket, under an ambulance gurney wheeled and stretchered into the ambulance. There have been many ambulances coming and going.

The police cordon remains in place. This is now a crime scene that's being processed here. There is still what appears to be a police helicopter overhead. You see another vehicle rushing into this ongoing crime scene -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson, we know you're on top of it. Thank you so much. Keep us posted as you learn new information. Appreciate it.

All right. Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, stumped on a motive in another case, police in Las Vegas digging deeper into the shooter's background and movements. What they have uncovered next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:16:16] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. In a few hours from now, Vice President Mike Pence will be in Las Vegas to pay his respects to victims of Sunday's massacre. His visit comes as investigators continue to search for a motive nearly a week after a gunman killed 58 people.

Here's what we know right now in the investigation. An alarm from a room down the hall from the shooter is what brought a security guard up to the 32nd floor of the hotel. The guard was shot in the leg when he approached Stephen Paddock's door.

Police confirmed there was no one in the room with Paddock and they haven't seen anyone on security video appearing to be in an accomplice. The shooter brought his guns and ammunition up to the room over the course of several days.

I want to bring in now CNN's Scott McLean who is following the investigation. So, Scott, the shooter had also 50 pounds of explosives in his vehicle. What do authorities believe the intention was?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, that's actually begging the question as to whether or not Stephen Paddock potentially intended to survive this shooting and go potentially take that car somewhere, because it was loaded up with some 1,600 rounds of ammunition and 50 pounds of that explosive that you mentioned called Tannerite.

It is completely legal to buy in the United States. It's commonly used in target shooting to create exploding targets, but why he had his car loaded up with that is still a very open question.

We are also learning that the suspect in this case tried to buy a type of ammunition at a Phoenix gun show prior to the shooting called tracer bullets. Essentially, they're coated with a pyro-technique charge that would have allowed the suspect to see more clearly where exactly his bullets were landing.

The drawback of that is that potentially police could have also seen where those bullets were landing and potentially located Paddock much earlier. We are told by experts that you probably wouldn't use every bullet as a tracer bullet, but perhaps every fifth bullet might have done it.

Now he wasn't able to buy that ammunition just because they didn't have it in stock. His motive here is still very unclear, continues to frustrate investigators but what they have found inside of his room is a note.

It says not a suicide note, though. It is not a manifesto. It has a series of numbers on it. The police are now having to go and painstakingly analyze for any type of meaning or significance.

They are also continuing to question his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines at the time of the attack. She is now back in the United States. We are told she is cooperating with authorities, but her lawyer also made quite clear that she is not going to be giving a public statement to the media any time soon.

As for the victims, at last count, we know that 88 people were still in an area hospital, recovering from this, 37 of them, Fredricka, in critical condition. President Trump visited some of them on Wednesday.

And as you said, Vice President Mike Pence will be here in Las Vegas today to pay his respects to the 58 victims who were killed and also those still recovering in hospital. He'll be taking part in a unity prayer walk. He's also expected to speak at that event this afternoon.

WHITFIELD: All right. Scott McLean, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk more about this. I want to bring in Peter Blair, the director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State university and Steve Moore is a CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI supervisory special agent. Good to see both of you.

So, Peter, I'm wondering, what can be learned from this incident, in terms of a first responders point of view? So as to know how to prepare or respond to any other kind of mass casualty situation.

[12:20:08] PETER BLAIR, DIRECTOR, ADVANCED LAW ENFORCEMENT RAPID RESPONSE TRAINING CENTER: During any accident like this, we're always looking to see what lessons there are to be learned. Obviously, you have a unique situation here where you have a shooter that's elevated outside of a concert venue firing into that concert venue and that's going to be a different response than what you see, typically, in these events.

It's still early in the process of unpacking what happened here. But certainly, we'll be looking at these particular events and seeing what did we learn from it, what did we learn that went well during the response, what didn't go well during the response, and then how do we improve this, how do we work on getting our response faster in the future.

WHITFIELD: And then Steve, the whole calculus behind this crime that the shooter was up at the 32nd floor, you know, perched above a large crowd, the inquiry or attempt to get these tracer ammunition. How do law enforcement agencies across the country look at this kind of preplanning of this gunman and know how to anticipate, how to message amongst one another?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: You know, we have had some success in the FBI. I have one case where we were able to interdict an attack, not too dissimilar from this one, but it has to start with somebody who knows the person.

It has to start with somebody who raises a red flag and says, this is not right. He's -- he or she is not acting well. So, while there are two factors here, the tactics are a paradigm shift. Nobody looked in the third dimension. They never looked up before. Now you have to look up and as far as finding these people, what this is showing us is, deeper and deeper and deeper, is where these people are hiding their animosity, their psychosis.

WHITFIELD: And then Peter, in most recent kind of incidents that involve a lot of people, whether -- whatever kind of terrorism you want to call it because people are traumatized and they are terrorized when you have mass casualty count like this.

But when we now look at the profile of this gunman, there is very little left about what may have influenced him, what his point of view was, et cetera. How much more difficult does that become in the investigative phase?

BLAIR: Well, any time during an investigation, they're trying to track back who this person was, who their contacts were, and if they were taking active measures to try to either separate themselves from people or to hide that information that makes the investigation more difficult.

But we have really excellent investigators here in the United States and the FBI in particular has excellent anti-terrorism investigators and eventually they'll be able to track down through this and find out what we need to know.

WHITFIELD: And Steve, how do you suppose this will influence the tactics of trying to find the potential in people, whether it's looking through social media -- I mean, that has kind of been a pattern of behavior, of looking at social media to see if anyone is sending signals.

But when you have someone like this gunman who doesn't appear to have left that kind of footprint, how influential might this be in the tactic of law enforcement as they look into investigations like this?

MOORE: Well, I have good news and bad news for you, Fredricka. The good news is, the FBI, all law enforcement combined, doesn't have enough people to scan Facebook or social media for people who are going off the deep end.

That's also the bad news, because you cannot watch all these people and so it's going to become the public. Again, I want to stress that we saw something happen -- or somebody saw something happening, came to the FBI just in time for us to interdict something.

And the spouse is usually not going to be the one to do it because the person, if they care for this spouse, is going to try and protect them, to keep them from having culpable knowledge.

WHITFIELD: All right. Steve Moore, Peter Blair, we'll leave it right there. Thank you so much, Gentlemen.

All right, next, bracing for a storm yet again. Hurricane Nate moves closer to the gulf coast, sparking a mandatory evacuation in parts of New Orleans. Who else might be in its path? All that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:29:19]

WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're continuing to follow our major story this hour, Hurricane Nate, nearly 30 million people in the storm's path and 4.5 million under a hurricane warning. The storm would be the third hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in just six weeks.

Let's go now to the CNN weather center and meteorologist, Chad Myers -- Chad.

MYERS: A big storm, Fred. I mean, I know this was a tropical storm yesterday, but now forecast to be 105, making landfall somewhere near Gulfport, Biloxi, maybe as far east as Dolphin Island.

[12:30:01]

We've been watching it on satellite because there's no radar in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Finally now the New Orleans radar is picking up the outer bands and even really can kind of see the eye right there. And it's the eye that's been the problem, because we haven't had one. That was great.

But now in the morning hours, throughout the noon hour now, the eye has been developing, and that has caused the storm to decrease in pressure, increase in wind, and now we landfall tonight, probably 7:00. If it does make landfall in Plaquemines Parish down by Venice. This is the very, very end of the Mississippi river. That would happen somewhere around 7:00 tonight. If it misses there, because there's not much there there anyway, obviously, there are homes and businesses along the river, but if you get farther out, this is really all just wildlife.

If it misses that, then we get up toward Biloxi and Gulfport. That's where the winds could be significantly stronger and also that storm surge of somewhere around 9 to 11 feet. That's the big problem. Eleven foot surge in any town, in any harbor, in any bay is a big surge, plus you have wind on top. So that's where we're going with this now.

If you're in the red zone, you're going to see significant damage. If you're in the blue zone, you're going to see a lot of power lines down. There could be a million people without power and not even near the coast because the wind is going to continue to blow all the way through Montgomery into Birmingham and even into Atlanta as well.

So here is how it shapes up right now. Here's Nate, a category 1 storm. But it's still growing. Category 1 starts in the 70s. Now we're up to 90. Category 2 is 96. So we already have those gusts but it's forecast to be significantly stronger at landfall.

Moving north northwest at 26 miles per hour, and only 180 or so miles away from the mouth of that Mississippi river, so this is coming quickly. This will be on shore and gone. This will be gone in 12 hours. Still spinning and making damage in Mississippi and Alabama but not in the Gulf of Mexico anymore. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much. Chad Meyers, we'll check back with you.

All right. Coming up, reviving the health care debate. President Trump indicating he's looking for a deal and says he is reaching out to Democrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:36:23] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. President Trump is reaching out to the top Democrat in the Senate about a possible deal on health care reform. This morning, the President tweeting, "I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great health care bill. Obamacare is badly broken. Big premiums. Who knows."

Senator Chuck Schumer had a different tone, however, in a statement saying, "The President wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the President that's off the table. If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions."

Correspondent Ryan Nobles joining us now from the White House. So, Ryan, what are the chances that the President is willing to work with Democrats on the existing health care deal?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, I think the White House and the President would like to work with Democrats, but the question is, how willing are Democrats to work with him. And the answer is, not very much at all if it means repeal and replace of Obamacare. That's something they're very much opposed to. That is a nonstarter for Democrats.

So what this could be is an attempt by the White House to put the Republicans on notice that the President may try and fix Obamacare as the existing law as it currently stands and that's something that Republicans don't want to see happen because they've run for the last eight years on a promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare. But the President isn't really in a position of strength when it comes to this issue or many other issues in part because of all the turmoil that's taking place in the White House right now. Much of it surrounding his relationship with his Secretary of State and caught in the middle of all of that is his Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Part of those disagreements were highlighted yesterday here at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Total confidence in Rex.

NOBLES (voice-over): Despite the President's insistence that he is confident in his Secretary of State and Rex Tillerson's denial that he considered stepping down, top aides say their relationship is strained. And a growing number of top diplomats and White House officials view the Secretary of State's days as numbered.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nothing has changed despite what you may read in the media or watch on TV. I would certainly trust the President and my comments far above those of other reporters.

NOBLES (voice-over): In the briefing room, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders continued to push back on the reports that Tillerson could be on the way out. And a White House official tells CNN there's no indication that Tillerson's job is in jeopardy, primarily because Chief of Staff John Kelly's concerned about the optics of another high-profile administration official stepping down.

The uncertainty around Tillerson's future comes at a time when the administration is preparing to wade into one of its most thorny foreign policy matters, re-certifying the Iran nuclear deal hatched during the Obama administration.

TRUMP: You'll be hearing about it very shortly. Thank you.

NOBLES (voice-over): Trump could decertify the deal as early as next week, forcing the decision to be made by Congress, which would have 60 days to determine a path forward. While the President claims Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the deal, top administration officials like Defense Secretary James Mattis have warned pulling out completely is not in the best interest of U.S. national security.

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Absent indications to the contrary, it is something the President should consider staying with.

NOBLES (voice-over): It's expected that the White House will announce a broader, long-range strategy for the Middle East, which will include the Iran deal and some beefed up measures to strengthen inspections and plan for what happens when it expires. But pushing that deal through Congress is always risky and will involve winning over fickle Republican hawks in the U.S. Senate. A job that could be made more difficult if the tension with the administration's top diplomat continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[12:40:02] NOBLES: And sources tell CNN that it is John Kelly, the Chief of Staff, who is attempting to intervene in this flap between Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump, hoping to try and calm things down and at the very least keep the President from publicly admonishing his Secretary of State. The White House flatly rejects that reporting, saying that's not the case, that the relationship between Tillerson and the President is strong.

But Fredricka, when you talk about this problem that the White House is facing with some of its top administration officials, it's no wonder that it's difficult for them to pass other big agenda items like health care and of course something that's -- they're working on right now, tax reform.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Quite challenging scenario.

So let's discuss all of this and let's begin with the Trump-Tillerson tensions with my panel right now. Mustafa Tameez, the Democratic strategist and former consultant for the Department of Homeland Security and Ben Ferguson is a CNN political commentator. Good to see you both, gentlemen.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to be here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Mustafa, you first. You know, Rex Tillerson holding that press conference this week, denying reports that he considered resigning, not necessarily denying that he used the language, you know, moron, but did say he wasn't going to get into that kind of petty stuff at that moment. So, what do you make about what the relationship might be right now, and how it might, you know, imperil any movement going forward with these two men working together.

MUSTAFA TAMEEZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, they were never together from the beginning. Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump didn't know each other prior to him joining the administration. It was, what we learned later on, people that were paid consultants through Exxon that had lobbied for him to get this job. And they have a very different, you know, temperament.

Rex Tillerson comes from an environment where it's very discipline. They plan ahead, they execute well and now he is working for a President who just embraces chaos. So, starting from the outset, the two of them are not going to get along, and now you get into this spat between the two of them, and Rex Tillerson is on his way out. The question is then if, the question is when.

WHITFIELD: So, you do feel like he's on his way out, that the frustrations, you know, have been mounting for some time, particularly with Tillerson being unable to really hire like he has wanted to, reportedly, that the President has kind of stood in the way of that. But when people who know Tillerson say that he, you know, has wanted this job because it is about public service, do you believe that the tension between he and the President would be enough for him to walk away from this job?

TAMEEZ: Well, look, he could have come out and said, I didn't use that moron word. But he didn't. He said that I'm not from Washington and he did a typical Washington thing. He just deflected all the way.

But there's one thing that I think people don't talk a lot about when they talk about Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson. A quarter of Exxon's revenues come from Qatar and as we all remember that there's a blockade led by gulf countries in Qatar and Donald Trump supported that blockade with a tweet and has kind of sided with Saudi Arabia on this. So, you know, Rex Tillerson, ideologically, from temperament standpoint, from policy standpoint, everything from the tweet that he sent out undercutting his work in diplomacy with North Korea, they're just not going to get along. And Donald Trump, our President, has the thinnest skin of any world leader, and he will not, you know, tolerate someone out there saying things like we've heard. WHITFIELD: All right, Ben?

FERGUSON: It's amazing to me how much inside information a Democrat has that has no contacts within this administration. There are so many things that are just not true. First off, Rex Tillerson didn't get this job because of a lobbyist from Exxon. That's just a flat-out lie. There were several people around Donald Trump who said that they liked his leadership.

TAMEEZ: Not true.

FERGUSON: Let me, at least, finish. I let you say all the stuff you said which was just not accurate. Let me rebut it and then you can say what you disagree with. But when he got this job, he got this job because he was looking for someone that had connections around the world and that was respected well and understood management style that the President wanted back in the State Department. That's one of the reasons why he got the job.

The second thing is, the idea when we open the segment that somehow Rex Tillerson and this beef between him and the President is affecting what's going on with health care reform is absurd. Rex Tillerson has nothing to do with Obamacare. And if you want to know why Obamacare having issues, look at the Republican leadership who have decided that they don't want to get things done in the Senate on this.

We always knew this was going to be a tight vote, one or two people defecting and that's the end of the bill. That's always been true since the very beginning. But Rex Tillerson has nothing to do with health care. Now, as for Tillerson and this beef, let's be clear.

WHITFIELD: I believe what people have been making reference to is the accumulation of tumult, you know, that --

FERGUSON: Well, but again there's --

WHITFIELD: There are a lot of problems and it makes it difficult for some members of Congress to get behind the President on his agenda when there appear to be problems even within his cabinet of getting along with people.

[12:45:13] So you don't think those parallels that some are making are --

FERGUSON: If you're a member of the Senate and you're a Republican, and you're not getting behind the repeal and replace of Obamacare because of the State Department and Rex Tillerson and what you think you may be hearing, you're a world class idiot. I mean, that's just incompetence at the highest level and I don't think that there's any Republican that's sitting there going, man, I may not do something on Obamacare, repeal and replace, because of Rex Tillerson, his relationship and what I'm reading in the newspaper, which half of it's just not true.

Let me also say this. Rex Tillerson coming out this week and making the statement that he made, I think, made it very clear that in fact he's not on his way out the door because he wouldn't have done that otherwise. I think he and the President have patched things up behind the scenes. They're not going to be best friends but I think he wants to keep him in that job and that role. I think Rex Tillerson likes serving his country and I think that's the reason why he made those comments.

WHITFIELD: So Mustafa, is this apples and oranges, you know, that Ben refers to or is it an issue of backing the President and trust or lack thereof and, you know, this is interfering with getting things done?

TAMEEZ: Well, it's chaos as always, and I just want to remind Ben that the Democrat he might not be able to realize which is, sitting in Houston, Texas, the energy capital of the world. I kind of know a lot about this. And Rex Tillerson, it is published that they did not know each other before, they had not even met each other, and that as we learned later on, that there were senior advisers to Exxon, paid advisers to Exxon, that reached out to Donald Trump and this is again --

FERGUSON: Of course, lobbyists lobby, that's what they do. That's normal though. I'm not disputing that but they didn't get him the job.

TAMEEZ: You just disputed that a minute ago.

WHITFIELD: In other words, Mustafa you're saying these discoveries about one another now and this tenuous relationship, the roots are not deep in terms of a relationship frayed but, you know, that it is now very public. I guess a demonstration of a lack of loyalty could --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- and the demise of this relationship.

TAMEEZ: Everyone that has had a public fight with Donald Trump --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

TAMEEZ: -- ends up leaving the administration eventually and so this is time.

WHITFIELD: The pattern.

TAMEEZ: And I think the world is a very difficult place and our Secretary of State doesn't have a whole lot of power in that department. There's not a lot of people that have been appointed across the board. The State Department has been suffering from that. He has not advocated for any officials.

FERGUSON: Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So, you know --

FERGUSON: With all due respect --

TAMEEZ: You know, no one is going to messed up (ph) in the White House.

WHITFIELD: OK.

FERGUSON: Fredricka, with all due respect, there's a lot of people in this administration that have disagreed with the President and still have their jobs because the President likes a healthy debate. I've been to the White House. I have seen those healthy debates. You can laugh all you want to but you haven't been over there and actually worked with the staff of the White House. You haven't been on --

WHITFIELD: But I guess the hope is in and outside of Washington is the debate ends to, you know, some progress or real tangible, you know, products or policy, right?

FERGUSON: Right.

WHITFIELD: We're going to leave it right there.

FERGUSON: I agree, but Rex wouldn't have made those statements if he was, quote, on his way out the door.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ben Ferguson, Mustafa Tameez, thanks, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

TAMEEZ: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:52:58] WHITFIELD: A gun show that was supposed to take place in Las Vegas this weekend was canceled in light of last Sunday's mass shooting. But a gun show in Reno, Nevada, roughly 400 miles away, is taking place as planned.

CNN correspondent Dan Simon joins us now from Reno. So, Dan, has there been any reaction from people there about having a gun show so soon after 58 people lost their lives in that same state?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Fred. There were some local residents who thought the optics did not look good and thought it should be canceled, but it is going forward as planned. Should be a large crowd today? And as you can imagine, one of the main topics of conversation will be what, if any, restrictions should be placed on bump stock. That is the accessory that turns a semiautomatic weapon basically into a military machine gun. That's what the Las Vegas shooter used to commit the atrocity.

What we heard is any indication, the gun dealers themselves are not in favor of any regulation. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): Do you think bump stocks should be banned?

KERRY PHILLIPS, GUN DEALER: No. Absolutely not. What should be banned is bad people. There's lots of them in America. Even the common people should have fully autos. You've got to take these laws and make people responsible for their own actions.

SIMON (voice-over): So fully automatic weapons are OK with you as well?

PHILLIPS: Oh, absolutely. And fully automatic weapons in the hands of a good American is what keeps America free. It isn't the police. We, the people, that's why the founding fathers put that in there. We, the people, have the right to protect ourselves and our families, even into the shedding of blood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, people like that gentleman may not be in favor of regulation, that doesn't necessarily mean they like using bump stock. Some say it's unwieldy, that it causes the bullets to spray, which may be the reason precisely why the Las Vegas shooter decided to use it.

Fred, just for context, just want to tell you why we're outside. The organizer of this gun show says absolutely no media can go inside because people like to make their purchases in private, in a discreet setting, so that's why we're outside. But we were able to talk to those dealers as they were setting up. Back to you.

[12:55:14] WHITFIELD: All right, Dan Simon in Reno, thank you so much. So much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, this week's CNN hero, a powerhouse athlete, a single mother and an amputee who gained the power to lift others up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once we lose a part of our body, there are just so many questions. Will I ever be able to work again? How will I take care of my children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's strange to learn how to walk. It's a new world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Part of my job is to remind people that we are so much more than just a body part. We can either lay down and let our circumstance overtake us, or we can stand up and take charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: To learn more, go to cnnheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Police says they are, quote, "keeping an open mind" about the motivation of an incident in London; Investigators continue to search for a motive nearly a week after the Las Vegas gunman killed 58 people>