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Authorities Returning Personal Items to Victims; Pence Leaves Colts Game Over Anthem Kneeling; Nate Prompts Flash Flooding Concerns, Flight Delays; More than Six Million under Flashflood Watch in Southeast; Body Cam Captures Moment Of Officer Fires On Fleeing Man; Iran Threatens To Equate U.S. Troops With ISIS; Victims Remembered At Church Services Across U.S. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 8, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: -- to be published by the Russell Sage Foundation later this year. That means 7.6 million Americans own an average of 17 guns each. The Las Vegas killer of course was said to have an arsenal of more than 40 guns.
Thanks for all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello everyone and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
A growing feud today playing out between the president of the United States and one of the most powerful republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee. Trump firing off several pointed tweets about Corker's performance in the senate writing, "Corker begged me to endorse him for reelection. I said no." The president also saying the senator is responsible for "the horrendous Iran deal."
Corker responding, tweeting this. "It's a shame the White House has become an adult daycare center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."
CNN's Ryan Nobles is following all of this from the White House. So, Ryan, what is fueling all of this?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this -- it really does come somewhat of a surprise, Fred, because for quite some time, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has been somewhat of an ally to President Trump. He certainly hasn't embraced him completely, but on some of the big issues of the day like Iran and some foreign policy matters, Corker who's an expert in foreign relations, has come to the president's defense and as often spoke kindly of him.
But that all changed a few weeks ago, that's when Corker was at an event in his home state of Tennessee and he questioned the president's competence at that time. I think we have that sound bite to play for you. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And the White House, for the most part, brushed that off. The president didn't react too strongly to that. But then just last week, Bob Corker announced that he was not going to seek reelection and he said this in the capital. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And that's apparently what set the president off today. Basically saying on Twitter that Bob Corker came and begged him to endorse him in his reelection bid. And Corker's office today is flatly denying that that happened.
In fact, Bob Corker's chief of staff said the president, Todd Womack said in a statement today, the president called Senator Corker on Monday afternoon and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek reelection and reaffirmed that he would have been had endorsed him as he has said many times.
Son this case, Fred, we have a situation where a powerful member of the United States senate and the president of the United States who are both republicans are accusing each other of lying.
There are two completely different stories having to do with this. And it's also important to point out that even though Bob Corker will not seek reelection, he will still be in the U.S. senate until 2019. And there is such a tight margin right now of republican senators to vote on some key issues that the president cares about like health care reform and tax reform. Right now, you have to wonder if Bob Corker's want to be that reliable vote that Donald Trump will need.
WHITFIELD: And, Ryan, these three tweets from the president are quite varied and he's doing this at the same time. And here they are with the backdrop of some of the country and the Gulf States particularly dealing with and assessing still any damage from Hurricane Nate.
You've got 80 percent of Puerto Rico, still without power after Hurricane Maria. And then you saw the aftermath and the ongoing investigation, one week after of a massacre in Las Vegas. So these tweets, why does the president feel like this is the priority?
NOBLES: Well, this is a pattern with Donald Trump and his presidency, Fred. It seems as though when there are major issues confronting him -- issues that affect people along a broad spectrum, not necessarily just republicans or democrats, he seems to be more focused on the personal spats between other politicians.
This isn't the first time we saw him do the same thing with the senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. He's been in public spats with democratic politicians as well.
He is a politician. He is a person. He did this even in his business career where he does not back down from a fight. He thought that Bob Corker was attacking him, so he returned fire.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles. Thanks so much from the White House. Appreciate it.
All right. We're going to continue this discussion with our panel. Joining us right now, CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer. CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali. I think he made it. There he is. And CNN's "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter.
WHITFIELD: I say that because it was a close call for Tim.
All right. Glad we're all here. So, Julian, you first. Your reaction to this kind of back and forth now. Leading republicans including, of course, the leader of the Republican Party. The president of the United States. Making it personal. It's not just about reelection and who's endorsing whom, but now we're talking about an adult daycare center.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's pretty remarkable. There's many moments when members of the congress and the White House will fight with each other even if they're from the same party. Tip O'Neill and Jimmy Carter used to get into it, but not like this. This is talking about chaos, it's questioning the competency of the president. And it's pretty remarkable stuff coming from Senator Corker.
And it's an important story because we've been watching when will republicans -- will republicans break with this president? And I think this is really one of the first major battles we're seeing between the republican hill and the republican White House.
WHITFIELD: So, Tim, in your view, is this only going to be -- going to spiral more republicans feeling emboldened particularly because of this spat to speak out against the president and be critical?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, what I think you're seeing is that when Republicans are not running for reelection, they're willing to share with the American people which they actually think about the chaos surrounding this presidency.
I'm not sure that more republicans will be public about the adult daycare center in the White House, but what you might find is some quiet opposition to the president that might have some real implications on the legislative front. Corker is taking a stand because Corker is not running again. And the president decided to make it very personal.
So what you're seeing now is a public expression of I would imagine some very deep seated frustration among republicans who know something about U.S. foreign policy. WHITFIELD: And, Brian, for a moment, it was an anomaly that the president will be using Twitter, but now when you have the members of congress who are using this as a direct line of communication with the White House. Is this fight fire with fire?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: The bigger surprise today is Corker responding via Twitter, right? We've all come to expect President Trump to attack via Twitter. But to see Corker attack back the use of daycare center line is incredible.
I would make the case for there's no bigger story in America today than the fitness of the president of the United States. Is he fit for office? Is he stable for office? And that's what Corker is getting at. He's getting at that big uncomfortable story about whether the president needs baby-sitting at the White House.
Now, we've heard people like Chief of Staff John Kelly privately according to sources -- privately saying that he is there as a chaperon. He is there to try to protect the country from President Trump. You look at the reporting from CNN on Friday and Axios on Saturday. These men like Kelly or Rex Tillerson, they're in extraordinary situations right now trying to protect Trump from himself or protect the country from Trump. Don't take it from me. Take it from those authorities that have been written in recent days.
We have the secretary of state not denying that he called the president a moron. This is a huge story. And I think it's notable because Corker is getting right at it by bringing up this daycare center line.
WHITFIELD: I mean, the microscope not just on the fitness of the presidency, but the fitness of the entire cabinet perhaps. At least a good part of it.
All right. I also want to bring up something that just happened today. The NFL at a game, Indianapolis Colts, Vice President Mike Pence was there, but then tweeting a short time ago that he left the Colts game over players kneeling during the anthem and then writing this. "I left today's Colts game because our president of the United States and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our national anthem at a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience now more than ever. We should rally around our flag and everything that unites us while everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the flag and our national anthem."
So, Brian, this kind of also underscores it's back to the kneeling, the form of protest. So many players say it's not about the flag. But it is instead a statement being made about social injustices. But the vice president underscoring that he sees it as an issue of the flag.
So, what is the message that's being sent by the vice president tweeting this and refusing to be at the game?
STELTER: In some ways, I think it's back to a culture war issue that Trump and Pence felt they were winning on. This was big news two weeks ago. It faded away. Now, it's back, thanks to Pence's visit.
I've got to be cynical about this for a moment, Fred. Vice President Pence was in Las Vegas yesterday, speaking solemnly about the massacre there, then he flew home to Indiana. He spent the night in Indiana. He went to the game today. He's about to head back to the west coast. So it makes you wonder if he purposely wanted to go to the Colts game today in Indiana in order to make this kind of statement knowing that 49ers players were almost guaranteed to kneel. There's been players on the San Francisco team kneeling every single game.
So Pence and his team, heading to the game today, they had to have known there was going to be kneeling. His statement almost seems written ahead of time. It seems like this was a - it seems like it was staged moment for Pence to walk out, to make a statement about this. But clearly, he feels strongly about these anthem protests. He wanted to express his criticism of them. So maybe he's back watching the game from home.
WHITFIELD: So, Tim, how do you see it? Because -- I mean, this has been the pattern the last few games that someone is either going to kneel or have the hands on a fellow player. A continuation of this statement of protest for social injustices.
NAFTALI: Well, President Trump's approval ratings are under 40 percent. I saw one at 32.5 percent. We desperately need a uniter-in- chief somewhere in the White House. I think it's a shame that at this moment the vice president is fighting the culture wars. He's only further dividing us. This is really a time for some stability and leadership in the White House.
To go back to the issue of Corker, Corker is sending a message that the president is not capable of dealing with our foreign policy. So perhaps the vice president is. And it's a shame that he should engage in this. It's theater, really. A little bit of political theater. This is a time of adult behavior by the White House.
WHITFIELD: And, Julian, last word on this?
ZELIZER: The culture wars is almost the wrong term. This was a protest not about the anthem, not about the soldiers, it's about the pursuit of racial justice and the fulfillment of the civil rights revolution. That's what the players were protesting. It's the administration that's turning it into a question about patriotism and the anthem.
WHITFIELD: Did they send the message of tone deaf or just not understanding what's at issue here?
ZELIZER: Oh, I think they understand. I think is a play. It's a way to frame this in a way that appeals to parts of the Trump base. And I think that's what this has been about from day one when these counter protests, so to speak, started. But let's remember, protesting for civil rights really is as American as apple pie and it's just as important to our tradition as anything else.
WHITFIELD: All right. Julian, Tim, Brian, thanks, see you soon. Appreciate it.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Flash flooding and flight delays of Nate. What was Hurricane Nate still wreaking havoc as this storm now moves north? We're live in the hardest hit areas, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A major story we're following this hour. Tropical depression Nate. More than six million people are under a flashflood watch from Florida to western North Carolina. The flood risks come after Nate slammed into the Gulf Coast twice as a category one hurricane.
This was the scene at the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. An employee capturing the moment the storm made its second landfall there. People barely able to stand in some cases. As the 85 mile per hour winds and torrential rain lashed the city.
And this is the scene now in Alabama. Roads under water and flooding could get even worse before it gets better. Currently more than 119,000 people are without power across Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama. We've got full team coverage with reporters on the ground and the areas that were pummeled by the storm. 56,000 residents in Alabama right now without power. And that's where we find CNN's Ryan Young.
So, Ryan, what are you seeing there?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we -- I can tell you so far, we've been driving around for hours and kind of just figure out where the damage was in this area.
Look, behind us, that's Water Street down that area. And earlier today was two to three feet of water in that section of the road. That's all gone. In fact, we found jelly fish and shrimp in the middle of the road.
All that kind of evaporated. Look around us now, it's all dry. You have to look for signs of the storm. We drove two hours out towards the coast to see if we can find any more damage on Dauphin Island. And the good news there is they have sand and water in the middle of the road. But for the most part, no homes were damaged and that's the key here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG (voice-over): Even though there was heavy winds last night, no one took a real pounding in terms of losing significant amounts of their house. We didn't see any large trees hitting their homes. We do know firefighters did make some rescues about more than 10 rescues of people not only trapped in their cars, but trapped in their homes because of the flooding water.
But the good news right now is the sun is out. Most of that water has receded and as we drove around all day, the big story is here is it almost looks like the storm did not hit this area, because it did not take the direct impacts. That is the good news so far. So check that box in terms of how people are recovering so far. Fred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That's good. All right. Ryan Young in Mobile. Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Mississippi now cleaning up and assessing any damage left behind by Nate. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. He is in Ocean Springs. So, what are you seeing there, Derek?
WHITFIELD: Fredricka, more of the same. The big clean up commencing this morning. Nice and early. First sunrise, in fact. We've got busted docks behind us. You can see Biloxi in the background, the causeway in the background as well. As you mentioned we're in Ocean Springs on the beach shore here.
But no doubt the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center of seven to 10 foot storm surge was realized right where I'm standing. Water above my head. And you want to know why? I know this is true. Check this out. Behind me, house did not get impacted by the storm surge, but you can see the debris line. Some of the dock that was ruined actually washed up on this gentlemen's driveway and you can see some of the debris from the ocean that made it up to about halfway along his individual yard.
This is the scene from basically Gulfport eastward across the Mississippi coastline. We've got bulldozers' we've got dump trucks clearing all the sand that was brought in by the force of the ocean. That storm surge we piled up all this debris across this area and the cleanup really for the coastal roads continues to stretch along. It's very difficult still to drive on highway 90. That really important roadway that was damaged so heavily from Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.
More of the same this time. Of course the water level didn't get as high, but still bad enough to give these residents behind me a fright. The cleanup continues here, Fredricka. It's going to take at least another couple of days to restore things back to normal here. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Indeed. Thanks so much, Derek van Dam. Appreciate it.
All right. Well, Nate is no longer a hurricane, but it is so capable of bringing plenty of wind and rain as it travels north.
Now, let's check in with CNN meteorologist, Tom Sater. So, Tom, how much more power does it still have?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's more of a nuisance storm right now, Fredricka. I mean, some beneficial rains even to the southeastern U.S.
But let's back up a little bit and you go to last Tuesday. Tropical storm Nate moved in and became deadly in Central America. After weeks of heavy rain, the river's rarity swollen and it took at least 22 precious lives and some are still missing.
Thought it was going to make landfall in Cancun, but stayed just to the east which is interesting because it stayed just to the east of New Orleans. The tracks were going to take it over New Orleans, but sparing them with the stronger winds around the core in eastward.
First landfall, 6:55. Second landfall Biloxi at 12:30 in the morning. And now it's a tropical depression. The last advisory has been issued. The center of the storm is just about almost northwest now of Birmingham. But again, most of the rain still associated with this can trigger some pretty good storms.
In fact, we've seen some of the heavier gusts, stronger gusts, 89 miles per hour and parts of Louisiana and Mississippi 70. There were some other isolated totals as well as far as the winds. Keesler Air Force beach, 70 miles per hour -- or base that is. Pascagoula not only getting in on the winds, got in on the storm surge. About a six- feet storm surge at Pascagoula, but Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 10 feet.
So that is going to leave a mark and that's why they're cleaning up as Derek was mentioning. Now, we're going to watch the system race off towards the north and the northeast. But the bands that said this system continue to produce some severe weather.
We're starting to see some severe thunderstorm warnings and that band is quickly making its way through Athens, Georgia. It'll be moving into South Carolina. And the possibility of flight delays with this system is probably going to make its presence known from Atlanta, maybe toward even charlotte this evening and then up to the north.
I wouldn't be surprised if maybe around, say, Nashville, maybe the back end of the rainfall, Pittsburgh and then in towards areas of New York and the metro area airports there.
So again, it's still going to kick up wind, not much. It's going to drop some rainfall. But we've been looking at a drought in some areas of the southeastern U.S. In fact, many locations, Fred, haven't picked up any rain since Irma move through. So it's actually beneficial. Thank goodness the system picked up speed, because if it was a slow mover, it would have made landfall easily as a category two or category three, but they just don't like to move fast. But it was at our benefit, thank goodness, that it did keeping it at a category one.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Potentially more flooding.
All right. Tom Sater, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Next, details of the note the Las Vegas gunman left behind. What his handwritten calculations tell investigators about his massacre plot.
WHITFIELD: Hello everyone and welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks for being with me.
So Vice President Pence attends an NFL football game in Indianapolis and then tweets why he left saying, "I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem."
Ryan Nobles is at the White House with now a response or explanation coming from the president on this move.
[14:30:00] NOBLES: Yes, Fredricka, if you thought we could get through week five in the NFL season without politics, we were sadly mistaken. As you mentioned, the vice president taking an early exit from that Indianapolis Colts game and now the president himself is taking credit for the vice president's decision to leave that game early.
President Trump tweeting just a few minutes ago, "I asked VP Pence to leave the stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and second Lady Karen." "Mike Pence was there because Peyton Manning, the long-time quarterback of Indianapolis Colts was being honored with his number being retired before the event. He tweeted before the game. That's why he was there to honor Peyton Manning. He, of course, the former governor of Indiana.
And you see here in this tweet here is standing for the national anthem before the game, but there were a few players from the San Francisco 49ers who knelt, as part of a protest. It's been ongoing since last season protesting racial injustice.
Those protests grew exponentially when the president of the United States attacked the person who started all of this protesting, Colin Kaepernick, who's actually not even in the league right now during his speech in Alabama a few weeks ago.
We saw a ton of players kneel in the second week, but each week there have been fewer and fewer. You have to wonder, Fred, now with the vice president actually exiting an NFL game as it was taking place that this controversy is going to be stirred right back up again. Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much from the White House. Appreciate it. So one week to the day of the Las Vegas massacre, survivors will be able to get back their belongings that they lost while fleeing the gunshots. Officials are also offering emotional counseling that they may need.
Investigators are still searching for a motive in the shooting, but they may have found a new clue in a mysterious note the gunman left behind in his hotel room. A source tells CNN the note contains written calculations for targeting the crowd.
CNN's Stephanie Elam joins me now from Las Vegas. So, Stephanie, are authorities any loser to linking these calculations to a motive?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, not that we know of at this point, Fred. All they can tell is that they were looking at the trajectory and the distance calculating that from the 32nd floor window across Las Vegas Boulevard into that crowd there at the concert venue.
That the calculations there doesn't help paint anymore clearer the motive behind. It just that he was actually really targeting that, but we know that already based on what we've seen happening.
This one is really perplexing investigators as they look finding out the reason why this man would have done this, why he was targeting this crowd and that is still not clear. That's frustrating because normally within the first couple of days, they are able to pinpoint why someone would do this.
The other news that we have today is that they are trying to reunite people, victims who were there at the concert with their belongings. They had a press conference today to talk a bit about that.
That they have this center where they are allowing people to come back and get their things. One thing that's worth noting that a lot of people lost their phones. Several people I've talked to talk about how in the mayhem to get out of there, they dropped their purses and wallets and phones.
That's the kind of thing that they are trying to reunite people with just from one section, Section A through F. They've only catalogued everything from Section A, and they also said that they are charging a bunch of these phones because they would have died.
So, that people will be able to come and describe it and identify it and hopefully pick it up here at the convention center, but a long tedious task ahead. They are trying to work as quickly as possible to get people back their belongings that they lost from the chairs that were there to hats to any clothing that they lost in the venue site last Sunday -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: A massive arduous undertaking. All right. Thanks so much, Stephanie Elam in Las Vegas.
All right. Straight ahead, body cam video released showing Salt Lake City police shooting a man who was running away. We will get reaction including what the prosecutor said he won't press charges.
WHITFIELD: New questions are being raised after the Salt Lake City Police Department released body cam footage from a police-shooting death in August. The footage was recently released and the video we are about to show you is graphic and some of you may want to look away.
WHITFIELD: So it comes from three different body cameras. You see Patrick Harmon after he had been detained by police while riding his bicycle. Harmon runs and then you see the Officer Clinton Fox firing his weapon.
The Salt Lake City Police Department declined to comment. They say the officer is still on modified duty until an internal investigation is completed.
Polo Sandoval joining me now from New York. So, Polo, can you walk us through what was seen in that video?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's important too, Fred. Exactly what led up to that critical moment when that police office in Salt Lake City shot and killed this 50-year-old man. We will play some of that video is graphic, but it's important to walk away with at least a clearer idea of what took place in Salt Lake City in mid- August.
Again, all this playing out on August 13th that's when Salt Lake City police encountered this 50-year-old man. We know his name is Patrick Harmon. Investigators saying that this gentleman reportedly according to the District Attorney's Office rode on his bicycle across six road lanes and was missing a red reflector on the back of his bike, a tail light, if you will.
That's what initiated the stop. During this conversation that's happening here on that video, that's when police officers are speaking to this gentleman when they find out that he had several outstanding warrants.
One of them a felony aggravated assault warrant. They begin with the arrest process and that's when Mr. Harmon turns around and begins to run away from officers and that is when one officer fires his tazer and a second officer that you mentioned, Officer Clinton Fox fires his pistol, shooting three times.
We now know the outcome here. This 50-year-old man declared dead there at the hospital. WHITFIELD: So, the prosecutor declined to press charges in this case. Was there any explanation and what is the procedure when there is a tazer involve and then it's followed by real gunfire?
SANDOVAL: And that is the other part of the story here, the important thing. Investigators saying that the District Attorney's Office determined that this 50-year-old man at one point in the video turns around and produces a knife and said, quote, "I'm going to cut or stab."
And that is what prompted the response from officers shooting and killing this man, but again, he reportedly had a knife. Now this gentleman's family speaking to "The Guardian" saying that he was simply turning around running away.
The NAACP also adding with their own response quite disturbed by what they saw. I will read you a portion of the statement that CNN received earlier today. The NAACP saying, quote, "It seemed more like could have been done by the police officers to apprehend Mr. Patrick Harmon than shooting him in the back as he ran."
They go on to say that he was never actually given time to heed the warnings by those police officers. So, at this point, though, the district attorney after this investigation determining that they will not press charges against the officers saying that the use of force was justified.
But it is nonetheless prompting some serious questions concerned and some outrage by some local activists.
WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval in New York, thanks so much.
[14:40:02] Also, there is this video, another fatal police shooting in North Carolina. Again, a caution for viewers as this video too is disturbing.
WHITFIELD: It appears that the man was shot as he had his hands up. The officer yelled for him to drop his gun. It's not clear from the videos whether the man was indeed holding a gun.
The police were responding to a call from the man who said he had a gun, but no bullets. He had been drinking and also wanted to be picked up. He was also incoherent. Both officers are on administrative assignment pending an investigation.
Still ahead, Iran talking tough, issuing a new stern warning to the U.S. if the White House moves forward with new sanctions.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Iran today issuing a stern warning to the U.S. if the Trump administration decertifies the Iran nuclear deal as early as this week.
Let's bring in CNN's senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. So, Fred, what is the threat or the warning from Iran?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The warning comes from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is obviously their elite military force, Fredricka, and they are telling the Americans, look, you better stay at least 2,000 kilometers or about 1,600 miles clear of Iranian territory if you are going to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization.
That's how far the Iranians say that their missiles can go, their medium range missiles and the threat comes from the head of the IRGC called Muhammad Ali Jafari (ph). He came out today and said, quote, "If the speculations about the U.S. administration's stupid decision to designate the IRGC or Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization are true, the IRGC will in turn treat the U.S. Army around the world particularly in the Middle East as Daesh or ISIL forces."
Otherwise, they are saying they would treat them the same way that they treat ISIS. Obviously, Iran is in heavy combat with ISIS both in Iraq and Syria as well. So, it is a very stern warning, however, unclear how they are going to make good on that warning.
Because certainly, they are very much overmatched in relation to any U.S. forces that are in the Middle East. But certainly, once again, a ratcheting up of the rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran.
And as you said, what is going to be a pivotal week in U.S.-Iranian relations with the Trump administration on the one hand having to make the decision as to whether to recertify or not recertify the Iran nuclear deal.
We obviously have indications that President Trump is not going to recertify it and then see how they move forward. Whether there is going to be new sanctions and designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. It looks as though more trouble ahead in the relations between this administration and the Iranians -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much from Moscow. Appreciate it.
All right. Still to come, he was on the stage in Las Vegas when gunshots rang out. Last night, Jason Aldean was on "Saturday Night Live" paying tribute to the victims.
WHITFIELD: Exactly one week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Americans are gathering at religious services across the nation offering up prayers for the victims and their families and seeking solace in the wake of this horrifying attack.
Joining me right now on the phone, Bishop Dan Edwards of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada. Bishop, your community is still reeling from this unimaginable massacre in their hometown. Glad you could be with us. What are you telling your congregants today and what are you hearing from them?
BISHOP DAN EDWARDS, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF NEVADA (via telephone): Yes, Fredricka. Thank you for having me. We have had our clergy on the streets into casinos, to the coroner's offices trying to provide support to people in crisis. People in our congregations have lost friends, relatives, and acquaintances and others have had triggers of old traumas.
We are responding to those folks individually and offering reassurance and comfort. But the congregation as a whole, we are trying to address the meaninglessness of this tragedy and the chaotic nonsense of it.
And we believe that it's up to us to provide meaning for it by how we respond and how we go forward. We are saying to them that there are three streams of evil that have converged to create mass murder in America.
We have to respond to that. One of them is the disintegration of our communities as we divide up into smaller and smaller groups and there is alienation and loneliness and powerlessness that creates despair and despair breeds violence.
The second is our societal addiction to discord. I just have been watching it play out on CNN today. Even our leaders who are supposed to be bringing us together have become discord junkies and make up issues to divide up (inaudible). So, we are teaching our people the discipline of listening to each other and caring about each other and respecting the dignity of people with whom they disagree.
[14:55:04] And the third is our veneration of violence. Our treating of violence as what makes us matter. We see that the veneration violence enshrined in the laws and our entertainment industry and in the surging industry of producing and selling weaponry for mass killings.
So, we feel obligated to respond to these three evils as a way to make this tragedy have some meaning.
WHITFIELD: And Bishop, you know, collectively, you as a member of this group called the Bishops United Against Gun Violence, which includes 70 episcopal bishops who are advocating for stricter gun control laws including background checks on all gun purchases. The group saying this on the website.
"We must ground our arguments in an ethic of shared responsibility, support them with logic and credible data and articulate them with a charity to those with whom we disagree and must be willing to continue speaking when it seems our words make no difference."
So, what are your expectations of what might happen next following the Newtown massacre and the Orlando nightclub massacre and now this?
EDWARDS: My sincere hope is that we can have a calm and rational conversation with people about how to proceed. I do believe in background checks and I believe they are important. Background checks would not have been important for this particular incident.
Bump stocks and hundred round magazine card ridges are important. We can have conversations that do not necessarily threaten people. Hunting rifles or hand guns for safety. This is not a yes or no kind of question.
This is a question which is a lot of room for listening to each other respectfully and coming to reasonable agreement for the safety of our people. If we care about our people, we have to act for their safety.
WHITFIELD: And Bishop, really quickly, you have said that you do believe at the root of the gun violence problem is that there is a real disconnect that many people are feeling to their communities. What do you mean by that?
EDWARDS: There has been declines not only in church participation, but in service-club participation and all sorts of civic engagement so that people are alienated. In their alienation, they feel powerless and that makes them more inclined in violence as a religion, which is starkly in opposition to Jesus teaching of nonviolence.
All the leading religions have nonviolent at their hearts, but it's important that we call people back to nonviolence and back to authentic relationships with their neighbors.
WHITFIELD: Bishop Dan Edwards, thank you so much for your time today.
EDWARDS: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Among those paying tribute to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre, last night "Saturday Night Live" taking a stand with the man who was on stage when the gunshots rained down in Las Vegas, country music star, Jason Aldean.
The segment in which he was singing also included a tribute to legendary rocker, Tom Petty, who died last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON ALDEAN, COUNTRY SINGER: Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends. They are all part of our family. I want to say to them we hurt for you. We hurt with you.
But you can be sure that we are going to walk through these tough times together every step of the way. When America is at its best, our bond and our spirit is unbreakable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone and thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
It is a new war of words in Washington and this one is Republican versus Republican. This morning, the president of the United States firing off three pointed tweets trashing one of the highest-ranking Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee.