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White House Daily Briefing Wraps Up; 13 Dead, Dozens Missing as Fires Rage in California; Las Vegas Killer Shot Guard 6 Minutes Before Firing on Concertgoers. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't talked to him specifically about that, but I would certainly imagine the president wholeheartedly stands by his statement on that.
SANDERS: Oh, sorry.
QUESTION: The other thing -- the other question I had was that last Sunday, before the tragic events in Las Vegas, Catalonia had its vote. The president had said the week before, when he was with Prime Minister Rajoy, he supported a unified Spain.
Today, the president of the state of Catalonia said he would not declare independence, but would seek independence from Spain through negotiations at this time. What's the administration's position on that?
SANDERS: Our position hasn't changed. But we would, you know, certainly welcome the president (sic) of Spain in conversations between us and them moving forward. But we haven't -- there's nothing different from what the president said when he was here a couple of weeks ago.
QUESTION: So you welcome the talks with Catalonians...
SANDERS: I think that's for the people of Spain, Catalonia (ph) to decide. But our position is still consistent with what the president said a couple of weeks ago.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.
I have a couple of questions for you.
Do you stand by your statement that Bob Corker rolled out the red carpet for the Iran deal?
SANDERS: I do. I just made it about 10 minutes ago.
(LAUGHTER) QUESTION: (inaudible) originally oppose the Iran deal and even led a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to have it reviewed by Congress despite former President Obama not wanting that review to take place. How can you say that he rolled out the red carpet for the deal, then?
SANDERS: He worked with them on the INARA legislation that rolled that out. That's what helped, I think, put things in motion.
He may have voted against the deal ultimately, but he not only allowed the deal to happen, he gave it credibility, and I stand by what I said.
QUESTION: I have one -- one quick follow-up, Sarah, on taxes.
The president repeated his claim in the Oval Office today, saying we're the highest-taxed nation in the world. Why does the president keep saying this? It's not true, overall.
SANDERS: We are the highest taxed -- corporate tax in the developed economy. That's a fact.
QUESTION: But that's not what the president said.
SANDERS: That's what he's -- that's what he's talking about. We are the highest corporate-taxed country in the developed economies across the globe.
QUESTION: Sarah, so that's -- that's accurate, but the president keeps repeating this claim that we're the highest-taxed nation in the world.
SANDERS: And that's -- we are the highest-taxed corporate nation. That's...
QUESTION: But that's not what he said. He said we're the highest- taxed nation in the world.
SANDERS: The highest-taxed corporate nation. It seems pretty consistent to me. Sorry, we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Sarah, (inaudible), the president talked about an economic development (inaudible). Does he see that as a way to basically (ph) get tax reform through, (inaudible) working hand-in- glove?
SANDERS: Yeah, we certainly want to move tax reform through. I think the president's position -- American companies have been forced to send their operations, and more importantly a lot of their jobs, overseas, due to decades of increased taxes and overregulation. In addition to historic tax and regulatory reform, the president's looking at additional ways to bring jobs and profits back to our shores.
QUESTION: Sarah, the Chamber of Commerce said today that the White House is putting poison pills in the NAFTA negotiations to make them unpalatable. Does the president want these talks to continue, or does he wants these harsher measures that the United States is -- is proposing to end the talks?
SANDERS: The -- the president wants to continue the conversation. But the president's ultimate goal is to make sure that we get the best deal for Americans as possible, and certainly for American workers. He's been clear that he doesn't think the current structure is a good one, and he wants a better deal.
So we're going to keep moving forward, and see how these conversations go. And that's where we are in the process.
QUESTION: What will he say to Prime Minister Trudeau about that tomorrow?
SANDERS: I'm not going to get ahead of their conversations. But we'll have a readout, as we always do, about meetings.
QUESTION: Sarah, how do you think these ongoing fights with Republicans on Capitol Hill help the president's agenda, tax reform, first and foremost?
SANDERS: The president's very committed to getting tax reform done.
Look, he's calling on Congress to get their job done. They're on another vacation right now. I think that we would all be a lot better off if the Senate would stop taking vacations, and start staying here until we actually get some real things accomplished. The president's here, and he's committed to working with them to do that.
QUESTION: I think the Senate's working today, though.
But how specifically does belittling the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee help with tax reform? Because the president may need his vote on that.
SANDERS: Well, look, then hopefully Senator Corker, who's been somebody who's consistently talked about being a fiscal hawk, was presented with responsible cuts, that he would certainly support those.
QUESTION: I just wanted to tie up a loose end on one of the president's tweets this morning.
He said that the NFL is getting massive tax breaks. He called on Congress to change tax law. What specific changes was he calling for? The NFL claims it no longer seeks a tax-exempt status. SANDERS: Well, while the NFL may have given up its tax-exempt status a few years ago, it's been well-documented that billions of taxpayer dollars continue to subsidize the construction and renovation of professional sports stadiums.
If this industry is going to use money from American taxpayers to build the very fields they play on, is it really too much to ask that they show respect for the American flag at the beginning of the game?
QUESTION: Is it appropriate for the vice president of the United States to spend taxpayer money to go to a football game where he's going to walk out if players take a knee, knowing that he would be taking that action?
SANDERS: I think it's appropriate. The vice president was invited. He attended that game. And I think it's always appropriate for the leaders of our country to stand up for the national anthem, to stand up for our flag, and to stand up for the men and women who fought and died for it.
QUESTION: ... taxpayer money be spent in that way, though?
QUESTION: ... question. The president said today that there would be adjustments made to the tax bill that is being worked on. You just said, though, that adjustments might not be made; the framework stands as it is. So I'm curious as to...
SANDERS: Is that a final piece of legislation -- our framework? He asked me specifically if our framework -- our priorities would change. Our priorities remain the same. But the final piece of legislation hasn't been finalized.
So this is a time of negotiation, but the principles and the priorities that we've laid out are not up for negotiations.
QUESTION: OK, but just specifically talking about the negotiation point versus big-ticket items that may or may not be red lines or what he may or may not move on?
SANDERS: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part of your question.
QUESTION: Just talking about basic negotiations, and not necessarily top-end, top-level numbers that have already been laid out.
SANDERS: At this time, the president's laid out his principles and those have not changed. That framework is still the same.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Sarah, in that (inaudible) interview, the president said he's not planning to fill some of the vacancies in the federal government because those positions are unnecessary. Is he comfortable with the level of vacancies in the State Department and some of the other Cabinet departments?
SANDERS: There are still some positions that he is working to fill, and a lot of individuals that are in the queue and going through the process -- the vetting process that is very lengthy.
Certainly want to fill some of the open positions, but not all of them. The president came to Washington to drain the swamp and get rid of a lot of duplication and make government more efficient. And so if we can have one person do a job instead of six, then we certainly want to do that and save taxpayer dollars.
SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to try to cover everybody.
QUESTION: One quick question. I wanted to follow up on your answer. Who invited the vice president (inaudible)?
SANDERS: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Who invited the vice president...
SANDERS: I believe he was there to present an award. I don't know all the details. I'd encourage you to contact the vice president's office.
But that's my understanding: He was invited to present an award a few weeks ago.
QUESTION: And the second question about the president's tweets about Bob Corker, he said, "He begged me to endorse him for reelection in Tennessee." Bob Corker's office has (inaudible) not happen, saying that the president actually called him and asked him to reconsider his retirement.
Is the president telling the truth about this account?
QUESTION: (inaudible) you're talking about are made by states and local governments. So is the president now supporting federalization to take that power out of the hands of state and local governments to subsidize local stadiums if they want to do so?
SANDERS: No, I think he's just making the point that if these individuals are going to be supported in large part and subsidized by taxpayers, that a large percentage -- a majority of Americans have said that they want NFL players to stand. That he's just drawing that connection between the two.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) says change the tax law, he doesn't actually mean change the tax law?
SANDERS: I'm saying the federal tax law doesn't apply here. But certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.
QUESTION: How does the president -- how does the president expect the secretary of state to be effective when he's questioning his intelligence?
SANDERS: Again, he wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. He made...
SANDERS: ... he made a joke. Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime. But he simply made a joke.
SANDERS: He's been extremely clear time and time again. Despite the fact that you guys want to continue to bring this up and create a story, he's got a hundred percent confidence in the secretary of state. He said it multiple times over the last couple of weeks.
And we're trying to move forward and focus on the agenda, while you guys want to move forward and talk about who likes who, when that's simply not what we're doing here.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.
So (inaudible) of the agenda, the president in his (inaudible) interview earlier today said that he's got an economic development bill that he's working on. He said nobody knows anything about it, and says that it's the first time he's talking about it. It would have some kind of a carrot-and-stick approach for companies that left the United States.
Can you tell us more about what the president plans, and when that's going to happen, given that you've got immigration, tax reform and a whole bunch of other things moving on the Hill?
SANDERS: As I've said a few minutes ago, that in addition to the historic tax cuts and regulatory reform, the president's looking at different ways that we can bring jobs and profits back to our shores. That's all I have on that front at this point.
Also, the president's getting ready to have another event here shortly, so we'll end with that, but we'll be here the rest of the day to answer your questions.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Got a couple of folks standing by as the White House briefing just wrapped.
I want to begin with the headline in the wake of the president's comments. "Forbes" magazine, they are asking him about the reports that his secretary of state referred to the president as a "moron," and the president said, "I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare I.Q. tests, and I can tell you who is going to win."
Heather Conley, former deputy secretary of state and senior V.P. for Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Heather, you are up first.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it's a joke. It was a joke. You need to get a sense of humor. It was a joke. It was a joke.
HEATHER CONLEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR EUROPE, EURASIA & THE ARCTIC, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, it's a joke, but it comes at the backdrop of really an extraordinarily exchange both between the secretary of state and president of United States as well as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Really questioning each other's competency, capability and seriousness. Look, this is going to be significant when the president makes his decision about decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and, we're told, presenting a comprehensive strategy towards Iran. It's important to note Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson do not support decertification of the Iran nuclear agreement. This is a cabinet that is in disagreement with the president. It's not about I.Q.s. We need to put our collective I.Q.s and focus on these critical issues like Iran, like North Korea. And this is just, again, distracting everyone from keeping their eye on some very big foreign policy prizes, of which Senator Corker did say, miscalculation could lead to conflict.
BALDWIN: Heather, you make a point on policy. I think a lot of people are still hung up on this. He is essentially challenging the secretary of state to an intelligence dual in an I.Q. test. And if the press secretary thinks it's a joke, he's actually mentioned it, like almost two dozen times, the notion of I.Q. tests. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I tweeted that Rick Perry should have to have an I.Q. test before getting on the debate stage.
Sit back, I'll match my I.Q. with someone. With all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He's the type being ignorant.
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Let's do an I.Q. test.
And I keep hearing about global warming. Now they say he doesn't understand. Let's do I.Q. tests.
The so-called egg heads. And by the way, I guarantee you, my I.Q. is much higher than theirs are.
I guarantee you, I have vocabulary better than all of them, certainly most of them. I know I have an I.Q. better than all of them. I know that.
Governor Perry, a never nice guy. He made nasty statements about me. And then I challenged his I.Q., which wasn't nice to do.
And I challenged his glasses. What the hell are you wearing glasses for? I said the glasses aren't working.
One thing we have learned, we have, by far, the highest I.Q. of any cabinet.
I guarantee my I.Q. is much higher than any of these people.
TRUMP: My uncle was one of the great professors at MIT. I mean, believe me, it's good genes. We believe in genes, right? We are allowed to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Nia, what's with the I.Q. obsession?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, I think this is an obsession with I.Q., and also just an obsession with sort of metrics. Right?
HENDERSON: Numbers, metrics, data, polls. Also obsessed with height. Talks about Little Marco and Liddle Bob Corker. He sort of talked about Rand Paul in disparaging ways, because Rand Paul isn't as tall as Donald Trump is. So, yes, this is all about Trump being the alpha male. And I can beat you. And my goodness his hands are big, too, according to Donald Trump. It's all of the same piece, I think, for Donald Trump of wanting to be the biggest and best and brightest. He went to Wharton. He has good brain. All those sorts of things. So, yes, it's not surprising to hear him talk in that way.
But in some ways, I think when you think about Tillerson, this idea that it was a joke, right, this I.Q. test, I mean the real question for Tillerson, is he considered a joke on the world stage. Right? And is that happening because of what the president is saying about him? Right? Does he actually have the confidence of the president? If you are sitting down, and you are a world leader or a high official in any of these foreign governments, do you have the confidence that Tillerson speaks for the president? And that is the way in which he's undermining his secretary of state. Even as Sanders there says, oh, it's just a joke, get a sense of humor, he's very much complicating the secretary's job there.
[14:45:28] BALDWIN: Did Tillerson's power getting watered down because of the comments from the president of the United States?
Let me move on. You mentioned the president's latest nickname, "Liddle Corker," L-I-D-D-L-E'.
Jamil, this is for you.
This feud back and forth with Senator Bob Corker, the House says it's not to decide whether he should quit.
Jamil, what do you make of this back and forth with Senator Corker and the White House, and the fact that he really is the only Republican, you know, to stand up and speak the way he has about the president?
JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO SENATOR BOB CORKER: Well, look, Brooke, Bob Corker is very straightforward guy. Calls it like he sees it. And the thing is you can see what you want on the podium of the White House, but doesn't make it true. The reality is Barack Obama opposed the Iran Nuclear Review Act. Barack Obama pushed the Iran deal. Bob Corker got bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate to vote against the nuclear deal. So the idea somehow from the podium or from Twitter --
BALDWIN: They said he paved the way.
JAFFER: That's ridiculous. That's laughable. Barack Obama wanted to veto the Iran Nuclear Review Act. So that's hardly paving the way. He only acceded to it when Bob Corker got a bipartisan majority, a veto-proof majority, by the way, in both Houses. So this notion he paved the way, totally false. And I think Sarah ought to go on record and correct the record. It's just false.
And we know he's not seeking re-election. He wants to fulfill his term though, correct?
BALDWIN: Because of this back and forth, he's going to stay to the final day?
JAFFER: Absolutely. He's a straightforward guy. He represents the state of Tennessee, like he's done for the last decade. And he will continue to do that. And he's going to continue to be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
And look, Brooke, leadership begins at the top. So if the president wants to lead, he needs to not blow up members of his own party, whether it's Mitch McConnell or Rex Tillerson or Jeff Sessions or Bob Corker. He's got to stop doing that, and move the agenda forward, which we all support. We want the president's agenda to move forward, but it can't, if he keeps blowing up members of his own party.
BALDWIN: Jamil, Heather and Nia, thanks you all very much.
BALDWIN: Moments from now, President Trump welcomes the Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the White House. The president embracing hockey amid his battle with the NFL over national anthem protests. We'll take that live.
Also, we are following explosive developments today involving Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Several women coming forward now, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, just the latest names detailing their encounters with him. More on that storm on this Tuesday afternoon on CNN.
[14:52:35] BALDWIN: We have to talk about what's happening in California. At least 13 people have been killed from the wildfires that have left firefighters stretched. Nearly two dozen fires are burning right now in both the northern and southern parts of the state.
The biggest and deadliest is Tubbs Fire in Sonoma outside of Santa Rosa, California. When you see the pictures, the land there is just scorched. Firefighters are nowhere near putting it out. And it's still not contained.
The Atlas Peak Fire in Napa also not contained. Thousands of people throughout wine country have been evacuated. And let me show you something else. This is the view taken by a passenger aboard an airplane landing in San Francisco. They could see it through the window from high above.
In southern California, the Canyon Two Fire in Anaheim Hills has forced thousands from their homes. And just look at the orange sky line hovering over Disneyland. Canyon Two is the largest fire in Orange County in nearly a decade.
So with me now, Jeff Okrepkie. He lost his northern California home in the Tubbs Fire.
So, Jeff, thank you so much for joining me. I'm so-so sorry.
JEFF, LOST HOME BY WILDFIRE: Thank you. No problem.
BALDWIN: Losing a house is one thing, but let me first ask you about you and your family. Are you all safe?
OKREPKIE: Yes. We were able to evacuate in a timely manner. So me and my wife, my two-year-old son and dogs are all safe.
BALDWIN: Good. When or how did you decide to evacuate?
OKREPKIE: It was kind of forced upon us. Basically, I was getting ready for bed around 10:30 and we saw Atlas Peak was on fire. And if you are from this area, it is important to the wine industry. And caught my attention and I woke my wife up and said something about it. And we could hear the winds picking up. And there were, I think, it got up to 65 or 70-mile-per-hour winds coming through the area. It was a red flag warning day. And it was a little concerting. Started to smell the smoke and the then we saw there was a report of Mark West Springs Road, which is in Sonoma County. And we were like, oh, wow, that's really close and started to get a little concerned. Then the smell got worse. And we started to hear it was moving forwards this area called Fountain Grove, which is right across the highway from us. But we thought we were safe. We were on the other side of a six-lane highway, the 101, and we thought a forest fire isn't going to reach a development across a six-lane highway. And --
[14:55:16] BALDWIN: But it did.
OKREPKIE: But it did. We were outside. Our power flickered. And started to gather candles, flash lights, those kinds of things, and water. And changed our clothes. Started talking about, if it does take us, what will we take? I saw our neighbors out in the street and went outside and was talking to them. Wind was insane, because it was blowing so fast. And I used to live in Arizona. They used to have dust devils, like mini tornados that kick up dust. It was like that but it was smoke and ash. And we were talking just about how crazy this whole situation was. And a lady came running down the street and she screamed, "It jumped 101 and Hopper is on fire." Hopper is the main street that runs through our development. So we looked at each other and like, oh, go, go, go. We grabbed as much as we could. I put my wife, kids and dogs in one car and sent them to my brother-in- law's house. Then while I was packing up my car, embers started rolling down the street, just kind of like sparks from like a welding -- from somebody welding, bouncing down the street. And it was like, all right, I don't have time to get anything else out.
BALDWIN: You've got to go.
BALDWIN: It's like wife, kids, dogs, photo albums, gone.
BALDWIN: Jeff Okrepkie, I'm just so glad you and the family are OK. You and all the folks in California are in our thoughts. We'll stay in contact with you.
OKREPKIE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you so very much. I'm so sorry you, like so many others, have lost your entire home.
We'll keep covering California. But I want to switch gears and talk Las Vegas. We have a stunning time line change in that Las Vegas massacre. The killer's first victim, as it turns out, was shot inside the hotel before the gunman ever turned his weapons on those thousands of concertgoers down at the music festival way up from 32nd floor of the hotel suite. This victim, it turns out, was a security guard, who was shot a full six minutes before the gunman started his rampage. This new timeline coming after police previously had said the guard approached the gunman's room as shooting was under way diverting his attention.
So I have Art Roderick here, CNN law enforcement analyst, and former assistant director of the U.S. Marshall Service.
Here we were on tv late saturday night and thinking, oh, you know, thank goodness it was an alarm that went on and his shooting this security guard that must have diverted his attention to murdering all these people, when, alas, it was in reverse.
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Even though the sheriff comes out and says it's a minute change in the timeline, it's a big change when talking about operations on the ground. Law enforcement, I'm sure, in that initial call came in about the guard being shot was responding to a confined area, not knowing what was going to happen 10 minutes later. The response wouldn't have been 150 police officers, it would have been probably a good-sized force showing up because there was a shooting involved. But it completely changed 10 minutes later when the 911 calls started coming in from the concertgoers.
BALDWIN: You were chatting earlier in my office, asking, so many people can't wrap their heads around the fact they don't have any motive. And granted, we hope they aren't telling us everything they know.
BALDWIN: But you were making the point that this shooter probably did this on purpose.
RODERICK: Yes. If somebody wants to let out what their motive was, and usually within 24 to 48 hours, the motive is out there on all these shootings that we've had had. I think this guy, knowing his background, and that he's the smartest guy in the room, the smartest guy in any room, didn't want.
BALDWIN: Or so he thought.
RODERICK: So he thought.
BALDWIN: Words in the deposition.
RODERICK: So he thought. I think this is probably part of his last game, his final game, was basically to tell law enforcement, you figure it out now because I'm not going to tell you guys. There is nothing anywhere that I've written down.
Got one more for you. This is what the sheriff revealed last night about the gunman's escape plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE LOMBARDO, SHERIFF, LAS VEGAS METRO POLICE: We know that he attempted to shoot at the fuel tanks. We know he had some personal protection equipment in the room. We know that the car that was down in the parking garage still contained binary explosives. So I would be comfortable in saying, which I believe, depending on the -- depending on the splash he made during the shooting, would it enable the first responders to be directing their attention in other locations, which would enable Mr. Paddock to leave the hotel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Quickly, what do you think of that?
RODERICK: I think it's a possibility, but I think he probably --