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Update on the Mass Shooting in Pulse Nightclub in Orlando; Pres. Obama Slams Trump As "Dangerous"; Remembering The Victims; Source: Gunman Told Wife Of Interest In Terror Attack; Florida Gov. On Criticism From LGBT Community; Source: Killer Cased Disney, Gay Club In Early June. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 14, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening.

We are live tonight from the Orlando regional medical center where 22 patients are still hospitalized after the shooting massacre at Pulse gay nightclub three nights ago. Six others are at another hospital here in Orlando. And certainly our thoughts are with all of these patients as well as with the 49 people and their families who will not be going home to their loved ones and the countless people who are grappling with that sad reality tonight.

Over the next two hours this evening you are going to hear from survivors, you will hear from a mom whose son, Drew and his partner, Juan, both were killed. We honor their memories and all the victims as we cover this tragedy. We will not probably no be saying the name of shooter or showing his picture. We will say the victims' names and show you their picture and tell you as much as we know about them. That is where we believe the focus belongs.

We are getting new information tonight about the killer and that is important to share with you as investigators figure out who he was, why he did what he did and what if anything those closest to him knew about it all.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me and also senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin. Both have been working their sources since this began.

Pamela, let's start with you. What are you hearing about the wife?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, law enforcement sources tell us, Anderson, that the wife knew her husband wanted to launch a jihadist attack. In fact that he expressed interest in doing that. And she said his behavior became more and more violent. But she claims, she is telling investigators that she didn't know about his specific plans to go to Pulse nightclub and launch an attack there. And she claims to investigators that when she found out that he wanted to launch an attack that she tried to dissuade him from doing so and talk him out of it but --

COOPER: But she never call any police. BROWN: And that is key here. And that is what investigators are

focused on because that's a felony to know that someone wants to commit a crime and not go to federal authorities and tell them, conceal that knowledge. It's a felony. And so right now as we speak, DOJ investigators are trying to build a case to determine whether they can prove she had knowledge of the attack and didn't report it to authorities. It's one thing to know it, even though she was saying she was going to launch an attack and it's another to prove it. So they are trying to corroborate everything. She claims she is telling investigators she went to Disney springs with him in Pulse nightclub in early June.

COOPER: She claims she actually went to Pulse nightclub?

BROWN: Yes. She claims that she went to Pulse nightclub with him and also went to Disney springs, which about 20 minutes away from Pulse nightclub. But it is unclear at this point whether she knew that the nightclub was the target of a mass shooting. So they are trying to sort out the extent to what she knew of her husband's plans.

COOPER: And, Drew, what are you learning about the family?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the family is very close. The father lives behind me in house. One of his daughters lives literally just down the street from here. The shooter and his wife lives 20 minutes away. They saw each other constantly, maybe once a week, two, three times a week according to some members of this family, which leads them to believe when we hear from Pamela Brown that the wife knew something was up. What did the family know what's up?

The father insists nothing. They did know nothing. I talked to other members of the family. They claim they knew nothing. The father even told me the last time he saw his son, Anderson, was 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. He came to this house. And the father described the visit as a friendly father/son visit as usual. Obviously investigators are trying drill down to find out what exactly all these family members knew or didn't know but they are very, very close.

COOPER: And Pam, you spoke with the sheriff earlier. What did they say?

BROWN: So the sheriff told me that it was clear that the gunman was scoping out several targets in the Orlando area, but he made clear that this gunman was very familiar with the night club, that it's clear he did preoperational surveillance there and perhaps went there for other reasons and he knew the ins and outs of this night club.

What's unclear to investigators is why exactly he settled on the nightclub as his target. When he was inside, we know that he called 911 and was also speaking Arabic to the 911 operator according to the sheriff and also talking more about, you know, why he launched this attack. He was doing it in the name of Allah and so forth.

COOPER: People I talked to last night who was working at the club, who was performing at the club said that they had seen the gunman there for over the course of three years on and off. Have they confirmed that, do you know?

BROWN: Well, the FBI is leading the investigation. So the sheriff did say that the extent to which it's clear he had knowledge and it is clear he had been there before but he couldn't elaborate on how many times. And I think the patrons are really the witnesses and those are the people that investigators are going to get that information.

COOPER: And of course, we still don't know - I mean, if it is true that he had been there for a three-year period, hard to imagine that he was casing the joint for three years. I mean, that awful lot of patients.

[20:05:07] BROWN: Right. Exactly. And you know, one source I spoke with said this information certainly changes the perspective.

COOPER: They said that?


COOPER: And Drew, I mean, the father had some sort of a television program or internet television program. I read that at one point he had expressed support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Is that confirmed?

GRIFFIN: That is not true. That seemed to be a mistranslation by some members of the media. CNN did transcribe that television show. He is pro-Afghanistan. He is anti-Pakistan. At one point he announced his candidacy for the president of Afghanistan. He of course was born in Afghanistan. His son was not. His son was born here. But he is heavily involved, at least in his own mind, in the politics of Afghanistan. But we didn't see anything from the father that -- on those tapes that showed he was pro-Taliban and conversely anti-U.S. He seemed to be coming in from a perspective of a pro- Afghan as a country.


And, Pamela, you know, a lot of reporting about -- a number of people have come forward and said that this gunman was on gay apps, on a variety of gay hookup apps. No direct commentary that from any of the individuals who have come forward that he was there looking for sex or looking to actually hook up. But, you know, there have been a number of published reports that he was on these for an extended period of time. Is law enforcement looking at that?

BROWN: FBI is looking into these claims, not only, you know, contacting these companies but also talking about to the people who claim that he was on the site. Now the question is they have to verify the profile, make sure it was actually him. There is a lot of vetting that goes into place. But you combine that with this information that he guarded this club for several years, it adds a different layer to this investigation that initially wasn't there.

COOPER: Right. All right, Pamela Brown, thanks very much. Drew Griffin, as well.

I want to continue to talk about what we have been learning. CNN law enforcement analyst and former assistant director of the U.S. marshal services Art Roderick is joining me here on site. And former FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan also joins me as well.

Ali, let's start off with you. In terms of where this investigation is, as someone who worked with the FBI for a long times, who you know, has interviewed jihadists, what stands out to you at this moment?

ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: At this moment, you know, I look at it as the worst mass shooting in the modern American history that took place on the intersection between a hatred crime and terrorism. It is a hatred crime because it happened at a venue that is very popular in the LGBT community. And it happened at a time that is considered a time of pride, a month of pride for a community that has been discriminated against and persecuted for a long period of time. So if you have look at these two, the place and the time, it's definitely a hatred crime.

As for the terrorism, the only reason we're discussing terrorism is because allegedly this individual, when he made the call to 911, he pledged allegiance to ISIS, allegiance to al-Baghdadi. This is extremely important, that definitely put the terrorism factor high on the list. However, it seems that this individual went through so many, you know, different and complicated -- he has a complicated personality. We have a lot of indications that, you know, he is mentally unstable, he is violent, he is a wife beater. And also at the same time, it appears that when it comes to terrorism, he is all over the map. At one point he claimed he is --

COOPER: Right. You are talking about al-Nusra and Hezbollah.

SOUFAN: Yes. Hezbollah is a Shia organization. Al-Nusra is affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Syria. ISIS is totally different than Hezbollah and al-Nusra. Both Hezbollah and Al-Nusra, he claimed he knew the Boston bombers, which is false. You know, he was all over the map. And a lot of the evidence as, you know, we heard Pamela before, we really don't know exactly what's going on yet. I prefer to wait for the FBI investigation and for the law enforcement investigation to know exactly what his motive was. It's definitely a hated crime. It's a mass shooting. It is probably inspired terrorism. However, did ISIS control that? There is no indication of that. Did ISIS order it? There is no indication of that. And I think we have to keep that in mind so far.

COOPER: Yes, I want to bring in Art.

I mean, we mentioned the killer's wife knew to some degree or said that Pulse investigators that she knew he wanted to commit some sort of jihadist act. Can she be prosecuted for this? I mean, clearly somebody who worked for the marshal services, that is something you would want to look at.

[20:10:00] ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. The federal conspiracy law is pretty broad. It's relatively easy to prove. When you're looking at conspiracy, if she knew he was going to be doing this act and verbally told her that and then she took him to buy ammunition or to purchase the weapons and got him around to different locations, that falls into the conspiracy, she could be charged.

COOPER: Even if she didn't know a specific target?

RODERICK: Well, he claimed he was going to go out and kill somebody. Even if it's not a specific target. He claimed he was going to commit some violent acts against person or persons.

COOPER: Because I was got to say, I mean, just on our, you know, obvious way to look at this, if your husband is talking about committing, you know, radical jihadist acts in the United States and then he is taking you out to a gay nightclub, I mean, you put two and two together if you're the wife, I would assume. If sure to think, well, this why is he taking to a gay club?

RODERICK: Yes, exactly. I think at this point she is has been talking to the FBI. This might be something that they are telling her they are going to do if she doesn't cooperate. So I think that's what we are looking at right now to continue her cooperation. They are telling her they are going to charge her with this conspiracy.

COOPER: Ali, I mean, do you buy the fact that she -- it's possible she had no idea exactly what was going on? I mean, do families -- is there someone usually in a family who has some idea?

SOUFAN: I have seen a lot of cases where people in the family will have an idea, a brother, a sister, a father, a wife, even a mother, so this is not surprising. But it's interesting I just saw on the screen down there that the FBI sources are now saying that they are not looking at her as co-conspirator. So there are a lot of information out there. And I think I will prefer to wait to hear an official statement about that. But I don't think it's surprising that someone in his family knew about what he wanted to do.

COOPER: Art, the phone belongs to the gunman said to be now recovered from the club today. Obviously if they can open it up and get information from it, that would be a huge source.

RODERICK: That's always a huge source. Any electronic communication device, I'm sure they took it all out of his house, gaming consoles, computer, whatever.

COOPER: Because it also seems like - I mean, I talked to one eyewitness who said he was outside the club, the night - it didn't actually ended up going in. He was just dropping a friend off, says he saw the killer walking around with his cell phone in his hand about an hour or so before the shooting began.

RODERICK: Exactly. Plus we have the three 911 calls, the two he placed and the one the dispatcher placed back. So that's going to be key bit of information also.

COOPER: Art, appreciate you being with us. Ali Soufan, as well. Always good to talk to you.

Coming up, an incredible survivor story. Jeff Rodriguez sent text messages to his family from inside the club, telling them he had been shot, saying that he was dying. His family did not hear from him before more than 12 agonizing hours before they finally found out he was indeed alive. Jeff's brother joins us to talk about those text messages and how he is doing now.

And we continue, of course, to honor the survivors and victims throughout the evening, their names, their faces, their lives. We will not forget.


[20:16:48] COOPER: Here in Orlando, many families faced obviously an agonizing wait to find out if their loved survived or died in the Pulse nightclub shooting. And that's includes the family of Jeff Rodriguez, who was in the club with the group of friends when the gunfire rang out. He hid in a bathroom and so many did and he texted his brother while the shooter was still firing telling his brother I have been shot at club, dying, I love you. Dead bodies on top of me, he texted. Tell everyone I love them.

His brother Santos replied back "huh"?

Jeff then wrote, I'm bleeding. Guy came. Shut up club, Pulse. I'm dying, Santos.

Jeff then texted love you.

His brother thought it was a joke. Jeff replied not a joke, Santos.

Jeff's next text, no. Some are dead.

His brother, Santos, replied, LMFAO.

At 2:42, Jeff sent his last two text message call mommy, tell her I love her. Love, Santos.

Jeff's brother did a Google search, realized the shooting did happen. Santos's texted Jeffrey and apologizing for thinking it is a joke. He got no replied. The family had to wait for more than 12 hours to find out if Jeff survived and thankfully it turns out he did. He is in the hospital. His brother, Santos joins us right now.

I'm so glad we are here in under this circumstance that your brother had survived. First of all, how is he doing?

SANTOS RODRIGUEZ, BROTHER SURVIVED ORLANDO SHOOTING: He's still in critical condition at the moment. They are very strict with the visiting with him with the way he is right now. He has able to talk. He has able to move his hands and so forth but he is still -- he has a lot of e excruciating pain.

COOPER: He was shot two times?

RODRIGUEZ: He was shot three times.

COOPER: Three times.

RODRIGUEZ: One up here right above the heart, right shoulders and in the neck. And then one (INAUDIBLE) and then one on the leg.

COOPER: Bullets still inside?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, the two from the neck up here and stomach area, they both are inside. Those one landed by the lungs. Didn't hit the lungs but it's right near it and then one here down stomach area is by the lumbar. Didn't hit the lumbar but right there.

COOPER: And he was in one of the bathroom stalls, in a handicap stalls which --

RODRIGUEZ: They were trapped in there.

COOPER: Someone else who was -- there were a lot of people in that stall, some of them never made it out.

RODRIGUEZ: Unfortunately, no, some did not make it out. But he did, a few friends did. There were a lot of injured. There have been a few casualties. I know thank God for his friend Vie. She is in the medical field. If it wasn't for her, I'm 100 percent positive that my brother would have died.

COOPER: Really?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. If it wasn't for her, she was just putting pressure on the wounds.

COOPER: She knew what to do?

RODRIGUEZ: She's in the medical field. So she knew what to do. She knew the process, what to do, what to tell them and so forth. And she was waking up my brother, hey, wake up, wake up, you know, they are coming, they're coming. He's like when are they coming, it's been forever? She said you have to wait, the bomb squad is coming. They are searching the area. And he said I can't. She said wake up. Just like an angel, thankful to him too. He was trying to wake him up, come on, Jeff, you have to wake up, wake up.

COOPER: It's so critical to not let somebody kind of drift off.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, you don't want them drifting off at this moment. And then --.

COOPER: I can't imagine what this was like for you? I mean, when you realize those text messages are in fact real.

[20:20:03] RODRIGUEZ: My heart just sank. I was like my God. God please like, forgive me, I didn't believe him. I believe him. I keep telling myself I believe you. I believe you now, please. I hope you can hear me because I he couldn't hear me. But in myself, I was just talking to myself. I hope you can believe me. And I texted him. And I put pressure on the wound, hopefully can you hear this, read this, like put pressure on the wound and tie it up with a shirt if you have something and just sit tight.

COOPER: What's your brother like?

RODRIGUEZ: He is like outgoing, funny, crazy, joking, loving person. Always about family and friends. He loves 80's free style music. He loves dancing. He loves dancing his life. And he is a huge fan of X- men. It is just -- everything about him is all loveable. You can't go wrong with the guy. And he meet people and they become friends and friends become family. That's the time of person he is.

COOPER: I know you and your dad both wanted to thank the hospital and all the folks who are working really hard.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. You know, we want to thank the hospital, the staff there, the police. We want to thank everyone around, you know, cops, everything. Like it's just all the stuff they put in, all the hours. And people have been bringing in food, people that donated blood. Like my brother took a lot of blood. And that helped a lot. Helped him and helped a lot of people.

COOPER: Well, please give your family our best and I know you're thinking about everyone.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. Those folks who didn't make it, my heart goes out to those families.

COOPER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

COOPER: We're going to have a lot more tonight over the next two hours.

President Obama ripping into Donald Trump and Trump firing back during a rally tonight in North Carolina. The politics of extremism when 360 continues.


[20:25:44] COOPER: Of course, this terror attack struck Orlando in the heat of a contentious presidential election. And tonight the sparks continue to fly. Here's what Donald Trump said a short time ago in Greensboro, North Carolina.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I watched President Obama today, and he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter. And many people said that. One of the folks on television said, boy, has Trump gotten under his skin, but he was more angry, and a lot of people have said this, the level of anger, that's the kind of anger he should have for the shooter and these killers that shouldn't be here.


COOPER: Donald Trump was referring to President Obama's fiery takedown today of Donald Trump, who has been slamming President Obama's national security policies and criticizing him for not using the afraid radical Islam. Trump has also suggested President Obama is somehow sympathetic to terrorists. Here's how the commander in-chief hit back.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around the world are working to defeat ISIL aren't taking the fight seriously, that would come as a surprise to those who spent these last seven and a half years dismantling Al-Qaeda and the Fatah.

They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spent countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans, including politicians who tweet and appear on cable news shows. They know who the nature of the enemy is. So there's no magic to the phrase radical Islam. It's a political talking point. It's not a strategy.


COOPER: President Obama did not stop there. He had a lot more to say about Donald Trump without ever actually mentioning the candidate by name.

Dana Bash tonight reports.


OBAMA: We are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mindset and this kind of thinking can be.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rhetorical explosion rare for any president, especially one who prides himself on keeping calm.

OBAMA: We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating to America. We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complicit in violence. Where does this stop?

BASH: Tearing into Donald Trump with visible anger and disgust.

OBAMA: That's not the America we want. It doesn't reflect our Democratic ideals. It won't make us more safe. It will make us less safe.

BASH: The power of his words amplified by the stage craft, a commander in chief, coming out of a counter terrorism briefing standing with his top military officer, a four-star general. OBAMA: We have gone through moments in our history before when we

acted out of fear and we came to regret it. We don't have religious tests here. Our founders, our constitution, our bill of rights are clear about that. And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect.

BASH: And what really got him going, the GOP refrain that he is weak on terrorism because he refuses to use the term radical Islam.

OBAMA: There has not been a moment in my seven and a half years as president where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn't use the label radical Islam. Not once has an adviser of mine said, man, if we really used that phrase, we're going to turn this whole thing around, not once.

[20:30:01] So someone seriously thinks that we don't know who we're fighting?

BASH: All that as the candidate Obama endorsed delivered a more measured version of the same message.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He is fixated on the words radical Islam. Now, I must say, I find this strange. Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that once uttered will stop terrorists from coming after us?

BASH: Hillary Clinton continues to use Trump's response to the Orlando massacre to define him as too volatile for the White House.

CLINTON: Yesterday morning, just one day after the massacre, he went on TV and suggested that President Obama is on the side of the terrorists. Now just think about that for a second. Even in a time of divided politics, this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president of the United States.


COOPER: And Dana Bash joins me now along with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, how unprecedented is it for a seating president not up for reelection to be so forcibly engaged with the presumptive nominee of the opposing party at this stage and where does this go from here?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, when we've broken yet another precedent in this campaign season, you know, remember after 9/11 essentially there was unity in the country for seven or eight weeks, we pull together, we are politicians weren't attacking each other, we're pulling together and trying to fight an enemy.

Here it's just the opposite, I think a lot of Americans are dismayed by this. But it's going to be -- it's suggest we're going to have -- and I think we're going to have a savage campaign. On the merits, I must tell you, I think that President Obama has the upper hand and enjoys the support of most Americans as he oppose this ban on all Muslims entering the country and very important Anderson, the top leadership of the Republican Party and Congress is again the ban. Paul Ryan has spoken out against it repeatedly.

On that issue I think the president is in a strong position. On the issue of radical -- calling it radical Islam, I think it runs the other way. A great number of Americans think we're tiptoeing around our leadership is tiptoeing around but not calling what it is what it is.

Right, great story back in the early 1980, President Reagan I was working for it, tried to decide whether to call it Soviet Union, the evil empire. I though it shouldn't, but he did and in the other I think he was right. Because it clarified what we are against. And what we are fighting. And in this case when you were facing evil, you shouldn't be afraid to call it what it is, and I think it would be more unified, Hillary Clinton yesterday said look, if we want to use the phrase radical Islam, that's OK with me.

It seems to me we could -- we could be -- we might -- I think Donald Trump actually has a point, an argument on that, even though he does it excessively.

COOPER: Right. I mean, I guess -- and again, I'm not arguing one way or another, but to play devil's advocate David, I guess what President Obama is saying, is that, it's not a question of calling ISIS or ISIL evil, it's a question of using -- or linking it to Islam. His point I guess is that he doesn't believe or he doesn't want to paint it with the same brush as Islam for strategic reasons I'm assuming.

GERGEN: Well, I can't tell why, because he started saying we can't, you know, we can't be against -- we can't declare war against Islam. That's not a declaration of war against Islam. It is to say which is ...

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: ... the reality, that there are sick people ...

COOPER: They're radical.

GERGEN: ... who seem to be in the radical. And why are we tiptoeing around.

BASH: And Anderson, the president explicitly said today -- that -- is the president explicitly -- forgive me, said today that it is part of the strategy to not allow people to use that term to their benefit and to continue to foment and stoke the, you know, sort of the anti- American sentiment that is already out there.

COOPER: You know, Dana, on another issue Donald Trump continues to say he's a much bigger supporter, a much better friend of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Community than Hillary Clinton. It's interesting though, because means Donald Trump though he has attended I think a gay wedding of Elton John I think he went, he does not support a marriage, prior early he says publicly he doesn't support it, he said he disagrees with the Supreme Court. And it's not just him.

Suddenly there are -- are number of politicians who have had a very strong anti-gay positions against equal rights for gay and lesbians citizens to marry. Who now seem to be very front and center talking about their concern for the well being of gay people under the thumb of Islamic radicals?

[20:35:08] BASH: You know, when Donald Trump gave the speech yesterday, there was so much in there that was, you know, intense and that was aggressive and that was of course much like the kind of tone and tenor he took during the campaign. But one thing that did really make me almost fall off my chair was for the first time to hear a Republican candidate for president, never mind the potential -- the presumptive nominee, saying that people should love who they want to love, and live how they want to live.

It's just the rhetoric alone is new. But when it comes to the policy, you're dead right. You know, it doesn't look like he is going to support any time soon policies that would be in line with allowing for gay rights, just the opposite.

In terms of his personal life and his personal beliefs, as you said, he's attended gay weddings. He is known to have many gay friends. So, I think if you kind of gave him a lie detector test and said what do you really think about gay rights, he would probably say I think it's just fine but now he happens to be a Republican running as a Republican, a nominee for president so policy-wise he's not there.

COOPER: Which is interesting, David, I mean again, voters will have to make up their minds whether they want a politician who really does -- if they are opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians in terms of marriage, whether they want a politician who maybe secretly does support or attend on gay weddings, Republican said they don't support it or they really, you know, live what they said.

GERGEN: Well, in fairness of course, Donald Trump also supported gays with regard to the transgender issue surrounding bathroom access and the sort of thing and that surprised a lot of people. But there's no question, Anderson, the LGBT Community is very suspicious of Donald Trump. And when he gets up and says I'm the friend of women here, women by 70 percent say, no, you're not, Hillary is a better friend. So that, you know, he's got a long, long hill and maybe you'll get it they had listen, we shouldn't discourage him from embracing gay rights and embracing those rights.

COOPER: Well, he's also defied -- defied all the -- all defied the operation thus far.

GERGEN: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: I think we have to leave it there. Dana Bash, David Gergen thank you very much. Breaking political news to tell you about, CNN will project that Hillary Clinton has won the Washington D.C. primary, that projection just came in. Democratic voters casting their ballots in D.C. today with the last contest of the primary season. Clinton is about to meet with Bernie Sanders this evening.

Just ahead my interview with Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, I asked her how she says she supports the LGBT Community when frankly her record here in the states says otherwise.

Plus two young men who were deeply in love, planning on getting married, they instead died together in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Tonight, a family member has new details to share, we want to learn as much as we can about these two young men who died together.


[20:42:07] COOPER: Well today Florida's Governor Rick Scott, he's in a LGBT Church and now with a lesbian pastor and others who are gay. He's been criticized for under pointing the fact that Sunday's attack targeted the LGBT Community pronouncing point blank the many of the victims were gay, and lesbians.

Governor Scott does not a record of supporting gay issues and a contrary it's quite the opposite. The CNN producer ask him about that today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you voted for the gay marriage van and you just signed a bill that would give immunity to pastors from lawsuits if they refused gay marriages. You know, how is that include of lot of the LGBT Community especially from the victims don't feel that that's inclusive.

GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: You know, my goal is to make the state as inclusive as I can. And I work with people all across our state to do that every day.


COOPER: Well, over the past three days, frankly, a lot of people have been publicly expressing their support for the LGBT Community, including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. And frankly that surprised a lot of gay and lesbian people here in the state because it simply doesn't track with her record.

I asked her about it earlier today.


COOPER: I want to ask you, I saw you the other day saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT Community -- our LGBT Community you said will be gone after with the full extent of the law.

PAM BONDI, ATTORNEY GENERAL FLORIDA: That's exactly right. COOPER: I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and who said that they though you are being a hypocrite, that you -- for years have fought, you basically gone after gay people said that in court the gay people simply by fighting for marriage equality were trying to do harm to the people of Florida, to induce public harm I believe was the term you used in court. Do you really think you're a champion of gay community?

BONDI: Let me tell you, when I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the bible and was sworn in to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That's not a law. That was voted into our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That's what I was defending. It had nothing to do -- I've never said I don't like gay people. That's ridiculous.

COOPER: But you did say, but do you worry about using language, accusing gay people trying to do harm to the people of Florida. When -- doesn't that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in their mind?

BONDI: Anderson, I don't believe gay people could do harm to the state a part what you're ...

COOPER: But you argued that in court.

BONDI: My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution.

COOPER: Right, but you are arguing the gay marriage if there was gay marriage, if there was same-sex marriage that, would do harm to the people of Florida to as Florida as signed it?

BONDI: That it was constitutional to put that in the constitution.

COOPER: Are you saying you do not believe it would not do harm to Florida?

BONDI: Of course not, of course not. No, I've never said that. I did swore never come out of my mouth.

COOPER: But, that is specifically what you were arguing in court.

BONDI: No, no. What we argued was, is it was in the constitution of the state of Florida.

[20:45:00] Let me give you an example, medical marijuana. A 12-year- old could get it if it passed. We took that to the Supreme Court because of that language, hold on, but if that passed, I would defend that as well because it's my job to defend what's in the constitution of the state of Florida. That's what it was about.

COOPER: The hotline that you've been talking about on television which allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information ...

BONDI: Yeah. COOPER: ... which is incredibly important and appreciate your talking about on the air, had there been no gay marriage, had there no same- sex marriage. You do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boy friends and girl friends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not even be able to visit in the hospital here. Isn't there a sick irony in that?

BONDI: Well, yeah, and let me take it a step farther. People aren't right now who are partners and aren't married officially aren't able to get information. So we're trying to assist them in getting information because early on ...


COOPER: But isn't there a sick irony that you for years were fighting that very idea?

BONDI: I was defending the constitution of what's over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution.

COOPER: But this, you know, the courts, the federal courts said that's not the constitution ...

BONDI: Right.

COOPER: ... and you continued to fight it.

BONDI: No, that's why we rushed to get it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

COOPER: Well, before the Supreme Court, there was a federal judge and you continued to fight it after the federal judge ruled and in fact you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer moner, your fighting it.

BONDI: Oh, Anderson, we rushed to get it to the Supreme Court. You know what today is about? Human beings.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI: Today it's about victims.

COOPER: It's about gay and lesbian victims.

BONDI: We are here, it sure is, LGBT victims.

COOPER: I will say, I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now. I read your Twitter history for the last year and I saw you tweeting about, you know, National Dog Month and National Shelter Dog Appreciation Day or Adopt a Sheltered Dog Month.

You know, it is gay pride month. You never even tweeted about gay pride month, I mean.

BONDI: Well, actually, if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different color rainbow hands. COOPER: So you just put that up now?

BONDI: Yeah, I did, after this horrible tragedy, absolutely. The only thing I'm championing is human beings who's lives were lost.

COOPER: So that's your message to gay and lesbian people here, because again I'm just telling you what people have been telling to ask you, moving forward do you see yourself as being a vocal champion for gay and lesbian citizens in this state?

BONDI: They are citizens just like anyone else, of course. My goodness, Anderson, we've had 49 people murdered simply because they were in a bar at the wrong time.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI: That's horrible. I'm a career prosecutor. These family members of devastated.

COOPER: Well, it's good to hear.

BONDI: These surviving victims are devastated.

COOPER: Because I know ...

BONDI: That's what this is about.

COOPER: Right, I know a lot of gay and lesbian people in the state want to feel that the people who represent them represent everybody in the state.

BONDI: We're human beings.

COOPER: Right.

BONDI: And that's what this is about. That's what this is about.

COOPER: Well I appreciate your talking to us.

BONDI: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you so much. Thanks for all you're doing on behalf of the victims.


COOPER: A footnote by the way, we checked Ms. Bondi's political and official web site and so far we haven't been able to find the hands clasped in rainbow colors and she just mentioned, if someone in her office would like to point out exactly where to find that image, we would certainly let people know about it.

Just ahead, two young men who were planning a future together, when their dreams were cut short early Sunday morning. What their families want the world to remember about them, tonight.


[20:52:23] COOPER: Well, many of the people who were killed three nights ago at the Pulse Nightclub, they were just starting their lives as human adults, their dreams for their future. They were making plans.

That was certainly the case for Juan Ramon Guerrero and his boyfriend Christopher Andrew Leinonen who is known as Drew. Juan was 22 just day short celebrating his 23rd birthday. Drew was 32. They were deeply in love. They hoped to get married. A dream was destroyed early Sunday morning, and now their families are planning funerals.

Drew's mom, Christine, joins me now. Thank you so much for being here.


COOPER: How -- what do you want people to know about your son?

LEINONEN: I want people to know that he was a genuinely great person. He was fun, he was happy, he was Orlando's child.

COOPER: He started a Gay-Straight Alliance, is that right, when he was a kid?

LEINONEN: When he was in high school, he started a Gay-Straight Alliance and he won the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for that and we had a big -- they had a big ceremony and I was very proud of him for that.

COOPER: And he and Juan were talking about marriage?

LEINONEN: Well, they were madly in love in a way that I've never seen him, you know, over the past 15 years. He's had, you know, boyfriends of a duration of one year, six years I think, I'll say one of his former boyfriends is actually being my right-hand man right now for me while I'm waiting for my family from up north.

But, yeah, he -- and he loved, of course he loved every man that he'd been had a relationship with of course, but he loved Juan in a -- that special kind of way and look and ...

COOPER: And you could tell.

LEINONEN: Oh, yeah, definitely.

COOPER: That he was the one.


COOPER: But, I mean -- there's a lot of, you know, people I know who were in that club who in some cases their parents didn't even know and maybe weren't supportive. There was one young man who is just come out to his parents. He wasn't sure how the parents would deal with it and they supported him.

Were you supportive from the beginning? I mean, it sounds like you realized that kind of early on.

LEINONEN Well, I was supportive but not directly. I didn't know -- I didn't want to do the wrong thing.

COOPER: Right.

LEINONEN: So I just let him live his life and ...

[20:55:02] COOPER: Come to you in his own time.

LEINONEN: ... and, yeah. And we just, you know, kept up the facade, the unspoken ...

COOPER: Could you -- you found out in ninth grade kind of -- on your own that he was gay but he didn't tell you right away.

LEINONEN: And then when he starts a Gay-Straight Alliance and then we saw him kissing his boyfriend saying goodbye, you know, we know that ...

COOPER: Something's up.

LEINONEN: Yeah. And they were cool together, you know. They were like teenagers with their first love that they're going to be goofy. So sometimes you don't know if they're just being goofy because you don't want to then say, "Hey, are you this?" And then you're the weird, creepy parent, you know, like, oh, you want to be the cool parent but you're really just the creepy parent.

So, and you don't know because kids who aren't even heterosexual, but they're a teenage girl and they're a teenage boy, they kiss each other and hug each other like you'd think that they're dating or something, but they're just friends. And that ...

COOPER: How -- where does your strength come from? I mean, you're smiling. You're able to talk about your son. I think there's a lot of people (inaudible).

LEINONEN: Because I love him. I could be sad and I have incredibly sad moments and I could be angry and I've been given license to be angry for different types of treatments, but when you want to know about the love and the love is going to usurp the hate that's ...

COOPER: And you feel that love?

LEINONEN: Oh, I feel that love with Christopher, with his friends, with you, with the Orlando community.

Christopher was Orlando's child even though I gave birth to him, Orlando is now the adoptive mother because she made Christopher feel the love and acceptance.

He went UCF here in Orlando. That's where he went away to school, but then, "Are you sure you don't want to stay and kind of extended? No, no, I want to go away. I want to go to Orlando, to UCF." So he came here to Orlando. He went to under grad here. He went to UCF grad school. He stayed here after grad school. He loved Orlando. He loved Orlando.

COOPER: Well, he was incredibly lucky to have you as a mom.

LEINONEN: I was -- my luck started when I gave birth to my son.

COOPER: Christine, thank you so much for talking to us.

LEINONEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

LEINONEN: Thank you, dear.

COOPER: We'll take a quick break. Our special coverage from Orlando continues in just a moment.