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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Senate to Vote on Gun Control; Orlando Transcripts; Trump Fires Campaign Manager. Aired 16-16:30p ET
Aired June 20, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: "I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings."
Transcripts of the terrorist's shocking 911 calls just released today.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The FBI reveals the Orlando killer's conversations with the cops. Not one single mention of gay people, but several mentions of ISIS, ones that the federal government originally censored from the transcripts. Why?
Aiming at guns, the Senate just minutes away from voting on four separate measures to restrict gun ownership or expand background checks. All four might fail.
Plus, you're fired. A huge head-scratching event in the campaign. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is out, with just one month before the Republican Convention.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Today, we're getting a terrifying glimpse into the mind-set of the terrorist behind the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Just minutes ago, the FBI released a new full transcript of the Orlando terrorist's 911 call.
Earlier, the FBI released a partial transcript of the conversations between authorities and the killer. That original transcript omitted references to ISIS. And that's now changing course after major backlash. The FBI releasing the fuller transcript.
According to the FBI, the Orlando terrorist called 911 and was described as speaking in a "chilling, calm and deliberate manner" moments after opening fire in a popular gay nightclub in the heart of Orlando, Florida. The terrorist claimed credit for the massacre, saying -- quote -- "I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings."
Despite the release of the transcript, a lot of questions still remain because several long phone calls with police have not been and might never be made public.
Let's now bring in CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, after taking heat over the initial censoring of the ISIS
references in the transcript, the FBI just released this new unedited transcript. What do we now know because of the release of these transcripts?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know what we already knew really since the day of the shooting, Jake, and that is that the gunman pledges allegiance to ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.
So, just a few words now that the Justice Department is filling in on that transcript that were initially omitted. What's interesting here, Jake, is that the killer talked about ISIS and being a -- quote -- "Islamic soldier," but he never mentioned anything about gays or disliking gays.
Still, investigators say they are still looking at multiple possible motives.
BROWN (voice-over): Omar Mateen makes his first call to 911 33 minutes after the first reports of gunfire at Pulse nightclub, telling the operator in Arabic, "Praise be to God and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God."
He goes on to say, "I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings." Mateen also pledges his allegiance to ISIS.
RONALD HOPPER, FBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We currently have no evidence that he was directed by a foreign terrorist group, but was radicalized domestically.
BROWN: The gunman then spent around 28 minutes on the phone with hostage negotiators, at one point, demanding America stop bombing Syria and Iraq. When the negotiator asked Mateen what he had done, he responds, "You already know what I did." He later states, "In the next few days, you are going to see more of this type of action going on."
HOPPER: While the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner.
BROWN: Mateen also claims he has explosives, saying, "There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know." He says, "I'm going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid."
Later, Mateen tells a negotiator he has a vest and described it as the kind they -- quote -- "used in France," an apparent reference to the Paris bombings in November. And he threatens to put suicide vests on four victims. The SWAT team commander told CNN that ramped up the risk for both civilians and first-responders.
CPT. MARK CANTY, ORLANDO SWAT COMMANDER: We're way too close because if the explosives go off, we're all within 1,000 feet and we all could be killed. BROWN: No explosives were found.
The partial police transcripts show, at 5:14 a.m., nearly three hours after the attack began, shots were fired again. A minute later, the gunman was reported down. Today, officials defended their handling of the three-hour ordeal.
JOHN MINA, ORLANDO, FLORIDA, POLICE CHIEF: So, our officers were within the club within minutes and engaged the suspect in gunfire. And that's important because that engagement and that initial entry caused him to retreat, stop shooting and barricade himself in the bathroom with hostages.
So, during that time, our officers were intermittently in and out of that club saving people, rescuing people from inside the club.
BROWN: So when officials with the Department of Justice first released this transcript today, as we know, they redacted any mention of ISIS, saying that they didn't want to give credence to the terrorist group.
And as one person I spoke to said, they didn't want to give the gunman a voice from the grave. But just in the last hour, as you saw, Jake, after that pushback and criticism, they released the transcript without the redactions. I'm told that many people within Department of Justice were essentially taken aback and surprised by the backlash, Jake.
TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Very interesting.
We know the terrorist worked for a security company, G4S. It's one of the largest security companies in the world. The company issued him a gun. CNN has learned that after a dispute at work, the Orlando terrorist was then transferred to an unarmed position in 2013, but the company allowed him to keep his gun.
That gun was one of the three found on the scene of the shooting rampage.
Let's bring in CNN government regulation correspondent Rene Marsh.
Rene, first of all, when the terrorist was transferred to an unarmed position, why would he still even need his official company gun?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, Jake, let's talk a little bit about that transfer. He was working at a courthouse, the St. Lucie Courthouse in Florida. The sheriff there telling G4S, the security company that hired him, that said he made inflammatory statements.
He was then -- Omar Mateen was transferred to an unarmed position as a security guard at a residential community. But he still kept his company-issued firearm. I asked an official with that security company, why was that the case? They gave me four reasons. Number one, they said that Mateen was still licensed by the state of Florida to be an armed security guard.
They also say before they transferred him from that armed position to the unarmed position at the residential community, they did a full criminal background check. They said there were no red flags. A security company also says that they did their own internal investigation into the dispute at the courthouse.
They didn't find any red flags. So they are telling us, they are telling CNN they didn't find any reason to take away his gun. In fact, the company says that many times an unarmed security guard may be called on a moment's notice to fill in for an armed guard, so it's essential for them to have that weapon.
TAPPER: But correct me if I'm wrong, Rene. I believe the company knew about the FBI investigation and the interviews of the man who would ultimately become the Orlando terrorist. Wouldn't that be a decent time to take away his gun?
MARSH: One would think. You're right. They did know about this FBI investigation. The company saying they learned about it from Mateen himself, not the FBI.
They learned about it about five to six months into that 10-month FBI investigation. Again, they said they didn't take away the gun because they knew why the FBI was investigating. They were looking into whatever went down at the courthouse while he was an employee there. And the company said they had done their own internal investigation and they had investigated it in the context of this being a workplace harassment case.
They didn't look at it as a terror tie, this man potentially having terror ties. So, again, they are standing on this notion that they didn't find any issues, any red flags that would suggest that this man shouldn't be a security guard and he shouldn't have a weapon, Jake. The company also saying, look, the FBI investigated him, but they closed the case.
And that's what they are standing on to justify essentially why they allowed him to keep that weapon.
TAPPER: Those are some rocky floorboards on which they are standing. Rene Marsh, thank you so much.
TAPPER: The aftermath of the Orlando terror attack and the fact that the terrorist was at one point on a terror watch list, that now takes us to the politics lead, where, in the next hour, the U.S. Senate will take up four measures that would restrict gun ownership and/or expand background checks.
Two of the measures are from Democrats. Two are from Republicans. Ahead of those votes, breaking news just into CNN. Results of a new
CNN/ORC poll shows that most Americans, 55 percent, favor stricter gun restrictions, gun laws. That's the highest number since January 2013, which was a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
Let's bring in CNN senior political reporter Manu Raju. He's on Capitol Hill, where votes are scheduled to start in fewer than 90 minutes.
Manu, do any of these measures stand any chance of passing?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they don't, Jake. In fact, they are all probably going to go down on a party-line vote.
What we have seen, a lot of these bills come out, several of these bills actually have been introduced and voted on in the past, and they also failed on a party-line vote then as well.
Now, last week, there was some effort to try to cut a deal on a bipartisan basis, but that also failed. Right now, there is one set of bipartisan talks going on, but people are very skeptical that that has any chance of becoming law.
So, we're seeing, Jake, is a lot of finger-pointing going on, on Capitol Hill.
RAJU (voice-over): In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history, Republicans and Democrats locked in a battle over gun control.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This past week, in response to the horrible terror attack in Orlando, the Democrats all got together and said the solution is more gun control.
RAJU: Tonight, the Senate is set to vote on four measures from both parties, two to expand background checks, the others to prevent suspected terrorists from obtaining guns, all four expected to fail on party-line votes.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Sadly, the expectations are that you're not going to get enough Republican senators with 46 of us Democratic senators to get to 60. All you need is 14 Republican senators.
RAJU: A new CNN/ORC poll shows the public less divided than Capitol Hill. More than nine in 10 in both parties favor background checks, while 85 percent believe people on terrorist watch lists should not be allowed to buy firearms.
But when it comes to banning semiautomatic rifles, the public is far more divided along party lines, with 73 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans in favor of such restrictions. WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION:
What we're doing with this debate on the Hill right now, it like they are trying to stop a freight train with a piece of Kleenex.
RAJU: In a setback for the NRA today, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a Connecticut gun law that banned certain semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.
And in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting that claimed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a victims group is suing the gun maker Remington over weapons the plaintiffs argue don't belong on the streets. Democrats say if they can't win in the Capitol, they will turn to the courts.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: It is dangerous deja vu. I thought after Sandy Hook, when 20 children were massacred, the Congress would do something. I thought after San Bernardino, Congress would do something. But this week, Jim, this is a moment of truth.
RAJU: Republican Senator John Cornyn is pushing a bill to delay the sale of a gun to a suspected terrorist for 72 hours, allowing for an investigation to take place first. But Democrats want to go much further, rallying behind a broader bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein.
RAJU: Now, Jake, this new CNN/ORC poll actually shows that 90 percent of Republican voters want to prevent people who are on that terrorist watch list or no-fly list from getting a gun, which is one reason why you're seeing Republicans make that very clear. They don't want terrorism suspects from getting guns.
Earlier, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is a tough reelection race, announced that she would vote for both the Democratic and Republican version of that bill. And she is involved in these talks led by Susan Collins of Maine to try to cut a deal on this issue. But we will see if that actually leads to anything, Jake, because right now it doesn't look very likely.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.
His filibuster is one of reasons the Senate is about to vote on these four gun control amendments, but what does Democratic Senator Chris Murphy think about the fact that all four votes, at least as of now, seem likely to fail? We will ask him next.
[16:16:47] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're back with the politics lead now, and four rare votes on further restricting gun ownership or restricting background checks happening on the Senate floor in just a matter of minutes. U.S. senators have only put votes on this issue on schedule twice in recent years, once almost immediately after Newtown and then not again until after the San Bernardino terrorist attacks.
Pressure mounted for today's vote after a filibuster led by our next guest, Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who talked on the Senate floor until leadership gave in and agreed to schedule these votes.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
You led this 15-hour filibuster last week calling for more restrictions on gun ownership and expanded background checks. No bill passed after the horrors of Newtown or San Bernardino. It looks like these four might go down as well. Is it just impossible to pass anything?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't think it's impossible to pass anything. And you're right that it's hard to imagine why things would change now if they didn't change after 20 first graders died in my state. But I think as Manu just reported, we're starting to see some pretty significant changes and cracks.
Senator Kelly Ayotte just about a half an hour ago as I was walking to this interview announced her decision to switch her vote. She voted against the provision to stop people on the terrorist watch list from getting guns in December, she's going to vote for it today. I think there are maybe other Republicans will follow suit. Is it enough to get to 60? I don't know. But it's significant progress in the right direction.
And so, my hope is that what we did this week with the filibuster has elevated this issue such that we're eventually going to beat the gun lobby. We have to if we're going to protect this country from future terrorist attacks.
TAPPER: As you know, the Orlando terrorist was taken off the terror watch list, would any of the bills being debated today have prevented him from getting guns and committing this atrocity?
MURPHY: Well, I think there's a good argument that the other bill that we'll vote on today would have given the FBI the authority to deny him a weapon. He was taken off of a list. This provision that we're voting on today would give some broad discretion to the attorney general to take anyone suspected of terrorist ties and deny them a weapon, giving them a little bit more discretion to do so.
I think we've got some questions about why people who are going to be on and off these lists, why the FBI isn't getting at least notified about these weapon sales. But the provision we're voting on today would give the attorney general and FBI director the discretion to keep people like Omar Mateen on the list and deny them access to dangerous assault-type weapons.
TAPPER: Omar Mateen is a horrible, horrible person, and I wish he'd never been born. But he was a U.S. citizen and he had a constitutional right according to Supreme Court rulings to have a gun. Being on the watch list is not an adjudicated process. There are those who say being on the terror watch list should not preclude somebody to be able to enjoy a constitutional right.
MURPHY: Well, I would respectfully disagree. It is not an absolute constitutional right and Justice Scalia in that decision that says that there is an individual right to own a firearm also says that there are clear limitations on certain individuals and also certain weapons being in the hands of civilians.
[16:20:02] I'm only going to support any provision that allows people to get off of that list. But I think as a default, if you're under investigation for potential connection to terrorism, when you walk into the gun store, you shouldn't walk out with an assault weapon. If you want to grieve your name being on the list and be able to buy a weapon a week or month later, you can wait. You don't need that assault weapon right on the spot.
Our default should be to protect these people from getting their hands on weapons. In this case, Mateen went in, got a weapon and within a short period of time was turning it on civilians to kill 49 people.
TAPPER: Your Republican colleague John Cornyn is proposing a waiting period of 72 hours for people on the terror watch list from being able to purchase firearms. Would you be willing to support that giving the fact that there isn't an adjudication for the terror watch list, there isn't a due process to get off the list?
MURPHY: No, I wouldn't support that, because I think it's totally unrealistic to expect that the FBI or the Department of Justice to be able to take all of these terrorists to court and have an open court proceeding in which they have to prove, as Senator Cornyn's bill says that there is a high likelihood that the individual to carry out a terrorist attack. I think we should err on the side of temporarily keeping weapons from these individuals. If they want to get themselves off the list, they can.
But nobody is making the argument for the no-fly list. I don't see a single Republican saying, well, you know what, if you're on the no-fly list, you should be able to fly until the Department of Justice takes you to court to keep you off that list. No, if you're suspected of terrorism, you can't fly. And if you're suspected of terrorism, you shouldn't be able to buy a guy. You can get off that list but our default should be to keep those weapons away from terrorists. And you know what? As your polls show, 90 percent of Republicans think that this should be the law, too.
TAPPER: I guess the answer would just be there's no constitutional right to fly in an airplane but I take your point.
Senator Chris Murphy, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
MURPHY: Thanks a lot, Jake.
TAPPER: "You're fired." That's what Donald Trump told his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after getting some pressure from some of his closest advisers and family members. Now someone else is leaving the Trump campaign. Stay with us for that. Then, brand-new details about the death of a Navy SEAL in Iraq and it
reveals that the fight against ISIS may be much more involved on the ground than what we're hearing from the Pentagon and the White House.
Stay with us.
[16:26:42] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's stay with politics right now.
"Ding dong, the witch is dead." That quote is how one Donald Trump advisor responded quite publicly to the firing of former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Within hours, the adviser, Michael Caputo apologized and resigned.
Now back to the campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, he was the famously pugnacious, hard-charging controversial top Trump manager, and his firing comes as the Trump campaign struggles to find its general election footing.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins me now.
And, Jim, I have to say I'm kind of taken aback by this. Trump has stood by Lewandowski's side and vice versa, through several controversies and vice versa. What changed?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the family changed, to put it bluntly. This is by far the biggest shake-up for Donald Trump yet. Multiple sources tell CNN Corey Lewandowski was indeed fired as Trump's campaign manager today, ushering in a new phase for the presumptive Republican nominee who apparently listened to pleas from his family and advisers to make a big change.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The uprising against Donald Trump's sharp elbowed campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had been building for weeks. Then, over the weekend, campaign sources tell CNN the mutiny began, with Trump's daughter Ivanka, her husband and campaign adviser Jared Kushner, along with Trump sons and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all pleading with Trump to fire Lewandowski. As one source put it, the family was not happy.
Another adviser added, Manafort, a Lewandowski rival, told Trump, it's him or me.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Why were you fired?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: You know, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that.
ACOSTA: Lewandowski told CNN's Dana Nash he has no idea why he was fired, but sources say the family was outraged over Lewandowski's handling of Michelle Fields, the reporter he grabbed on the video leading to charges that were later dropped. Other campaign sources accused Lewandowski of egging on Trump's more inflammatory remarks, notably on a Mexican-American judge overseeing the lawsuits against Trump University.
TRUMP: This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall, OK? I'm building a wall.
ACOSTA: As one Trump staffer tweeted, "Ding dong, the witch is dead."
LEWANDOWSKI: In all campaigns, you've got detractors and you've got supporters. Things changed as the campaign evolves. I said to him, it's been an honor and a privilege to be part of this and I mean that.
ACOSTA: But the campaign shake-up comes after a brutal stretch for Trump, including sagging poll numbers weighed down by a series of unforced errors. The latest Monmouth poll out today shows Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by 7 points in a general election matchup.
And while Trump advisers are downplaying Lewandowski's departure --
BARRY BENNETT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Listen, I think we're shifting to a new phase of the campaign as we approach the convention.
ACOSTA: They are pointing to a new campaign structure now in place. Manafort is now fully in charge of the campaign right under Trump while the roles of Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner are clearly growing inside the campaign.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Jared is a very successful real estate person but I actually think he likes politics more than he likes real estate.
ACOSTA: But Trump hasn't always taken their advice.
TRUMP: Ivanka would say, be more presidential. And I started thinking, and I said I can. You know, being presidential is easy.
ACOSTA: The question now for the Trump campaign, GOP sources say is whether the candidate will change as well, or just continue to stir controversy like with his comments this weekend about the Orlando shooting.
TRUMP: If you had somebody with a gun strapped on to their hip --