Return to Transcripts main page


Massacre Survivor tried to Save Friend during Attack; Trump Criticizes Puerto Rico News Coverage; Puerto Rican Debt; Vegas Killer's Motive. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 4, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That this was never necessary. None of it. But it happened. And you were there for each other. And that's the best you could do in those circumstances.

Kody, thank you for sharing this story.


CUOMO: Thank you for what you did for people there.

And I hope your family's able to heal. Thank you for telling us about your sister so that people can know who was lost. Let's put her picture up so everybody can take a look at her. Somebody who meant so much to so many. This is Michelle.

We're going to take a break right now. Stay with CNN.


CUOMO: All right, president Trump is on his way here, to Las Vegas. He says he's going to meet with some of the survivors of this massacre and the heroes from this terrible day.

The president was in Puerto Rico yesterday meeting with the survivors of that tragedy, the hurricane. The president says he wants to, quote, wipe out the country's $70-plus billion debt after previously complaining about how the amount of debt that they had somehow might have influenced the ability to deal with this hurricane. Here's some of the sound.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to work something out. We have to look at their whole debt structure. You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we're going to have to wipe that out. That's going to have to be -- you know, can say good-bye to that. I don't know if it's Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that. We have to do something about -- because their -- the debt was massive on the island.


[08:35:19] CUOMO: Now, you know, as we'll get into a little bit, you know, most of that debt isn't held by Wall Street hedge funds. It's only about a quarter of it. Most of it is held by mutual funds and kind of mom and pop investors. So I don't know how he would do this. We'll talk about if the promise should be taken on its face.

Let's bring in the White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney. He was with the president down there.

Thanks for joining us, Mick.

Let's start with Puerto Rico specifically.


CUOMO: I want to put up the president's most recent tweet from this morning about this, if we can put it up for Mick so we can get to the substance of it, which is where the president was talking about the recovery efforts and he says, you know, there's some fake reporting going on, but, in general, it was good to be there and see what's going on.

This matters, Mick, because the reason we go down there, and let me just read this for people if they're not looking at their screen -- put it back up, please. Wow is how the tweet starts. Whenever you can get it up there I'll read it.

The point of the tweet is that some -- a great day in Puerto Rico yesterday. While some of the news coverage is fake, most showed great warmth and friendship.

Now, Mick, the reason it matters is, we go to those places to show the reality so people can connect to the need and justify the calls for help. You were there. You understand the situation well. What is fake in our reporting about the depth of despair and the need for better relief?

MULVANEY: Sure. Thanks for that question.

I think that the frustration that the president, and many of us in the administration sort of have on the way the news coverage has handled this is that all you all show is the bad stuff. We spent several hours on the island yesterday afternoon. We got a chance, for example, to get briefs by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on the folks working on the electrical grid, on the work that they are doing, on everything that is going right.

And, by the way, some of the efforts down there are absolutely fantastic. There's more than 10,000 federal workers on the island right now. We met with the mayors of large and small towns. There's a lot of good things happening. I think the president's frustration, our frustration as an administration is that the media seems to only want to focus on the bad things and not show both sides of the story. I think that's a fair frustration to have.

CUOMO: Their -- but -- but, Mick, it just sounds so self-serving to me. I was there, as you know. What two sides to the story? It's not a controversy. You're not in opposition to the people of Puerto Rico. MULVANEY: Oh, no --

CUOMO: The need is real. The distress is real.


CUOMO: We are showing the efforts. We're there with the first responders. Because of the rhetoric out of this White House, we spent a lot of our time talking to first responders who were saying, why do you say we're not working?


CUOMO: Why do you say that we're not down here to help? Nobody has reported that, Mick, and it's dangerous to do that. Not only is it a distraction --

MULVANEY: No, it's not -- it's not -- it's not dangerous. But let me answer -- let me answer your question.

CUOMO: It's self-serving politically, but it -- it makes people not believe the need, Mick.


CUOMO: But I want to make sure the context is right. The need is real. That's not just the bad stuff. It's the reality, Mick.

MULVANEY: The need is real and the island was absolutely destroyed by the storm. There's no question about that. But several times over the last couple of days, including this morning, for example, you all have put up a stat that said only 7 percent of the island has electricity. That's absolutely accurate, OK. We got the same number yesterday when we were down there.

But what you don't report is how it's being done. Why it's being prioritized. For example, yesterday what we learned from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was that the focus is on getting power to hospitals, to water infiltrations and pump houses, nursing homes, old age retirement homes first. And it's not going to businesses and to home, it's going there --

CUOMO: Right.

MULVANEY: Which is exactly the priority that you and I would probably set out if we did it. that story simply doesn't get reported at all. And I think that's at the root of the frustration. The need is real.

CUOMO: But that's not true. Mick, it's just not true. It's just --

MULVANEY: The need is real. But there's no -- I'm trying to agree with you on something, but --

CUOMO: It's just not true.

MULVANEY: Everything that I just told you is actually true. CUOMO: It's not about whether you agree with me. It's just -- it's just about the facts. Yes -- no, but it isn't, you see, because what's not true is that we aren't telling people about the prioritization. You are insinuating that there is some type of mal intent, that we're keeping things out of the news so that the president doesn't look good.

Not only is it baseless, but it is just an insult to the situation. Of course they're making priorities. Sanjay Gupta has been to those hospitals that were put back online as part of that priority, and reporting on the realities of how back up and running they are, because when there are people coming up to you on the streets begging for help, you don't say, well, you know, things aren't as bad as you see -- think, my friend. Could have been Katrina. Imagine how bad they had it.

That's not what you do in a situation like this. You report the reality. And it's not being done to you, Mick, to the president, to embarrass you. It's just being able to reinforce the need. Whatever is being done, it's not enough, Mick. And if you don't know that now, you're never going to know it. But I have to believe you understand the reality.

[08:40:03] MULVANEY: Well, the good news is that you're -- you're clearly going to do a better job going forward and we appreciate that.

CUOMO: No, that's -- look, I don't even know why you want to have that kind of discussion. We couldn't do any better job than we've done so far. CNN has been down there like an army of ants from the beginning, trying to show the need. So many of our staff members have family there and are connected to it. Nobody went down there to disparage the president. Why would you even cast it that way?

MULVANEY: I -- I thought we had a very -- I thought we had a very productive meeting yesterday with the mayors of the city, small and large. We had a productive meeting yesterday with the Army Corps, with the folks fixing the electric utilities. The president had a chance to talk to the military for several hours. So it was a very productive meeting and I'm happy to talk about that you if you like.

CUOMO: I am talking to you about it because when you say some of the reporting is fake, it's not you, it's the president, but you're going to defend it. It's disingenuous and it's untrue. When you say, well, you guys don't report that the reason there's only 7 percent back online is because of the priorities, that's only partially true, right? We do report that it's because of the priorities, but it's also going very slowly, and that's why you still have 93 percent not with power and so many not with water.

MULVANEY: Well, let's talk about -- let's talk about why it's -- let's talk -- one of the things we learned yesterday about why it's going so slowly, 1.3 million power poles on this island that they have to check. That's 1.3 million. You do not do that overnight. The electric utility, the Army Corps is doing it the exact way that I think ordinary folks would do it, they're trying to focus on, as I mentioned before, things related to health and safety first, the larger cities first, and then working towards the interior. That's why they tell you it's going to be several months, six, seven, maybe even eight months before all of the island has electricity again because they're doing it in a very methodical way. And the only way you can do it when the devastation was as complete as it was. They are starting from practically nothing. You do not bring electricity back to an island of 3.5 million people in two weeks when you're starting from practically nothing, which is what they are doing down there.

CUOMO: Nobody suggests otherwise.

MULVANEY: Well, good.

CUOMO: Nobody suggests otherwise, Mick.


CUOMO: That's why I'm saying, don't call it fake. Don't call it fake, because it's not fake. Everybody gets that it's going to take time. Everybody gets that after a disaster there's always lag and that you had infrastructure problems there.

But you know what also people get who are experts in the fields that they're covering now and they're down there, whether it's Honore or the others, you could have had more people there. You could have had different distribution of assets sooner. You could be doing more now. The need is great and adjustments need to be made. And at the same time that the president and the White House was denying that, you were doing exactly that. You were bringing in Buchanan. You were bringing in more military infrastructure to do it.

MULVANEY: No, let's talk about that for a second. No, no, no, look --

CUOMO: And that was the right move. It was the right move to bring more people in. You'd know that if you were on the ground.

MULVANEY: If you want to keep taking, you can. If you want me to give the administration's side, I'd be happy to do that.

CUOMO: I'm just trying to set the context because you were saying things that weren't accurate. So, go ahead.

MULVANEY: We had a meeting on -- I think it was Friday of last week for about two and a half hours here in the White House and every principle involved in this process was there, from FEMA, to DHS, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And the meeting began and evened with this question, is there anything that we can be doing right now that we are not? And the answer is, no.

In fact, another thing that's not being reported, we're actually bringing assets to bear, tools to use in Puerto Rico that we did not use in Florida, that we did not use in Texas, because that's the level of the devastation. The federal government has done things for Puerto Rico they did not do for those other two states simply because the devastation is that severe, because the distance is that far. It is simply harder to do on an island 1,100 miles away than it is to do it in Houston, Texas. So I hear all the criticisms of people saying, oh, you should be doing

it faster, you should be doing it better. Look, we're in the Trump administration. We're used to taking criticism. All I'm telling you is that when I sit down there the people who are down there every single day and are doing this as a profession, this is their job, these are folks who know what they're doing, they're telling me, they're telling you that we are doing everything that we possibly can, and I believe them. You may not, but I do.

CUOMO: See, what's that about? I don't believe them. Why would you -- why would you pout that out there? When did I ever say that I don't believe the first responders? Let me add some facts to your statement. Every first responder I talked to down there --

MULVANEY: You just -- you just prefaced it by people (ph) saying that we weren't doing enough.

CUOMO: Well, because the need is overwhelming and people who are in that business of discovery -- of recovery and response say there were things that could have been done, that should be done now, and ever first responder, in a position of authority that I talked to on the ground, they didn't say, we're not getting it done, we're not trying. Of course they didn't say that. They're the best among us. That's why they're our first responders.

They were saying, whether it's about the drivers, or about fuel distribution, or about how they're dealing with local government and the problems with bureaucracy, they were all pointing to things that they needed to correct going forward to do it better. That's not fake. That's not saying that it's getting done poorly or that it's wrong or it's bad or that someone's failing. It's just a reflection of the reality.

And that's our job is to report it because the more that you talk about the need and you report it accurately, the more it gets addressed. And we're seeing that. Things are getting better. But as you now know, it's still got a long way to go.

MULVANEY: Well, we'll agree with you that things are getting better on the island. We'll agree that we still have a long way to go. How about that?

[08:45:07] CUOMO: Fine enough.

Let me ask you about something else.


CUOMO: The president seemed to suggest that he is open to wiping out the Puerto Rican debt. Is that to be taken seriously on its face?

MULVANEY: I wouldn't take it word for word with that. I talked to the president about this at some length yesterday as we flew home on the -- on Air Force One. And what we're focusing on right now is what you and I just talked about, which is the primary focus of the federal effort is to make sure the island is safe and that we're rebuilding the island.

Dealing with the challenges that Puerto Rico had -- the island is at least $72 billion in debt, $120 billion if you go by other accounts, before the storm. We are going to focus our attention right now on rebuilding the island, repairing the island, making sure everybody is safe and that we get through this difficult time. We are not going to deal right now with those fundamental difficulties that Puerto Rico had before the storm.

By the way, and I -- not -- many folks have not talked about this yet, a lot of those issues are already dealt with through previous legislation called PROMESA. So the status of the bonds that you heard the president mention this morning are actually inside the bounds of the PROMESA proceedings right now. So those bonds are being dealt with, were being dealt with before the storm, will be dealt with after the storm through the PROMESA process. Our focus will be entirely on rebuilding the island, making sure people are safe and that Puerto Rico can get back on its feet.

CUOMO: Right. And, look, I mean the initial pushback was the president brought this up early on was, you know, the amount of debt, other than their available cash, should have nothing to do with the earnest nature and the amount of investment in their recovery.


CUOMO: But now I just still have a question. Well, why did he say it? Why did he say we're going to get rid of the debt then?

MULVANEY: Well, I think the president knows that in order for Puerto Rico, long-term, to fix itself, it's going to have to deal with that debt situation. I think everybody agrees with that. The country was poor -- excuse me, the territory was very poorly run for a very long time. Right now they are paying their pension payments. The pension that comes due at the end of the month, they're paying out of their operating accounts. This was a very badly mismanaged island for a very long time. I don't think I'm making any news by saying that.

And I think what you saw the president talking about was his acknowledgement that Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out a way to solve that debt problem in order to fix itself going forward. We can help it, and we will help it. We will help Puerto Rico rebuild from the storm. Puerto Rico's going to have to figure out how to fix the errors that it's made for the last generation on its own finances.

CUOMO: Mick appreciate you being with me. And, look, I just wanted to make sure that we were straight about what our intentions are on that island and elsewhere.


CUOMO: I haven't seen Americans in that kind of need in a really long time, if ever, and I just want to make sure that nobody thinks that anything's being exaggerated. If anything, you can't exaggerate how great the need is there right now.

I appreciate you being on the show, as always.

MULVANEY: We know you take it seriously, and so do we. Thanks very much.

CUOMO: Be well, Mick.



Obviously so many people today still talking about the why as if we can ever really answer that, but it would help to have some clues as to why a retired accountant would turn into a mass murderer. So we have a criminal profiler here next to analyze the confusing characteristics of this killer.


[08:50:45] CAMEROTA: We are learning some new details about the arsenal of weapons that the Las Vegas killer had stockpiled before Sunday's massacre. But investigators are still searching for a motive. The killer's family says they are in shock.

Joining us now is forensic psychologist Brian Russell with some insights.

Mr. Russell, thanks so much for being here.

Let's just talk about what we do know about this shooter. He was older than most mass shooters. He's in his mid-60s. That's older than what we've seen. He was apparently well off. Money didn't seem to be issue, though maybe he was suffering some sort of major gambling debt. He was a high stakes gambler. But we have no evidence of that. Just that he had various houses. He was considered nice and normal by neighbors and friends. He had a long-term girlfriend. And he bought 33 weapons in the past year.

What does all of this tell you?

BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST AND ATTORNEY: Well, I think everybody is asking the question why. And it's totally natural. We want to know why because if we know why then we feel like we can have back some control. We can figure out then, how do we not become victims? How do we prevent anyone from being victims the next time.

I think we are rushing it though a bit when we jump to the conclusion that because it doesn't look like it was ISIS and it doesn't look like it was some of the other things that we've seen in the past that he must have just been a psychopath like James Holmes in Aurora who just did it because he enjoyed inflicting suffering on other people. I think a couple of things. One, I think it's too early to say that. And, two, when I look at this, I really think that there's something at play, a motive, an agenda at work, other than just psychopathy.

I think that he's a little bit older guy, as you said. He wasn't a big social media guy. So I wouldn't be surprised if today, tomorrow, the next day, in the mail some kind of a manifesto doesn't show up to a media outlet or a law enforcement agency telling us what it was.

At this point, one thing I can tell you, I suspect that -- when I look at how meticulous he was about everything else, I have to believe that his choice of event, this country music festival, was not random and that he probably chose that particular crowd because he thought people would be in it whom he had particular distain for, like, for example, patriotic Americans. This guy seems to me to be reminiscent, if you think about who in the past might he be like, of James Hodgkinson, the guy who shot up the Republican congressional baseball game earlier this year.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, or maybe he was just looking for the most target rich environment where he knew that there would be 22,000 people.

RUSSELL: Well --

CAMEROTA: But hold on to that thought because I just want to quickly get to, you used the word psychopath, and I think there's something really fascinating to talk about here in his family history. His father was a bank robber. His father, in the 1960s, was on the FBI's top ten most wanted list. His father was arrested in Las Vegas for that and went to prison. In the arrest record of his father, he is described as a psychopath. The father is described as being psychopathic. And so I'm wondering, what is psychopathology, and is it genetic?

RUSSELL: So, this is a great question. Psychopathy, what we're talking about here, is basically psychology's word for evil. It's less of a mental illness diagnose and more of a label for a person who takes pleasure in inflicting suffering upon others. It's certainly not a mentally healthy person who acts that way, but we have to be clear that there's a difference between clinical insanity and legal insanity. A psychopath retains, you know, full control of his or her actions. They know that -- they know what they're doing. They have the ability to differentiate right from wrong.

[08:54:57] Interestingly, it really does not tend to be something that's very genetically inheritable. It is interesting that the father was that way. Psychopathy is also something that tends to show up very early in life. Usually when we have a 64-year-old psychopath, we can look back through his lie and see all kinds of psychopathic behaviors going all the way back to childhood. We don't really have that, that we know of yet in this guy's case. And it would be very unusual for somebody to start being a psychopath at age 64. Possible. Unlikely.

CAMEROTA: OK. Fascinating insight there.

Brian Russell, thank you very much for trying to piece all of this together with us.

Thank you all for joining us. CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman is going to pick up after this very quick break.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.


[09:00:01] If anyone alive today can explain how a 64-year-old gambler and real estate investor became the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, that person is now within reach of authorities. Mary Lou Danley arrived in