Return to Transcripts main page


Gunman May Have Been Casing Other Locations; 50 Pounds Of Exploding Targets Found In Shooter's Car; CNN Exclusive: Mueller's Team Met With Russia Dossier Author; Trump At Dinner With Military Commanders: "Maybe It's The Calm Before The Storm"; Ongoing Reports Of Dissension In The Ranks; Crowd Gathers For Las Vegas Vigil; Eric Church: 2 Empty Seats For Shooting Victims. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 5, 2017 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Are you able to (INAUDIBLE) at all?

[21:00:08] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials are saying tonight that there were no accomplices, but yesterday the sheriff said that he did receive some help. It is possible for both things to be true many of course help can come in many forms, somebody could have helped him acquire some ammunition or some of those bomb shocks, and that person may have been totally in the dark about what was to happen. So it's possible for both things to be true. Of course, we need the sheriff to further clarify, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Dan Simon, thanks very much. With me now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Retired FBI Supervisor Special Agent James Gagliano, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Philip Mudd, and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem.

Phil, you and I were talking in the last hour about that note. What are your thoughts on it if it's not a suicide note?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm looking at the nature of this individual's personality, an account that is fastidious. We've seen the family and others talk about how he played the slots, all about numbers, all about calculations, you look at the incredible planning for this operation. From every step, from the cameras outside the room, to choosing a room that had the maximum prospect to hit as many people as possible. I'm looking at this and asking a couple questions, one in particular. Was this a representation of how fastidious he was? An operational plan that say, he's what I'm going to do. Here's my way out.

COOPER: Basically, note it for himself.

MUDD: Correct. A way to plan this out for so he didn't miss a step.

There's another question we got to answer, Anderson, with the amount of explosives and weapons in the car, and particularly the amount of material in the room, the weapons in the room. Was that the only target he considered? I haven't seen people talking about that, I'm wondering whether he thought there would be an additional target he would go after in that broad swath of territory that he could see from the room.

COOPER: James, the idea of a note with sort of operational details, sort of reminders to himself. It's an interesting idea, unless you've been in a kinetic situation like this, unless you had that experience of the adrenaline and decision making in that process. It can be a very difficult thing. I mean, all your thoughts can go out the window in a time like this.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely, Anderson. And when we heard that there might be something, a notes that were left in the room, I fully expected it to be a manifesto. I figured we would have already gotten to motive by now. And it seems like everyday as more information comes out it becomes more confusing and more confounding. And he seems to have done some meticulous planning on this. Almost military style planning even though he had no military, you know, no military experience before this at all.

There's a lot of some similarities between what he did and some other mass shootings. You know, they're active shooters. Obviously, we're all going back to the University of Texas clock tower. There was actually another shooting in July of 2016 when the five Dallas police officers were killed and the shooter was up top in a garage in a covered garage and firing down.

Also, people said that this was probably the first time that the police in the history of the United States policing were outgunned by an adversary in the situation, that's not necessarily correct either. There also been some other times, two FBI agents were killed in April of 1986 when they were outgunned by the two Miami bank robbers. And I think --

COOPER: There was an L.A. bank robber, wasn't there --

GAGLIANO: Yes, the North Hollywood shooting, I believe that was in February of 1997, and in that case, Anderson, the police actually had to go to a gun store a couple blocks away, and take shotguns and long guns from there.

So there's going to be a lot of discussion going-forward. We certainly don't want to have the presence in a country like America of an overly militarized police force. But by the same token, in these instance instances, those officers were severely --

COOPER: But in a lot of big cities, I mean, New York City, I know L.A., I mean, they've changed the way their S.W.A.T. Teams operating. It used to be S.W.A.T. team had to gather, you know, police officer pull from different units the other, and then go to location. New York has these Hercules teams which are basically on duty at all times, you know, highly trained. And all officers, I know in New York and certainly in D.C. as well, all police officers are now, you know, train to respond to act of shooter.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. Big piece of that was post Columbine. So Columbine happens in 1999, and we realized that having all these responding units, the first responders, you're not going to get the Navy Seals or the FBI, HRT, or even New York City's ESU into these world locations quickly. So the responders are there. It's an off- duty cop, it's an off-duty sheriff's detective, it's a campus police officer.

COOPER: In the Navy yard, there was a bicycle cop --

GAGLIANO: Absolutely, and what we found is, we had these heterogeneous (ph) units, we were going, wait a minute. This takes a tactical skill set, you need a homogenous team. And after Columbine, what we decided to do was from the federal level all the way down to the state, down to locals, we have to integrate training. That's what happens now.

So active shooter protocols, the state, local and federal officials, we all conduct those operations similarly, so like in this situation you know the terminology, the vernacular, the four or five folks assemble. They can go and make the assault on the room.

COOPER: Juliette, how does investigating these other locations the shooter, you know, apparently booked rooms at or scouted. Help push the investigation forward. I mean, certainly, it points or opens up a whole range of potential motives, I guess?

[21:05:06] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Motives and potential co-conspirators. So I think what they're doing, at other places that they're looking at might elicit evidence about others who were involved. Was he there with someone? Was he talking to someone how did he get there? Was he dropped off? So you're going to have now a series of touch points that become essentially areas where they can extend this investigation.

The second piece, of course, is the piece that none of us sitting here can believe it still sort of open this large, which is the motivation piece. Normally by this stage, four days later, you know, when something likes this happen you have a range of theories, and a lot of them get x'd out, and then you finally figure out what it is relatively quickly.

There's no sort of -- none of us are confident with the theory of the case right now in terms of motivation. And that will continue until we can have an explanation. And maybe we have to admit, maybe there isn't an "Aha" moment in this one. Maybe there is something that we will never understand as sort of rational human beings of what led to this moment. But that's where we are.

COOPER: Everybody just hold. We're (INAUDIBLE) this discussion. We're going to continue just the moment. But we're getting more information now on those exploding targets that were found in the shooter's car. The explosives that were in the car, Tom Foreman tonight has that.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What can 50 pounds of exploding target compound do? Just watch.

That's how much authorities say they found in the shooter's car. And Youtube is filled with videos of people setting off other large amounts.

Exploding targets were developed so marksman could see when they hit them at great distances. The chemicals to make them or sold like companies such as Tannerite combined by the use or and relatively small amounts and set off by high velocity bullets.

Tannerite is often used a generic term for exploding targets. So the company says it's not sure if the Vegas shooter had actual Tannarite products or some other brand. But an official says, "The only proper use is as a shot indicator. It's not designed to destroy property."

Still, the easy availability and potential for misuse triggered this bulletin four years ago, "The FBI has identified multiple incidents where criminals and extremists have explored the possibility of employing the binary explosive mixture obtained from exploding targets to commit criminal and terrorist acts."

If the Las Vegas gunman had placed some of that material down at the street level and aimed at it with the scoped rifle --

SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The binary explosives could have been detonated with rifle slugs from those rifles, from the 32nd floor. One, for the effect of creating chaos among a crowd. And secondly, as a result of the explosion, wide spread shrapnel reigning on the crowd.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The implications are profound. Considering how often these materials are simply used for unintended purposes. Accidentally endangering and injuring people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is everybody ready?

FOREMAN (voice-over): A lawyer for the woman taking this video says she was 150 feet away from less than 3 pounds of explosive target material. Not Tanarite, but a similar product inside a refrigerator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, hey, call 911.


FOREMAN (voice-over): A fragment from the blast nearly ripped off her right hand.


FOREMAN: So how much potential destructive power was packed into this gunman's car? If he set off all 50 pounds of this stuff, which investigators say they found. It could have flung shrapnel the length of a football field in all directions. And that could mean that we would be very likely talking about even more people dead and wounded. Anderson.

COOPER: It's incredible to see those images. Tom, thanks very much. Back now with the panel. I mean, I had no idea about the explosive capacity of this stuff. MUDD: I think one of the problems in this case, is we look at that explosive capacity and we jump to quick conclusions. When you lock at these cases over decades, the quick conclusions are never the right what happened.

Couple of things I'm looking at, number one the guy who's looking at shooting from hundred's of yards away, material that can be detonated by a rifle shot. Was he thinking of detonating a car bomb from a distance? The second, the sheriff is talking about the potential that he might have wanted to escape, which seems unreal. Could this have been a diversion? He shoots a car that's 500 yards away every gather in that site and he goes in the other direction. I think there are a lot of explanations here that we don't understand yet.

[21:10:01] COOPER: Right, even the Columbine guys, if I remember correctly, initially, they actually planned to detonate a number of explosives and also have -- detonate outside that was to draw police away from the school.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And there's probably two different theories I think they're going to -- what he was going to use explosives for. We know that the purpose of Tannarite, we used it in training on S.W.A.T. wit the Hostage Rescue Team. We use them for exploding targets. We put our snipers at a thousand meters. You hit the target and you can see it explode from a long distance away. So there's a utility and a purpose to it. You put a bunch of it together and then you have a bunch of rounds also there too, which would cook off in the heat that would come off of that. Then you turn it into a fragmentation device.

So was the killer's intent to possibly use it as a distraction, a diversion, to shoot into this (INAUDIBLE) rising there, to cause the cops to focus on that, while he went somewhere else? Possibly dressed in a, you know, in the garb of a hotel worker, or was it as another device to main and kill? Because the rounds that were in the car would have cooked off and gone out and (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Everybody stick around. Up next, more on one of the other Las Vegas locations that may have been targeted by the shooter or scouted out. A live report from where the killer rented a room and may have scoped with a different music festival.

And later, Special Counsel Mueller's team talks with a former British spy who's already spent time digging into President Trump's potential Russian connections. Those breaking news to tell as head in the program.


[21:15:12] COOPER: More now on tonight's breaking news on Las Vegas massacre investigation. Chilling news that the shooter may have been looking at other locations including the Life is Beautiful music festival in Las Vegas. Just two weekends ago he rents a room at a condom complex during that festival. Gary Tuchman joins us with more about that location. So you were at the site where the shooter rented this condo, I guess it was (INAUDIBLE) kind of thing, what do you know, what can you tell us? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you're right, it is very disturbing to know the shooter stayed in this building in Las Vegas. Adjacent to another music festival site a week before the mass murder that he carried out. Why was he here in the Ogden condominium, an upscale condominium in the old part of Las Vegas, downtown Las Vegas during that festival? It could have been coincidence, that's very doubtful, it could have been scoping it out, or he could have been planning to have carried out the mass murder here, we just don't know. But if he was, it would have been logistically much easier because at the Mandalay Bay, he had to fire the shots about a quarter mile. This is where the festival was held the Life is Beautiful music festival. This was part of the area. It was several square blocks, but the stage was here, and people went out into the street, they were right next to the hotel. It was an alternative rock, rock, hip-hop festival, some of the bands here. There were dozens of them, with Lord, Blink 182, Chance the Rapper. And it would have been easy for him to carry out a mass murder here, but we just don't know.

We went inside this hotel and talked to people. A lot of motorcycles here, if you can hear the noise. I'm sorry about that if you can't hear me. We went inside. We asked employees if they saw this man. If they saw anything he was carrying. They say they couldn't comment. They were leaving that to the police. Once again, Anderson, we don't know why he was here but I can assure you, I'm very comfortable saying, it wasn't for any good reason.

COOPER: There are reports he also looked at staying at a different location near the festival, is that true?

TUCHMAN: Right, right across the street from the condominium is the El Cortez Hotel. There are reports that he first made reservations to stay there, but it was sold out, he didn't stay there. I did talk to a spokesman from the hotel he says they have no record of him trying to make a reservation. Not that they would necessarily have a reservation. But it is also told that if they weren't sold out, that he couldn't have stayed there if he wanted to, so we're not sure. He try to make a reservation but they have absolutely no recollection or record of him trying to stay at the El Cortez.

COOPER: All right. Gary, thanks very much. I'm wondering back in the panel. You look at that building, it's not as tall as the Mandalay, may have been easier, if he chose that location to be identified but again, we don't know why he would have rented out a place.

MUDD: We don't. And frankly that's not the question I would be having during the investigation. You get a volume of information after the identification of the subject over the past few days has been a mass. That's everything from phone and e-mail to location information. From that hotel, I also think you'd be looking for what video there is from him in the room. Is he bringing, for example, material in the room that suggests he had weapons in there?

Anderson is, over the course to of the past four days, you have information about -- that we're seeing publicly about where he was. Why he rent a rooms. Publicly the questions for those are motivation. Why did he rent there? Behind the scenes in the investigation, I'm saying, how does that match up with who he called then, who he texted, who he e-mailed, were there financial transactions at that time. Does his phone have a GPS reader that shows me where he was walking around? You're building a three dimensional picture of his life in what we're seeing, because the FBI isn't talking, it's about 2 percent --

COOPER: Just like the tip of the iceberg.

MUDD: -- we're seeing the tip.

GAGLIANO: And Anderson, to Phil's point, you know, Sun Tzu the famous, you know, Chinese general and military strategist famously said, that just as water doesn't retain it's shape, the conditions in warfare never stay constant. And to take this from the counter terrorism, neither do our responses to these. We have to look at this, we can't overreact. We can't do something in a (INAUDIBLE) but we have to get out in front of this, and make sure that we're thinking as the terrorists are.

I had a number of folks in the hotel business call me today. Tons of pages, you know, from people sending me messages that, what can we do? How can we better prepare our hotels? Well, it's not just hotels in any inner city, any urban area. You're going to have high buildings.

So, if you make it so that somebody can't break a window out, they'll figure out a way to get to the roof. We have to figure out a way -- in front of this, and figure out a means to stop this, because the fear is copycats. And copycat can just watch a movie and see something in movie he want to do it.

Or in the case of this shooter, I though there was an interesting parallel with what was -- one of the correspondent said earlier about possibly some type of brain trauma or some type of medical issue in his brain. And that was the same thing with Charles Whitman, from the original University of Texas clock tower shooter in 1966, was there some disconnect up top? But we live in a country where we treasure our civil liberties, we want to keep ourself safe, and we have to find a place a sweet spot in the middle. We don't want a police state. We definitely don't want the police state but we don't want to have these type of mass shootings. And how do we go to doing that?

[21:20:07] COOPER: But Juliette, I mean, that's one of the interesting things is that police do study, I mean, whether it's a terrorist attack or, you know, an act or shooter situation, a mass casualty event. Police forces around the country and the FBI studies each of these things in order to kind of look at evolving tactics, because the tactics by terrorists or by killers are always evolving.

KAYYEM: That's right. And they call them formally military after action report. In the Homeland Security they call it the feedback loop of misery. In other words, the only benefit you're going to get out of something like this is if you learn to do it better next time.

Our active shooter protocols, run, hide, and then engage, in that order. All come from Columbine, and the lessons of those children who stayed put, who eventually were killed. And we've learned that from Columbine, the Israelis have the same active shooter protocols for citizens, of course.

I will say one thing, we are talking about defense, how do we get police ready, but I actually think this is why this debate about weapons and guns is so prevalent in this case, right, maybe even more so than we saw in Connecticut after Sandy Hook. I think part of it obviously has to do with the nature of the weaponry and how fast it is. But I think another is the recognition that it's really hard to stop everyone from either, you know, getting on the 50th floor or the 22nd floor or this, you know, this hotel or that hotel.

There's a certain amount of defense we have to put into our Homeland Security efforts, but one of the reasons to explain why we may be getting some bipartisan support for at least one little piece of this, right, which is that you can't change the gun from semi-automatic to automatic is because there's no defense that is going to stop this always from happening. Let's see if we can get some of this high, you know, high, you know, casualty rate weaponry away from people so at least we can try to minimize some of that risk.

COOPER: When you hear -- I mean look, there's a lot of skepticism from people about the girlfriend, about what she may have known or -- even if there wasn't clear operational plan that she knew about. Just knowing somebody for that length of time, for six years or whatever it was, you would think she would have a sense of, you know, chips on his shoulder that he had, or gripes that he had, or resentments that he had, things like that which I would assume law enforcement would want to know about.

MUDD: That's right. I think the public conversation about this is going too quickly to say, don't judge. That's just because she leave and then she knew about the operation. That's not the question, Anderson.

The question is, every single sliver of what we spoke about and even slivers that are negatives, for example ,let's say we have a supposition that because he shot up the strip and because he was a gambler, this is somehow financial related. He loss a money and she says, you know, we never really had money problems and he never talk about money. That negative, the fact that that never came up in conversation is significant. It doesn't really relate to his motive, it relates to taking something off the table, that's huge.

COOPER: Taking stuff off the table is as important at this stage.

MUDD: Yes.

COOPER: And thanks everyone, when we come back our breaking news on the Russia investigation. CNN has learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team met with the author of that controversial and somewhat salacious in some cases Russia dossier last summer. We have details on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:27:20] COOPER: We've got breaking news on the Russia investigation tonight. We learned that Special Counsel Team in the Russia probe met a former British spy who put together that controversial dossier about potential election collusion. Evan Perez broke the story for us along with Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown. Evan joins us now. So what did you learned?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson we've learned that investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller met this past summer with Christopher Steele.

Steele as you remember is the former MI6 Officer who put together that or many people called the dossier, really a series of memos detailing alleged Russian efforts to aid Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Steele was hired by a Washington firm paid first by anti-Trump Republicans and then by Democrats.

The Special Counsel, of course, is now working to determine whether any -- the series of contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives broke U.S. law. And then we don't know what information Steele may have provided to Mueller's team. But we know that Steele has previously provided the FBI with information to try to verify some of the sources he use to put together the dossier. While the most salacious allegations in the dossier haven't been verified, Anderson, it's the broad assertion that Russia was waging a campaign to interfere in the election is now accepted as fact by the U.S. Intelligence Committee.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, there's been a lot of questions about the legitimacy of the information in the dossier. Do you know what the Intelligence Community's take is on it?

PEREZ: Right. Well, we know the president calls a hoax but, you know, we learned that late last year top officials at the FBI and the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence discussed including parts of this dossier in the official intelligence document that was prepared on Russian meddling. Sources tell us that the Intelligence Community didn't want to include it, because they didn't want to have to explain that parts of the dossier they were able to corroborate. They also were concerned about revealing using sources and methods that they used to do so.

Then FBI Director James Comey was worried that if the FBI alone presented the dossier allegations that then president-elect would view the information as an attempt by the FBI to hold leverage over him.

Now, as we know, when Comey brief Trump in January that's exactly what ended up happening, the president later told the "The New York Times" in July that he though what Comey was trying to do was hold the dossier as leverage over him, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. I'm impressed. I appreciate that. Joining me now is Gloria Borger, Joshua Green, Matt Lewis and Amie Parnes.

How significant is this, do you think that Mueller's team met with -- GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is

significant and it I think shows you that they take the dossier very seriously. And what they're trying to do is find out his sources and who his sources were. Because there is a question about how much of the dossier was valid and how much wasn't.

[21:30:01] And I think it plays into the larger question, of course, of collusion. Because that is what Christopher Steele was really looking at. You know, there's a lot of frustration, and we heard it yesterday from the senators on the Intelligence Committee that they cannot get to Chris Steele, he won't sit down with them.

COOPER: Right, but -- I mean it's interesting that he would go with Mueller's team and not with --

BORGER: Well and don't forget she's a known -- he's a known quantity to the FBI.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: He's actually worked for them. So they know who he is and maybe he trust them a little more to --

COOPER: Also much less likely to leak out.

BORGER: -- senators who leak. Exactly.

JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN": And the other important thing here is most the public attention about the dossier has been about the more salacious elements.

BORGER: Right.

GREEN: But there's also stuff included in there that could help Mueller's investigators determine whether the contacts between Trump operatives and suspected Russian operatives did in fact broke -- break the law. And that really is one of the things the investigators are looking at most closely and could be more substantial in Mueller's investigations than some of the more unseemly charges that have been floated here and there from dossier.

COOPER: I wonder what reaction in the White House is to this, because I mean they did such a full court press just attacking this dossier and, you know, now to hear that Mueller's team has actually met with this guy.

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. And I think remember the CNN I think we had a originally some reporting that it existed.

COOPER: Right.

LEWIS: It was Buzzfeed who put it out?

COOPER: Right. CNN has still not reported on the salacious details inside the hearing. LEWIS: And I think the salacious details in a way hurt the cause of this dossier because it was easy to sort of look at -- you know, for the Trump team to look at the salacious details and to sort of dismiss everything. As being so unbelievable or just out to get Trump. But I think you're sort of on to something about one of the things that this tells me as you mention there are multiple investigations going on.

But I think that the Mueller investigation is obvious -- is by far going to be the one that is the most extensive. He's going to have the more -- not just the fact that they can keep things quite and keep things from leaking out. But just the ability to talk to people, to get information that Congress is not -- the Congressional investigations are not going to be able to get. They're going to leave no stone unturned.

AMIE PARNES, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: I think it's interesting, though, given the fact that Michael Morell and other people kind of threw water on it earlier this year and said, there is no, you know, there's no truth to this or -- I forget what he said, but he threw doubt on it. And so I think that was interesting. The acting FBI director at the time was kind of, you know, suspicious a little bit of it.

BORGER: You know, the president has challenged it. People who worked for him have challenged it and those people clearly that Mueller is going to interview. So he's got to get their story and he's going to get Chris Steele's story.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to talk conversation. Next, we'll also talk about something the president said tonight surrounded by military leaders and it may be the calm before the storm. All trying to figure out exactly what that meant, if it meant anything at all. We'll show you that ahead.


[21:36:47] COOPER: More breaking news out of Washington tonight. Listen to what the president said tonight after dinner with his top military commanders at the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. You know what this represents, what all we do. Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the storm?

TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm Mr. President? TRUMP: We have the world's greatest military people in this room, I will tell you that. We're going to have a great evening. Thank you all for coming. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm Mr. President?

TRUMP: You'll find out.


COOPER: Lots to discuss with the panel including new developments in Iraq nuclear deal, reports of dissension in the highest ranks of the administration. And what -- does it make any sense? I mean, on any level that president if there is a big storm coming would telegraph that like this or -- I mean --

BORGER: No. First of all, I don't find it very reassuring, I must say, when a president comes out and says that with his military leader standing right behind him. It's kind of like fire and fury to me. And you've -- it kind of wonder -- a president shouldn't be doing this. I mean, he just shouldn't be telegraphing whatever he's telegraphing even though he's --

COOPER: But the guy who's not --

BORGER: -- joking.

COOPER: -- who never wants to says he doesn't telegraph anything. He sort of telegraphs everything.


GREEN: -- build drama before he does. I mean, I called around to, you know, inside outside advisers saying what was your -- I couldn't get an answer. One, idea there was -- that was -- there were three U.S. Green Berets killed by ISIS and militant and Jihad in Niger.

BORGER: Niger.

GEREN: It might be an anticipation of some kind of retaliation coming but nobody could say it for sure.

LEWIS: It could be nothing. It could just be Donald Trump talks, he says things, it could be something, it could psychological warfare. He wants to keep our enemies or adversaries off balance that would play under the whole. I don't want them to know what we're think.

But it could be psychological -- I mean I'm not saying this is what he wants. But, you know, we were talking during the break about the emotional exhaustion. You know, psychological warfare met, you know, to sort of game your adversaries.

There could be an impact on the American public. I really believe that that the public right now is inundated with bad news, and chaos. And one of the jobs of a president, you know, who was the consoler in chief yesterday in Nevada. I think America kind of needs that. I really hope that this is not him sort of promiscuously or flagrantly tossing around rhetoric that he doesn't really mean.

COOPER: What's also interesting, he said (INAUDIBLE) to kind of trying to change the subject on to praising military leaders and talking about what's going on in the room.

LEWIS: Even they pushed him on it right. When the reporters I think very quickly said, what storm? He sort of wanted to back off, it was odd.

PARNES: But on a week like this where he's had so much drama in his White House where Secretary Tillerson had to come out and have a press conference to say, there's nothing to see here, we're all good.

COOPER: To say that the president is smart.

PARNES: Right.

BORGER: Right.

PARNES: That's problematic I think for this White House. I mean, he shouldn't be, you know, fueling the fire and adding more drama. There's enough drama.

BORGER: But that's what he does, right? And that's what he does. He's all drama all the time.

And so, when you say he should be calming the storm, he's predicting one. Another one. And it --

GREEN: Stay tuned.

BORGER: Yes. Exactly, another T.V. show.

[21:40:00] COOPER: Yes. I mean it also does sort of echo the whole like -- well, we're going to see about that, or we'll see in a couple weeks or -- I mean there is -- that's an ongoing --

GREEN: -- you don't know if Trump, you know, verbal thick --

COOEPR: Right.

GREEN: -- sort of, you know, lets build a drama or move one because there are number those, you know, went address that in about two weeks, you know, stay tuned, hold on. But when it involves the phrase like "calm before the storm" is a little unnerving.

COOPER: Also in the Iran deal, I mean, the president planning to decertify -- Secretary Mattis told Congress just this week. It's in the interest of U.S. National Security to remain in the deal. McMaster, according to CNN report, he's given indications and Senate Democrats. He's wary of decertifying the deal.

BORGER: Right. I mean, this is a president who has decided that he needs to decertify the deal which, by the way, throws it in the lap of Congress.

COOPER: What does it mean?

BORGER: You have 60 days then for Congress to figure out what to do which, by the way, is a dangerous situation because they can't do anything in 60 days. But at that point they, you know, they don't do anything and you slap the sanctions back on, et cetera. And so they have 60 days to figure out, you know, whether they want to change inspections or maybe they want to change the deal, but it's very complicated. And for Congress to have to do this is difficult.

LEWIS: And the fact -- it bothers me, because I think you can make a good argument this is a bad Iran deal whether or not they're complying with it. And maybe it's a good thing for Congress to actually, you know, you could make that argument but what bothers me is this is an administration that is not united over whether this is a good deal whether or not we should do this, they're publicly not united.


BORGER: -- you can make the case --

LEWIS: That's chaos.

BORGER: -- that the secretary of defense is insubordinate to the president because they openly disagree with him. I honestly have never seen an administration where as many --

LEWIS: Go into a room --

BORGER: -- openly disagree with the --

LEWIS: -- and come out with a united front. Why publicly disagree?

PARNES: And there's no real appetite for it on the hill. I've spoken to people who just want it to go away. I mean they have so much all to focus on right now. But they don't see this as a priority at all.

GREEN: And there's a number of frustration that Trump keeps, you know, heaping the new responsibilities on Congress. Nobody was expecting to have to deal with DACA and now all of a sudden it looks like they might. But in talking with Russia (INAUDIBLE) they said, basically, this is a way for Trump to repudiate the Iran deal as he vowed he would on the campaign trail while absolving himself of responsibility by taking it to Congress. It's not clear what will happen then. But Trump will have kept to an extent in important campaign promise.

BORGER: Why is he doing that on guns, he's doing -- he's letting Congress figure out what to do on gun control. He's doing it on DACA as you say. I mean, he seems to like to do this although every time he dumps it in their lap, they also seem to get nothing done. So it's a dangerous proposition, particularly when you're talking about an Iran nuclear deal.

COOPER: Also, the White House continuing to say that everything is fine between the secretary of state and the president. I cannot imagine that the president was pleased with this whole moron, you know, allegations that Tillerson said he was a moron.

PARNES: No, yes. I mean, he was playing to an audience of one once again, just like Sarah Huckabee Sanders does every day. This is, you know, he came out there and did what he had to do. He did not deny that he never said that. But he said, you know, he just wanted to play to Trump and pretend that everything was good.

COOPER: A spokesman for the state department leader came and said that the secretary of state does not use that sort of language. Moron? I mean, if the guy ran, you know, one of the biggest oil companies (INAUDIBLE) you think he doesn't use the moron?

BORGER: It almost doesn't matter what he said. We kind of know the implication whether it was the exact word or not. But, look, the president was furious about it and that's our reporting. And we know that the relationship between Tillerson and the president probably can't be repaired to the point where Tillerson becomes a long termer. He's not.

LEWIS: You know, honestly, if you call the president and say he's a moron and maybe he is, I'm not in the administration. I can't judge that. But I met Macron, if you call him a moron you need to go. You should just resign or be fired. That is a fireable offense or actually you should just resign. If you truly believe that, you should go.

BORGERR: But he can't -- Trump is in a box right now because Secretary Mattis has disagreed with him publicly, Tillerson has called him names privately. He's you know --

COOPER: How many people from the inner circle can he actually afford --

BORGER: He can't.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation more with the panel ahead.


[21:48:39] COOPER: We've been talking about the chaos in the inner circle the Trump administration drama that's gone on for quite a while now. But is yet reached -- yet, another crescendo with reports that Rex Tillerson called the president a moron and all the subsequent denials and then reaction to that. Back now, with the panel.

It is interesting that the president, you know, clearly is publicly taking great issue with that and, you know, said that it just -- it's not true, and -- but I mean, his denial was sort of, it wasn't even that Tillerson hadn't called him a moron, it was that Tillerson hadn't threatened to resign.

BORGER: Right. Because we know the president was furious when he heard about this. And I think the president probably doesn't know what the exact truth is. Tillerson is denying it. But there are people obviously who heard it, who leaked this story. And the president's furious, and I'm sure Tillerson as we were saying before is not going to stay forever. But the president now has this cabinet that he's not -- he's not comfortable with, right?

GREEN: Tillerson actually wouldn't deny the fact that he used --

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: Press secretary.

GREEN: -- way which has the effect essentially of confirming that yes, he probably did certainly how Trump took the news and which is why he -- according to NBC News, blew up for two hours today and why General Kelly was pulled off the flight yesterday, this morning?


[21:50:02] COOPER: I mean, this is the guy who ran, you know, major company, not used to being the second pedal or the, you know, the third pedal or fourth pedal. And yet if he feels this way about the president and if the State Department is demoralized and a lot of his job is, you know, cutting in the State Department, what do you think -- or why do people who are dissatisfied stay?

GREEN: Maybe with someone like that. I mean, this is the -- this is his career a capstone. I mean, he's the CEO of Exxon. To be secretary of state has enormous prestige and to go kind of slinking out less than a year on the job would be -- I think the detrimental to his reputation and damaging to his ego.


COOPER: -- this administration I mean it's not as if --

GREEN: Well that's a different question.

COOPER: You know, and Jared Kushner is the one who's dealing with Middle East peace. It's not -- you know --

LEWIS: This is a guy who never -- I mean he was the -- I think he just basically worked at Exxon his whole career, right, which is, I mean, obviously he was very effective and very successful there. But -- so not only does he have the thing where he's used to being the number one guy in charge. But he's -- you know, there are people who can be very successful in one job or one industry. It's not transferable to another. And it seems like -- Donald Trump reportedly hired him because he looked good, because he looked -- I mean, Bob Corker was too short. You know, maybe Nikki Haley wasn't -- you know, Mitt Romney he's sort toyed with but he looked like a secretary of state.

BORGER: But you know, Corker made the point which we've all spoken about. Corker made the point yesterday that the only thing standing between chaos in this country is Tillerson, Mattis and who is --

COOPER: McMaster.

GREEN: And Kelly.

BORGER: And Kelly -- and General Kelly. And I think that there may be a reason that Tillerson stays because he believes he has to get some things done. And I think you have to ask this question about the generals and about Tillerson which is patriotism is one thing and you serve because you're patriotic, but when you're no longer effective, isn't that time to go.

PARNES: I mean, he hasn't really been effective all in all. From the beginning he's had problems at the State Department. He's always felt undermined by Jared Kushner and other people at the White House, Steve Bannon even. So he's never kind of found who's splitting there. So it's a good question. You have to wonder why he's sticking around.

COOPER: I want thank everybody.

A moving tribute to a victim of the Las Vegas tragedy, Heather Melton lost her husband Sonny. He was the first victim named. I spoke with Heather on Tuesday. She shared how much they loved one another and country music star heard about our conversation took the stage in Nashville to talk about Sonny and Heather. We'll have that for you in a moment.


[21:56:30] COOPER: More now on the lives lost in Las Vegas. A crowd gathering for a vigil at Police Memorial Park for one of the fallen Las Vegas Police Officer, Charleston Hartfield, who was off duty at the time of the shooting.

In cities across America people are paying tribute to lives lost. That included the country music community.

On Tuesday I spoke to Heather Melton. Her husband Sonny was killed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas. He was just 29. He died protecting the love of his life. Here is what Heather told me.


HEATHER MELTON, WIFE OF SHOOTING VICTIM SONNY MELTON: There was never a minute that I doubted his love for me.

COOPER: Especially Sunday night.


COOPER: He saved your life.

MELTON: He did. And he would do it over and over again.

COOPER: Do you want to talk about that night at all?

MELTON: Yes. I mean, it's horrifically vivid. It's not an image that probably will ever be out of my mind. But we were having such a good time and probably --

COOPER: Going to concerts was your thing?

MELTON: Yes. We loved going to concerts. We did it every single month we went to at least one concert.

COOPER: You're wearing his favorite concert --

MELTON: Eric Church was his guy and we came to Vegas to see Eric Church. And actually, we have tickets to go tomorrow night to see him in Nashville.


COOPER: Eric Church heard about that moment. He took to the stage last night in Nashville and paid tribute to Heather and Sonny. Watch.


ERIC CHURCH, AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER: Last night, somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton and she was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN and she had on our Church Choir tour shirt. And he said what brought you to Vegas and she goes we went there to see Eric Church and because he was Sonny's, her husband who died, it was his guy. And we went there to see his guy. And then she said we have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.

And as I -- over here section three row -- there's some empty seats and that's their seats.

And I'm going to tell you something, the reason I'm here, the reason I'm here tonight is because of Heather Melton, her husband Sonny, who died and every person that was there. Because I'm going to tell you something, I saw that crowd. I saw them with their hands in the air. I saw them -- I saw them with boots in the air. And what I saw that moment in time that was frozen, there's no amount of bullets that can take away. None.


COOPER: Eric Church in Nashville.

Tomorrow night we're going to bring you a special report called "Las Vegas Lost: Remembering the Victims", an uninterrupted hour dedicated to the lives that were lost. Each of their stories, memories shared by family and by friends, each of those who are no longer with us. That's at 9:00 P.M. Eastern tomorrow night. Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Showing new clues in the investigation of the worse mass shooting in modern American history.

This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon.

Here is what we are learning right now.