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Catalan President Expected to Declare Independence. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 5, 2017 - 02:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Well, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Ahead this hour, the girlfriend of the Las Vegas shooter is back in the United States and talking to authorities, but she claims she didn't know a thing.

VAUSE: Plus, Donald Trump refuses to talk gun control while in Las Vegas, meeting with survivors of this deadliest massacre in modern US history.

SESAY: And later, it was a speech meant to relaunch Theresa May's struggling premiership, things did not go according to plan.

VAUSE: That's like saying the Titanic was a little ship that sank.

Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

Well, police are learning more about the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, but they don't have an answer yet for why he opened fire on a concert crowd Sunday night.

The FBI has questioned his live-in girlfriend. Marilou Danley says she worried he was breaking up with her when he sent her to the Philippines two weeks ago. She said she did not know what Paddock was planning.

VAUSE: And so, he was, in fact, planning, according to police, a massacre, buying 33 guns in the past 12 months. He had 50 pounds of explosives, 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Investigators are looking for a trigger event in October, which caused him to build up that arsenal.

SESAY: Well, we're getting another look at how the shooting unfolded. A county worker got video of the moment police warned people an attack was underway. Take a look at this. We must warn you, the video is disturbing, though.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are guns. Run! Those are shots. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Don't look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Go! Go! Go! Everybody go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go! Run! Keep your heads down. Go. Keep your heads down. Go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Keep your heads down.


VAUSE: Joining us now, retired FBI special agent Bobby Chacon and former FBI and special agent Maureen O'Connell. Thank you for being with us as we try and work out exactly what's been going on here with this investigation because there is a lot of new information.

Maureen, to you, investigators believe that Paddock must have had some kind of help along the way. Exactly what would that help have looked like?

MAUREEN O'CONNELL, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It could come in many different forms. One of the things the FBI agents are probably looking at now are everything from his Netflix account to his Hulu account.

Did he obsess over movies about snipers or TV shows about snipers because that could explain some of the planning and some of the tradecraft that he exemplified throughout this whole event.

VAUSE: Because he was an accountant. He had no military training, but this was incredibly scary, the amount of detail and attention, the preparation.

BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Sure. And there was actually a movie called "The Accountant" recently by Ben Afleck where he was actually an assassin.

So, yes, it's interesting that he didn't have any military training and he didn't have any obvious weapons knowledge or weapons training, and yet here he is carrying out this very tactically sound plan with advanced weaponry when, in his background, he had no history of that.

VAUSE: And, Maureen, it seems incredible that he's stockpiled this room with firearms and ammunitions. I think he, at some point, took like ten suitcases up here. He stayed in there for days. No one noticed a thing.

O'CONNELL: I find that very hard to believe because the road to an event like this has signposts along the way. And these signposts need to be recognized. We need to train people. Instead of just see something, say something -

VAUSE: Specifically within this three-day period where he was in that hotel, right?

O'CONNELL: Correct. Well, he could have said - he could've covered it by saying I'm a camera person because, as you know, camera people carry a lot of gear around. Or I'm a sound guy for the band. And then, he would have a ton of black bags in there that we would all see. So, there are ways to cover that up.

However, there were other signposts along the way. Someone had to see all these long guns, someone had to see them in his home, someone should've said something.

And it's important for us to train people to recognize these pre- incident indicators, find and realize where we should put that information. That information should've gone somewhere.

VAUSE: I think Sheriff Lombardo, the Las Vegas PD, talked about Paddock leading, what seemed to be, a secret life, in his words, for the past ten years. Listen to this.


JOE LOMBARDO, CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF: Relationship-wise, it's very hard to determine what has occurred in his life in the last decade or so. We do know that he has an ex-wife and she didn't lead us to any knowledge.

Everybody knows that we talked to his brother. No knowledge was obtained. So, anything that would indicate this individual's trigger point that would cause him to do such harm, we haven't understood it yet.


[02:05:05] VAUSE: So, Bobby, that brings us to the live-in girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who is back now in the US, being questioned by investigators. If anybody has any knowledge about his life over the last couple of years, surely would be heard.

CHACON: You would think. But, apparently, from initial reports is that she didn't have any idea. And she actually thought, when he sent her away that he was breaking up with her rather than keeping her safe, which apparently it might have been now, to keep her out of the harm's way. So, yes, I think part of this double life was isolating her as well.

Some other people, he might have some poker buddies or people that he gambled with. Gambling seemed to be his thing. So, I'm sure they've talked to everybody that he gambles on a regular basis with, either online or in person in some of these casinos. They may also shed some light on this.

But she - I'm sure they're gaining some information. And the signposts that Maureen mentioned earlier, she might've saw something that didn't mean anything to her, but now, in retrospect, mean something to the investigators. VAUSE: OK. Look, Danley issued a statement through her lawyer, as

you say, claiming she had no idea what Paddock was up to. Listen to this.


MATT LOMBARD, MARILOU DANLEY'S ATTORNEY: I was grateful, but, honestly, I was worried at first the unexpected trip home and then the money was a way of breaking up with me. It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.

I have not made a statement for now because I've been cooperating with the authorities and I voluntarily flew back to America because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me. And I want to talk to them. I will cooperate fully with their investigation.


VAUSE: The money he referred to, though, was the $100,000 that Paddock sent to her to buy a home.

Maureen, do you believe that she never saw anything? Apparently, in a 12-month period, he bought 33 guns, most of them were rifles.

O'CONNELL: Right. So, the acquisition of weapons and the uptick in the acquisition of weapons is a pretty severe pre-incident indicator. If anyone sees something like that, they should definitely call the authorities.

When you aggregate all the information, I don't think this situation could've been prevented, to be honest. There's just no way.

The confinement that all those people were essentially trapped in, with so few exits, was just impossible.

And we live with these thoughts in our mind. For example, like when I first heard that the shooting happened, my first thought was, there had to be balconies there. There were no balconies.

So, we had this - from a security standpoint, we had this unrealistic sense of safety with that building next to it.

VAUSE: Bobby, you touched on Danley sending - Paddock sending Danley to Australia before the mass shooting. This is what Danley's sister told Channel 7 in Australia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know that she don't know anything as well, like us. She was sent away. She was sent away, so that she will be not there to interfere of what he's planning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marilou was there. And this maybe as well didn't happen because she won't let that happen. She would definitely stop something, whatever what he was planning. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Bobby, you said that may have been an attempt by Paddock to protect her. How does that fit into this profile?

CHACON: Well, I mean, we're talking about someone who lived a double life or a secret life, right? So, it fits perfectly into his other life that he was maintaining, a normal 64-year-old human being that had money and a house and he was retired. So, it fits into that part of his life, it fits into the double life. It just doesn't fit into the homicidal maniac part of his life.

O'CONNELL: But make no mistake about it, when the FBI is done or the Sheriff's Department is done with their investigation, we're going to see all kinds of things.

The number one thing I can tell you is Vegas was not an accident. These places were chosen. And they were chosen. I think it has something to do with his past.

VAUSE: For personal reasons. OK.

Very quickly, we're almost out of time. The deputy director of the FBI, like so many others, is surprised. Three days on, there's still no indication, not even a hint of an indication of a motive.


ANDREW MCCABE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: This one is somewhat different than many of the ones we've dealt with in the past because we don't have any immediately accessible thumbprints that would indicate the shooter's ideology or motivation or really what compelled him to get there.


VAUSE: Maureen?

O'CONNELL: Well, I don't think we've really drilled down into any ideology. It seems that there isn't anything right now, but there's so much work to be done.

Bobby can tell you that, in an investigation of this size, they are working 24 hours a day, digging into every - he may have encrypted apps, he may have - we don't know what his computer looks like yet.

VAUSE: Right. There seems to be very few leads there, Bobby. Is that just because we're not familiar with the investigation or are there very few leads right now?

[02:10:05] CHACON: I think both. I think there is very few leads and they're keeping them close to the vest. But I think so, in this case, he did a good job at hiding himself. And I just think, as a 64-year- old guy, probably wasn't using technology a lot. This is a very traditional, old-school guy.

VAUSE: OK. Bobby, Maureen, thank you again. Appreciate it.

CHACON: Thank you.

O'CONNELL: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, medical professionals have been working around the clock since the shooting to save lives. Dr. Sergio Carrillo works as a congenital cardiovascular surgeon in Nevada and he joins us now live. Dr. Carrillo, thank you so much for being with us.

I know you were called into work at sunrise, after they got the news of the mass shooting. What was it like when you got to the hospital? Can you describe the scene for us?

DR. SERGIO CARRILLO, CONGENITAL CARDIOVASCULAR SURGEON: It was quite chaotic, Isha. As somebody said earlier, before in the program, it's organized chaos. There was a lot of injured people and there were lot of doctors and a lot of healthcare professionals attending to these victims.

SESAY: When you get there, you see - I'm sure the hallway, ER, everywhere, just full of injured people. As you say, organized chaos. How did you decide what you would do first or who you should help first?

CARRILLO: Well, as a surgeon, my first thought was to go straight to the operating room and try to help other surgeons, to help victims. So, that's what I did first. And then, I was involved in a few cases.

Then I headed to the emergency room and then to the ICU where there were other victims that needed my attention and I continued to help these victims.

As I evaluated some of these victims, I noticed that some of them had major injuries from the gunshot wounds that require emergency surgery and I made a decision to perform surgery on some of them.

SESAY: Wow! I mean, can you just explain what was going through your mind? I mean, I think it's hard for most of us to be able to comprehend what is it like to be a surgeon, to be in that space and to see so much pain and suffering, I mean, see a sea of pain and suffering. What was going through your mind?

CARRILLO: Well, not very much, Isha. As a matter of fact, what was particularly important, in my mind, was to try to focus on each patient that I was assessing. And in surgery, I wanted to just to do all my best and focus all my efforts to try to save this individual. So, that was my main focus. And I was just really, really paying attention to everything that was happening around me.

Once I finished with a surgery or helping one patient, then I moved on and tried to help the next person.

SESAY: Yes. You go into a kind of autopilot. I mean, I know that hospitals, they have drills, the disaster preparedness plan, there's a lot of work that goes in to trying to be ready for this kind of tragedy or a disaster. I mean, how different was the experience of responding to this crisis compared to all the planning and training you guys had done previously?

CARRILLO: It's actually quite similar. During my training, I have trained extensively in mass casualty situations like this one, not particularly civil casualties, but I was never really into participating into a particular situation like this.

But sort of during this situation, I went back to my roots, essentially to my training and then everything just came natural. And I was able to really help these victims.

SESAY: It's amazing. Dr. Carrillo, I know that you worked for 12 hours straight and then you went home for a few hours before returning to sunrise to help some more. I mean, how are you doing now, with processing everything that has happened in the last couple of days?

CARRILLO: It's been quite hard. All of these victims' images and the suffering and pain that I witnessed, it stills stays in my mind. But I'm trying to really slowly comprehend what has happened and digest slowly.

And as the days go by, I think - it's not that I will forget about them. They will always stay in my mind, but we have to move on to serve others.


CARRILLO: So, I think it's a process and it takes some time for any human being.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. It does take time and we wish you the very best with that path to healing. Dr. Sergio Carrillo, thank you for everything you did that night and the days that have followed. You're one of many heroes in this story. The medical community really stepped up. Thank you for speaking to CNN.

CARRILLO: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure.

[02:15:04] VAUSE: Well, when we come back, the US president as comforter-in-chief, meeting with survivors and first responders after the Sunday night massacre in Las Vegas. But still, the president refusing to talk about the country's epidemic of gun violence.

SESAY: Plus, the crisis over Catalonia's independence vote is getting worse. What the region's president says about the Spanish king and his latest plans for independence.


[02:17:33] SESAY: US President Donald Trump and his wife traveled to Las Vegas Wednesday to meet with some of the victims who survived Sunday night's massacre.

He also spent time with local police who responded to the carnage and hustled others away from danger. VAUSE: The president praised the first responders for saving

countless lives and offered some hope amid the senseless violence.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the months ahead, we will all have to wrestle with the horror of what has unfolded this week, but we will struggle through it together. We will endure the pain together and we will overcome together as Americans.


VAUSE: Well, joining us now Democratic strategist Mat Littman and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips.

OK. So, that was scripted, on-message, disciplined.


VAUSE: That was scripted, on-message Donald Trump. By the time he was back in Washington, Twitter Trump was back at it. A video montage of his trip to Las Vegas in case you missed it, set to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA".


VAUSE: John, is that video about the first responders? Is that video about the victims or the survivors or is that video about Donald Trump?

PHILLIPS: A little from column A, a little from column B.

VAUSE: And a lot from column C.

PHILLIPS: This is not - it's not uncommon for politicians to post pictures of them when they go, when they meet with people who were involved in big stories like this, national tragedies. They go to the hospitals, they meet with the first responders, it's not an uncommon thing.

I'm glad that he did it. I'm glad that people are seeing these images. These people deserve to be celebrated.

VAUSE: They didn't see the wall-to-wall cable news coverage all day?

PHILLIPS: This gives an insider access, John.

SESAY: Mat, the president had two bites at the comforter-in-chief apple this week. He had Puerto Rico on Tuesday and he had Las Vegas on Wednesday. Did he get any points on the board?

MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, today was fine. Puerto Rico, I thought, was really a disaster for the president. I thought today was OK.

Yes, (INAUDIBLE) Puerto Rico and Las Vegas. I wonder why he felt more comfortable in Las Vegas. I can't figure it out.

Remember, in Puerto Rico, he was tossing paper towels at the people. And then, there was a point where he wanted to throw tin cans which have food in them and the crowd begged him not to whip the tin cans at them.

[02:20:11] So, I think comforting people isn't his thing. When you see pictures of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Barack Obama, they're really comforting people, they're really hugging people. You don't really see a lot of that with Donald Trump.

VAUSE: OK. When he was in Las Vegas, the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, Donald Trump made it clear it wasn't the right time or the place to talk about gun laws.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, does America have a gun violence problem?

TRUMP: Well, we're not going to talk about that today.


VAUSE: John, setting aside the fact the administration has actually been quietly rolling back gun laws put in place by President Obama, when is it an appropriate time to talk about gun violence?

PHILLIPS: Well, it would be exploitative to go there and do it at this time, particularly when we don't know many of the facts that are involved in this particular case.

Now, we saw Nancy Pelosi, in her special with CNN today, suggest that we need a longer - better background checks. This guy would have passed all of those background checks because he didn't have a criminal record.

We've seen Hillary Clinton going after silencers. Silencers were not used in this particular crime. I've yet to see any prescription for gun control legislation that would've prevented what happened in Las Vegas.

SESAY: Go ahead, Mat.

LITTMAN: So, the guy bought like 45 guns in the last year. He has thousands of rounds of ammunition. There's no reason why somebody should be able to do all of that. We can have laws in this country that prevents that thing. We choose not to.

Also, though, to say that this isn't the time to do it is ridiculous. There are mass shootings in the United States almost every day. There are as many as - as a matter of fact, this year, as there have been days of the year.

So, that would mean that it's never the time to talk about gun control. There has to be a time. There's no reason why - after September 11, did we say, OK, we're not going to talk about terrorism. Of course, we are. I mean, we have to be able to talk about these things.

There's, obviously, a connection between the fact that we are the only country that allows everybody basically to have a gun and we are the only country that has all this gun violence.

PHILLIPS: That's right. He had huge stockpiles of guns. He had huge stockpiles of ammunition. He didn't use all of them in this crime. You could commit the crime that he had committed with only a few guns.

VAUSE: What about the device which makes it - sends it from a semi- automatic into an automatic?

SESAY: The bump stock.

VAUSE: The bump stock thing. Couldn't that be at least made illegal?

PHILLIPS: Any time you make alterations to a gun to make it a fully automatic rifle, it's illegal.

VAUSE: But this thing is legal to buy.

SESAY: It's legal to buy.

PHILLIPS: OK. What he did was illegal, though. You can't make a fully automatic rifle.

SESAY: But having it on the market -

VAUSE: In the first place.

SESAY: - available to people -

PHILLIPS: OK. What he did was already illegal.

LITTMAN: The problem is that there always seems to be an excuse not to do anything, right? At some point, we would like our Congress to be able to act.

Here's the reason why Congress doesn't act is because it's mostly Republican-controlled, very often by Southerners, and those people believe very strongly in the Second Amendment and they vote singularly on this issue.

PHILLIPS: Here is something I would do.

SESAY: Go ahead.

PHILLIPS: Because when someone puts child pornography on the Internet, we do a public-private partnership with the website hosting companies to take that stuff down off the Internet because it's illegal.

There are videos online that show people how to take a legal gun and turn it into a fully automatic assault rifle. Why are those videos still on the Internet? Why can't we lean in a public-private partnership for them to take that down or videos on how to make bombs.

VAUSE: Crackdown on videos. OK, good. We'll move on.

OK. After months of simmering tensions with the president, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he called a news conference on Wednesday, which was an event in and of itself. But at this news conference, he went out there and basically told the world how much he supports the president.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me tell you what I've learned about this president whom I did not know before taking this office. He loves this country. He puts Americans and America first.

He's smart. He demands results wherever he goes and he holds those around him accountable for whether they've done the job he's asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the president and I share.


VAUSE: But notably, he did not deny reports by both CNN as well as NBC that he had, in fact, called the president a moron.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: My source didn't just say that he called him a moron, he said an effing moron.


VAUSE: Thank you, Stephanie Ruhle over there at MSNBC. OK. So, Mat, there does seem to be a familiar pattern here when it comes to people quitting or being fired from this administration. They get into trouble. They come out, they say how much they love the president and then a week later they are gone.

LITTMAN: Yes. And I think that if it were up to - if Trump could today, he would have actually let Tillerson go today, but considering that Tom Price just left last week, they don't want to really go literally every week, which seems to be almost happening in this administration.

People are offering - Jeff Sessions offered to resign. He's still there. Tillerson has offered to resign. He's still there.

But Trump undercuts Tillerson at every opportunity. Tillerson goes to have talks about North Korea. Trump says don't even waste your time.

And so, Tillerson hasn't even appointed people to many positions in the State Department where we need people. So, Tillerson is not effective in his job and Trump doesn't like him. This seems to be a recipe for disaster.

[02:25:13] SESAY: John, before you respond to that, I want you to take a listen to President Trump's full-throated support for his secretary of state.

VAUSE: Very enthusiastic.

SESAY: Take a listen.


TRUMP: I'm very honored by his comments. It was fake news. It was a totally phony story.

Total confidence in Rex. I have total confidence.


SESAY: John, I've seen President Trump express more love to Xi Jinping than I have for -

VAUSE: More love for chocolate cake.

PHILLIPS: Oh, you're acting like he put a horse's head in the man's -

VAUSE: He may as well. That's what's going to happen next.

PHILLIPS: You should have heard when Littman was calling me in the green room.

SESAY: Come on. Give me an assessment of that endorsement.

PHILLIPS: Now, the president has denied that Tillerson made that remark as has the White House. And look -

LITTMAN: But not Tillerson.

VAUSE: But, actually, he said it.

PHILLIPS: Who knows if it's happened. We know that it -

LITTMAN: Who knows if it's happened. Tillerson didn't deny it. What do you mean who knows if it's happened?

PHILLIPS: In high-pressure situations with high pressure stakes, sometimes people blow off some steam and they vent. I'm sure it's not the first time someone has been insulted in the White House and I'm sure it won't be the last.

VAUSE: OK, very quickly. The Senate Intel Committee, some serious news updated, the progress on the Russia investigation. Listen to this.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: We have more work to do as it relates to collusion, but we are developing a clear picture of what happened. What I will confirm is that the Russian intelligence service is determined, clever, and I recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously as we move into this November's election and as we move into preparation for the 2018 election.


VAUSE: OK, we're almost out of time. So, Mat?

LITTMAN: It's as if - Trump had another aspect of his campaign, the Russians probably spent millions of dollars trying to boost Donald Trump.

And what we're finding out is, they were really specifically trying to boost him in Michigan and in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump won narrowly. And it's starting to look like Trump may not actually be a legitimate president of the United States. Right, John?

VAUSE: That could have been a headline in 1963 because the Russians were behind a lot of the JFK assassination conspiracy theories. They've been active in our elections for decades. I suspect they will continue to be active.

LITTMAN: Well, they will definitely continue to be active if we don't do anything about it.

SESAY: On that note, gentlemen, thank you.

VAUSE: Mat and John, thank you.

SESAY: Quick break. British Prime Minister Theresa May has been facing questions about her leadership for a while now. And this time, a prankster delivered a message by hand. Moore from Manchester next.


[02:30:04] SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines now.


VAUSE: Catalonia is expected to formally declare independence on Monday, giving Spain its worse political crisis in decades. The Catalan president says the king of Spain is ignoring the voices of millions of people. The king says Catalan leaders broke the law with that independence vote.

With that, we'll head to Barcelona. CNN's Isa Soares joins us this hour.

Isa, is there still a chance of a negotiated settlement here, or has this gone past the point of no return?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, many Catalans here hoping, with roughly four days to go until the government, behind me, of Catalonia declares unilaterally independence. Are hoping perhaps in those four days they will reach some sort of consensus, they'll meet at the negotiating table. But if you look at the verbal fights they've been having between Madrid as well as the government here and the king, Felipe, as we'll, it leaves very little hope here that actually this may be decided politically. We heard yesterday from the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who accused King Felipe of being a mouthpiece for the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Also accusing him and speaking to him directly at one point during his nine-minute speech, John, of basically ignoring the voices of many Catalans here, voices that he doesn't understand. Then after that, a day after, we heard from Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish government, who basically fought back and accused -- basically accused the government here of being disloyal to Spain.

So what you have here just verbal punches going back and forth, and the thought perhaps they will meet at the negotiating table. There may be a mediator here. Many doubtful that they will find a solution before Monday -- John?

VAUSE: Do we actually know what will happen if the Catalan leader makes good and declares uncharted territory, or is there a plan in place by the Spanish government? Do the police roll in? Do they row the Catalans out of the building behind you, for instance?

SOARES: Very much uncharted territory. But you're hearing a lot of hypotheses and speaking to a lot of politic analysts, there's some sort of strategy. Of course, they're keeping their cards very close to the chest.

But what we know is that is going to happen on Monday is that Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, is going to go into the capital of Catalonia. He's going to present basically the results from the referendum on Sunday. They're taking slightly longer to get there because there have been recounting. And there's allegations of people voting as many as four times. They're going to take them to parliament. There's going to be discussion. Each member of parliament will speak for 10 minutes. Once that is done, they're expected to approve his call for independence. Then he can basically come out as soon as he wants and says, we are independent.

Then it's a chess move. Who moves first between the government of Madrid and the government of Catalonia. What we are hearing, and this is just hypothetical, is that government will then invoke a clause 155, and that means they take control of Catalonia. How, John? Is it militarily, is it politically? That is the big question.

Back to you.

VAUSE: The never invoked Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

Isa, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

SESAY: British Prime Minister Theresa May had a monumental task before her on Wednesday. She needed to unite her party in the divisive time ahead of the coming Brexit. Her government needed a reset after leading her party through an embarrassing snap election. The plan was to give a strong landmark speech, and things started out well enough, until this happened, a pranker got past security and all the way to the stage where he handed her a P-45, a British tax form for termination of employment. And after that little stunt, her voice started to fail her.



THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our economy is back on track.


MAY: Why we will --


MAY: Excuse me.



SESAY: Mrs. May got back on track after some water and a cough drop, but by any measure, things did not go according to plan.

With me now, Dominic Thomas, who chairs the French department at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Dominic, so good to have you with us for this one.

The British newspaper, the "Times of London" called it, "The most shambolic conference speech in memory." I'm going to need you to put it in some kind of perspective. Was it that bad?

[02:35:17] DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR, FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: Yes. It was as bad as being at a friend's child's end-of-year performance when the stage falls down, they forget their lines, and everyone is sitting there squirming, and afterwards, rushes up to tell them how wonderful it was, and it wasn't. It was a disaster and a missed opportunity for this party that was looking for a reset and to try to change the conversation away from Brexit for a few minutes.

SESAY: So there was the P-45 that she got from the prankster. She was coughing. And then there was this, when the set starts to fall apart. Let's show our viewers.


MAY: Passion and strength that was shared around the globe.


MAY: Compassion --

SESAY: You know, you can't help but laugh. But really, here's this woman needing to make a speech to save her political career, effectively, and it gets overtaken, overshadowed by that. It's kind of, as someone keeps saying, a metaphor of how she keeps stumbling from one crisis to another.

THOMAS: Right. The one thing that unites the Labour Party today is to bid their time and to wait for the Conservative Party to implode. And they probably aren't going to have to wait that much longer. The one thing that keeps the Conservative Party together right now is the fear that Jeremy Corbyn will become prime minister. So the opportunity here, after giving her speech in Florence on the E.U., was to try and talk about domestic issues.


SESAY: And she did that.

THOMAS: She did. She managed to get to those. She only mentioned Brexit four times, but this was in the aftermath of the conference that had been dominated by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, talking about Brexit the whole time. And then when she started to talk about domestic issues, essentially saying let's forget about Brexit and talk about the world after Brexit --

SESAY: And the British dream.


THOMAS: The British dream looks like something she should have mapped out in the snap election, trying to appeal to young people, talking about education and setting caps on energy.

SESAY: More counsel housing --


THOMAS: More counsel housing. So basically, she sounded like the Labour Party manifesto, trying to appeal to people in that vein, and it was really sort of a desperate, sad moment.

Now, of course, as far as the Conservative Party goes, keeping her in place until 2019, until Brexit is one thing. But she's announced that she wants to stay on and run for re-election in 2021. There's no way that's going to happen. If she's able to stay in until 2019, then the Conservative Party will have to have a serious conversation about who takes them into that election, or they will be doomed to even further disaster.

SESAY: People keep saying she -- well, there's open speculation now that she won't me it to 2019. What would happen to force her out sooner? What are the conditions that would make that happen?

THOMAS: Well, every week -- and she tried to joke in her speech about, you know, Boris Johnson and can we stay on message for a few moments and --

(CROSSTALK) SESAY: Is he out to get her?

THOMAS: There's an attempt. This is what is so remarkable, is that he didn't want the M.P. job. He's the true Brexiteer. She was in the Remain camp. From the beginning, the organization of the Conservative Party has been rather peculiar. You have him and a group of people trying to undermine her, at this particular juncture, and to make sure that the Brexit deal they get is the deal that they want. They're confident that they can go to the British people with that sort of particular platform. I think it's unlikely that they will be able to make it that far.

SESAY: You know, you've got to ask the question, you know, there she is having this terrible time onstage, and clearly, being surrounded by sharks. As someone said, this speech put blood in the war. What signals does this send to Europe as they have these Brexit talks?

THOMAS: Right. It's, once again, they're t a negotiating table, and they have no power. The European Union, as we know, with the election of Emmanuel Macron, feels somewhat buoyed. Obviously, there are concerns with Catalonia. There are concerns with Hungary, with upcoming elections in the Czech Republic, in Austria and so on. It seems as if Germany is going to be able to continue, obviously, on its tremendous sort of path of economic growth and so on. It's, once again, Britain left behind. It makes them look completely disorganized. Unlikely they will be able to come to the negotiating table with any kind of real consensus. And as those talks go on, it's going to be more and more difficult for them to be able to sort of get the kind of deal that they are after.

SESAY: Dominic Thomas, we appreciate it. As you say, it's like going to your friend's kid's performance, and it all goes, yes, not well.

Appreciate it. Thank you

THOMAS: Thank you.

[02:40:08] VAUSE: Pear shaped is the word.

I've been to those performances.

SESAY: I've been in those performances.

VAUSE: There we go.

We heard Donald Trump is in Puerto Rico. He says, you know, that debt that Puerto Rico has, that's going to have to be wiped out. Turns out, we shouldn't have taken him literally. And we'll explain why after the break.


VAUSE: Investors were left spooked after the U.S. President said Puerto Rico's debt would need to be wiped out, in his words, and Wall Street might be on the hook. Mr. Trump made those comments during an interview with FOX News just after he toured the devastation caused to the island by Hurricane Maria.

SESAY: On Wednesday, the price of some Puerto Rican bonds crashed 15 percent, suggesting investors are worried about being repaid. The island owes $23 billion.

Trump's budget director had to walk back the president's comments.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: I wouldn't take it word for word. I talked to the president at some length yesterday as we flew home on Air Force One. 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.


SESAY: In other words --

VAUSE: Ain't going to happen.

Interesting conversation. But for many Puerto Ricans, obviously, the debt for them is not a priority. Two weeks since Maria hit, many are still without electricity, many are without running water, and they're still struggling to distribute food to everybody who needs it.

With that, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

"World Sport" starts after the break.