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New Orleans Braces for Possible Hurricane; Investigators Struggle to Find Killer's Motive; Trump: Military Dinner may be "Calm before the Storm"; Officials: Trump Plans to "Decertify" Iran Nuke Deal. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone, John Berman here.

We do have breaking news this morning and it is a storm, likely to become a hurricane that could hit the gulf coast as early as tomorrow. This storm is moving very quickly, not a lot of time to prepare, so pay attention. We will receive an update from the National Hurricane Center later this hour.

In the meantime, tropical storm Nate gunning for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. All under hurricane watches this morning. New Orleans currently right in its path. The mayor there has already declared a state of emergency.

For some context, Nate has already claimed the lives of at least 20 people in Central America, bringing torrential rains, flash floods, mudslides. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers tracking the storm for us in the Weather Center, Harvey, Irma, Maria and now Nate. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And I think it's important to note that just because this was a tropical storm, it killed 20 people. So we're going to say it's only going to be a category 1 hurricane, let's not worry about it. That is not true. That is the wrong impression of this storm as it crashes right through southern Louisiana about midnight tomorrow night.

So, Plaquemines Parish, somewhere in the ballpark of 36 hours from now and that's going to be an 80 mile per hour storm. Now, just like there's a cone that goes east and west of the line, there's also a theoretical cone of intensity, 20 percent one way or the other. We could be 95. We could be 65. We don't yet know what's going to happen when this thing gets in the very warm water of the Gulf of Mexico. The middle ground is around 80 miles per hour but it could be much more than that.

Here's the storm right now. The hurricane hunters are flying through it. They just found 41 miles per hour. I think we're going to keep on going here. I think we'll find about a 47-mile-per-hour wind. So, still we're right at 45. That's where we should be.

I do believe, though, the 11:00 advisory that you just alluded to, they will make those hurricane warnings upgrading the watches. It's just a timetable. Here are the watches. Now, many of these areas I think will get either to the warning at 11:00 or certainly at 5:00 tonight.

And it's also going to be storm surge. There could be five feet of storm surge. Now that's not Katrina-esque where it was 20 feet, but still 5 feet gets into a lot of land areas that have just rebuilt from either Ivan or Katrina or whatever it might be. So that's a pretty decent surge.

Here is what the models though are saying right now. They are in very good agreement, east and west right straight through southern Louisiana. But then where? Into Mississippi, Alabama and into Georgia. And even if this is still a 50 or 60-mile-per-hour storm when it gets to Montgomery or when it gets just north of Atlanta, that will bring down power lines and trees and branches and we will have the same type of power outages that you would see with a land falling hurricane anywhere in the world. You get that 40, 50, 60 with these old trees and the old branches. Certainly, that will be enough to make power outages all across the southeast. -- This is 36 hours away.

BERMAN: Right.

MYERS: That's how quickly this is moving.

BERMAN: And that's the important thing here, Chad. There's not a lot of time to prepare. So people need to listen over the next few hours. Appreciate it. Chad Myers thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: New developments to tell you about in Las Vegas. Law enforcement source tells CNN the killer there tried but failed to buy tracer ammunition at a gun show near Phoenix. Now, tracers, of course, let you see where your bullets are going. Questions remain this morning about a possible motive. There was a note found in the killer's hotel suite, not a suicide note or any kind of manifesto.

The "New York Times" reports it contained numbers which at this moment police are scrambling to analyze. All 58 murder victims have now been identified. They are remembered by these markers on the Las Vegas trip, handmade by a man from Illinois.

CNN's Jean Casarez is in Las Vegas for us with the very latest on the investigation. Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, that law enforcement source does tell us that in recent weeks, Stephen Paddock went to Phoenix, Arizona, for a gun show and he wanted to buy those types of bullets, those tracer bullets, that allows you to trace the bullet for an intended target. He wasn't able to buy them. They weren't available to him. So he did buy a lot of other ammunition. But our law enforcement source goes on to say that what that does is it really allows you to specifically focus on who and what you want to shoot and under the cover of darkness as it was last Sunday night, he would merely be spraying into a crowd not knowing where those bullets were going.

Now we do know that two rounds hit a 43 gallon jet fuel tank that was located 1100 feet from the fairgrounds where the people were enjoying the country music. Now there was damage to the fuel tank, but there was not a public safety issue at that point.

[10:05:01] We also know and this was from a press conference a few days ago, someone mentioned a note that was recovered in the room when the search warrant was executed. The Sheriff Lombardo really didn't want to talk about it but "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that there were numbers on that note. We knew it was not a suicide note. But they're saying there were numbers on it. And now, forensic investigators are trying to determine what those numbers actually mean.

Now the girlfriend, Marilou Danley, we know she's in this country. We know she's being interviewed by the FBI, but we don't know her whereabouts. They want to keep that private. She did say, though, through her attorney and it's the only comment we've gotten, that it was about two weeks ago that her boyfriend gave her that airplane ticket to go to the Philippines and that was when she learned that she was leaving the country. Well, yesterday, our own Kyung Lah spoke with the hairdresser of Stephen Paddock. Listen carefully to what she says.


KALLIE BEIG, HAIR STYLIST: The last time I saw him was probably only two months ago. It was just about two months ago. He came in and he got his haircut and again smelled of alcohol and his girlfriend was with him. And again, just kind of doing her thing and he sat down and was telling me about her leaving to go to the Philippines and he was going to be home alone hanging out for a while by himself. It wasn't anything weird or -- it wasn't anything that seemed off.


CASAREZ: Now the girlfriend was in a waiting room. She didn't hear that conversation. But John, two weeks ago, I was told here's your ticket to go to the Philippines. He's saying to his hairdresser about two months ago that she was going to the Philippines. John?

BERMAN: All right. Jean Casarez there, a timeline issue, investigators will want to hone in on. Amid all the talk about of motivation there are some new details about how this killer carefully planned the massacre.

CNN's Brian Todd takes you inside.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we got access to a room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel not far from the shooter's room, two floors up and down the hall with a similar view to the one that Stephen Paddock had. What we saw there was a clear vantage point that he had to the target area below where 22,000 people had gathered. But we also brought up to the room a former Las Vegas S.W.A.T. team member John Sheahan and he pointed out something extraordinary. He said the way the shooter picked his room was crucial because the room faced directly east and what that meant was, that there was no building directly opposite the room where police sniper could have taken aim and possibly could have taken him out. There are no buildings directly east. There are buildings on other sides, but he said the only way you could actually -- that a police sniper could actually shoot at that room where Stephen Paddock was, was either from below, possibly from above, maybe from a helicopter, or from a room at the Mandalay Bay at a side angle, kind of like the one we were in. And he said in that case, those shots from police snipers would have bounced off at weird angles. They might have even hit people in other rooms and he believes that Stephen Paddock knew that that would be the case and planned that room very strategically.

Also, there is information now from the Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo who says that they have evidence that the shooter Stephen Paddock may not have intended to die inside that room. That he may have tried to escape. Now that S.W.A.T. team officer who we talked to John Sheahan said, if he tried to escape it probably wouldn't have been for very long. Take a listen to what he said.


JOHN SHEAHAN, FORMER LAS VEGAS SWAT TEAM MEMBER: There's one of three ways that it's going to end for an active shooter and they pretty much all know this. You're either going to commit suicide, you're going to die in a hail of gunfire with the police, you're going to shoot it out with them and you're going to be killed, or you're going to continue on a preplanned rampage at locations b, c, d, and e until the police finally stop you.

TODD: So you don't believe escape meant escape for good, just to -

SHEAHAN: Brian, how could it because he rented the room in his own name. He's already on video coming in and out. We know who he is. He's going to be the most wanted man in the world if he does try to leave here.


TODD: John Sheahan believes it's the material in the shooter's car which indicates that he may have intended to continue his rampage at other locations. Police say they found 50 pounds of explosives and 1600 rounds of ammunition inside the shooter's car. John?

BERMAN: All right, Brian Todd for us in Las Vegas. Brian thanks so much.

Joining me now former ATF executive, Matthew Horace and former FBI senior profile Joe Navarro. Joe is the author of "Dangerous Personalities."

Matt, I want to start with you, the idea that the killer wanted to buy tracers two weeks before the shooting. What use would they have been to him? What does that tell you? MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF EXECUTIVE: In this case, they wouldn't have been much use because he committed the act under the cover of darkness. So they wouldn't have given him any advantage because he wouldn't have seen where the rounds were going or who they might hit.

[10:10:02] BERMAN: And Joe, to you, the profiling now, so many people looking for a motive, looking for the why. There was a note, a piece of paper left in the room, but it wasn't a suicide note, wasn't a manifesto. It was some kind of a list of numbers. What does that tell you?

JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI SENIOR PROFILER: Well, it could be any number of things, but the simplest thing is, this individual has already demonstrated an incredible ability to plan, to orchestrate, and it may just be a list of things to do so that he doesn't miss any one item that he was planning to execute. So it may be something as simple as that.

BERMAN: Interesting analysis right there. And Joe, if I can stay with you for a moment right now, the bit of information we just had reported before that the hairdresser was saying that the killer was talking about his girlfriend going to the Philippines two months ago. But the girlfriend's attorney says she was surprised with tickets just two weeks ago. So this may add to that timeline. He was thinking about getting her away, way before, if you believe her attorney, she knows she was going? Joe?

NAVARRO: Yes. This has been -- this has been in the planning, if not in the ideation for months, maybe even years. It's just finally, unfortunately, was executed. You have to be careful with witnesses because witnesses often times even in bank robberies you'll have six different witnesses give you six different descriptions, so you have to be careful.

The one thing that is -- that we cannot -- there is no room for discussion is, this individual's reptilian indifference for human life. And I think that is at the core of this and the one character that tends to do these things is the psychopathic personality. And this, in fact, may be what we are looking at.

BERMAN: Reptilian indifference for human life. That is a phrase that is incredibly applicable right here.

Matthew, what was found in his car, explosives, 1600 rounds of ammunition, what more would you want to learn from that and what does that tell you, Matthew?

HORACE: Well, initially, I'm sure law enforcement was concerned with whether there was going to be a booby-trap situation but it does tell me that he had a plan to do something after this event. It doesn't mean it's a good plan because as you know there's no perfect crime. And as the Lieutenant described from the S.W.A.T. team, there was no out for this individual. He was either going to be killed. He was going to kill himself or he could continue the rampage. 1600 rounds, automatic firing weapons, it could only shoot a couple minutes anyway. So it just wasn't a good plan. None of it makes sense. BERMAN: Well, it seems obvious now that there was no out, that someone was going to get him, still, though, Matthew, he did plan we're told by authorities for some kind of escape. He had those cameras looking outside in the hallway there and there may be other indicators that we're not being told directly that he wanted to get out or thought he might be able to get out. What does that tell you, Matthew?

HORACE: Well, at the end of the day, as strategic and tackle like it may seem like the suspect planned, there were holes in this plan, there are many holes in this plan. And at the end of the day, this was a no-win situation for him.

BERMAN: And Joe, his travel and the idea that there were other locations that he had been looking at for some time?

NAVARRO: Well, I think that speaks to his cunning and again to that - those psychopathic traits where he is ideating where can I do the most harm. Keep in mind, the psychopath doesn't need a reason to do things. I have talked to them where they have told me the reason I did it is because I could. And this may be simply what we're looking at, someone who just has total disdain for humanity.

BERMAN: Chilling. All right, Matthew Horace, Joe Navarro, thanks so much.

Still ahead, listen to this -


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe it's the calm before the storm.


TRUMP: It could be the calm before the storm.


BERMAN: What is the storm, Mr. President? He warned of something surrounded by the country's top military leaders, but what does it mean?

Also, a CNN exclusive, the special counsel's team, they interviewed the author of that very, very, very interesting Russian dossier.


[10:18:55] BERMAN: At this moment, President Trump is scheduled to be in his daily intelligence briefing. Maybe the storm will come up. What storm you ask? The coming storm that the president inexplicably alluded to surrounded by the nation's top military officials. Listen to this.


TRUMP: You guys know what this represents? (INAUDIBLE) Maybe it's the calm before the storm.


TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's the storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You'll find out.


BERMAN: Calm before the storm. Is the United States about to face some dire military conflict or was that merely four words strung together at random?

CNN's Joe Johns at the White House for us this morning. Anything concrete to be learned here, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Nothing concrete at least so far, John. But I have to say, the circumstances of that video that you just saw and the audio, make it even more unusual. The journalists here at the White House in the pool that covers the president closely every day, were all ready to go home. They were under the assumption that the work had been finished for the day when they were hastily summoned and taken into record what appeared to be perhaps impromptu remarks by the president, not clear certainly, ambiguous remarks.

[10:20:14] We got just a tad more information about what the president talked to his military leaders about last night. In a read out that came to the White House, it indicated that they talked about North Korea, no surprise. They talked about ISIS, talked about Niger where three American green berets were killed.

Just this week and we're told they also talked about Iran. Of course, the big question is whether the president will decertify the Iran nuclear agreement, which he's been highly critical of. A lot of indications that he will next week, that will just send it up to Capitol Hill for 60 days for Congress to figure out what to do.

The president also issued something of an unusual rebuke for his military leaders, demanding that they get information to him quicker about options for military solutions when he needs them. Listen.


TRUMP: Moving forward I also expect you to provide me with a broad range of military options when need at a much faster pace. I know that government bureaucracy is slow, but I am depending on you to overcome the obstacles of bureaucracy.


JOHNS: Hard not to mention the fact that the readout today said the president also talked to his military leaders about the hurricanes that recently hit the United States, which, obviously, raises the question whether he might have been referring to that type of storm.

In any event, we do expect to see the president around 12:30 Eastern Time. That's about two hours from now, at a Hispanic Heritage Event attended by about 200 people. Perhaps that will be an opportunity for the president to expand on his remarks. John?

BERMAN: Or maybe just tease to the next episode. Joe Johns at the White House thanks so much.

Joining me now, David Gergen, CNN's senior political analyst and David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst.

David Gergen, first to you, you are a communications expert. Had any one of the four presidents you worked for communicated that there was an imminent storm, an imminent storm coming, and this was the calm before the storm. It would indicate maybe a cause for serious concern. When this president says it, what does it mean?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's got the great tease. You know, he understands how to build an audience. But I must say, John, this is unprecedented for any president I know. Typically, if you're preparing to go into a storm, the president is with his national security advisors in deep study, deep deliberations and there's a sense that yes, he's studying an issue and you usually know what it is. And if there's military action involved, then it's really important for the president to get out in front of the public and tell them what he is doing. So that they don't - you know, if you want to take us into a conflict, Mr. President, make sure you have the country on your side first because otherwise, support can slip away from you very quickly.

BERMAN: And as for that tease, David Gergen, he said, you'll find out. You'll find out what he means. Is that a message that's helpful either within the military or to U.S. allies or to the American people?

GERGEN: I think it is a message. When you got a military gathering, Joe Johns said, people at the press were ready to go home, basically thought there was a lid on and then they got hustled back in. There's a drama to all of that which suggests yes, there is something that's fairly imminent. We didn't know last night whether it might be North Korea or Iran or maybe even a reshuffling of his senior national security team. But today, the speculation is centering mostly on Iran because we know he has to make this certification decision by the 15th.

BERMAN: David Rohde, let's talk about Iran right now, because the speculation is that the president's going to move to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. But what does that mean and what does it not mean? Because there's a big statement there.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Basically this is the president kicking another campaign promise -- I'm sorry kicking an issue to Congress while he keeps another campaign promise. He will decertify the deal, but then it's up to Congress what do they do about that? They can re-impose sanctions on Iran which would abrogate the deal. Iran could start in reaching uranium, building a bomb immediately, or Congress can do nothing. But again, this is him - you know, it's a very divisive message. It will divide the international community. It's kind of like the wall promise, but he's not showing real leadership here. There's no strategy.

BERMAN: Decertifying the deal does not in and of itself end it.

ROHDE: It doesn't. You know, the other international parties that are part of it, the European Union, the Brits and others, China and Russia, don't want this deal to go away. The U.N. doesn't want it to go away nor does Iran. So he makes a political point but he's sort of again confusion internationally about the American -

BERMAN: Does Congress, as far as you know, want this responsibility of deciding whether or not to impose new sanctions on Iran?

[10:25:05] ROHDE: Every Republican in Congress voted against this deal when it came up under the Obama administration. So it puts pressure again on these members of Congress. This will alienate, you know, members of Congress, this growing tension between the Republican Party, and Congress, and President Trump himself. Also, I question this language for his base. He ran against military of interest. He said we wasted all this money in foreign countries and here he is for the people who voted for him talking about a gathering storm, you know, talking very lightly about using military force.

BERMAN: And David Gergen, it doesn't just put him at odds with the other, you know, signers of this deal. It puts him at odds, reportedly, with members of his own administration. Secretary Mattis thinks it would be a good idea for the United States to stay in this deal, maybe his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, maybe the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. They all -- among other things say that Iran is complying with the technical aspects of the nuclear deal and think it would be good for the U.S. to stay in.

GERGEN: You're absolutely right, John. This Iranian question is going to be explosive if the president decertifies because it is going to send a signal to our allies around the world that we may unilaterally walk away. And that would unravel the deal and Iran would resume its nuclear program, you know, overnight. So that's a big deal on the world stage.

But internally inside his administration, to overrule the advice on one of the most important issues of our time, overrule the advice of his top national security people is also a big deal. And it does risk that one or more would walk. We've seen that happen before that a Secretary of State had walked in the past when a President Carter took military action. He didn't approve of and he walked.

So, you know - and at this time when there's so much instability in the White House, there's a clear desire on the part of senior people around to get things calmed down, but it may be a way for Tillerson to say, you know, I'm out of here. There are reasons -- financial reasons for tax reasons why Tillerson may want to stay until the end of the year. But I do think that if the presidents overrules Tillerson, overrules Mattis, that the likelihood is that they will leave sooner than expected. BERMAN: All right. We'll be watching. David Gergen and David Rohde thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. His name is Christopher Steele. He's a former British spy, and he's been talking to Robert Mueller's team, the special counsel's team, as it investigates possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. We'll tell you why, next.