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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Swirls Toward Gulf Coast; New Orleans Under State Of Emergency As Hurricane Nears; Mississippi, Alabama Brace For Landfall Storm Surge; Chilling Pictures Show Inside Killer's Hotel Room; Authorities: Paddock Acted Alone; Evacuations Ordered as Hurricane Swirls Toward Coast; Trump Hints of Calm Before the Storm During Military Meeting. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired October 7, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[06:00:12]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out now. That's the message right now for hurricane warnings posted along the gulf coast. Nate gaining strength and threatening New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five days after Sunday's horrific shooting in Las Vegas, a focus on the explosive material found in the gunman's car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The methodology, the planning, the things that he did, the military style tactics and methodologies that he employed are becoming more and more clear and yet the motive seems to be sinking further into the distance.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was totally irresponsible for him to do this and completely uncalled for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He certainly doesn't want to layout his game plan for our enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it is responsible. I don't think presidents ought to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. This morning, Vice President Mike Pence will land in Las Vegas. He will join the community in healing and remembering, and honoring the 58 people who were lost killed in that worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It has been nearly a week at this point after that concert shooting and investigators still digging through thousands of leads about the killer. What they're not finding is a motive yet behind this massacre. Police say they have gone through hours of security footage at Mandalay Bay. We will tell you what they are learning.

BLACKWELL: Plus, could the secretary of state be the next to leave the Trump administration? We have details this morning on the growing feud between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after the secretary reportedly called the president a moron. And also, why the latest drama is wearing on Chief of Staff John Kelly.

PAUL: Breaking news this morning, though, Hurricane Nate, the deadly storm has a major U.S. city in its sights. Set to make landfall on the gulf coast within the next 18 hours or so.

BLACKWELL: So, this hurricane has already left so much destruction in Central America. At least 24 people killed. Hundreds have been rescued from floods and mudslides. Many there are without power or clean running water.

PAUL: Our team of correspondents is standing by in New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Both under hurricane warnings as of right now. So, I want to go straight to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, as he has got the latest trajectory here. Where and when at this point do you know, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Where is likely Biloxi, but possibly as far east as Dolphin Island (ph), maybe Mobile for the eye itself, but what has changed overnight. It is already 80 miles per hour. It is now forecast to be a 90-mile-per-hour storm at landfall.

Now that is significant because it could have been 70. Remember yesterday we said it could be plus or minus 10 percent. Well, now it is looks like it's going to be plus. Even some of the landfall models I'm seeing now have gusts to over 100 coming through Biloxi, Golf Court (ph), Dolphin Island, Mobile, maybe as far east Fair Hope (ph), but certainly, Plaquemines Parish.

And the backside wind in New Orleans could be at least 60 miles per hour. Hurricane warnings are posted here. Now we have tropical storm watches and warnings west of Atlanta, Georgia. The storm is not going to stop.

When it gets to the gulf coast, it will keep going. Keep knocking downpour power lines for Montgomery all the way to Atlanta and even Birmingham, Alabama. But the main threat is the storm surge, 9 feet tall.

Waves on top of that all the way from Pensacola back to New Orleans. That's the number, 5 to 9 feet. You get farther away, 2 to 4. But it's the wind gusts too that's going to come through right through Plaquemines Parish, Grand Isle 76.

Probably somewhere over 70 miles per hour for New Orleans proper, but look at that number, Biloxi. The gusts forecast is 109 miles per hour. So that's the threat. There will be some flooding, but it is the wind and surge that is truly the problem this morning with Hurricane Nate.

And the fact that it is in very warm water. Uninterrupted warm water for the next 15 hours before landfall. This could be a bigger storm than even 90. Right now, we are watching for an eye.

When it gets an eye, that's when rapid intensification could happen. Right now, so far so good. No significant eye there. But when it is there, I'll let you know -- guys.

PAUL: We know the warm waters they just feed it like fuel. All right. Chad, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, as Chad talked about potential landfall in Mississippi and Alabama. Let's go to New Orleans there as he also talked about the threat for that city. New Orleans is under a state of emergency. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ordering a mandatory evacuation for people living in some parts of city.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live in New Orleans. Are people heeding those warnings?

[06:05:02] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, those folks in areas that are not within the levee protection system, Victor, those are the places of concern. That's Lake Katherine (ph), The Venetian Aisles, and Irish Bayou. Mitch Landrieu saying those people need to be out by noon today.

But within the confines of the city of New Orleans, no such mandatory evacuation. Warning those people within the city do need to heed, though, is the curfew that will go into effect at 6:00 p.m. tonight until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

As the thought is that the worst of this storm will hit the city in the darkness of night. And with this storm picking up strength, an alert just went out from the National Weather Service.

The New Orleans division saying all preparations along the gulf coast should be rushed to completion this morning ahead of Hurricane Nate. Mayor Mitch Landrieu here in New Orleans is very confident in the preparations this city is making, but he is saying, the city's preparations won't matter if citizens don't do their part in all of this.

One of the big questions in the city of New Orleans after a summer in which a couple of flash floods really affected the city. There was confident shaken in the drainage system with the pumps and turbines which power the pumps.

Who are this city? Mayor Landrieu says people have been working 24/7 to get the situation under control. They are at 92 percent capacity, 109 of the 102 pumps are now working. They have brought in extra manpower as well to make sure that any heavy rainfall that does come to the city will be able to be drained properly.

But as always, the case in any sort of a flooding situation, you always hear the warnings not to drive through standing water when you don't know how deep it is. They are taking precaution notice city to help deter anyone from trying to do that.

Tonight at 6:00 p.m., they will be barricading underpasses to make sure no one goes through the water that may be standing, Victor. The city knows how to prepare for a storm.

BLACKWELL: They do indeed. Unfortunately, having so much experience with them. Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much. We will get back to you there in New Orleans.

PAUL: And neighboring state Alabama, of course, bracing for Nate's landfall as well. The storm surge that could come with it is something they are paying attention to. CNN's Ryan Young in Mobile, Alabama with the look at preparations happening there. Good morning.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You are talking about an awareness. Every time we kind of went around downtown, you could hear people asking questions about what do we think about the storm? What was going to happening next?

I can tell you businesses have already taken some of the things into their own hands by placing sandbags against their door because some of these places obviously know in low lying areas they will be dealing with water.

You are talking about a storm surge that could be anywhere from 5 to 9 feet. People are taking this seriously. You see two or three storms that come through during the year, you can tell everyone's awareness kind of just pops up.

The mayor talked about the fact that all the storm drains were clear. They moved heavy equipment to certain positions to make sure that if the storm does hit, they are ready to respond at a moment's notice.

No shelters have been opened just yet. But, that conversation really about the idea that if 5 to 9 feet of storm surge could hit this area, they could be dealing with some massive amounts of flooding.

One of the things you notice right now, no rain, no water. So, everything has been calm. We are told later on this afternoon is when those first rain bands will come through. That's what the conversation has been about so far.

Just in terms of being ready and having that conversation with citizens to know that if something should happen, they are ready to move.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Ryan, thank you. We appreciate it so much as we take a look again at that radar. Interesting to note that Chad said there is no eye. When there is no eye, you think how bad could it be? It is not.

Again, just, you know, to make it very clear, a 90-mile-an-hour winds. This is a storm that is growing overnight. It is set to hit, we believe, sometime around midnight, and as Chad said around Biloxi.

BLACKWELL: Earlier forecasts had this reaching Category 1 status later in the day. But this now still a strong storm with 80-mile-an- hour sustained winds. Already a Category 1 storm there. You see the path.

This will still after it makes landfall impact other parts of the south and head on the east coast. We get back to meteorologist, Chad Myers, and our reporters who are watching the preparations for Hurricane Nate all throughout the morning. So, keep it here on CNN.

PAUL: Interesting to see how it will turn over there and hit places like New York and Boston and what affects it will have after going over that much land. That's what really surprising.

BLACKWELL: Sunday and into the early part of week as well.

PAUL: All right. So, let's talk about what is happening with Las Vegas.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As investigators still trying to find a motive, there may be answers found in a note that was there in the hotel room. CNN's Scott McLean is uncovering the latest details on this massacre and the investigation.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Christi. Good morning. As you said, police here in Las Vegas are searching for a motive in the deadly shooting massacre that killed 58 here. They have not found one yet, but they did find a note in the suspect's hotel room. I'll tell you what it says coming up.

[06:10:06] PAUL: And President Trump is saying just wait and see. What he meant by cryptic comments he made this week. The White House says he is not dangling hints about military move, though.

BLACKWELL: And Hurricane Nate, we will be talking about it all morning. A live report from New Orleans on what the city is doing to prepare for the storm.

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WHITFIELD: So in just a couple of hours from now, Vice President Pence will be in Las Vegas. He's there, of course, to pay his respects to the victims of Sunday's massacre. This visit is coming as authorities are really fighting to find more information about the motive specifically now that we are about a week after this gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500.

BLACKWELL: Now here is what we know about the investigation. Authorities are now analyzing a mysterious note. You see it there on a counter that the gunman left behind there in the room.

We are also learning the shooter, Stephen Paddock, tried to buy illuminated military grade ammunition at a gun show in recent weeks.

[06:15:10] Plus, new pictures from inside that hotel suite show more of the weapons. New details about the explosive powders and ingredients in his car. CNN's Scott McLean is live in Las Vegas following the latest on the investigation. Authorities are following what they believe are clues, but no guarantee that they are clues. Are they any closer to learning the why here?

MCLEAN: Well, Victor, we are getting bits and pieces of new information here in Las Vegas. There is still one giant unanswered question and that is why. Police have yet to establish a clear motive, really no motive at all despite getting 1,000 plus tips from the public.

What they have got, as you mentioned, though, is a note found inside the suspect's room. It is not a suicide note. It is not a manifesto. It has a series of numbers on it. Police don't know exactly what those are numbers are.

They are analyzing the numbers for potential meaning. We are also learned more about what drew the security guard up to the 32nd floor in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It turns out it was an open door.

Either left open on purpose or maybe left it didn't shut properly according to police. That was completely coincidental. The security guard ended up on the 32nd floor. He actually took a bullet to the leg.

Many people are crediting him with distracting the shooter potentially saving countless numbers of lives. Police are confident that the suspect acted alone. What they are not as confident of is whether or not he had help prior to or at the very least someone else knew about this plot.

They say despite having analyzed what they say is voluminous amounts of security taped from inside and outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel. They can't find anyone who would match the description of another suspect or someone who may have helped Stephen Paddock.

Another open question, did Paddock intend to survive this shooting. That's a question because he had some 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car, 50 pounds of an exploding compound called Tannerite.

Gun enthusiasts will know this as the compound that you use to make exploding targets. Why all of that was in his car is still very much a mystery.

As for the guns in his room, 23 of them in total. We know that he brought them up in bags over several days, 10 suitcases in total. As you said earlier, Victor, he tried to buy a special type of ammunition called tracer ammunition at a gun show in Phoenix prior too.

He wasn't able to buy it because the supplier simply didn't have any so he did buy other ammunition there. The advantage of tracer ammunition, it has a pyrotechnique charge on it, which would have allowed him to better see where his bullets were actually landing.

The disadvantage would be that police potentially would have been able to see earlier on where exactly those bullets were coming from. What was Stephen Paddock's state of mind at the time? Very much a mystery.

One person who may be able to shed some light on this at the very least is Marilou Danley, his former girlfriend, who was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting. We are told she is cooperating with police, though, she will not give a public statement.

And one of things I mentioned, Victor and Christi, and that's that Mike Pence, the vice president, will be here in Las Vegas this morning for a unity prayer walk. He is also expected to speak at that walk at city hall.

BLACKWELL: All right. Scott McLean there for us in Las Vegas with the latest on this investigation. Thank you so much.

PAUL: CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes is with us now. Tom, thank you so much for being with us. I want to talk about something he just brought up. This tracer ammo at the Phoenix gun show that he tried to buy, they say, but could not obtain. Why do you think it was that he was not able to get his hands on that?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think I heard a couple of accounts that, you know, he wasn't able to get it because they didn't have it or they were out of it at the time.

So, I think that -- and the laws vary in different states of whether that could be sold or not. So, he may have made a half-hearted attempt to obtain it and then later did not try harder to go somewhere else to get it.

PAUL: Let's listen to Sheriff Kevin McMayo last night talking about what they are doing to try to discern a motive here.

OK. I apologize. Apparently, we don't have that. He said, "We are combing over this man's entire life from birth to death. It's hard to believe that one individual planned this attack and executed it without anybody else knowing anything about it."

At the end of the day, Tom, I always remember missing children segments where somebody always said somebody knows something. They just might not that know they know something.

[06:20:04] Who are they reaching out to and how plausible is it that somebody even his girlfriend in the near future could say you know what? Now I think about it maybe I have some information.

FUENTES: Well, that could be possible. I think the girlfriend is a key person that might know of someone else that he knew or someone else that he talked to or gambled with or worked with or did real estate deals with who might be able to shed light on this.

Because I think at this point, if there was someone else not let's say knew about it, but weren't involved, they may not want their name associated with this whatsoever or their name forever put on the internet that they were part of this or you know, have it put that they were an accomplice in this when maybe they weren't. So, I think that if anybody out there really did help him in any way, I don't think they will come forward if they don't have to. But the girlfriend, Marilou, is in the position to know, you know, someone that we may not know of already.

Because he did not have a social media fingerprint, we cannot do the usual digital bread crumbs to find out who he was messaging or contacting him in that manner. So, that means these were people that he would have had face-to-face relationships whether at the gun range or in business that we don't know about that she may know about. At this point, we are waiting to hear that.

PAUL: It has been described as the planning of this beyond meticulous, 23 guns to the room in a suitcase. He had these assembled and neatly stacked ammunition there in the room as well. Do you think it is possible, Tom, that he could have pulled this off solely on his own?

FUENTES: Yes, I do. I think it is possible. I think we're looking at this that all of those pieces of luggage with guns in it required assistance. It may have required assistance to get it from his car to the hotel room. But, you know, a hotel like that will have plenty of employees with luggage carts.

They are used to people coming in there especially the high rollers that stay in the expensive suites like this one was upstairs. They are used to people coming in with large numbers of luggage.

I traveled with film crews who have this kind of luggage, 10, 12, 15 pieces of luggage carrying tripods, cameras, light stands and reflectors. And the people moving those pieces of luggage don't know what is inside them.

So, that is the difference. If he had help in physically getting the equipment to the room, but I don't know and we don't know whether he had help in any other parts of the planning.

PAUL: In this planning or the intent of what was going on, right. Tom Fuentes, I always appreciate your input. Thank you.

FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: So, we want to talk about Hurricane Nate. It's expected to make landfall tonight along the gulf coast and it is strengthening as we speak to you right now. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live in New Orleans.

HARTUNG: The mayor of New Orleans says the city's preparations won't matter if citizens don't do their part. Coming up, we will tell you how the city and its people are bracing for this fast-moving storm.

BLACKWELL: And the president said the gathering of the senior U.S. military leaders this week may have been the calm before the storm. When he was asked what that meant, he did that. He winked. Coming up, we will talk to our panel about what does all this really mean.

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[06:27:47]

PAUL: Always so grateful to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 27 minutes after the hour now. New this morning, another storm is threatening the U.S. gulf coast this weekend. Here is the radar. This is Hurricane Nate, Category 1. It is expected to make landfall tomorrow or late tonight even. Hurricane hunters flew into the eye of the storm last night. Here's what they had to say.

IAN SEARS, NOAA HURRICANE HUNTERS FLIGHT DIRECTOR (via telephone): Pressure is dropping. Winds are coming up a little bit. It is just a matter of time to see how strong it's going to be and that's really why we're out here at the National Hurricane Center to try and figure out the answer to the questions. How strong is Nate going to be and where the impact is going to be when it arrives in the northern gulf coast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Louisiana is already bracing for this thing. First responders and residents preparing for flooding in New Orleans. Some areas of the city under mandatory evacuation orders already. Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

BLACKWELL: The storm has caused terrible problems for Central America, 24 people at least now dead in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Hundreds rescued from flood waters and mudslides.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, live from the weather center. Chad, when will it make landfall, late tonight or early tomorrow? What do we know?

MYERS: Yes and yes. Plaquemines Parish late tonight. For Biloxi, Gulf Port probably at 2:00 a.m. That is the eye. That doesn't mean that you will see deteriorating conditions all day because you will.

You'll see the water starting to come up. That storm surge will start to come up. It will be 9 feet tall. I understand. Katrina storm surge was like 22. We're not talking Katrina, but 9 feet is a real surge with big waves on top.

So, here is what you missed overnight. It is 80 miles an hour already. That's what it was supposed to be when it made landfall. That was yesterday's forecast. Now the forecast is 90. The storm as the hurricane hunter saying is getting deeper in pressure, which means the storm may soon still intensify.

Here are the hurricane warnings all the way from Biloxi from Pensacola back into New Orleans proper. That means hurricane conditions will occur in the next 24 hours. It goes all the way up to Birmingham and Montgomery and even Atlanta. You will all see damaging winds with the storm system.

[06:30:12] Five to nine-foot storm surge. But look at these winds.

Here's what -- Victor, here, pay attention. This is for you. Sunday and Saturday night. 10:00 tonight that's when it's making its landfall. Plaquemines Parish. So then it kind of turns to the right. It doesn't go directly over slide out, or over New Orleans proper. It turns to the right and then it makes an impact very close to Biloxi at 109-mile-per-hour gusts. So that's still a pretty serious storm as it makes its way there. Because you think about oh, it's going to hit land in New Orleans.

Now there is not much land down there in Plaquemines Parish. I mean, it's really a bayou. So that's not going to lose any intensity when it gets there. So what does it really mean here? What does an 80- mile-per-hour storm really truly look like?

Well, we're going to see the storm intensify because of the very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. So 80 right now takes the shingles off a house. Knocks down power lines. And you can deal with it. But it's the surge that we're worried about because it's moving north-northwest at 22 miles per hour. It's only 345 miles away from Pilot Town or from the bottom of the Mississippi River.

So if you do that division, that multiplication, you only have 15 hours to get out of there or prepare for the storm surge that's coming your way. And right now it's a category one hurricane. But it's going to take 96 miles per hour. 96 is the number we're looking for or not looking for because that's when it becomes a category two -- guys.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Chad Myers, thanks so much.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in New Orleans where that city is hunkering down. We want to check in with her and see what they are doing there.

Good morning, Kaylee. Tell us what is happening there in terms of some preparing. We just heard Chad say for some people there's 15 hours to get ready for this.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, well, anytime there's a chance for flooding in New Orleans, that's quick to grab a headline. But local officials are really trying to make Chad's point that this will be a wind event. They want people to be prepared for that. Really instructing folks to secure any outdoor furniture, anything that could turn into a projectile, as those incredibly high winds pick up in this area tonight.

And in this city, there will be a 6:00 p.m. curfew tonight enforced. 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. they want everybody off the streets. Unless are you're going to or from work or if you're emergency personnel they really want people as safe as they can be through the darkness of night when they expect this storm to come here.

Now all of that being said, preparations under way really are asked to pick up. Really asked to be rushed to completion ahead of Nate making landfall. As you said now we are in the matter of hours counting down. So when that comes to this city, there will be, as I mentioned, that curfew but also barricades being put up underneath overpasses, any areas where localized flooding could occur.

But the most important message to hit home to people of the city of New Orleans, the areas that are under mandatory evacuation. By 12:00 noon today, they want people out of the areas. Really if you're looking at a map, the land that lies between Lake Pontchartrain and where it emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. That's Lake Katherine, the Venetian isle and the Irish bayou. Now these are areas outside the levee protection system.

So while we talk about the wind event that is can be, that's where the storm surge is expected to be at its worse. Six to nine feet in those areas. New Orleans officials telling folks to get out.

PAUL: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much. We appreciate it. You and the crew stay safe down there while you're there.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Let's turn now to what we saw from Hurricane Maria and the recovery there. Vice President Mike Pence is back now from his tour of Puerto Rico. Seeing all the devastation there.

Now this visit came about a week after President Trump was there. And the vice president heard the real still fresh frustrations from Puerto Ricans. One man told the vice president that he is a little bit angry with the federal response. After meeting with FEMA officials on relief efforts, the vice president said he understood why people are angry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We understand the frustration. When you think of the sheer magnitude of the loss, the impact on the families, the loss of life being the most grievous but the so many homes impacted all across Puerto Rico. Our message here today is the same as President Trump's message earlier this week that we're here for the long haul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Now Mr. Pence also went to the Virgin Islands to take a look at the devastation there and meet with the local officials and the people still recovering from Maria's impact.

PAUL: Well, the president has been asked again what he meant by the "calm before the storm." That's what he said when he was talking about a gathering of military leaders.

Well, our political panel is next talking about his latest response and why it may spark even more questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:39:19] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Thirty minutes -- 39 minutes after the hour now and the White House will not elaborate. It says it will not explain. And now the president is playing coy when asked what the president meant by saying after dinner with military leaders that it might be the calm before the storm. Here is what he said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what did you mean by calm before the storm yesterday? What did you mean by that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.

TRUMP: You'll find out.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We'll find out?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

TRUMP: We'll see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: "You'll find out. We'll see." And the wink if you didn't catch that.

[06:40:03] Joining us now to discuss Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor of Spectrum News, Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," and retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, CNN military analyst.

Good morning to all and I of course want to start with you, Colonel, what's your take on the calm before the storm, wink, you'll find out?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. And of course, you have to look at the venue in which he made that statement. He's standing there with the senior leadership of the U.S. military. If you say something like the calm before the storm and you're standing in front of those people who are going to execute any kind of military operation you have to think, what's going on in his mind, what is he thinking. And then I'm puzzled because this is a president who told us that he does not want to telegraph any military intentions that if he is going to do anything, he's certainly not going to give any warning. So it's kind of enigmatic that he would say something like that in that venue, with those people there, and then we see nothing coming out from it later.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So you make a good point there. And I want to play here what the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said about the president and that comment and also what the vice president said when asked about what the president potentially meant.

Errol, I'll come to you after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Vice President, you said you spoke with the president this morning. Last night he said something about the calm before the storm that has a lot of people confused. Can you shed any light on what he was referring to?

PENCE: I would just refer you to the White House for any further exposition on that comment.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: As we've said many times before, I know the president has as I have from this podium on quite a few occasions we're never going to say in advance what the president is going to do. As he said last night in addition to those comments you'll have to wait and see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So, Errol, the vice president seemingly didn't know what to say. We heard there what the press secretary said. Is there some strategy here or is this a president just making a picture newsworthy that he wanted people to see?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I don't know that there is any strategy at all. And people should by now I think be used to the notion that there may be nothing at all behind what the president said.

While it was a meeting of military leadership, for example, it was also for their spouses. It wasn't a -- sort of a strategic planning session. It was something else. It was closer to a social meeting in some ways. So it wasn't as if they came out of a planning meeting and then said, well, you know, something is really going to happen. This could be the calm before the storm.

So, you know, it's of course a terrible thing that we have to even engage in this kind of -- sort of a palace intrigue and sort of scouring the president's words to try and figure out what it might mean or might not mean, and what it might mean for the military and for people's lives that are on the line. But that's the way he has chosen to operate.

You know, we heard other statements, by the way. And I think this is the carryover from the president's commercial life and from his time as a game show host, you know, when he was hosting "The Apprentice" where there's always a teaser, there's always the stay tuned, there's always, you know, some big thing that's right around the corner. A lot of times it's really nothing there at all.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You better hope there are no tapes of that conversation with James Comey. And then there really are no tapes to that conversation.

Sarah Westwood, listen to the former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: If something like that was said in a past presidency, you'd really worry about it. But, you know, this is a president who tweets, who engages now in verbal tweets as well, and says things like fire and fury, and you know, we're going to destroy your country, you begin to assume that it's more about getting attention than it is about proclaiming some kind of national policy.

I don't think it's responsible. I don't think presidents ought to do it. But I think in this instance we probably all should take a deep breath and try to assume that he is just making a play for attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And we're going to move on to another topic soon.

But, Sarah, to you, attention at what cost? Is there a concern inside the White House, from other people what this comment necessarily means or the impact of throwing something out there has been?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think that was certainly a concern early on in the Trump presidency. But now that we are 10 months into it there is a certain amount of expectation built in when other leaders are dealing with President Trump that he is going to say some things off the cuff sometimes that don't necessarily jive with what the administration is doing, that don't necessarily foreshadow anything specific.

So I think that Leon Panetta is right. As opposed to other presidents, there is that expectation that already exists among world leaders that President Trump is going to be a little bit loose with his words and that doesn't necessarily mean that markets need to shift or militaries seems to mobilize the way they did, maybe past presidents' words.

[06:45:02] BLACKWELL: All right. Colonel, I want you to listen also to something that the president said this week, late this week, that that was not off the cuff. These are written remarks. And here's what he said.

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

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BLACKWELL: So again the president there with the senior U.S. military leaders telling them that they're moving -- they should be moving at a much faster pace. He did not have to do that publicly. How did you receive those comments?

FRANCONA: Yes, that's an admonition that should have been delivered in private. I mean, that's old adage in the military. You criticize in private. You praise in public. And doing this kind of undermines their position. It also hurts morale. So that really was not a wise thing to do for the president.

But, you know, given his inexperience with military and politics, and that, I guess we can expect that. But if I was on the receiving end of that, it surely wouldn't make me want to do anything extra special to meet those demands.

BLACKWELL: So, Sarah, you're the White House reporter. So we know specifically what he was talking about? What would have prompted the White House staff to add that to his remarks that he is not getting options quickly enough?

WESTWOOD: Well, I think what he was broadcasting there was the fact that they are considering military options for a range of scenarios, but probably those were most targeted at North Korea. President Trump has worked really hard to maintain the illusion that there's a military option to be had with North Korea even though most experts agree that there really isn't a plausible way for the United States to engage in a military confrontation with North Korea because it would result in a massive war.

And so President Trump has worked pretty hard to continue stressing the fact that the military option is on the table when it comes to North Korea and here he is pushing his generals to continue providing him with the military option where one might not be viable. So I think that a lot of folks who heard those comments interpreted that he was referring to North Korea.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and quickly, Errol, to you. What it suggests, though, beyond the domestic audience, is that the U.S. military isn't as quick as it is or that the options aren't readily available when they're needed?

LOUIS: Well, that's exactly right. I mean I think Sarah stresses on an important point, which is that, you know, there may not be a military option. And that, you know, the war planners in the Pentagon who are very meticulous and very professional about this are not going to just sort of jump and present him with something just because he wants to leap ahead to a pre-determined conclusion.

I mean, this is, you know, welcome to the Oval Office as commander-in- chief. You don't get good options. You have to sort of deal with the ambiguities and the complexities that you -- that are there on the desk.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, Rick Francona -- Colonel Rick Francona, apologize for that, Sarah Westwood, thank you all.

FRANCONA: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right -- Christi.

PAUL: The MLB playoffs might be heating up, obviously. The opponents in one series, though, are uniting. And they're doing this for a reason. Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Christi and Victor, as well.

Two of baseballs' brightest stars played against each other in our nation's capital but first teaming up to fight for their hometown of Las Vegas. We'll tell you who and what happened coming up.

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[06:52:45] BLACKWELL: Two of baseball's biggest starts are teaming up during the playoffs to ask for help in supporting families and the victims of the Vegas shooting.

PAUL: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

WIRE: Good morning to you.

PAUL: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Good morning.

WIRE: Got some good sports for us this morning. Kris Bryant's Nationals and -- I'm sorry, Bryce Harper's Nationals and Kris Bryant's Cubs, they're battling each other in the playoffs but they're teaming up. They're both former National League MVPs. They're fighting for their hometown of Las Vegas. They shot a PSA that aired during the game last night. And they want to use that playoff stage to influence people to help those affected in their hometown by the Las Vegas shooting. Bryce Harper even wore a custom pair of cleats during the game to honor those affected.

The game itself outstanding. The Nationals' Stephen Strasburg pitching a no-hitting until the sixth inning. When that was ended by none other than Kris Bryant. Knocked in a run with this single. The Cubs would then go on to score two more runs to take the win 3-0 in the game one of the National League Division Series. Game two is at 5:30 Eastern today in our nation's capital on our sister channel TBS.

There's a moment of silence for Vegas at Team USA's World Cup qualifier in Orlando. The city that knows all too well about the effects of the mass shooting. The national team was facing Panama. Planning to take our nation to next year's World Cup in Russia. A loss would make that nearly improbable. A win? There's a much greater chance.

This is 19-year-old Christian Pulisic. Terrific in the first 19 minutes. The first goal of the match, then this, check out the sweet feet and assist to Jozy Altidore there. Team USA would go on to score four in this match. 4-0. They win. Now they carry some serious momentum to Tuesday's match in Trinidad and Tobago. USA now has a 93 percent chance to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia. We'll keep an eye on that.

One college football team will be playing for their city today more than ever. UNLV is going to be paying tribute to Las Vegas shooting victims with Hero's Night. They're going to wear these special black helmets with that red ribbon that says Las Vegas and the team is also going to hand out stickers of that ribbon to the fans to honor the victims of first responders there at the ceremony before the game.

They play San Diego State later tonight at 10:45 Eastern. And the one thing that the university wants to do is just about two miles, guys, from where that shooting took place. And every team for the rest of the year is going to wear that ribbon in some form or fashion to try to raise awareness and honor those lives that were lost.

[06:55:07] PAUL: Pretty smooth there. Pretty slick. Thank you, Coy.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: Coming up at the top of the hour the latest on Hurricane Nate speeding toward the Gulf Coast. Expected to make landfall somewhere between Biloxi and Mobile. And here a live look in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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PAUL: Well, she is a power house athlete, a single mother and an amputee. This week's "CNN HERO" was 17 when a drunk driver slammed into her.

BLACKWELL: But in losing a leg she gained the power to lift others up. Meet Mona Patel.

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MONA PATEL, CNN HERO: Once we lose a part of our body, there is just so many questions. Will I ever be able to work again? How will I take care of my children?

The strength to learn how to walk. It's a new world. Part of my job is to remind people that we are so much more --