Return to Transcripts main page


Las Vegas Mass Shooting Investigation; Vice President Pulls Political Stunt?; Republican Senator Attacks Trump. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 3:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you very much for being with me.

Here's what we have from a source. The source tells CNN that President Trump is not finished with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, this after the senator's extraordinary multilayered rebuke of the president..

Senator Corker, who, by the way, is not seeking reelection next year, talked to "The New York Times" and told them this, that the president treats his office, his office being the Oval Office, like a -- quote -- "reality show" with a recklessness toward other nations that could set the U.S. on a -- quote -- "path to World War III."

Senator Corker went on and also said he knows for a fact that -- quote -- "Every single day at the White House, it is a situation of trying to contain him," the him being the president.

What is more here, this Tennessee senator sent this tweet out over the weekend, calling the Trump White House -- quote -- an adult day care center where someone obviously missed their shift this morning."

That response was in response to a series of tweets from the president saying, among other things, that Senator Corker begged for his endorsement, wanted to be secretary of state, and that the senator, who chairs the powerful Foreign Relations Committee -- quote -- "didn't have the guts to run."

Senator Corker was at one point in the running to be the vice president, visiting Trump Tower back in may of 2016. He also stumped for the president just a couple of months later.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody, Senator Bob Corker.

Come on up, Bob. Come on up.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: With me now, Dave Boucher, investigative reporter for "The Tennessean."

Dave, good to see you. Welcome.

DAVE BOUCHER, "THE TENNESSEAN": Hi. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: All right, so when it came to this endorse for Corker, the president says Corker begged him for it, he said no.

And then you have Corker and other CNN sources saying the president absolutely offered the endorsement.

Fact-checking here, what do you know?


So what we have heard is from the chief of staff of Senator Corker over the weekend. Chief of Staff Todd Womack told us that while the president might have said that Senator Corker begged for the endorsement, in actuality, the president called Senator Corker after he announced his decision to resign and asked him to reconsider and said that, if he did, in fact, reconsider that the president would come down and would actually campaign for him, which kind of speaks to some of the behind-the-scenes conversations that we've heard from Senator Corker, who says that he regularly speaks to the White House.

He goes to the White House and provides his 2 cents on everything from foreign policy to anything else the president wants to discuss.

BALDWIN: So I remember just covering the presidential campaign. Not only was Corker on the short list to be vice president. He was on a list perhaps to become the secretary of state, a man has been golfing with President Trump. What happens with their relationship, Dave?

BOUCHER: Sure. That's right.

And I was looking back through some of our own interviews, and we spoke with Senator Corker at the RNC in Cleveland. And he talked about how the president has a more nuanced foreign policy grasp than what gets reported.

But almost immediately after the election, Senator Corker started coming out with some public critiques. He said that the initial travel ban was poorly implemented. And he came out against President Trump's attacks on a federal judge.

And so pretty quickly it became evident that Senator Corker saw his role as being a public advocate when he thought it was appropriate, but also being a public critic. And he's definitely embraced...


BALDWIN: You list all those things out, which are totally right, but it was in the wake of Charlottesville, right, the white supremacists coming to Charlottesville? It was Senator Corker who was that first Republican to come out and really, really criticize the president's response.

And I'm just curious from you, why do you think now he has decided to be so entirely candid?


I think that's a great question. I know that Tennessee Democrats and others are asking that question, why he waited until after the election. I think perhaps in May is when he really started his intense criticism.

He said the White House was in a downward spiral after there were accusations that the president might have leaked classified information to Russian agents. I think he would say that he thinks it's his own responsibility both as Senate chairman and a chairman leader to speak out about this president.

But there are people that are definitely questioning whether or not it's the fact that he's retiring or whether or not he thinks it's just the right move for the country to make these critiques.

BALDWIN: Dave Boucher with "The Tennessean," thank you so much.

I want to continue this conversation on with CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, who hosts "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" on HLN, CNN political commentator Andre Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

So how about, S.E., to you first, almost similar to what I was asking Dave in terms of why you think Senator Corker has been so totally candid. And, yes, maybe it's because he's not seeking reelection, but why do you also think other Republicans aren't taking the same sort of truth serum?


S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's hard to know what everyone's strategy is.

And that's true of the White House, as we all know. But I would just wonder why, if Bob Corker's criticism of the White House is that it's chaotic, is it's that adult day care, how he thinks this is helping.

I know a lot of anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats who are sort of cheering him on. And they love the fact that the governor's off and he's retiring so he can say what's on his mind. But at the same time, we're not talking about tax reform today.

We're talking about this squabble between Bob Corker and Donald Trump, and that would sound like the opposite of what Bob Corker actually wants.

So I think wading into Trump's Twitter cesspool and getting right down in the dirt with him isn't really having the impact, the intent that Corker at least publicly says he wants.

BALDWIN: But Trump attacked him first, didn't he?

CUPP: Absolutely, but, as we said, Corker attacked Donald Trump for the chaos, for Mattis and the generals standing between the chaos and the country and protecting the country and for being this adult day care.

Now this gives Trump, you know, a reason to go on a tweetstorm, instead of answer tough questions about tax reform or keep his eye on the legislative agenda. I don't think this was -- this isn't what Bob Corker says he wants of the White House, but he's feeding right into it.

BALDWIN: Andre Bauer, sounds like a bunch of third graders.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I can say, first off, I have always admired Bob Corker.

He's actually a South Carolinian by birth, and I had the pleasure to sit next to him once on a plane. I have always kind of followed him. And I think it's two different types of Republicans.

Look, there's a lot going on in the Republican Party. You have an establishment, class candidate in Bob Corker -- a class senator in Bob Corker that's always kind of held himself above the fray and conducted himself what most Republicans think a Republican senator should act like.

But Donald Trump challenged the establishment. Make no mistake. There are a lot Republicans like me that, quite frankly, were sick of the same old, same old and we wanted someone to go in there and substantially change what was happening in Washington.

And Donald Trump has done that and more and he's continued to fight the system. It's two different thoughts there. I wish they were talking about tax reform today, but, you know, is there a possibility that maybe Senator Corker is thinking about running in 2020?

BALDWIN: Yes, we don't know. We can't predict the future, but it's a good point.

I want to hit pause on this Corker-Trump conversation, because we also have some new video coming in. It's Columbus Day. It's a holiday. Folks are playing golf and the president is playing golf with of all people someone who has really criticized the president and someone who definitely doesn't mince his words, and that being fellow South Carolinian Senator Lindsey Graham.

S.E., what do you make of these pictures?

CUPP: Oh, God.

Here's what I know of Lindsey Graham. And I know him. I have met him a number of times. He is one of those unique people that is able to compartmentalize politics and the personal.

So, wherever he's disagreed with the president personally, and it's in on lot of places, or politically, he can compartmentalize that. He's supported Donald Trump on issues like Syria and other foreign policy where he can. That's his deal.

He's disagreed with John McCain, his best friend, on policies, but supported him personally, so I'm not surprised to see Lindsey Graham being able to put politics aside for a round of golf.

BALDWIN: Staying on policy, Andre, what about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson?

And Senator Corker in this "New York Times" piece was quoted saying essentially there is no good cop/bad cop theory. Forget the madman, that there is no strategy. The quote is: "A lot of people think that there is some kind of good cop/bad cop act under way, but that is not true."

Without offering specifics, he said Mr. Trump had repeatedly undermined diplomacy with his Twitter fingers and saying he knows, he being the president, he has hurt -- "In several instances, he has hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were under way by tweeting things out."

How is that not a problem?

BAUER: I think what it is, is two strong conservatives with a vastly different approach on how they problem-solve and how they govern.

Both of them, I could give you the strong suits and the bad suits, but at the end of the day, one is in the legislative branch and one is in the executive branch, which I have been in both, and I know how those nuances are.

And I guess when I was talking to Senator Graham earlier, politicians make strange golf fellows. And there are going to be times where they work together and times where they adamantly disagree.

I'm just glad they come back together and are spending a little bit of time together and hopefully you will find some common ground, especially on things like so many Americans are hurting on, and that's the tax reform, and hopefully he will help him shepherd this through.


BALDWIN: Andre, forgive me, but I'm talking about specifically Iran or North Korea policy.

And the president, according to Corker, is undermining that, based upon his Twitter fingers. And how is that sitting, with all these diplomatic efforts behind the scenes, and how is that sitting with all of our allies?


BAUER: Well, again, Bob Corker's approach is a very conservative, diplomatic approach.

And Trump said, hey, that hasn't worked for it and I'm tired of it and we're going to do things differently.

And most of the time, when Donald Trump has done something with his Twitter feed, in the end, he's gotten exactly what he was looking for, whether you look back and it was tweeting he said that his offices had been hacked or surveillance or wiretapped. You go back through the different tweets and most of the time Donald Trump was right way back in a 16-primary.

And on most of these foreign diplomatic exchanges, I will say, at the end of the day, Donald Trump with a different approach to normal politics is going to get better results than we have been getting out of the same old, same old Washington.

BALDWIN: Corker said -- I'm listening to you. But Senator Corker also said -- and, again, this is coming from this other strong conservative saying that the White House staff tries to contain the president on a daily basis.

And, S.E., we alluded to the tweet over the weekend referring to the White House as an adult day care. How do you interpret that?

CUPP: I think he's right.

And we hear that echoed from lots of people both who were once in the White House and are no longer, and from internal sources who are still there that say that even John Kelly's presence can't really contain Trump, and that must be very frustrating.

I am sentimentally with Bob Corker. But, to his point, engaging Trump on Twitter on this tit for tat and slinging mud with him is not going to steer him back to a legislative agenda. It is not going to contain the chaos at all. It is just going to stoke it.

And even when I agree with Bob Corker on the substance of it, I just don't think -- I think he's giving Trump a huge win. As Andre says, Trump wins on Twitter. Whether you like it or not, he does and he is going to win this battle with Bob Corker. And if you agree with Bob Corker that the White House is too chaotic, you're not going to be happy with this outcome.

BALDWIN: OK. S.E. and Andre, thank you all very much.

CUPP: Thanks.

BAUER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, taking a stand.

Thank you.

Taking a stand or a political stunt? Vice President Mike Pence facing some tough questions after a counterprotest of his own during an NFL game. Was his walkout orchestrated and how much did it cost the taxpayer?

And we have new clues now about that Las Vegas gunman, including his self-described gambling habits, risking up to a million dollars a night, wagering that much, and what did he do to avoid tipping hotel waitresses?

And breaking news, a dangerous scene unfolding right now in the heart of California wine country. Look at that. A live report coming up.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: This is CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Taking a stand or pulling a stunt? Vice President Mike Pence is being accused of playing politics with taxpayer dollars after he abruptly left Sunday's Colts-49ers game in Indianapolis when he noticed several players taking a knee.

President Trump tweeted that he asked the vice president ahead of time to leave the game if any players kneeled. The move caught the eye of a top ethics watchdog.

Citizens for Ethics tweeted in all capital letters: "Can we just make it through a weekend without this administration abusing taxpayer dollars with jet travel?"

By the way, if you are curious, one hour on Air Force Two costs about $30,000. And so when you crunch all of the numbers and the hours together on this flight from Vegas to Minneapolis and then on to L.A., the vice president had been in Las Vegas to honor the victims of the massacre.

And so the float from there to Indianapolis for a game was nearly three-and-a-half-hours long. That cost $100,000. He then flew from Indianapolis to L.A. That was five hours, that price tag, $142,000. Total it all up, nearly a quarter of a million dollars. And that doesn't even include the cost of personnel and Secret Service and first-responders and support on the ground.

With me now, Ephraim -- forgive me -- I asked you in commercial break. Ephraim Salaam. Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me, Ephraim Salaam, former NFL player for five NFL teams.

EPHRAIM SALAAM, FORMER NFL PLAYER: That's all right, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I wrote it wrong on my sheet. Forgive me.

He was also the youngest player to start in a Super Bowl at just 22 years of age.

So, Ephraim, I guess at the end of the day, did the Colts get played by the White House?

SALAAM: Of course they got played. And anybody in their right mind can see they got played. BALDWIN: Why?

SALAAM: We know there is an agenda here.

Well, because we see there is an agenda here. I don't know when we start really doing politics through Twitter and social media. So you have the president, who knows Mike Pence is going to the game, to tell him if anyone kneels, which there is a good chance someone is going to kneel, seeing that the 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts were playing, if anyone kneels, you leaves.

And then Mike Pence comes and then leaves and then tweets, hey, POTUS, I left the game because players were protesting.

It's all a political stunt. And they're right. To use taxpayers' money to get your agenda across, to prove a point, I think, is reckless and it's dangerous.

BALDWIN: Let me add on to your point, because this journalist Jamil Smith tweeted this after the game: "White supremacists marched again in Charlottesville yesterday. Yet this POTUS and V.P. are upset at black athletes demanding racial justice."

So, you know, critics again piling on, saying, isn't this energy on Twitter and in their own sort of protesting misdirected?

SALAAM: Well, it is misdirected, because we're losing focus of what the initial protest was about.

Donald Trump came out, made some disparaging comments about SOBs being NFL players who protested. And then the owners and the players, in a show of solidarity, locked arms and did this whole pageantry type of, we're together unity type of thing.


And all the while, Jerry Jones, who is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who is a good friend of Donald Trump and donated money to his campaign, ends up doing what Donald Trump said anyway.

He comes out and makes a statement yesterday saying if anyone protests and takes a knee -- well, he said, if anyone disrespects the flag, which is...


BALDWIN: Would be benched.

SALAAM: ... taking a knee, right, they would be benched.

But taking a knee is not a sign of disrespect to the flag, just FYI, but in his mind if anyone does anything according to him that's disrespectful to the flag, they will be benched. And it's well within his right.

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: But isn't this an owner, too, didn't he take a knee a few days ago?

SALAAM: Yes, but that was all posturing.

And I said it right here on this show last week that that was posturing. That was him trying to be the good guy by the president and by the players. But I wasn't fooled one bit. If you're -- if you're -- look, the problem I'm having is...


SALAAM: ... if you come out -- and he has the ability and the right. He's the owner. If he says, hey, I don't want you disrespecting the flag, you won't play, I think that's kind of pushing the buck, because I would have loved to see those players, those African-American players who were protesting for injustices done to their peers in their communities, I would love to see them take a knee.

I would love to see the stars of the Dallas Cowboy team, like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, all of those stars, if they took a knee, I would love to see what Jerry Jones would do, because guess what?

BALDWIN: If he would actually bench them or not, right.

SALAAM: He cares about winning more than anything else on the planet Earth. We know that through his history.

So if you take those key players and that whole offensive line, if they decided to take a knee, I would love to see what Jerry Jones would do.

BALDWIN: Two words for you. Greg Hardy. And I'm going to leave you with this, right? You know who Greg Hardy is.

SALAAM: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: A blatant domestic abuser. And this is a guy who Jerry Jones had hired.

SALAAM: Well, he gave him $11 million while he was in an ongoing domestic violence case, who the league handed down a 10-game suspension, but Jerry Jones felt it OK to bring him into the organization, to give him a bunch of money, because he felt it would help his team, right?

So now him taking a stand against a peaceful protest, not disrespecting the flag, because all parties involved said that's the last thing they want to do is disrespect the flag by taking a knee, now he deems, because his friend Donald Trump deems it disrespectful, so he's going to fall right into line with one of the most powerful people on the planet.

Rich millionaires sticking together. Rich white millionaires sticking together. And I think a light should be shined on this. I would love for those players to take a knee. BALDWIN: We will see.

Ephraim Salaam, we will see. You and I are talking again. Thank you so much. Appreciate you.

SALAAM: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, the Las Vegas gunman in his own words. CNN exclusively obtained a deposition where he described his million- dollar-a-night gambling habit and the prescription drugs he had been taking.

Stay right here.



BALDWIN: It has been eight days and still no motive for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

We are learning some new details, though, about the gunman, and here's what we know. A law enforcement source tells CNN that investigators found a handwritten note inside the killer's Vegas hotel room, on it, just numbers. These were calculations in terms of distance and trajectory for targeting that festival crowd up from his perch from the 32nd floor.

Perhaps most revealing here is, CNN has uncovered exclusive insight into the killer's personality and gambling habits in his own words through this deposition. So, he admitted to taking some Valium for anxiety.

We learned he would wager up to a million dollars a night on video poker, and that he considered himself -- quote -- "the greatest video poker player in the world." He even would bring his own drinks into these glitzy casinos because he didn't want to bother spending money tipping waitresses.

And when he attended these high-stake games, he dressed very casually in sweat pants and flip-flops. All these details spelled out the testimony that he gave during a court deposition obtained exclusively by CNN.

The shooter had sued a Vegas hotel for this slip and fall incident. He lost the case.

And now have with me Chris Hansen, host of "Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen."

It is so nice to see you.


BALDWIN: And 36 whole years covering crime, and you were telling me in commercial break You have worked all of your sources, and still eight days out, no one has a clue as to why.

HANSEN: It's the only mass shooting I have covered in 36 years -- and there have been a fair number of them -- where a week later, we don't have a sense of what this guy's motive was.


HANSEN: And I have talked to FBI agents in Las Vegas, retired FBI agents who then went on to be security executives at casinos.

And nobody can pinpoint even a good guess as to what this guy's motive was.

BALDWIN: You have read some of the details of the deposition.

HANSEN: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: And I just ran through a couple of them.

The fact that -- and I was talking to a well-known gambler last hour -- and the fact that he called -- considered himself the best video poker player in the world, that was a bit boastful, according to my guest, saying that there is no way.