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New Timeline Revealed in Las Vegas Shooting; Steve Bannon Wages War Against GOP Establishment; Melania and Ivana Spar Over Who's First Lady. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: They initially said the guard was shot during the rampage. Why does this matter to the investigation? What else are they learning about his planned escape?

Let's go to our Scott McLean. He is in Las Vegas with more.

Why is this significant?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy. Well, the local sheriff here called this a minute change to the timeline, but it raises a significant question, and that is, why did the shooter stop firing on that crowd of concertgoers? We know that it wasn't the police that made him stop because they didn't arrive on the 32nd floor of the hotel where his suite was until two minutes after he stopped firing. We also know it wasn't the security guard that made him stop.

Originally the theory was that Jesus Campos, the security guard at Mandalay Bay, arrived on the 32nd floor and was shot by the suspect and that his presence there seemed to distract him from firing down on the crowd. We know now that that's not true because Campos, according to the new police timeline, was shot a clear six minutes before the suspect ever fired a single shot down at that concert venue.

Now it still may be true that Campos gave police the exact location of the room so that they could go in there and detonate the door and go in and find him there, but he didn't make them stop. So that is still very much an open question.

And Poppy, yesterday police at a press conference also discussed this idea that perhaps the suspect actually wanted to escape from the hotel. They believe that may be true because of a couple reasons. One, he fired at some large fuel tanks at McCarran Airport, which is adjacent to the concert venue. Inside the room they also found that he had personal protective gear and of course his car was also laden with a lot of explosive material and ammunition as well.

So the idea or the possibility here is that, perhaps, he could create enough chaos, enough carnage down on the ground that maybe first responders wouldn't pay any attention to the hotel and he could simply leave. Well, obviously we know now that that is no longer the case, but whether or not he actually thought he could escape, it's impossible to get inside the shooter's mind and the simple fact is we may never know, Poppy.

HARLOW: Scott McLean, thank you for the reporting.

Obviously they want answers but answers do not bring back those lives and again you still have injured in the hospital trying to recover from this as well.

Thank you, Scott, for the reporting.

Ahead, Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, on a mission to take down the GOP establishment. How does he plan to do it? Our Dana Bash has new reporting on that next.


[10:36:38] HARLOW: Establishment Republicans, you know this, Steve Bannon, is putting you on notice. President Trump's former chief strategist wants you out of office, he's working to cut off your money supply if you're aligned with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

A source tells CNN Bannon has been meeting with top GOP donors in a number of states. The goal, recruit candidates, get them plenty of money and get them to take over your job.

Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash has this reporting. She joins me now.

It's so nice to be here in person with you.


HARLOW: And thank you for the tea this morning.


BASH: You're welcome.

HARLOW: You waited in a long line at Starbucks. Thank you, Dana, for being here.

He is working -- Bannon is working to nationalize and consolidate the message of challengers in 2018. What does that really mean?

BASH: Well, it's so interesting because according to the sources that we're talking to, Steve Bannon is trying to do this in a very methodical way and when I say "this" I'm talking about very systemically trying to take out as many incumbent Republicans as he possibly can. Incumbent Republicans or establishment backed Republicans. So it is not just sort of a civil war, but it is one with a general and Steve Bannon is -- you know, sort of the self- appointed general.


BASH: Trying to do this. He, you know, has gotten some questions from people who are like-minded saying, why are you going to go after -- because we've reported all of them except for Ted Cruz. HARLOW: Right.

BASH: And not just focus on a couple that you think could really be picked off, and the reason we're told is because he wants to do two things. One is force the establishment, Mitch McConnell, to spend as much money as possible to defend even the potentially probably safest Republican seats, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, John Barrasso in Wyoming, so he wants to expand the field in order to, you know, sort of scramble it a little bit but maybe even more importantly, to have a nationalized consolidated message.

It's us versus them. They're corrupt, they've got the money, we don't have the money, we have the sort of grassroots, it's all about the populist, and it's sort of trying to do that on a national scale as opposed to trying to pick a Republican off here and there.

HARLOW: So he's been meeting with some really rich donors in New York City and other states, the Mercer family, for example, who is huge for this president, got a big chunk of money from them, for one of these attempts. The idea, choke off the funding from Mitch McConnell. And -- but what's to say it will be successful?

BASH: It might not. It might not. This is sort of the second part of the strategy, like you said, to try to choke funding for the establishment Republicans. We are told that he, Bannon, met over the weekend in Connecticut with a series of donors who traditionally give to McConnell and McConnell backed Republican candidates, saying don't do this, don't do it. Asking them, warning them, to stop funding these candidates, trying to make the case that they -- that the candidates don't really kind of, you know, give and follow through on the money that they receive.

And so the idea there is, that if you kind of split the two camps, the McConnell wing has a lot of money.


BASH: And the Bannon wing has energy and grassroots, so the idea is, if they choke the oxygen off of the McConnell wing it could help them.

[10:40:05] HARLOW: Right. That's the idea. Spend all his money and then choke him off in terms of new money coming in.

BASH: Exactly.

HARLOW: How is this -- he clearly has to think about the debacle of 2010.

BASH: Yes.

HARLOW: Tea Party that did not work. How is his approach different? Why does he think it won't be just a replay of that?

BASH: Well, according to a source familiar with Bannon's thinking, what he is trying to do is be very methodical about the kinds of candidates and which candidates they back. HARLOW: OK.

BASH: And they push forward to go up against these incumbents --

HARLOW: Let's talk about Erik Prince.

BASH: Erik Prince is a great example. Now I'm not so sure Erik Prince is the kind of person who is going to -- he's got a lot of baggage, a lot of baggage. So I'm not so sure that that's going to be a successful idea, but it is an example of where they're trying to find people who are not just, by way of history, in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, who the only reason I remember her is because she did an ad saying, I'm not a witch.

She turned out to be a good person to topple a moderate Republican in the primary, but a terrible general election candidate. So, you know, unclear if they can find those people, if Bannon can find those people across the country, to topple all these Republicans, but that is the goal. And ultimately, what is the goal, ultimately it is to get as many like-minded Republicans in the Senate.

HARLOW: Right.

BASH: In order to defeat --

HARLOW: Get this side done.

BASH: Defeat Mitch McConnell for leader and, you know, it's -- it's an actual civil war where Steve Bannon is really trying to reshape the GOP along the lines of what we saw in the Trump election.

HARLOW: And he knows that approval ratings among Republicans are lower, way lower, for Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, than they are for the president. I mean he has that sort of wind in his back.

Stay with us, Dana. Let's also get reaction from former RNC and White House spokesman Alex Conant. He was also former communications director for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign.

Alex, nice to have you. Dana is going to stick around. What do you make of all her reporting on Bannon?

ALEX CONANT, FORMER RNC AND WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: I mean, I think he's trying to elect a Democratic Senate majority. Look, why is he focused on defeating Republicans? Republicans who support the president's agenda in most cases 100 percent. You know, every --

HARLOW: But they can't get it done, Alex.

CONANT: Well --

HARLOW: I mean that's --


CONANT: We have -- HARLOW: That's why.

CONANT: We have a 52-seat majority. None of the senators that he's talking about targeting opposed the Obamacare repeal and replace. They are voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. They're all solid yes votes on tax reform and yet if -- Mitch McConnell has the slimmest of majorities, he needs to grow his majority. That is the best way to accomplish the president's agenda.

Instead, what Bannon is proposing is that we are going to spend the next year spending millions of dollars trying to protect very popular Republicans, safe Republicans, in red states, rather than targeting Democrats in red states, and as a result, we are going to be weaker heading into the midterms next year in terms of actually electing more Republicans which would be the best and probably the only way at this point to accomplish President Trump's larger agenda.

It makes no sense unless your real goal here is to elect Democrats to the Senate majority.

HARLOW: Dana, help Democrats?

BASH: Listen, Alex is right. This is going to take away time and resources from Republican fight against Democrats. And that's the point. The point is, is that Steve Bannon is arguing to anybody who will listen that the Republicans who are in charge now aren't actually doing what it takes and representing the more populist wing of the Republican Party, and my guess is, he would argue that if it ends up that a Democrat is in the seat in the short term, so be it.

So, you know, you're absolutely right, Alex. And we have seen this movie before over and over again. Mitch McConnell lost the chance at the majority, retaking the majority in two straight elections because of inter-Republican fighting.

Can I just also say? I should have said before, this reporting is also by Eric Bradner and Gloria Borger.

HARLOW: This is very true. This is very true. Team effort here.

But the thing is, you know, Steve Bannon, Alex, has sort of the wind at his back given what happened in Alabama. Right? I mean, he went against the president.

CONANT: No. No, that's -- I don't think that is fair, a fair characterization. Alabama, that was a very unique election. Really a lot of local --

HARLOW: It is.

CONANT: In terms of how Senator Strange was appointed in the first place, the unpopularity of that. And Bannon came in relatively late. Moore led from that race from the moment he entered the race, was never behind, and frankly after Bannon got in the numbers really didn't change. At the same time President Trump had no impact on that race. That was a very specialized race. I think by trying to nationalize that race to other states, you're

sort of missing the point, and I would also say, look, most of these senators that Bannon is talking about targeting, they're wildly popular. I mean, that's why they're safe Republicans in red states.

[10:45:03] And they're popular because they've been fighting to try to enact the president's agenda. So, look, I understand that Bannon has his beef with Mitch McConnell, which I think is strange since Mitch McConnell has done nothing but try to implement the president's agenda. The president's single biggest accomplishment, Supreme Court nominee, is due solely to Mitch McConnell's legislative strategy, yet so be it.

So Bannon is going after McConnell, he would rather have a civil war than expand President Trump's majorities. At the end of the day it's a failed strategy because we're going to end up potentially with Democratic majorities which would be devastating to Trump's presidency.

HARLOW: Quickly before we go, Alex, on a fear scale, if you will, of one to 10 of how concerned you are for your party about Steve Bannon, one being the lowest, 10 being the highest, where do you fall?

CONANT: Frankly I'm not very concerned. You know, Steve Bannon came to Trump's campaign late. He came to Alabama late. I haven't seen any evidence that Bannon actually knows how to win these races. Most of these Republican senators, if not all these Republican senators, are very popular, they've won in these states before. Trying to nationalize primaries.

Look there's primaries every year, most primary challengers lose. I see no evidence for why 2018 should be any different than 2016 which was also, obviously, a very anti-Washington year. And yet most Republican senators, including my former boss Marco Rubio easily won their primaries against candidates who in many cases tried to emulate President Trump.

HARLOW: Right. We have to leave it there.

Alex, nice to have you.

CONANT: Thank you.

HARLOW: We appreciate it. Dana, great reporting of you, Eric and Gloria. Thank you so much.

We do have a new death toll number in that I want to bring to you, 43 people have now died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. Devastated the island three weeks ago. 43 deaths so far. According to Puerto Rico's Housing Department, more than 6,000 people still living in shelters. The governor of Puerto Rico is begging Congress at this point for $4 billion in additional aid. He says they need immediately for recovery efforts.

Ahead a Trump family feud erupts over who's the real first lady. Melania versus Ivana. Plus the very important trip that First Lady Melania is taking today. Ahead.


[10:51:42] HARLOW: To be clear here, Melania Trump is the first lady. Ivana Trump was the president's first wife. Easy distinction, right? It was until Ivana said this.


IVANA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S FIRST WIFE: I have the direct number to White House, but I don't really want to call him there because Melania is there and I don't want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that because I'm basically first Trump wife. OK. I'm first lady, OK.


HARLOW: The real first lady's response? Well, she called Ivana's comments attention seeking and self-serving noise.

CNN contributor Emily Jane Fox joins us now.

You know all things first lady, so what do you make of Melania's response to the fact that she even responded to that?

EMILY JANE FOX, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is certainly a statement to come out responding at all to something like that. This is the first lady of the United States. She has bigger priorities than her husband's ex-wife's book promotional tour, but clearly it struck a nerve, the response was snappy, and I think she said, look, this is someone who is out there promoting a book. I have things to worry about as first lady.

And today, you see her actually taking on her first lady duties. She's traveling to West Virginia to visit a center that helps family's touched by addiction.


FOX: And I think she is moving on by showing that she's actually there to do her job.

HARLOW: Let's talk about that because, you know, there has been much written especially in the last few weeks, you talk about she's going to this opioid rehab facility specifically that works with infants that are victims of their -- you know, their parents' addiction. Good for her and good for shining a light on that. This is someone who -- was talk, you know, a few months ago, would she even move down to the White House? It feels like -- Emily, I wonder what you think -- like she's found her footing, much more now.

FOX: Well, she still has not come up with her issues. Right? There's no official issue agenda that she has come out with, but last month she did convene a round table to talk about opioid addiction. She has repeatedly brought up the issue of bullying to some dismay and some called for irony. But, look, she's focusing on things that she personally cares about. There hasn't been one issue that she has settled on but she is traveling to West Virginia today to show that this is something that she really cares about and wants to put her attention towards.

HARLOW: Do you have a sense that this is going to be the platform? I mean, cyber bullying is a tough platform for her given the president's use of social media.

FOX: He does not make it easy for her to focus on that. But this is something that the administration broadly has said that they wanted to focus on.


FOX: They called it an epidemic. Last night Ivanka Trump was on stage at a Fortune women conference.

HARLOW: Yes. I was in the audience.

FOX: Right. And she brought up opioid addiction as well as a barrier to creating jobs for people in rural America. So this is clearly something that --

HARLOW: It is.

FOX: on all levels people in the administration are focused on and this just shows how deeply people in the family care about this issue.

HARLOW: Quickly before we go, Emily, if you look at the approval ratings CNN survey from last month, from just December, has Melania Trump 44 percent approval. She's higher than the president, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner. The American public is embracing her.

FOX: Well, this is a good thing that she's getting out there and doing things that broadly people in America can support.

[10:55:04] But the fact of the matter is that she's out there less than most people in the administration. She's out there less than Ivanka Trump, out there less than Donald Trump, and so her approval rating may be just the fact that she's not in the news as often as they are.

HARLOW: That's a really interesting and important point.

Emily Jane Fox, thank you, my friend.

In about 90 minutes, President Trump will sit down for lunch with his Defense secretary and also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Will they bring their IQ scores? Now, now, the president talked about in his new interview with "Forbes." So what happens between these two men after the reported moron comments? Stay with us for that.