Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Acquaintances Of Mateen Speak Out; FBI Was Called When Mateen Tried To Buy Body Armor; Muslim Leader Condemns Attack; Obama Addresses Families Of Victims; McCain: Barack Obama Is Directly Responsible For Orlando Attack. Aired 11-12p ET.

Aired June 16, 2016 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:01:08] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour breaking news as he has been forced to do so many times, President Barack Obama once again comforting families after a deadly mass shooting. This is "CNN Tonight," I'm Don Lemon live from Orlando.

And with each passing day, we're learning more about this nightclub killer, Omar Mateen and his wife exchanging text messages during the deadly rampage and the gunman's anger stretching back to his childhood.

Elementary school records showed he was disciplined dozens of times for aggressive and violent behavior.

I want to begin now with CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, you have been digging on Omar Mateen's troubled history, what have you learned?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, tonight we have new accounts from former classmates. We have these documents from the St. Louise -- St. Lucie County School System showing a lifetime of red flags for Omar Mateen.

But along the way, no one from the school system he came up through to the FBI was able to put that mosaic together and stop Mateen's dangerous progression toward that night at the Pulse Nightclub.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Alarming new information tonight that this killer's pattern of disturbing behavior extended back to his childhood. Even as a young boy, Omar Mateen was troubled and disruptive.

A former classmate at Mariposa Elementary School in Port St. Lucie Florida tells CNN, Mateen once threaten to bring a gun to school and kill everyone. That was in fourth or fifth grade. He was 9 or 10 years old.

The classmate could not recall what punishment Mateen received, but said it was, "A very big dealt at the time."

Documents obtained by CNN from the St. Lucie County Schools show Mateen was disciplined 31 times between 1992 and 1999. These school records describe Mateen as, "Rude and aggressive and know (ph) he talked frequently about violence and sex."

ROBERT ZIRKLE, RODE BUS WITH MATEEN: He's always a little out there didn't really have too many friends.

TODD: Robert Zirkle rode the same bus route as Mateen during high school. Zirkle and other former classmates tell CNN in the days following September 11th, Mateen claimed Osama bin Laden was his uncle and made light of the attacks.

ZIRKLE: He was acting like a plane, like he had his arms out and he was like making a plane noise and like he would -- he made like a boom sound or like an explosion type of sound. Fell on his knee and was like laughing about it like it was a joke or something. My friends and I were like, if we don't, you know, stop him it is going to be a problem.

TODD: As a teenaged employee at Gold's Gym in Port St. Lucie, Omar Mateen was to be avoided.

STEFAN COMVALIUS, AQUAINTANCE OF ORLANDO SHOOTER: He had that kind of the aura that I don't think people really wanted to engage him, because they don't know where they would go.

TODD: Stefan Comvalius held personal training sessions at Gold's Gym.

COMVALIUS: One of my clients, she was completing her set on the squat rack and she, you know, was in full stride all of the way down and he made a derogatory statement about her anatomy, which I mean it was just completely unacceptable and loud at that, like he wanted her to hear it.

TODD: Staff member members of Gold's Gym could not recall any disciplinary issues with Mateen. A few years later, he was transferred from a job as a security guard at a courthouse after making inflammatory comments about terrorism. That's when the FBI started investigating him.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: He said he hoped that law enforcement would raid his apartment and assaults his wife and child so that he could murder himself.

TODD: Mateen's first wife said he verbally and physically abuse her to the point that her family had to rescue her to get her out of the marriage.

SITORA YUSUFIY, EX-WIFE OMAR MATEEN: Instability, emotional instability, sickness. Mentally, he was mentally unstable and mentally ill that's the only explanation that I could give and he was obviously disturbed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, these school documents show that Omar Mateen had repeated interventions with school psychologist, with counselors and others. But since the shootings, Mateen's father has repeatedly said he always thought his son was normal. Don. LEMON: Brian, there seem to be so many red flags in this guy's background. The FBI even had him on a watch list at one point. Were they've been aware -- they have been aware of his history all the way back to the elementary school, the FBI?

[23:05:11] TODD: Very likely not, Don, because you can't really get put on a watch list when you're in grade school and if you are a U.S. citizen, and when you are a child, they don't really do that from what we know. But -- and we also know that he didn't really come to the attention of the FBI until 2013. At that point from then, they interviewed him twice in 2013 and 2014.

LEMON: Thank you Brian Todd.

I want to bring in our CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Law Enforcement Analyst, Art Roderick, is here with me as well, a Former Assistant Director of the U.S. Marshal's Office. And Deborah Day license psychologist and forensic psychologist as well. Thank you all for joining us.

Juliette, I want to start with you. The gun owner -- the gun shop owner says he was suspicious of Mateen when he tried to buy body armor and he called the FBI. And tonight the FBI says that they had no name or picture to go on, what could they do at that point?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: They really couldn't do much. Apparently, there was a search for any surveillance cameras that might have even shown a picture. And they didn't take the guy's name down, when -- the guy being Mateen we now know, when he did try to get this body armor.

So this was just really unfortunate aspect to this case. Here was yet another moment when we wish now looking back that, you know, that the store owner had taken his name, then gotten the name to the FBI and the FBI might have known -- they knew who he was. He might have been able to proceed on it.

But at this stage without the name or the video surveillance camera, I don't know what the FBI could have done.

LEMON: All right. Art, well, your expertise here, are we expecting too much from the FBI? Were these just obvious missed opportunities?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, I think some of them are missed opportunities, but I think we're expecting too much. We're trying to lump all these into a pail.

This one here when I look at the details, to me it's kind of questionable. You had two sorts of incidences going on. At once you had some law enforcement officers from the Mid East that were trying to buy police equipment and you had this other incident. Without the videotaped surveillance and without a photograph and without a name there's really not much they can do with it.

LEMON: Why wouldn't his wife called? Because she said she sort of suspected, right, that he was going to, you know, the night that he left that there was going to be an attack that he scouted out locations, bought -- I mean, she had bought ammunition with him. Why wouldn't she call?

RODERICK: They have caught her in a couple of inconsistencies already. So these statements are going to go against her and I think they're going to sort that out whenever they bring this to the federal grand jury.

LEMON: The president today, Deborah, talked about -- he talked mental health, he talked about terrorism, he talked about a number of issues, but he said that there was one sort of instrument that was common to all of these.

Is there one thing that we can put together that is sort of tells us there are maybe someone like a Mateen out there?

DEBORAH DAY, LICENSE PSYCHOLOGIST, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: I think that is the hardest question to answer because we don't have one profile. We know these lone wolf terrorists come in many shapes and forms. They can't be easily identified, so we looked for what is consistent and it tends to be the anger, the internalization of the anger, and the disenfranchisement they feel from their community, and the lack of a support system within that community.

LEMON: The one mechanism -- it's probably a better question for you, Juliette. He said the one mechanism that they all have in common is that they, you know, use these that at least the last couple had used the semiautomatic weapons and if they didn't have those weapons, possibly they would not be able to harm so many people at least at one time.

KAYYEM: That's exactly -- I mean, Don, I had a chance to come home today and I was thinking -- and I've been on your show for years now. And so it sort of dawned on me that this consistent theme of guns, which I tend, did not to talk about as a national security aspect is something that people in counter terrorism have to talk about now.

We are never going to solve the anger or hatred issue perfectly. I mean, look, you know, this is a guy who, you know, if you went back to kindergarten, maybe we could have predicted this, but no one did. What we can solve and what is a national security imperative now given what happened in Orlando is the gun issue, and the access issue.

I have changed because of this, and well. It is something that I think people in my community need to talk about now, because it really does come down to, you know, look, we can try to deal with the motivation and get people to focus on what makes people radicalize.

But, shame on us if we don't focus on the means by which these people are killing, you know, unarmed American civilians. And so that, you know, that is the common theme and that is why we need to just keep talking about the means by which these deaths are occurring as much as the motivation of men like him and others like him.

[23:10:11] LEMON: All of it is important, everything is important. My question, Art, is what would keep someone like this shooter on a list, because we hear about his back ground, we hear about, you know, his ex-wife saying that he was violent. He was angry. We hear what happened with him in school. Could that keep him on the list or does it have to be closer ties to terrorism to keep him on the watch list.

RODERICK: It's going to be closer ties to terrorism. I mean you heard the Congressman previously that watch list is not really very accurate. I mean, I think that's one thing that has to be done is that watch list. That should be scrubbed.

We've got to put some real good guidelines in there to determine who's on the watch list, who's off the watch list. But, if we're just going to rely on the watch list as it is now, you know, it's not going to work.

LEMON: So we heard, Deborah that he kept calling back to 911, that he called his wife. He called a T.V. producer, and I think he called someone else while he was under that. And all while he was, you know, doing this attack, does that tell you anything about him? Was he in some way reaching out to someone to -- was this a cry for help or --

DAY: No, I don't think it was a cry for help. I think that's consistent with the predatory violence. It's planned. It's well thought out of. He has a lack of empathy. He's not showing the emotions into what's going on. He's seeking the attention for the behaviors in which he is engaging.

LEMON: So he is reaching out -- we heard he was reaching out to men on apps that he even sends, you know, pictures of his body parts to certain. Does this give you an indication as to what it is? I mean, it could be out (ph). It could be terrorism. It could be conflicted about the sexuality. It could be a hate crime. It could be all three.

DAY: Right. I think we just don't know. We've got all these pieces and we're going to put them together. That's what profiling is all about, learning from him so we are better at identifying later on behaviors in somebody.

But I think the important thing is, people saw the change in his behavior and they didn't reach out and say something to authorities and that's what we have as a lesson. When you see sustained behavior and an increasing and violent discussions reach out for help, tell somebody.

RODERICK: Yes.

LEMON: These are difficult conversation that we've been having, but they're all very important conversations.

DAY: Very important.

LEMON: And I am glad we're having them in front of a national -- international audience. So, thank you, Deborah. Thank you, Art. Thank you very much Juliette. I'm glad your voice is coming back.

KAYYEM: Thank you. LEMON: All right, everyone stay with me. As we go to a break, I want to take a look at these pictures. Some memorial tonight is here in Orlando.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:16:55] LEMON: All right, people here are grieving and they are sad, but it's a strong community and they are fighting back.

They have set up this memorial of crosses for the victims in the Pulse Nightclub massacre here in Orlando and you can see they are giving their condolences and dropping off little trinkets and it's just sad moments.

We have been witnessing this all night, lighting candles. And we'll continue to monitor the pictures, very poignant moments happening here in Orlando, Florida.

President Barack Obama was here today and coming to this city's wounded today to comfort the families of the massacre victims. And we're learning more everyday about this killer.

Now, I want to bring in Imam Muhammad Musri. He is the Senior Imam at the -- and the President of the Islamic Society here in Central Florida. Juliette Kayyem, is back with us. And also with us is Bernie Kerik, the former New York City Commissioner. It's good to have all of you.

Imam, thank you so much. Saturday shooting, do you think that this has anything to do with Islam?

IMAM MUHAMMAD MUSRI, SENIOR IMAM AND PRESIDENT, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: Absolutely not. You know, I have said all week this week on behalf of the American Muslim community and American Muslim leaders that we condemn with the strongest terms the terrorist act that took place right here, the hate crime that wounded our city and say absolutely, categorically, unacceptable in Islam or any religion for that matter.

And I know that the American people don't hear us condemn this enough, but we can condemn it with the strongest terms and I know there is a religious factor that has been issued about this.

And the statement that was put out by the Muslim leaders across the nation called "The Orlando Statement" on orlandostatement.com really clarifying this position that this is absolutely not acceptable in Islam.

LEMON: You said you think it's a hate crime, but do you think it's a terror attack?

MUSRI: It is a hate crime. I don't know how the FBI categorized a terrorist attack. I heard that he made a call, a claim that he was a member of ISIS and Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda which is contradictory, but I think it's more --

LEMON: He posted anti-American messages on Facebook and also pledged his allegiance to ISIS.

MUSRI: But to me, if anyone kills people, so many people like this, it's a terrorist act. You can't deny it and the Muslim community -- I condemn this act as a terrorist act, as a hate crime of a massive scale.

LEMON: We always say that -- we always not say but we hear, you know, that why don't the Moderate Muslims come out, you know, after these attacks and condemn them. They do, but I think it's incompetent upon us. Sometimes we don't do you a good enough job of giving you a platform where people can hear you. So I give you this one.

MUSRI: I'm glad you're taking credit.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely.

MUSRI: Because we put billboards out.

LEMON: Yes.

MUSRI: We put full page ads in the newspapers. We say it as loud as we can, but we are a very small minority so our voice is not heard.

LEMON: People get mad at me, but this show is about the truth. That's it. So it is true, so -- and I'll take responsibility for that.

MUSRI: And you know what you're doing, we are doing a month from now at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. --

[23:20:04] LEMON: Yes.

MUSRI: -- a big rally to announce and declare with the loudest, strongest voice as we condemn terrorism on July 23rd, because I think the American people say if you say it, go do it from where you could be seen. So we are organizing this --

LEMON: OK, I got other panelist. I have to talk to you (ph), but thank you. Juliette, I want to ask you if you agree with him where he said this was not about Islam what happened on Saturday. Do you agree with him?

KAYYEM: It's not about the Islam that most of us know, right? I mean, Mateen was buying hate and ISIS was selling it. And this guy, I mean, you know, when a serial killer is caught and all the neighbors say, "He was such a nice guy." We don't have that in this case.

I mean, over the course of two decades of his life, he's a wife beater. He is for al-Qaeda. He hates gays. He is for Hezbollah. He is now found ISIS.

So, that means to say that this is about Islam is Ridiculous. It is about a violent extremism and ISIS was selling it to him and he bought it and we have a tragedy because of that.

And I want to make clear sort of why we need to view this as something that the Muslim Community is a part of in this effort for our safety and security. When people ask me of any counter terrorism in national security, what keeps America relatively safe, relatively safe?

One, it's our oceans. The other is the experiment of America over decades and centuries of being able to assimilate and integrate new communities. And we have done that successfully with the Arab community that I'm a part of with the Muslim community, in ways that we don't have a sort of radicalized population.

The Arab and the Muslim communities fill committed to the future of -- in the safety and the security of this country. I spent two decades in counter terrorism. And so just -- people have to remember that isolating these communities actually will have bad consequence. We are safe because of the integration and assimilation.

LEMON: And Commissioner Kerik, I have to ask you that in 2016 in the world we live in now is Juliette right?

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: Yes. I think she's got a good point, you know, and I could touch on the New York City specific. You know, we have a tremendous Muslim population in New York City. The police commissioner himself, Police Commissioner Bratton has a personal liaison to the Muslim community.

We have fraternal groups in the NYPD, Muslim fraternal groups. These are Muslim cops that interact with the community. We have a Muslim imam, you know, a chaplain, a New York City Police Chaplain in the police department. And we have community affairs officers in just about every precinct including the Community Affairs Division of the NYPD that interacts with the Muslim community on a daily basis.

So I think, you know, not everybody has the resources that we have in New York City, but I think everybody should follow that example, because we are going to have intel, we're going to have insight, we're going to have relationships that every police agency, every law enforcement agency in this country should have to address these problems should they arise.

LEMON: Yes. Do you work with the FBI?

MUSRI: I work very closely with the FBI on regular basis and I wanted to point one point, important point here. That early Sunday morning, the man who led the charge, the head of the S.W.A.T. team is a Muslim American who is regular at our mosque, OK.

Compare that with the criminal who committed this atrocity, he never been to the mosque. We never saw him. We didn't know his name. So, a good example of an American Muslim is the police officer, a captain for over 20 years on the force who led the charge as the head of the S.W.A.T. team, put his life on the line to rescue the hostages.

LEMON: So let me ask you about this, because we have had discussions pretty much since the beginning about homophobia in the Muslim community and with Islam. And with certain countries throwing people off of the buildings, burning people, torturing people, torturing gay people. MUSRI: Well, these are the cases of the so-called Islamic state which is a terrorist organization. They don't represent Islam. They are a cult of hate and death and destruction.

LEMON: Do you -- so you don't think that Islam teaches that?

MUSRI: No, absolutely not.

LEMON: Not to necessarily kill people, but that, you know, certainly that, you know, we hear that love the sinner but not the sin. And that even in Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin. That's what people said (ph) that it says in the bible.

MUSRI: That I have to admit that for centuries this is the position of the Islamic, you know, scholars.

[23:25:02] Just like in Christianity, there are many views of the spectrum on this issue from the far right to the far left.

LEMON: How you fix that?

MUSRI: Well, it takes a lot of education. It takes a lot of, you know, maturity. We still -- in this country struggling as a nation with this issue. We just have a Supreme Court decision a year ago and people are still talking about religious freedom and that this is not acceptable.

LEMON: Is that your assessment? Is that what you teach as an imam about homosexuality? Is that -- that it's a sin, that it's bad?

MUSRI: I say as a Muslim, I don't accept it as a lifestyle, but I do not judge other people for what they choose. As a Muslim, I cannot drink alcohol, I cannot eat pork, but I do not judge somebody who eats pork or drinks alcohol that they are a bad person. And this is something between them and God. I am not judge. I am just --

LEMON: But you don't believe that gay people should be extinguished as which was this gunman's belief.

MUSRI: No, no, no. We welcome them. We embrace them. You know, we don't check at the door of the mosque who is gay and who is straight, you know, who is Muslim or who is not. I mean we have atheists who come to the mosque and we say you're all welcome.

LEMON: Let's continue this on the other side of the break. We'll be back right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:28] LEMON: Back with me, Imam Muhammad Musri, Juliette Kayyem and Bernie -- Bernard Kerik.

I want to ask you something because I have to get to the break, but you said it's -- you said being gay is a lifestyle choice that you don't agree with. Do you understand that sexuality is not a choice, being gay is not a choice. It is something that you are born that way.

MUSRI: I understand that and what I wanted to say is at the mosque we have an open-door policy for everyone. We welcome everyone.

We don't judge people based on their sexual orientation or even if they believe in God or not, you know. We are teachers. We are not judges.

And it's important for us to emphasize the culture of love and acceptance, and embrace and compassion, versus the culture of judgment and, you know, condemning people.

LEMON: Commissioner, I want to get back to this investigation, because Mateen was investigated by the FBI for 10 months that was back in 2013 and 2014. Why do you think happen why would the case have been closed?

KERIK: Well, look, you know, to continue the investigation, they'd have to have probable cause to believe that there was a crime committed or probable cause to believe that an investigation was necessary to find the conclusion of a crime.

Evidently, both of these times that they were looking at him and the three times that interviewed him they didn't find that and at that point they closed it out. I think if they had more coordination with the local authorities, I think all these could have been watching him, and I think that's where we're dropping the ball.

LEMON: How does law enforcement build trust with imams like Imam Musri here?

KERIK: Listen. First of all, I give the imam a lot of credit. I think we need a lot more moderate Muslims, law abiding Muslims, good Muslims like him. I think they're going to come public. They're going to talk to the communities.

That will eliminate a lot of the fear, a lot of this deranged fear that's out there that every Muslim is a terrorist. And I think with people like him and others, I think that would help.

LEMON: Juliette, I know you want to make a point on this?

KAYYEM: Oh, I mean, I would agree with Bernie and people who know my background and his know that we are probably different politically from different parties even, and that the fact that people who've been in the law enforcement and national security for a long time like both of us are consistent in this that integrating and reaching out to these communities, Arab and Muslim.

And as part of our law enforcement activities is absolutely essential and not isolating these communities in anyway, because that will be harmful our national security and to our homeland security. That is a consistent across the board, across the political spectrum.

This anti-Islam, you know, let's keep them out as Trump rhetoric is just -- it's such an outlier from anyone who's been in our orbit. And so just -- people need to recognize that. It's actually not law enforcement people who are saying this. It's a political statement more than a national security statement.

LEMON: Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it, great conversation. Thank you.

Up next, I'm going to talk to the parents of one of the victims of the Aurora Movie Massacre, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:37:42] LEMON: Back now to Orlando where President Barack Obama said the families of the victims pleaded with him to do more to stop gun violence. Here's part of what he said afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We can't anticipate or catch every single deranged person that may wish to do harm to his neighbors or his friends or his co-workers or strangers, but we can do something about the amount of damage that they do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in now Sandy and Lonnie Phillips the mother and stepfather of Jessica Ghawi who was killed in the mass shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.

That's when I first met you guys covering that story. It is good to see you guys. I wish it was better circumstance. I got to -- to be honest with you, I'm tired. I love you, but I'm tired of talking to you this way. I'm serious.

LONNIE PHILIPS, STEPFATHER OF JESSICA GHAWI: We're tired of talking to you, too.

SANDY PHILIPS, MOTHER OF JESSICA GHAWI: We're tired of it, too. We hope that this will be the beginning of the end of these conversations.

LEMON: Yes. I would much rather be having a conversation about some progress being made on these issues whether it comes to dealing with terrorism or dealing with guns in certain ways. We're always talking about a tragedy.

Today, the President along with the Vice President Joe Biden was here in Orlando speaking with the families of the victims after yet another mass shooting.

I mean, you have been in that room with all of the victims' families. You were one of those families. And so, do you relive this every single time?

S. PHILIPS: Absolutely, every single time. Woke up Sunday morning and I just could not believe what we were seeing and hearing. And immediately went to what those families are feeling and going through and trying to process, and knowing that this is now a total life- change for them. And we're just there to help them along the way.

LEMON: And the mom to me said tonight of Shane Tomlinson said, you know, "I would not wishes on my worst -- I mean, I wouldn't wish this on anyone."

[23:40:03] And you have said to me, "This is a club, Don that no one wants to be a part of." Does it matter, Lonnie, whether, you know, the families, whether this shooting was about hatred for LGBT people or Islamic terrorists or homegrown terrorists? Does the motive matter here?

L. PHILIPS: No, Don, it doesn't matter, you know. That's a good question, because of the last five mass murders the young angry men that felt that they were shunned by society decided they couldn't take it anymore, no matter what the reason, trying to find out the reason really doesn't matter. They had easy access to weapons, and that's what did all of the damage.

The guy that did the shooting in Aurora had the same rifle. He had 100-round magazine. We should have had if his plan had worked, he should have killed 50 or more. He planned to kill 300, but fortunately his magazine jammed and that's what saved a lot of people in Aurora. But this is going to continue.

There's going to be one up and ship continue, and it's going to be the same angry white young maladjusted, however you want to phrase it disturbed young men that's doing this. And it's their -- it's what they do and it's going to continue until we get a handle on the guns.

LEMON: I'm sure Sandy you've been paying attention to this filibuster because he is now is a (ph) Democrats, you know, they ended it after Republican Party leaders agreed to allow votes of two proposed gun control measures. Do you -- are you feeling encouraged at all about this?

S. PHILIPS: Yes. For the first time in a long time at a national level, I am encouraged. There are couples of bills out there. One that is a good No-fly, No-buy Bill and one that isn't. The Cornyn's Bill is not very good, Feinstein's Bill is. But, for the first time on a national level, I'm beginning to feel hopeful.

When the Democrats really took control of -- took control yesterday and filibustered until they got an agreement to at least debate and discussed and bring a couple of bills to the floor. That was the first time in a very long time that I've gone, "Yes, we're moving forward."

And we always hope that after each one of these mass shootings that that will be the one that will be the tipping point. But the White House has also told us that they see a change and they're hearing the change in the American people.

So I think America has had enough of this. Enough of the fringe element controlling our government and we're beginning to stand up and say, "No more." LEMON: Well, let's talk about that, because, you know, I usually try to remain calm, right, because I don't want the people at home to get upset. But we had a big argument about partisan bickering over this on this program earlier and I think the American people aren't as split as the leaders are. For example, you guys are gun owners and you just want some sensible legislation on which guns should be available.

S. PHILIPS: Absolutely.

L. PHILIPS: We're gun-owning Texas Republicans. I mean, that's a three-way loss right there, right? But, we do want reasonable and common sense regulations. That's really all we want is slippery slope about background checks starting at a national gun registry is just a lot of propaganda put out by the NRA as we all know. So that's not where we need to go.

S. PHILIPS: We know that they have been really, really good for 40 years now at instilling fear and paranoia and they are very good at it. They market it.

And there are some in America who have fallen for it, but most of the Americans are smart enough to see through it now that it is being revealed to them and they can actually see what is going on.

And I think that they are going to stand up and say, "This isn't right. We have to look at the good of the whole, and not just the good of a few individuals."

LEMON: Sandy, Lonnie, thank you.

S. PHILIPS: you are always welcome. Thank you.

L. PHILIPS: Thanks Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:48:39] LEMON: Emotions are running high here in Orlando and also on Capitol Hill.

I want to discuss this now with Kayleigh McEnany, CNN Political Commentator and a Trump supporter, Maria Cardona, Democratic Strategist and the Hillary Clinton supporter, and Buck Sexton, CNN Political Commentator and a former CIA agent, OK.

Hello, everyone. Maria --

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

LEMON: Let's talk politics here. Senator John McCain today, he told reporters that he blamed President Obama saying that he was, "Directly responsible for the Orlando massacre." Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria. Syria became ISIS and ISIS is what it is today, and thanks to Barack Obama's failures.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Maria, the Senator later said in the statement that he misspoke and that he was referring to the President's national security decisions. What do you think?

CARDONA: Well, I think his original comments were completely beyond the pail, and wrong headed, which is why I think he quickly backtracked and took them back. But I also think it's a sad commentary on what has become of people who are supporting Donald Trump.

It seems like the Trumpian divisive corrosive hateful rhetoric is seeping into everybody's way of speaking. And I think that is what came out with John McCain's comments, and I think it's incredibly disappointing coming from John McCain somebody who is famous for the straight talk express in 2000.

[23:50:12] And then later in 2008, courageously stood up to one of his own bigoted supporters who called President Obama un-American.

LEMON: But -- so, Maria --

CARDONA: Where is that John McCain?

LEMON: Well, that is my question to you, then. Do you think that Donald Trump, come on, John McCain is a grown man. He has been, you know, around forever. He was survived being a prisoner of war. Do you think really Donald Trump has that much influence on John McCain? Come on.

CARDONA: Well, you know, interestingly enough. This is not the first time that John McCain has kind of done a double take, and gone against what he has thought and done and believed before. This is why he lost in 2008, Don.

Let's remember that this is somebody who was a huge proponent of sensible immigration reform, supported the legislation that had his own name on it, the McCain-Kennedy Bill. And then in 2008 --

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: -- he knew in the primary he had to go to the right, he completely did a 180, and turned his back on it and lost the election.

LEMON: Let's get track with this particular subject, Maria. So, Buck, go ahead. Do you agree with what Senator John McCain originally said? Do you think Donald Trump does?

BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, he retracted it and he said that he went too far. Look, there is no -- it's all a hard case to make at all that what Barack Obama did as commander-in-chief in Iraq has led to the rise of the largest, and the most sophisticated terrorist army certainly since that the Taliban and al-Qaeda working hand in hand up to 9/11. That's just the fact.

I mean, that's just reality. It's also why by the way now the war planners are preparing for a 2020 exit they say out of Afghanistan, because they've realized the huge mistake that was made in Iraq.

Yes, John McCain went a little too far. He said Barack Obama is directly responsible, and he already said it. The connection to Trump by the way, I don't understand. If we're going to hold Donald Trump responsible for everything that every other seasoned politician ever says then that's all he is going to do batting it away those things. Trump got his hands full dealing with

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Who negotiated the troops leaving Iraq?

SEXTON: Oh, we're talking about the status forces agreement now? We can talk about this if you want to, Don. The fact about is the Obama administration didn't push as hard as it could have to try to get that change to get troops in the -- in Iraq.

LEMON: But you didn't answer my question. Who negotiated that?

CARDONA: That's a Republican talking point.

SEXTON: That is -- it's not a Republican talking point. I drove (ph) in Iraq and actually have a lot of experienced and time talking to people --

LEMON: Let him answer it, Maria.

SEXTON: It was negotiated --

(CROSSTALK)

SEXTON: -- that Barack Obama was commander-in-chief when they decided they were going -- when they were trying --

LEMON: Can you put this tweet up, and this is a John McCain tweet. I want to put the tweet up. I don't have it in the e-mail so if you put it up on the screen, I'll read it.

And this is from John McCain. He said -- this was back in 2010, August of 2010. He said, "Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory." He is giving him credit. Well, he was wrong, again having a victory in leaving Iraq.

SEXTON: It's another time when John McCain was wrong.

LEMON: And now he is that -- but now he saying its President Obama's fault. So, Buck --

(CROSSTALK)

SEXTON: As the commander-in-chief making the decisions here, it's not John McCain making decisions. At the time he thought that it was a good move, he was wrong. But he wasn't the one who actually was debark (ph) in the Bush administration, the decider Barack Obama was. Barack Obama also had a timetable for exiting Afghanistan, he changed.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But it appears that he is being hypocritical here because he is praising George W. Bush, but then he is condemning Barack Obama. He -- I mean that's a hypocritical statement.

CARDONA: Yes.

SEXTON: But he was wrong.

CARDONA: They have a both ways.

SEXTON: It's not hypocritical, he was just wrong.

LEMON: Yes, yes, OK. So, Kayleigh --

CARDONA: And he is wrong now.

LEMON: -- the President was down here in Orlando today. It was his 10th visit to a community affected by mass shooting. He's spoken about it 15 times.

So, I mean without -- and he talks about it today without using Trump's name. The President directly responded to something that Trump suggested yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The notion that the answer to this tragedy would be to make sure that more people in a nightclub are similarly armed to the killer defies common sense.

Those who defend the easy accessibility of the assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense.

They should meet with the Newtown families, some of whom Joe saw yesterday, whose children would now be finishing fifth grade, on why it is that we think our liberty requires these repeated tragedies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Kayleigh, what's your reaction to that?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, if you look at the facts of what happened, there is one person in the club who did have a gun. He wasn't able to take out the killer. But when three other officers arrived on the scene with guns, they were able to force the killer to retreat.

So, if in fact, there were undercover individuals in this club, three or four undercover people with guns, this all would have been ended a lot faster.

[23:55:02] I agree with the President, we need to look at guns. We need to -- and put in place sensible reform and that definitely should mean making sure that people on the terror watch list do not get guns.

But the President has a lot to answer, and he keeps wanting to turn to the guns, but he really needs to answer the facts that today, his own CIA Director said that ISIS is basically knocking on our door.

They are getting -- trying to get in to our country through the refugee program which Obama just announced he going to accelerate and make sure all of these refugees get in here by October.

So he keeps trying to move this to guns. We do need to talk about the guns, but we also need to talk about Islamic extremism particularly when his own CIA Director is on the hill and he is very concern about this.

LEMON: I have to go. Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is very difficult to describe in words what people are dealing with here in Orlando, the family members of the people who lost their lives in the club right over my shoulder here.

So good night from Orlando. Make sure you stay with CNN for continuing coverage of the massacre here. I'm Don Lemon.