'This Week' Transcript: US Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Rush transcript for "This Week" on June 19, 2016.

ByABC News
June 19, 2016, 9:07 AM

— -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starting right now on THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, trial by fire -- terror in Orlando puts the candidates to the test.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's radical Islamic terrorism and it's not guns.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Not one of Donald Trump's reckless ideas would have saved a single life in Orlando.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plus, system failure -- new questions for the FBI. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is here live.

And gunfight...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having come through the experience of Newtown, I've had enough.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator fighting for new gun control and the NRA's top lobbyist square off.

Will the outrage over Orlando lead to a breakthrough?

We're one-on-one with Donald Trump.





Here now, chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl

KARL: One week ago, America woke up to the devastating news -- another mass murder, this time in Orlando.

For Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the first major test of whether they have what it takes to lead America in a time of turmoil.

The contrast was dramatic.

Hillary Clinton, in lockstep with the president and her party, blaming intolerance and easy access to military-grade guns.

Donald Trump, bold and unpredictable, attacking the president and Hillary Clinton as weak, saying the answer is more restrictions on immigration and more guns. Then reaching out to gay Americans and issuing a challenge to the NRA.

This week, the took his message to Texas, where he drew large and enthusiastic crowds, lines extending as far as the eye can see.

We caught up with Trump in Houston.


KARL (voice-over): Before thousands of supporters in Houston...

TRUMP: I love you. I love you, Texas.

KARL: -- Donald Trump doubled down on his call for more guns as a solution to the Orlando massacre.

TRUMP: If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle.


TRUMP: And this son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) comes out and starts shooting.


TRUMP: And one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes boom, boom, you know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight.

KARL: President Obama rejected that very idea a day earlier, after paying his respects to the victims in Orlando.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 commonsense.

KARL: And in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the president repeatedly made his case for limiting access to assault weapons.

OBAMA: And if we don't act, we will keep seeing more massacres like this, because we'll be choosing to allow them to happen.

KARL: Hillary Clinton echoed that call, backing a Democratic effort to make it illegal for anyone on a terror watch list to buy firearms.

CLINTON: Surely we can agree, if the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you should not be able to buy a gun with no questions asked.

KARL: And Trump himself surprised the political world when he Tweeted that he's going to meet with the NRA, quote, "about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list or the no fly list to buy guns."

I talked to Trump back stage at his rally about what he plans to tell the NRA.

TRUMP: And I want to just find out their thinking, because what I want -- and I know what they want, they want it as much as anybody in the world, they want to make sure that terrorists don't get guns and I know that something really good is going to come out of all this.

KARL (on camera): But is it your position that if you're on that terror watch list, if you're on that no fly list, you should not be able to buy a gun?

TRUMP: I'd like to see that and I'd like to say it and it's simpler. It's just simpler. Now, but what they say -- and I understand that, also -- is the Second Amendment, they're depriving them of those rights and that it could be that people are on there that shouldn't be on, you know, etc. Etc.

So we have to make sure that people that are terrorists or have even an inclination toward terrorism

KARL: Right.

TRUMP: -- cannot buy weapons, guns.

KARL: Could you get the N -- the NRA to budge on this, because they've had a firm -- they're against this idea.

TRUMP: Well, I...

KARL: And I -- and you -- and you're obviously pro-Second Amendment. Nobody doubts that.

TRUMP: Pro-Second Amendment...

KARL: So maybe...

TRUMP: And a pro-NRA. And, you know, they gave me, I think, the earliest endorsement they've ever given to anybody.

KARL: Yes.

TRUMP: I'll talk to them. And by the way, they have, I understand exactly what they're saying. You know, a lot of people are on the list that -- that really maybe shouldn't be on the list. And, you know, their rights are being taken away. So I understand that.

KARL (voice-over): And what about the Orlando shooter, who had previously been under surveillance by the FBI for nearly a year, but was still able to buy the guns he used in the attack?

(on camera): Doesn't that mean to you that something's wrong (INAUDIBLE)...

TRUMP: And remember this, he was licensed, you know, for all those people to say you have to go through all this. But he was licensed and he got a gun. I mean and he was...

KARL: Yes, so how do you change that...

TRUMP: -- he was...

KARL: -- law so that somebody like that can't get a gun?

TRUMP: We have to be vigilant. We have to be tough. We have to be strong. If you look at his career, I mean it's all -- even going to high school, going to early high school...

KARL: Yes.

TRUMP: -- I mean this guy was a -- he was a bad dude.

KARL: OK, so how...

TRUMP: He was a bad dude. I mean look, will somebody slip through?

Yes. You have a problem. You have to report these people. And everybody knew this guy had a problem. Now, in one case they did report it. I guess the gun store owner reported him and the authorities didn't act on it. What a shame.

KARL: So what does that say to you?

TRUMP: It says very sad, that's what it says. I mean to me, it says very sad. But they actually did report him and the authorities didn't act. And I think it's very unusual. And I'm a big fan of the FBI, but they had a little bit of a bad day.


KARL: Joining me now to talk about the Obama administration's response to the attack in Orlando, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Madam Attorney General, thank you for joining us.


KARL: We had an ominous warning this week from the CIA director, who said, quote, "As the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge it will intensify its global terror campaign."

You are on the front lines of the fight here.

Are we prepared to prevent more San Bernardinos, more Orlandos from happening?

LYNCH: Well, that certainly is our goal. As you can see from this investigation, we are going back and learning everything we can about this killer, about his contacts, people who may have known him or seen him. And we're trying to build that profile so that we can move forward.

What we're also asking people to do is to give us information, as well. Come forward as they did before, so that we can make sure that we have all of this information and that we can act on it.

I'm actually going to Orlando myself on Tuesday to meet with the team on the ground to get an on the ground briefing on the investigation. I'll be meeting with the victims, the first responders, talking about the way in which we're going to be supporting the victims, uh, and the first responders and also, uh, operationally, you know, we will be releasing more information about this investigation as it comes to light.

KARL: One of the things that we have learned, the FBI has acknowledged that people at this gun shop in Jensen Beach, Florida, warned FBI agents that somebody had been in there, somebody who we now know would become the killer in Orlando, had tried to buy body armor, was acting suspiciously.

Did the FBI do enough to follow-up on that tip?

This is the person -- this is the -- this is the killer.

LYNCH: Well, this is the person that -- that the gun shop owner did realize was the killer once he saw news reports. And yes, in the course of an unrelated investigation, FBI agents were talking to a gun shop owner, um, and this -- a gun shop owner did say in addition to the information we're talking about, something else occurred. I want to let you know about this.

But because Mateen didn't make a purchase, there was no record, there was no identifying information. But he did provide that information.

And that's exactly what he was supposed to have done. And we appreciate that.

KARL: But did they do anything with that information?

LYNCH: Well, at the time, there was no...

KARL: I know they didn't h the name...

LYNCH: -- identifying information...

KARL: -- there was no purchase...

LYNCH: -- on that and in fact, it wasn't until these tragic events of last weekend that the gun shop owner realized, oh my goodness, that was the man that came in and, in fact, provided that information that allowed us to connect those dots.

But that's all part of what we're doing in this investigation. When I say we're going back into the days, weeks and months of this killer's life and recreating what he did, that's exactly the kind of information we're asking the public to produce to us.

And what we're going to be doing, also, is talking more about what happened, sadly, inside the nightclub. Tomorrow, for example, we'll be releasing a partial transcript of the calls between the killer and the hostage negotiators so that people can, in fact, see the type of interaction that was had there. I saw partial, because we're not going to be, for example, broadcasting his pledges of allegiance. We are trying not to re-victimize those who went through that horror.

But again, we're trying to get as much information about this investigation out as possible and we want people to provide information that they have to us.

KARL: One of the things that we have learned about the killer is that he had a history of violent behavior going all the way back to grade school.

Did the FBI -- they -- they had investigated him twice. They talked to him three times.

In the course of those investigations, did the FBI learn about his long history of violent behavior?

LYNCH: Well, I can't go into the specifics of everything that they learned, but in -- in fact, he was under investigation once because he was making alarming statements and his coworkers did report that information, which, again, is exactly what they should have done and what we've asked people to do...

KARL: He was under investigation twice for...

LYNCH: Actually, he was under investigation himself for his own statements. And that investigation took some time. And at the time the FBI did everything it could to see was he about to carry out anything -- this was about two years ago. And I can assure you that had he indicated he was going to take action, that they would have stayed on that investigation. They determined he was at the time making statements.

He then came on the radar again in the context of another investigation, another Florida man, who traveled to Syria, blown himself up in connection with a suicide bombing attempt, had a connection to the killer. And so he was interviewed along with other people who knew that other individual and to determine what connections he had, and if he, himself, was predisposed to leave the country and commit the same kind of act.

It was determined that he was not predisposed to do that. He didn't give any indications at that time.

And as the director has said, we're looking back at those investigations to see anything else we should have done.

KARL: Here's what Director -- FBI Director Comey said about that.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We're also going to look hard at our own work to see whether there is something we should have done differently. So far, the honest answer is I don't think so. I don't see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently.


KARL: That was Monday. He's saying I don't see anything that our agents should have done differently.

You don't really believe at this point that nothing should have been different, do you?

LYNCH: We're looking that. You know, this is an ongoing investigation. We are going back and scrubbing every contact we had with this killer. We're also asking people to come forward with the contacts they have had with this killer as well.

I think what's important, though, is to continue keep our focus on the victims of this tragic crime as well. and one of the things I'll doing in Orlando on Tuesday is meeting with victims, talking about the support that we'll be providing them, as well.

Because this is a community -- the LGBT and Latino community -- that has come under fire before, but never in as horrific manner as this.

KARL: The Justice Department has come out in favor of this idea of the no-fly, no-buy. If you're on the terrorist watch list, the no-fly list, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun. How many Americans are on the terrorist watch list?

LYNCH: You know, we don't provide those exact numbers.

KARL: Can you give me a range? I mean, what are we talking about here?

LYNCH: Well, as I say we don't provide those exact numbers.

What's important to note about the changes that are being discussed is that we give the Justice Department two very important tools, which is if an individual on the list tries to buy a gun, we would have the ability to step in and block that purchase.

Again, and if we did that, the individual chose to challenge it.

KARL: So, it wouldn't be an automatic thing. Because James Comey has also said, the FBI director has said, that if you do that, if you're investigating somebody, they go in to buy a gun, suddenly they're prevented, they're tipped off to the fact that there's -- he says that could blow FBI investigations. This is the bill the Democrats are pushing right now?

LYNCH: And we're tremendously grateful that the current legislation takes into account those concerns, which are shared throughout law enforcement, because -- as I said, it gives us two very, very important tools. The first, the ability to block a sale. The second, which relates exactly to the concern that has been raised, is in the context of an individual challenging that, it gives us the ability to set forth procedures not to disclose sensitive or classified information, consistent, of course, with due process and the current workings of law.

So, it gives us the ability to set up a procedure to protect those sensitive, classified investigations, which is, of course, very important.

KARL: All right. So much more to talk about. But we are out of time. Attorney General Lynch, thank you very much for joining us.

LYNCH: Thank you so much.


KARL: Now to Congress and the Republican side of the aisle. Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman McCaul, you heard the attorney general's assessment there, you've been looking into this, what have you learned? Did the FBI do all it needed to do with those very clear warning signs about this shooter?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) TEXAS: Well, that's what we'll be conducting oversight hearings to look into that very issue. James Comey I think was very honest about the fact they're going to look at the case, see what could have been done differently, see if there are lessons learned moving forward.

We do know he was on the radar several times saying he had affiliations with al Qaeda, terrorist organizations. We know he was close or attended the same mosque with the suicide bomber in Syria out of Florida.

There are some disturbing flags going up in this case that we're going to take a close look at. The FBI tells me they didn't have predication to detain or arrest him at that time.

KARL: This isn't arresting about him. This is about keeping an eye on him or not letting him fall completely off the radar, which he did.

MCCAUL: Oh, that's correct. And then he mentioned he looked at Anwar al Awlaki videos on the second investigation, which I think should have flagged to the FBI.

He also on the day of the shooting, Jon, said that the Islamic State in the near future was going the conduct attacks in the United States. He said that on his Facebook posting the very day of the attacks.

KARL: So, what can be done to flag something like that?

MCCAUL: That is what I will be looking at is what is our capability when someone posts a public social media posting that says that they're going to conduct attacks on the United States, on behalf of the Islamic State. Why can't we pick up that information and then stop that act of terror?

KARL: Well, it has got to be part of a question of resources. How do you monitor everybody's Facebook postings?

MCCAUL: Well, of course. And it's an issue of resources, but possibly an algorithm, a way to look at these postings that are public, that have no expectation of privacy.

KARL: So, if you look at that -- posting and you see what the CIA director has said about ISIS clearly preparing for more attacks, trying to inspire more attacks on the homeland, do you to think we're prepared? I asked the attorney general. What is your take?

MCCAUL: Well, the threat is pervasive on the Internet. Radicalization, not only foreign fighters coming back, but radicalization over the Internet which may have been the case here.

They call it in law enforcement losers to lions that radicalize over the Internet.

It's so pervasive -- 200,000 ISIS tweets a day, 1,000 investigations in all 50 States. It's really hard to stop all of it.

But we have to get control over this Internet propaganda that is poisoning the minds of the United States.

This will not be the last attack in the United States. I'm certain that there is another individual like Mateen out there, the Orlando shooter, who is radicalizing as we speak.

KARL: Some of the rhetoric on this in the wake of the attack, has been downright toxic. I'm sure you saw what Senator John McCain said, saying the president was, quote, directly responsible for the attacks on Orlando.

He clarified. He said he misspoke. But his clarification said I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible, I was referring to President Obama's national security decisions, not the president himself. That's not much of a distinction. I mean, do you agree with that? That the president's policies are directly responsible for what happened in Orlando?

MCCAUL: Yeah, I won't make the personal attack, but I do think the foreign policy that's been conducted over the last three-and-a-half years since we've known about ISIS has led to this.

When you fail in foreign policy, this is what happens. We have not had a military strategy for ISIS for the last three-and-a-half years, much less political, diplomatic.

So, as John Brennan talked about, the CIA director, they've expanded in their capabilities, not diminished. And I agree with the CIA director, that the threat environment is probably the highest we've seen since 9/11.

KARL: So, have you heard anything from your presumptive Republican nominee since this attack, or before, that would better prevent or fight this threat?

MCCAUL: I think, again, not waiting three-and-a-half years to deal with the problem. I think you'll hear...

KARL: But have you heard specifics out of Donald Trump that reassure you on this?

MCCAUL: The presumptive nominee will tell you that the architect of this foreign policy, Hillary Clinton, is liable for this, that she was the one who was responsible for the rise and formation of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

KARL: If you want to argue about the past, you could say George Bush. You could say the invasion of Iraq. I mean, there wouldn't be an al Qaeda in Iraq, which lead -- which transformed into ISIS if we didn't have the invasion?

MCCAUL: Well, of course, the Arab Spring turned out to be an Arab winter in northern Africa -- I just returned from Egypt and Tunisia and got briefed of on the Libyan situation. It's becoming failed states, safe havens over there, that we're not properly dealing with. Until we attack them in their safe havens, we cannot stop their external operations capabilities.

KARL: So, the senate is voting tomorrow on several of these gun control provisions, including the no-fly, no buy list, which you heard from Donald Trump he endorses that idea. And he's going to talk to the NRA about it. We'll be talking to the NRA, but do you think Donald Trump is going to convince the...

MCCAUL: ...what his position is right now.

KARL: He said that he believe that if you're on the terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun.

MCCAUL: I think if you're on the list, the FBI should be notified. They should be able to have time to conduct a review, an investigation, before that firearm is allowed to be purchased.

We don't want terrorists buying firearms. I think Senator Cornyn in the Senate has a proposal that would be in conformity with the constitution and due process, which would notify the FBI if you have been investigated in the last five years, which the Orlando shooter...

KARL: But that would gives them just 72 hours to have a hearing. And they would have to prove -- let me ask you this before you go -- there is a provision, there is a bill, Senator Bill Nelson of p Florida has put forward, that would say simply if you are on the terrorist watch list or have been at any time in the last five years, that the FBI would be notified if you try to buy a gun. That's not even being voted on?

MCCAUL: Well, that is part of Senator Cornyn's proposal...

KARL: It would also provide a...

MCCAUL: You would be notified. An investigation can take place, and under due process under the constitution, it would be -- if you're on there on mere suspicion or a hunch and denied a constitutional right, I have a problem with that, too.

KARL: All right. Congressman McCaul, thank you for joining us here.

MCCAUL: Up next, the fight over gun control. It comes up every time after mass killing, every time, it goes nowhere. But is that about to change? We'll talk to the National Rifle Association and to the senator leading the charge on gun control.


KARL (voice-over): National Rifle Association and to the senator leading the charge on gun control.



OBAMA: I held and hugged grieving family members and parents.

And they asked, why does this keep happening?

And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage.


KARL: That's President Obama this week, making an impassioned plea for more restrictions on high-powered guns. We'll talk to the NRA's top lobbyist after the break.



SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I can't tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the families of those little boys and girls who were killed in Sandy Hook and tell them that, almost four years later, we've done nothing, nothing at all.


KARL: That's Connecticut senator Chris Murphy. He spent 15 straight hours on the Senate floor in week, demanding that Republicans hold votes on gun control measures and Senator Murphy joins us here right now.


KARL: So Senator Murphy, you are getting those votes on Monday, tomorrow.

But are you going to have to look those families in the eye once again and tell them that you have failed?

Because those things are -- those are not going to pass, none of them.

MURPHY: Well, listen, we'll still work hard over the weekend on the bill that would stop people on the terrorist watchlist from getting guns.

I admit that the background checks bill is going to be tough to get 60 votes on, but we still have hope that we can get Republicans to support the bill, stopping terrorists from getting weapons.

But, listen, I think something important happened last week. It wasn't just that 40 senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes but there were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort.

And what we know is, ultimately, the only way that you win this issue is by building a political infrastructure around the country that rivals that of the gun lobby.

And so I'm still hopeful that we're going to be able to get votes; I know there are also some compromise negotiations happening that may bear fruit. But in the final analysis, what may be most important is that our filibuster helped galvanize an entire country around this issue.

KARL: But you specifically are pushing a bill and have been pushing a bill and it will be voted on on Monday to close the so-called gun show loophole.

Would that have done anything to stop the massacre in Orlando?

MURPHY: So it may -- yes, it may have in the sense that if you partner it together with a bill that stops terrorists from --


KARL: But wait a minute, he didn't buy those guns at a -- at a gun show. And he would've passed a background -- he did pass a background check.

MURPHY: He did pass a background check. But if the Feinstein bill was in effect, the FBI could have put him on the list of those who are prohibited from getting guns.

And what if he went into the gun store and was denied?

Then he could've just gone online or to a gun show and bought another one.

KARL: OK, but what I'm trying to get at is we hear every time there's one of these terrible tragedies --

MURPHY: I understand.

KARL: -- there's these proposals. Your proposal would've done nothing in the case of Orlando. It would've done nothing to stop the killing in San Bernardino and in fact was -- is unrelated to the killing in Newtown.

So why -- I mean, why -- I mean, why are we focusing on things that have nothing to do with the massacres that we are responding to?

MURPHY: Well, so first of all, we can't get into that trap. I disagree. I think if this proposal had been into effect, it may have stopped this shooting.

But we can't get into the trap in which we are forced to defend our proposals simply because it didn't stop the last tragedy. We should be making our gun laws less full of Swiss cheese holes so that future killings don't happen. That trap is an impossible one.

The Sandy Hook families lobby for background checks.

You know why?

Because they're just as concerned with the young men and women who are dying in our cities because of the flow of illegal guns as they are about a ban on assault weapons or high magazine clips that might have prevented the Newtown killing.

So this has to be broader than just responding to the tragedy that happened three days ago.

KARL: But why can't Congress pass things that there's obvious agreement on?

For instance, the question of the terrorist watchlist.

There's opposition to banning gun sales for people on that list -- people have constitutional concerns -- but why can't you simply pass a provision that says that anybody who is a on a terrorist watchlist or has been on a terrorist watchlist for the last five years, tries to buy a gun, the FBI is automatically notified?


KARL: I mean that -- at least they could follow the person, they could track the person.

Why can't Congress at least do that?

MURPHY: Well, first of all, does the FBI have the resources?

I mean that's a question, to take those notifications, especially if the individual walks out of the store with the gun, and stop the killing before it happens?

It would be much more effective to make sure that the individual doesn't get the gun rather than to make the FBI go find him after he gets it.

I think there is consensus here. And so, as we speak, there are discussions happening, in addition to these votes that we're having --

KARL: Really, with the Republicans?

MURPHY: -- yes, that might bear fruit.

And the fact is none of that would've happening if we didn't stand up and conduct that filibuster. We were just going to go on, like business as usual.

And so we're going to try to get the votes on Monday night. If we don't, there are compromise negotiations happening. I don't think any of that would've occurred if we hadn't taken a stand.

KARL: All right, Senator Murphy, thanks for coming to talk to us about it.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot.


KARL: And joining me now, a voice from the other side of this debate, Chris Cox is the executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. He is the NRA's top lobbyist and top political strategist.

I want to ask you, Chris, about something we heard Donald Trump say at the top of the show, that if people in that nightclub had been as heavily armed as the shooter, it would have been a better situation.

Is that really what you want is, people late at night, drinking at a nightclub, 2-3 o'clock in the morning, armed to the teeth?

Is that the recipe for…

CHRIS COX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NRA: Well, Jonathan, here's what we know.

What happened in Orlando was heartbreaking. Our -- our prayers go out to those families, everybody impacted.

We have a serious problem in this country, a catastrophic situation. It has nothing to do with firearms. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or even gun control and it has everything to do with radical Islamic terrorists.

What Donald Trump has said...

KARL: OK, but I want...

COX: -- what Donald Trump has said is that the -- the policies of that nightclub, the gun-free zone, did not prevent that terrorist from going in and mowing down innocent people. And we need to have an honest discussion about what works.

KARL: But do you want people late at night at a nightclub drinking (INAUDIBLE)...

COX: Of course not. Of course not. And you can't be in a nightclub drinking anywhere in this country. What Donald Trump has said is what the American people know is commonsense, that if somebody had been there to -- to stop this faster, fewer people would have died. That's not -- that's not controversial, that's commonsense.

KARL: But you don't like the idea of people going into nightclub armed to the teeth?

COX: Of course.


COX: No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That's -- that defies commonsense. It also defies the law. It's not what we're talking about here.

What we're talking about is the failure of this government to keep us safe. And the American people are scared. And they have reason to be scared. And you can -- you can do both things. You can stop bad things from happening while protecting the rights of law-abiding people to defend themselves.

KARL: Now, Donald Trump says he wants to meet with you.

Has he reached out yet?

Is there a meeting scheduled?

COX: Sure. We have conversations with Mr. Trump and his operation all the time. What Donald Trump has said is something that the National Rifle Association agrees with.

The NRA's position is that terrorists should not be able to buy firearms, legally or illegally, period.

KARL: But what do...

COX: The question (INAUDIBLE)...

KARL: -- but what do you say very specifically, because I was very specific with him and it was not the first time he said it. He has said that it is his position that if you are on terrorist watch list, you should not be able to buy a firearm.

Are you prepared to agree with that?

COX: What our position is, is that the FBI should investigate every single person who's on a terrorist watch list if they try to buy a gun. That's what they're doing now.

If they're -- if there's a reason to believe in probable cause that they're engaged in terrorist activity, they ought to not only be prevented from getting a firearm, they ought to be arrested.

At the same time, the government makes mistakes. The government has put people on the list like Nelson Mandela, Ted Kennedy, an 8-year-old Boy Scout or Cub Scout, rather.

Do you think that people should be afforded due process who are on the list by the -- by mistake?

That's the National Rifle Association's position. And they're not mutually exclusive. You can protect the rights of law-abiding people in this country while preventing terrorists from doing bad things. They're not mutually exclusive.

KARL: But -- but -- but the bill you guys are supporting, all it would do is it would say that the government has 72 hours to prove the case. You basically have to have a trial in 72 hours. If they can't prove the case in -- in 72 hours, that person can go and buy a gun.

COX: What it -- what it does is it puts to the top (INAUDIBLE)...

KARL: That's -- that's not going to work.

COX: Here's the -- what law enforcement has told us, that they don't want to give these guys more than 72 hours, because it gives them an opportunity to either go dark or to go out and buy pipe bombs like they did and build pipe bombs like they did in Boston.

Again, this notion that more gun control is going to prevent some jihadist who thinks that he's going to obtain martyrdom by murdering innocent people really gets away from the serious nature of the problem that were facing.

We want to make sure the terrorists don't have access to firearms. We also want to make sure that law-abiding Americans have the commonsense ability to protect themself when the government is failing.

KARL: So could -- could we get back -- the -- the -- one of the weapons that this killer had was this so-called Sig Sauer MCX. This is a military-style assault weapon, assault-style weapon.

We -- we've heard from a -- Seth Moulton, who was four tours of duty in Iraq, uh, write, that "there is simply no reason for a civilian to own a military-style assault weapon."

So help us understand.

COX: Jonathan, I understand...

KARL: Why -- why should...

COX: Yes?

KARL: -- ordinary Americans on the streets of our towns and cities have to have a weapon like that?

COX: Tens of millions of Americans own guns for a variety of lawful purposes. But I understand that people, when horrific things happen, want to look at the weapon that was used. They want to look at pipe bombs in -- in Boston. They want to look at firearms in Orlando.

But the truth of the matter is those guns were banned in Paris and it didn't stop that terrorist attack. They were banned in Brussels. They were banned in California and it didn't stop San -- San Bernardino.

The point is that criminals and terrorists are not going to be deterred by one more gun control law when they're willing to walk into a -- a gun-free club and commit murder with a firearm, or with any other weapon...

KARL: I...

COX: -- so it's...

KARL: I...

COX: -- it's, again, (INAUDIBLE)...

KARL: I understand your argument that it may not prevent these attacks, that it may not be effective, that it didn't work in Paris.

COX: Well, that's the point of this conversation...

KARL: But...

COX: -- is...

KARL: -- but...

COX: -- how do we prevent...

KARL: -- but what I'm asking you...

COX: -- the next one.

KARL: -- so just help -- help us understand...

COX: Sure.

KARL: -- why do people need what have been branded weapons of war...

COX: Yes.

KARL: -- a weapon like that, why -- why are those needed on the streets of America?


KARL: And why -- why should those be legal?

COX: It -- it's a fair question and it's fair to say shouldn't we just try certain things. The truth is that it has been tried. It's been tried. We -- we banned them internationally in Paris and they still used full autos and hand grenades. We banned them in this country for 10 years. For 10 years, the reason it was allowed to sunset is because an outside study was mandated when they passed the law and it came back and it said there was no impact on crime from banning these weapons from law-abiding people.

Again, the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners in this country is not the underlying problem.

The problem is we have a failed policy when it comes to keeping the American people safe. That's what the CIA director said this week, this global spread of ISIS is stronger. We need to confront that problem not -- not take away the rights of law-abiding people.

KARL: You're...

COX: Those aren't mutually exclusive goals, Jonathan.

KARL: You're sitting on a $14 million war chest, campaign war chest.

Are you going to use that to go after, potentially, Republicans if they get wobbly on the issue, this issue, if they support any of these bills that you are not supporting?

COX: The truth is, with Justice Scalia's death, where there are no longer five votes on the Supreme Court for the basic right to keep a gun in your home to defend yourself. Hillary Clinton believes the Supreme Court should overturn that case, believes that there is no individual right. So we're going to use that money to get out and communicate with gun owners across this country and people -- of like-minded, let them know what's at stake in this election.

Will we be involved in Senate races?

Absolutely. We'll be involved in recess all across the country. And I'm confident that at the end of the day, the American people are going to understand that we have a God-given right to defend ourself, that firearms are an effective means of doing just that and the politicians who want to divert attention away from the underlying problems that suggest that we're somehow to blame will pay a price for it.

KARL: And -- and we're out of time.

But I just want to quickly clarify, if Trump asks you to support the idea of an outright ban on sales for somebody on the no fly list, on the terrorist list, would you budge on that?

Would you change your position on this?

COX: Our position is -- has been the same consistently. We do not think...

KARL: But so you will not...

COX: -- that terrorists should...

KARL: -- you will not change...

COX: We support Senator Cornyn's...

KARL: -- your position on this?

COX: -- approach, which is to ban...

KARL: But if he asks you -- you're not going to change your position on this?

COX: There -- there is not a difference between what Mr. Trump is saying and what the NRA's position is. That's a media-created diversion there.

KARL: All right, Chris Crox -- Chris Cox, thank you very much for joining us.

COX: Thanks, Jonathan.

KARL: Up next, the Powerhouse Roundtable weighs in on how the gun debate is playing on the campaign trail.

Plus, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, Donald Trump is making a direct appeal to gay Americans.


TRUMP: Look at that sign. Wow!


TRUMP: Whoa! Gays for Trump!


KARL: But could Trump really win the LGBT vote in November?

We'll be right back.


KARL: So was the Orlando shooting more about the threat of terrorism or about guns?

The Powerhouse Roundtable tackles that right after the break.



CLINTON: Donald Trump does not seem to grasp any of this. He has been fixated on the phrase, and I quote, "radical Islam," as if those are magic words that, once uttered, will stop terrorists from coming after us.

OBAMA: Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons.

TRUMP: You know, I saw the president talk immediately about guns. It's not guns. It's terrorism. It's terrorism. It's not guns. It's terrorism.

He was more angry at Donald Trump than he was at the shooter, the maniac, who killed all of those young people.


KARL: Back now with the powerhouse roundtable: Rich Lowry, the editor of the "National Review;" ABC news contributor and ESPN senior writer, LZ Granderson; staff writer for "The Atlantic," Molly Ball and Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and columnist for the "Washington Examiner."

So, Richard, the debate over this term that Republicans have seemed almost obsessed with, "radical Islamic terrorism," kind of burst forward this week. The president uttered the words and explained why he doesn't want them, why he doesn’t label it that way.

Why does it matter?

Why the semantic debate?

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I think the chief reason to use the phrase "radical Islam" is that it's a true and accurate description of the problem. In fact, it's completely obvious. And it -- we don't do any moderate Muslims any favors by tiptoeing around the fact that there's a theological and ideological debate within Islam.

And I think it's very notable. Hillary used to say terrible things would happen if we used this phrase. Now she's saying it doesn't matter one way or the other, which shows that she may have realized this was really foolhardy ground to try to fight on in the first place.


LZ GRANDERSON, ESPN CORRESPONDENT: I think that it is just a silly sort of semantic debate and it's just as the president described --


KARL: So why is the president so reluctant to use the terms?

I mean, these are radical Islamic terrorists.

Why -- ?

GRANDERSON: I think he made it out, not just in his most recent speech, but he actually has laid it out in the past, which is he doesn't want to legitimize them with his words because his words --

KARL: How is that legitimizing?

GRANDERSON: By saying radical Islam?

Because what people begin to dissect is Islam. And they'll forget the radical part. And eventually shorthand will be Islam leads to terrorists, the same thing you say "ban all Muslims," who could be terrorists. Eventually it becomes -- shorthand becomes "Muslims are terrorists."

So he's been very careful with that because he can't have his language parsed down to the point in which people will use shorthand that could be use discriminatorily in a way that paints an entire billion people in a very negative light.

KARL: Molly, it was striking; we went back and looked through. The president had never, throughout his entire presidency, said those words in any speech or any statement. We did find one interview he did with a South African reporter, where he said the words. But he seemed like eager now to just finally explain what's going on.

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, and there is a sense, I think, from the White House, that this is something people don't understand.

But I think Obama's explanation is not satisfying to a lot of people who feel that this isn't just semantics, that it's not just about magic words but it's about whether the problem is being taken seriously, whether he understands what the inspiration for these attacks are or is trying to gloss over it or look past it.

So you know, I think to the White House and to people who support the president's policies, this is just a silly semantic debate. But if it were such a minor deal, then maybe it wouldn't be so rare for him to say those words.

KARL: And you heard Trump say the president seemed madder at him than he was at the shooter, that that's an overstatement. But it is true that the president's response to terrorist incidents has been more muted.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Donald Trump is always very big on finding the emotional core of an issue. Ad he's the one that gets on the stump and is saying language that we can't use on this program to talk about the terrorists.

And to what extent is that emotionally where most voters are at?

In poll after poll, people say that Donald Trump doesn't necessarily have the judgment to be president on a host of different sort of questions about the rational argument for Donald Trump. He doesn’t do as well.

But on questions like, do you trust him more than Hillary Clinton on the issue of terrorism, the polls are more mixed on that issue.

And on this particular question, 48 percent of Americans think that what happened in Orlando was a problem of Islamic terrorism; 41 percent say it was primarily an issue of guns. And the rest are sort of unsure. So voters look at this more often as an Islamic terrorism story.

And I think that’s why there is this disconnect and this frustration with why doesn’t the president understand that this is a story about Islamic terrorism?

KARL: But, Rich, can't it be both?

I mean isn't this a problem of access to guns for people who shouldn't have them and, of course, of course, the fight against terrorism?

LOWRY: Yes, well, the problem with the gun debate is all the so-called common sense measures, as you're getting at when you were talking to Senator Murphy, don't really interact very well with these incidents.

You look at Orlando. You look at San Bernardino. Those killers, when they bought the guns, they weren't on the terrorism watch list. They didn't go to gun shows to get their guns. Ad they passed background checks.

But the Democrats go over and over again to this trinity of non-sequiturs and pretend they would make a difference when they wouldn’t.

The only thing that might make a dent is really wide-ranging ban, coupled with the confiscation. And that is never going to happen in a country with a Second Amendment.

KARL: I mean, you have, by some estimates, 4 million to 8 million AR-15-style weapons on the streets of America. I mean, they're going to be there whether or not you stop selling them tomorrow.

GRANDERSON: The thing that I find so frustrating is that we only really talk about guns in this conversation when there is a quote-unquote "terrorist attack." And we define a terrorist attack as being when a Muslim individual goes in and kills Americans because when a white guy goes into a church and sprays down nine black people who were praying, that's not a terrorist attack; that's a lone wolf. So that's one frustrating part to me.

The other is that there's 30,000 people, 30,000 Americans die every year from gun violence. They're not all from Muslims. So there are different aspects of the gun control conversation that needs to happen. And it needs to happen in silos because they're all individual. There isn't a single answer or even two answers that's going to solve all these problems.

There are gun laws in Indiana that makes it easy to purchase. So if you can have strict gun laws in Chicago, you can be a criminal that just drives over to the next state and hauls guns back over to Chicago. That's the reason why you have these problems.

KARL: And the bottom line, Molly, we're going have a series of votes in the Senate tomorrow. But none of them are going to pass, right?

Murphy says he's still working. He's talking to Republicans somewhere, but...

BALL: Well, right, there have been votes on these measures before, particularly the background check measure, and we have not seen enough senators move to change the equation on that. And as Rich was saying, these are pretty small-bore measures in the first place.

I think there is a lot of pent-up energy on the left for gun control, because for the past decade-and-a-half, there's been this consensus that this was a cultural issue that Democrats would do better to avoid. Some people blamed it for Al Gore losing certain states.

And so -- and I think that's what this is. It is a culture issue, much more than a cut and dried policy issue. And that's what's going to remain a division in the congress.

KARL: OK. We have to take a quick break. We'll be back with the roundtable in a minutes.



TRUMP: Our leaders have to get a lot tougher. And be quiet. Just please be quiet. Don't talk. Just please be quiet, to the leaders. Because they have to get tougher. They have to get sharper. They have to get smarter. We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself. I'll do very well.


KARL: Rich, what's going on with that? Please be quiet. He'll do it himself.

LOWRY: He made so much progress after he won Indiana and consolidating the party. And he's thrown it away pointlessly in the last couple of weeks. And I think the good news for the Trump campaign is they have had three weeks of unforced errors in a spectacular way and they're still only five or six points behind Hillary.

The bad news is, it's not clear when the unforced errors are going to stop.

KARL: And the numbers are dramatic here. I mean, he's got -- I mean, we have talked about this. He's got 70 percent negative in the polls, 70 percent of the public saying that they see him unfavorably.

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: It's very hard to convince...

KARL: Can he win with those numbers?

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: He can win with those number if Hillary Clinton is also viewed as unfavorably by as many people.

KARL: She's at 55 percent, which would normally be a crisis, but...

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: This has been a race to the bottom. And right now Donald Trump, you know, back about a month ago, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were neck and neck. And people were saying, wait a minute, we knew these polls were going to close, but already?

And yet Donald Trump is seemingly thrown a lot of that away, now trailing in the polling averages by 6 or 7 points.

This is more than Mitt Romney ever trailed by at any point in the 2012 election.

So, Donald Trump has dug himself a really big hole in the last couple of weeks.

Recall, however, that around the time of the Paris attacks, in the Republican primary, Donald Trump's numbers went up. And folks have long said, if there's some kind of domestic terrorism incident, what does that do to the politics of this race?

Thus far, I'm not seeing a lot in polls that indicate to me that this is going to lead to some kind of big surge for Donald Trump like it did within the Republican primary.

General election is a whole different ball-game.

KARL: It's interesting, during the course of the primaries, you saw, I mean, virtually every speech, he would start by talking about his poll numbers, because they were always good. I mean, he led virtually without exception.

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: Somehow that's disappeared. It's so mysterious.

KARL: But what does that do to him? He's -- that's his energy, that's his fuel.

BALL: Well, look, the Republican establishment has a lot of angst right now about the way that Donald Trump is performing the way he seems to have turned against the party. There was this battle between sort of the super ego and the id of the Trump campaign. Would he see the writing on the walls where he make this pivot or would he continue to let Trump be Trump? He seems to have made that choice.

The question is, could he still turn around if he sees these polls tanking, right? Is he going to look at that polling average and say, oh boy, maybe I need to do something different? Or is he going to continue the exist inside this bubble where he only looks at the polls that are favorable to him, the outliers. He tweets those out. He ignores everything else, and continues to just do the only thing we have ever seen him do, which is be Donald Trump.

KARL: One of the things that he's done that's been unusual here, Rich, is he's not talking about gay rights. I mean, LGBT has become -- I have never heard him actually put those letters together before this past week. And, you know, of course he's seeming like he's going to challenge the NRA.

Now, Chris Cox said that there's no difference - there is a clear difference on this, at least right now.

Is this going to work? Or how are his supporters going to react?

LOWRY: The one reason I thought Trump would be pretty hard to handle for the Clinton campaign is that he's basically a centrist on substance. He is not a typically ideological conservative. But that aspect of his campaign is just being overwhelmed by the outrageousness and the wild demeanor.

And I think one thing he doesn't understand that's different in this general election environment, there is no controversy he didn't benefit from the primaries, because he got attention when there was a crowded field. It convinced Republicans he was a tough guy, could stand up to critics.

Now, every unnecessary controversy that draws attention to him is bad, because he needs to make it about a referendum about the status quo and Hillary, and he can't do it this way.

KARL: LGBT rights. You know, you saw him, look at the sign. Gays for Trump.

GRANDERSON: I was just at the meeting last night. We had a big one. All the gays got together and we discussed that.

LOWRY: You weren't the guy with the sign in the audience were you now?


Listen, there were black men who voted for George Wallace. There are gay people who voted for people who are against same-sex marriages. So, it would not surprise me at all...

KARL: But he would be the most pro-gay rights Republican we have seen on a presidential level.

I mean, he came out on the transgender bathroom issue.

GRANDERSON: Well, I would say the presumed nominee for sure. But there have certainly have been GOP candidates in the past who may not have reached the level of presumed nominee who had been a lot more palatable to the LGBT community than someone like a Donald Trump.

But with that being said, he's a New Yorker. He's identified as a Democrat for many years. As Rich said, he's much more of a centrist. And it would not surprise me if Geo-Proud or some of these other organizations that are conservative as well that's LGBT, that would support Donald Trump.

LOWRY: It all goes back to the New York values, Jonathan.

KARL: It all goes back -- well, there's this one last gasp to try to stop Trump at the convention. It's not going to go anywhere, is it?

LOWRY; It's far-fetched. They are talking -- there's an effort to try to muster delegates to abstain. But to make anything like this work, you need the bottom, not just to sag the way it is now, but to completely fall out for Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus, to dump him, some alternative to present himself. There's no sign of this happening.

KARL: And he is still getting huge crowds, as we saw -- now these are friendly states, but he's getting huge crowds.

Unfortunately, we're out of time. We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.


KARL: That's all for us today. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, including my dad. Happy Father's Day, dad.

And tonight, game seven of the NBA finals at 8:00 Eastern right here on ABC.

Thanks for watching, and have a great day.