Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Dirty Cop?; Did Terrorists Bring Down Russian Jet?; Report: Black Boxes Indicate Bomb Took Down Jet; Police: Suicide Cop Tried to Put Hit on Town Official. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired November 6, 2015 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The black boxes now reportedly confirming this was no accident.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking news: investigators reportedly now convinced that it was a bomb that brought down that passenger plane over Egypt after everything changed in a split-second and went to black on the flight data recorders.

Plus, a hit man, cocaine, stolen money, and sexual harassment, more insane new details about the allegedly dirty cop who apparently staged his own death to cover up his crimes.

And a little lighter fare for you this Friday. Good grief. How well do the pen-and-ink Peanuts gang transfer to 3-D CGI? We have an exclusive behind-the-scenes look.

Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin with some breaking news. This was not an accident, that coming from European investigators who examined the black boxes from that Metrojet plane that crashed last Saturday in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children.

According to CNN affiliate France 2, these investigators are now convinced it was a bomb after finding no evidence of a mechanical failure before hearing an explosion. We're also learning the U.S. and the U.K. reached out and shared their intelligence with Russia before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he is suspending flights between his country and Egypt.

Our correspondents are standing by all across the globe with all the latest developments.

We are going to start right here in studio with CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, what is on these black boxes?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, apparently, everything was normal for about 24 minutes on the flight. And then suddenly there was a loud sound followed by a blackout. This is according to a French broadcaster who says European investigators who have listened to the black boxes are convinced there was an explosion caused by a bomb.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Today, new clues are emerging from the moment the Russian airliner broke apart in the sky. Investigators have been analyzing the plane's black boxes. And according to broadcaster France 2, the noise of an explosion can be heard on the flight cockpit recorder that did not stem from technical failure.

As Russian drones scour the debris field in the Sinai Peninsula, focus remains on Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Airport where the aircraft departed. British intelligence officials believe an insider at the airport may have planted a bomb in the plane's cargo hold, right next to the aircraft's fuel line, according to the BBC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have food service workers, baggage handlers, maintenance personnel, all sorts of folks that do have legitimate access to it. And if you look at it statistically, working on those folks, somebody is going to be a bad actor someplace. They may not have a terrorist intent, but somehow perhaps they can be exploited.

BROWN: U.S. satellites captured a midair flash over the Sinai Peninsula, indicating a potential explosion in the sky.

U.S. and British intelligence officials say chatter coming from ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula suggests the terrorist group could be behind the potential plot. Russian officials say that intelligence has been shared with them. But Egypt says it knows nothing about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would have liked the U.K. not to make a decision until the full reports concerning the crash has been published.

BROWN: Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the bold announcement that Russia is suspending all flights to Egypt. Officials in Egypt continue to push back, saying it's still too early to know what caused the crash.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And we have learned that Russia made the decision to pull flights to Egypt after it reviewed the U.S. and British intelligence showing the chatter.

We're expecting an announcement on the investigation from Egyptian authorities some time within the 24 hours. Jake, as it stands now, the bomb is still the leading theory among officials, but no conclusions have been made.

TAPPER: Egypt pushing back a lot. They really depend on those tourism dollars.

BROWN: Absolutely.

TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

The first rescue planes have now left Sharm el-Sheikh, taking hundreds of tourists who were stranded over terrorism fears back to London. But there is a catch. They may only take with them whatever they can carry in their hands. No checked bags allowed.

CNN's Nima Elbagir is live for us in Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

Nima, what are the passengers telling you right now? How are they feeling?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this restriction on hold luggage does of course give further credence to that BBC reporting about the concerns in terms of the custody chain, the possession chain of luggage going into the hold.

It's just been an extraordinarily frustrating, difficult and a lot of people are saying scary day. That announcement by President Putin, you could really feel it shifting emotions here. In addition to the thousands of stranded British tourists and tourists from other European nations, you now have thousands of stranded Russians. Some 50,000 Russians are here in Egypt, Jake.

[16:05:15]

And that really is going to impact the efficiency of these evacuation operations. The airport authorities here mirroring the broader Egyptian position that there is nothing wrong with the security at the airport behind me or even across the country, but we know that there is a British Ministry of Defense team that is on the ground, in the airport, checking all at least the British carriers leaving the country, going back to the U.K.

And that is all, of course, serving to slow things down even further. The Russians within less than an hour of that Putin announcement had already begun evacuating their tourists. More evacuations are expected tomorrow. But given the broader security concerns, the worry is that those aren't going to be happening quickly enough.

And all the tourists we're speaking to are saying it is not just about the inconvenience, it isn't just about the impact on young children and elderly relatives that are traveling with them. It is also that many of them say they do not feel safe here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nima Elbagir live for us in Sharm el-Sheikh, thank you so much.

Just the idea that the terrorist group ISIS might now have the capability to blow up a passenger jet was terrorizing enough to force changes in airport security around the world. The White House has said it's also now considering security changes for some international flights coming into the United States.

And the TSA is now looking at some enhanced measures at airports in the U.S.

CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is here.

Rene, what new security measures could flyers in the U.S. start seeing?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the focus really is with international airports at this point.

We know that following reports that a bomb may have taken down a Russian passenger plane, tonight, transportation officials are tightening security at airports around the world where U.S.-bound flights originate.

Random checks are possible, bomb-sniffing dogs. But flyers won't see anything dramatically different. Behind the scenes, though, there will be intense scrutiny on every item that's loaded onto planes originating overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH (voice-over): Overseas airports with direct flights to the United States are preparing for increased security measures. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced expanded screening of items going onto the aircraft. Travelers will also likely see random searches, extra hand swabbing of passengers, and possibly more bomb-sniffing dogs. DHS will also assess security at select foreign airports.

CHAD WOLF, FORMER TSA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR: When we talk about the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, the printer cartridges, these all happened overseas, but they were flights coming into the U.S. And so that's really, from my perspective, where the concern is.

MARSH: U.S. officials stress there are already multiple layers of security to screen passengers before they ever get on a plane bound for the U.S., including checking all passengers and crew against the U.S. terror watch list. But vulnerabilities still exist. The insider threat is a major concern.

REP. JOHN KATKO (R), NEW YORK: Employee vetting needs to be beefed up. And ones of the things they need to do in addition to it, once they hire these individuals, they need to keep continuing to vet them on a recurrent basis to make sure that if they go bad during of their time as an employee, we catch that before it's too late.

MARSH: Intelligence officials say if the downing of Metrojet was an insider job, authorities worldwide must zero in on airport and airline workers with secure access.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Well, there are more than 275 overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. The White House says fewer then 10 of those airports will see beefed-up measures, generally Middle Eastern airports and also there could be some European airports seeing those measures beefed up.

But security problems right here at home as well, Jake. You remember TSA, those covert testings, they failed 95 percent of the time. So it's not just an overseas issue. There's concerns right here at home as well.

TAPPER: All right, Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

Russia suddenly grounding flights to and from Egypt, as the U.S. increases security measures, the new concerns about air travel coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:13:40]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're following the breaking news, a new report saying that investigators have examined the black boxes from Saturday's Metrojet crash in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and those investigators are convinced this was no accident.

Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin is reversing course and suspending flights to and from Egypt. And Russia now says Putin was tipped off by the U.S. and U.K. before he made the decision.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Matthew, how significant is this? Do we know why Putin seems to have reversed his earlier position?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's pretty significant.

The Kremlin doesn't often make U-turns, which is exactly what it's done now, without very good reason. We don't know the exact intelligence that's been communicated to the Kremlin by the U.S. and the United Kingdom. But we know such a transmission of intelligence and exchange has taken place, because I was told that that happened by Vladimir Putin's own spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, a few years ago.

Certain information has been passed on, he said, and it was passed on before the decision was made to suspend these flights. Just yesterday, remember, Jake, the Russians were saying they're not going to take any action until the outcome of the investigation, which could take several months, they said.

[16:15:00] And just 24 hours later they've cancelled all their flights, suspended all their flights into Egypt, adopting the same position it is the United Kingdom and the United States on this issue, leaving Egypt isolated it seems in denying that terrorism had anything to do with this catastrophe which cost 224 lives.

TAPPER: That's right, 25 of them children. Matthew Chance in Moscow, thank you so much. CNN terror analyst Paul Cruikshank joins me now. He's editor in chief at "CTC Sentinel".

Paul, thanks for joining us.

If these reports are accurate, it's almost certain this was a bomb -- how much changes in terms of security and the fight against ISIS after this attack?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: Well, Jake, on the security side, I think there's going to be a lot of scrutiny of people working at airports, particularly in the Middle East. If this was somebody recruited by ISIS and Sinai who was working at Sharm el-Sheikh airport, that's really been the Holy Grail for terrorist groups over the last several decades, to recruit insiders at airports. I recall a case in the U.K. where a British airways employee had friends who sympathized with AQAP, who were thinking about potentially helping AQAP, the terrorist group, in Yemen to try and get something on board a plane at Heathrow.

So, this is not just a problem in the Middle East but it's also a problem potentially in the West, Jake.

There was also that case of an American ISIS fighter who was killed in Syria in 2014 who had previously been working at the Minneapolis-St. Paul's airport. So, concerning United States as well.

When it comes to the fight against ISIS, I think there are a lot of worries that this will turbo charge ISIS's popularity across the global jihadi community. This will be a huge success for them, that they could get even more foreign fighters coming into Syria and Iraq. If you look at the picture right now, you have terrorist safe havens in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sinai, parts of Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, Nigeria. It's a very worrying threat picture right now, squawk.

TAPPER: And, of course, we've been hearing a lot about terrorist chatter from this ISIS offshoot in Sinai, before and after the plane crash. Are we learning anything more from that?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, the intelligence strands point to ISIS in Sinai operatives bragging about this attack afterwards, with some specific details. I think that's why we're being told about this idea of an insider at the airport, of conventional explosives being smuggled on a plane, because of some of that detail in some of those conversations.

Of course, this group has claimed responsibility twice now for this attack, both an eight-line statement on Saturday, also an audio tape on Wednesday. I think we can expect a major ISIS video release in the coming days, Jake.

TAPPER: And it's interesting, Paul, because so many national security officials keep saying Russia is the greatest threat to the United States. But now, we're learning that the U.S. and the U.K. tipped off Russia before Putin suspended flights, sharing intelligence. That seems a rather significant development. CRUICKSHANK: Oh, very, very significant. I think the Russians would

have been demanding that, show us your intelligence. They would have found a way to share that with the Russians.

There is an opportunity now for the United States, for the United Kingdom, other Western powers, to work with Russia potentially to take on ISIS, if ISIS was indeed responsible, Jake.

TAPPER: Paul Cruickshank, thanks so much.

In our national lead, a story almost too bizarre to believe. And now, it's getting even stranger. The police officer who staged his own suicide to look like a murder, he had allegedly been plotting a murder of his own.

Plus, Dr. Ben Carson facing some fresh questions about his past. Now, today a new admission by the presidential candidate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:23:24] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to turn now to our national lead -- from an elaborately planned suicide to embezzlement, cocaine, and a hit man. The layers of fraud continue to unfold in the bizarre case of that Illinois police officer, Joe Gliniewicz, whose death sparked an intense manhunt after it was believed he had been killed in the line of duty.

But now, police say not only did the officer try to make his suicide look like a heroic death in the line of duty, but he was also stealing from a youth organization and he was plotting to have a town official murdered.

Let's right get to CNN's Rosa Flores in Fox Lake, Illinois.

Rosa, the story just gets weirder and weirder. What's the latest?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, sources telling CNN that the Lieutenant Gliniewicz, rather, his wife and his son are being investigated for possible involvement in the embezzlement of thousands of dollars. Now, officials are very tight-lipped about this, but the more we dig, the more we find.

Now, personnel records shedding light on a shady past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (voice-over): A Fox Lake police officer who staged his suicide after embezzling funds may have been plotting a murder, according to authorities. And they say this was the woman he was targeting.

ANNE MARRIN, FOX LAKE VILLAGE ADMINISTRATOR: I was stunned, absolutely stunned. It's definitely not a good feeling. And it's very scary in the same sense as well.

[16:25:01] It's almost surreal. FLORES: She says her interaction with Lieutenant Gliniewicz was

professional. But behind her back, he could have been plotting to kill her. Authorities say this text message was their clue. Quote, "Close to entertaining a meeting with a mutual acquaintance of ours with the word "white" in their nickname." White referring to a hitman, a gang member.

DET. CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We had to do some backtracking and digging but it was clear he was looking at wanting to speak with a high ranking motorcycle gang member.

FLORES: Investigators also say Gliniewicz alluded to planting evidence on someone. Police found cocaine in an unmarked evidence bag in his desk, although the autopsy on him showed no traces of the substance in his body. Personnel records tarnished the hero status he acquired in the days following his death. Record showing numerous suspensions, nearly a dozen violations of rules and procedures, and allegations of intimidation.

In one incident, a dispatcher said that Gliniewicz told her that she needed to stop her behavior, or he, quote, "could put three rounds of bullets" in her chest.

In another, Gliniewicz is reprimanded for leaving a crime scene unattended. And in a new twist, sources tell CNN authorities are now investigating Gliniewicz's widow, Melody, and one of his sons in their role in the embezzlement of thousands of dollars from the Explorers Youth program.

In an interview with "Crime Watch Daily" last month, Melody Gliniewicz detailed her role in the program.

MELODY GLINIEWICZ, WIFE: His big concern was the Explorer program.

REPORTER: He loved that program.

GLINIEWICZ: "Dedicated" is a very mild word when it comes to that program and him. I did a lot with that program with him. Again, if you didn't keep up, you get left behind. And I was one that was very heavily involved. We both were.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: Now, remember those thousands of text messages that authorities scoured through some of them, deleted by Lieutenant Gliniewicz. They say sources tell us that individual number one in those text messages was actually the widow. Individual number two was his son -- Jake.

TAPPER: So bizarre. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

A programming note, the heartbreaking CNN film, "Glenn Campbell, I'll Be Me" will be aired tomorrow night. It chronicles the country music legend's struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

Take a quick look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMBERLY WOOLEN CAMPBELL, WIFE OF GLENN CAMPBELL: I know there may be people who don't understand why we've gone out on tour and why we've opened ourselves up and exposed this illness so publicly, why we've allowed a loved one to go on stage and take a risk of -- you know, he could make a fool of himself onstage.

But it's something he wanted to do and it's something we think is healthy for him. And it's been worth of risk, because he's done a great job. And he's still Glenn Campbell. And he's trying to live his life as long as he can to its fullest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You can catch the film right here on CNN. That's tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

In our politics lead, he writes in his book about his acceptance to West Point Academy, about a scholarship offered. But now, presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is acknowledging he was never officially offered a scholarship. That story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)