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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Passenger Belongings, Debris Found Near Alexandria; Searchers Comb Mediterranean For Missing Plane; Paris Airport To Add Extra Officials In June; Families Mourn The 66 People On Board Flight 804; Chibok Girl Welcomed Back Home with Baby and Husband; White House Shooting. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 20, 2016 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(DONALD TRUMP'S SPEECH)
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: All right. You've been listening to Donald Trump, the U.S. Republican presidential candidate, the
presumptive nominee for the GOP there. He's just received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.
He is promising, among other things, to protect the second amendment, the right to bear arms enshrined in the U.S. constitution and also lobbing some
attacks directed at Hillary Clinton, as can be expected in this very contentious race. We'll have more on U.S. politics a little bit later this
But I'm Hala Gorani live from CNN London. This is a special edition of THE WORLD RIGHT NOW and the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804. Bringing you up to
date now on what we know.
A senior Egyptian official says the government still believes that the plane was brought down by a terrorist attack based on the nature of the
crash. The Egyptian Army and Navy say they have recovered airplane luggage and aircraft seats and sadly human remains during their search for the
A satellite spotted an oil slick near where the plane is believed to have crashed in the Mediterranean. This is north of the city of Alexandria on
the coast. Now, of course, at heart this is always a human tragedy at the heart of this story, 66 passengers and crew were on board. Their names and
nationalities are starting to be released by the airline.
Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, joins me now live from Cairo with more on what Egyptian authorities are saying on your end and
more on this investigation and this search. Arwa, what can you tell us?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, those key questions about what exactly happened, what this is a technical malfunction
or was it terrorism, which is what most Egyptian and U.S. officials are leaning towards.
Those questions will not be answered until the authorities are able to recover the bulk of the wreckage, the fuselage of the plane and of course,
the critical black box to try to figure what sort of clues it may hold.
But yes, there is a bit of optimism right now because they have managed to locate some of the items that you were mentioning there that give them a
better indication as to where the bulk of the plane may be.
But right now those answers do remain well buried in the Mediterranean Sea. It's been a very, very unspeakably difficult time for the families. About
30 of the nationals were board were Egyptian, 15 were French. The others were from various different African, European, and Middle Eastern and other
[15:05:08]The families of the Egyptian crew members came together at a mosque in Cairo for Friday prayers in memory of those who died. Amongst
the family members of the crew, as well as some of their colleagues, there was a long sigh of deep, deep sorrow.
A lot of anger too at the narrative or some of the narratives that are out there that this was perhaps somehow the fault of the EgyptAir crew or
somehow Egypt's responsibility. People feel as if that's a very unfair accusation at this stage.
But the bottom line is, Hala, we still don't know exactly what happened, why this plane went down, and if it was an act of terrorism, why there has
not been, as of yet, a claim of responsibility.
GORANI: So many questions. You're right to point out that right now we really are working with theories at this stage. Arwa Damon there in Cairo
where so many families are now going through a tragic and tough time. Thanks very much. We'll get back to Arwa very soon.
The weather was clear when EgyptAir Flight 804 basically plunged into the Mediterranean and now painstaking efforts are under way to find the plane's
wreckage. Officials say the jet disappeared about 300 kilometers off the Egyptian coast.
CNN's Tom Foreman joins us with a virtual look at the plane's trajectory and what geographic obstacles search teams could be facing.
So Tom, we know the flight, the plane, took off from Paris, on its way to Cairo and tragically disappeared just a few hundred kilometers from its
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We don't know what happened and we don't actually know where it is. This plane was traveling somewhere around
870 kilometers per hour when it came off of this flight path that we were following here and went down here north of Egypt.
This is where the debris has been found, 180 miles or as you mentioned about 300 kilometers, a little bit short. There is currently a search area
around that debris, which I would say is sort of about this big, which comes out to somewhere around 13,000 square kilometers.
This is always the difficult part because even though this isn't the open ocean, you don't have great big currents like you would there, there are a
lot currents below the surface which can affect where things might be.
When you talk about something like the oil slick out there, this is the last known location of the plane. This is where this suspect oil slick is.
This distance between here and here is also probably about 40 kilometers.
So even the clues they have out there, it is hard to tell how they relate to where the plane would actually be. Once you go below the surface,
that's where it gets even more complicated. The average depth of the Mediterranean is down here about a mile, as we'd say in the United States,
about a mile down here.
But it is about twice as deep in the area where they are searching right now so this absolutely goes into an area where you have to use remote
sensing devices, you have to use submersibles. You can't simply dive down and look for it.
That's why we already have France, Greece, United States and Egypt and others jumping in to lend expertise, including U.S. submarine hunter
aircraft that can fly over and detect large masses of metal down there.
The bottom line is there are some clues now about where it may be, but that could still be just the beginning. We could still be days or even weeks or
even longer until they actually find the bulk of the plane and, critically, the flight data recorder and the voice recorder that would give important
clues as to what really happened -- Hala.
GORANI: It is a huge stretch of water. It is a very deep part of the Mediterranean. So many challenges. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.
Searching for the wreckage in the waters of the Med has to be incredibly challenging. Oceanographer, David Gallo, knows a lot about this. He led
the effort to find the wreckage from the Air France Flight 447.
That crash you'll remember happened in 2009. Gallo is a CNN contributor and senior adviser for strategic initiative at Columbia University's Earth
Observatory. He joins me now live from New York.
David Gallo, thanks for being with us. First of all, you know more or less where this search area is. It is a few hundred kilometers but probably a
little bit smaller than that where the concentrated effort is really taking place. What are the challenges there?
DAVID GALLO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, one, of course, Hala, is the surface search on the surface, especially with the weather deteriorating that
they're going to want to find every clue they can that's floating to help try to locate and pinpoint where the plane may have hit the surface of the
That "x" marks the spot, the impact spot because probably somewhere underneath that "x" is going to be the main body of the wreckage and the
black boxes. So that's step one.
Step two, the water there is fairly deep, 3,000, 4,000 meters. That means mounting a full-blown deep ocean expedition.
[15:10:05]That means having the right robots, having specialized cameras and sonars and having a team that knows how to go out and make that
operation happen. The talent to do that on the planet is very rare.
GORANI: But so many people have asked me, why with today's modern technology -- it is an Airbus A320. We pretty much know when it dropped
off the radar. Why can't you just fly over and have technology that would allow you to see where the main body of the plane is?
GALLO: Well, mostly because of the water depth. Water depth is 4,000 meters. It is different from -- light doesn't penetrate very far. There's
no GPS beneath the sea. So all the things that we're used to up here under the sun don't apply to exploring beneath the sea.
But I agree that it could be a lot simpler than this. It is absurd to me that in this day and age some seven, eight years after the Air France
disaster that we still have to go out to sea.
Enter into this unknown world to try to find the recorder so that we can figure out what happened when we're perfectly capable of streaming that
information live from the aircraft.
GORANI: Right. It's the question I've heard most often which is why I was asking you. What about these black boxes? They do emit pings, right? But
is it just too deep -- the receptors are too deep underwater, is the one of the issues?
GALLO: Yes, they are very touchy especially in deep water and at least in this area there are no very large mountains. In the area of Air France 447
and in the area of Malaysian Air 370 there are mountains at the bottom of the ocean that dwarf any mountain ranges on land.
At least in this place, it's deep, yes, but it is relatively smooth and flat and maybe covered with sediments. But still to hear the pingers you
have to be very close and conditions have to be just right for you to pick up pingers.
And there is a lot of false alarms. If you remember that from Malaysian Air 370. How many times we were told we heard the pings and it turned out
not to be the pings. Horrible for the families of the victims.
GORANI: And the Egyptian -- absolutely. I mean, I always -- every time we report one of these stories I try to imagine that one of the families is
watching us to get the latest information. It's always difficult.
Let me ask you a little bit, though, about finding luggage or things like that. What does that tell us about -- how close are we getting once we
find that type of debris?
GALLO: Yes, again, it is hard to say. I have a hard time like you getting around the emotional side of it, the human side of it and thinking about
personal effects and human remains and all that.
But you have to assume -- well, could be one of two things. One, the plane came apart in mid-air, in which case the wreckage will be spread out over a
very wide area or, two, that when Air France 447, it more or less hit the water in the same spot. And that's one of the things you want to try to
get at by looking at the pieces of the debris.
Certainly with Air France 447 we could tell by looking at the pieces of the debris that the plane had pretty much hit tail first and intact on surface
of the Atlantic Ocean just by looking at different seats and galleys and doorways and things like that, about how they were deformed by the impact.
GORANI: What does it tell you about how close, you know, people were searching for the plane are to the main body of the wreckage?
GALLO: That's -- I'm sorry. It depends. The fact that they found wreckage so soon after the impact, it couldn't have drifted that far.
Maybe a few tens of miles or kilometers. So it must be -- they must be in the right place. But you still want to limit it down to about a ten-mile
radius circle so that the haystacks to look for the needle in is fairly small. They may be close.
GORANI: All right, David, let's hope so. David Gallo, thanks very much for joining us. We really appreciate your expertise.
GALLO: My pleasure.
GORANI: Thirty extra intelligence officers will be deployed on the ground at Charles de Gaulle Airport from next month. Officials didn't clarify if
the increase is a direct response to Thursday's Air Egypt crash.
The flight as you all by now took off from that airport. Charles de Gaulle handles 65 million passengers a year. It is Europe's second-biggest
airport. Earlier the French Junior Aid Minister, Juliette Meadel told CNN about safety specifically at Charles de Gaulle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIETTE MEADEL, FRENCH JUNIOR MINISTER OF AID TO VICTIMS: Charles de Gaulle which is our biggest airport, is the most secure airport with Tel
Aviv Airport. We really have the most impressive system to protect people and I am really confident, but -- but you can't avoid anything. There's
zero risk does not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:15:00]GORANI: Let's get more now on all of that angle specifically from CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank. He joins me now live from
Brussels. How much concern is there, Paul, that something happened at Charles de Gaulle before that flight took off?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Hala, they're certainly looking into that possibility, but it is not the dominant hypothesis for
investigators right now. Not clear of course whether this is terrorism at all at this point.
But there has been concern that Charles de Gaulle Airport and the other airports in Paris about some radicalization among airport staff since the
"Charlie Hebdo" attacks in January 2015, about 85 airport workers have had their security badges revoked because of radicalization.
About 86,000 have access to secure areas at Charles de Gaulle Airport, to give you some idea of the numbers. But the one good news story here as far
as Charles de Gaulle and the other Paris airports are concerned and European airports, more generally, is the fact that there are very rigorous
security protocols in place to protect against the insider threat.
According to E.U. regulations, airport workers, to gain access to secure areas, sensitive, critical parts of the airport, have to go through the
same kind of screening as passengers and those modern state of the art machines are very good and detecting explosives.
It would have been difficult for a terrorist group to get a bomb on a plane at Charles de Gaulle airport. If it was easier we'd see a lot more
terrorist attacks, a lot more bombings, because after all, that's the Holy Grail for these terrorist groups.
So Hala, concern about Charles de Gaulle, but also concern about some of the other airports that this plane was in in the hours before this event,
notably in Africa, in the Middle East, Tunis, Cairo, Eritrea.
The Achilles heel of the global aviation system has been airports in the developing world where they haven't got the same rigorous security as in
Europe and the United States.
GORANI: But let's talk about this because it was floated very early on by the Egyptians the fact that they believe most probably this plane crashed
as the result of a terror attack and not a mechanical problem, although we have absolutely no evidence to support terrorism.
But what we do have are -- is what we do have for sure is an absence of a claim of responsibility and at this stage it is unusual. I mean, you'd
think that anybody who pulls something off like this would want to publicize it and trumpet their achievement. Wouldn't you?
CRUICKSHANK: You're absolutely right, Hala. Now what we're 43 hours after this event, no credible claims of responsibility. Frankly, no claims of
responsibilities at all from any of the major terrorist groups. Silence from ISIS has been deafening.
They've claimed responsibility for all sorts of other operations in the intervening period in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, but nothing on this
And to give you one point of comparison, they brought down that jet over the Sinai Peninsula in October, the Russian jet. They claimed
responsibility within five hours of that attack.
Al Qaeda has taken longer in some instances, but we're getting to the point where this is kind of puzzling why there is no claim of responsibility.
And it may actually start now to point away from terrorism as the cause of this tragedy. But obviously we'll have to see.
GORANI: All right, absolutely. Paul Cruickshank live in Brussels, thanks very much for that. We'll catch up with Paul a little bit later as well.
Still to come tonight, the co-pilot of the EgyptAir flight was going to get married soon. We'll hear from him -- about him from his uncle as well.
Stay tuned for that.
And people in Cairo are praying for everyone who was on board Flight 804. We'll tell you about some of the victims of the crash. All that and much
more when we come back.
GORANI: Mosques across Cairo were full of prayers for the people who lost their lives in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804. Thirty of the 66 people
on board were Egyptian. With the investigation under way, officials say they've found nothing so far to implicate the flight crew.
Our Ian Lee spoke to mourners and the uncle of the co-pilot.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day of prayer and mourning in Egypt. Many still in shock 24 hours after EgyptAir Flight 804 crashed.
For the world, 66 people presumed dead. At this mosque, they were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and friends. Co-pilot Mohammad Assem
(ph) was about to get married.
YASSER ABDEL GHAFFAR, UNCLE OF CO-PILOT: Again, he is absolutely a very kind person. You'll never see a guy his age (inaudible) humanity and sense
of humor. He was really growing smiles on our faces. What happened is really, really very much unfortunate.
LEE: Amid the tears, anger at the suggestion from some the pilots could have intentionally crashed the plane.
HASHAM ASSEM, UNCLE OF CO-PILOT: If this is the case of those two pilots without even going through the process of investigations?
LEE: Some family members avoided the mosque, not ready to mourn, hoping against all odds their loved ones are still alive. But hope fades quickly
as searchers recover the wreckage, including body parts.
LEE (on camera): It seems like things are playing out all over Egypt. It is not just family members or friends who are mourning these people, it is
an entire country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so sad because we are one team, we are friends. We are family.
LEE (voice-over): As the country comes to grips on how they died, loved ones find it important to remember how they lived. Ian Lee, CNN, Cairo.
GORANI: With so few clues on the crash, families are struggling to understand just what happened to their loved ones. They just want
Let's get more on some of those who were on board EgyptAir Flight 804. Our Miguel Marquez joins us now live from New York. We're starting to learn
the identities of some of the passengers -- Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is the hardest task in these situations. A lot of those families going to the airports in both
Cairo and in Paris looking for information from officials, not hearing so much at the moment and some of them leaving very frustrated.
Those who were on the plane, we know that Richard Osmond from Wales, 40 years old. He leaves two infant daughters behind. This is a guy who was a
geologist. His brother spoke briefly about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALASTAIR OSMAN, BROTHER OF VICTIM: Richard is a very kind person, loving person, very focused. He was a workaholic. He never deviated from the
straight path. So yes, he was just, you know, a very admirable person. I think a lot of people admired him for his strength and values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now Ahmed Halal was a 40-years-old. He was a director of a facility for Procter & Gamble in France. He was on the way to Cairo to
visit his very sick father. It is a very tough situation for that family now.
Marwa Hamdi, she was a mother of three, the Facebook page for school where her three children attended, posted this, "She was a devoted and loving
mother, always there to offer a helping hand with a pure smile."
[15:25:01]We're also learning about a 51-year-old from France that he loved the local rock scene, a guy named Pasqual Hess. There are some reports he
almost missed the flight because he lost his passport the week before the flight took off and he almost had to cancel his trip.
The flight attendant, the principal flight attendant on the trip, had just been married. She was just starting off a new life. Ten crew members
total, 56 passengers. Two of them infants and the grief just setting in -- Hala.
GORANI: We really hope that these families will get answers very, very soon. It is absolutely heartbreaking. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much
for that report.
This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Up next, another girl is freed from the clutches of Boko Haram's terrorists. The controversy over her identity is
flaring up. We'll have the full story after a break.
Also, Thursday's crash was not the first incident involving EgyptAir. We look at the airlines' troubled history. That's also coming up a little bit
later in the program. Stay with CNN.
GORANI: Welcome back. A look at your top stories. Search teams have recovered human remains, luggage, and aircraft seats they say belong to the
downed EgyptAir plane. The cause of the crash is being investigated but the focus remains on a potential act of terror. We'll have more on this
story in a moment.
Also among the stories we're following, a curfew has been imposed across Baghdad until further notice. The order came after hundreds of protesters
stormed the heavily fortified green zone and invaded at least one government building. Security forces used tear gas and live bullets to
push back the crowds. Witnesses say dozens were injured.
Taiwan has sworn in its first female president, Tsai Ing-Wen. Her party won the elections by a landslide as voters took a step back from increasing
dependence on China. Tsai says she will maintain communications with Beijing, but China has criticized her speech as vague on relations between
the two countries.
Also this, Chibuk residents are disputing a claim by the Nigerian Army that it has found another abducted schoolgirl. The military claim she was one
of more than 200 kidnapped by Boko Haram two years and the second found this week.
However, some locals and activists say she was actually taken from her home and is not on the list of the missing girls from Chibuk.
CNN's David McKenzie is in Abuja, Nigeria with more. So we have that good news a few days ago that one of the Chibuk girls and she was ID'ed so we
believe she indeed was one of the Chibuk girls was found. This one though we're not so, David, tell us more.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Hala, certainly as you described, the activist we spoke to said that
(INAUDIBLE) who was freed on Thursday by the military, along with 97 other women and girls, is not, in fact, one of the Chibok girls, say those
activists, but they are, "rejoicing," nevertheless.
You know, I put the question to a senior member of the Nigerian military. He sort of skirted the answer of the earlier report saying this was a
Chibok girl, but did say it's important not to focus just on those more than 200 girls who are missing from Chibok, but on anybody who is released.
And it must said, that more than 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, Hala. Of course, though, the focus has been
because of the worldwide attention on those girls from Chibok and it was very good news in Nigeria, this week, when Amina Ali was rescued or escaped
from Boko Haram and managed to get out. Hala?
GORANI: All right, just keeping our eye on some other news, but just to ask you one more question about the young lady here who was found. What
happens next in terms of - in terms of her fate now? Tell us more about that.
MCKENZIE: Well, that's a very good question, Hala, because for many of the girls, including some that we've met over the past few months, they are
fearful of being ostracized by the community, particularly, if they have given birth or pregnant with a child that was conceived by - through a Boko
Now, Amina Ali, the young girl who was released, who was from Chibok, did have a 4-month-old young girl. She did come out of the forest, out of the
stronghold of Boko Haram, with a "husband." Now, the activist I spoke to from Bring Back Our Girls said the good news here is possibly because of
all the worldwide attention, that young girl has been accepted by her family.
HADIZA BAKA USMAN, ACTIVIST, BRING BACK OUR GIRLS: She's gone through a lot, she has been traumatized and what is important is the fact that she's
being accepted with her baby. I was with her for hours today with her mom, and her mom has embraced the baby. Her mom has carried the baby, and it's
an indication that the community would accept Amina is not looked at as somebody that should be seen as an outcast.
MCKENZIE: Well, so Hala, many more girls and women are kidnapped by Boko Haram. Now the army is hoping to move in more quickly to help rescue them.
GORANI: David McKenzie in Abuja, Nigeria. Thanks very much.
Let's bring you some news just in here now. Officers have cleared the White House north lawn, that is the side on Pennsylvania Avenue on
Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. This happened Friday afternoon. It is ongoing, a security incident, we understand on White House grounds. Now,
serious enough, apparently, that officers drew guns and ordered the reporters who are usually positioned on the inside of the White House gates
on the White House grounds, to move inside.
An officer described the White House as in "Condition Red," now we have contacted secret service for more information on this, but what you're
seeing here are live images of the White House grounds here, and we are going to - we are going to speak soon to one of our White House producers,
Kevin Liptak, who is not from where this incident and this security situation is developing, again, on White House grounds.
This is what we know. We're talking about the north lawn here, xo this is not - when you see one of our reporters on the air at the White House, on
the other side of the wrought iron gates, and they are not very far from this location, the reporters have been ordered back into the briefing room,
inside the White House as a security incident unfolds.
This is happening on the Pennsylvania Avenue side. If you've ever visited Washington, D.C. and you've walked past the White House and you've seen the
White House from the other side of those black gates, this is the Pennsylvania Avenue side.
This is what you're seeing. There's a park behind it. It's called Lafayette Park. This is more or less where we believe the incident has
taken place. Now, what is important to note I that the president, President Obama is not at the White House today. He's actually outside of
this area completely because he is golfing. So he would not be involved in having to deal with any of this.
White House Produce Kevin Liptak joins me now, on the telephone, with more. Kevin, what can you tell us about what's going on right now?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN PRODUCER: Hey, Hala. So as I heard you mention earlier, the press, staff has been ordered inside the White House, and that's
because - what we're hearing - is there's been a shooting somewhere in the vicinity to the executive mansion. The U.S. Park police which has
jurisdiction over the White House grounds said on Twitter that there had been a shooting on West Executive Drive.
Now West Executive Drive is on the White House grounds. It's inside these gates; it's the driveway that separates the West Wing from the Eisenhower
Executive Office Building. It's very close to the White House itself. Obviously, having security need to get into that area so it's not exactly
clear how something like that would have happened.
Obviously, details are still very sketchy at this point. As you mentioned, also, the president isn't at the White House right now. He's out at Joint
Base Andrews in Maryland, about a 25-minute drive away from the White House, playing an afternoon round of golf.
So the president isn't here at the moment, but there is, obviously, a very high insecurity presence here. I was outside on the North Lawn, when this
all seemed to have gotten underway. Officers, uniformed secret service officers walked the lawn without guns drawn.
They described themselves as in "Condition Red." I'm not exactly sure what "Condition Red," means, that's, obviously, a phrase that means different
things in different law enforcement agencies.
GORANI: Stay with me, Kevin, one moment. I just want to tell our viewers that we have information just coming in that an alleged shooter is down and
in custody. I'm really reading off this news alert. I'm actually discovering this news at the same time I'm reading.
The suspect, who allegedly opened fire on the White House complex, is down and in custody, I'm reading, according to a law enforcement source who has
spoken to CNN. All right, Kevin, tell us more about, really, the lay of the land here, where we understand the alleged shooting took place, once
LIPTAK: So, as I said, according to the U.S. Park police, which has jurisdiction over the White House grounds, this shooting happened on West
Executive Drive. As I said, that's within the White House complex. It's inside the gates. It's the driveway, as I said, separates the West Wing,
which is attached to the you know, the big white building that our international viewers will recognize and the Eisenhower Executive Office
building which is next door, where offices are housed.
This is a pretty heavily trafficked driveway. A lot of people normally walking around during the day. People, if they have a certain security
clearance and pass, are actually able to park on West Executive Drive. And that is where, according to the U.S. Park police on Twitter, this incident
Obviously, the details are still pretty early, at this point, but as you mentioned, a law enforcement source is telling our Peter Morris, that the
suspect who did allegedly open fire here at the White House is down and is in custody. Any more information that we have is still sort of pending.
We've pinged the secret security. We've pinged the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police department. All of them still sort of gathering
details on this as we sort of await the (INAUDIBLE). As I should mention, we're still not being allowed out on the North Lawn. We're sheltering
inside the White House now in the briefing room, in the press area. And just sort of waiting until we can get some more details about what,
exactly, is taking place.
GORANI: But to get as far as the - I mean, as west as West Executive Drive, you need security clearance, right? I mean, you go through metal
detectors, you go through security, yes.
LIPTAK: Absolutely. Absolutely. Even myself and even those with press passes aren't allowed on West Executive Drive. We're sort of confined to
our specific area of the White House, and so in order to get over there, it requires either a White House hard pass, which is only obtained after going
through the secret service background check. Or if you're a visitor, your name is cleared through. You have to give them all kinds of personal
information, like your birthday and your social security number, to even get into the White House at all.
So it would be - it would be a huge surprise if someone was able to bring a gun and open fire on the West Executive Drive at the White House. As I
said before, that information coming from the Park Police which has jurisdiction over the White House campus.
We're still trying to figure exactly how that happened. We don't know that yet, but you're right, that would be extremely difficult to bring a gun
into the White House. When you come in through the gates, you go through a metal detector. Your bags are put x-ray machines. It would be a very,
very hard thing to do, to bring a gun into the White House, unless you're a secret service agent, I suppose, they obviously, carry guns around the
But, otherwise, it would be almost impossible.
GORANI: How far is this area is this area, but Kevin, how far is this area from where we're used to seeing the President, the Oval Office, those areas
that are so familiar to our viewers?
LIPTAK: Sure, sure. So the West Executive Drive is probably only, maybe, 100 feet from the West Wing, it abuts the West Wing. When you see people
sometimes, when we have big visitors here at the White House, you see them drive up West Executive Drive and get out of their car at the West Wing
They get out of their car and they can walk right into the West Wing, and the West Wing, of course, is where the Oval Office is. It's where the
Roosevelt Room is. The cabinet room. All of these places where the President conducts his business. You know, I should say again, as people
are just joining us, the President isn't here at the White House right now.
He's outside of Washington playing golf at an Air Force base, but all of his aids, of course, are still here. All of the press is still here, like
it's still a very busy day at the White House. It's a Friday, it's a workday, and so, it is in very close proximity to all these places where
the business of the White House is conducted.
GORANI: And do we know the whereabouts of the First Lady and the President's two daughters?
LIPTAK: I don't have those whereabouts now, and I wouldn't want to, necessarily, speculate, about where they would be at this time of day.
GORANI: All right, let's - I just want to recap for our viewers and, Kevin, do stay with us. We understand the press has been ordered to
shelter inside, and, Kevin, you're inside the briefing room. You've been ordered off the North Lawn, after we understand a shooting took place on
West Executive Drive.
This is a highly secure area on White House grounds inside of those iron gates if you have visited Washington, D.C. or if you have seen the White
House on television or in films, you can imagine that this is a secure area on White House grounds.
And we understand, as well, from a law enforcement source who has spoken to our producer, Peter Morris, that a suspect who allegedly opened fire on the
White House complex, is currently in custody and is down, according to that law enforcement source.
So Kevin, talk to us a little bit more about what's going on where you are. All the reporters have been ordered off the North Lawn. What were you
told, exactly when that happened?
LIPTAK: Well, I should say that - so we were standing out on our North Lawn position. You may have been there, Hala, before, that's where
reporters stand to do our live shots. We were there sort of enjoying the day, and we noticed that the masses of tourists who congregate on
Pennsylvania Avenue, which is right outside the gates of the White House, were being told an in very urgent manner, to get back off of the street and
move away from the White House and move through the park - Lafayette Park - which is just on the north side of the White House.
Move all the way to the other side of the park. That, in and of itself, isn't necessarily rare. Sometimes they'll clear that park if there's a
motorcade coming through. Or things like that. And after we saw that happen, the uniform secret service agents sort of coming up to us on the
White House North Lawn, the Pebble Beach location; it's just where all these cameras are set up and told us to get inside the White House.
They told, as I said, that we were in "Condition Red," and that was sort of the last we heard from them. They got us all inside, and we're staying
inside and we haven't necessarily heard from them yet. We're waiting to hear more from the secret service about what, exactly, is happening here at
the White House today.
GORANI: And what is "Condition Red," exactly?
LIPTAK: I think, as I said, I think that phrase means different things to different law enforcement agencies. I, obviously, would note sort of an
elevated level of security, but I'm not sure, exactly, what the specific details of that would be for the secret service exactly.
Obviously, for them it meant some degree of urgency getting these people cleared from Pennsylvania Ave. and Lafayette Park. It meant clearing us
from the White House lawn. But as I said, I'm not exactly sure what the specific details of a "Condition Red," would be.
GORANI: I mean, certainly it sounds like this is a heightened state of alert. Certainly, I can imagine that many of the secret service there are
in, you know, very concerned with what allegedly and reportedly happened there on West Executive Drive. Do we understand that the shooting took
place - was the shooting directed, do we know in what direction any of the shooting if, indeed, it was a shooting, took place?
Was it on a building or an individual, do we have any kind of detail there?
LIPTAK: We don't have those details yet. We don't have details about who the suspect was or what his intent was or what direction he was firing his
weapon. Those details, I'm sure, will be coming out soon given what we have been reporting, which is that this person is down and in custody. We
sort of assume that he would be interrogated or questioned about what, exactly, his goals were in coming to the White House.
And as we are reporting, shooting a gun in the vicinity of the executive mansion. But at this point, those details just aren't known. We were
waiting very much to find out what, exactly, his goals were or hers. We don't know if it was a man or a woman.
GORANI: We don't know if it's a man or a woman, we don't know what the target might have been. This is alleged shooter and it's a reported
shooting on White House ground, but again, I'd like you to remind our viewers that getting that far into White House grounds is not something you
can do without massive security checks and clearance.
LIPTAK: Yes, exactly, exactly. I mean, there are many points of entry that you can get into the White House. I mean, there's probably at least
five or six ways entry gates that visitors or staff or people like us who report on the White House can gain access to the White House grounds. It's
not an easy thing to do. It's not something that you can just walk up to and ask for entry.
You need either a hard pass that has your picture on it and that you've gone through several layers of background checks for them to grant to you.
It would take months and months for them, after you've applied for a hard pass, to get it processed and completed.
And if you're just a visitor, you have to submit all kinds of sensitive information that would allow them to check your background. They ask for
birthday and where you were born, your social security number, and those things aren't necessarily - those are things that they can look through and
find whether there's anything in your past that maybe you shouldn't have access to the White House.
You know, even after you've gone through all that, once you arrive to these gates, you need to go through a metal detector. You have to put your bag
an x-ray machine, it's a lot like going to the airport. And those things aren't things that the secret service takes lightly. They, obviously, are
very serious about keeping the White House grounds safe and keeping the people here protected.
I should say, Hala, we're getting some new information from our law enforcement sources, and this information indicates that a suspect
approached at a checkpoint that was near the White House at State Place and E Street. So this conflicts with what the Park Police were saying on their
State Place and E Street is outside of the White House grounds. It's one of those checkpoints that you would go in .
LIPTAK: . Seeking access to the grounds. This law enforcement source this suspect brandished a weapon at that checkpoint, at State Place and E
Street, and then three sources familiar with the incident, say the secret service shot this male suspect. He was shot in the abdomen and then taken
So that's sort of the latest information that our law enforcement sources are telling us at this point.
GORANI: How far is State Place and E Street from the White House gate?
LIPTAK: State Place and E Street from the White House gate, I mean, State Place, that intersection is an entry point into the White House, so when
our law enforcement sources say that that's where the shooting occurred, they're saying that it occurred at the checkpoint. So this would be at one
of the places where you gain entry into the White House.
GORANI: I see.
LIPTAK: Now how far is that from sort of the White House that we're seeing on TV, the West Wing? It's probably, maybe, it would probably be like a
two-minute walk from the State Place and E Street checkpoint to get you to the West Wing of the White House. It's not far at all.
GORANI: But still, if this is accurate, this information, then the suspect never made it onto White House grounds, correct?
LIPTAK: According to this latest information, that would be what they would indicate. If they were - if they had been shot in the abdomen at
State Place and E Street, then they would not have been able to make it into the White House grounds, but of course, that's contrary to what the
Park Police had reported earlier on their Twitter.
So there's still some conflicting information going around. Of course, it would make a lot more sense if this occurred outside the grounds because,
as we've been saying, it would be almost impossible to bring a weapon into the White House on your own.
GORANI: All right. Kevin Liptak, thanks so much for all this information. Great job there keeping us to date. Kevin Liptak, who along with other
journalists at the White House, was ordered off of the North Lawn. They are now holed up in the briefing room.
There was, apparently, a major security incident at first reported on White House grounds, but a law enforcement source telling CNN that, perhaps, this
happened right at the checkpoint outside of the White House, but a suspect approached that checkpoint at State Place and E Street, which is just about
a two-minute walk from very sensitive buildings at the White House and sensitive wings at the White House.
That the suspect then brandished a weapon, that it was a male suspect, that he was then shot in the abdomen and taken into custody. This contradicts
what some of the other law enforcement sources have said previously on Twitter pages, saying that this happened on White House grounds. So this
would be -
There is quite a big discrepancy here between these versions of events. We're continuing to follow this breaking story, and we'll bring you as
accurate information as possible. Intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer, joins me now on the line.
So, Bob, the latest information, according to the law enforcement source speaking to CNN is that a suspect approached the main gate, essentially one
of the checkpoints into the White House, brandishing a weapon. He was shot. Clearly, this is a very, very secure area, and anybody who is going to
present a threat, approaching the White House gates, is certainly going to be dealt with, and it looks as though, this is what happened, Bob.
BOB BAER, INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I've been through those gates. They're armored, bullet-proof glass, multiple officers are in the
checkpoint. They are carrying automatic weapons. It would be very, very difficult to get on the White House lawn with a frontal assault like that.
Then again, the White House is a fairly small area, and it'd be very easy to get close to it and get into - some sort of fight with the guards there.
GORANI: All right.
BAER: You know what disturbs me about American politics these days is there's so much anger than this is almost inevitable.
GORANI: All right. Law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander, is also with us, I understand. Cedric, can you hear me?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I hear you.
GORANI: Yes, let me ask you about your thoughts on what law enforcement sources are telling CNN, that a suspect - a male suspect - approached a
checkpoint, really at the gate of one of the - essentially, one of the ways into the White House at State Place and E Street, that he waved around a
weapon, it appears as though that happened, and that he was shot in the abdomen has been taken into custody.
What do you make of what you're hearing here, the latest information on this breaking story?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think it's important to keep in mind this incident just occurred, so you're going to probably get a number of conflicting
statements because it's very early in this event, and, also, in the investigation. But I certainly do believe that as the evening continues
on, more and more information will be given out to us where we can begin to draw some type of picture of what may have occurred.
But it's not unusual, at this point, for all your law enforcement agencies, both at the federal level, of course, and state and locals, who - I'm quite
sure - are all part of this team in securing the White House and not just the White House itself, but all of the federal buildings in and around D.C.
GORANI: And would this, Cedric, just one question to you, this is standard operating procedure, right, to ask - even though it appears happened
outside of the gates, to ask, for instance, reporters and other people on the North Lawn and other parts of White House grounds, to shelter indoors?
ALEXANDER: Absolutely, absolutely. We want to make sure - they want to make sure that everyone is secure, but in addition to that, it's very
important that, as this investigation proceeds even after the shooting of the suspect, we still - there's still going to have to be determinations
made to as whether he was a lone gunman or whether he was with others. So there's a lot, still, that has to be determined.
So yes, people have to be put in a secure place, accounted and - but here again - as throughout the course of the evening, I think more and more
information will give to us where we can pretty much probably draw much more conclusive, I guess (ph) they'll come to more of a conclusion of what
may have happened here.
GORANI: Bob Baer, we're hearing from a source who's spoken to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, who was told by a law enforcement
source, that the suspect was, indeed, shot. He's going to the hospital. However, the sources are saying it's not believed that this person was
threatening the White House, that he wasn't trying to infiltrate the White House or to jump the fence. So if this is the case, perhaps, this is just
a simple you know, sort of a simple situation involving a threatening individual with a weapon here?
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's clearly - at this point - I'd say he was disturbed, mentally disturbed, but the White House
guards have had so many incidents that they have no choice to figure this out. And, you know, anybody who shows a gun around the White House is
going to get shot. So this was, you know, according to procedures, the reaction.
GORANI: Yes, and you mentioned, Bob, that you've gone through those very gates. Describe to us what the checkpoint is like there. I mean, clearly
you have to go through security checks and x-ray machines and the like.
BAER: Yes, getting into the White House, there's x-rays, secret service guards. There's D.C. police, Park police. It's probably one of the most
protected parts of Washington, D.C., and everybody's in uniform carrying weapons, all the guard boots, whether they're going to the National
Security Council, Eisenhower Building or the White House gates, are bullet- proof against heavy weapons. Multiple backups, people roving the lawn and the rest of it.
And there's just no chance anybody brandishing a weapon could get to the White House. They could put some rounds in it, but that's the most they
GORANI: All right. CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Jonathan Gilliam, is joining me as well, and Johnathan, you're hearing - I think you had an
opportunity to hear all the latest developments here on this breaking news story, as we continue to bring you live images from the Washington, D.C.
just outside of the White House gates.
It appears as though this individual, according to at least one law enforcement source, Jonathan, was not trying to get inside the White House
grounds, but as Bob Baer was saying, if you have a weapon and you're anywhere near the White House, obviously, it's going to lead to a very
JONATHAN GILLIAM, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you have to remember, the White House itself, the outer area of the White House is basically a
park. I mean, that's where people - it's a tourist attraction, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world, so it wouldn't be any different
outside of the White House than if you went to something in Central Park and brandished a weapon.
If there's law enforcement there, you're probably going to end up getting shot, so when you combine that with the fact that the White House is a
terrorist target is where the powerful individual in the world basically lives, of the free world, now you have well-trained individuals that are
very aware and alert.
And they're going to react. There's no way they're not going to react. And that's what they're there for.
GORANI: All right, Juliette (INAUDIBLE), your thoughts on what we're hearing today as we've been following this breaking news. She joins us as
well, Juliette (ph).
JULIETTE (PH): Hi. You know, part of what I would add to this is that we're just clearly in a threatened height environment, and obviously,
people are still determining in Egypt, and then you just had a number of incidents around the globe. And so, what may seem like an extreme
response, isn't when you think of the context of where he was, who he was close to, and other aspects of this situation.
I think that this will not be a story in a couple hours. It's just one of those incidents that sort of adds to the tightened alert that we're in.
GORANI: All right, certainly, we've been reporting for the last - more than 24 hours now on that Egypt Air flight, and this is an environment
where one of the first instincts that we have because we've seen so much of is that there, you know, a security threat against some of these high
profile western targets, and there is no higher profile target than the White House.
Bob Baer, quickly before we wrap up this hour, you know, it appears as though, perhaps, according to at least one source, this individual wasn't
trying to get inside the gate, but there you have it. I mean, this is the environment we're living in right now.
BAER: Wherever these people are operating in the wake of the Paris attacks. They see a weapon; you have to respond immediately because you don't know
if there's multiple attackers. You do not have time to question these people. And you just don't know whether they're going to open up fire and
where it's going to come from, and the secret service is in a very, very difficult position. And they have to react quickly.
GORANI: Bob Baer, thanks very much. Juliette Kayyem, our National Security Analyst; Jonathan Gilliam, thanks to everyone who's joined us. Cedric
Alexander, as well. Kevin Liptak, our White House Producer. A great team (ph) they're here to bring you up on some of this breaking news.
Just to quickly recap in a few seconds before we get you to Jack Tapper on our sister network, CNN USA.
A suspect who allegedly opened fire on White House - near White House grounds - is now down and in custody. Reports that he was just at the
checkpoint, the entrance to the White House on - I should say - on State Place and E Street. The suspect, we understand, perhaps, brandished a
weapon according to some reports, and the male suspect was shot in the abdomen. He was taken to the hospital right now. We understand, as well,
that, according to a law enforcement analyst, that perhaps, he was not trying to get into White House grounds.