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STATE OF THE UNION

Explosion Injures 29 in New York City; Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine; President Barack Obama's Plea To African- Americans; Russia's Influence In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired September 18, 2016 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:18]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New York on edge. An explosion injures 29, and police find a second pressure cooker bomb blocks away.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: All hands are on deck. Injuries are significant.

TAPPER: Who is behind the bombs? We will have all the latest details.

And two candidates, two very different reactions. How would each as president handle a terrorist attack? Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, will be here. And top Trump adviser Chris Christie joins me in minutes.

Plus, emotional Obama, the president's plea to black voters.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you care about our legacy.

TAPPER: Can the first family turn out the vote?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Elections aren't just about who votes, but who doesn't vote.

TAPPER: Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on edge.

Police in New York scouring surveillance tape to determine what caused an explosion that injured 29 people in Manhattan last night. Police found a second device, a pressure cooker connected to a cell phone, just blocks away from the initial blast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DE BLASIO: There is no specific and credible threat against New York City at this point in time from any terror organization. But we do want to be very clear. The early indications, the initial indications is,this was an intentional act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Also last night, a man in a security uniform stabbed eight people at a Minnesota mall. Witnesses say the man asked at least one of his victims if they were Muslim before he attacked. An off-duty police officer killed the man, who police say was known to them. All of the victims are expected to survive.

And a third incident yesterday in New Jersey, where someone planted three pipe bombs in a trash can along the route of a charity of a Marine Corps race on the Jersey Shore. Only one of those devices detonated. And, thankfully, no one was injured, likely because of a delayed start that meant the runners had not yet gathered when the bomb went off.

I'm joined now by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He's also a top adviser to Donald Trump and a chairman of the Trump transition team.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Governor Christie, thanks so much for joining us.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, Governor, what can you tell us about the explosion in New Jersey? Are there any suspects, any leads? Do officials think there may be a connection to what happened in New York or Minnesota?

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, first off, we don't believe at this time that there is evidence connecting it to the attacks in New York or Minnesota.

The FBI is leading the investigation, along with the New Jersey State Police and our Office of Homeland Security. We have some promising leads, but no suspects at this time. And so we're continuing to work with the authorities to make sure that we bring whoever is responsible for this to justice as quickly as possible.

TAPPER: There must e a lot of suspicion in your mind, though, about a connection to terror, especially with the bombing in New York the same day.

CHRISTIE: Oh, of course there are, you know, but, again, I think one of the things -- and this comes from my background as a prosecutor for seven years, Jake -- you don't want to jump to conclusions. And you don't want to put information out there that you don't know is absolutely true.

And so, as I said, we have some promising leads. We're working with the FBI and our state police to follow them. But, obviously, if you look at a number of these incidents, you can call them whatever you want. They are terrorism, though. There's no doubt about that. They are terrorism.

Now, who is responsible is something else and what the motive was is something else that hopefully we are going to find out in the days ahead. The fortunate thing here in New Jersey is that no one was injured. The race had not start yet -- started yet down at the Jersey Shore.

And so we're very fortunate that no one was injured here. We pray for those people who were injured in those other attacks.

TAPPER: There is a contrast, I would say, between how you're speaking about it and how Mr. Trump spoke about it yesterday. He's being criticized for talking about the New York bomb before local officials or local law enforcement had a chance to do so.

He told a Colorado Springs crowd that a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what's going on. That's really just a few minutes after the incident. And his opponent tried to draw a contrast. She waited hours later, until local officials spoke, and then she said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's important to know the facts about any incident like this. I think it's always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: As a general note, do you think politicians should wait until more information comes in? And should they defer to local official and investigators? Isn't that what you do as the governor of New Jersey?

[09:05:04]

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I don't think you have to defer when saying that there was an explosion and a bomb in New York. I mean, everybody knew that. It was being reported on television, Jake, so there's a difference.

Now, you shouldn't attribute it to any particular organization or group if you don't have the facts or information to do that. But I think that what Donald did was perfectly appropriate to tell that group in Colorado Springs that a bomb had exploded.

This is typical Mrs. Clinton. She has absolutely no basis to be critical of what he did yesterday. But since her campaign is only based upon that, that's the only, you know, issue she could go to. And it's a shame. But it's because of her type of leadership over the last eight years, along with the president, that the world is a much more dangerous place.

TAPPER: His temperament is, of course, a number one issue in the election.

And let me show you two of his recent tweets. After Colin Powell was hacked and private e-mails of his were stolen, some of them saying very critical things of Trump, calling him a national disgrace, an international pariah, Trump tweeted this in response -- quote -- "I was never a fan of Colin Powell after his weak understanding of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq equals disaster. We can do much better."

And then, when Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense under President Bush and President Obama, called Trump in a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed unqualified and unfit to be commander in chief, Trump tweeted this: "Never met, but never liked dopey Robert Gates. Look at the mess the U.S. is in. Always speaks badly of his bosses, many bosses, including Obama."

Last night, he went on to call him a clown, suggested there's something going on with him that we don't know.

Would you tolerate that kind of behavior in a staffer or in one of your children?

CHRISTIE: Jake, a completely ridiculous analogy.

Now, you know, Colin Powell and Robert Gates are allowed to hurl insults at Donald Trump, but Donald Trump is not allowed to respond. This is someone who was secretary of state and another person who was secretary of defense.

The fact is that they hurl insults at Donald Trump, and the standard is, he's not allowed to hurl them back. You know, the fact of the matter is, the American people are tired of that kind of political correctness, Jake. They want people who speak their mind.

Donald speaks his mind. And the fact is, he is not my child and he's not a member of my staff. He's a candidate for president of the United States who was attacked by a former secretary of state and a former secretary of defense in very, very aggressive language.

And so let's not try to kid ourselves here with this analogy, Jake. The fact is, if Secretary Powell and Secretary Gates want to use that language, they can suspect that a strong person will use similar language back.

TAPPER: Well, as a point of fact, Powell did so in a private e-mail that was hacked and then stolen and then published against his will.

But let's move on.

I want to ask you about this birther thing, because you, as governor, as a politician, you have stood up to some of the darker impulses in American politics. You have been clear for a long time that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Donald Trump, by contrast, he clung to the birther lie for years. He still isn't apologetic about it.

Do you understand why so many people, including African-Americans, are upset with him over the issue?

CHRISTIE: Oh, listen, I made my position on it really clear a long time ago.

And Donald has now made his position on it clear, which is that, after the president presented his birth certificate, Donald has said he was born in the United States, and that's the end of the issue.

It was a contentious issue and, by the way, an issue that Patti Solis Doyle of the Clinton campaign in 2008 has recently admitted was an issue that Mrs. Clinton also injected into her campaign in 2008 in a very quiet, but direct way, against then Senator Obama.

And so, you know, the birther issue is a done issue. I have said it's a done issue for a long time. And Donald Trump has said it's a done issue now. And so we need to move on to the issues that are really important to the American people.

And, Jake, I got to tell you the truth. If you think that anyone is going to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or against either one of them based upon this issue, then I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding of the concerns of the American people. Let's move on to the real issues.

TAPPER: Well, just as a point of fact, again, Donald Trump did not accept when Barack Obama released his birth certificate in 2011. He kept up this whole birther thing until Friday. That's five years.

But we only have a little time left. So, I want to ask you...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: No, but, Jake, that's just not true. It's not true that he kept it up for five years.

TAPPER: Sure, he did.

CHRISTIE: It's simply not true.

TAPPER: It is true.

CHRISTIE: It wasn't like he was talking -- no, Jake, it wasn't like -- it wasn't like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then.

And when the issue was raised, he made very clear the other day what his position is.

TAPPER: OK.

Donald Trump is the first presidential nominee since 1976 to not release his tax returns. For many months, the Trump campaign has suggested that it will not release returns because Mr. Trump is under audit.

But, this week, Donald Trump Jr. offered an entirely new explanation. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Because he's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create -- that would create probably 300 million independent financial auditor out of every person in the country asking questions that are going to distract from his main message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:10:02]

TAPPER: Let me also point out that you, sir, have released your tax returns when you ran for governor. So, you are somebody who does believe in this transparency.

Help me understand. Are Mr. Trump's tax returns not being released because Mr. Trump is under audit or because, as Donald Trump Jr. says, the American people couldn't possibly understand them and there would be a whole bunch of twisting and misrepresentations?

CHRISTIE: Donald Trump has made it very clear to me, both privately, and he's made it clear publicly, that it's the advice of his lawyers and his accountants not to release tax returns while he's under audit.

That's the reason that he's told me since late February of this year. And he's been consistent in that position.

And, as far as my tax returns, listen, I have released them. I continue to release them. But I have never been under audit. And so I don't know what advice I would get from my lawyers or my accountants if I was.

But Donald is following the advice of his lawyers and accountants. And I suspect that, if the IRS completes their audit, that Donald will release his tax returns. That's what he's always told me. That's what he has told the American people. And I suspect that's exactly what he will do.

TAPPER: He could release returns not under audit, anything from 2008 beforehand, but he will not.

CHRISTIE: Well, because the advice he's getting from his lawyers and his accountants are that he shouldn't release any of the tax returns until the IRS, which has shown itself, by the way, Jake, to be an aggressive and partisan agency in this administration, closes its audit, and is not able to use the IRS...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But I'm talking about the ones before the audit, before the audit, 2008 and before.

CHRISTIE: Jake, well, I understand.

Jake, I understand exactly what you're saying. His lawyers and accountants have advised him not to release any tax returns until the audit is closed.

And given the partisan history of the IRS and the Obama administration to use the IRS as a weapon against conservative groups and conservative candidates, I don't blame the lawyers and accountants for saying that better safe than sorry when trusting the IRS.

I'll tell you, I bet your listeners and your viewers out there don't trust the IRS as far as they can throw them. And so I don't blame Donald Trump's lawyers and accountants for telling him, until the book is closed and the IRS can't go after you, you shouldn't release your tax returns.

TAPPER: Final question, Governor. The Bridgegate trial is set begin tomorrow. If you are subpoenaed, will you testify?

CHRISTIE: Of course. I have -- of course I will.

I mean, I -- Jake, I have been more open about this than anybody in public life. I have been investigated by three different entities, two of them led by partisan Democrats, who have all found that I had no knowledge of this incident and no involvement in it.

And so I would have no problem if called to testify by either side. But the fact is that I won't because I really don't have any knowledge of this incident at all.

TAPPER: Governor Christie, thank you for your time. We appreciate it. See you out there on the campaign trail.

CHRISTIE: Jake, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. I hope to be back again soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Stay with us.

New details on the victims of last night's explosion in Manhattan, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:51]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

Breaking news this morning, as police in New York are trying to determine who was behind that explosion that shook Manhattan last night. Twenty-nine people were injured, one critically, and this unsettling discovery hours later, a pressure cooker bomb attached to a cell phone.

Of course, pressure cookers were used to create the bombs that killed three and injured hundreds more at the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Also last night, a stabbing attack at a mall in Minnesota. Eight people were injured by a man in a security uniform who asked at least one of his victims if he or she was a Muslim. And also the stabber made a reference to Allah.

Plus, a pipe bomb exploded at a charity military race in New Jersey yesterday, no one injured there, likely because the race got a late start.

Hillary Clinton spoke to reporters last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I have been briefed about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota.

Obviously, we need to do everything we can to support our first- responders, also to pray for the victims. We have to let this investigation unfold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I'm joined now by Clinton's running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Senator Kaine, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You bet, Jake. Glad to be with you.

TAPPER: So, before we turn to the election, I want to start with the explosions that took place yesterday in New York and New Jersey. Is there anything you can tell us about what happened?

KAINE: Well, first, you know, we're really, really thinking about the victims, and just thankful in New York that for as massive an explosion it was, no fatalities, at least as of yet that we know, injuries, and hopefully people will recover quickly.

We don't know too much more. The New York police and the New York mayor are releasing information as they go.

But, look, it just raises the stakes on the need to be really, really smart in dealing with challenges like this, both with the law enforcement community, but also to make sure we're doing what we can to stop any lone wolf attacks in the United States.

Hillary and I both believe this. You know, she was the senator from New York on 9/11 and was there when they were still looking for survivors. And that is seared into her memory. She was part of the national security team that helped restart the hunt for bin Laden.

We know the threat that's out there, and we have a plan to deal with it. TAPPER: I know we're waiting for more details from law enforcement,

but, obviously, someone left those bombs. We also have this person in Minnesota stabbing people at a mall. We don't know anything yet about the people behind these acts.

But is there anything that U.S. law enforcement and counterterrorism officials are not doing right now that they should be doing to keep the homeland safer?

KAINE: Jake, here is the test of this, you know, just to kind of give you the dimension of the battle against terrorism.

There is a battlefield component to it. So, we are waging a punishing war to defeat ISIS on the battlefield. And it's shrinking their space. However, they are looking, as other terrorist groups are, OK, well, we're losing our ground. They're looking for opportunities to engage in terrorist acts in cities.

And that's what they're doing, whether it's in Europe or the United States.

How do you stop that? That's not primarily military. As you point out, it's primarily intelligence and the sharing of intelligence. So, we have to always up our game in the gathering of intelligence. But then we really have to share intelligence with allies.

And if you don't have strong alliances, then, suddenly, you find out that you're weaker, not stronger. So, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, this is something we're always focused on, is the strength of our alliances and our ability to share intelligence, what it needs to be.

TAPPER: Also this morning, there is new tension between the United States and Russia over the U.S. -- what looks like the U.S. sitting Syrian soldiers. The U.S. said it was a mistake, that they thought they were targeting ISIS.

The U.S. has been working closely with Russia in Syria, but the Russians are very angry about the strike.

A year ago, you had some very tough words for President Obama when it came to Syria policy. Take a listen.

[09:20:00]

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

KAINE: In Syria, it's -- the strategy's a joke. We do these one-off actions like try to train 30 people and put them back into the -- into a roiling civil war involving millions. No surprise they get swallowed up in the civil war, killed or captured or defect immediately.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you believe that that's still the case, that U.S. policy in Syria under President Obama is a joke?

KAINE: Jake, we have dramatically improved in the last year. And the proof is in how much ground ISIS has lost.

A year ago, I think you remember, we had a small force that we were trying to put into Syria. And the opening of that was a dismal failure. But now we're taking the fight to ISIS to defeat and destroy them. And if you look at what's happened in the last year, ISIS' territory has dramatically shrunk because of a significant uptick in cooperation between the U.S., the Iraqi military, the Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq, the Kurds in Northern Syria and the Syrian opposition.

We're shrinking their space on the battlefield. This is a regrettable incident yesterday because we weren't targeting Syrian soldiers. But what you have to know is this. We are battling to defeat ISIS. ISIS exists largely because Syria has waged a war against its civilians, killing hundreds of thousands.

Russia can demand that Syria stop its atrocities against its civilians. Russia has always had the ability to mandate a cease-fire, because they're there in Syria. They're Syria's chief backer.

We hope that Russia will stick to the table, stick to the cease-fire agreement, because that's what's necessary to solve this humanitarian crisis.

TAPPER: But, Senator, isn't one of the reasons ISIS exists because of the vacuum that was left in the wake of the decision for U.S. troops to completely withdraw from the region? Isn't that one of the problems?

KAINE: Well, look, we had 175,000 troops in the region when President Obama came into office. And there had been a commitment made by President Bush to pull all troops out of Iraq -- we didn't have troops in Syria -- by the end of 2011.

A former foreign minister of Iraq told me, Jake -- he told me this. He said: "Look, you were willing to stay and help us manage Iraq" -- and we were if we got status of forces agreement. We were willing to stay.

But he said: "But we didn't want you to stay. We kicked you out, and now we regret it."

We pulled our troops out of Iraq because they didn't want us to stay.

And, yes, in Iraq, it spiraled downward. And then, in Syria, where we didn't have troops, it spiraled downward because of the atrocities of Bashar al-Assad.

We can't make governments govern wisely. But what we need to do is, when terrorists pose a threat to allies or to the United States, we need to engage in punishing activity to destroy them. We are now on track to defeat ISIS on the battlefield. But we have got to be sharing intelligence with our allies, so that we can keep America and our allies safe.

TAPPER: Options, of course, are always important. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates just wrote an op-ed for "The Wall Street Journal" in which he said -- quote -- "Mrs. Clinton has ruled out putting U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Syria -- quote -- 'ever again.' That's a politically driven categorical declaration of a sort no president or candidate should make."

Do you stand by Secretary Clinton's declaration that your administration will never put ground troops into Iraq or Syria ever?

KAINE: Well, let me tell you this.

What Robert Gates -- he said, as you know, that Donald Trump is not fit to be president. He has proven himself unfit.

And he wants to see more from Hillary Clinton. But let's talk about ground troops, because I have had extensive discussions with leaders in the region about this question. And the king of Jordan, who is one of America's strongest allies, said: "This is our fight, not your fight. This is a terrorist threat born and bred in this region that claims falsely the religion of the region as its mantle of authority. We have to defeat this threat. And if we're all in to defeat it, we need your help. But it can't be your fight. In fact, that would be a recruiting bonanza for terrorists."

So, the right strategy is for us to train and equip, use air assets. And that is the strategy we're using. And that strategy is -- again, we're shrinking their space on the battlefield, Jake. But now what we have to do is make sure that we're sharing intelligence with allies, not tearing up alliances, as Donald Trump would propose.

We're sharing intelligence with allies, so that we can keep Americans safe.

TAPPER: Senator, I want to turn to politics.

Obviously, Secretary Clinton making a big deal out of the fact that, for years, Donald Trump pushed the birther lie, the false suggestion that President Obama was not born in this country. Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton confidant and friend, was peddling the birther lie in 2008, according to the former Washington bureau chief of the McClatchy news group.

McClatchy says that they went so far as to have a reporter in Kenya look into it because of what Sidney Blumenthal told them. Has Secretary Clinton or the campaign in any way looked into whether Blumenthal was pushing the birther lie?

[09:25:07]

KAINE: Jake, Sidney Blumenthal has categorically denied that. But Sidney's not running for president.

Let's talk about Donald Trump. He started to push this notion in 2011 and has been pushing it for five years. TAPPER: No, that's true. That's true.

KAINE: And I just have to explain...

TAPPER: Yes.

KAINE: But I just have to explain why this is so painful. This just isn't a wacky guy saying something wacky.

But, as you know, Jake, from the time African-Americans arrived here in 1619, through the end of the Civil War, an African-American could not be a citizen of the United States, free or slave, born here or born elsewhere. That's what the Dred Scott decision decided. And we had to change the Constitution...

TAPPER: I got it, sir. I understand.

KAINE: ... so that somebody with African descent could be a citizen.

So, when Donald Trump says that the African-American president is not a citizen, that's so painful to so many people who still have deep feelings about that dark chapter in American life. He -- and he either believed it when he said it for five years, which shows that he's either incredibly gullible or conspiratorial, or he didn't believe it, in which case he was just trying to prey upon people's darkest emotions.

TAPPER: There's no doubt, sir.

KAINE: This is an incredibly painful five-year chapter.

TAPPER: There's no doubt that it's offensive and it's a lie.

But I'm asking you about Sidney Blumenthal, who was banned from joining the Obama administration by the Obama White House precisely because he trafficked in a lot of questionable information about Barack Obama.

If it's true, if there's evidence that Sidney Blumenthal did push the birther lie, should Hillary Clinton disassociate herself from Sidney Blumenthal and should she pledge he will not work in her administration?

KAINE: I have no reason to believe that's true, Jake, none.

But, again, Sidney Blumenthal isn't running for president. Donald Trump is.

And whatever Sidney Blumenthal thought in 2008, by 2011, it was absolutely crystal clear that President Obama was a citizen, because his birth certificate had been released. And yet, for five years, for five years, a candidate for president has pushed a theory that basically calls back the most painful time in American life, when, if you had African descent, you were not allowed to be a citizen of the United States. That's what this is about. And that's why Donald Trump's decision on Friday to try to pull the plug and change the subject isn't sufficient. He owes the public an apology. And somebody should ask him, did you believe it, in which case, how gullible are you, or were you just trying to cynically play to the darkest emotions in American life?

TAPPER: Senator Tim Kaine, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

KAINE: Absolutely, Jake. Glad to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Coming up: After last night's explosion, New York City police are scouring surveillance for clues. Who might have left this pressure cooker bomb behind? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:29]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

New information coming in now on the explosion that shook Manhattan last night. According to a senior law enforcement official, police have not recovered good video showing anyone dropping anything. Some of the videos they do have is, they say, too grainy or dark to see much of anything. Police will go back today and look for more sources of surveillance video.

They did receive a 911 call claiming credit for the fact but they did not find the call credible. Investigators also say, the material from a bomb that exploded in New Jersey yesterday is on route to a lab now to see if it matches up with anything from the New York City explosion.

We have a lot to talk about with our top national security experts with us. Tom Fuentes, CNN senior national security analyst and former FBI assistant director. Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. And Phil Mudd, former CIA counterterrorism official.

Juliette, let me start with you. Why do you think Mayor de Blasio was saying that there's no connection to terror, even while he says this act is intentional?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There's an explanation and it's a legal investigative one. So clearly it's terrorism if you define terrorism as a purposeful targeting of a civilian population. We have a bomb or some explosion in New York and possibly the pipe bomb that might be related to it.

But terrorism as an investigative and legal matter is you have a motivation, mostly a political motivation. Now this might seem like parsing words to the public but let me explain why investigators talk and explain things this way. First of all getting it wrong is really bad. Right? Because you're going to lead investigators in particular the NYPD potentially down the wrong route. But also to call it terrorism in this day and age clearly means ISI. And you don't want to give credit yet, if it's not ISIS related, to an organization that would love to seek it all the time.

So I think part of what de Blasio and the NYPD were doing was asking for space from politicians, from people like us to figure out what this is. And they'll be back at 12:00. So we will have at least some understanding.

TAPPER: And Tom Fuentes, bad news from the NYPD saying that the surveillance video at least initially appears to be too grainy or too dark to get much of anything from it. How big a deal do you think it is if they aren't able to find surveillance video that shows anybody dropping this device?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a big deal. Because not only does it hinder them directly identifying somebody, but it also hinders the public at large to recognize somebody as the person who did that.

[09:35:00]

When the Tsarnaev brothers' video were released in Boston all kinds of friends were calling in saying they recognized the hat, they recognized the way they walk. Clear daytime high resolution videos that solved that case.

But I'd like to make another point about whether to call this terrorism. On the day of the Boston marathon bombing, the commissioner of Boston police went before the microphones at the very first press conference and said, these were not man hole gas line explosions. These were two explosive devices, therefore it's a terrorism case. Therefore the FBI is in charge and I now want to introduce the special agent in charge who will be running the investigation.

So I don't know -- I think there's more politics involved here as to whether the mayor wants to call it terrorism or not. Rather than the actual fact that you don't have to know who took -- who is going to take credit for it? Who is responsible for it? We didn't know in Boston for four days. We didn't know immediately in Orlando. We didn't know immediately in San Bernardino.

The fact that you have an act like this, and it appears to have a motive to scare the public and they're still scared. Even in the neighborhood where the searches go on in New York City. That's what terrorism is all about.

TAPPER: Interesting. NYPD does have its own counterterrorism division.

Phil, you teach at the NYPD. What do you think these law enforcement officials are doing right now to try to determine who is responsible for this, if there is this absence of surveillance video? PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: There's going to be -- despite the absence of the video, Jake, there's going to be an explosion of information.

For example, people calling in, there will be a hotline where you get information. Everything from people who were deranged to people who might have seen something that evening. But remember, we have reports of a second device here. That device is a gold mine potentially of information.

Are there fingerprints on the device? Is there a serial number that indicates where the device might have been sold? There's a -- the question about whether there's a piece of paper recovered near the device. Does that indicate motivation or does that have fingerprints itself? Despite a lack of a photo, Jake, there is a lot of information out here to be exploited the next day or two.

TAPPER: Very interesting.

And, Juliette, you and I spent a lot of time together after the Boston marathon bombing where the Tsarnaev brothers used the pressure cooker bombs. I couldn't help but think about that when I heard police in New York discover this pressure cooker with the cellphone attached it. What does it tell you about this attack if anything?

KAYYEM: So I -- you know, basically this is not a totally sophisticated pressure cooker but it is something that people can do. But the problem with the pressure cooker, it doesn't narrow, for me, the sort of person who could do this. Because as we know, people can do this in their own home. But I do think what we need to determine now, and the NYPD is doing, is these are two separate cased. But you have to assume they might possibly be related.

Phil as he said, you know, there is all sorts of information we can get from that. And then just to remind people, New York has to chew gum and rub its belly at the same time. Tonight the U.N. General Assembly starts. That is a National Special Security Event, NSSE, led by the secret service. So I think you're going to see a surge of resources throughout New York until the sort of high profile event ends, even though there is at least no evidence of future incidents like the one we saw last night.

TAPPER: And, Tom, the mayor of New York said that there -- they -- there is as of this point no connection between the explosions in New York and the bomb in New Jersey. But it can't be a coincidence, can it?

FUENTES: It can.

TAPPER: It can?

FUENTES: Yes. It could be a copycat type situation. But a person had a bomb already made ready to put on a sidewalk, ready to use it. Not one that decides on spur of the moment to make the device and stick it out there. But what happens in cases in different parts of the country, is the

bomb techs that get there, immediately there are all these databases, they get in contact, take photos and immediately transmit it to the bomb techs at the other site. So they are immediately exchanging information on what they see, what wiring they might that determine detonation type of explosive residue. So that exchange happens instantly and continuously ever since the devices are found.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all.

Coming up President Obama calling upon African-American voters not to let Donald Trump win. Will his passionate plea be enough? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:31]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In this election, my name may not be on the ballot. But our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Very emotional president Obama last night at his final congressional black caucus dinner as president. Pleading with African-American Democrats to rise up and block a Donald Trump victory in order to secure his legacy.

Here with me to discuss all of this is more, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, former Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and CNN political commentator, Kevin Madden.

And let me start with you, Mr. Mayor. The idea that Barack Obama is pleading with African-Americans to get out there and protect his legacy, it's an emotional one I'm sure for a lot of people. But also I wonder if it also suggests that the excitement and the turnout is not there right now?

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: I think it suggests that Barack Obama's presidency has been transformational. It has been historic. In many respects it will never be matched.

But also his record of saving the economy from the second great depression. A black high school graduation rate which is high, than it was in 2009. A black unemployment rate which is lower. This is no different than when conservatives in 1988 wanted to put a legacy of Ronald Reagan into the minds of the voters and the issues that he championed.

[09:45:01]

And that's I think what this is about. So we are going to be part of an effort to really lift up the president's legacy and commitment by encouraging people in honor of that. To evaluate the issues and to vote.

TAPPER: One of the big issues in the African-American community in this election is this birther issue.

And I know that you vetoed the bill as governor in 2011 which seemed to be aimed at president Obama proving that they were American citizens and had to present their birth certificates before they went on the ballot. You said that it was too much.

Are you bothered at all by the fact that Donald Trump for so many years, even though as of Friday he's no longer pushing it, pushed this lie that the president wasn't born in the United States?

JAN BREWER (R), FORMER ARIZONA GOVERNOR: Well, I'm very grateful that he came out and he closed the deal. I mean, he believes that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America and he has run for election now twice and was elected as a citizen. So I think that we need to put that behind us and we need to move forward and talk about the things that Mr. Trump is trying to talk about. You know, the economy, jobs, security for sure, and schools. Those are the important issues that people are interested in.

And of course, Donald has gotten great momentum now. They're looking for change. They're looking to go in a different direction. And I think the polls reflect that.

MORIAL: I'd say not so fast, governor. The birther movement was a smear campaign with incredibly racist undertones.

And isn't it convenient that now with 50 days to go, all of a sudden you make a pivot with respect to something that really propelled and promoted you. It was offensive to us. It was offensive to me. It was offensive to Americans.

Not so fast. You can't just sweep it under the rug and say you know what? We closed the deal. Because it's on the minds of people. When I heard it, I didn't have an opinion separate from Donald Trump the candidate, the person. But I thought it was a smear campaign. It sounded like Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

BREWER: You know, mayor -- Jake, even President Obama said yesterday, very clearly that, you know, we have more important things to talk about than where he was born. He knew where he was born. We need to move on.

TAPPER: Neera.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I have to say when you five years ago was able to say that this birther stuff was nonsense and we have the Republican nominee not capable saying it 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and then says this very thing -- the thing he should have said years ago, right? Years ago. And then starts another lie around it it tells you who you can trust honestly.

This is a lie. This was always a lie. And he lied again to say one lie was wrong and that's outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Kevin, let me -- Kevin, let ask you --

BREWER: It's a feeding frenzy on both sides of the aisle. You know, I remember very vividly having -- being governor --

TANDEN: But he created, a feeding frenzy he created.

BREWER: On both sides of the aisle. It was just coming -- it was a -- of course --

TANDEN: It was not both sides of an aisle.

TAPPER: What do you mean by, "Both sides of the aisle"?

BREWER: Well, you have Democrats --

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: No.

TAPPER: Insisting -- insisting that the president was born in United States?

TANDEN: No.

BREWER: All over the --

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: Absolutely false.

BREWER: I was there. I was (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Democrats were doing what?

BREWER: They were saying -- they were questioning where he was born --

TAPPER: Democrats were?

BREWER: Of course.

TANDEN: Who?

TAPPER: I don't know what that is about.

But, Kevin, you were Chris Christie and you heard Governor Brewer there, both people who accepted the fact long ago that what happened in 1961 happened in 1961.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

TAPPER: Obama was born in Hawaii. Do you think that this is it? They're going to be able to end it as Governor Brewer and Chris Christie want it to be over?

MADDEN: Well, I think, if you were to ask me to come up with one thing that would ruin Donald Trump's momentum over the last three weeks, I'd say bringing up the birther thing. And the idea that he can use that stunt that he had at his hotel here in Washington this week just to end it, I think, in many ways it has brought up new questions and in many ways it has put the spotlight again on Donald Trump in a very negative way. I think it's harmful.

It could come up again in the debates. I expect that Hillary Clinton believes that this is going to work to her advantage. And that they'll try and use this to, again, draw very stark contrast on the issues of trustworthiness and competency. I think two -- I think, the trust issue is one that Hillary Clinton particularly has a problem with. And I think they're going to try and now place that burden on Donald Trump on -- with this issue.

BREWER: They want to use what?

TAPPER: Last word Mr. Mayor.

MORIAL: Yes. Look, the most important point is is that you can't separate yourself from your record when you offer yourself for public office.

And this is part of his record, is part of his legacy. It was deeply offensive. It was camouflaged, racism. And I just think -- I just really, really think that the public has to consider all issues and all character traits of every candidate when they vote.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Appreciate it.

Coming up. It may not be a cold war but things were definitely chilly at the United Nations this morning as the U.S. battled Russia. What prompted this fight? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:54:21]

TAPPER: Russia called on Washington this morning to investigate a seemingly accidental strike that killed 62 Syrian troops instead of ISIS fighters lead by the U.S.

The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting to discuss the attack which U.S. ambassador Samantha Power called a stunt given Russia's ties to the Assad regime and lack of action over Syria's strikes on its own people. But Russia's influence over Syria and the Olympics, and even the American campaign trail cannot really be denied. And that is the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Happy birthday, Moscow. The Russian capital turned 869 last week and President Vladimir Putin was spotted in Red Square celebrating.

[09:55:05]

But while he may physically be in Moscow, Putin's fingerprints lately seem to be, well, everywhere. American gymnast Simone Biles found herself defending her gold medal after the World Anti-Doping Agency had its records hacked they say by the Russians. Although the Kremlin denies it.

This week we also got to hear Colin Powell's unvarnished thoughts on the 2016 presidential candidates after will his personal e-mails were stolen and published on a website experts say is tied to Russia. Hillary Clinton did not weigh in on the content of the e-mails but pointed a finger at Putin.

CLINTON: What I think is really important about these e-mails is the chilling fact that the Russians are continuing to attempt or to interfere in our election.

TAPPER: It all leads many people wondering just where Putin might pop up next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for watching.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.