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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Maine Senator Angus King; Interview With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Bombing Suspect Captured; Trump Talks Tough About Bombings, Clinton Talks Steadiness; Bombs Contained Unstable, Homemade Explosive. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 19, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This hour, I will ask New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo for the latest on the investigation.
International connection. Were the bombings inspired or directed by ISIS or another terror group? Tonight, we're learning that Rahami made multiple trips overseas before the attacks. Stand by for new details.
Heightened alert. New York puts 1,000 additional police officers and National Guard troops on the streets, as President Obama and other world leaders gather at the United Nations. We will examine the potential threat to New York tonight.
And candidates respond. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton facing a new commander in chief test after the latest bomb attacks on U.S. soil. How will terror fears shape the very close presidential race and their first debate just one week from now?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, the FBI says the terror suspect now in custody has been directly linked to bombs in three cities. Ahmad Rahami, a U.S. citizen, was arrested after a shoot-out with police that left him and at least four police officers wounded.
New York's mayor says there is every reason to believe the weekend bombings that injured at least 29 people were acts of terror. Tonight, a counterterrorism official says investigators are operating under the assumption that Rahami had help and they hope to learn more when they interrogate him.
Authorities are tracking his overseas travels. Also tonight, CNN has learned that Rahami visited Pakistan as recently as 2013. Law enforcement officials say he also made multiple trips in recent years to Afghanistan, where he was born. We're also told he was not, repeat, not, on the director for radar for a possible radicalization.
Police moved quickly to identify and capture Rahami. He was arrested less than four hours after he was publicly named. A New Jersey bar owner says he spotted Rahami sleeping in the doorway of his establishment after he saw his picture on CNN and then tipped off police. I will get the latest on the bombing investigation from the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. He is standing by live, along with our correspondents and analysts, as we cover all the breaking news.
Up first, let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He has the very latest.
What are you learning, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a pressing question now is, are there still suspects at large?
The NYPD said today they're not actively looking for another bomber, no clear and present danger. But I have spoken to the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, counterterror officials, who say they're still looking to see if Rahami had a support network.
And in fact the operating assumption is that he did have help, that he did not act alone, this after this dramatic arrest and shoot-out earlier today.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, after a shoot-out with police on the streets of New Jersey, the prime suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings is in custody; 28-year-old Ahmad Rahami, as well as four officers were injured in the altercation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard another pop, more pops, and then it kept going, and that's when I saw the police vehicles.
SCIUTTO: Authorities tipped off to his location by a bartender who was watching CNN and recognized Rahami who was asleep in the doorway of the bar.
JAMES P. O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Now that we have the suspect in custody, the investigation can focus on other aspects, such as whether this individual acted alone and what his motivations may have been.
SCIUTTO: A weekend of terror across the two states, including two bombings and the discovery of several unexploded devices.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror.
SCIUTTO: It started at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday in the beach town of Seaside Park, New Jersey. Thousands of people were about to run a Marine Corps charity race when a pipe bomb exploded in a garbage can near the starting line.
Then, that night, panic on the streets of New York City. A bomb built from a pressure cooker explodes. It detonated at approximately 8:30 p.m. on 23rd Street and 6th Avenue, injuring 29, sending panicked crowds scrambling for cover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what hit me. I flew off my feet.
SCIUTTO: Police scrambled, searching the area, and find another suspicious pressure cooker located just several blocks away on 27th Street. Both devices were packed with ball bearings, commonly used in bombs to maximize damage.
Investigators say surveillance football shows a man they believe to be Rahami with a duffel bag at both Manhattan locations. He leaves the bag at the location where police later find the unexploded pressure cooker. A multiple-state manhunt is launched for Rahami after he is identified by a fingerprint left on a cell phone in one of the explosive devices.
At 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, a backpack containing up to five pipe bombs is found in a garbage outside a neighborhood pub and About 500 feet from a train trestle. One of the bombs detonated when police sent a robot in to examine the devices after two men had alerted them.
SCIUTTO: Two focuses of the investigation right now, did he have contact with foreign terror groups? No evidence as yet, but keep in mind, encryption, encrypted communications is always going to be a challenge, and his foreign travel.
He had these multiple trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Did he have "contacts of concern" during that travel? Key focus of the investigation. And it's very early, Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is. All right, thanks very much, Jim Sciutto reporting.
We have more now on the bombing suspect and his travels overseas.
I want to go to our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin. He's on the scene in New Jersey.
What are you learning, Drew?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We know that he came over here to the United States when he was just 7 years old, Wolf, his family seeking asylum back in 1995.
But it's these recent trips, recent trips in recent years to Afghanistan and Pakistan that have investigators scrambling to find out what he met, who he met with and what he may have learned there.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ahmad Khan Rahami and his brother Mohammed traveled to Pakistan as recently as 2013. In this Facebook post, the brother talks about experiencing bombings in Quetta, an area with a strong Taliban presence.
"Another bomb just went off. That's seven bomb blasts in less than 24 hours. WTF," he writes. "We can't even get out of the house."
Another photo shows the suspected bomber relaxing in traditional clothing. He had a wife in Pakistan, according to law enforcement sources. It is this trip and others to Afghanistan that investigators are now looking into.
O'NEILL: As we go forward in this investigation, that's part of what we do. We're going to talk to family, talk to friends, and see what the connections are. This is part of an investigation.
GRIFFIN: An acquaintance remembers Rahami's family telling him about the trip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The oldest brother I hadn't seen him in a long time. So, he was on vacation to Afghanistan, and I was like, oh, all right.
GRIFFIN (on camera): But you got the impression it was an extended vacation, like he was there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. Because of this, it kind of makes sense.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): A bar owner spotted Ahmad Rahami this morning around 9:00 a.m. sleeping in the doorway of his tavern. He recognized him from watching CNN and called police.
Two officers were wounded in the shoot-out, as was Rahami, but he was awake and alert as he was wheeled into an ambulance. Rahami was born in Afghanistan, but is a U.S. citizen. His family came to the U.S. decades ago, seeking asylum. They owned a fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and lived above it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a very friendly guy. You would never suspect this. Terrified. He was hiding in plain sight. We would have never known.
GRIFFIN: Rahami's family claimed to be the victims of discrimination and harassment in this 2011 lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth and its police department.
The suit says a neighbor told them Muslims don't belong here and that they were threatened and harassed by police officers. The mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, said the suit was part of a longstanding feud between the family and the city over late hours and loud patrons at the restaurant.
CHRIS BOLLWAGE, MAYOR OF ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY: There was a lot of congregation going on, a lot of people hanging out. The city council was getting complaints from the neighborhood, at which time they voted to close it at 10:00, which led to some clashes with the police department because the police were enforcing the city county ordinance.
GRIFFIN: Rahami attended Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey, from 2010 to 2012, majoring in criminal justice. He did not graduate. Friends from high school described him as class clown, really funny, popular.
GRIFFIN: And, Wolf, while the forensic investigation continues behind me where he was caught and also where the family restaurant was and perhaps he lived, I think now the investigation is really focusing on communications. Did he have any communications with others that they could possibly track down, Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. I know this investigation is only just beginning. Drew, thank you very much, Drew Griffin reporting.
Joining us now is the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Good to be with you once again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Rahami. I assume he is still in the hospital. Have interrogations, questioning, is he saying anything? Have they actually begun questioning him?
CUOMO: To our information, the best of our information, he hasn't said anything yet. And he has been treated medically. And they haven't really gone into any serious interrogations yet.
BLITZER: Does he have a lawyer yet? Has he asked -- has he been read his Miranda rights, anything along those lines?
CUOMO: Oh, I am sure, before they proceed, they are going to make sure that they're doing it right and they're doing it by the book and he has his rights and he has the right to counsel.
They will be very careful here. This is going to be the next stage of the investigation, as your report just pointed out. Was he acting alone? Did he have co-conspirators? Was there a foreign connection?
We said two days ago, when it started, it was clearly an act of terror. We were not sure whether or not there was an international component, and that's the line of investigation that they're going to pursue now.
BLITZER: Well, we do know he made several trips in recent years to Afghanistan, and then even to Pakistan. He spent almost a year in the city of Quetta in Pakistan, which is a known hub for Taliban activity.
Was he radicalized abroad in Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on everything you know? CUOMO: Yes, well, that is the question. And we're getting a lot of
information, and you have to -- as you know, in the first few hours, you have to weed through all the rumors you get.
One story is that he had a wife in Pakistan, he was very upset that he couldn't bring his wife back. Another theory is that he was much more upset about the lawsuit with the government where they closed down the family restaurant, which caused hardship to the entire family.
So, you know, that is going to have to be sorted through in the investigation, Wolf. I am just glad that, in such a relatively short period of time, we got him as quickly as we did.
And there, it was a really uncoordinated -- you know, a really coordinated police effort like I have never seen before with the FBI and the state police and the NYPD. Linden police in New Jersey actually are the ones who arrested him. So it was an extraordinary job.
BLITZER: Authorities are suggesting that they're really not actively pursuing additional suspects right now. Do you believe Rahami could have built and placed all those bombs on his own?
CUOMO: Well, that's the operating theory.
There is some suggestion that there are other people who were assisting him who you can see in the video. But, apparently, from the construction of the bombs themselves, the unexploded bombs obviously had significantly more evidence than the bombs that exploded.
It was his fingerprints. They didn't find fingerprints or DNA from anyone else. The video does show people possibly accompanying him. But the operating theory is that he was operating on his own.
BLITZER: What can you tell us about possible links to ISIS, al Qaeda, or other terror groups?
CUOMO: Well, as your report said, you're just about where the investigation is.
He did travel extensively, had a wife in Pakistan, obviously had a close connection with that region, had redeveloped his connections with Afghanistan. But we don't have any associations at this time with ISIS, Taliban, et cetera, that would explain this behavior.
BLITZER: I assume they're going through his social media portfolio to see if there were some connections.
Donald Trump this morning said police are simply afraid to go after people in cases like this because they're afraid of being accused of racial profiling. Is that a serious concern among law enforcement?
CUOMO: Wolf, I don't know how you could have been more aggressive than we were here.
I said, as soon as it happened, that justice would be swift. We literally had resources brought to bear that we have never had before. I called out 1,000 National Guard, state police. The president deployed more FBI people to help.
And literally, within a matter of hours, he was identified from surveillance tape, from the fingerprints on the unexploded bombs. They had his information. It was disseminated so widely that the Linden police in New Jersey found him.
I don't know how you can criticize that police activity. Look at the product. Look at the result. Look how aggressive it was. And there was no questioning of whether or not, once they found his identity and they knew his religion and his background, they went full speed ahead. We didn't slow down for anyone.
BLITZER: Governor, just moments ago, Donald Trump spoke about the capture of this suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami. I want you to listen to what Trump just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, we have caught this evil thug who planted the bombs. Thank you, law enforcement. Thank you, police. Great.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: But the bad part, now we will give him amazing hospitalization.
TRUMP: He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world.
TRUMP: He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room. And he will probably even have room service, knowing the way our country is.
And on top of all of that, he will be represented by an outstanding lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I would love your reaction to that, Governor.
Welcome to America, right? We have a system of jurisprudence. You are innocent until proven guilty. You have a right to counsel. And you have a right to hospitalization if you are ill. That is our system. And it's what makes this country special and what makes this country great. We believe we have the right man. We believe that's who was on the
video. We believe that was his fingerprint.
But I was a prosecutor. I was the attorney general in this state, as you know. Sometimes, the government is wrong. And that's why we have a judicial process and we have trials and hearings, et cetera.
So, I don't know what the alternative would be, unless you said, we should have a government that, on their own belief, is judge and jury and executioner all in one.
BLITZER: Lindsey Graham simply suggested -- he is a former JAG officer in the U.S. Air Force, the senator -- he said he should be named an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes and denied those rights as part of a questioning process to determine if he could have links to al Qaeda or ISIS or other terror groups. What do you think of Lindsey Graham's recommendation?
CUOMO: You know, I understand the anger that is out there, and I understand many people feel they want to appeal to that anger or even foster that anger.
And there is no doubt that it's real. I feel it here in the state of New York. There is no doubt. I am in a state where the bomb went off; 29 people were hurt. People were panicked. But, let's not lose ourselves in an effort to protect ourselves.
We want to protect America. What is America? It's the rights that we have established. It's the systems that we have established. That's what makes us who we are.
And I fear, sometimes, with this rhetoric, that people are suggesting we lose what is special about us in way to protect ourselves. And that's that doesn't work. It's not who we are. Let's preserve the system. Let's be fair about it. Let's keep our heads.
And also, Wolf, this is not going to go away any time soon. I mean, I would love to be able to say to the people of the state, we got him and that's it, it's the last time this is going to happen.
I don't believe that. Remember, we had 1993, the World Trade Center bombing. Then we had 9/11. You have an increasing frequency of terrorism, not just in New York, but medium-sized cities, small cities all across the country, countries across the globe. I think this in many ways is the new normal, and we're going to have to prepare for it.
BLITZER: All right.
CUOMO: And the rhetoric isn't going to do it. It's reducing the anger through dialogue and protecting ourselves with intelligent police actions, et cetera.
BLITZER: Governor Cuomo, good luck to you and good luck to everyone in New York and New Jersey, for that matter. Appreciate it very much.
CUOMO: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have more on the breaking news on the bombing suspect and the investigation. I will speak with a key member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Angus King. What is he learning?
We will be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with breaking news.
The suspect in the bombings in New York and New Jersey now in custody after a shoot-out. Authorities are hoping he will provide new information about any possible accomplices.
Right now, let's bring in Senator Angus King in Maine. He's a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
So, what's the latest that you're learning about these bombings, these terror attacks?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, I think what we're learning now are more questions than answers, Wolf.
And everybody is digging. We want to be sure, number one, that he was the only one involved. That's the first question. Number two, whether there was any international aspect of this, whether he was in touch with ISIS, whether this is part of a larger plot.
And, third, I think the important thing that we might learn from this is, how do we prevent future attacks? Clearly, there are these kinds of attacks. People are going to try to generate them. How do we prevent them?
One thing, for example, is, we know this fellow traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Maybe we have to start scrutinizing people that are making trips to that region of the world in terms of what the likelihood is of their turning to something like this when they get back.
BLITZER: He didn't only travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, spent almost a year in an area in Pakistan, Quetta, which is heavily Taliban-oriented.
Then he came back to the United States.
BLITZER: Apparently, he was on nobody's FBI watch list or terror watch list or anything like that.
KING: Not a watch list.
BLITZER: I assume people are going to now go back and review what, if any, mistakes were made.
KING: Well, that's right.
And one of the questions may be, should we make this what they call a selector, where there are a certain number of trips for a certain length of time within a period of time, that we need to take a look at these folks?
Now, the question is, when he came back, did he do anything that would have triggered further analysis or investigation?
BLITZER: Why haven't we heard any claim of responsibility?
KING: Probably because he did this on his own. I is very quick to claim responsibility when they can. They want to do that. They want to say, look how big and strong and tough we are.
My guess is -- and, at this point, we're still gathering the facts -- he was acting out of some kind of grievance. We don't know whether it was because of his fight with the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, with his family or because he couldn't bring his wife back. I mean, we don't really know yet.
And that's why it's so important to kind of take a deep breath and generate and deal with the facts as they come forward.
BLITZER: Any evidence that there was a cell, if you will, that he had accomplices who helped him to build those bombs?
KING: There was some talk of that at first. I haven't heard any of that later today.
The fact that it was his fingerprints that were found on the other bombs indicate that it -- it indicates -- that's a key word, indicates, doesn't prove, but indicates that he was acting alone. We don't have anything that leads us to believe.
On the other hand, eight bombs, that's a lot of work and a lot of working together. But they all were in the areas where he was located. So, right now, it looks like one guy. But we will find out over the next few days.
BLITZER: I'm sure we will learn a lot more in the next few hours and days.
Senator King, thanks for coming in.
KING: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, our correspondents are digging for new information about the bombing suspect as investigators look into his overseas connections and possible motive.
We will give you an update. That's coming up.
And Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are offering very different responses to these new acts of terror in New York and New Jersey. How will it shape the first presidential debate just one week from tonight?
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, new details emerging about the man suspected in bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend.
[18:32:03] Twenty-eight-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, in which he was shot and wounded. Sources telling CNN he travelled multiple times to Afghanistan where he was born and also to Pakistan.
Our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is working the story for us. Evan, you have new information about the explosive used in these bombs.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It's an explosive known as HMTD. And it's not commonly seen in these types of attacks. Obviously, we've seen a lot of the use of an explosive known as TATP, which is similar to this one.
But really, what has authorities concerned about this is where he got the chemicals, the components to make this bomb. Right now they're looking for stores that he may have used to buy some of the chemicals that he might have put this together. We know that he used ball bearings and other pieces of shrapnel inside this bomb to try to make it lethal.
Again, all of those components, they're looking for the sources of that to try to figure out whether perhaps someone might have helped him put this together.
The picture that's emerging is that, while these were rudimentary bombs and you can find the recipes to make these types of bombs on the Internet, they're also concerned that perhaps he might have had some kind of training, because this is not a -- not a type of bomb that you see very commonly. I believe the last time we saw this in a major attack is in 2005 in London in those bombings in London.
So again, that's something that's raising a lot of concern for authorities. They want to know where he got the know-how to make these bombs.
BLITZER: Evan Perez reporting for us. Evan, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our team of terrorism experts: our CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd; our CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes; our CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank; and our law enforcement analyst, Matthew Horace. Guys, thanks very much.
Paul, tell us a little bit more about the sophistication of these bombs, how he potentially could have built these devices.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, the fact that HMTD was in the pressure cooker devices is very significant, indeed. As Evan was saying, that was used as a detonating explosive in the London bombings, which al Qaeda carried out. Al Qaeda was also going to use that as detonators in a huge transatlantic airline plot in 2006.
It's not impossible to make it by downloading instructions off the Internet, but there are very, very, very few cases in which Islamist terrorists in the west over the last decade or so have managed to do this without getting training overseas. It's pretty tricky to make. It's very unstable. You tend to need some experimentation, some tuition.
So this could be a big clue for investigators as they're investigating possible connections overseas. This is an individual who travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, spent a significant time in Pakistan, in and around the town of Quetta. Well, that's the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban, who are in that town in a major way.
And just recently, the United States killed the leader of the Taliban in a drone strike in May. And the Taliban said that that would not go unanswered.
So they'll be looking, as we've heard, at these international connections, the possibility that he got training overseas. And the fact that HMTD was used in the device takes it up a few notches in terms of sophistication on what we saw in the Boston bombings just a few years ago. This was a more sophisticated, potentially more deadly device according to the information we're getting in, Wolf. Very, very disturbing details.
BLITZER: Very disturbing indeed. Phil Mudd, the fact that he visited Afghanistan, that perhaps is not going to raise a lot of red flags. He was born in Afghanistan. His family was from Afghanistan.
But the fact that he went to Pakistan, spent almost a year in Pakistan, including in Quetta, this sort of hot-bed of Taliban activity. Spent almost a year there. When he came back, and his passport showed he had been gone for a long time, shouldn't that have raised some flags?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think so. I think if you're looking at this from an investigative perspective, often we start the case and say shouldn't we have seen someone -- something, as you suggested. You've got to start from the other direction, Wolf.
If you're at JFK Airport, Dulles Airport here in D.C., and you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of people a year, somebody traveling to Pakistan to meet family and staying there for a while is not going to be a trigger.
I think the question here is talking to the family here. I'd be surprised if nobody in that family knew, not necessarily that he was going to commit this act, but that he has radicalized. The questions for the family have got to be intense in the coming days. BLITZER: We're also getting some more breaking news coming into THE
SITUATION ROOM right now. Ahmad Khan Rahami has now been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. That according to the Union County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office.
Rahami is also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. That according to a press release. Bail was set at $5.2 million by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield.
So Tom Fuentes, he's obviously been charged already. I think -- I suspect these charges are just the beginning. This is in New Jersey. But federal charges are about to be launched, as well.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And there's no hurry to do it now: $5.2 million bail. He's not going to meet it. He's going to stay locked up on those charges. And it gives the federal charges plenty of time to be filed and supersede any other indictment.
So the terrorism charges that may be brought in the southern district of New York or in the district of New Jersey, either one of those, there's no major hurry to rush to judgment on that, because they've got him in custody. He's not going anywhere.
BLITZER: Matthew, what about the placement of these bombs in these four different locations in New York and New Jersey? The sophistication of the bombs. What does it say to you?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it says to me, just like other bombers in other cases, Wolf, they used receptacles to both hide the devices and probably hope that the devices would explode and use those receptacles as shrapnel.
In this case, it didn't happen in the Dumpster. It did blow the Dumpster some measure of feet away, but it couldn't blow it completely up. But the one in Seaside Heights, that could have really been a different kind of issue, had it gone through that plastic and injured or killed people.
BLITZER: What would have happened, Matthew, if they had -- the bombs had gone off as, supposedly, they were planned to go off?
CHANCE: Listen, pipe bombs detonate, and they become shrapnel. They go through the air, and they can go through bodies. They would have injured or killed people just as they did in the Boston Marathon bombings, Wolf.
BLITZER: Is it your sense, Phil, that this was simply what they call a lone-wolf operation, or that he had some other help?
MUDD: I would say -- my initial sense is yes. But that's going to take a while to prove that. I'm looking at his cellphone, e-mail, for example. What's the intensity of his phone calls to family members and friends over the past few days? Before I declare this a lone wolf, I want to make sure not only that there wasn't another conspirator but that nobody knew about it. And tonight, I don't know that yet.
BLITZER: What do you think?
FUENTES: Well, the hard part of that is you're trying to prove a negative. How do you know that someone's an associate, a friend, a colleague, you know, isn't a co-conspirator or just a friend, a colleague? You know, so it's very difficult to find out and be able to establish that fact.
BLITZER: How does the FBI get him to talk?
FUENTES: Well, the FBI normal technique, especially in this case where they have time, is rapport-building technique. Try to appeal to different aspects of whatever it might be. His manhood or he really showed them, whatever -- whatever can get him to start talking to the interviewing agents.
But, he's an American citizen. He can immediately, you know, exercise his Fifth Amendment constitutional right and not talk.
BLITZER: All right. Everyone stay with us.
Once again, we're following the breaking news. The bombing suspect now has been charged with five counts of attempted murder. We're also hearing just now he is not -- repeat, not -- cooperating with police, law enforcement in any way. He's in the hospital. We'll have more coming in from New York and New Jersey. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:44:50] BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. The suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings now has been charged with five counts of attempted murder. We're told he is not -- repeat not -- cooperating with the investigators.
[18:45:00] The suspect's capture sparked very different reactions from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Let's bring in our CNN political reporter Sara Murray. She is in Florida for us.
Sara, Trump spoke to supporters there just a little while ago. Update us on what he said.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Wolf, Donald Trump is trying to tie immigration security directly to national security. That's what he did here today. And along the way, he slammed Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state, all as the two try to one-up each other on who is best prepared to be commander-in-chief.
MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight, the 2016 presidential candidates are facing a terror response test. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton is a weak and
ineffective person, and I will tell you, if you choose Donald Trump, these problems are going to go away.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We must remain vigilant. This is a fast-moving situation and a sobering reminder that we need steady leadership in a dangerous world.
MURRAY: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton taking starkly different approaches in navigating a string of attacks in the U.S.
Trump calling for a more muscular stance and tighter immigration rules that include an ideological test for those coming into the U.S.
TRUMP: Let me state very, very clearly. Immigration security is national security.
MURRAY: The GOP nominee suggesting the U.S. should instate racial profiling.
TRUMP: Israel has done an unbelievable job and they'll profile, they profile. They see somebody that's suspicious, they will profile. They will take that person in, they'll check out.
Do we have a choice? Look what's going on. Do we really have a choice?
MURRAY: And pouncing on the opportunity to land another jab at Clinton for referring to half of Trump's supporters as deplorables.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton talks tougher about my supporters than she does about Islamic terrorists.
MURRAY: Meanwhile, Clinton is leaning on her record as secretary of state.
CLINTON: I'm the only candidate in this race who has been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield.
MURRAY: Calling for changes to the visa program, improved intelligence gathering and collaboration with the Muslim community.
CLINTON: It is crucial that we continue to build up trust between law enforcement and Muslim-American communities.
MURRAY: All while slamming her GOP rival for his controversial comments about Muslims and immigrants.
CLINTON: We know that Donald Trump's have bee used online for recruitment of terrorists.
MURRAY: With a week until the first presidential debate and just 50 days until the election, both candidates commander in chief credentials are under the microscope. Fifty-one percent of voters say Trump is better prepared to fight terrorism compared to 45 percent for Clinton, but they believe Clinton's temperament is better suited for the presidency and 50 percent say she is more prepared to be commander in chief compared to 45 percent for Trump.
Meanwhile, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered a dim assessment of both presidential hopefuls over the weekend, saying neither candidate has done much to give anyone confidence. But reserving his harshest criticism for Trump, saying, "At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief."
MURRAY: Now, as both candidates try to prepare for the Oval Office, they're scheduling meetings with world leaders around the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Tonight, we are expecting Donald Trump to meet with the Egyptian president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Murray in Florida for us -- thank you very much.
Let's get some analysis from our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, our CNN political director David Chalian and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Actually, guys, stand by for a moment, guys. We're getting new information. Let's take a quick break. We'll discuss right after this.
[18:53:43] BLITZER: The breaking news we're following. The suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings now has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. We're also told he is not cooperating with investigators.
We're back with our political team and more on the presidential candidates' reactions to these bombings.
Brianna, very different reactions coming in from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. She is trying to be -- well, she's emphasizing her experience, but I think she's emphasizing her temperament that she's trying to appear more measured. She addressed what happened in New York and New Jersey initially when she had a press availability today, then she went on to give a speech at Temple University. She talked a little more about it where she was sort of filling in the gaps about some of the new information that had come out.
Donald Trump trying to be more decisive. So, they're really trying to have these sort of areas of characteristics.
And you look at polls, and you see they're trying to play to their strengths because when you talk about temperament and Hillary Clinton, she beats Donald Trump by 20 points, about. When you're talking about who's strong and decisive, voters say Donald Trump is by about eight points. So, they're really trying to play to that, two distinctive approaches here to this. BLITZER: And, David, if you look at the polls, we asked in our recent
poll, who would better handle terrorism?
[18:55:03] Trump 51 percent, Hillary Clinton 45 percent. But look at this, who can better handle being commander in chief? Clinton 50 percent, Trump 45 percent. So they're sort of mixed.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, which is why, what Brianna was just saying about the other poll findings, too, on temperament, on strong leader, that's mixed also. And so, I don't think it's very clear whose advantage a story like this plays for politically. They're offering two totally different approaches here.
Obviously, Donald Trump has a very emotional appeal to be made here. Tying in his immigration law, getting back to, say, we just can't let people in here who may do something like -- that has an appeal, a raw emotional appeal.
Hillary Clinton, you just heard in Sara Murray's piece, Hillary Clinton talks about steady leadership.
So, it's this brute strength versus a steady hand. And people want both kinds of things.
Also in that poll, Wolf, when we asked is Donald Trump more of a risk or is he more of needed change? The country was split half and half. So, I don't think there's a clear advantage here for either one of them.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, it's interesting because Trump as we just heard, he gets a lot of criticism from former national security types including Robert Gates, the former defense secretary, who served for Republican presidents, Democratic presidents. He said he's beyond repair, Trump, unfit to be commander in chief.
How does Trump deal with this kind of criticism, how can he overcome it in order to get himself elected?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've seen how he's tried to deal with it. He blows it off an belittles the people who are going after him. And you know what? Certainly, Bob Gates is not the first person to have been in the job, whether it was under the Republican -- most recent Republican President George W. Bush or President Obama who have said that he is not the right guy to be commander-in-chief.
And if you're the kind of person out there who David just described, who he's appealing to, the kind of person who looks at what's going on in the world, is frightened for exactly what we saw over the weekend, then if you hear of people like Bob Gates or other former officials, it's just like noise to them. And Donald Trump can and is turning it into, why are you going to listen to these guys who got us into the problems that we're in? And by the way, Hillary Clinton was part of the administration that kind of allowed ISIS to start. I mean, you heard that over and over again from Donald Trump and certainly more so today. So, you know, I'm not sure that it really matters that much in the
grand scheme of things, because these are the people who a lot of voters are looking at saying, more of the same. That's why they want Donald Trump.
BLITZER: You know, Brianna, one week from tonight is the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Long Island in New York. We now have been told the debate moderator, Lester Holt of NBC News, has chosen securing America as one of three overarching themes in the debate. Obviously, that's very timely given what's happened over the weekend.
KEILAR: It is, and -- of course, it is, but I think there's also this question of, are voters really caring about that, right? That's sort of the question. Here we are, we're so close to the election, but I think a lot of people are also struck by events like this happening and very quickly in the consciousness of voters, it kind of tapers off. You know, maybe if it happened very close to the election. But here we are two months out and you wonder if something like this is going to stick.
It does seem, and it seems like the candidates are playing more to the emotions, the things like this evoke. Hillary Clinton is saying, do you want someone who is dangerous? Donald Trump is saying do you want someone who is weak? Donald Trump is sort of appealing I think to people at the gut level. He's saying, as you said, deal with the refugee issue.
But when you talk to security experts, they say even though when you look at who has committed acts of terror in the U.S. and you see that it's -- you see that it's not really people who are on visas like they were for 9/11, actually that's where the gaping security hole is.
So, that's why you heard Hillary Clinton today saying we need to deal with the visa program. So, she's kind of targeting more the brain and he's targeting more the gut. I think that's what voters will be deciding in sort of a more -- I think it will come down to something a little more general and sort of a feeling, not just policy.
BLITZER: First debate one week from tonight. Of course, we'll have extensive all-day coverage of that. Guys, stand by.
Tonight, CNN is also gearing up for the presidential election in a very unique way. Take a look at our countdown clock at the newseum here in Washington, D.C., marking seven days until the first debate.
CNN is traveling the country asking voters about their choice for president. It's part of our new partnership with Instagram, Facebook and CA Technologies and you can get involved. Take a photo. Post it on Instagram and tell us who you're voting for with #myvote. If you do, your picture could be featured in CNN's election coverage.
Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.