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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
New Details on Bomb Suspect's Notebook; Bomb Suspect's Wife Left U.S. Days Before Attack; Man Believed to Be Rahami's Father Talks of Violent Past. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 20, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER NEW YORK HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER & SENIOR FELLOW FOR THE HOMELAND SECURITY POLICY INSTITUTE: It's been amazing he had such a broad footprint among actors in this terrorism realm, whether it was Major Hasan in the Ft. Hood shooting or Mutallab, on Christmas Eve. He has shown up again and again. His message was: Take the battle to the West; you can do this in your own neighborhoods. He really is the point of the entire jihadist movement.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And he is also someone who can often be found on your own. If you are, you know, a guy searching the Internet, you would come upon him if you wanted to find some kind of jihadist writings or instruction manuals for how to commit terror.
BALBONI: Absolutely, right. He was taken out several years ago. It didn't destroy the fact the messaging is still out there and that's part of the radicalization we're fighting.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: He's one of the guys behind "Inspire" magazine where there were these instructions.
What do you say, especially when establishing terrorism, not terrorism, are the political motivations? What does this tell you? What insights does this give you, James, into his potential motivations?
JAMES GALANIO, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN NEW YORK: Well, the thing that the FBI investigators and the NYPD officers, law enforcement team are focusing in right now are what we call digital exhaust. Any time you turn a cell phone on, open up a laptop, turn on your iPad, there are means and mechanisms to track that. So the JTTF in New York, the JTTF in Newark, New Jersey, and around the country, they are all putting those pieces together because this has become one giant jigsaw puzzle.
BERMAN: And of course, they have it on plain paper in this case when you're dealing with Awlaki there, so that's a heck a place to start.
Evan, tell me about the wife. The wife left the country just days before, trying to track her down in Pakistan or UAE. What do they think happened?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question, whether or not she saw something was any reason she may have had to leave. And what she saw. Did she see him making bombs? We know he started buying some pieces of this as much as a year ago, some of the cell phones, the flip phones that have been used in these bombings. We're starting to get a perhaps he's been thinking about this certainly for about a year. And so investigators want to know what did she see before she left. Why did she leave so suddenly? They're hoping that the UAE authorities and Pakistani authorities can get together and help the FBI get some interviews with her to try to help get a picture in.
And don't forget, this guy's still alive. He has bullet wounds. He underwent several surgeries yesterday. The FBI hasn't Mirandized him yet so they're hoping to do some interviews with him before we get to the process, the legal process begins to bring charges against him. We know they have local charges down in New Jersey already but the feds want to bring more serious charges.
BOLDUAN: With regard to the wife though, Evan, what are your sources telling you? How hopeful are they? How optimistic are they that they think they'll be able to reach this?
PEREZ: I think they will. The question is what are they going to find out and what is she going to be able to say, what -- how much light can she shed on the goings on in the family for the past year. It appears to be a dysfunctional family in the past years.
BERMAN: I understand we have new video of someone we believe to be the father of the suspect right now. The father, the man believed to be the father, gets into what is a violent past that this young man had. Let listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing bad.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Doing bad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. And he hit my son, he hit my wife, and I put him in jail four years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who's he?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What son did he hit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nasi (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. What happened? Why did he stab him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He stabbed him for no reason.
Excuse me, I can go now.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: It's interesting here, James, the father indicating
there was tension with the son, over the fact that his son had perhaps stabbed another one of his children, and at one point had to be put in jail for that. I guess charges were never actually filed.
BOLDUAN: Never filed according to some of the reporting we've seen.
BERMAN: Still, there is a past there. What does that tell you?
GALANIO: You got to be careful not to look at this just from the perspective of familial ties. Just because they're related doesn't necessarily mean -- the family might not have had any indications exposed to them that this gentleman is attempting to become radicalized. However, what investigators will do is, they've got to look at the entire picture. They've got to basically -- it's like the same way they started with the bomb blast and they built the investigation out in concentric circles, they will do that with anyone who's come in contact with him.
BOLDUAN: Guys, stand by.
We want to take us over to Jim Sciutto right now is standing by with New York's new police commissioner -- Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John and Kate. I'm fortunate enough to be joined by the new police commissioner, James O'Neill.
Thank you for taking the time.
You've got just a little bit on your plate. We're very aware.
If I could start with the investigation, the latest on the investigation into Rahami, do you believe, do you still believe he acted alone with these attacks and attempted attacks?
[11:35:03] JAMES O'NEILL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Jim, it's very early on in the investigation so, as we move through this, we're going to determine who is his acquaintances were, family, friends, social media. See if he had any phones. We'll go through all that and make that determination. Right now, it's just a -- we don't have anybody else but, again, this is just a couple of days since this event happened and just about a day since we apprehended him. This is still an ongoing active investigation.
SCIUTTO: Understood. As you look at people, we learned just yesterday his wife left the country just before the attack. Is that someone you're looking to speak with? Do you suspect, if she wasn't involved, she might have had foreknowledge of wt she was planning?
O'NEILL: We need to speak to anybody involved. Anybody in his circle, we need to speak to. This is all an important part of figuring out why he did this.
SCIUTTO: Understood. We were just able to speak to his father our in New Jersey, one of my colleagues. He said, he's told others, other reports as well, that he contacted law enforcement two years ago to warn them, to say that their son was dangerous, that he was talking about being a terrorist. Were you aware of a warning like that in advance?
O'NEILL: Again, you know, Bill Sweeney and the FBI are doing a great job in this investigation. They'll go through and see what they had on Rahami in the past. This will all be part of what we do going forward here.
SCIUTTO: Understood. Final on the investigation, because there's a great deal of concern out there, people of New York, they want to know and New Jersey as well, they want to know if you're concerned there may be others involved who are still out there. In other words, are you concerned there's still a danger from Rahami accomplices or this plot?
O'NEILL: You know what, there's an old saying in police and law enforcement, you know, "just because you make an arrest that's not where the investigation stops. And a lot of times that's where the investigation starts." Again, moving forward, we have to identify everybody involved and see what their backgrounds are. And then we'll be able to make the determination then.
SCIUTTO: OK, let's talk about you. Because baptism by fire. I know you have a long history in the department, but this was really your first day as police commissioner. You were officially sworn in a day later, on Sunday. Tell me about how difficult it was in those initial hours as you were responding.
O'NEILL: It was my first full day as police commissioner. But I might have been new to this job but definitely not new to the job. Almost 34 years in the police department. So I've been to a lot of major scenes, been involved in a lot of major investigations.
As usually, when we come upon the scene, we make the assessment. We see who has responded to that point. We get everyone together. And the response here was fantastic. NYPD, two cops from the NYPD, from the 10th Precinct, that were about, you know, a block away from when the explosion went off and they did a fantastic job closing down the crime scene, getting everybody help, and getting the ball rolling. The FBI was there. The ATF was there. There were two state police officers that were actually ex-NYPD people. They're the ones who found the second device. So I couldn't be happier with the response. We stood up the Strategic Response Group, Critical Response Command. There was a response by those two groups. And then ESU, which is the pointy edge of the spear for us, they were there immediately. We drill on this all the time. The response I think was great.
SCIUTTO: It's been described to me just tremendous bravery in those initial moments. The two uniformed officers literally ran into the smoke after that first explosion went off, aware that secondary devices are often a danger here. That's tremendous bravery.
O'NEILL: Tremendous bravery. This is why cops do what they do. This is why they came on the job, to make a difference. People are running away. Somebody's got to go to danger. And that's the two cops from the 10th Precinct. I can't talk about them enough.
SCIUTTO: Listen, I'm a New Yorker. But in many ways, when an attack like this happens, many Americans feel like they're a New Yorker. You were chief of the department, the top uniform officer. To see, in the span of 48 hours, this to go from that initial explosion to apprehending the man responsible, tell me about how that made you feel. How proud were you? We're you a little surprised to see that effort come together so quickly?
O'NEILL: No, definitely not surprised. I've been doing this a long time. And it wasn't just about the NYPD. Bill Sweeney and his people from the FBI did a fantastic job. Helped to identify somebody within the first 30 to 35 hours, and make an apprehension in the first 50 hours is tremendous. I'd also like to applaud the men and women of the Linden, New Jersey, Police Department. Again, going forward, going to danger, shootout ensued, and the apprehension was made. So I'd like to applaud the men and women of the Linden, New Jersey, Police Department.
SCIUTTO: And there were citizens who did their part as well. You had the woman who called 911 when she saw that second pressure cooker that hadn't been exploded. And tell us about the importance of that, average citizens. Because at the end of the day, this is a community effort.
[11:40:11] O'NEILL: Without a doubt, it's a shared -- definitely a shared responsibility. I talked about that all the time when I talk about tradition crime. But we sent out that OEM alert. We started out on 27th Street when we found the second device. Initially, we used it to keep people away from the windows. We would get them away from the windows. A couple of minutes later, they come back, curious. We put out that message and that enabled us to remove that device. But you know what? These 36,000 cops, there's a number of other law enforcement agencies here, they all do a great job. But we need everybody to be involved. If you live on a block, if you have a business, if you see something that looks unusual, you know better than us, you have to take steps, call 911, let us get come over, let us investigate it, let us make sure everything's good.
SCIUTTO: Tell me what the mood and the force is right now in terms of the threat? I know you are always on a very high level of alert. That's the nature of New York in this age of terrorism. Tell us today what the level of alert is and the confidence in the force in handling that threat.
O'NEILL: I have the utmost confidence in the men and women of the police department. I was just in the U.N., made a couple of stops this morning. Saw a bunch of police officers, standing right behind you here. I go up and talk to them and they're feeling good. They know that everybody did a good job over the weekend. It used to be just traditional crime we worried about. Now we have to worry about that constant threat of terror. I believe in the men and women of the police department and they're going to keep everybody safe.
SCIUTTO: One final question if I can. The president just referenced this in his speech. We hear it every day. There is a tremendous amount of fear in the country right now of the terror threat, and understandably so. There is proof that every couple of weeks you have people at least attempting. We know in private, there are plots being stopped that the American people don't know about. If you just had a few words to say to the American people today about the threat and how they should feel about it, how nervous they should be or how confident they should be that they're protected, what would you say to the American public?
O'NEILL: I said, this is a tremendous country. Don't be governed by fear. Go about what you're doing. Live your lives. But pay attention to your surroundings. Everybody's got a part in this. This is just such a wonderful country and I think we'll all get through this safely. But everybody needs to pay attention as they go through their daily lives.
SCIUTTO: Let's me convey, we appreciate the hard work you're doing.
Thanks very much, Commissioner James O'Neill.
O'NEILL: Thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Back to you. You heard a confident message there. A serious threat, no question, John and Kate, but these are the officers, uniformed and otherwise, who are facing it every day. And they have tremendous amount of confidence and we know they're working extremely hard at it.
BERMAN: Handled methodically and very quickly in this case.
Jim Sciutto, Commissioner, thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Questions about security now front and center in the presidential contest. Why Skittles are now all of a sudden part of the debate. Yes, Skittles. And some people feel it's no joke. We'll discuss, next.
[11:45:09] BOLDUAN: The Syrian refugee crisis is front and center today on two major fronts, both on the global stage as leaders meet at the U.N. but also at the campaign trail.
And add to that Skittles. Yes, the candy. Donald Trump Jr, Donald Trump's son, took to Twitter with this image. The image says this, "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem." He added this in the caption, "This image says it all. Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America first."
BERMAN: Skittles became a trending topic. A lot of people responded with photos of children who were refugees. This was a tweet from President Obama's former speechwriter saying, "This is one of the millions of children you compared to a poisoned Skittle."
Mars Candy, which is the parent company of Skittles, has this response: "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. It's an inappropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further comment as that can be interpreted as marketing."
Donald Trump making clear, if he wins the presidency, he wants the administration to utilize profiling to keep the country safe. Here he is talking about this on FOX News last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You go to Israel. Israel's done a phenomenal job at this and they profile. They're not happy about it but they do it and people aren't complaining about it. But we have to profile.
Honestly, whatever it is. But I'm not using the term Muslim. I'm saying you're going to have to profile. We have to start profiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, joining us to discuss is James Woolsey, he was CIA director under Bill Clinton and now is senior adviser to the Trump campaign, and Neera Tanden, former policy director to Hillary Clinton and currently the president of the Center for American Progress.
Director, thanks so much for being with us.
AMB. JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Sure.
BERMAN: Does Donald Trump support profiling?
WOOLSEY: Well, he used the word. I would say it differently. But if you are looking for a suspect on let's say in crime -- Rudy Giuliani for example, when he was prosecutor, said that if he was working on organized crime issues, he was going to work in Italian neighbors, not in Irish ones. So to some extent, in terms of a search -- not assigning guilt, but in terms of a search, we all profile in one way or another.
BOLDUAN: What kind of profiling, though, does Donald Trump support?
WOOLSEY: Well, I would support -- I don't know whether he does, but I would be surprised if he didn't -- Giuliani's description. That's the reason I just said it. That, a lot of people would call profiling. But it's not a prior judgment of guilt --
BERMAN: But people that are coming in, he's talking about the (INAUDIBLE), he's talking about ethnic profiling, religious profiling, focusing on -- WOOLSEY: I don't know, it wasn't specific.
BERMAN: -- communities. Well, but I'm asking you to be specific. You're a senior adviser to the campaign. We're trying to understand exactly what he was saying, because a lot of people look at that word, "profiling", and say it can mean many different things.
WOOLSEY: What I would mean by it is that profiling in the sense of narrowing a category down that you have to search is perfectly understandable. Profiling in the sense of saying once you have that narrow category, you are guilty because you are a bald WASP, no, you can't assign guilt on the basis of that. But in terms of improving your search, you do what Giuliani said. You use common sense.
BOLDUAN: But looking for specifics on it -- and the reasons we look for specifics is because the campaign seemed very sensitive and to push back when people assign the word, thinking -- inferring that this meant racial profiling. And that's --
WOOLSEY: Well, that's ridiculous, of course it doesn't mean racial profiling, if Trump supports it. It -- profiling is a complicated word --
BERMAN: But how can --
WOOLSEY: -- and you got to kind of unpack it --
BERMAN: But how can it not -- Director, but how can it not involve racial profiling --
BOLDUAN: That's what we're trying to do.
BERMAN: -- if you're saying you start with a group. Does that mean you only question Arab men coming in?
WOOLSEY: Well, or, as I said, bald WASP guys. If, you know, if you're looking for people who are stealing hair care lotion, you probably aren't going to look at me.
BOLDUAN: Neera, I'm sorry, you wanted to jump in.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I mean, I think it's unfortunate that Director Woolsey can't be clear about this. Because Donald Trump actually has been clear and I don't know why Director Woolsey can't be.
He has said that we should profile. We should -- we should go look at everyone's mosques. He has not said after the crime you look at a certain group for the parameters. He has said we need to profile, we need to look at all mosques. And, you know, most national security experts have said that kind behavior actually feeds and supports the argument our enemies are making. Not, you know, whether he's profiling or not, which he is absolutely calling for profiling Muslims, because who else is going to mosques but Muslims?
So -- but it's -- it's the fact that these calls are actually hurting our national security. Not -- it's not Democrats who are making these arguments, it's conservatives. It's former Bush administration -- administration officials.
Max Boot is arguing -- has said that the fact that he is going after, trying to create this conflict with Muslims is actually helping ISIS.
[11:50:25] BERMAN: But Neera--
TANDEN: And that's why these arguments are so dangerous.
BOLDUAN: -- can you lay out clearly, though, how Hillary Clinton -- what Hillary Clinton would do differently from what is already being done to prevent something like -- we're talking about this, of course, in the context of the bombings.
BOLDUAN: How she -- what she would do differently to prevent this from happening?
TANDEN: Yes, I will do that. I will also say, first and foremost, that her response in -- into -- to these kinds of events is an important issue, as is Donald Trump's.
She had a strong, steady response. His was erratic, making accusations, saying it's a bombing beforehand.
But on your question about what to do about ISIS, she has said clearly we need a surge strategy to address--
WOOLSEY: Not what--
TANDEN: -- ISIS in its efforts -- yes, she has. And, you know, if you want to go point by point on the plan when Donald Trump has told us that he won't tell us what his plan is because he doesn't want ISIS to know, then I think -- I'm happy to do that.
But she has argued for a stronger surge with ISIS itself and also working much more concertedly with our allies that have -- that are -- have a stake on the ground in -- in -- in the Middle East.
These are strategies that are proving effective. We should say that ISIS has lost territory in Syria. There is a lot more to do. But when we're talking about domestic terrorism acts, how we respond to them and whether we inflame our -- this war against terror or we reduce it has a lot to do with how our leaders respond. And Donald Trump, frankly, just failed that test miserably yesterday.
BERMAN: Mr. Director, this Skittles thing that Donald Trump, Jr. Tweeted out yesterday.
BERMAN: I know you've seen it at this point, probably.
WOOLSEY: I just heard you describe it. That's the last -- that's the only time.
BERMAN: The suggestion is that, you know, that three poison Skittles somehow is like the refugee situation here in the United States.
Does that make sense to you?
WOOLSEY: It's a very clumsy analogy, but he's not the one running for president.
BOLDUAN: Does it help us, then?
I don't think it helps understand, no. It's a very clumsy analogy.
TANDEN: Well, I think that when the facts are that one in 3.5 billion, according to Cato Institute, there are 1.35 billion instances of refugees harming Americans, it actually is an example of hurting the debate, hurting the ability to deal with these things, not taking these issues seriously.
And this is another effort by the Trump campaign to cloud the issues, not dealing with these issues with the serious stability that's required. I think it's very unfortunate.
BOLDUAN: It will be interesting to see how Donald Trump respond, as you said, if he -- this was Donald Trump, Jr., how Donald Trump would respond when you brought this to him.
Thank you both very much for being with us.
Neera, Director, thank you.
BERMAN: Coming up next for us, a lot of families at play here. Kennedys, Clintons and Bushs, one of these families says that a prominent member of another one of the families is supporting a different member of one of the families of a different party.
BOLDUAN: You following?
BERMAN: It's really hard to follow. But George H.W. Bush, is he going to vote for Hillary Clinton? Brand new information. That's next.
[11:55:04] BERMAN: So is he with her? Former President George H.W. Bush not following his party's line, bucking his party's presidential nominee and will he vote for Hillary Clinton in November? That's what another member of another big political family says, a Kennedy.
BOLDUAN: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, but -- put up this picture of her and former President George H.W. Bush on Facebook, showing her with Bush 41, and the caption, "The president told me he is voting for Hillary."
This clearly ignited a lot of conversation.
CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, is here with more.
What are you hearing?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First, let me read this statement from the Bush's spokesman about it, which is, "Both President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that, a private vote. He is not commenting on the presidential race in the interim."
That said, and this is all unfolding. Let me give you some facts. Why was she up there? She a member of the Points of Life Foundation, which is a bipartisan organization. A number of years ago the Bushs and Sam Nunn's daughter put it together. There are Republican and Democrats. That's why she was up in Kennebunkport.
And what I've learned from sources familiar with what is going on up there is that they had private drinks with the Bushs. And board members are very disappointed, to put it mildly, they are furious, they are outraged, that she went public and said this. There are not denying that it is true.
GANGEL: So that's -- so -- bottom line, they are not denying it.
I think there's one thing to put in perspective here. I don't think this is a huge shock. The former Republican president, 41, has said he's sitting this out. I think it's pretty clear that he wasn't going to vote for Donald Trump. His son, President George W. Bush, 43, has said he's sitting it out.
But it's also interesting. The Bush family has not been a block in this. Right? Jeb has said he's not voting for Hillary or Trump. George P. Bush --
GANGEL: -- who's his son, who is Texas commissioner, said he is voting for Trump. Marvin Bush, the brother, he's voting for Gary Johnson, the libertarian. They've been all over. BERMAN: With all respect to Marvin, former President H.W. Bush,
a former Republican president, not going to vote for Trump but maybe, depending, if you believe reports, voting for Hillary Clinton. Historically speaking, that's significant.
GANGEL: I won't tell Marvin you said that.
BERMAN: I know. I didn't mean to diss Marvin but --
BOLDUAN: And you did.
BERMAN: Jamie Gangel, thank you very much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Jamie.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: This is also just in. We want to bring this to you. A brand new report from the "Washington Post" with this: Donald Trump, according to "The Post," Donald Trump spent more than a quarter million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the candidate's for-profit businesses.
The "Washington Post's" David Fahrenthold, the man behind this report, joins us now.
David, you have been continuing to dig into the charities. Please, tell us what you found.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, these are two interesting cases. Both cases where a business that Trump ran got into some kind of legal trouble. And in one case, a bunch of code violations in Florida. In another case, a lawsuit against one of his golf clubs in New York, and both cases Trump's businesses settled these lawsuits with a promise they are going to give money to charity. And in both cases it's Trump's charity, which is mostly filled with other people's money, that actually pays off those bills. So Trump is using his charity to benefit his businesses, which is against the law.
BERMAN: Yeah. And this is the type of thing that what can happen to you. Again, to be clear here, the allegation would be that he's using charitable money, other people's money, charity money, to pay off corporate issues and settlements. What does the IRS do about this type of thing?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well I don't know what the IRS is actually doing right now. They haven't spoken whether they've launched an investigation. The New York attorney general launched an investigation. If someone is found to have committed an act of self- dealing, which is they call this, you're talking penalty taxes, Trump might have to repay the money to the foundation that it gave away to help his businesses and lose tax-exempt status. The Trump Foundation could go away if found to have really done these things.
BOLDUAN: One thing that is clear with your digging is that the questions surrounding Trump's charitable foundation, they are not going away. They'll continue to face this candidate.
David, thank you so much.
FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.