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Berlin Suspect Known to U.S. Before Attack; Brothers of Berlin Suspect Shocked; Suspects Fingerprints Found on Truck; Trump and Putin Say Nations Must Bolster Nukes; Spicer Picked for Trump's White House Press Secretary; Several Trump Pick Announced Today; Trump Team Floats Tariffs; Man Bounced From Jet After Ivanka Trump Encounter. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired December 22, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go. Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.
We begin with the hunt for a suspected terrorist as we get breaking news this hour that it wasn't just German authorities who knew about Amri Anis, the U.S. did as well. Authorities now dogged by questions over how he was able to arm himself with a truck and carry out one of Germany's worst terror attacks while on the radar. His rap sheet is a laundry list of red flags, ties to a terror recruiting network, suspicion of plotting an attack, arson, assault, fraud. And according to investigative files obtained by CNN, German authorities not only knew that he had contacts with pro-ISIS operatives, but that he had, quote, "spoken several times" about launching attacks in Germany. So now, as we said, the hunt is on, not just for him, but for anyone who may have helped him slip away.
For the latest on this bit of breaking news as it relates to the U.S., Evan Perez is the go to guy, our justice correspondent in Washington.
And when we say that this guy was known to U.S. intelligence before the attack, what does that mean?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, it means that they had put him on a no-fly list. So this is information that the U.S. intelligence agencies had been able to gather, even before this attack. It appears that there was a lot of concern in Germany as well that he was part of a group that was communicating with members of ISIS in Syria. These are people in Syria who are known to have been plotting and directing attacks outside of - outside of Syria and, as you know, Brooke, this has been a big problem that we've - that we've seen, the Europeans have seen certainly in the last couple of years with attacks in Paris and elsewhere that have been directed from Syria.
We're told by sources that we've talked to that some of that capability remains. We keep hearing that ISIS is under pressure in Iraq and Syria. What we don't hear often about is, however, the capabilities to direct attacks. Apparently that capability is still very much alive. We've seen a number of arrests in Germany as well. It is in the Balkans in recent months. And this is why this guy was on the radar of the German intelligence agencies, as well as with the U.S. intelligence.
BALDWIN: OK, Evan, with that piece, thank you so much.
Also we're learning the suspect's brother, who had stayed in touch with Amri, speaking out, saying they were shocked by what's happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALID AMRI, BERLIN SUSPECT'S BROTHER (through translator): No human being wishes for something like this to happen. Anis never told us about his life or who he was as a person. When he left Tunisia, he was a normal person. He drank alcohol and didn't even pray. He had no religious beliefs. My dad, my brother and I all used to pray and he didn't. Maybe he got into this when he was in prison where he met Algerians, Egyptians, and Syrians.
ABDELKADER AMRI, BERLIN SUSPECT'S BROTHER (through translator): He doesn't represent us or our family. If he is watching now, I just want to say, may God guide you for putting us in this situation. Your father and mother are crying. People have left their jobs to come and see us. You have caused so much chaos. What can I say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Erin McLaughlin. She's on the story for us again today in Berlin.
And so, Erin, we know that the police found fingerprints of this main suspect on the door of that truck. What more do authorities have other than fingerprints?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, in addition to those fingerprints also tying the suspect to the truck itself, inside the cabin, they found his identification papers, really the first tipoff that he was the person they should be looking for. And in terms of that manhunt, well, right now they are casting a wide net. Police are on the lookout across Europe. Earlier today, there were police raids at a port in Denmark based on a - what turned out to be false sightings. Most of the police raids today, though, concentrated in Germany, here in Berlin, as well as the Cologne area. We understand from the prosecutor that they actually raided a bus based on a tipoff in the German city of Kilbon (ph). Of course, though, so far, no key arrests as far as we know have been made.
Meanwhile, here in Berlin, a sign of resilience just behind me, Brooke, the Christmas market has reopened. That was the scene of the attack. The kiosks are open selling spiced wine, small gift shops as well, although it's really a somber mood there. Shoppers are taking time to pause and reflect at makeshift memorials located throughout the market. They're lighting candles, huddling together, some shedding tears. One customer telling me she's there today because she believes in hope.
There's also an increased security presence, as you would imagine, inside the market itself. Lots of police officers. They've also installed barricades surrounding the market to make sure this kind of attack does not happen again because, as we know, this manhunt very much under way, Brooke.
[14:05:17] BALDWIN: Erin, thank you, in Berlin.
Let's broaden this out, bring in two voices. Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and former U.S. assistant secretary for Homeland Security, and Bob Baer, CNN intelligence and security analyst and a former CIA operative.
So great to have both of you on. And, Juliette, if I can, just quickly, off of Evan's reporting, that that was the first now that we're hearing that - and I realize there are a lot of bad actors out there, but if this guy was known to U.S. intelligence before the attack, was on some no-fly list with other members of, you know, a group tied to ISIS, how were intel agencies not watching him around the clock?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We don't know and that's what's - that's the second part of this investigation. One is, the terrorist attack. The other is, how did someone who was so well known, was he able to do this?
I should say, though, in Germany's defense, this does not take a lot of planning. He didn't have to build anything. He didn't have to really buy anything.
But just to make clear to your viewers about the no-fly list.
KAYYEM: This is a serious list. The ties list that people often hear about, that's over a million names. That gets whittled down, based on information and intelligence, to the no-fly list. Only a couple thousand names. So the fact that he was so elevated on our end at least gives us some evidence that we were getting intelligence from the Germans that he should never step foot on American soil.
BALDWIN: So, Bob, off of that, knowing that there had been intelligence and flag, I mean, can you just talk me through a data collection for someone. I realize hindsight is 20/20, but, I mean, are there details that they could use to look back upon to help find him?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, he should have been expelled from Germany, Brooke. I mean, you know, with his background, burning a refugee center in Italy, the Tunisians knew something about him as well. Ending up on a no-fly list, as Juliette said, is serious.
BAER: The problems is the Germans are overwhelmed. They've got too many people there they can't keep track of. They simply cannot put surveillance on these people. And as Juliette said, it didn't take a whole lot of planning. He didn't need to go to the hardware store, buy chemicals to make a bomb. None of those signs would have been there.
But if you take a million refugees in and you cannot actually trace all of them, keep track of them, there's always going to be a couple of them that are going to turn to violence. I mean this is really going to hurt Merkel and another attack like this and she's finished politically.
BALDWIN: Yes. That's a whole other conversation on the politics of this and her future.
But on this - on this manhunt, Bob, just knowing what we know, do you think that this is the sort of act, the truck - you know, the - who knows, you know, I mean the dead Polish man in the back of the truck shot and killed, getting away, could this have been handled by one person?
BAER: It could have been.
BAER: I think probably right at this point, he's - he's being harbored by somebody, some sort of confederate. You just - you can't hide out in Germany with a manhunt like this forever, this many days. So he's probably being protected at this point. But as far as high-jacking the truck, I totally agree with Juliette, it's easy to do and, again, it's unstoppable.
BALDWIN: We know that, Juliette, this man was connected to another man by the name of Ahmad Abdul Aziz (ph), the head of a pro-ISIS network based in Germany who was arrested and charged with terrorism as recent as last month. Do you know anything about that group's connection specifically to ISIS and what chances that - since they have him that he would actually talk?
KAYYEM: Well, I don't know if he's talking right now, but it just shows you how extensive disrupting ISIS will be. So you take an organization that has ties to ISIS, they arrest them. They get all sorts of information, including about Amri - you know, in the attack this week. But there's probably hundreds of names in that documentation about this organization. So who they follow up on becomes just an issue of resources and what intelligence is coming in about whom. I mean for all we know - and this is a little bit disconcerting for the Germans - there's a group of people that they're more worried about well before they were worried about Amri or whoever else might have been involved with Monday's attacks.
I just want to clarify one thing. I know Bob didn't mean it. But this was not a Syrian refugee. It's part of the atmospherics of the refugee crisis, but he -
BALDWIN: Right, but this person was a German and I think his point was that Merkel has been -
BALDWIN: Had this open arms policy, right, to (INAUDIBLE). KAYYEM: Yes, and I think people won't distinguish. I mean,
politically, people -
ABB: You're right.
KAYYEM: And either here or there, they will not distinguish.
BALDWIN: Right. I got it.
Bob and Juliette, thank you so much.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, is it a show of force? Russia's Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump both making very public statements within hours of one another about each country's nuclear weapon arsenal. We'll talk to our correspondent at the Pentagon about the context and the timing of all of this.
[14:10:02] Also breaking news, the person President-elect Donald Trump has just tapped to serve as his White House press secretary. We now know.
Also just in, Ivanka Trump and her husband harassed on a JetBlue flight. What another passenger apparently said that got him thrown off the plane.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President-elect Donald Trump offering signs he wants a change in the U.S. nuclear program. Moments ago, the president-elect took to Twitter writing, quote, "the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
Now a little bit of context here. This comes the day after Trump met with a number of military advisers and also a couple of hours after Vladimir Putin had met with military advisers as well.
So with me now, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, and retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks, our CNN military analyst.
So, Barbara Starr, let me just begin with you. A, do we know what he meant by that tweet specifically when he said "strengthen and expand"? And what do you make of the timing?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the timing is really interesting here, Brooke. Mr. Trump has talked in the past about the need to modernize the aging nuclear infrastructure. That doesn't necessarily mean more nuclear weapons. He got a briefing at Mar-a-Lago yesterday about that nuclear modernization program, we are led to believe. But he did tweet this today, so we have to unpack it. Is he talking simply about modernizing U.S. capability? Is he talking about some kind of expansion of the existing force of nuclear warheads, which are limited by treaties?
[14:15:10] But, the timing. This comes after - earlier today in Moscow, Vladimir Putin made some remarks about Russia's nuclear weapons capability. Let me just quickly read that. The Russian leader saying, and I quote, "we need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems." Vladimir Putin talking about the capability to potentially attack missile defense systems is really a clear shot at the United States, which is supporting missile defenses in Europe. The Russians believe that is a threat to them. They have long talked about that. So Mr. Putin, at the very same time, talking about strengthening his nuclear forces.
Here's the big, unanswered questions.
STARR: Are we seeing a nuclear standoff between the Russian leader and the incoming American president, or are they actually in agreement? And if they are in agreement, what are they really talking about? And the real answer is, we don't know.
BALDWIN: Yes, you just asked a lot of really great questions. In general, I don't think you know the answers either, but, I mean -
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes.
BALDWIN: I'm sure you have similar questions as far as exactly what Barbara pointed out, what this would mean and also what this means for a relationship between the U.S. and Russia, Putin and Trump given the timing.
MARKS: You know, exactly. Barbara is absolutely spot on -
MARKS: As she always is, in that we don't know if this is an effort to move toward what you and I remember as detente, where there might, in fact, be some real strong additions to existing treaties. Again, as Barbara indicated, the last treaty was signed in 2011. That was called New Start (ph), which was really about measurements to reduce the threat of nuclear expansion. And that's good through 2021. At least that's what the treaty says. So I would hope - hope's not a methodology - but I would how that maybe there's some discussion about how it could be more precise and then maybe, in not a very cynical way, but maybe this is an opportunity for the United States and Russia to cooperate if we are, in fact, going down this past when you look at capabilities that are expanding in a place called North Korea, which has gone unchecked over the course of the last six or seven years in terms of their nuclear development and their missile development which has yet to really be married up. So this could be a discussion that moves us in the right direction.
BALDWIN: Yes, and he talked -
MARKS: But this - this is a shoulder shrug. We simply don't know.
BALDWIN: He talked a lot about North Korea, I know, as candidate Trump.
Before I let you go, I'd be remiss not to ask, how do you - what do you make of the next president of the United States thinking out loud on Twitter on nukes?
MARKS: That's concerning to me. And, Brooke, I assume you're asking me that question?
BALDWIN: Yes, sir.
MARKS: Yes, that's very concerning, only because of the nature of the nukes, the triad that we have. Those capabilities are absolutely pronounced, well-guarded, the highest classification levels, the training of our nuke force is phenomenal. The Air Force and the Navy do that exceptionally well.
MARKS: It concerns me that our president-elect would do that.
BALDWIN: OK. All right, Major General Spider Marks, Barbara Starr, thank you both so very much.
MARKS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: We do have some breaking news here into CNN. Donald Trump naming his communications team, including his press secretary, that coming out moments ago. We'll tell you who is at the top of that list.
And, just into us, Ivanka Trump and her husband were apparently harassed on an airplane. We'll tell you what another passenger apparently said to them and the photo that captured the moment.
[14:22:08] BALDWIN: All right, just into CNN, in one of Donald Trump's last administration picks before the holidays, the president-elect has tapped RNC spokesman - someone who you see on CNN all the time - Sean Spicer as White House press secretary. Spicer is a six-year veteran of the Republican National Committee, well positioned among the Washington press corps. More recently he has been acting as a spokesman for the Trump transition team.
So let's go straight to Jim Acosta, our CNN senior White House correspondent.
We know Sean, so congrats to Sean.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We do.
BALDWIN: Tell - tell me more about his resume and any other names as part of this announcement. ACOSTA: Yes, Brooke, I mean, we've been hearing about Sean Spicer's
name for a while. You know, Kellyanne Conway, who was tapped as the counselor to the president today, she was initially offered this position very early on after the election. She turned it down. She wanted a bigger, more high-profile role closer to the president of the United States, and she got that in being named counselor to the president.
Now, being press secretary is not small potatoes, as you know. Just ask -
BALDWIN: It's a huge job.
ACOSTA: Ari Fleischer, Jay Carney, Josh Earnest. I mean these -- Robert Gibbs. These are - these are very big, well-established people here in Washington and it is a huge, huge job. You're tangling with the press every day. And Sean Spicer has shown it on your show and other shows here on CNN that he can handle it. He is somebody that Donald Trump has grown to really like. You know, he tangled with Michael Smerconish one time on CNN and we were told that following that performance he got a pat on the back from the president-elect himself.
There are other people - there are other people who were named today. Jason Miller is going to be the new communications director. Hope Hicks, the long-time spokesperson for Donald Trump, she's going to be the director of strategic communications. She was a fixture out on the campaign trail handling a lot of the booking requests and that sort of thing. And then Dan Scavino, who was sort of a low-level staffer inside the Trump Organization for many, many years, but then got very good at Instagraming and tweeting pictures of Donald Trump here, there and everywhere, is now the director of social media inside the White House.
So, Brooke, it just goes to show you, if you were there at the beginning of one of these campaigns - we saw it with the Obama campaign and moving into the Obama White House, the Bush years and so on -
ACOSTA: You know, if you're there at the beginning, you can land some pretty top primo spots in the administration. And that is exactly what has happened. Save (ph) Sean Spicer, who came in sort of towards the end of the campaign, when Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway were coming in to sort of help right the ship after Corey Lewandowsky went by the wayside, Paul Manafort and so on, Spicer, Priebus, those folks came in towards the end. But this is very much the team that we're going to be seeing in this new administration. They're going to be calling a lot of the shots and dealing with folks like us on a daily basis.
BALDWIN: Yes, they will. It's a huge, huge deal.
BALDWIN: Congrats to them. Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
ACOSTA: You bet.
[14:25:00] BALDWIN: Let's now turn to some other news just into us. A senior official in the Trump transition telling CNN, the incoming administration is mulling a double digit tariff on imports. The move, an obvious nod to Trump's campaign promise to create jobs. But one business source says that could spark a trade war.
So let me bring in CNN politics reporter Jeremy Diamond, who just got the very latest.
We're talking double digits, Jeremy. We had initially been reporting five. What is it now?
JEREMY DIAMOND, REPORTER, CNN POLITICS: Well, I shut spoke with a senior transition official today who said that it could be as high as 10 percent. Certainly they're mulling higher - more than a 5 percent tariff. And what they're talking about right now is an across-the- board tariff on imports, which is understandably kind of spooking a lot of folks in the big business community, especially a lot of consumer goods that rely on imports. You know, you could see prices rise, consumer goods prices rise if such a measure were to go into effect. And I'm told that this is already being discussed with House leadership officials and so far the senior transition official I spoke with said that they are finding some common ground, although it is unclear exactly, you know, what that common ground is and we're not hearing too much from the House side so far.
But certainly what this could be is, you know, a starting negotiate position. We've seen this time and again from Donald Trump's campaign, you know, where they start at a very high figure, something a little bit radical, and then eventually come down to more of a middle position once they start negotiating.
BALDWIN: Jeremy Diamond, stay with me.
I want to bring in two more people, Richard Quest, CNN's foremost international business correspondent and host of "Quest Means Business," and also Juana Summers, CNN's politics editor there as well.
So, Richard Quest, to you. You know, economists are responding saying this could spur a global recession, depress global trade. What do you think?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you want to put the fox amongst the chickens, then this is exactly the right way to go about it. There is no doubt, Brooke, that this is - look, you - first of all, there will be questions as to its legality, and that relates not only to WTO rules, but bilateral trade treaties that the U.S. will have with other nations. But let's assume for the purposes of this discussion that we can put all those legalistic niceties to one side.
BALDWIN: OK. QUEST: The reality is, tit for tat. If you introduce these tariffs on
imports, then outgoing exports can expect quid pro quo going the other direction.
BALDWIN: OK. I want to move off that. And, Juana, let me just move to you on the reporting we just heard from Jim, Sean Spicer now officially appointed as the press secretary for the next administration and also Kellyanne Conway, who we know she had been offered that job. She said thanks but no thanks. But now she's officially a quote/unquote "counselor to the president." What will that mean?
JUANA SUMMERS, EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Given the role that we've seen from Kellyanne Conway so far as Trump's campaign manager and the role she's played in taking a front facing role towards the press, I would expect to see her be someone who handles a lot of the strategic messaging coming out of the campaign, takes a lead role, as we've seen her do, in the last couple weeks since Donald Trump has become President-elect Trump and talking to people, making sure that the message is clear.
She's a long time veteran pollster. A lot of those of us who have reported in Washington have known her and have worked with her during the course of the campaign. I think she'll certainly play a lead role in messaging, along with Sean Spicer, also another well-known Washington person. And, Brooke, I'm sure for a lot of reporters who might be concerned that the Donald Trump administration will be chilly to the press, someone like Spicer as White House press secretary is a welcome sign.
BALDWIN: OK. Now to the story that everyone's talking about and finally we can officially because we have a photo, thank you TMZ. Guys, throw the photo up on the screen here. The arrow is pointing to Ivanka Trump, who is sitting with her children, I believe - Jeremy Diamond, you know the story - and her husband when someone started harassing them and he got chucked off the plane. What happened?
DIAMOND: Well, it seems that there was a gentleman on a plane who came up to Ivanka and Jared Kushner and essentially, you know, began haranguing them for, you know, their relationship to the president- elect. And I had a, you know, Trump organization spokesperson tell me that really they're letting this story stand for itself, suggesting that it's something pretty outrageous as far as they see it. And we also had an understanding that - from a Trump transition source who told me that they are flying to Hawaii for some vacation. So not going to Mar-a-Lago, where the president-elect and some of his family are residing for the Christmas holiday.
BALDWIN: OK. So, Richard Quest, you fly all the time. You're also our aviation correspondent. And by the way, you know, shame on the person who harassed them. I don't care how you feel about, you know, Donald Trump, that is just entirely rude and disgraceful to be harassing somebody, especially with little children. Have you ever heard of something like this?
[14:30:05] QUEST: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. This is - this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. It usually happens with politicians, that they get - a few British politicians have been rounded out