Return to Transcripts main page


Japanese P.M. to Visit Pearl Harbor; Secret Services' Difficult Task of Protecting Trump in N.Y.; Brawls Break Out at Malls Across U.S.; Manhunt after Jailbreak in Tennessee. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:57] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Japan's prime minister set to make an historic visit to Pearl Harbor today. Shinzo Abe will become the first Japanese leader to visit the "USS Arizona" Memorial, which honors the Marines and sailors who died aboard the ship during Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, 75 years ago. The White House describes this moment in history this way: "The visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies."

What will their message, though, be today in this moment of history, and will it include a message for the next president coming in?

Joining me now, CNN presidential historian, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Timothy Naftali.

Great to see you.


BOLDUAN: President Roosevelt called the attack, "a date which will live on in infamy." What then does this date, today's date, represent?

NAFTALI: Well, when you think about the fact it's been 75 years and the United States and Japan have tried to create a deep security relationship. The visit of the prime minister is a book end to that. It's a way of symbolizing the fact that the Japanese recognize the significant of Pearl Harbor. They're going to -- the Japanese prime minister is going to pay respect to the fallen. He's going to visit the "USS Arizona," a brilliant and beautiful memorial, and that will symbolize the fact that this moment has passed. But the Japanese they take seriously the pain and suffering and damages they decision to launch a war in the United States created. There's a second issue that makes this symbolically important because it's a book end for the Obama administration. We've seen in some of the memoirs that have come out from Obama's inner circle, the pivot towards Asia is an important part of what President Obama believes to be his legacy. For the last person, the last leader that he will meet as president, to come from Asia, symbolizes the importance of that region for the United States and in Obama's mind the nature of American power and leadership in the world. A number of elements of this visit that are hugely symbolic. I suppose the last one is that Prime Minister Abe is visiting prime minister in his home. President Obama was born in the state of Hawaii. And for the last visit to this president to occur in his home state I think is quite meaningful.

BOLDUAN: Is the incoming president, he's taken particular focus on Japan throughout the campaign and since. He was the first foreign leader, Abe, to meet with the president-elect right after the election. But also, Trump, you will remember, and everyone will remember, suggested that during the campaign Japan may need to develop its own nuclear weapons. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them. They have no carrier system yet, but they will very soon. Japan, they're over there, very close. They're very fearful of North Korea. And we're supposed to protect.


[11:35:11] BOLDUAN: With this visit, and when you think of the president-elect's position he's had, the fact Abe was the first foreign leader that he met with after winning the election, how do you see the relationship between the United States and Japan? Do you see it changing? When the president-elect comes in, do you think that that -- part of the audience for today, when they make the remarks, is not only the American people, Japanese people, the world, but also the incoming president.

NAFTALI: There's no question about that. Part of it is a reflection of his lack of experience on nuclear issues which we've seen in other cases too. But it's also because his vision is he wants countries to protect themselves. For us, the United States, to play less of a role. I think he's going to discover when it comes into office, there are many countries that want us to play the role of honest broker. Let's not use the word policeman but to help stabilize regions. Countries think it will be more provocative and destabilizing for their region, for them to be armed with the nuclear weapons as opposed to the United States Navy being there to keep everyone apart. President Obama and many presidents before him felt the United States played a positive role in keeping these powers separated from each other. President-elect Trump believes they should just defend themselves. I think that's a more chaotic vision. I suspect people try it out but I'm not sure he's going to find that it works.

BOLDUAN: Well, today is a huge moment for these two countries. These allies. You can be sure the president-elect will be watching very closely, as we all will be.

Timothy, it's great to see you. Thank you.

NAFTALI: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: So, it's an unprecedented task for the Secret Service. How to keep the president-elect safe. He lives in a skyscraper made almost entirely of glass, on one of the busiest intersections in the world. We're going to take you inside the massive operation.

Plus, a jailbreak with a toilet twist. A manhunt still under way for one man considered dangerous after he and five other inmates escape from a Tennessee jail. Officials say a leaky toilet may have made it all possible.


[11:40:47] BOLDUAN: Some extra activity in and above New York City. Federal authorities scrambling to map out plans how best to protect the next president's New York residence. This is no typical and easy task.

CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras, has the details.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump Tower, a nearly 70-story high rise in the middle of Manhattan, tourist attraction and home to President-elect Trump, must soon be one of the most protected buildings in the United States.

JONATHAN WACKROW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RISK ASSISTANT NETWORK EXCHANGE & FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Every element, whether it's from a security posture, communications or emergency protocols, that has to be put into place here at Trump Tower.

GINGRAS: Trump has made it clear he plans to return to New York often during his term. And his wife, Melania, and their 10-year-old son will live there for the next six months.

For law enforcement, a White House in the middle of a city of skyscrapers presents challenges.

(on camera): So really, it's getting the president down from there?

WACKROW: Absolutely, that's the biggest challenge.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Jonathan Wackrow is a former Secret Services agent.

WACKROW: Washington, D.C..'s very simple. The White House is on 18 acres that's fenced, has a great big lawn in the back we can utilize. Don't have that here. Those ties of considerations have to be addressed.

GINGRAS: Training to address those concerns has already started. Law enforcement sources confirm these military aircraft and helicopters, recently seen hovering above the New York City skyline, were mapping out escape routes and taking pictures of rooftops and Central Park for potential landing locations.

The city has never been analyzed this way before for a U.S. president because the White House was opened in 1800, so never has a president resided outside of it, and in a major city for extended periods of time. But Trump is full of firsts. And the Secret Service, along with the

military and NYPD, must adjust.

WACKROW: You're going to see increasing security posture here around Trump Tower. You're going to see a lot of standoff distance. You're going to see a lot of physical changes to the location to mitigate a lot of different threats.

GINGRAS: If there were a threat, agents would have less than a minute to bring the president and his family to safety.

WACKROW: Remember, we have to extract him from the top of this building. How do we do that? How do we do that safely? How do we notify our law enforcement partners there is this action?

GINGRAS: All questions that not only need to be addressed but put into practice by January 20th.

WACKROW: Right now, it's sort a hurry-up offense. We're trying to rush to get this done but not miss anything.

GINGRAS (on camera): Other things law enforcement has to take into consideration here is just the structure of Trump Tower. It's all glass windows. Also, all that foot traffic that goes through the building, and even the transit system that runs below it. Again, all of this needs to be perfected by three different agencies, the NYPD, the military, and the Secret Service, all by Inauguration Day -- Kate?


BOLDUAN: Brynn, thank you very much for bringing us that.

You saw Jonathan Wackrow in that story, a former Secret Service agent. He's with me now. He's now the executive director of Risk Assistant Network Exchange.


BOLDUAN: Jonathan, great to see you.

WACKROW: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: As you lay it out, as I'm watching this, it seems you couldn't find two more different structures, homes, for the president- elect to reside in, when you talk about the White House and how the security set up there.

WACKROW: Correct.

BOLDUAN: And then what you need to replicate, essentially, here in front of Trump Tower. Can you replicate the level of security?

WACKROW: Absolutely. One, yes, you can.

(CROSSTALK) WACKROW: Two, you have to. For President Trump, if he's going to come back to New York and reside in Trump Tower, he has to have the ability to, you know, run the government under any circumstances. And so, what you're seeing now is a transition from protecting an individual to protecting the presidency. The presidency is really the office of the president, his ability to govern under any type of circumstance, crisis, you know, foreign or domestic, how is he going to respond. So, with that, there is a very comprehensive security plan, a very comprehensive structure. It's a mon mental task that the military, the NYPD, and Secret Service are all engaged in. However, it's not uncommon. We've done this before in the past. Just look back to --


[11:45:07] BOLDUAN: To this level? Is this kind of an unprecedented level of coordination and the challenges up against? When you taped that interview, you're standing just some feet from the door of Trump Tower.

WACKROW: It is. Just the locality presents the challenge. But the security structure's going to be what it is. I mean, it's the same way we did at the ranch with George Bush. We spent over 490 days there at -- in Crawford, Texas. With that structure, we're placing that in the middle of midtown Manhattan. It's the impact of New Yorkers all around Trump Tower that are really going to be the challenge. How do you find that balance between security protocols and public access, you know, to the center of Manhattan? And that's the struggle that, you know, they're working through right now. But at the end of the day, it is the necessity to this these security plans in place.

BOLDUAN: Will they be ready?


WACKROW: Absolutely. The coordination between NYPD, Secret Service and the military is fantastic. Everyone --


BOLDUAN: And this is a top priority.

WACKROW: It is the priority. This is -- the safety and security of Donald Trump, as president of the United States, is the number one priority right now.

BOLDUAN: Add into that, the fact all of the security preparations for his inauguration that will be happening. Some people are losing sleep is what I assume right now.

WACKROW: Yes, sleep it at a premium for people right now.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Jonathan.

WACKROW: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Ahead for us, a jail cell holding 43 inmates, a leaky toilet, and some shoddy construction. Put it all together, makes for a dramatic Christmas Day jailbreak. One inmate still on the run. We're going live to the sheriff that's hunting him down.

Plus, violence breaks out in more than a dozen malls across the country. Coincidence or was it coordinated? That's ahead.






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. What the --








[11:50:19] BOLDUAN: Violence erupting -- you see there -- across the country on the day of Christmas. Massive brawls, reports of possible gunfire breaking out at more than a dozen malls nationwide.

Correspondent Sara Sidner joining me from Los Angeles. She's been watching all this.

Sara, the video is terrifying. What happened here?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Different things happened at different malls. All of them, except for one of them, were fights. Most of those fights were near or in the food court.

Things got really crazy across the country in - I'm naming a few here -- Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas. Things got really crazy inside the mall when people were going to the mall to do what we all do on the day after Christmas, go and give those presents back and try to get your money back or exchange gifts or try to find really cool deals. Families inside the mall suddenly encountered what you're seeing on

your screen now, a lot of madness, a lot of fighting.

And in Aurora, Colorado, we may have a clue how this all started, at least at that particular mall.


SGT. CHRIS AMSLER, AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our investigation revealed how this all started was actually from social media. There was something that was going around on social media about a fight that was going to take place here at the town center of Aurora, which is what drew all of these people, who were up to no good, to our mall.


SIDNER: Good, old social media. Someone put something out and then a bunch of teens show up.

You do realize this is a time when kids are off from school and a lot of people do go to the mall just to hang out. Not a lot to do, especially in places that are cold.

This was terrifying for a lot of people. And there were people were hurt, trampled, trying to leave some of these malls -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Sara, when I was looking at the video, I read, maybe not all, but quite a few happened within a few hours of each other, and clearly in different states, different parts of the country. Is the working theory that they all happened by chance, or could they have somehow been planned or coordinated?

SIDNER: That's the question law enforcement is trying to figure out now. Each place may not have been aware this was also happening in another state. And now as this video starts coming out, one by one, law enforcement definitely has to be looking at whether or not there was some sort of message sent out on social media that potentially went viral. Where it was sent out exactly may not be on Facebook, Twitter or common ones we're used to. It could be, for example, on Snapchat. Those disappear. Hard to trace sometimes.

But I think this is not a coincidence. I think law enforcement is looking at if it was sent out at a blast and caught on, because this happened in far too many places. It just doesn't seem like it's just some strange happening, some strange coincidence -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And eerily similar.


BOLDUAN: It played out on the same day within a few hours of each other.

Thank you so much, Sara.

We'll stay on top of this as investigators are still looking into what really happened there.

Also, this, a manhunt is under way in Tennessee. Six prisoners escaped from a jail in Cocke County, Tennessee, through a hole behind a toilet. Video right there. It happened Christmas Day. Five of the inmates back in custody. But this man, David Frazier, still on the loose considered dangerous.

Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes is joining me now, by the phone, with an update.

Sheriff, thank you for joining me. Can you hear me?


BOLDUAN: You still have one man on the run -- we're showing his picture -- David Frazier, showing his picture, in jail on aggravated robbery and unlawful possession of a weapon. He's considered dangerous. Do you think he's still in the state? Where do things stand with the manhunt?

FONTES: At this time, we're following leads both in-state and out of state. We are not letting the general public know what we know, because, obviously, they're going to watch media and we don't want to give them any idea what we know, but we are looking at every aspect and piece of information coming in in order for us to locate him.

BOLDUAN: That's understandable.

But what's your message to the community with this man still on the run?

FONTES: The message is, if you see this individual, contact the local authorities, wherever this may be. Contact us. And don't try to approach this individual because of the fact he could potentially be dangerous. And let us do the job we're doing. And we're pursuing every lead and not giving up until we catch this individual.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry, Sheriff, I have someone in my ear.

Real quick, Control Room, if you could give me a second.

Sheriff, he got through -- they all got through a hole behind the toilet. We've been showing video of it, and pictures of it. How do you pull a toilet off the wall without anyone noticing?

[11:55:10] FONTES: It would be a very difficult task. We've been looking into that issue. Apparently, during the time when this escape occurred the three correction officers working were actually in another area of the jail conducting a search for jail contraband and, apparently, they had lots of time on their hands, 24 hour as day, seven days a week, to meticulously work on things and do things and keep things being unnoticed. And because of some plumbing issues and deterioration of the concrete itself and rust with the type of wire that this was built with, all behind it and never seen.

BOLDUAN: Was this planned? Did they have help?

FONTES: This was all done by the inmates inside the facility. There was no outside help that we are able to determine at this time.

BOLDUAN: Was this planned or does this seem an opportunity? You said, there was kind of -- construction issues, building issues, which obviously poses a huge problem that I'm sure is frustrating you, because you have to figure out how to keep your inmates in rather than out. Was this kind of just a jail break by opportunity?

FONTES: I think more of a jail break by opportunity. They heard and noticed a water line that ruptured within the wall, and when they noticed that, they began meddling around with the stainless-steel unit and, apparently, the bolts rusted out, something you couldn't notice. Once they removed the unit, they were quickly able to kick out the plumbing and kick out the remaining concrete in there and it made an access to get out of the building.

BOLDUAN: So, again, six men escaped. Five are back in custody. One man, David Frazier -- hopefully, we can show his picture again -- is still on the run, in jail for charges of aggravated robbery and unlawful possession of a weapon. And the sheriff is looking for your help. If you see him, contact authorities.

Sheriff Armando Fontes, good luck. Thank you.

FONTES: All right. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, President-elect Donald Trump apparently winding down his holiday vacation, filling a top security post. An announcement made today. And speaking out on Twitter, slamming the United Nations, and so much more. Details ahead.