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Man Attacks Police in Paris; Attacker Had Knives and Hammer; Trump Agenda Stalls; Trump is Trump's Most Effective Opponent; Trump Administration Brags About Social Media Stats. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired June 6, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out of Paris, France, where there was an attack on a police officer this morning. Police there at Notre- Dame have the situation under control, but more details are coming in.
Thank you so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.
A busy day in Washington, but we'll get to that in a moment because we're following breaking news in Paris where police shot a man who tried to attack officers with a hammer at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The situation described by authorities now is under control. One police officer and the attacker both wounded. Hundreds of people were inside the cathedral at the time. Officers, as you can see there, made them raise their hands above their heads as a safety precaution.
Authorities have warned people to stay clear of that area now and French prosecutors have opened what they describe as an anti-terror inquiry, but they have not said definitely if this is a terror-related attack. The suspect has not been identified. Paris, of course, under a state of emergency since the terror attacks back in 2015. They've since had increased presence on the policed streets.
Our Paris correspondent, Melissa Bell, joins me live now. She is in London after the terror attack there with the latest.
Melissa, what do we know about what happened at that cathedral?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was another in a series of type of attacks that we've seen in Paris with regular -- remarkable regularity, tragic regularity, John. Every month for the last four, including this one, we've seen now an attacker take on security forces, specifically this time wielding nothing more sophisticated than a hammer. He was shot by police and you're seeing those images that have been coming to us from outside Notre-Dame.
Of course, an incredibly busy part of Paris. One of those monuments that are visited the most by tourists who come to see the French capital. Also one of those that is the most carefully defended by those increased numbers of military personnel and police men and women that we've had on the streets of Paris ever since the state of emergency was introduced in the wake of the November 13th attacks back in 2015.
Now you'll remember then that 130 people had been killed in remarkably coordinated attacks by well-armed gunmen. The whole thing launched from Syria. This time and more recently what we've been seeing are much cruder attacks on military and security personnel more generally. This appears to have been the case once again today.
Crucially, perhaps, the man who carried out today's attack was shot by policemen after attacking them with their hammer, but not killed. So no doubt we will get much more information with any luck in the next few hours about precisely what his motivations were. But the fact that the French authorities have opened this anti-terror investigation does lead us to believe that it was terror-related. In fact, I can think of no other example when they've opened this kind of inquiry and then, in fact, decided that it was not terror related. So they clearly have some reason to believe that this man was acting in the name of Islamist extremism. There is every indication that was once again sadly the case.
KING: And, as you noted, Melissa, we're waiting for the interior ministry spokesman to give us more details to try to connect those dots you're speaking of right now. Help our viewers. Obviously, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is an iconic site in Paris. Most people, if they haven't been there personally, are familiar with it from past news stories, some of them hopefully a lot more favorable than this one. But just help our viewers understand the site, its importance and at the time of day the number of people likely to be there.
BELL: That's right, John, it is one of those parts of Paris that tends to be packed, not only with Parisians, but with all those many thousands of tourists that you'll find milling around the streets of the French capital on a day like today. Very centrally located in Paris on a smaller island surrounded by two branches of the Seine River. And it is one of those locations where there's been this increased police and military presence.
And, once again, those security forces specifically attacked. And you can imagine the sense of panic from those tourists, many of whom were obliged to stay inside the cathedral while the police operation was ongoing. You can imagine the scenes of panic as those gunshots on the part of the security forces taking down this assailant were heard. There will have been a lot of people around there and the police will have struggled to get them away from the area where this man was fairly quickly.
And this all happened really within the course of the last hour and a half. So this security operation has been very fast. But, again, this man was armed only with a hammer. And I mentioned to you a moment ago the fact that we've seen these series of attacks of security personnel. We've also seen, if you look at the last four attacks, including today's attacks that were targeting monuments or places in Paris that are particularly well known and heavily guarded as a result of a state of emergency under which the country finds itself still in February with the Louvre Museum where a man armed with machetes took on military personnel there in March. It was the -- or the -- or the airport, which is the second largest airport in France, just outside Paris. And, of course, in April you'll remember that a man took on a police van armed with a Kalashnikov this time on the Champs-Elysees. So, once again, another of Paris' iconic monuments attacked and once again the security forces guarding it specifically taken on, John.
[12:05:11] KING: Our Paris correspondent Melissa Bell helping us get the latest on this attack and the police investigation outside the cathedral of Notre-Dame.
Melissa, thank you. We'll come back as developments warrant.
Kyle Riches is visiting Paris from the bay area of California. As Melissa noted, a very popular tour site there. He and his wife outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral when the attack went down. He spoke a few moments ago with CNN's Kate Baldwin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYLE RICHES, WITNESSED NOTRE DAME ATTACK (voice-over): So we were walking onto the Notre-Dame plaza. My wife and I were trying to get back on our tour bus. And then we just heard two gunshots. And so we grabbed each other and ran. And then I shot a video probably about 30 feet from where I actually was where we just saw probably five police -- French police officers surrounding a guy on the ground. All we saw was blood on his leg, so they shot him. I don't know exactly of anything before that. All we've read now is that I guess he was attacking someone with a hammer and they shot him.
And so I shot the video and then we started walking and then the police officers decided to clear the whole entire plaza and it sounded pretty urgent from the -- I mean the French that we did hear. So they cleared out everybody from the plaza when we saw probably five more police officers come in and they went around a bush that was by a tree and they saw a guy in there, I'm guessing, because they all started pointing their guns at someone or something.
And so my wife and I crossed the street and we got kind of a better view of where they were still pointing their guns at somebody at that point and so we got on our bus quickly because we saw all these police officers come in. And so that's when I shot the other video of the -- all the cop cars coming in and the S.W.A.T. team getting their gear on to go into the plaza. And that's when they started yelling at us to get off the bus and to go up the street kind of away from Notre-Dame and just to clear out the entire area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get a little perspective now, a eyewitnesses there, former CIA operative Mike Baker joins us live from our New York bureau. We also have former FBI assistant director, CNN's senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes in Fairfax, Virginia.
Tom, let me start with you.
If viewers are hearing one guy with a hammer allegedly running at or attacking the police in some ways, one instinct might be, OK, a terrible event, but why -- why the terror investigation open? I think the other instinct is, this is the new face of what we're seeing more and more, sadly, isn't it?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, John, if the motivation is on behalf of whether it's ISIS, al Qaeda, some form of terrorist ideology and there are -- he's a -- you know, going to hit you with a hammer, that's a terrorist act. And the fact that it's not an AK-47 or a high power explosive, if you're the recipient of that hammer on top of your head, it's terrorism to you and it could be many other people.
Now, the French, in these earlier attacks that we saw during "Charlie Hebdo" and some of the other incidents, you know, we saw many, many French police officers who were gunned down because they weren't even armed, including the woman officer that was directing traffic. So, you know, if -- you know, if you take out a hammer and start going after people, there might not even be enough police officers in the area to prevent loss of life to the tourists and other people in that area around the cathedral.
KING: An excellent point by Tom there, Mike. And in this case, the state of emergency is in place. There is high visibility. As you can see, the quick response there by the authorities. Oddly enough, if you're trying to make a statement, that might be the very reason, you pick an iconic place that has a heavy security presence to launch an attack, right?
MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: No, absolutely. So, you know, there's a reasoning behind all of these. And the important point is, and Tom referred to it, is that it doesn't matter how unsophisticated the attack is or it doesn't matter if the explosive device doesn't detonate, it all serves to have an impact that from the extremist point of view it's successful because, what does it do? It captures our attention. It creates some sort of -- a sense of instability and panic. So we don't want to get lost in the idea that this is a small attack or this is an unsophisticated attack or it's just one lone individual. They all serve the same purpose from the extremist point of view.
KING: All right, Mike and Tom, stand by. I want to get immediately now -- we're getting a press briefing from the French interior ministry. The minister, Gerard Collomb. Let's listen in.
GERARD COLLOMB, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTRY (through translator): Defense meeting. We will discuss whether the -- we should continue the state -- the emergency -- state of emergency and what we need to do to continue addressing this type of situation. What we know today, that it was someone who was -- who we believe to be an Algerian student with an identity card. So we have to check the authenticity of this card. That is all that we know at this point.
[12:10:02] He was armed with a hammer. We also found on him knives, kitchen knives. So it's literally with basic tools that he came to attack the forces of order to make it this -- to do the -- undertake this attack. So we've gone from very sophisticated terrorism. So now we're at a point where we have this basic terrorism using whatever tools or instruments they can find. When we see what happened in the United Kingdom, we can only be but
concerned. Yesterday I was speaking to the British home minister and, yes, so we are concerned about the level of threat in Europe. And next Thursday we're going to have a summit of interior ministers of Europe. And one of the first subjects we will be addressing is the coordination of intelligence services in this fight against terrorism.
There have been no other -- there have been -- there's been no other news or claims or actions, but obviously in the days to come the interrogations that will take place by the republic prosecutor will give us more news. The man who attacked today was on his own. From what we understand, there was nobody else. He was not working in conjunction with anybody.
The policeman is OK. He is in a stable condition. His injuries are not too serious. So, obviously, this attack could have been far more serious if his colleague had not reacted so quickly.
KING: That's the French interior minister, Gerard Collomb, briefing reporters outside the cathedral of Notre-Dame on an attack. He said it was an Algerian student, or at least that was the I.D. the perpetrator had. The I.D. of an Algerian student who attacked police with a hammer. He said he also had kitchen knives.
Mike and Tom are still with me.
Mike, I want to come back to you first. At the beginning of the press conference, before we got there live, the interior ministry said the attacker, as he was attacking the police, said, "this is for Syria." What does that tell you?
BAKER: Well, I mean, it certainly speaks to motivation. Also the fact that he's an Algerian student. A large, disaffected, somewhat isolated Algerian community in France in (INAUDIBLE) outside of Paris. So this is -- it's all part and parcel of the investigation that has to take place. You know, and they move with remarkable speed nowadays in part because, you know, whether it's in France or it's in Germany or here in the U.S. or in the U.K., the authorities, unfortunately, have got a great deal of experience in these things now.
KING: And, Tom, you heard the interior minister laying out this case. He said that the victim obviously will be -- the perpetrator -- the attacker, excuse me, will be interrogated as we go forward. But he also said noteworthy that European interior ministers, homeland secretaries, homeland security ministers, are planning to meet soon to discuss how to better coordinate their intelligence to deal with these terrorist threats. How big is that challenge? If we go back 15 years, you know, the coordination was about an al Qaeda terrorist group that was trying to launch massive large scale attacks, fly airplanes into building. Now the concern is more about, in London, three guys in a van who cause mayhem, then jump out and start stabbing people. In this case, one man sitting outside a noted religious and tourism site and attacking the police. FUENTES: You know, John, I was personally involved for years in the
matter of coordinating intelligence, especially in the aftermath of 9/11. This is at a point where it's hard to coordinate any further. If somebody radicalizes themselves at a person level, doesn't share that information with anybody else, takes a weapon that you can buy at any store or cutlery shop or, you know, home supply store, and goes out and starts attacking people, that's unpreventable. That's the frank part of it. It can't be prevented if you can't read people's minds to know that they're going to do it.
Not only that, but in these interrogations, and, again, I've been involved in many of these over the years, doesn't mean the person's going to tell you the truth. So they -- or that the person even knows in his own mind what the final straw was to cause them to go out and start wielding a hammer or a knife, you know, something along those lines, because it can be so spontaneous. It's not like going to the trouble of acquiring a weapon, acquiring the bullets, learning how to use it or even more sophisticated making a bomb or having people help you make a bomb. To take a hammer or a knife and go out and start bashing police officers, that's nothing. That takes no skill set whatsoever. And it takes no advanced preparation other than five minutes to put that in your backpack and go out on the street.
[12:15:16] KING: And, Mike Baker, to that point, in terms of intelligence gathering, we've heard in the wake of the London attack, for example, Theresa May saying much -- we have to be much more aggressive, she says, not only in confronting the fact that there's extremism among us, but maybe in the cyber world. Are there steps that you think governments can take or conversations, that especially democratic governments would have to have again, like we had post 9/11, about increased cyber surveillance or, as Tom notes, is something like this almost unpreventable?
BAKER: Well, certain types of attacks, as you pointed out are, you know, almost impossible to pick up on. But it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be looking at other measures to capture the more coordinated or, you know, types of attacks that have more individuals and there are some communications that go on prior to the attack. So the problem is that with Theresa May saying enough is enough or here in the U.S., you know, the president saying it's -- you know, we've got to stop being politically correct, all those things are good and they make us feel strong and tough in the face of an attack. The reality is now, the next step is, laws have to be revised. If you're going to go that route, if you're going to say we're going to be more aggressive in our surveillance or in how we can open and maintain an investigation, or how we can maintain monitoring or the things that we can do in cyberspace, all those are going to require very serious discussion, changes in government, changes in laws that will have to be done in order to allow law enforcement in the intel community to have a wider playing field.
And, again, in my experience, we've been talking about this and doing this for a long time. The problem is typically we have a short attention span. So we have this attack or everybody's on board with more security. They're willing to give up something on the privacy side. That doesn't last very long. Or, in fact, if you do get far down the road and you start to make some changes, then pretty soon the outcry is, you've gone too far, you're approaching a policed state.
KING: Mike Baker, Tom Fuentes, appreciate your --
FUENTES: If I could add to that real quick, John.
KING: Please, go ahead. Go ahead, Tom, please.
FUENTES: You know, even if we pass the laws, you know, it takes about two years and we decide, oh, we don't want those laws, we don't want the government collecting meta data, we don't want the FBI getting into the phone of the attacker in San Bernardino. You know, we start losing not only the desire to keep this pressure up, but we want to reverse it if nothing happens for a year or two. So this is why this is so difficult politically. We're not -- we typically don't sustain the imperative to continue the policies, you know, after one of these events.
BAKER: That is absolutely correct. Yes.
KING: Tom Fuentes, Mike Baker, appreciate the sharp, smart insights there.
Again, you're watching the cathedral of Notre-Dame. An attacked, an Algerian student, the French interior ministry says, attacked police with a hammer. That student -- they believe to be a student, that was the identification card he had on him, is in the hospital, as well as the officer. That investigation continues. We'll bring you the latest developments as the news warrants there.
Up next, though, back to politics here in the United States. Progress on the president's agenda held up by the man who sits in the Oval Office. The president's anger and how it's gumming up a Washington already prone to paralysis.
[12:22:34] KING: Welcome back.
Let's turn now to the president's stalled agenda and the Oval Office impulse and anger that even Trump allies say keeps getting in the way of progress. The president is mad at the London mayor, mad at his own attorney general and mad, rightfully mad his son says, at the news media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., EXECUTIVE VP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: He gets criticized by the media all day every day by everyone else. And then, guess what, two weeks later he's proven to be right. It happens again. And we keep appeasing it. And we keep saying, OK, it's going to be great, we're going to hold fast and we're going to keep calm and carry on. Maybe we have to keep calm and actually doing something. And I think that's what he's trying to say, because he's been proven right about it every time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Part of that was about the president's war on Twitter with the London mayor. And like father like son, that is taking the London mayor out of context. But I digress.
With us to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press," Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Michael Bender of "The Wall Street Journal," and Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times."
The president's day started in a way that seemed downright normal and focused. He tweeted this. "Big meeting today with Republican leaders concerning tax cuts and health care. We're all pushing hard. Must get it right."
But it doesn't take long for the president to shift back to attack mode. "The fake MSM," that would be the mainstream media, "is working so hard trying to get me not to use social media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out." We don't hate the unfiltered Donald Trump, I promise you.
This a day after tweets attacking his own Justice Department and undermining his legal arguments in the travel ban case.
What is it? What is the constant anger, lashing out? What's the right term for it? Including, in a fabulous story you write with your colleague Peter Baker today, Jeff Sessions is the gold standard of Trump loyalist. He was the first senator who came to candidate Donald Trump. He was his link to the anti-immigration populace base and now, first it was Reince Priebus, then it was Steve Bannon, then it was Sean Spicer. Now the president's lashing out at his attorney general. He's mad at him.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": He's actually been quite angry at him. And in some ways he's been angriest at him more than almost any of the people you've just mentioned. You know, there was one exception. But he has -- this all goes back to what, in the president's mind, is the original sin by Jeff Sessions of doing what every legal scholar in the world thought was the right thing to do, which was recusing himself from any Russia probe. The president was not aware of it ahead of time. He felt blindsided. He also saw it as not -- it's not just a concession, it was the way, as I have been told, the way he understands it or sees it is, it's some acknowledgement by Sessions that there could be something there when there isn't something there according to the president.
[12:25:04] This constant state of being angry that you describe, this is also a constant state that we saw in the campaign. It has just shifted targets. But at a certain point, he is going to have to start getting to the business of racking up accomplishments, of doing something. And I understand Russia is a distraction, but the president is a distraction to himself too. And to his son's point, and I actually think his son is a pretty good spokesman for him a lot of the time, but his thing about, well, we want someone to do something on terror, the president said that he would have a plan within 30 days, I think, to defeat ISIS.
HABERMAN: I mean the president has not put forward much of a plan yet. And then he says, I don't want to put forward a plan. It's just -- he tries --
JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": He just tweets, got to get tough, got to get smart --
HABERMAN: Right, which is --
HABERMAN: Right, which is fine, but at a certain point you have to go beyond that.
MARTIN: There's no plan. Yes.
KING: At a certain point he's president of the United States and if the attacks keeps happening, even if they're overseas, there comes a question of what is the world doing about this.
HABERMAN: That's right.
KING: And he's part of the reaction.
I want to read just a line from your piece because it's just fascinating. "He's intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling." I'm going to move forward a little big here. "In Mr. Trump's view, they said it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation." So it's because Jeff Sessions, as you noted, followed the advice of just about every legal scholar. You were involved in the campaign. You were out talking about this. You cannot be a part of this.
HABERMAN: Well, it wasn't just that. It was that he didn't talk about the meetings with the Russian ambassador and that was the issue.
KING: He didn't disclose -- didn't disclose his meetings with the Russian ambassador.
KING: Maybe a part of this investigation, or at least some whose meetings were looked at. Does the president ever look in the mirror and think, maybe I'm the reason there's a special counsel?
HABERMAN: Do you -- do you generally ask questions that you know the answer to?
MARTIN: Asked and answered by (INAUDIBLE). KING: But it is stunning. And, Michael, the editorial board of your
newspaper today, again, generally -- generally, the editorial board, "The Wall Street Journal," generally on the side of Republican administrations, but increasingly frustrated with this one. "If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff." A little interesting dig there. "Mark it all down as further evidence that the most effective opponent of the Trump presidency and Donald J. Trump." I mean it's hard to argue with that last sentence.
MICHAEL BENDER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": It is hard to argue with that. And you -- you sort of asked about it earlier, what -- what makes Trump do this. And it's the -- it's a sign of weakness. We did a little reporting around the same time. This was like when -- when Trump -- when, excuse me, when Sessions recused himself was early March, right around the time when the same Justice Department wanted to water down the Muslim ban, the travel ban. He sees this as weakness. And he -- and this weakness is -- is -- it seems to go beyond loyalty to, you know, to the president. So that -- he can't get past that sort of -- that signal of weakness and then lashes out for months after.
JULIE PACE, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": And the problem -- the problem for him right now is, he is in a whole different ball game right now.
PACE: When you are talking about an FBI investigation, when you're talking about a special prosecutor and pretty robust, at least with one Senate committee, pretty robust congressional investigation, it doesn't matter if you are talking about loyalty, if you see this as a sign of weakness, you are now in a pretty fraught legal game.
PACE: And he hasn't seemed to understand that yet. No one on his team can really get him to internalize that at this point.
BENDER: That's right, it's not the media this wants him to stop tweeting, it's his own lawyers, his own counsel, yes.
PACE: It's his own staff.
KING: Well, it's most -- it's most of his own staff.
HABERMAN: It's not all of his own staff.
KING: But he is enabled by some on his staff, or supported by some on his staff, maybe that's the wrong word, he's the boss and he's, you know, he's the CEO of the United States government and the leader of the free world, but Dan Scavino, his social media director, in all this criticism yesterday that he's tweeting about the travel ban and undermining his legal case, he's in a Twitter war with the London mayor. We can debate or who's right or who's wrong. This happens the day after a terrorist attack. Is that really when you want to start attacking a mayor overseas. Dan Scavino tweeted out these metrics last night to prove, you know, we're right about this. You know, 13 billion impressions in the last year, 18 million retweets, 14 million link clicks, 44 million minutes video views. OK. You know, there's a lot of traffic on Twitter and it is an effective way for the president to communicate and we should not underestimate that. However, he's got an approval rating somewhere around 37 percent and he has an increasingly growing list of Republicans, people in his own party saying, you know, we can't get anything done because of this.
MARTIN: I recall the last president who said scoreboard, as they say in sports when you're winning, and that was Barack Obama who famously told Eric Cantor, well, I won. Well, guess what happened to Barack Obama in 2010?
MARTIN: He had a heck of a rebuke in the first midterm elections. What happens is the candidate the year before has trouble accommodating -- or coming to terms with the fact that they are now governing. They're not in the campaign anymore. This is not the first time this has happened in this country, but, obviously, it's much more profound in this case with Trump. And he is having difficulty accepting the fact that he has to have a different voice. He has to have an inside voice now that he's the president of the United States. And he can't do that. And --
HABERMAN: But this is -- but he can do it for a time. I think that's the thing that is so incredibly --
[12:30:01] MARTIN: Falls off the wagon, Maggie. He falls off the wagon, right?
HABERMAN: I'm not going there with you. But that he was so -- he's -- we saw him during the campaign. He was able, when necessarily, to sort of drill down and do what you had to do.