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FBI Investigating Flint Officer Stabbing; Mueller Meets with Senate Leaders; Johnson on Russia Meddling; CIA Briefed Flynn; Trump on Russia Meddling. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 21, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you so much.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.
We do have some breaking news here. The FBI is now investigating whether an attack on a police officer at a Michigan airport was, in fact , an act of terrorism. That's what they're looking into. The officer here at this airport was stabbed in his neck and back at the Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan.
Right now, the airport has been evacuated. It's been shut down. The suspect is in custody, being questioned right now. We have also just learned that President Trump has been briefed on this ongoing situation. So let's begin with our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.
Shimon, what exactly happened?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: OK. So just in the last 20 minutes or so, we've learned that the FBI is now investigating this as a possible act of terrorism because of some - the nature of the attack. And we've also learned that the suspect here shouted some words during the attack. You know, words that we've heard other jihadis or like other terrorists use, "allahu akbar" (ph). It was words to that effect that witnesses have told police they heard, which is now leading some to believe that this may have been an act of terrorism.
The police officer that was hurt here, he's now in stable condition, expected to survive. We're told he was in the public area of the airport when the suspect came behind him and attacked him, stabbed him in the back and then was taken into custody. There were other people around this police officer, and they were able to subdue him and the man was eventually taken into custody.
Police and the FBI are still working through his identity, trying to figure out exactly who he is and why he was at the airport. But all signs right now leading to that this man, the suspect, was targeting this police officer, came to the airport to target him, and pulled off this attack. You know just suddenly came at the officer it seems from behind where this officer had no way of even defending himself and stabbed him in the neck and back. And really it's just, you know, pretty remarkable that this officer appears to be OK now.
The FBI, right now, is interviewing witnesses, talking to other police officers on the scene, trying to get a better sense of what happened here. Some of these witnesses, as I said, did hear the suspect say some of these words, and they're still really trying to figure out, you know, to really make a determination on whether this was terrorism, you're going to need a couple of other facts here. And the FBI is trying to work through that now.
BALDWIN: Still very early in the investigation.
Shimon, thank you so much for what we know.
Now, let's talk more about this with former New York Police Department detective Tom Verni, a law enforcement consultant.
So you just heard the news from Shimon that they are investigating it as an act of terrorism because of the nature of the attack and also he mentioned the color, some of the words that were used by this assailant. Your initial read.
TOM VERNI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes, I mean, this is what we generally will go to first. And this is the world we're living in, right, as unbelievable and perilous as it is. And looking at what we see happening in Europe, this is not surprising to me. It's not surprising it hasn't happened sooner. It's not surprising that it doesn't happened more often, not that I hope that it does, and my thoughts are with the officer and I hope he is - has a speedy recovery, that, you know, law enforcement nowadays is no longer just cops and robbers. This is cops, robbers and terrorists that we're dealing with now, post-9/11 particularly. So - and what we would advocate to people is to keep an eye out for our cops. You know, they do not have eyes in the back of their heads. So we would hope that if someone sees a crazed maniac like this, whether it's terrorist-related or just your garden variety maniac, coming towards a police officer with a knife, a bat, a gun or something else, that they would alert them to that imminent danger.
BALDWIN: And we talked - I mean, you know, heaven forbid this were to continue happening here, we keep reporting on these instances over in Europe, London, Paris, something entirely separate, but also being investigated as terrorism Brussels, you know, but where law enforcement are specifically being targeted. It sounds like this happened in the public area of the airport. Perhaps this is pre- screening, pre-TSA. So, I mean, security-wise, fairly easy to pull off.
VERNI: Yes. I mean, I would have to imagine that airport security at all airports at this moment is being stepped up.
VERNI: That's my guess, right? So - because you have an incident like this. You don't know if there's - if this person is involved in a larger group. We don't know if there are copy cats or other people in other cities looking to do the same thing. So we're going to have to, you know, go on the side of being very cautious at this moment to make sure that in other airports, large and small, that there isn't someone like this with the same ideology looking to do some kind of damage.
BALDWIN: Police, they have got this guy. They are questioning him. And hopefully he will talk and answer some of those questions and, of course, we wish the officer well.
[14:05:02] Tom, stand by. We'll keep an eye open on this one.
But, meantime, turning to Capitol Hill now and a critical meeting in the investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russian officials. It's quick, but here is Special Counsel Robert Mueller arriving this afternoon to talk to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is the only congressional panel thus far specifically looking into when the president tried to obstruct justice. The SUV, you see him, and then he's gone.
Ryan Nobles, you're live for me on Capitol Hill this afternoon. This is all about, what, making sure this committee, this special investigation, staying in its own lanes? What's going on?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, that's a pretty good way to describe it. You have a myriad of investigations up here on Capitol Hill and in the Judiciary Department, all looking into Russia's attempt to intervene in the U.S. election and what role the Trump administration may have played in that. And this is a kind of get to know you meeting. This is what I'm working on. This is what you guys are working on. Let's make sure that we're not stepping on each other's toes.
And Robert Mueller's been a pretty frequent visitor here to Capitol Hill. He was up here yesterday talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Right now he's meeting with the Judiciary Committee.
And, Brooke, you mentioned obstruction of justice. This is something that the ranking member, Dianne Feinstein, specifically wants her committee to look into and that's one of the questions that they'll likely have for Robert Mueller today. In fact, our Manu Raju caught up with Chuck Grassley, who's the chair of this committee, and asked them, what are you going to talk to Robert Mueller about, and this is what the chairman said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Each one of the committees have to have the same objective. I do. The special counsel's a very important position. There's - he's got his job to do. We've still got our job of oversight to do. And we need to know what - where he thinks his work ends and make sure it doesn't interfere with us and for us to make certain with him that we're going to continue to do our oversight work.
There's some areas that I won't go into that I think are very definitely that he can't interfere with, probably some he'll tell us that there's some that we can't interfere with.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Is obstruction one of those areas of possibly the president obstructing justice?
GRASSLEY: I - I think that everything's on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So that's an important point by Chuck Grassley that obstruction of justice is not off the table, particularly, Brooke, because the Senate Intelligence Committee has said that they are not going to look into obstruction of justice. So that's one of the many topics likely being discussed right now in that closed door meeting between the Senate Judiciary Committee and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
BALDWIN: Yes, that is the piece of the probe that Senate Judiciary is tasked to look into.
Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
Also from The Hill today, congressional testimony that goes against the White House about Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Keep in mind, this is one day after the White House would not say if President Trump believes that it was Russia who meddled in this election. Several former and current national security officials put it on record that the Russian hacking is a fact. What is more, Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security secretary under President Obama, had to defend why the administration took so long to announce the unprecedented infiltration. The hacking first became known in July but an official statement didn't come out until October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: This was a big decision and there were a lot of considerations that went into it. This was an unprecedented step. There was an ongoing election and many would criticize us for perhaps taking sides in the election. So, that had to be carefully considered. One of the candidates, as you'll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way. And so we were concerned that by making the statement, we might, in and of itself, be challenging the integrity of the election process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: In another hearing, those currently at the top level in Homeland Security revealed that Russian hackers potentially targeted the election systems of 21 states.
Let's talk about all of this. I have CNN national security analyst Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of Russia operations.
Steve Hall, I mean you just heard Jeh Johnson's defense there on why it took so long. What did you make of that?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I sort of take him at his word on that, Brooke. I mean this was a politically fraught situation whereby, you know, if the president were to have - at that time President Obama were to have come out and said, look, we have serious questions about the Russians and then trying to affect the outcome of this election, specifically hacking into voter databases, it would have caused an uproar and fingers would have - political fingers would have started pointing.
But the fact of the matter is, is that there's growing evidence that they were indeed deeper into these - into these voter databases, not just the DNC part of it, but the actual data - voter databases than we had previously seen, which is extremely concerning given that we've got another election coming up in 2018.
BALDWIN: Right. I mean what's clear when you listen to the testimony from today is that Russia will hack another election. My question is, are we prepared to handle it?
[14:10:11] HALL: You know, it's - I - no, I think is the answer in short. I was reminded by a former colleague in an excellent article that was written over the weekend about, this is not actually new. The Russians have done - have tried to influence American elections, you know, going back decades. What is new is this cyber, you know, electronic database Internet piece of it.
And even under the best of circumstances, it's extremely difficult to protect systems that are designed for the open exchange of information. Now, it can be done. The U.S. government does it. Other sensitive parts of our government do it. But it's extremely difficult to do unless you're prepared to basically toss everything out and just say, look, we're going to go back to paper balloted, which is extremely secure but is also extremely inefficient, as we all know. So I - it's - we have a relatively short window to get this right and it's really going to be tough, especially given the decentralized nature of how we run our elections, state by state, as opposed to a federal, you know, overlay on that.
BALDWIN: Still, going back to paper, that's what Senator King told me this morning ahead of his, you know, hearing this morning. He was like, hey, maybe - if that's the back-up we need, then that's the back-up we need.
BALDWIN: Let me turn the focus to this piece out of "The New York Times" this morning. You know, this renewed focus on CIA Director Mike Pompeo. "The Times" points out, you know, three weeks - for three weeks Pompeo briefed the president on the nation's most sensitive intel. And sitting around that table also included the now fired, but at the time, you know, in that seat, the national security adviser, Michael Flynn. And apparently, you know, there were concerns about whether or not he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail and the fact that he was sitting there listening to everything, does that concern you, or he was NSA, so he should - he should have been there? HALL: This is a really tough one. If you ask the age-old question,
what did Pompeo know and when did he know it, but we already know the second part according to "The New York Times." We know that he knew before he was in the room with Flynn that there were some questions with regard to Flynn and some concerns. Now the question is, what are the nature - what were the nature of those concerns?
I think there's basically two varieties or two different ways to go on this. The first option, which I think is less likely is, is that somehow Pompeo had been given sensitive information or a briefing that essentially Flynn was a Russian spy. Under those circumstances, you know, it's difficult to imagine him having briefed with Flynn being in the room. I think a much more likely explanation is that Pompeo was probably briefed, look, there's questions, concerns about some contacts that Flynn had with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, and it's possible, I would say, that Pompeo said, look, there's a lot of politics involved there, people are pointing fingers and trying to throw this administration under the bus vis-a-vis Russia. I'm not sure those are true and I haven't seen a whole lot in that regard, so I'm going to go ahead and have the briefings with him there. My guess is it's probably the second option that Pompeo exercised.
BALDWIN: Steve Hall, thank you so much.
BALDWIN: Why won't the White House flat out say President Trump believes Russia is behind the election meddling? Why not? Let's talk about it.
Also, serious new concerns that North Korea may be gearing up to make a big move. What U.S. spy images are now showing as tensions have risen over the death a American Otto Warmbier.
And just days after a jury acquitted the police officer involved in the death of Philando Castile, disturbing new dash cam video shows what happened in those second before the shooting, including Castile's last words.
I'm Brooke Baldwin and this is CNN.
[14:17:33] BALDWIN: All right, we're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The former Homeland Security chief under President Obama, the latest high-profile official to testify on Russian hacking into the 2016 election. Jay Johnson unequivocally agreed with other current and former intel chiefs that Russia was responsible. But the White House still can't quite get on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government.
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: It's pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy.
This is very real. It is growing. It is not new in that sense. But this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: In 2016, the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does President Trump believe that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 elections?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think - I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So this is where we start. Errol Louis is with me, CNN political commentator and political anchor of Spectrum News, Krystal Ball, executive director of the People's House Project, and Betsy McCaughey, former Republican lieutenant governor of New York.
Welcome to all of you.
Lieutenant governor, just first up to you. I mean we played the sound. You know, former, current intel chiefs all on the same page. Yes, Russia meddled. No one is stuttering over this, it seems, other than the White House. Why is the White House not coming out and saying, yes, definitively, Russia did it.
BETSY MCCAUGHEY (R), FORMER LT GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I think what the White House is concerned about is the hindsight fallacy, the innuendo that because the hacking occurred and then President Trump won the election, that somehow he was involved in the hacking or illegitimately benefitted from the hacking. If Mrs. Clinton had won, I guess the question is, would people be saying President Clinton, what was your role in encouraging or benefitting from this hacking?
BALDWIN: So you're saying that the White House maybe feels like talking about it feels like it would undermine his victory?
MCCAUGHEY: His legitimacy. Exactly.
BALDWIN: But he won, and it's fact that they meddled, so why doesn't he just come out with it.
MCCAUGHEY: Yes, but that doesn't mean that the president was involved in the hacking, approved of the hacking, or even benefitted numerically, that this - somehow the hacking increased his victory in some way. All we know so far from the testimony is that the hacking occurred. So let's not fall victim to the hindsight fallacy.
[14:20:19] BALDWIN: OK. But you say the hacking occurred, Crystal Ball.
KRYSTAL BALL (D), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The hacking occurred.
BALDWIN: The hacking occurred.
BALL: We should remember, too, that this president did publicly, now he claimed it was a joke, he did publicly call on the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. So let's keep that in mind.
But it really is astonishing that this president, according to Betsy's comments, and I think this is right, is more interested in saving face than in protecting our democracy. I mean, Director Comey said - former Director Comey said that they were here and they will be back. We have elections ongoing. We have to figure out, not only what happened, but what we can do to protect ourselves in jurisdictions across the country. And it is shocking, no matter what you think of whether this president colluded and his campaign and all of that -
BALDWIN: We don't know.
BALL: It is shocking that this president is not more concerned about a fundamental attack on our democracy.
BALDWIN: I want you to respond to that, saving face, and then, Errol, on -
MCCAUGHEY: Yes. I don't think that's the issue. The real issue here is the word -
BALDWIN: Isn't that what you just pointed out, though, that saving face is how it would like, hindsight.
MCCAUGHEY: Yes, but the real issue here is the word that was just used, collusion. In other words, there's a difference between saying, a foreign government attempted to interfere with the election, and linking it somehow to illegitimate, illegal, even impeachable actions by a president.
BALDWIN: But I don't think anyone's sitting here and linking it to collusion and that's why we have a lot of different people investigating all of this. That's not what we're talking about. We're specifically talking about -
MCCAUGHEY: Well, but there is this ongoing witch hunt.
BALDWIN: Hang on. We're not - I'm just asking, I'm trying to stay on point on the meddling specifically.
BALDWIN: And in that case, that is fact. You've admitted to it. So just - I think the point from Krystal is, it just seems like the president's trying to save face when really the priority should be democracy and saying, yes, Russia did it.
MCCAUGHEY: Well, there are - there are many hearings going on and investigations into the hacking. I don't think that's what the president's concerned about. Let's all admit that there's this, quote, "resistance" going on, this effort by the Democratic Party to somehow delegitimize, obstruct, sabotage the Trump administration. You hear Chuck Schumer talk about it all the time.
BALL: They don't need our help. They're doing it all on their own.
BALDWIN: On the resist note, let me just play a little mash up and then, Errol, we'll talk on the other side. This is on a multitude of subjects. Sean Spicer with a very similar response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this. And I haven't spoken to him on it about the reason.
I don't know. I honestly haven't asked him that specific question.
I said I have not had a discussion with him on the question.
I haven't talked to the president specifically about this.
I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.
I don't - I have not asked him.
I have not asked the president.
I haven't asked him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
SPICER: I can get back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: OK, so, we've all been to the White House. We know that the press briefing room is very - it's like a stone's throw from the Oval Office. We know that Sean Spicer communicates with the president. So, what's up with those responses?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, maybe if we give him another 120 days, maybe it will come up. I think - I think they - they - the answer here is just what you alluded to before, which is that, politically, the White House hasn't decided to take the lead on this. It is a little bit shocking. One would expect them to. On the other hand, they have a lot of different options. They could ask Congress to look into it. They could do a little blame sharing frankly with the prior administration. It's a little startling to hear Jeh Johnson sort of talk about all of this going on, on his watch. One wonders why -
LOUIS: Something didn't happen before Election Day. And it would be fair to raise all of these issues. The reality is, for all of us going forward, you cannot leave it to a politician who's feeling a little bit nervous. You can't leave it to Democrats who want to take back the House. You have to - we really have to collectively decide what the standard will be the next time this happens. We don't want anybody to keep this a secret.
BALDWIN: But let's hone in on the Democrats and let me - let me play a part of this exchange. This is between Jeh Johnson and also, this is, I believe, this is Senator Angus King, back and forth, over why didn't the Democrats want the help on the hacking. Here you go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps I should have camped out at the front door of the headquarters of the DNC. But at the time, knowing what we knew, and wrestling with all of the considerations we had, I can tell you that this was a very much a top priority for me.
I was not pleased that we were not in there helping them patch this vulnerability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Why did the Democrats not want the help?
BALL: I have no idea. I mean I think you have to chalk it up to incompetence. They just didn't seem to take it seriously at first. And I would also say that I found Jeh Johnson's testimony to be fairly defensive, because I think people are going to start to raise the question of, this was all going on under the last administration's watch. Why didn't we know more and why didn't we do more? And we know partly from the president's perspective, he didn't want to say more about what was going on because he was afraid of the politics of it. He didn't want to seem like he was jumping into this messy election where Donald Trump was claiming it was rigged and putting his finger on the scale. But, ultimately, I don't know that that was the right call in terms of people being really aware of what was going on.
[14:25:14] BALDWIN: I mean it's not like this was brought up in the back and forth. That it's not like it was some Republican administration looking to try to impede and the DNC said no.
LOUIS: No, no, not at all. I mean it was a vulnerability that - among all of the other issues that they had to deal with, you know, I mean, it's possible that this was part of the same bundle of overconfidence that led to their defeat in certain states where they said, oh, we've got Wisconsin, oh, we always get Pennsylvania, oh, not a problem in Michigan. They - they -
BALL: We know what we're doing on this computer stuff, right? We don't need you, FBI.
LOUIS: Yes, our algorithms are fine, you know, don't get excited.
MCCAUGHEY: I think they're overly (INAUDIBLE), overconfidence.
LOUIS: And this was a case where, yes, organizational management classes are taught about this all the time, about when an important piece of really vital information can't make it to the top, to the decision makers -
LOUIS: You've got a broken organization and you can have catastrophic results.
BALDWIN: OK, Betsy, and Krystal and Errol, thank you all so much, on both sides of the aisle, issues there.
BALL: Thank you, Brooke.
Coming up next, North Korea. Is a North Korea nuclear test imminent? What U.S. spy satellites have detected that's now raising some concerns.
Also, I'll talk with an American who was held captive in North Korea for six months. His reaction to the death of former detainee, American student Otto Warmbier.
And, days after an officer's acquittal, family, friends and the public now are reacting to this police dash cam video showing what happened in the final moments before Philando Castile was shot and killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This video was so egregious in terms of the officer's behavior that I was certain that any thinking person that saw this video would recognize that Yanes was guilty of manslaughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)