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THE SITUATION ROOM
Top Dem Demands Info On Kushner, Flynn Security Clearances; DHS: Russians Targeted Election Systems In 21 States; FBI Probes Michigan Airport Stabbing As Possible Terror Act; U.S. Scrambles to Cut Off North Korean Cash Flow. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 21, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, breaking news, clearance backlash. A top Democrat suggests the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner should have his security clearance suspended while being investigated for contacts with the Russians. Congressman Elijah Cummings also wants the White House to turn over all information on the clearances for Kushner and fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Attempted breach. Homeland Security officials saying Russian cyber attackers trying to break into the election systems in 21 states, and the former Homeland Security chief says the effort was personally directed by Vladimir Putin. Are the Russians still at it?
Airport terror attack? A suspect is now being questioned in the stabbing of a police officer in the airport in Flint, Michigan. The attack forced the evacuation of all passengers. The FBI is investigating whether this was an act of terrorism.
And life of luxury. Amid signs of new activity in the North Korea nuclear site, there is no information on how Kim Jong-in is getting the money to pay for his weapons program and to live a life of luxury. Where is it all coming from?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "The Situation Room."
Breaking news, a powerful Democratic congressman wants The White House to turn over all documents related to the security clearances for the President's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and fired national security adviser Michael Flynn. Congressman Elijah Cummings questions whether the White House is safeguarding classified information, noting Kushner's reported failure to disclose conversations with Russian officials. These suggest Kushner's clearance should be suspended and notes that after the White House was informed of Flynn's undisclosed contacts with the Russians, it failed to suspend his security clearance in the three weeks before he was fired.
The "New York Times" reports that during that period, Flynn joined regular classified briefings even though officials believed he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
The special counsel Robert Mueller made another visit to Capitol Hill today. The Senate Judiciary chairman is not ruling out an investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the President saying, "Everything is on the table." And former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson tells lawmakers that Vladimir Putin himself directed the cyber attack campaign on the 2016 presidential election while current officials want that Kremlin back hackers targeted an election systems in as many as 21 states. The officials expect Russia to keep trying to influence elections in this country.
I'll talk to Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondent specialists and guests, they are standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. Our breaking news and new demand that the White House turn over all information relating to its handling of security clearances for both Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn.
Let's begin with our senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju. Manu, what are you finding out about this letter which questions why Jared Kushner has this security clearance despite the investigation into his Russian contacts?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. The top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings asking how the White House is safeguarding classified information while ensuring that both Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had security clearance and Michael Flynn when he worked at the White House and maintain that security clearance. And Jared Kushner still at the White House has the security clearance despite his contacts with Russian officials.
Now, coming to the point specifically is a regulations that say that anytime that there any serious questions about national security question, any credible allegations raised about someone who has a security clearance that those allegations need to be investigated and the security clearance should be suspended in the interim. Now, what we do know now is that Jared Kushner did have at least four contacts with Russian officials that he did not disclose initially on his security clearance form. And Elijah Cummings writes this on his letter. He said, "It appears that Mr. Kushner allowed his colleagues at the White House and the American people to be misled about his multiple communications with Russian officials. Mr. Kushner reportedly failed to disclose contacts with dozens of foreign officials on his security clearance application. In any case, it is unclear why Mr. Kushner continues to have access to the classified information while these allegations are being investigated."
And, Wolf, no comment yet from the White House on these allegations. They referred questions to Mr. President Trump's personal attorney who has declined to comment. But previously, Jared Kushner's attorney have said that he initially disclose that security clearance form that did not have those foreign content by in the state.
[17:05:09] They've done a pre-patrolling. They said they would amend those forms calling forward to list those contacts. They said there was nothing there. They said that Mr. Kushner played that role in the campaign said reach out to foreign dignitaries that's why he had those contacts according to them, Wolf. BLITZER: Manu, the letter also voices concern about Michael Flynn security clearance which wasn't suspended even after the Justice Department avoids serious concerns to the White House Counsel. Explain that.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. For 18 days Michael Flynn stayed on staff in hottest (ph) place, security clearance form even after the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House Counsel Don McGahn on multiple occasions that Michael Flynn may have been susceptible to blackmail by the Russians.
But Cummings notes this in his letter, he says, "Although the White House received credible allegations of obvious security concern relating to General Flynn from the Acting Attorney General, it appears that the White House did not suspend his security clearance while those allegations were reviewed. Instead, it appears that the White House allowed General Flynn to continue accessing some of our nation's most highly classified secrets for weeks.
And again Wolf, they'll comment yet from either Flynn's attorney or the White House on those allegations. But continuing questions about why Michael Flynn would maintain, stayed on staff for 18 days, attended those classified briefings even as those serious allegations were raised and that he misled the Vice President of the United States, allegedly by not -- by just -- by misleading them about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
WOLF: The letter finally makes a series of requests, Manu, for documents and information related to all of this. Tell us about that.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. By July 5th, Elijah Cummings is asking for documents from the White House disclosed this information, any information regarding how the security clearance was given to Jared Kushner and also why Michael Flynn maintained his security clearance information.
Now, there is no subpoena, because, of course, Elijah Cummings is in the minority party. You would need a Republican to support and the Republican chairman, the new Chairman Trey Gowdy to support him to issuing the subpoenas. And tonight, Trey Gowdy is not commenting on this letter saying that they have received the letter, they're reviewing it, but no -- they're not saying that they're going to agree going forward. And there should be any subpoenas to get these informations in the White House may just brush this aside, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu, thanks very much. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Russian election meddling is being trace directly to Vladimir Putin and lawmakers were told today there is no reason to expect any let-up in the Kremlin's efforts.
Let's bring in our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider. What's the latest Jessica on the Russia investigation?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf today two separate hearings, both of them offering alarming details. Intelligence officials and election experts disclosing that hackers were hitting five times a second 24 hours a day, and with the Russian efforts likely to continue, former Obama official Jeh Johnson asked Congress what they're going to do to protect the American people and to protect democracy.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In 2016, the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pinning the election hack squarely on Russia, but also facing scrutiny for not sounding the alarm sooner.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Why did it take the administration so long to make a public statement that a foreign adversary was trying to influence the American election? The statement didn't come until October. Why did we wait from July until October to make that statement?
JOHNSON: Well, Congressman, I'm going to disagree with your premise that there was some type of delay. This was a big decision, and there were a lot of considerations that went into it. There was an ongoing election, and many would criticize us for perhaps taking sides.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Trump has resisted laying blame solely on Russia.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.
If you don't catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it's very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I'll go along with Russia. It could have been China, it could have been a lot of different groups.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And his press secretary still refuses to answer whether the President agrees with the intelligence community's conclusions that Russia was responsible.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think, I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), INTELLIGENCE VICE CHAIRMAN: It continues to stun me that we have consensus across our intelligence community, we have consensus from all the Democrats, from Republicans on this committee to the Russians interfered. The one individual in American that still seems to not accept this basic fact is the President of the United States who still continues to use terms like witch-hunt and fake news.
[17:10:03] SCHNEIDER (voice-over): FBI and DHS officials stressed the attempted intrusions were far-reaching, but there is no evidence that has affected any votes. JEANETTE MANFRA, DHS ACTING UNDER SECRETARY: As of right now, we have evidence of 21 states -- election-related systems in 21 states that were targeted.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: But in no case were actual vote tallies altered in any way shape or form?
MANFRA: That is correct.
BILL PRIESTAP, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: I believe the Russians will continue to try to conduct influence operations in the U.S. which will include cyber intrusions.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller spent his second day on Capitol Hill meeting with the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ironing out the parameters of each probe. Chairman Chuck Grassley reiterating that his investigation could include possible obstruction of justice by the President.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I think that everything is on the table.
SCHNEIDER: And judiciary community leaders issued a statement after their meeting with Mueller stressing they are working to proceed without impeding each other. And meanwhile, current and former Homeland Security officials today used those hearings to urge the states to beef up their safeguards in the wake of those wide-ranging cyber attacks. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jessica thanks very much. Jessica Schneider reporting.
Joining us now, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you.
BLITZER: In the 18 days between the warning about Flynn and his dismissal inspiring by the President, the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, reportedly brief the President on top secret national security issues with General Flynn in the room all of the time. Was that appropriate?
QUIGLEY: I think it was inappropriate and a big mistake to hire General Flynn and not to fire him immediately about (ph) the notification that he was vulnerable. The fact that he was -- he maintain his clearance and was still involved in this processes is inexcusable.
BLITZER: Will your committee or the House Intelligence Committee call on CIA Director Pompeo to testify either publicly or in closed hearings and discuss decision?
QUIGLEY: I think that's fair game. Unfortunately -- you mention that Michel Sapin (ph) is going out without Republican support. We can only encourage the majority to make invitations like this one. I would certainly support that.
BLITZER: Do you believe that Jared Kushner's security clearance should be suspended?
QUIGLEY: Absolutely. I mean, I agree with Mr. Cummings and what he was discussing. There are a lot of other concerns about Mr. Kushner's activities prior to the inauguration.
BLITZER: What are your concerns?
QUIGLEY: I just -- I think the whole series of activities that I can't get into at this point in time, but they raise concerns about his judgment and his ability to keep our nation secret.
BLITZER: Can you elaborate a little bit, because that's intriguing to know what you're seeing about more meetings that we don't know about?
QUIGLEY: No, I'm only referencing what Mr. Cummings is referencing, but I can't get into details because some of those things were also discussed in a classified settings.
BLITZER: But you don't believe he should be -- he's right now is in Jerusalem in Ramallah working with the Israelis and the Palestinians and try to broker some sort of peace deal. You don't think he should be doing that, is that what you're saying?
QUIGLEY: Well -- look, I like that fact that we're always trying to move forward toward the peace deals. That is exactly what our country should do. First of all, he is wholly unqualified to make those efforts. Second, toward what Mr. Cummings was referencing, that's what I was referencing he shouldn't have clearance at this point.
BLITZER: Last night, the special counsel Robert Mueller met with the leaders of your House Intelligence Committee, what came out of that meeting?
QUIGLEY: Yes. He was meeting with the leadership of the committee, not the full committee, and I understand that they talked about how to do this on a cooperative basis.
BLITZER: Deconfliction as they say, to make sure that nothing you do could undermine a separate criminal investigation, is that right?
QUIGLEY: That's exactly right. I mean, the fact is this is tough enough as you deal with the House and Senate investigation. At the same time you have a Justice Department investigation. And as we hear, the Department of Defense is possibly investigating General Flynn as well.
BLITZER: Just elaborate on that for a second. What are you hearing?
QUIGLEY: No, it's something that was already been reported, that General Flynn was also being investigated as well by the Department of Defense. BLITZER: For what?
QUIGLEY: The issues of nondisclosure and so forth. But again, that's something that's already been reported.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman standby. We're going continue this interview right after a quick break.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
[17:1913] BLITZER: Breaking news. We're standing by right now for an FBI news conference, looking at live pictures coming in from Flint, Michigan. A suspect is being questioned in the stabbing of a police officer at the airport in Flint. That attack forced the evacuation of all passengers. The FBI is investigating whether this was an act of terrorism.
We're back with Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the Intelligence Committee. I may have to interrupt you, Congressman. We expect the FBI --
BLITZER: -- agent to walk out momentarily and brief the news media on this police stabbing at the airport in Flint. They're saying they have new information to release. I don't know if you've been briefed on this, but does this seem to be -- have been an act of terrorism based on what you're being told?
QUIGLEY: Literally I've been in briefings all day and I've only heard what I've just now seen in the media coverage. Our thoughts are with that officer and his family in the meantime.
[17:20:09] BLITZER: What happened was apparently the assailant had a knife and he approached this police officer from the back, stabbed him in the neck and in the back. The police officer is in the hospital now. The assailant has been apprehended and is presumably being questioned.
We've seen these attacks that go on in Europe, and it looks like the FBI agent in charge is walking out together with others to brief us, but this is a very worrisome development if, in fact, there was an act of terror.
QUIGLEY: Yes. I don't want to prejudge until we get all the facts. I'm sure we'll be briefed on this in the next 24 hours. Again, our thoughts go with the officer.
BLITZER: We're about to be briefed right now. They told us in advance that they do have some significant information they want to share not only with the news media, with the American public right now. This is a news conference that potentially could reveal, I assume, the name of the individual, the assailant, the suspect, the background, whether there is any inspiration or direct connection that a terror organization along those lines.
This is a moment that we're going to be watching very, very closely right now to see if, in fact, this is -- we'll actually hold on for a moment, Congressman, because it looks like they're approaching the microphones right now. I want to listen in carefully as we get this briefing. Maybe they're just huddling a little bit before they start.
Let me just update our viewers once again in case they missed the news earlier today. At the Flint airport in Flint, Michigan, an individual approached from behind a police officer there and started to stab him in the back of the neck and in the back. The police officer is alive. He is being treated in a local hospital. The assailant was apprehended.
Shimon Prokupecz is our justice reporter is with us as well. You've been doing some reporting on it. Tell our viewers, first of all, Shimon why they initially suspect terror?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well I think initially the mode, sort of the way this attack took place, you know. Terrorists, jihadists, you know, there is this call for attacks on police officers, and it appeared very early on that this officer was targeted the way he was attacked and just so suddenly, really no ability to defend himself.
And the other thing as we've been reporting are some things that the suspect, some words he had said at the scene during the attack that the police and the FBI were investigating. So those two factors, I think there were other factors as well that law enforcement has not shared with us that led them to early on suspect that this may be terrorism.
BLITZER: Yes. We have been told that President Trump has been briefed on this incident. He's getting ready to fly off to Iowa for a big campaign rally later tonight, but he has been briefed on all of this. We're seeing the FBI agents, local and state law enforcement as well, they're huddling before they start this news conference right now. The words that were overheard by eyewitnesses suggested possible terror, is that right?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's right. You know, we've heard these words before during these kinds of attacks, Allahu Akbar, you know, not the easiest words to generally say. But these words that came out of the -- what witnesses say came out of the suspect's mouth obviously caused some concerns for FBI investigators.
I can tell you, Wolf, the FBI was on the scene fairly quickly there at the airport. They went there the minute they heard of the attack. You know, it is an airport, so it is considered any crimes that occur on that property are generally federal crimes. But given the way this attack occurred, the FBI was quick to respond. And then once they started talking to witnesses, they were able to learn what some of them heard or claimed they heard the suspect say.
BLITZER: And there is some sort of connection to Canada, Michigan being on the border with Canada. The suspect apparently had been going back and forth, is that right?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So both Rene Marsh and I have heard separately from U.S. officials that they do see some connection to Canada. It's not clear if he lives there or he was traveling. The Canadian Embassy here in Washington D.C. issued a statement saying that they're working with the U.S. officials to aid in the investigation. But there is appears to be some connection to Canada.
BLITZER: Andrew McCabe, the Acting FBI Director, was testifying up on Capitol Hill today, and he said this could be terrorism. He didn't say definitively it was terrorism, but he said it could be terrorism.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. And I think what you're going to hear is that possibly they don't have all the connections yet. They have not connected all the dots here to say that this is terrorism. You know, you need more than just the type of attack of maybe words that a suspect to utter. You need other mitigating factors --
BLITZER: All right, hold on a second. Hold on Shimon. Let's listen in.
[17:25:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the FBI, public affairs, thank you again for your patience. We want to make sure we have the most accurate up-to-date information for you and we appreciate your accuracy in reporting. I would like to introduce to you the special agent in charge of the Detroit division which covers the entire state of Michigan, special agent in charge, David Gelios.
DAVID GELIOS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good afternoon and I'd to thank you all for your patience throughout the day today. You look, excuse me, to refer to a few notes here because I want to give you as accurate information as I can. We have had a very busy day and I know we've kept you waiting and we wanted to wait until we had a point that we could come out here and provide you a little more information than we might have been able to do, had we done this an hour or two ago.
So before I start, though, I just want to say that you all are aware of the incident we had out here today where Lieutenant Jeff Neville was stabbed. And before we get to any details of the investigation and what happened here today, I would like to turn this over to Chief Chris Miller of the Bishop International Airport Public Safety Department to give you information on what's most important, and that's the current health condition of Lieutenant Neville. Chief?
CHRISTOPHER MILLER, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY AT BISHOP INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Good evening, everyone. Lieutenant Neville is in satisfactory condition, as you all heard what happened to him. He's doing fine and he's residing at a local hospital right now. He's resting comfortably. And we would just like to thank everybody that came out to support us here in this trying time. So -- And that's all I have.
GELIOS: And we'll introduce others of the partners here today. As you can imagine, this has been a great joint, local, state and federal operation since early this morning, and we couldn't have done it without all the partners here. And we'll give them each an opportunity to introduce themselves.
But I will just go into the facts of what we've been investigating today. I will tell you that we are investigating this incident today that happened at about 9:45 this morning as an act of terrorism. We have just filed a complaint charging an individual by the name of Amor Ftouhi. He's a 50-year-old resident of Canada who illegally entered the United States in Lake Champlain, New York on June 16th and made his way to Flint, and today arrived at the Flint International Airport.
Obviously, I know a lot more about this and we're sort of at zero hour of this investigation right now. And since it is a pending investigation, I'm not going to go into great detail as to what we know. But we do know Mr. Ftouhi entered the airport. He spent a little time on the first level, then he went upstairs. He spent some time in the restaurant up there. And then he came out. He was carrying baggage. He went into a restroom. He spent a little time in the restroom. Dropped bolt (ph) bags and came out, pulled out a knife, yelled "Allahu Akbar" and stabbed Lieutenant Neville in the back and neck.
As what's mentioned by the chief, he is in stable condition and he's expected to fully recover and that's the most blessed thing I think we can say about this today. It's a good outcome. We had some incredible acts of heroism up there today and in questions, we can perhaps talk a little bit about the efforts to take Mr. Ftouhi into custody.
The complaint that's been file is charging a violation of 18 U.S. Code 37A1 which basically is violence at an international airport. And just to give a little more background on that, that is when someone unlawfully uses a device to commit an act of violence at an international airport that could have or did cause serious injury, which we had in this instance.
There is a 20-year penalty associated with that, but this is, I said, is very, very early in the investigation. And as we progress and take this matter to grand jury for indictment, other charges could be pending later on. As I mentioned, it's an ongoing investigation. There is joint operations going on in Canada as we speak. We want to thank our Canadian partners who are helping us further investigate this attack.
And with that, I would like to defer to some of my partners here to make brief statements as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can you spell us the name (INAUDIBLE) please?
GELIOS: The name is Amor, A-M-O-R, Ftouhi, F-T-O-U-H-I. And as I've mentioned he's approximately a 50-year old Canadian.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did he enter the country?
GELIOS: Pardon me? He entered the country on June 16th and as I mentioned it's a pending investigation. We know he came to the airport this morning. That's as far as we're going to go with what we're trying to develop further information as to his timeline and where went after he entered the United States in Lake Champlain, New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe the weapon he used?
GELIOS: We'll take questions at the end and I will describe the weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to let everybody know again, we're going to do a question and answer segment towards the end about 10 minutes worth. Right now, we'll go ahead and have the introduction of all of our local state and federal partners that are here with us.
DAVID KAISER, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE OFFICER: Special First Lieutenant David Kaiser with the Michigan State Police. First and foremost, Michigan State Police would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Lieutenant Neville and his family during this very difficult time. The Michigan State Police has supplied many different resources here today to work with our local state and federal partners. Some of the resources provided included officers, detectives, bomb-sniffing K9s and our Michigan State Police Crime Lab. They're all involved in this investigation to work well with the partners in this. I'd also like to mention that Governor Rick Snyder has been in frequent contact with the Michigan State Police headquarters today (AUDIO GAP) injured officer as well as the status of the investigation. And Michigan State Police is very appreciative of this contact. Thank you.
TIMOTHY JOHNSON, CITY OF FLINT POLICE CHIEF: Good evening, everyone. My name is Timothy Johnson, City of Flint Police Chief. I just want to thank everybody for your concerns. We have a multiple jurisdiction Police here trying to get to the bottom of this, and we have the Mayor of Flint is here also. She's going to come up and make some comments, but just thank you for your concerns and we appreciate everybody coming out to be concerned about what happened here. Bishop International Airport is a tragedy, but thank God that the officer is alive. He's doing well now. He's out of critical condition, so he's recovering right now. So thank you for your concerns.
KAREN WEAVER, FLINT CITY MAYOR: Good afternoon. I just wanted to say that, you know, what happened here at the Bishop Airport is just a tragedy. I think it's absolutely awful and that a police officer was injured like this, because every day we know our law enforcement gets up, and they come to work prepared to protect us. And don't know if they're going to come home to their families or not or the condition that they're going to return to their families. And so, I really need to have an opportunity to commend Chief Miller and his staff and thank my own Chief of Police, Tim Johnson, the Michigan Township, you know, Flint Township, the State Police, the Sheriff, the Federal Agents that are here, because it showed that we all came together at a time like this. And this is what we need the community to see, is that when these kinds of things happen, we do come together. And I hope it gives the people of Flint and the people in the surrounding areas the confidence to know this was not taken lightly and people came together quickly to make sure that we were protected. So I do want us to continue to keep Officer Neville lifted in prayer
and his family, and again, this is just - you know, it's a sad day but it's a - it could have been worse. It could have been worse. And thanks to the quick response of all of the law enforcement that's out here today, things weren't any worse, and we also need to thank the other person. There was an unsung hero that saw what happened and she came to his aid to help and had that not been - you know, had she not been in the place she was at that time, it could have been worse. It could have been worse. So we need to keep her in prayer and the rest of the staff that's out here at the airport. Because when you go through things like this, it impacts you, and it impacts them, and it makes it more difficult for them to do their job. So this was a day where we showed unity and everybody came out here and responded. And so, I hope that just shows the community that we're working together to make things better. Thank you.
CRAIG WILLIAMS, BISHOP INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DIRECTOR: Good afternoon, I'm Airport Director Craig Williams. And on behalf of the Bishop International Airport Authority, I want to thank you all for coming out here. It's been a traumatic day for us. One of our own was stabbed, and that's really - it's touching; it hurts on me, personally; it hurts on our staff. First and foremost, for us is making sure that our safety and security of our passengers and our employees are paramount to everybody, even though we did have some disruptions this afternoon, we're working to get back to normal operations. I'll answer questions at the Q and A time. Thank you.
NICHOLAS J. STARCEVIC, DETROIT ATF FIELD DIVISION ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good evening. My name is Nick Starcevic and I'm the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit ATF field division. First and foremost, our thought and prayers go out to our officer as he recovers from his wounds. Today, ATF deployed assets from the Flint Field Office as well as the office from our Detroit office - Detroit Division. We will continue to support this investigation throughout its entirety. We will support the FBI in any way it needs. Thank you.
JUAN SANCHEZ, TSA FEDERAL SECURITY DIRECTOR: Good evening everyone, my name is Juan Sanchez, the Federal Security Director for TSA out of Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw Airports and I just want to say thanks to all our federal state and local partners for ensuring the safety of not only TSA employees but the entire American public at Flint Airport. Thank you.
DAN OWEN, BISHOP FIRE AND EMS DEPARTMENT: Good afternoon, Lieutenant Dan Owen, Bishop Fire Department and EMS Department. We responded as soon as the call for help went out and we rendered first aid to our officers and we maintained a fire presence and safety at this airport throughout the whole incident. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. My name is (INAUDIBLE) and I'm the Assistant Federal Security Director, Office of Law Enforcement TSA, and my main role here is to put our federal state, and local law enforcements officers in this manner. Thank you.
PEGGY: Good afternoon. I'm Peggy Franklin (INAUDIBLE) with Homeland Security Investigation. First of all Homeland Security Investigations would like to wish a full, quick and speedy recovery to Lt. Neville. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and him. And we just want to commend the great work that was done by all agencies that are out here today. Thank you.
GELIOS: All right. Before I take few more - few questions, the question I heard earlier was about the knife. The knife was about a 12-inch knife with an 8-inch serrated blade. As you will see in the complaint when the subject went up to the officer and stabbed him, he continued to exclaim Allah and made a statement something to the effect of you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and we are all going to die. Thus, our determining - obviously this - we're going to investigate this as terrorist act. I can tell you based on the information we have presently, we don't believe that anyone was involved with this individual. We have no information to suggest a wider plot, but it's certainly very, very early in the investigation. We're seeking search warrants or electronic media, or his vehicle. Much of that work is going on right now. So time will tell over the next several days whether anyone had any knowledge of this, but at this time, we view him as a lone wolf attacker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it's early, but any indication this was a self-radicalized individual or was -- he received training from somewhere?
GELIOS: Yes. We have no information that suggests any training. I can tell you, we interviewed the subject for a good period of time, he was cooperative, and has talked to us about what his motivations were. And I think it's suffice to say he has a hatred for the United States and a variety of other things which in part motivated him towards coming to the airport today to conduct this act of violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who brought him down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, can you explain how the - do we know how the gentleman was able to bring a 12-inch knife? Was it through the airport security? Was it coming from a plane when he came in here? It seems like - seems like that's not within TSA guidelines.
GELIOS: Actually that's an excellent question. And to just be clear on that, he entered the public area, non-secure area of the airport. He spent a little time, he went up just outside the TSA screening area, spent some time in the restaurant, went to open to the public restroom and then came out and attacked Lieutenant Neville prior to the screening area. So there wouldn't have been any screening at that point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long was the attack? How long did it take him to stab him?
GELIOS: Yes. My understanding is they brought him into - took control of him within about a minute, and I'll defer to the chief, but it's my understanding the chief personally, one of the members of the Fire Department here with us right now and actually a non-sworn public safety officer. Someone who isn't involved in that, assisted in taking this individual down and restraining him and, thus, my comment earlier that there was some acts of heroism here because had he been able to get free and try and attack additional people, we could be talking about much greater harm today than occurred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - before the attack between the officer and victim - or the suspect. Was there any sort of argument or did he just go up to this officer and started stabbing him?
GELIOS: We have no indication there was any sort of dialogue between this officer and we're recovering all videos and that sort of thing. And again, we'll know that, but there's no indication whatsoever he had any dialogue with anybody prior to this attack.
GELIOS: My understanding is that Chief (INAUDIBLE) Lieutenant was in surgery?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Lt. Neville did require some surgery. The surgery didn't take a lot of time. He got through it very well and he is resting comfortably at this time. To answer questions in reference to any engagement between the suspect and Lieutenant Neville, there was none. He - from what we can tell, he engaged Lieutenant Neville and just started stabbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any indication why Flint?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't - we don't have any information to that - to answer that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you be more specific as to what brought him down, who actually got him to stop stabbing him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Neville got him to stop stabbing him. Lieutenant Neville fought him right until the end. Right until I was able to handcuff this person. After - Lieutenant Neville never stopped fighting - never stopped fighting until I handcuffed this person along with Lieutenant Neville - Lieutenant Neville and Lieutenant Dan Owen and maintenance person Richard Crewel. The four of us were able to subdue this person, get him handcuffed and get him under control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you in the area when the attack happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was - I was close by but I was only seconds away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he was targeted because he was an officer because he was in uniform?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think - I can't really answer why he did what he did, but obviously, it was Lieutenant Neville that he engaged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say anything else during the struggle? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The statements that he made were this - were the answers that the FBI Zac gave you. He had some Muslim dialect, and that's as much as we have at this - at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And nothing tying the suspect to Flint, no family in the area, no family from Michigan, did he mention in the interrogation --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that we know of it this time. But I can't really - I can't really expound upon that because, again, the FBI is in charge of this investigation and I refer those questions to them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lieutenant Dan Owen --
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: All right. So, there you have it, the latest from Flint, Michigan, another alleged act of terrorism now being investigated by the FBI and local and state law enforcement as a potential act of terrorism. We've now know the name of the individual, the suspect Amor Ftouhi, 50-year-old Canadian. The police and the affidavit that we're just been reading said, he yelled Allahu akbar, pulled out a knife, stabbed the police officer, Lt. Jeff Nevile, several times. Phil Mudd, you've been watching this, listening very carefully. It's pretty alarming.
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It is, but when you see the FBI talk about investigating this as an act of terrorism, take a deep breath, they have to do that. You do not want at the outset of an investigation to say, "I assume that this person act alone, there's no inspiration from elsewhere, he didn't acquire the weapon from elsewhere, there's no larger cell." You have to go into this saying, at least for the first few hours, even after the interview with the individual, you have to go on this saying, there might be a larger conspiracy Of Flint. I don't think so in this case, but you got to do that from the outset because you can't afford to be surprised on the backend.
BLITZER: In this criminal complaint, the affidavit, they also said as the FBI agent-in-charge said he further explained after screaming out Allahu akbar, he further -- he then said something along the lines, quote, "You have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die."
MUDD: There's a simple way to understand this. Let me give you two pictures. One picture goes from about 9/11 through four or five, six years, that's the picture of people from Al-Qaeda who understood the ideology of Al-Qaeda, who understood the theory of Al-Qaeda, very smart people. When we interrogated them, when I was at the CIA, some of them were brilliant, including the architect of 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, very bright man.
[17:45:00] What you're seeing in 2016, 2017, even going back 10 years, is people who are more emotionally motivated. They don't necessarily understand the ideology of ISIS, but they see people being killed in places like Syria and Iraq, and they say my responsibility is to act. Very simple. BLITZER: Another line from this affidavit, "The law enforcement
officer, Lieutenant Neville, who was stabbed in the back was able to subdue Ftouhi, who asked the officer why he did not kill him."
MUDD: When people enter into this stage, that is the stage where they decide that they want to kill somebody for a political purpose, that's an incredibly emotional moment.
The people I witnessed entering this stage decided that not only did they want to commit an act of political violence, but that, within that act, it was appropriate for them to die.
I think this person is going to turn out to be what we used to call an EDP, an emotionally disturbed person, who decided that he had seen what he consider to be innocents dying in Iraq and Syria, and he wanted to die to avenge their deaths.
BLITZER: All right, Phil. We're going to have a lot more on this incident, what the FBI is now investigating potentially is a terror incident at the Flint International Airport.
Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.
[17:50:48] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news developments in Flint, Michigan where the FBI now says the stabbing of a police officer is being investigated as an act of terror. We're going to bring you all the late breaking details as they come in, but there's other news we're following right now, including fresh activity at a North Korean nuclear site.
And American authorities are on edge. It's the latest in a series of provocations from Kim Jong-un's regime and adds yet another layer of urgency to the efforts to cut off Kim's cash flow. Brian Todd has more on this developing story for us.
Brian, what's the latest you're learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a short time ago, a U.S. intelligence official told me that the intelligence community is closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
While the U.S. officials meet their Chinese counterparts here in Washington tonight, Kim Jong-un seems to be thumbing his nose at both nations and ramping up his threats.
TODD (voice-over): Punggye-ri, the mysterious underground mountain site where Kim Jong-un tests his nuclear bombs. Two U.S. officials tell CNN, spy satellites have detected new activity there for the first time in several weeks. The officials say there appear to be modifications around a key tunnel entrance to an underground test area. REBECCAH HEINRICHS, FELLOW, THE HUDSON INSTITUTE: It would that there
looks like they're preparing for another nuclear test. The tempo of nuclear tests and missiles tests have increased over the last couple of years.
TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials say military options for North Korea have been updated and will be presented to President Trump if Kim's regime conducts another nuclear test, but it's not clear if the U.S. would respond militarily.
Tonight, the Secretary of State is blasting Kim for acting like a mafia don to pay for his weapons.
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Whether it is money laundering, extorting ex-patriots, or malicious cyber activity, North Korea has engaged in a number of criminal enterprises that help fund its weapons programs.
DEAN CHENG, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: North Korean diplomats around the world have engaged in a variety of, frankly, illegal behavior under the protection of diplomatic cover. Everything from drug trade, including methamphetamines, to passing very high quality counterfeit hundred dollar bills.
TODD (voice-over): Experts say Kim's regime hacks banks, sells weapons on the black market, even traffics in endangered species. The U.S. Treasury Department says Kim's inner circle manages it all through a secretive bureau called Office 39.
ANTHONY RUGGIERO, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY: It's an element that Kim and his father before him used to ensure that the elites are loyal to the regime and do that through illicit activities. They do that likely by having money stashed overseas.
TODD (voice-over): Experts say Kim also spends the money on luxury goods for himself, for his glamor conscious wife, Ri Sol-ju, and his cronies. That long Mercedes limousine he's often seen stepping out of, a private jet, an exclusive ski resort, and a polished white yacht.
CURTIS MELVIN, RESEARCHER, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: This is Kim Jong-un's yacht, which has been featured several times in the North Korean media.
Using pictures of the windows from this photo, we were able to match it with the Princess Yacht, which retails for about $7 million. Kim Jong-un keeps this yacht in a boathouse at his family compound on North Korea's east coast in the provincial capital city of Wonsan.
TODD (voice-over): Curtis Melvin believes former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, went on that same yacht during one of his visits to North Korea.
TODD: Tonight, U.S. officials are furiously working to choke off Kim's cash flow, which finances those items and his weapons.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is leaning on Chinese diplomats who are visiting Washington right now to cut off those pipelines, many of which flow through China -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.
Coming up, more breaking news. The FBI says the stabbing of a police officer at a Michigan airport is being investigated right now as an act of terror.
[17:54:35] We're tracking new details. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Terror stabbing? New information this hour about a knife attack at a U.S. airport. The FBI revealing just moments ago about why this is now being investigated as an act of terror.
Secret access scrutiny. A top Democrat raises red flags about Jared Kushner's security clearance, asking why it hasn't been suspended. Tonight, new demands for information in the Russia investigation targeting the President's son-in-law and fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
At Putin's direction. The former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson points a finger at Russia's President as he testifies about Moscow's election meddling. New warnings tonight about the Kremlin's plans to keep attacking America's political system.
[18:00:00] And victory rally. President Trump is heading to Iowa this hour, celebrating a new political win for his party. How did the GOP prevail in Georgia's special election despite Mr. Trump's baggage?