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Interview With Delaware Senator Chris Coons; Terror in New York City; Eight Dead, Multiple Injuries in New York City Terror Attack; Trump Rejects Bannon's Hard Line Against Mueller, For Now. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 31, 2017 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Many of them very seriously injured after a pickup truck mowed down bike riders and pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan. The driver continued for many blocks, until he hit a school bus.

The NYPD commissioner says the 29-year-old suspect got out of the rented truck armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun and was shot by police in the abdomen.

Witnesses say the man shouted, "God is great," "Allahu akbar" in Arabic as he emerged.

Let's go straight to our national correspondent, Brynn Gingras. She's in New York City at the scene for us.

Brynn, update our viewers on the very latest.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I have sources that are on the scene that are describing just horrific -- people dead on the scene here after this all unfolded this afternoon.

Again, as you mentioned, a rental truck with Home Depot on the side of it, the person driving that truck went several blocks down the wrong way of the bike path on the West Side Highway here in New York City, mowing over people, before colliding with a school bus and getting out.

We are told by witnesses that that person ran around with two fake guns in their hand, one -- and then before being shot by authorities there on the scene, shot in the abdomen, and then taken to a local hospital here in New York City.

Just a chaotic scene, with many witnesses describing how horrific this was, especially not knowing what was going on Halloween night.

And here's more on the briefing that the NYPD, along with the mayor and governor, gave here in New York City not long ago.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: It's a very painful day in our city, horrible tragedy on the West Side.

I want to be clear that based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives, who had no idea what was about to hit them.

We -- at this moment, based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives and over a dozen more injured.

We know that this action was intended to break our spirit. But we also know New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence and an act meant to intimidate us.


GINGRAS: And, Wolf, I can tell you we're about an avenue away from the scene where this all ended.

There are a lot of cops down there really investigating at this point and they have blocked off that entire area. I can also tell you I have seen still a number of balances even still going to that area, dealing with what is happening down there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, eight confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in this terror attack.

Brynn, stand by.

I want to quickly go to our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. He's working his sources.

What else can you update us with?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so, Wolf, we understand the driver, the suspect here is not from New York. We are trying to confirm more details about him.

We are pretty close to doing that. We're just sort of trying to confirm a couple of things. And really right now, we are told the police and the FBI are in the area, in the neighborhood where he's from. They're trying to build a profile of who he is. As the police said, they believe he was acting alone and that there was no wider plot here.

They are not necessarily looking for anyone else. But at this point, they are not 100 percent certain of that. So, what they have done is they have gone to the neighborhoods of where he is from and trying to really build out his associates and really make sure that no one here was helping him in this terrorist act.

BLITZER: Yes, very, very brutal terror attack and, as the mayor said, a cowardly act of terror. A guy takes a rental truck and just goes in the opposite direction on a bike path about 20 blocks and starts ramming into people who were riding a bike or walking or jogging, and killing eight people, injuring more than a dozen.

Jim Sciutto working his sources as well.

A 29-year-old suspect not from New York City, he emerged from the truck with two guns, later described as a paintball gun and a pellet gun. He was shot in the abdomen by local police officers.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is what I'm told by the National Counterterrorism Center, which is the intel agency that monitors terror attacks here in the U.S.

First of all, there was no specific intel about an attack planned targeting this particular area. Two, the NTCT says that is now coordinating with its counterterror partners to determine any nexus, any further nexus to terrorism, including whether there were any ties, any inspiration by or declarations of allegiance to international terrorist organizations.

One thing we can say for certain is that this is an M.O. that we have seen before. Think Nice last year, July 14 there, Bastille Day, dozens of people killed. Think Barcelona just a few weeks ago, vehicular attacks which we know have been encouraged specifically by ISIS, encouraging its supporters to take a car, because a car, while a easy to get, can be a very deadly instrument at speed.


And we saw that here with eight people killed. The final note I would make is this. New York in the wake of 9/11 is arguably the most prepared and protected city against terrorist attacks.

Enormous number of resources, people, its own intelligence operation to look for and try to prevent attacks like this, plus other resources, cameras, particularly downtown, in that Financial District where 9/11 took place.

I will note this attack took place in the shadow of the Freedom Tower that rose from the ashes of the Twin Towers. But they have cameras so that they can look and see suspicious activity so that they can react quickly. They have their own quick reaction force that comes onto the scene when incidents like this happen, and that helps speak to how there was police on the scene so quickly here to shoot and take down this suspect.

So, but, of course, the lesson is, with soft targets, you can have all the resources in the world, and you can't prevent every attack.

That is the sad fact, because, listen, it's an open society. People are going to live, they're going to ride their bikes. They're going to go in public. And tonight children are going to go out and they're going to trick or treating. And the sad fact is that terrorists take advantage of that. And we saw that today.

BLITZER: Yes, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying no evidence of an ongoing threat, but all sorts of police activity going on in New York right now, Jim, out of an abundance of caution. SCIUTTO: It is.

I have spent time with the NYPD, specifically their counterterror unit. It is like the counterterror resources of a small country, frankly. They have their own intelligence operation. They have their own intelligence director.

They have many police who are trained to react to this kind of thing. They have got those cameras, so they fight hard. They got boats on the water there. They have helicopters in the air, eyes in the sky, and, of course, they're in touch with the national authorities as well, because New York is known to national authorities to be a prime target for terrorist groups.

But, again, terrorists have it easy because they only have to get it right once.

BLITZER: Yes, at that news conference, we heard from John Miller, the New York Police Department deputy commissioner in charge of intelligence and counterterrorism. He has vast experience in this area.

Sara Murray is over at the White House.

Sara, getting reaction now from the president and the vice president.


We do know the president has been briefed by his chief of staff, John Kelly, on the incident in New York. He also took to Twitter to say: "In New York City, it looks like another attack by a sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. Not in the USA."

But of course this is unfolding on the streets of the USA in New York City, the president's hometown, and in fact the city where the first lady, Melania Trump, has been today in meetings. She put out a tweet as well saying that her heart is breaking for New York today and her thoughts and prayers are with any of the victims.

So we are waiting to see if we are going to hear any more from the president here tonight. I can tell you that the White House did call a lid earlier today, as we began to see these events unfolding.

Normally, that would not mean we will not see the president at all in front of the cameras this evening. Lids have been lifted in the past if there is a big breaking news event, but so far no word on whether we may hear more from President Trump this evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Sara, I read the tweet from Vice President Mike Pence, and let me read it to our viewers.

"Saddened by the tragedy in NYC, New York City, our prayers are with the victims, their families and first-responders. Those responsible must be held accountable." "Those responsible" suggests maybe more than one. Is he indicating that there are more than one? Because originally we were -- maybe this was a lone wolf, one individual, not a part of a wider group. But in this tweet, he says those responsible must be held accountable.

What is your understanding?

MURRAY: It's an excellent question, Wolf.

Obviously, we're going to try to get more information on that, because that's not what we just heard in the briefing from law enforcement officials in New York City, so it's possible the White House is getting more information than we are. Or it's possible that was just kind of a poor choice of phrasing from the vice president's tweets.

But certainly we're going to try to figure out what's going on with that.

BLITZER: Stand back, we will get back to you, Sara.

Phil Mattingly and Paul Cruickshank are with us as well. They're our terror experts.

And, Paul, for viewers who are just tuning in, we were told that the suspect in this case, the 29-year-old individual, when he got out of that rental truck, he showed up with two guns. One was a paintball gun, one was a pellet gun.

And you say this is not unprecedented. There is a history of these kinds of terrorists, terror suspects who show up with weapons that really can't hurt anyone.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: that's absolutely right, Wolf, there is a history of this.


And that's because in these instances, these jihadi terrorists, they want to die. They want to draw fire from law enforcement, and so if they appear to have real guns, then they're going to draw that fire.

And the reason they want to do that is, they want to be martyred. In their estimation, they want to go to paradise. They really, really crave that. So just a few months ago here in London, when we saw that vehicle attack on London Bridge, the three terrorists involved in that case, who were inspired by ISIS, were wearing fake suicide vests, and they were killed by police.

But in this instance, the attacker is still alive. From their perspective, they have failed to attend the paradise that they crave if indeed this was an act of jihad terrorism.

BLITZER: And the authorities did confirm, Paul, that he was overheard shouting as he got out of that vehicle "Allahu akbar," God is great" in Arabic.

For our viewers, explain the significance of that.

CRUICKSHANK: Well, all sorts of people will use that expression for all sorts of reasons, but in the jihadi contacts, this is an exhumation which is often heard before terrorists attack.

We have seen that oftentimes in Europe. Just before somebody inspired by ISIS or al Qaeda is about to launch something, that they will start shouting this out very, very loudly. They want to make the point this is the reason, in their view, that they're doing this.

We also see groups like this ISIS really encourage sympathizers in the West that are going to launch attacks to help ISIS claim ownership. So that's part of this. But we will have to see whether there was some kind of communication perhaps back and forth over encrypted apps. We have seen that in past terrorist attacks in the United States inspired by ISIS, where we have this virtual coaches who are ISIS fighters who speak English in Syria and Iraq communicating and encouraging extremists in the West to launch attacks.

No evidence yet of that, and very difficult for authorities these days to even know if these communications are taking place, because just by using WhatsApp or all kind of other apps, you can have (INAUDIBLE) encryption and it's impossible for U.S. eavesdropping agencies, for law enforcement to catch all that in real time.

But possible that this individual was just inspired by a terrorist idea OK, but what ISIS have asked these recruits to do is to do anything they can over social media to help ISIS claim responsibility, some kind of pledge to Baghdadi we have seen in other past instances, for example, after the San Bernardino attack.

BLITZER: Let me bring in Phil Mudd.

Phil, as you know, using a vehicle as an instrument of terror, there is now a history of that. And it goes back at least to 2014, when the ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, said this and it was widely disseminated on terror-related Web sites -- quote -- "If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchmen or any of their allies, smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him or poison him."

And as we know, there have been several vehicle-related terror attacks since then, July 14, 2016, on Bastille Day in Nice, France. At least 84 people were killed in that truck attack.

So if this is in fact an ISIS-related or an ISIS-inspired terror attack using a vehicle, there is a history.


But let's add another element to that history, Wolf. Going back to mid-2014, you are looking at the height of ISIS and the ground they gained in Iraq. We saw the wave of people particularly from Western Europe, but also from the United States, going over in particular to Syria for training. Going back to mid-2014 and beyond, ISIS started to lose ground. They lost ground rapidly this year, so this isn't necessarily a sign of strength, them reaching out and telling people to use things like knives and vehicles.

One of the factors you have got to look at here is individuals who are inspired by ISIS who three years ago might have been able to go for training for a more sophisticated operation now have no access to a place like Syria, and they have got to look around and say, if I want to do something for ISIS, I have to get a knife, a car, a weapon, because I don't have the luxury of traveling over to join the organization for training.

BLITZER: Phil, you were just running or jogging on that bike path earlier today in New York City on the West Side. And it's, very, very close to the World Trade Center area, Freedom Tower.

MUDD: It is. And I will be jogging there, by the way, tomorrow morning. I hope the rest of my friends will be out there with me.

You jog that trail, there's a lot of pedestrian access to it. It's a beautiful trail, heavily traveled by bicycles, runners by me, pedestrians, people just out with their dogs or kids getting some fresh air.


There is a lot of greenery over there. It's a beautiful view into New Jersey. There is a lot of people in Lower Manhattan who are using this not just for exercise, but to just get out.

As you're running it, always in the background is the World Trade Center, it's right there, it's just a few blocks off the trail. Virtually any place on the trail, it's going to be visible, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly will be.

All right, let's see if the police reopen that bike path by tomorrow morning.

Shimon Prokupecz is getting more information on this 29-year-old suspect, this killer.

What are you learning, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's right, Wolf.

Our producer David Shortell here in Washington, D.C., has been talking to officials familiar with the investigation. They say the suspect, the driver is in surgery, and he's expected to survive. He's being treated at Bellevue Hospital, which in Lower Manhattan, just not far from where this happened.

We don't know if police had any chance to talk to him before he went into surgery, if they have obtained any statements from him before he was taken into surgery. We are told he was shot in the leg or in the buttocks perhaps, and it

is unclear yet, but his injuries were never considered life- threatening. He was conscious when he left the scene.

It is likely he may have had some exchange with police. We already know some of what he said at the scene. We are waiting to find out if he made any other statements to them before he went into surgery.

BLITZER: We know he is not from New York City. We know he is 29 years old. Do we know, Shimon, if he's American or a foreign national?

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

So right now from sources I have talked to -- and, again, they believe he is a foreign national. Exactly where he's from, I have not been able to confirm. We don't believe he's from New York City. At least that's what the law enforcement sources have told me and what police have said, that he's not from New York City, but it's going to be interesting to find out where he rented a pickup truck from and did he pick this target?

Was he just driving along the West Side Highway there and decided to jump over the curb and onto the West Side Highway and onto the bike path? It would seem like he would know the area. But who knows? So all that again is part of the investigation. And so we will see what hopefully some of our sources will be telling us. Hopefully, we will get some updates soon.

BLITZER: Yes, we know it was a relatively small pickup truck.

It was rented at a Home Depot. It had Home Depot on the side. I'm sure FBI and NYPD, they are all over the Home Depot, getting as much information as they can. They want to determine if this suspect is the actual individual who rented that vehicle or if someone else rented the vehicle and it wound up in the hands of this suspect. We don't know the answer to that yet and we are working our sources.

Shimon, stand by.

I want to bring in Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Very disturbing information, Senator. I know you are following this as well. What's your reaction, first of all, to this clear act of terror?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Wolf, my first reaction is to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost ones or family members this afternoon in this terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan and to pray for those who are injured for their recovery, and to express my gratitude for the first responders, the law enforcement professionals who responded promptly and were able to prevent this terrorist from killing anyone beyond those who were victims in this tragic attack. Earlier this week, just yesterday, we had a hearing here in the Senate

where we asked the secretary of defense, secretary of state about what we can expect as the amount of territory that ISIS controls in the Middle East is shrunk through action by the United States military and our coalition forces.

And one of the things they said is, we will see ISIS around the world try and carry out attacks. We, of course, don't yet know whether this individual is affiliated with ISIS. I don't mean to jump to that conclusion.

But Mayor de Blasio said he is viewing this as a terrorist attack. And certainly, given the method of what we know so far about what the man is alleged to have said as he leapt out of the vehicle, it seems likely that that will prove to be the case.

So we hear in the Senate have been paying attention to the increased risk that we will see of lone wolf attacks around the world as ISIS loses more territory, and we will have to wait to see as facts develop whether that's in fact what has happened today in Manhattan.

BLITZER: The mayor of New York City, as you pointed out, Mayor de Blasio, said this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror.

And he also said it was an action -- quote -- "intended to break our spirit."

I know you have been well-briefed by U.S. intelligence. You're a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Is there hard intelligence now with that the ISIS setbacks in Syria and Iraq, whether in Mosul, or Raqqa, their caliphate now clearly falling apart, that these kind of terrorist attacks may actually intensify overseas, whether in Europe or the United Nations?


COONS: Well, there's a number of people in Africa in particular, Wolf, where they are expecting to see increased ISIS-affiliated activity.

Many of the foreign fighters who went to the caliphate, as they called it, in Syria and Iraq are now returning to their countries of origin. And they are scattered all around the world. But a number came from Northern and Western Africa.

And so one of my concerns is that we will see more and more countries that have big ungoverned spaces, much as Afghanistan had before 9/11, where you will see more isolated cells that are ISIS-affiliated, folks who have gotten combat experience in Syria and Iraq who will return to countries like Niger or Mali or Nigeria or Tunisia or elsewhere across the arc of Northern and Western Africa, where a lot of folks fled in order to support ISIS in Syria and are now returning back to their countries of origin.

We have had a number of briefings on the security threat to our partners and allies in those regions. I also think we have to be concerned, to your question, about some of those folks seeking to return to their countries of origin in Europe or even to the United States.

BLITZER: Yes, and, as you point out, that attack that resulted in the death of four American soldiers was an ISIS-affiliated terror attack in Niger.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

COONS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're staying on top of the breaking news in New York City.

Eight people killed in this terror attack, more than a dozen injured. We're getting more information. We will update all of our viewers right after this quick break.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, major breaking news.

You're looking at live pictures from the scene of the crime. There is that Home Depot rental truck.

Eight people are dead, about a dozen injured in what New York officials are now calling an act of terror. A pickup truck mowed down bicyclists and pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan out on the West Side, with the driver continuing for about 20 blocks until he hit a school bus.

The 29-year-old suspect armed with a pellet gun and paint gun was shot by police in the abdomen. He's hospitalized right now.

I quickly want to go to our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, who has been working his sources.

You are getting more information. What else are you learning, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: That's right, Wolf.

What we have learned is that the suspect, the 29-year-old suspect, police believe is from Uzbekistan. That's where they believe he is from at this point. He came here in 2010. He came to the U.S. in 2010.

And on our screen there, you will see some video that we just obtained of what appears moments before he was shot by police. This video was taken around where this ended, where scene wound up ending, near Chambers Street, as we have been reporting.

He drove south along the bike path from Houston Street, ending around Chambers Street, where he crashed into a truck or a bus, and then police arrived fairly quickly and were able to shoot him. He is seen on this video here running around in the middle of the street, sort of wandering. It's unclear where he was going before police encountered him and shot him.

And what we have learned is that he is now in surgery and he is expected to survive. The police commissioner talked about the bravery of these officers who responded there and got there so quickly and were perhaps able to save more lives.

And now really the hunt is on to find out if this man, if the driver of this truck was working with anyone. They don't believe it is. But police are certainly investigating that and trying to make sure that's not the case.

BLITZER: And you heard, Shimon, Paul Cruickshank, our terror analyst, say the fact that he emerged from that truck with a paintball gun and a pellet gun was perhaps deliberate because he wanted to be shot and killed and wind up in paradise as a martyr.

You heard that analysis. I assume New York City and FBI terror experts are working under the same assumption.

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right.

And we then reported -- I heard this pretty early on, that police, the two guns that they did find were fake. I was specifically told the guns were fake. I wasn't given the details of what type of guns they were, a B.B. gun, a paint gun.

But police were fairly -- when they got to the scene, when things calmed down, they were able to search the area. They discovered these two weapons.

And, yes, exactly right, Wolf. This is all part of what pretty much early on led them to believe that this was an act of terrorism. The way he drove, the vehicle he used, the way he ran out of the pickup truck with these fake guns, and, presumably, like you said, it was because he wanted police to shoot him.

So all of this factored into their pretty early determination of saying that this was terrorism.

BLITZER: Yes, and the fact that he was shouting "Allahu akbar," "God is great" in Arabic, further evidence of that.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BLITZER: Shimon, I know you are working your sources. Go back to that.

I want to get some analysis right now with our senior legal analyst Preet Bharara. He's the former U.S. attorney in New York.

Preet, thanks so much for joining us.

You have a lot of experience in these high-profile terrorism cases, especially in New York City. Walk us through how investigators are now thinking about this terror attack right now.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, the first thing that people are doing, as your panels and other folks have been saying on the program so far, is to make sure that he was acting alone, because the first thing you want to make sure of is that the city is safe, the surrounding areas are safe.

So right now as we speak, there are lot and lots of folks at the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the JTTF, working with prosecutors from my office, I presume, to chase down every possible lead you can.

They're looking at every connectivity at all between the suspect, who did not perish in the attack, and anyone else who may have helped him either buy the truck or trained him in some way or encouraged him in some way or facilitated the act in any way at all. And I know that there have been some folks who have said this evening, it's a lone- wolf attack; and in many ways you hope that's true and that may be true. But in my experience there have been other occasions where we initially thought it was a lone-wolf attack. I think that was true with respect to the Times Square bomber, Faizal Shazad, back in 2010. And then it turned out that he had been trained in another country, and he had other associates, as well.

So the first thing is to make sure that they have all the information they can get to make sure it's not an imminent threat anywhere else. And I know we're largely there. But I don't think we're fully there yet.

BLITZER: Yes. I know. I agree. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said so far no evidence of a wider plot, no evidence of a wider scheme. He says the local authorities, the FBI, will be vigilant. We're not going to let them win. No evidence of an ongoing threat, but it's still very early.

So you heard Shimon report that this 29-year-old suspect from Uzbekistan may have come to the United States in 2010. What does that say to you?

BHARARA: It says that there's a possibility that he did have, you know, had some influences from abroad and he has associates abroad. And there may be other people who have similar views that he has. And it could be that he's a lone-wolf. But, you know, given that he came from another place and given that he's been in the country for a period of time, it's just too early to tell.

And even if, you know, some public officials come out and say it's a lone-wolf attack, I'll tell you that for the coming days and weeks perhaps, behind closed doors, there are going to be people, both prosecutors and federal agents, who will be chasing down literally every single person, contact that this person had any communication with, just to chase it all down.

BLITZER: We do know that this was a rental truck, a small rental truck from a Home Depot. I assume everyone at Home Depot who may have been involved in renting this truck is being questioned right now to determine if the individual who presented the truck is the same individual who wound up driving that truck and killing these eight people.

BHARARA: I assume they're going to be looking at every possible connection, as I said, to him and other human beings, whether it was in relation to buying the truck, or any other things that he's been doing. Maybe -- it's unclear. I'm sure they're going to be pulling all the video surveillance, as well, from the area, to see if he cased out the location, to see if he's visited there before. They'll be looking at toll records. They'll be issuing subpoenas around the clock, some of which will require, you know, telephonic service providers to provide information immediately, so they can figure out, you know, what his track record was and who his associates may have been.

BLITZER: We heard from the -- the FBI assistant director in New York, the 29-year-old suspect was shot in the abdomen. So he's in the hospital, Bellevue Hospital in New York City, right now. Walk us through what happens to this suspect in the hours and days to come.

BHARARA: So, you know, as we've seen in a lot of these tragic and terrible attacks the suspect, himself, is killed because of the rapid police response. Here, there was a rapid police response. He managed to survive.

This is most similar, in my recollection and memory, to what happened with the Chelsea bomber when I was the United States attorney about a year ago. He, by the way, just went on trial in New York and was convicted. But you'll recall that he set up a couple of bombs -- one went off and one didn't -- in pressure cookers in the Chelsea area of Manhattan.

And later, after he escaped from performing that act of terrorism, he was shot a number of times by a police officer in New Jersey. He also was hospitalized. And so the federal authorities and the state authorities talked with each other about the possibility of talking to the suspect to do the exact same thing I've been talking about, which is to find out who his associates are and make sure that everyone in the area is safe. That wasn't able to be done for a while, because he had a number of surgeries, as it sounds like the suspect in this case has had.

But everyone should be clear that his hospital room will be on lockdown. And the moment that he is able to speak to authorities, people will be speaking to him. And he will go through the normal judicial process. He will be charged, I expect, not clear 100 percent at this moment, but it's likely that he'll be charged federally, since, you know, the U.S. attorney's office works with the JTTF. And he will have a full and fair trial at some point. And even though he's been in the hospital, at some point he will have to face justice.

BLITZER: When you say the JTTF, the Joint Terrorism Task Force...


BLITZER: ... in New York City, which is highly respected. They're deeply involved, obviously, in this. And I just want to repeat, Preet, for our viewers who may just be

tuning in, the 29-year-old suspect is from Uzbekistan, our Shimon Prokupecz is reporting. According to law enforcement sources, came to the United States from Uzbekistan back in 2010, lives in Tampa, Florida, according to these source.

Preet, we're going to know a whole lot more about this individual, don't know his name yet. But we do know that he's from Uzbekistan and that he lives in Tampa. We have no idea what his motivation was, but we do know he was screaming out "Allahu Akbar" in Arabic as he emerged. That he had these two fake guns with him, as well.

There's a lot of information right there that the investigators, Preet, are going to use to find out a whole lot more.

BHARARA: That's correct. They're going to be chasing down, as I said, every possible connection between him and other people. They're going to look at his travel records. They're going to go to Uzbekistan. You know, we have FBI presence all over the world; and they'll be talking to his associates there and find out if there was advanced planning, if somebody incited him to do this, if he was inspired by ISIS or some other, you know, organized terrorist organization.

So there's a lot of work that's going to be done before they definitively decide that he acted alone.

BLITZER: We just got another tweet from the president. Let me read it to our viewers, because he's now going a step further. You can see there, Preet. He says, "We must not allow ISIS to return or enter our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough."

So clearly, the president seems to be suggesting that this may be an ISIS-related incident. We don't have that information. Certainly, that is possible. But we don't have that information yet. We do know that the New York City police department, in New York, the mayor, they're all saying this clearly was an act of terror.

So they've concluded this was an act of terror. But we don't know yet if it was a lone-wolf or if it was ISIS-inspired or ISIS-directed.

BHARARA: We don't. And so, you know, the president of the United States presumably has access to the most up-to-date intelligence information. I don't know if that's what he's relying on or if he's doing what he sometimes does and sort of, you know, shoots from the hip on his Twitter feed.

But I just think we need to pay attention and keep focused on what law enforcement authorities are telling us publicly about the origins of this attack and where else it might lead.

BLITZER: Preet's going to stay with us. We've got a lot more on the breaking news. Got to take a quick break. We'll resume our special coverage right after this.


[18:42:09] BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on the New York City terror attack. New video of the suspect -- there you see it -- he was shot by police after he got out of the rental truck he used to mow down bike riders and pedestrians, killing eight people who were simply biking, or walking or jogging on that bike path, injuring a dozen others as many very serious condition.

Two law enforcement sources tell CNN the suspect is a 29-year-old who originally came to the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan. Those same sources say the suspect lives in Tampa, Florida.

I want to bring in our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; along with former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd.

Jeffrey, I take it you were there on the scene in the aftermath of that terror attack. Tell our viewers what you saw.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I also work for the "New Yorker Magazine." And our office is on the 38th floor of the World Trade Center, the building that was once known as the Freedom Tower that took the place of the Twin Towers. And it is about three blocks south of where this incident took place. And I had a very clear view of the aftermath of the scene.

And you know, by the time I saw it, it was swarmed with -- with police vehicles and emergency vehicles. It was very close to the Stuyvesant School, which is, of course, a very well-known public high school here in New York. I think a lot of students were around when this took place.

One obvious question that's raised by this is, because this incident took place so close to the World Trade Center is, was the driver trying to get to the World Trade Center, which, of course, has so much symbolic resonance when it comes to terrorism? He was only about three blocks away. And that's, of course, one of the many unanswered questions we have at this point.

BLITZER: We know the 29-year-old suspect originally from Uzbekistan, who lives in Tampa, at least he came to the United States in 2010, he was shot in the abdomen, we're told, by police after he emerged from that vehicle with two fake guns: a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

Walk us through what's going to happen to him, assuming he gets through the surgery, he's OK. Will he receive Miranda rights? Walk us through the process.

TOOBIN: Well, this has actually become a very controversial issue about whether terrorism suspects get Miranda warnings. Here, of course, this may all be a moot point, because he's not, he may not be conscious, because he's in -- he's in surgery. But at some point, he will -- he will be out of surgery and be able to be questioned; and he will not, he will not receive Miranda warnings right away.

There is a Supreme Court case that says there is a public safety exception to the Miranda Rule. Of course, the Miranda Rule, which everybody is familiar with, is that whenever someone is arrested in the United States, they are informed they have the right to remain silent. They have the right to an attorney.

In terrorism, in circumstances where public safety is at issue, and here, of course, it clearly is, the police are allowed to ask at least some initial questions to especially about, of course, accomplices and any further danger to the public before they give Miranda warnings. Now, how long that period lasts can be somewhat controversial. But we can be sure that when he is in a position to be questioned, he will not get Miranda warnings right away. The police, the FBI, who was ever around him at that point, will start questioning him about any immediate threats to public safety before he gets any Miranda warnings.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, Miranda warnings, that the individual has a right to remain silent, has the right to an attorney, knowing that anything he or she says could be used in a court against that person, very interesting that in a terror case, the Miranda rights might not necessarily be read.

Phil Mudd, how do they determine if this individual was what they call a lone wolf or was affiliated with some terror organization?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, there is about a thousand miles between what you will see on TV over the next hour and what happens in real life. So, let me take you into that room. There's three circles you want to think about, whether they're co- conspirators, whether they're people who supported this operation, for example, did somebody provide money or people in a third tier were knowledgeable of it? Someone who talked to him.

At the initial stage, you can look at things like, was he the one who rented the truck? If he had a driver's license on him, you're going to be at that apartment or house very quickly. I'm going to look at a social media post, and see if he is talking to anybody, if he's referencing anybody.

But to get to the heart of the matter, to answer the question of, for example, where did he travel over the past couple of years, did any of his family friends, associates or family hear him speak over the past six months or a year about what he was going to do to get to that level of certitude that nobody knew, that nobody was cognizant he was going to rent a truck. That ain't going to happen in an hour or two. That's going to take some time.

BLITZER: Phil, stand by.

I want to update our viewers. This is the latest in a series of terror attacks, in which vehicles were turned into deadly weapons.

Brian Todd is joining us right now.

Brian, you're looking into this. And there is a history.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. A horrifying history. This has become one of the most disturbing tactics from terrorists in

recent years, because these weapons, the rental trucks, the other vehicles, they are so easy to procure. They can strike with no warning.

Four law enforcement sources, as we've been reporting, telling CNN witnesses reporting the suspect in New York was yelling "Allahu Akbar" as he exited his vehicle, this now and for every appearance now appears to be at least the fourth major high profile terror attack just this year, using vehicles and inflicting multiple casualties.

August 17th, a van plows through a crowd of people in a popular tourist district in Barcelona, Spain, this horrifying video captured some of the aftermath there. Thirteen people killed, about 100 injured in that attack. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Now, two days later in a coastal city, about 60 miles from here, attackers drove an Audi sedan into several pedestrians, killing one person.

Then in June, seven people killed in two terrorist attacks in Central London. It began when a van swerved into a throng of pedestrians on London Bridge. The suspect then jumped out into the van, went on foot to a nearby market area, indiscriminately slashing people with knives. People shot and killed three suspects. At least 48 people were injured in that attack.

Previously, in March of this year, a man drove an SUV into a crowd along the sidewalk, along the Westminster Bridge in London. He killed at least four people, just at that spot. He then rammed the car into a barrier outside the parliament building, exited the vehicle, stabbed a police officer to death. That attacker who officials later said may have had connections to violent extremism was gunned down by a police officer.

Last year, Wolf, you had two absolutely horrific attacks, December 19th, a Tunisian man drove a tractor-trailer into a Christmas market in Berlin. He kills 12 people, gets out and flees the scene. He is killed by police in Italy four days later. Hours after he died, ISIS released a video of him pledging allegiance to the terror group.

And on Bastille Day in Nice, France, July 14th of last year, an attack which brought the most carnage that we had seen in a long time for these types of attacks, a man drove a 20-ton rental truck into a crowd, celebrating that holiday in Nice. Eighty-four people at least were killed in that attack. Now, the attacker was shot and killed by police, but not before he had driven a mile into that crowd.

[18:50:02] Investigators said the attacker was a Tunisian national who became radicalized very quickly by ISIS propaganda, before the attack, Wolf.

That's just a rundown of the vehicular attacks, the high profile vehicular attacks just over the past year or so.

BLITZER: A lot of this goes back to a call from a top ISIS figure only a few years ago, right, Brian?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. And again, we have been talking about it during our coverage of this attack. September 2014, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, he called for lone wolf attacks using improvised weaponry.

Adnani said, quote: If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchmen, or any of their allies, smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him.

That is seen as the catalyst for so many of these attacks, Wolf. We will see what inspired this young man in New York.

BLITZER: Yes, that was in 2014, three years ago.

All right. Brian, standby. Everyone, standby.

We're getting new information. We're following the breaking news. There you see the suspect running away from that rental truck as he plowed down individuals. Eight people dead, a dozen injured.

Much more of our special coverage, right after this.


[18:56:01] BLITZER: We're following breaking news out of New York City. A terror attack that killed eight people and injured a dozen others when a man in a truck mowed down bike riders and pedestrians on the West Side. Much more on that coming up.

But we have another breaking story we're following right now on President Trump and the Russia investigation. I want to bring in our senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger. They are both working their sources.

Jeff, first of all, what are you learning?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that the president for now is going to reject the advice of Steve Bannon. Of course, this is the advice of how to handle the special counsel Bob Mueller here, how to treat him essentially.

So, the president is I'm going to stick with the legal strategy that he has now which is to cooperate with the special counsel's office, including allowing White House aides to be interviewed, including turning over e e-mail and other matters here. This is something he's been thinking about for a while, but he's going to stick with the team he has. And this is interesting because it's certainly shows that it's more of this strategy of just going along to try to speed up this investigation to try to not be a road block, if you will.

But as Gloria knows, there's some dissension in the ranks over what the president should do. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, the president

is hearing from lots of people outside the White House. Friends and his former adviser Steve Bannon, who are saying, you know, you really ought to get more aggressive here.

And I was talking to one person who said, look, the thinking is, you're going to take the same abuse whether you go after Mueller or you don't go after Mueller. And you have to protect yourself. That's the argument that Steve Bannon is making to him directly on the phone recently. And the president let it be known he's sticking with the strategy right now from his attorneys, which is just cooperate with Mueller, give him everything he wants.

And however, there's a caveat here. We both know this. The president could change his mind at any moment. He's not happy with the Papadopoulos stuff. He has said to people, you know, what else is coming down the pike that I don't know about. I didn't know who this person was. That's what gets him agitated and that's what, you know, gets him upset.

BLITZER: We reported, he was, what, seething yesterday when he was watching TV and watching the indictments, the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos come down.

ZELENY: He was spending and he was, you know, spending most of his time in the residence of the White House talking to lawyers. He actually spent half the day in the residence again today. That's where he usually has his meeting with the lawyers. But he was seething yesterday, I'm told, because he was, as Gloria said, surprised by that.

But we spoke with lawyers in the White House, that Ty Cobb specifically told me that they are sticking with the strategy that's working here. They believe that working and cooperating with this is the way to go here.

But one other person inside the White House told me this. This is Bannon's wishful thinking. It's not going to happen. So, the idea of sticking with this strategy is supported by the chief of staff as well as other top advisers here. But as Gloria said, it could always change. It's the president's decision.

BORGER: Well, and he gets to have it both ways. He gave Steve Bannon his blessing. Go do what you have to do, fight Mueller on the outside. But meanwhile on the inside, I'm going to stick with my lawyers.

ZELENY: And we're also learning that top some aides, like Hope Hicks a prime example, the president's communications director. She'll be being subjected to questions and some interviews I guess we should say, interviews after the president comes back from Asia. So, that's an example of the cooperation here that they are doing so far. We'll see if it works.

BLITZER: Yes, because we've heard from some of the president's lawyer, clearly, Jay Sekulow, one of his lawyers and Ty Cobb, they got nothing to hide. They're willing to cooperate if necessary, the president will be willing to give an interview to the prosecutors as well.

Guys, standby. There's a more we're following. That's it, though, for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.