Return to Transcripts main page


New York Officials Hold Press Conference on Terrorist Attack; Rep. Peter King Talks Terror Attack & Immigration. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 1, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JOHN MILLER, NEW YORK DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Based on the investigation overnight, it appears that Mr. Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks. He did this in the name of ISIS, and along with the other items recovered at the scene was some notes that further indicate that. He appears to have followed almost exactly to a "T" the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.

At this point, we'll open it up for questions.


JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Yes, I may have talked about this yesterday, and it's a big city. You know, I know the bike path very well. I don't think there are any there at Houston Street or Chambers Street. We'll take a look at that now. I said yesterday that we learn from every event, not just in this city, but across the world.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you had a chance to talk to the suspect and what did he say?

O'NEILL: Bill or John?

MILLER: The suspect was interviewed at the hospital and we're not going to be able to go into his statements in any specificity.

O'NEILL: Right there?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I have a question for Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. Have either of you received a call from President Trump since the attack happened?

And for the police commissioner, we've got sources telling us that authorities knew an associate of Mr. Saipov before this incident. Does that mean that police were already investigating someone affiliated with this suspect?

I'll let Commissioner Miller talk about that.

John, do you want to answer that first?

MILLER: Sure. What we can say is that Mr. Saipov has never been the subject of an

NYPD Intelligence Bureau Investigation, nor has he been the subject of an FBI investigation. And we know that through our work with the JTTF and bill overnight. What we are looking for is how has he touched the subjects of other investigations, what is his connectivity to those people, and we're kind of building out in concentric circles to try to document that. But it appears that he will have some connectivity to individuals who were the subjects of investigation, though he, himself, us with not.

BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I received calls yesterday from the Homeland Security secretary and from the Homeland Security adviser in the White House, Mr. Bossert, and both offered any and all help to New York City in this moment. And said they would be 100 percent available to us in any way going forward. So those calls happened, give or take 7:00 yesterday evening. Not from the president directly, no.

ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR: I received no call from the president. I also received a call from the Homeland Security secretary, acting secretary duke, and we spoke about coordination of resources, JTTF, FBI, but basically, did we need any other assistance from the federal government.

O'NEILL: I actually received a call from the acting secretary also, a little bit after 8:00.

Yep, David?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) are you bothered that you didn't get this call, but that the president went on Twitter to essentially attack (INAUDIBLE)?

DE BLASIO: Look, I'm not bothered at all, because two senior officials called promptly and offered help, and I think that was appropriate. I think we are here to talk about this situation, the facts, and no one up here wants to politicize any of this. And I don't think anyone should be politicizing this, this tragedy, at this moment in time. I think every focus should be on those whose lives were lost, on their families, on the work we have to do in this investigation.

CUOMO: I am not bothered that the president didn't call. I am bothered by an attempt by anyone to try to politicize this situation. That plays right into the hands of the terrorists. They're trying to disrupt. They're trying to create mayhem. They're trying to divide. The point is to do the opposite. Is to unite, normalcy, proceed as one. So to politicize this event, I think, is wholly counterproductive.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) investigators that this suspect (INAUDIBLE) imitation weapons, in an effort to sort of be killed by police or to commit suicide -- (INAUDIBLE)?

[11:35:15] O'NEILL: Are you talking suicide by cop? No, we haven't made that determination yet. In the back?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With respect (INAUDIBLE), is there any sense in this investigation how or when this individual became radicalized to carry out this attack?

O'NEILL: No, it's too early in the investigation to tell you that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Commissioner, is there anything out of the ordinary regarding the rental in terms of dialogue between the employees or how he paid for it, a. And b, is there video showing anything in particular actually (INAUDIBLE)?

MILLER: As far as the truck rental goes, those interviews are being conducted and I haven't seen that. But there was certainly nothing unusual enough to cause anybody to call.


MILLER: That's part of the expanded canvass for witnesses. Obviously, we're looking for people to come forward. It's also part of the expanded video canvass, which Bob Boyce's people have been instrumental in, which is, we really want to be able to reconstruct this entire trip. As you saw, Rocco, in the Chelsea bombing, we were basically able to take him from the train to both scenes. We expect to try to come as close to that as we can here, too.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just a follow-up on that truck question for the commissioner. If -- I'm sorry. If -- I know that he spoke to a lot of companies that rent trucks. Was this particular Home Depot one of them?

MILLER: So our Nexus Program within the Intelligence Bureau and the Shield Program within counterterrorism does the outreach on a fairly wide level. The Nexus Program from Intel has visited more than 100 of the truck rental places in New York City. We work with the Department of Homeland Security and their programs and other agencies to cover the ones outside the city. And I can't tell you to a level of specificity whether that program got to this location, but I can tell you, as early as two weeks ago, we were engaged with them and the New York State Police, doing the areas around New York City.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any evidence that he tried to buy (INAUDIBLE) or any other planning (INAUDIBLE) be suspicious (INAUDIBLE)?

O'NEILL: Of course, as part of the investigation, we're going to go backwards in his history, what he's done over the last couple of months, so I can't give you an answer to that.



O'NEILL: John, do you want to talk about the notes?

MILLER: The notes were handwritten in Arabic. They had symbols and words. But the gist of the note was that the Islamic State would endure forever.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I would like to ask Mr. Kim, there is a federal death penalty for murder that is, quote, "willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated." Do you anticipate filing this as a death penalty case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, at this point, since we haven't yet filed any criminal charges, there's not much I can say about potential charges. I can say that from the moment of the attack, we had federal terrorism prosecutors working with the NYPD, the FBI, and a joint terrorism task force in coordinating and District Attorney Cy Vance's office to assist in the investigation, get search warrants, get legal process filed, and to gather the evidence and assist in the investigation for the purpose of ultimately determining whether there are federal terrorism charges to be made. At this point, I'm not going to speculate as to what charges might ultimately be brought and what the sentences might be.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If I could follow up with John Miller. The fact that the note was written in Arabic, how significant is that and does it speak at all to the level of radicalization to Mr. Saipov?

MILLER: I don't know.

O'NEILL: Juliette?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned earlier that he had been planning this for weeks. What had he been doing in the prior weeks?

O'NEILL: John, do you want to talk about that? Or Bill?

MILLER: We're beginning to reconstruct that literally day by day going backwards, but at this point I'm not going to get into that in any detail.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you say whether he was online looking at sites or whether he was contacting people or (INAUDIBLE)?

[11:40:08] MILLER: Everything you said is a part of the investigation now. And we're peeling back through. Obviously, there's a process here. What were his communications? Who were they with? What was the content, what's relevant to this.

O'NEILL: Colleen?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you spoken to his wife? And can you talk a little bit about his time (INAUDIBLE) Florida, when did he go to New Jersey? (INAUDIBLE).

O'NEILL: So we're about 20 hours in now. So we're going to speak to everybody involved. We're going to speak to relatives. We're going to speak to acquaintances, people that he's worked with, but I don't have that right now.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) can you elaborate how important Officer Nash's action was. And can you detail more about the conversation that you had with him. And can you give us any information as to when or whether or not we'll actually get to (INAUDIBLE)?

O'NEILL: Yes, OK. All right. So, in a typical fashion of an NYPD cop, he thinks what he did was not an act of heroism. He thinks it's something that -- why he joined the police department. I had the opportunity to talk to Ryan last night. He was at the hospital and I don't think we could find a more humble human being. They were at Stiverson High School (ph) for an unrelated call. And somebody came in and told them that there was a vehicle accident at west street and Chambers Street. So Ryan and his partner thought they were going out to handle a vehicle accident. And once they got outside, they were confronted and took proper action. So all New Yorkers should be thankful to Ryan and his partner. They showed great courage. And I talk about the courage of the men and women in this police department every day. And truly, yesterday, you saw it. And Hearst, a cop with five years on the job, 28 years old, and this is what he did for the city and for the country. So I'm really proud of him.

DE BLASIO: Let me just add, real quick, Ryan is a hero, but he was so humble about his achievement, it was very striking. I think the commissioner is right. He thought this was all in a day's work and what a cop does to protect other people. But he deserves the accolades of the people of this city, as do his partners. The question, what was the potential there had he not stepped in. As you know, after the fact, we found out more, but in that situation, you don't know if the shooter has multiple weapons, has a bomb on him, you don't know. And god forbid that situation was even more dangerous, how many more lives, literally, dozens more lives could have been in danger. Ryan stopped that threat immediately. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.


O'NEILL: Well, I have to talk to him again and see what he wants to do. You know? He's a humble guy. So maybe we'll give you the opportunity, but I'll leave that up to him.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In light of the situation yesterday, the security situation of the city going forward, are you considering closing Times Square to particular traffic entirely?

O'NEILL: It's premature to say that. If you go up to Times Square, you'll see the presence that we have there now, so.

In the back row?


DE BLASIO: We have not yet. Obviously, our condolences to the people of argentine and Belgium, I believe. Our condolences to those nations, to the people of those nations, to the families, especially, and we'll do everything we can to support the families in this moment. I think everyone feels, we're all connected at this moment. We all have to be there for each other.

O'NEILL: Yes? In the second row?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you go into detail about what the suspect said in the hospital. There are reports that he was bragging (INAUDIBLE)?

O'NEILL: I'm not going to confirm that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Commissioner, you alluded to this earlier, but was there any indication that he did prior reconnaissance in person or (INAUDIBLE)?

MILLER: Yes. We're not going to get into the details of the what or the where, but he seems to have followed the regimen prescribed.

O'NEILL: All the way over on the left?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. A question for the governor. Two questions, actually. What do you think of Trump's remarks about stepping up extreme vetting (INAUDIBLE) for immigration policies here? And secondly, to what extent do you think the gun control laws of New York (INAUDIBLE), this guy had like tiny little weapons. They were not assault weapons (INAUDIBLE)?

[11:45:02] DE BLASIO: Look, again, I think today is about focus on this incident and all we have to do to respond to it. But I could say, simply, we support vetting of individuals. We support very thorough vetting. To the of groups of people just because they long to a group. I think this is a very crucial distinction. There should be very, very careful vetting of anyone where there's an indication of concern, but not because of their religion or their country of origin. And there's a much bigger conversation we could have about gun safety. The NYPD has always rigorously believed that we need to keep guns out of this city and gun safety laws are here to protect us and protect our officers. But there'll be plenty of time to discuss these issues going forward. I want to affirm the governor's point, you know. This should be a unity moment where the focus is on solving the crime and figuring out how we can move forward together, not to pointing of fingers.

CUOMO: The president's tweets -- the president's tweets, I think, were not helpful. I don't think they were factual. I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation. He was referring back to an immigration policy that dealt with a lottery and blaming people who passed that immigration policy. His tweet wasn't even accurate, as far as I'm concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation. As I said before, you play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society. And the tone now should be the exact opposite, by all officials on all levels. This is about unification. This is about solidarity. This is about normalization. This is about protection. And the last thing it's about is politics, period. As far as the gun laws, I am increasingly proud that New York state passed some of the smartest gun laws in the country, the Safe Act. I think it is madness the number of assault weapons that we have in this country. I think it endangers law enforcement. I think it costs us untold numbers of deaths. And I hope one day we'll have a federal policy that actually brings sanity to the gun policy laws in this country.

O'NEILL: Take two more questions, please.


O'NEILL: John?

MILLER: We're going to go back through all of his contacts and habits, but I think this is an important time to say, this isn't about Islam, it's not about what mosque he attends. There are hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Muslims in New York City who are adversely affected by things like this. And it's probably a good time to say, we have seen in the aftermath of incidents like this, bias incidents, hate crimes, assaults. And Bob Boyce and his hate crimes people will respond to those, investigate those, and anybody behind those will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As has been said here before, it is a time to come together and to not confuse this terrorist act with any broad brush against a religion or a particular institution.

O'NEILL: Last one?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's opinion been reported that police and the FBI (INAUDIBLE) Paterson (INAUDIBLE) the why have and children. Is the wife in custody? (INAUDIBLE) the children (INAUDIBLE)?

O'NEILL: John?

MILLER: We're doing interviews with family members, friends, associates. We're not going to be able to get into what they're saying or not saying or who's cooperating or otherwise at this point. It's just too early.

O'NEILL: We thank you all.

Thanks so much.

[11:49:57] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have been listening to a very important update from city, state and federal officials on the investigation into this attack, the horrific terror attack that played out in lower Manhattan yesterday. Very important time line update. More updates about what they know about the attacker. And also being very clear that they are in the infancy of this investigation. We're going to piece through all of this for you right now.

Right now, first, I want to get over to CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, you have new information coming in to you.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Kate. We heard the deputy commissioner, John Miller, talk about contacts and how perhaps the suspect was known in some way to the FBI, to law enforcement. I sort of wanted to give people a good idea of what that's based on. It's based on information that the FBI has. They went through information overnight at Joint Terrorism Task Force and NYPD went through and found he was associated with someone who they had been investigating, someone who was on their radar. It's not clear to us if they were any measures were taken because of that, previously if any measures were taken because of that. But they did find his name connected to someone that the Joint Terrorism Task Force had been interested in. A person who was on their radar. We don't know where that person is from, if he's from New York or a different area. But that is partially how his name came up to the FBI. So it would be at this point unfair to say he was on the FBI's radar, but when they went ahead and did searches, that is how he came up.

BOLDUAN: Also, I think it was John Miller saying he will have some connectivity to other suspects.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BOLDUAN: But they are working in circles to figure out what those connections are right now.

Shimon, stick with me. I appreciate it.

Let me bring in for more reaction to everything we learned right now Republican Congressman Peter King, of New York. He's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman, thank you for sticking around.

I know you were listening along to that important update along with us from New York officials. We learned quite a bit. This man followed almost exactly to a t the structure and the guidance that ISIS has laid out online in order to carry this out. One question remains. When was he radicalized? That is something that officials weren't getting into except Andrew Cuomo said he was radicalized here. What are you hearing?

REP. PETER KING, (R), NEW YORK: There's nothing definite on that. I heard the same thing John Miller mentioned and your correspondent just said is that he appears to have contact with one more or more people under FBI suspicion or FBI surveillance. And, again, we're left to go all of the way back to 2010 when he came here and before that to see if there's any record on him with respect to him being involved in radical activity at all. This is too early to say. My experience with these investigations, this could go on for days, weeks, and months. They'll go through all of his social media and phone records and anyone who has been in contact with and any dealings he's had, any posts he's put on social media. Again, each of those people that he had any contact with who were previously known to FBI surveillance or suspicion. Also we'd have to find out whether or not the FBI had actually opened an investigation on those people. Did they close it out? Why did they close it out? All of those things. It's early in the process. They will track every possible lead down.

BOLDUAN: One of the keys that is great relatively early on in this process is they have him, they have the suspect. That's rare, he's alive in a hospital in New York and they'll interview him and will continue that.

I want to ask you, it's come up. You say it's so early on in this investigation as everyone agrees it is, we have been hearing from the president in the aftermath of it. The president reacting. The president calling the attacker "depraved and sick." But also then going and saying that he wants to put in place more extreme vetting in the aftermath. Do you know what extreme vetting looks like?

KING: No. I agree with the president to this extent. I believe if a person -- I have no idea if it would impact this case. If a person is coming from a country which has a strong terrorist presence, there should be more intense vetting and investigation than there would be from someone not coming from a country similar to that. Now, Pakistan has a large terrorist presence. They have sent 800 people to Syria to fight alongside ISIS. In that case, there should be more vetting. How you define it is more than you do in the ordinary case.

BOLDUAN: Asked about his tweets and comments this morning, Andrew Cuomo said, "The president's tweets were not helpful, they were not factual and tended to point fingers." Do you agree?

[11:55:03] KING: If the president is talking about the lottery visas, my experience with them in New York is they have worked. Again, to me the question will be the same. If a person gets a -- is eligible for a lottery visa, he comes from a country such as Pakistan, there should be more vetting than he comes from a country which does not have a strong Islamic presence or terrorist presence. But the lottery system itself, to me, it's worked. It's gotten good people into this country. In my experience, in New York, is they've gone on to become very productive people.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this. In the context of all of this today, and I heard it from you and from all of the officials that this is in the early stages of the investigation. We're only 20 hours out now. After Las Vegas, the attack there, the president pushed back very hard against anyone talking about policy or politics too quickly. We heard things like now is not the time for political debate. It's time to unite the country. But less than 12 hours after the attack the president is on Twitter talking policy and politics here. Should he be?

KING: Again, there's a role for the president to play as far as leadership. And the president says that we should have more vetting going forward, I can understand that. I would not blame anyone. I know he mentioned Senator Schumer. I have had disagreements, but on the issue of terrorism, he's been a strong ally.

BOLDUAN: What would you say to the president right now in the aftermath of this?

KING: He's the president. I would just say that I would do what President Bush did after 9/11. Focus on those who were murdered and also stand with the NYPD and the FBI. I think what we should be talking about, if we're going to single anyone out, is focus on Officer Nash with NYPD who put his life on the line and brought down that murderer and did it in the heat of battle and didn't panic, and stand with the NYPD and FBI.

BOLDUAN: One hundred percent.

Congressman, always great to have you. Thank you so much for coming on and sticking around. Thank you.

KING: Thank you. You're very welcome.

BOLDUAN: All right. A lot to discuss. Let me bring in my panel now.

Gentlemen, great to have you here. We've got a lot of folks. Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent, he's here with me. David Katz, you've been with me.

We've been here, unfortunately, a lot of time around the same table talking about breaking news and terrorism. Let's talk about what we heard in this press conference. A couple things stuck out to you guys. I want to get that.

David, when we were going through the time line, when John Miller walked through this time line, you said he went right there. Why does that stick out to you?

DAVID KATZ, FORMER DEA SPECIAL AGENT: There was no delay. He went to the Home Depot. Got in the car and drove directly to the scene of the attack. Based on the distance, traffic at that time of day, there's virtually no possibility he got deterred. From the moment he got the car, he was on route to the mission.

BOLDUAN: Michael, you've been to many of these press conferences. Why rent the truck, is one question you had.


BOLDUAN: Why is that a question in your mind?

MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NEW YOIRK STATE HOMELAND SECURITY: If he's going to take a vehicle and have a vehicle attack and he's got a van and another car at home, why go to a Home Depot and expose yourself to someone else? Another point of identification potentially instead of just taking the car he has and driving it into the city? The other thing is targeting. What was the route? He took there, and did he pass other buses and other intersections? Why was this the intersection he picked? They're talking about him planning for a period of time. What was in his mind for the targeting and did he get any suggestions as this is the place where you should attack?

BOLDUAN: What about that? Planning this for weeks. Did this in the name of ISIS. Stuck to it the ISIS playbook almost to a "T."

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Exactly. You have to look at this, terror takes the path of least resistance. In this instance, the least resistance is vulnerability of soft target. Some mitigation from the west side highway but he knew where to drive that vehicle. To your point, the moment that he left that Home Depot he was on a mission and nothing stopping that mission. I think as this investigation unfolds, you're going to see some sort of preattack surveillance being conducted knowing exactly where to peel off on the west side highway, where -- what time of day would have the greatest impact for greatest amount of victims. Again, that's right out of the is playbook. That's what we'll see as this investigation moves forward.

BOLDUAN: A critical moment, 2:06, the suspect rents the truck from Home Depot, and 2:43, he enters New York City, and 3:04, is when he entered that bike lane, and 3:08, is when they received more than a dozen 911 calls about the accident with the school bus showing just how fast a terror attack can play out and how much death can happen in its path. But Ryan Nash, NYPD officer, stopped that man in his path and now the investigation continues.

Gentlemen, thank you as always. I appreciate it.

We're waiting to hear from President Trump himself on camera for the first time since the terror attack in his hometown of New York City. He's going to hold a cabinet meeting at the White House just moments from now. We are told he will address this attack. And we will bring that to you as soon as it happens.