Return to Transcripts main page


No Proof of Caravan Claim; Suspicious Package Sent to Clintons and Obama; Opioid Crisis in America; Death from Virus in New Jersey Rehabilitation Center; Trump's Attack on Fed Chairman. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 24, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Borders. That's one of the reasons why we have a foreign aid program in Central America --


CARDIN: To try to improve the lifestyles. For those who have legitimate, solemn claims, there should be a way that they can present those claims and know that they'll be presented fairly when they reach the border. We should not need to have our military at our border.

HARLOW: But, you know what else you said yesterday on CNN that certainly got a lot of people talking, and you had your Republican -- your Republican opponent jump on it is you said that the U.S. should try to, in your words, quote, help these migrants. You made clear you did not mean free entry into the country. Your Republican opponent jumped on that. Here's what he wrote on FaceBook. He said, Cardin went on CNN, said we should be helping illegal immigrant caravan which seeks to undermine our country's sovereignty by bum-rushing our border. We have two weeks to defend him. And then he fundraised off of that, as you know.

What's your response?

CARDIN: That's an irresponsible use of my material. What I said is what I think, American should be in the forefront of international efforts to help humanitarian disasters. This is a humanitarian crisis and we should be helping the situation.

But our borders are our borders. And, quite frankly, our borders -- these individuals aren't going to try to sneak into this country, those who are seeing asylum.


CARDIN: They show up. You don't need military to deal with them. You need a fair way to handle their cases.

HARLOW: Senator Ben Cardin, I'm sorry to interrupt and jump in and cut this short. We do have some very important breaking news to get to. But thank you for being here.

CARDIN: Thank you, Poppy. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, this breaking news just out now from New York, north of New York City, where a suspicious package described as an IED, that is an improvised explosive device, has reportedly been found near the home of Hillary and Bill Clinton. That's in Chappaqua, New York, just north of the city here.

Our law and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz joins us now live.

What do we know about this package, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we're not only hearing about this suspicious package that you're just describing there now outside of Hillary Clinton's home in New York. We're now getting word from the Secret Service that they also intercepted a second suspicious package which was addressed to former President Barack Obama. That package, that suspicious package, was intercepted by the Secret Service here in Washington, D.C.

Now, the Secret Service put out a statement saying that the packages, both to Hillary Clinton, they confirmed that there was a suspicious package that was found at the home of Hillary Clinton. I'm told by officials that that was found around 1:00 a.m. outside of Hillary Clinton's home. Both these packages, according to the Secret Service, were identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such.

The secret Service says that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not receive the packages, nor were they at risk of receiving them. And now the Secret Service and obviously the FBI and local officials in New York are all investigating this.

Now, what's interesting about this, Jim, of course, is that this comes just days after a pipe bomb, what is suspected to be a pipe bomb, was found at the home of George Soros in New York. That was in Bedford, New York, not far from the home of Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, New York. Also in Westchester.

So certainly something very concerning here is going on. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is heavily involved in this investigation with the Secret Service and local officials. And, obviously, we don't know where this investigation stands, if this is connected to the pipe bomb that was found at George Soros' home, but clearly a serious investigation here at this point, Jim.

The other thing, it's important to note, that we don't have any description exactly what the kind of explosive device this was, who exactly, obviously, is behind this, if there were any notes that were delivered with these packages. We know that the one that was sent to George Soros in New York, in Bedford, New York, came in the mail. It came in a package. It was described as explosive material with some pipe bomb around it, some kind of metaling that was around the explosive devices.

So, obviously, a serious concern here for law enforcement trying to figure out if all three incidents now connected to perhaps an individual or perhaps individuals who are now behind this. So, obviously, a serious investigation now underway here, Jim, by the Secret Service and the FBI.

SCIUTTO: No question, Shimon.

So, to be clear, it's three packages, devices. Soros and then others in the last 24 hours intended for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

For the former president and the former secretary of state, the Secret Service, as a matter of course, will screen mail coming in, is that right, and that's -- that's what -- how they caught these in effect here?

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right. That is what the Secret Service is telling us. They say that late on October 23rd they recovered a single package addressed to former First Lady Hillary Clinton in Westchester County. And then early this morning they discovered a second package addressed to former President Barack Obama.

[09:35:06] Now, obviously, the Secret Service has all sorts of precautions in place. They have it here in Washington, D.C., as well. Mail is not directly sent to people that they protect, what they call protectes (ph). They usually send it to an off-site location where it's screened, checked for explosive materials, other chemical components just to make sure that no one is trying to harm the person that is receiving this mail.

So, clearly, that system was in place here, and that worked. And now the effort underway to see perhaps, you know, if there are other packages that have been sent.

Look, I know that the George Soros situation from the other night, what I was told by law enforcement, that was a serious concern that there were going to be other packages sent to -- perhaps to maybe to other people, to George Soros. So law enforcement has been on the look-out for this kind of situation. They certainly were alarmed over what happened to George Soros.

So here again, you know, certainly, as, Jim, you point out, they were here. The procedures in place certainly effective.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, in 24 hours --

HARLOW: Three.

SCIUTTO: A former president and a former secretary of state targeted here and then, of course, the prior one targeting George Soros.

HARLOW: Yes, a major Democratic donor and often --

SCIUTTO: And often a target of the president.

HARLOW: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much. We know you're going to continue to follow this story.

Matthew Horace is with us. He's a retired ATF executive. He joins us on the phone.

So, Matthew, given what Jim and Shimon just laid out, these three suspicious packages, one being, you know, an explosive device, pipe bomb to George Soros' house in the mailbox in the last 24 hours, if you were with ATF and if you were with the Secret Service and you were looking at all of these, what are the similarities you're looking for to find out if these were all from the same person or group of people and what are you doing to track down that person or group?

MATTHEW HORACE, RETIRED ATF EXECUTIVE (via telephone): Well, first they're going to be looking to try to determine if these devices, in fact, are the same or similar or separate and apart. They want to separate the incidents as being distinctly uniquely separate or part of a larger sort of issue here.

They're going to try to determine where the devices came from. Where they were mailed from. They're going to be doing finger prints. They're going to be sending them to their labs to dismantle the devices and try to determine how they were made, what type of explosives were used, if there was an explosive, in fact, in there. What type of detonation device. What handwriting.

So there's -- it's very early on in the investigation right now and there's a lot of work that needs to be done to pull this together.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, as they look at this as well, when the Secret Service -- I mean, listen, they're always vigilant for these kinds of threats going forward. Can you say, were the former president or the former secretary of state in danger at any time?

HORACE: No, I can't say that at this point. But what we can say is that there are enough screening processes in place to do exactly what happened here, to make sure that things like this get screened out early on and that these devices don't get anywhere near their intended target.

HARLOW: Thank you very much, Matthew Horace.

Again, the breaking news, you have these two suspicious packages in the last 24 hours delivered to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, and just yesterday to George Soros as well. We'll update you as soon as we get more. Very concerning.

A quick break. We'll be right back.


[09:42:16] SCIUTTO: Listen up. The numbers for this story are just staggering. It's one that both Poppy and I feel very strongly about.

In 2016, an average of 115 Americans died every day as a result of the opioid crisis -- 115 a day. In just a few hours, President Trump will sign into law a bill to help address the opioid epidemic passed by Congress earlier this month 98-1 in a sweeping and rare bipartisan move. HARLOW: That's right. But as Washington does this, what is it like on

the front lines?

Last year I went to Clermont County, Ohio, and spent time with the sheriff there. He is on the front lines of this crisis. Here's what he told me.


SHERIFF STEVE LEAHY, CLERMONT COUNTY, OHIO: It will take your family and turn it upside down.

HARLOW: It did that to you?

LEAHY: Absolutely.

HARLOW: It broke your family apart.


My job is to enforce the law. But you can also do that with some compassion. We just can't throw everybody's ass in jail.


HARLOW: Sheriff Steve Leahy joins us now.

Sheriff, we are glad you're here. Thank you for joining us.

You know, for people who think that this crisis does not touch every community in some way, they are sorely wrong. Your own former wife became addicted to opioids. So this mission has become very, very personal to you. What are you seeing? Is it getting any better?

SHERIFF STEVE LEAHY, CLERMONT COUNTY, OHIO: Yes, Poppy, we have seen a decrease in our numbers since you were at our jail facility filming. We're down about 20 percent. And we're hoping -- for this year we're hoping for another 20 percent reduction.


SCIUTTO: So what's working? The president has touted that the founding of this presidential commission. He's declared it a health emergency and has allocated a lot of money. What actual steps, though, do you see working on the ground where you are to reduce addictions?

LEAHY: Well, what we're doing in Clermont County is kind of unique. With our enforcement, incarceration, treatment, education are the big keys for us. And it's like a four pillar attack on the problem. For us, it is working. I know that's unique and probably not for every community. But, for us, we're seeing positive results in that.

HARLOW: I saw it firsthand this -- what's called the CAST (ph) Program inside your jail where instead of just keeping these people locked up, you are sending them through rehab. Are the numbers proving to you in the last year that it is working? LEAHY: Yes. I think that the numbers are positive. They're showing

especially when they're getting back out into the community, you know, they're coming in and not only are they serving their debt to society, they're also going through treatment. They're also getting trained for jobs and education when they get out. So there's a difference there for them.


LEAHY: For a reason to stay sober.

[09:45:03] HARLOW: I'm so glad to hear that.

Sheriff, thank you for being for us and for what you're doing and leading there. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: It's also heartening to hear some positive news and progress on what is just a true national crisis.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Another story we're following, a seventh child has died from a viral outbreak at a medical facility in New Jersey. According to health officials there, 18 patients have now been infected with adenovirus, this at a rehabilitation center in Haskell, New Jersey.

HARLOW: That facility has stopped admitting patients until this outbreak is over.

Let's go to our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

What is this virus and how did something like this happen, because we're just learning a seventh child has died?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean these are heart-breaking headlines. It's adenovirus. That's the name of the virus. It's a flu-like virus, but it's not the flu. It's typically, you know, not that serious a virus. Most of us, and, Jim, Poppy, you -- we've all probably been exposed to this at some point or another. Here's the problem, this was affecting children and that -- you can see the symptoms there typically that people get. The diarrhea and the pink eye are what health care folks sort of zero in on as distinguishing this from the flu typically.

But when you have a virus like this that is -- that is spreading in a facility, a long-term facility where you have children in a pediatric facility who require long-term care, who are medically fragile, as the institution has sort of described them, that seems to be the problem here, that this virus typically, again, not that harmful, but in that sort of setting, spreading person to person, it can be a real problem.

The facility released a statement. We've been asking them to sort of give us a description of what happened there. Here's what they said. Unfortunately, this particular strain of adenovirus, number seven is the strain number, in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems. It's particularly worse in communal living arrangements. And that's when it can get more severe.

It's really heart-breaking. This is the type of facility where children sometimes are there for all or most of their lives. The health care workers who care for them know these children really well. And then you get a virus like this that, you know, perhaps, in the beginning, wasn't that concerning, but as it spreads is causing more and more deaths. There are still several children who are infected that we're keeping an eye on.


SCIUTTO: Gosh, those poor children and their families.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for following this.

We are following other breaking news just into CNN in the last few moments.

The Secret Service has now intercepted two suspicious packages. One sent to President Obama in Washington, another to Hillary Clinton just north of New York. We're going to have the very latest on that coming up.


[09:52:09] SCIUTTO: The breaking news out of New York, just north of New York City, where a suspicious package described as an IED, an improvised explosive device, has reportedly been found near Hillary and Bill Clinton's home in Chappaqua, New York. At the same time, a second suspicious package addressed to the residence of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. This coming from the U.S. Secret Service.

Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.

Shimon, do we know, was the second package also a suspected explosive device, the one targeting President Obama?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Yes, it was. The Secret Service, in their statement, describing that they intercepted two suspicious packages. They say that the packages, meaning both, obviously were immediately identified during routine mail screening proceeding as potential explosive devices.

Now, I've been talking to law enforcement officials, both in New York and here in Washington, D.C. Obviously everyone treating this very seriously.

What I'm told is these packages, once they were received and intercepted, was that authorities had detonated them, meaning that they didn't take any chances. They identified them as possible explosive material. And so what the procedure is here is they move it off site or move it to an area where they can detonate it, explode it themselves, and then see what exactly was inside.

I'm told, obviously, this may be linked to a third pipe bomb that was sent to George Soros' home. And right now authorities are investigating as all three incidents as being related. They don't know that for sure, of course, but certainly that is how they're treating it.


SCIUTTO: Serious enough to detonate those packages out of an abundance of caution.


SCIUTTO: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much.


SCIUTTO: President Trump going on an extraordinary new attack against his own hand-picked Federal Reserve chairman.

HARLOW: He tells "The Wall Street Journal" that the biggest threat to the economy right now, wait for it, wait for it, is the Fed because it keeps raising interest rates. And, again, directly attacking this man, Jerome Powell, who he picked to lead the Fed.

Cristina Alesci is here with more.

I know everyone thinks that stuff is wonky, but the independence of the institution is so important for our country, for our economy, and yet the president is blaming the Fed.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. And I think this could backfire because Powell, like most respected economists both on the left and the right, firmly believes in the independence of the Fed.

HARLOW: Right.

ALESCI: And if he moves to reverse course on steadily raising rates, he will be killed by his peers for succumbing to the pressure that Trump is trying to exert upon him.

Look, at the end of the day, the Fed's job is to smooth out the bumps of the business cycle. They don't want to see major booms. They don't want to see major busts. So if the Fed starts making decisions that are politically motivated, it risks exacerbating or amplifying those boom and bust cycles. It's the complete opposite job of the Fed.

[09:55:02] SCIUTTO: Yes. And, listen, the whole world's economy and financial markets, they follow and often are pegged to decisions from the Fed.

HARLOW: What the U.S. -- yes.

SCIUTTO: So if that becomes politicized --

ALESCI: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Enormous global risk. Cristina Alesci --

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, as always.

ALESCI: Of course.

SCIUTTO: We are following the breaking news. There's lots of it this morning. We're going to have more right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: All right, top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York, along with Jim Sciutto.

We have big, breaking news this morning.

Two suspicious packages that were intended to be delivered to the homes of former President Barack Obama and former presidential nominee and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they have both been intercepted this morning by the Secret Service. The packages have been described as, quote, potential explosive devices.

[10:00:10] SCIUTTO: And at least one of them detonated by the Secret Service out of an abundance of caution.