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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Manhunt On For Suspect Who Sent Bombs To CNN, Clintons, Obamas; Ex-CIA Chief Speaks Out On Bomb Addressed To Him & Sent to CNN. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 24, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, breaking news. The search for a serial bomber, authorities trying to find out who's responsible for sending at least six explosive devices to prominent Democrats and a former CIA director in care of CNN. The targets include former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C., former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in Chappaqua, New York. Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, though the package was sent to the wrong address and sent back to the return address which was, oddly, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office in Sunrise, Florida. Of course she didn't send that package.
The exact same return address, we should note, was used for Clinton's and Obamas' packages. Devices were also sent to Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Capitol Hill. They're still trying to figure out if it's tied to these other incidents, as well as one sent to liberal billionaire and philanthropist George Soros in Bedford, New York, and to CNN's New York headquarters where it was addressed to John Brennan, former CIA Director. This is the device that was sent to the Time Warner Center. As I said, it was addressed to President Obama's CIA Director, John Brennan, a vocal critic of President Trump.
Now the packages are being described as rudimentary but operative explosive devices, leading investigators to fear the intent was to kill and to kill a lot of people. Now, thankfully, none of the devices went off and while we don't know the suspect or his or her or their motive, law enforcement investigators have no doubt noticed that those targeted are all individuals whom President Trump has attacked aggressively and publicly. The FBI asking tonight for the public's help releasing this image and saying, anyone who has information should contact the agency.
We have a team of reporters standing by from Florida to New York, Washington. I want to start with Jim Sciutto, he's outside the CNN offices in New York. And Jim, this is a major multistate investigation now under way.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is, and with similarities in the devices, the M.O., et cetera, which is leading investigators to believe that the same individual or individuals are behind all of these attempted attacks here. That's because of the similarities to the device, similarities to delivery method, and now what they're doing is poring over, for instance, video footage, New York City, particularly in this area, covered with CCTV cameras, something a development post-9/11, in fact, for this express purpose, to be able to track and prevent, if you can, or track after the fact people attempting to carry out violence on the streets of New York, including acts of terrorism.
So, that's what they're looking at now. They have an advantage here, Jake, in that they did not have to detonate these devices out after an abundance of caution. Therefore, they have intact devices which FBI investigators have told us can give them a lot of clues. They could find actual fingerprints on the materials to lead them to someone but also signatures in terms of the design of the bomb, et cetera, which might lead them to possible suspects as well.
New York has a lot of experience with this going back to 9/11, but since 9/11, and you'll remember, Jake and I, you and I were talking about this a couple years ago, an attempted bombing, a bombing, a couple 20, 30 blocks south of here in Chelsea in which they used those tools to lead very quickly to a suspect. We don't know that they will be able to proceed that quickly this time and they have multiple targets in mind but they have a lot of clues and they are working hard on this now with the joint terrorism task force involved in this as well, tells you they're treating this as an attempted act of terrorism, Jake.
TAPPER: And Jim, earlier today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told me that they're operating under the assumption that there are more bombs out there, that they have not yet found. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced he's deploying 100 additional National Guard soldiers and directing state law enforcement to double security at vital assets across New York. Obviously, there's concern that this isn't over yet.
SCIUTTO: There is concern, and keep in mind the progress of events. It started on Monday with this bomb sent to George Soros. This morning, my colleague Poppy Harlow and I were on the air here at CNN headquarters discussing packages sent to the former President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when we learned of a new device sent to this location so the possibility still remains of other locations around the country, other individuals targeted. So it's not just an abundance of caution when you hear officials say that it is genuine concern because they have seen this grow over the course of the last 48, 72 hours from one target to multiple targets. And let's be frank, the perpetrator or perpetrators are still at large, so this manhunt under way and they want to find him or her or them before they can attempt to strike again.
[19:05:08] TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto in New York, thanks so much. I want to go straight to our Senior Justice Department Correspondent Evan Perez. And Evan, you have some new information just coming in about these bombs. EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Jake. I mean, the FBI took the extraordinary move today of publishing a picture of one of those packages, and one of the things that's already happening is that the FBI lab in Quantico has been able to examine at least some of the initial devices, the first one, of course, showed up a couple nights ago at the home of George Soros, a Democratic fundraiser. And one of the things that they've noticed is that it contained a sort of a sulfur material. Now this is inside of the pipe bomb, if you could -- that there have been images that the law enforcement has been sharing with each other, showing wires and appears to be some rudimentary device put together with tape.
Now, look, these are rudimentary devices but they are still possibly deadly, and so this is the reason why the FBI took the extraordinary move tonight of putting out this essentially call for help from the public. There's a lot of work that goes behind the scenes at the FBI before they even put something out like this, and it tells us that they urgently want to try to find this person. They want to make sure that there are no other packages out there, but warn people if they see something like this to make sure they don't touch them and immediately call law enforcement.
And they're treating this, Jake, as a domestic terror incident, essentially these are -- there's a serial bomber here, domestic serial bomber, who is trying to kill people and it shouldn't be lost on everyone, obviously, the political overtones of all of this. Obviously, the people, the recipients of some of these packages, but the fact that we're just days away from an election. Is someone trying to stoke the fires here in the run-up to the election? We don't know all of these things, and certainly investigators want to try to solve this as soon as possible, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thanks so much.
Out front, Art Roderick, former Assistant Director for Investigations for the U.S. Marshals, Pamela Brown, CNN White House Correspondent, Bob Baer, former CIA Operative and Bernard Kerik, former New York City Police Commissioner, he was the commissioner during the September 11th terror attacks. I need to give a precursor, pre-warning here that we're expecting a press conference from John Brennan, the former CIA Director to whom the package, the bomb that was sent to CNN in New York was addressed. We're expecting him to speak any moment now live and when that comes I'm going to rudely interrupt you.
But Art, let me start by just asking you, we're learning new details tonight. What is it telling you about who the perpetrator or perpetrators might be?
ART RODERICK, FMR. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: Well, as we move through the day and we start looking at these different devices, we now have six. And we're either incredibly lucky or these devices were actually made not to explode. Now, they're saying they're active devices, OK, the trigger is the trigger there enough to make these explode or are they just trying to spread what is occurring right now, the terror that we see around New York City and these other locations that these devices have been sent to. So, that, to me, is curious that we've got six devices and not one of them went off.
TAPPER: Well let me ask you. When devices are sent or let me bring you in, Bob Baer. When devices are sent, do they usually go off? Or, I mean, I don't think it's that easy to make a bomb.
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, look at Austin. All those bombs went off. That guy was an amateur. He made them go off. A lot of these --
TAPPER: I have to interrupt you as I said I would do so rudely, and I'll come back to you. But John Brennan is speaking right now. Let's listen in.
MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENT & CEO, LBJ FOUNDATION: -- disturbing day where we've seen threats on your life and on the lives of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others. What are your thoughts as we end today?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think we're at a very unfortunate stage of our national history when we cannot have the civil discourse that we need about the future direction of our country and policies without having individuals, I think very disturbed individuals, resorting to attempted acts of violence. And so, I recognize that there are a lot of raw emotions and feelings in this country and very strong feelings for individual political parties as well as individual politicians. But this country was founded upon the foundation of freedom and liberty and freedom of speech, and if I and others are being targeted because we're speaking out and we're living up to our responsibilities as citizens, I think that's, again, is a very unfortunate turn of events.
So, I have full confidence in my former law enforcement and intelligence colleagues to get to the bottom of this and to take the appropriate actions. I have been contacted by the folks in the security realm, letting me know what they are doing. So, this is something that I think all Americans who really cherish our freedoms and our liberties really should be outraged over and try to do everything possible to bring that -- the level of discourse down so that we're able to engage in a very constructive and productive way to make sure that this country is able to realize its full potential, including on the political front.
[19:10:21] UPDEGROVE: Donald Trump made a statement earlier today in which he said, I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify. We have to come together. And send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America. We live in a very divided nation. Have we reached a moment, finally, when we're capable of coming together?
BRENNAN: Well, I'm tempted to say that was said by Donald who? Well, I think it's very important for an individual who is in the Oval Office today to say exactly that. That we need to come together as a country. We need to unite. We may have differences, but this should be no reason whatsoever to resort to these types of acts of intimidation and potentially violence. I sincerely wish that Donald Trump, though, would have said these things previously and regularly. I wish that he would have encouraged people from all different backgrounds and political affiliations to come together and to try to resolve differences in a very positive manner. Unfortunately, I think Donald Trump, too often, has helped to incite some of these feelings of anger, if not violence, when he points to acts of violence or also talks about, you know, swinging at somebody from the press or the media. That's why I have spoken out so strongly, some would say very stridently, because of what I think is a continued failure on the part of Donald Trump to live up to what I think should be all of our expectations about what an American president should be doing, especially in times like this.
I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. I work for six presidents, three Democrats, and three Republicans. I had tremendous respect for all of them. I didn't agree with all the policies, but I always believed that they were trying to do what they believed was in the best interest of the country and not of themselves. And also, I felt that a particular times when maybe tensions within this country were strong or emotions were strong, they were unifiers.
I remember very vividly how President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 was helping to rally this country so that we all stick together in the face of this foreign adversary who caused such great havoc, destruction, and carnage, the 9/11 attacks. So, unfortunately, I think, you know, Donald Trump has not helped to encourage the type of civil discourse and public engagement and his rhetoric, too frequently, I think, fuels these feelings and sentiments that now are bleeding over into potentially acts of violence. So, I'm hoping that this is going to make it clear to him that what he has done heretofore, as far as a lot of this rhetoric, really is counterproductive. It is un-american. It is what a president should not be doing.
What he said today is what the president should be doing. But follow up on those words with actions and with his future comments. I'm hoping that maybe this is a turning point.
UPDEGROVE: So, to be clear, Mr. Director -- to be clear, Mr. Director, does the President's rhetoric embolden those who might commit these acts?
BRENNAN: I think one can make an argument that it has emboldened individuals to take matters into their own hands, and so when he compliments individuals who have, in fact, body slammed others or that he's going to pay the legal bills if somebody takes a swing at somebody, that can only be seen as encouragement and incitement and maybe it makes him and, you know, his people feel good at a rally that's going to sort of generate that type of applause, because it shows that he's being tough and strong, but it's really showing, I think, a weakness, and this is what, unfortunately, a lot of bullies and a lot of individuals do. And he's pandering to those, I think, very, very disturbing sentiments of some people that want to take matters into their own physical hands as opposed to working through these problems, and that's why I think it's so important for somebody who really is the spokesperson for the government and for the country. [19:15:10] He has to realize that every single day, whether he realizes it or not, he's a role model, not just a role model for these individuals who might be engaged in this, but role model for the next generation of Americans. That's why I spent the entire day talking to a lot of students here at U.T. I believe very strongly with the next generation of Americans should really cherish all the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy in this country and try to give back to this wonderful country of ours, either through public service or the good works that they do with their community.
And so, again, I really have some serious, serious concerns and objections to what Mr. Trump has done while he is serving in that very, very special and esteemed office of the presidency. He needs to rethink what he is doing and saying. He should not be beating the tom-toms of anger and animosity and war. He should be trying to bring us together, and heal us as a people, because the polarization that has taken place in this country over the last couple years is really quite antithetical to what this country is, which is to bring Americans together.
So, I tend to get very frustrated. I'm trying to figure out exactly how I can use my voice as a way to object to what he is doing. I am hoping not to add to that cauldron of emotions and feelings, but -- and having policy differences with the President, as I said, I've had them before. That's fine. But when a president does not maintain the decency, the integrity, the honesty that I think should be inherent in that office of the presidency, I'm going to call it out. I'm going to say, this is wrong. And there needs to be some changes here.
And I hope that more and more people, more Americans, and especially people who are part of Mr. Trump's political party, Republicans, are not just going to turn a blind eye because of other things that maybe he is doing and that they want to see accomplished but call him out and say, this should not happen. This is inconsistent with our values as a country and what it is that you should be doing as a President. And it's overdue. And too many of the individuals in the Republican Party are not fulfilling their responsibilities.
Again, I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat. But I think on the basis of all of what it is we do, we should be Americans. And I think too few of them are putting being an American first and putting their political affiliation or their tribe or their agenda first, and I think for the good of the country, this needs to stop.
UPDEGROVE: Mr. Director, when did you decide to speak out? Was there a point where you said, you know what? I can't take this anymore. I need to make my voice heard.
BRENNAN: Well, I think that we're --
TAPPER: All right, as John Brennan turns away from questions from the moderator, Mark Updegrove, of the LBJ Foundation, President and CEO, let's talk about what we just heard. And Bob Baer, we'll come back to the topic about the bombs in a second, but as a former CIA Operative, that's a former CIA Director, very directly saying that the President of the United States, his rhetoric and his language has an argument could be made that he has incited individuals to take matters into his own hands. He didn't say that Trump was specifically responsible for what happened today or this week, but it was a pretty tough criticism.
BAER: No, I don't think Trump believes that, you know, he's in any way responsible for this, and he's not directly responsible for the pipe bombs, but he has incited violence. We know that. And this populist agenda is directed at his base and the far right of his base, which looks at John Brennan as a member of the so-called deep state. That john Brennan is part of a conspiracy against Trump, against the United States. John Brennan is the one that essentially opened the Russian file and worked with the FBI.
The far right believes that the President's being framed, and that he's part of a conspiracy, John Brennan is, including Soros. I keep in touch with the far right, and it's amazing the way they look at Soros and John Brennan, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of them. They really do believe that they are not loyal Americans and that they should be -- violence should be done to them.
TAPPER: Well, with the exception of the violence part of it, I don't know that it's just the far right. I think it's just a lot of Republicans. We hear Republicans on Capitol Hill, congressmen talking about Soros, talking about John Brennan as if he should be the focus. It's not just the fringe anymore. This is now mainstream Republican thought.
[19:20:12] BAER: I worry about a country which falls back on conspiracy theories. I've spent a lot of time abroad and it's a prelude to general violence. Civil war. Whether it's the Middle East, South America, and every where else. I do worry about the political environment. I worry about the lies and I worry about that people believe this because one day, they're going to figure out how to make a bomb and they're going to get serious about it and they're going to kill people, whether it's at CNN or anywhere else or John Brennan. It's coming if we don't stop.
TAPPER: Well, God forbid and obviously we're very thankful for the secret service and other people in law enforcement for making sure that the headlines today aren't more horrific. Pamela Brown, let me ask you, President Trump was -- he spoke about the threats earlier. He didn't answer a question shouted out by CNN about whether or not this is an act of domestic terrorism. What was your take on that?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of things. First of all, just to define an act of domestic terrorism, it's an individual or individuals inspired by an extremist ideology, whether it be political, religious, or social in nature. That's the FBI's definition. And the President did not answer that question from my colleague, Jeff Zeleny. He looked him in the eye and didn't answer it.
We did hear from the President about this call for unity, the fact that we all need to come together, which is pretty rich considering the rhetoric we have heard from this President. I was speaking to White House officials today who reject any notion that the rhetoric could have somehow contributed to what has played out, but it cannot be ignored that the targets here, you know, we have Hillary Clinton, President Obama, John Brennan, Eric Holder, George Soros, Maxine Waters as well. These are --
TAPPER: And Debbie Wasserman Schultz and CNN.
BROWN: And Debbie Wasserman Schultz and CNN. These are targets of frequent, you know, frequent criticism by the President. That cannot be ignored, but White House officials I have been speaking with say, look, you cannot blame the President for what happened today, for what a crazy person decides to do. This is not the President's fault, and the rhetoric shouldn't -- his rhetoric should not be a part of this.
They don't acknowledge that it, at least, contributed to the context. You can't put responsibility on the President for the actions of someone who is predisposed to violence but just the context of what we're dealing with here. And I think that's what we heard from John Brennan as well.
TAPPER: Let's turn back to the investigation if we can. And Art, the NYPD, as Jim Sciutto was referring to earlier today, has cameras throughout the city, CCTV, closed circuit television cameras, including where CNN is at Columbus Circle right near Central Park. NYPD right now reviewing footage from these multiple locations. In an investigation like this, how important is that?
RODERICK: That's key. I mean, all video is coming down to being the key to any investigation anymore, especially in a city like Downtown, New York City, Downtown, Manhattan area, there's cameras on every single intersection, security cameras set up on different businesses around that area. So they're going through each one of those. And I'm sure already at this point in time, we see that a manhunt, so- called manhunt is going on in New York and that's probably the JTTF out there trying to either --
TAPPER: The Joint Terrorism Task Force.
RODERICK: Joint Terrorism Task Force out there looking for this individual that delivered the package to try to figure out who gave him the package to deliver to Time Warner Center.
TAPPER: So, and Bob, let me bring back the question from earlier. These bombs did not explode. That could be sloppy bomb making, it could be intentional. What do you think about all that?
BAER: I agree with Art. They probably weren't meant to go off. The worst kind of bomb you can send in the mail is a pipe bomb. They're easily discoverable. People are going to pick them up. They made no, you know, hand-addressed and the rest of it. It makes no sense.
I mean, there are designs for letter bombs which are much more effective and very difficult to detect, a metal detector. So I think this was a warning from whoever this person was that I can get to you and I'm coming after you. And we also -- we don't know what the detonator was, the initiator, which will be key to the investigation, whether this person knew what he was going or not. But more than that, I would like to get into the computers and see who looked up the address of Soros and the rest of them, because those are odd addresses, some of them, or Eric Holder.
BAER: Or Obama and the rest of them. And if the FBI is able to run that data down and see who logged on, they can narrow down the field, but like as Art said, we want to go if the DNA, cameras and the rest of it. It's hard to get away with a crime like this at the end of the day.
TAPPER: And Pamela, the President has said that the Trump administration will spare no expense when it comes to conducting this investigation. How serious is the administration about figuring out who did this?
[19:25:00] BROWN: You know, I do think that the administration is serious about it. Just talking to White House officials, they do want to find out who was behind this. They are troubled by this. They recognize that, look, these are primarily Democratic politicians or people who worked under the Obama administration. It is troubling.
But I think, in what you've heard from the White House today from the President himself, it stops there. There has not been more discussion about, well, look, should we take a step back and, you know, reevaluate, analyze our own rhetoric. Is there anything here that we should do differently? And so it will be interesting to see, Jake, what the President says tonight at his rally in Wisconsin, because you have heard him in recent weeks ratchet up the vitriolic rhetoric as we had into the midterms.
TAPPER: Indeed. And earlier tonight at this rally he hasn't spoken yet but other people have, the crowd was chanting, lock her up about Hillary Clinton, who received a bomb in the mail today.
BROWN: And that's exactly right. She received a bomb in the mail, and let's not forget this President thrives off the energy of the crowd. He says what he thinks the crowd will like. Case in point, what he said about the Montana congressman that it wasn't such a bad thing that he, you know, pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter. The crowd liked it. The President wants to make the crowd happy. He feeds off of that energy.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news. Federal agencies, including the FBI and secret service, are investigating this series of bombs sent across the country. We're told one similarity, all of the recipients, of course, have drawn the wrath of President Trump. There's also similarities having to do with the bombs themselves.
In New York, the Obamas and the Clintons, let's go to Jean Casarez outside the Clintons' home in Chappaqua. Hillary Clinton speaking out directly today about this threat. And Jean, Hillary Clinton speaking directly today about this threat.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, from Florida. She was there for a political rally. We're outside the home tonight. The home is dark except for a lone porch light. Law enforcement say it's positioned in front of the property. They are behind me here, but it was the secret service that was instrumental in Chappaqua.
It was late last night they were routinely screening the mail. And they found a package that they immediately believed that this could be an explosive device. They removed it, they actually began a criminal investigation, bringing in federal authorities, state authorities, local authorities, and they were not alone, because from there, it was a domino effect to other devices that were explosive in nature. While this investigation was going on, Hillary Clinton was in Florida at that political rally and she talked about the events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: But it is a troubling time, isn't it? And it's a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: And we still don't know how that device got in the hands in a package with the secret service. Was it by mail? Was it by courier? Was it by another type of delivery service? We know a little bit more about philanthropist billionaire George Soros, who lives in Bedford, New York, which is relatively close to here.
It was Monday, 3:45 p.m., somebody put a package in his mailbox. He was not at home, we're told, but someone was, found it suspicious, called in law enforcement, and they are revealing that it was a small device in a padded envelope with PVC piping and enough electrical components that it could be explosive in nature. But the investigation continues and the optimal question is who exactly is responsible for this, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jean Casarez outside the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York. Let's go to Suzanne Malveaux now. Suzanne, have we heard anything from the Obamas yet?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've been speaking with the Obama family spokespersons throughout the day. We've been communicating and the message is the same. Do not expect an official statement from the Obama family. We've been looking at their Twitter accounts as well.
If you take a look at their Twitter accounts, they are on message, all about early voting and voting for the midterms. They have not diverted from that message. And what they are trying to do here is not give it the kind of oxygen, perhaps, that others are -- it was a former Vice President, Joe Biden, who put out a tweet, a statement, very strong condemning this as well as the Clintons and other actors. But essentially, they have decided that they are going to pull back here, they are obviously a very appreciative of the secret service, the federal investigation, the FBI, everybody who works for them, serves them, the safety of this community as well as their family, but that is not something that they are engaged in today.
So we will keep an eye on that, but that's pretty intentional and that's been made pretty clear today. It is very possible that they could have been inside the home when this kind of threat emerged, but they have told us that secret service as well as the D.C. police chief echoed the same thing, saying that this package, suspicious package was nowhere near. The Obama home.
[19:30:13] I should let you know, Jake, we're right down the street on Belmont from it, if you take a look at the sign, the second speed hump sign, it is just beyond there where the fence of the Obama residence is, but that it didn't get close to the home. It was intercepted at a postal processing center here in Washington, D.C., that it immediately was identified as having some pretty similar characteristics, if you will, of that package that was sent to George Soros earlier in the week and that the investigation began in earnest at that point.
I should also let you know, Jake, that this is a neighborhood that very typically, it has 24-hour secret service detail as well as permanent barricades, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner also in this neighborhood. So, they are used to the kind of security, but we saw that security even increased again today. The Obama family is safe, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Suzanne Malveaux outside the Obamas' home in Washington, D.C.
OUTFRONT now, retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente. He consulted on the Unabomber case. Ray Lopez is in studio with me. He's a former FBI special agent and team leader for the bomb squad. And we also have with us, Rob Astorino, he's the former Westchester County executive which is where the Clintons' Chappaqua home is located and also George Soros' home. He's also a member of President Trump's 2020 Reelection Advisory Council.
And, Rob, let me start with you because you've seen an x-ray of the bomb that was sent to George Soros. Did it look the same as the bomb that was sent to John Brennan, care of CNN, or were there any differences that you could tell?
ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: No, Jake, from what I've been told, from what I saw, but also what I've been told by members of local PD, NYPD, and FBI throughout the day, is that all these bombs look exactly the same.
The bomb is about 6 to 8 inches in length. It has a cap on both sides. It has a switch, it has a power source. They have black powder and explosive material, so by luck, they didn't go off, but these could have been mechanical explosions. In other words, these bombs could also go off because of friction or heat or shock. So, very, very lucky that they didn't go off anywhere.
I was also told, and I know there's a lot of different opinions on this one so far, but I've been told that the Soros package was, in fact, mailed. And so, they are also now interviewing, of course, postal authorities in and around Westchester and just going backwards on where that could have started from.
The Soros device was already detonated by law enforcement. The Clinton package is intact right now, still. That has not been sent anywhere. It has not been sent down to Quantico yet but they have the package and it's completely intact.
TAPPER: And, Ray Lopez, I want to ask you, because we have something of a discrepancy here. You heard some of our law enforcement experts earlier say that they -- the fact that these bombs didn't go off and there are five or six of them says to them, Bob Baer, Art Roderick, formerly with the U.S. Marshal Service, saying that says to them that maybe they never were intended to go off. They were more of a scare device and yet we have law enforcement officials and you just heard rob there say that they were perfectly dangerous.
RAY LOPEZ, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, BOMB SQUAD TEAM LEADER: Yes, I would go with perfectly dangerous. I think that the -- from the pictures that we have and the information that we have publicly, I think they look very deadly. I think that ultimately, they -- we did get very lucky.
Also, another thing, with so many devices out there, this person only had to get lucky once. Imagine one of these bombs going off at one of these public figure's offices or homes, it would have been terrible. But all he had to do was get lucky once. I think law enforcement did a great job today intercepting these, you know, with the help of the postal delivery people and other people.
TAPPER: And the U.S. Secret Service. Yes, absolutely.
Jim, when you see the bomb that was sent to CNN and you hear about these other bombs, is there any chance that these bombs were meant just to scare, or do you think that the intent was clearly to kill?
JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: Well, I think it was -- I've heard that there were shrapnel pieces in there added to the bombs. I'm not sure if that's been confirmed but if that were the case, then obviously not only was it meant to maim somebody but to actually spread the damage as far as possible. I think the fact that so many devices, I would agree, that so many devices were mailed, I think they were hoping that at least one or more of them would have actually exploded and kill somebody. Certainly, Ted Kaczynski did that as well.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because, Jim, you consulted on the Unabomber case. Do you see any similarities here?
[19:35:02] CLEMENTE: Well, certainly it looks like we have a personal cause bomber. Ted Kaczynski was a very amorphous kind of personal cause. He was anti-technology.
Here, it looks to be political. I mean, we have to look at it very carefully and see, but it seems like the targets are all political.
TAPPER: And, Ray, what can we learn from these bombs, because we have five or six of them, law enforcement looking at them. Can they figure out who sent them?
LOPEZ: I think ultimately they will. I think there's enough evidence, enough forensics left here. Thank God we didn't have any go off, detonate, and that we were able to recover what we think is all of them right now. Now, they're going to keep looking for more and more of these devices. If you have one, two, or three, you may well have 12, 15. We have to see what happens tomorrow.
TAPPER: What can they find out? Can they do a DNA test on the back of the stamps?
LOPEZ: All that can be done. I mean, you're looking at hair, fiber, forensics as far as DNA. They have a host of things that they can do. Even on the devices themselves, the actual pipes, you can see on the device that there's tape, things like fingerprints get left on the inside of the tape. Things like hairs get left maybe inside the envelope or even on the tape itself so there's a lot of forensics that they have to look for.
TAPPER: And, Rob, law enforcement investigators are obviously right now, I'm sure, noticing that all of the recipients have been the targets of wrath from President Trump. President Trump obviously is not responsible for the actions of other individuals who are motivated by criminal desires. You know, that person or persons are responsible for their actions, not President Trump.
But I wonder, does it concern you at all, as a supporter of the president, that his rhetoric is very strong against a lot of these individuals, demonizing them, even at a rally this evening, the crowd was chanting "lock her up".
ASTORINO: Well, a couple of things. Let me go back first and then I'll answer the question about the president.
You know, just looking at what law enforcement is now looking at, they're looking at the packaging, which is basically all the same. It has the bubble wrap inside, the labels are basically all the same, they were all printed and typed with basically the same kind of lettering. So, they're going to go through all of that, including the forensics to see what, if anything, they can --
TAPPER: We've lost rob's audio.
CLEMENTE: I can continue on that if you'd like.
TAPPER: I think we're going to take a break right now, but -- from this, but Jim, Ray, and Rob, wherever you are, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
OUTFRONT now we're going to talk to Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
There have been threats in recent days to Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins. Obviously, last year, Republican members of Congress were shot during baseball practice almost -- we almost lost House Leader Steve Scalise. Now we have these bombs sent to all these prominent Democrats as well as John Brennan, care of CNN.
Are you concerned about any threats against you or your colleagues right now? Do you feel safe?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I'm absolutely concerned. Most of us received threats of various kinds along the way, but in this case, where you have the president saying that Eric Holder better be careful, calling Maxine Waters corrupt and saying she better be careful, saying that CNN has to be taken out of business, those are the sorts of words that may resonate with an individual who takes them in a manner that the president didn't intend them.
But it is a powerful pulpit that he holds, and I think it's a commentary that all of us need to be -- but particularly the president, with the power of the presidency, need to be thoughtful about how we address our differences.
TAPPER: I want to play some of what the president said earlier today in response to the bombs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.
It's a very bipartisan statement. I can tell you from both sides, we both agree on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: When some of the president's statement was read to former CIA Director John Brennan who was one of the people to whom one of these bombs was sent, John Brennan's response during an event at the LBJ library was, who said that? Trump who?
And I'm wondering what you make of the president's comments.
MERKLEY: Well, the president's sentiment was right, that here in America, political violence has no place. That's certainly correct.
[19:40:03] The fact is that President Trump has campaigned and served in office as a divider, as a person who has attacked many groups within America, African-Americans, Latino Americans, Americans with disabilities, veteran Americans, women Americans, and he has been very raw in the type of language he uses for his political opponents. Whether that be Mrs. Clinton, Secretary of State Clinton, certainly the case with President Obama, with Eric Holder, with Brennan, of course Brennan, he pulled the security clearance on.
I mean, he's been pretty -- his language has gone, in my mind, beyond the bounds of appropriateness in a way that I hope the president will reconsider. As he speaks about bringing America together, he's a divider. He doesn't bring America together. But at least on this issue, political violence, we all have to be a
strong bipartisan message. Let us argue with our voices. Let's put our best reasoning forward, but let's not incite violence against those we disagree with.
TAPPER: Here's what the Democratic leader, Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said in part about the president's response today. Quote: President Trump's words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence.
What do Democrats realistically want to see from the president right now and what condoning of violence are they referring to?
MERKLEY: Well, I think they're referring to his almost applauding of white nationalists who have conducted violence in demonstrations, certainly his words -- like when he says to Eric Holder, that man better be careful or see what he will get. Words like that. He -- almost an identical phrase when he said to Maxine -- or regarding Maxine Waters, that she's corrupt and she better be careful what she wishes for.
Just these types of statements and phrases celebrating the individual who body slammed a reporter, clearly an act of violence, and praising it to say that's my kind of man, that's the kind of person I like. You know, somebody who is violent. And so, the -- that's why these statements from the president ring hollow.
TAPPER: Senator Merkley, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
President Trump is about to take the stage at a rally in Wisconsin right now. The president deciding not to cancel the event. Of course, in the context of the number of bombs sent to prominent Democrats, including former President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to CNN, and more, despite the president's call for unity just hours ago, the crowd at this rally tonight already had chanted, lock her up at the mention of Hillary Clinton's name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crooked Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins is live for us at the president's rally right now.
And, Kaitlan, are you told whether or not the president's going to address the bombs this evening?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we've asked and we haven't heard back from the White House whether or not he's going to address that. When he's in front of his supporters here, but we have seen two Republicans get up on this stage right here behind me and address them. That was Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, and also Scott Walker as well. They both got up here, they condemned those attacks with Scott Walker saying an attack like this on one American or a certain individual is an attack on all Americans.
So, we'll see if President Trump gets up here, if he echoes that rhetoric when he takes the stage as well, Jake. We are learning a little bit more about what President Trump has been doing or hasn't been doing over the last few hours and we have learned by calling Jeff Zeleny that he hasn't phoned any of those officials, current or former, that were on the receiving end of those packages today. That includes President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, several other Democratic officials as well.
President Trump has not gotten in touch with them since the news broke that they had had these packages addressed to them. Now, whether or not that changes, we'll keep asking the White House if he has any plans to either touch base with them, update them on the investigation that is being conducted right now into who it is that sent these packages.
But, Jake, something else that's happening behind the scenes is White House officials are trying to put distance between what has happened and President Trump. They do not want him being tied to this. They are trying to really stress that to reporters, saying the president's rhetoric has nothing to do with whatever this crazy person or crazy people did today. That is something we're seeing stressed.
But, Jake, one thing we do know is the president has a platform, both literally right here behind me and figuratively, and earlier, he used that platform to come out and condemn this, try to call for unity and say that this is an act of hatred that shouldn't happen.
[19:45:09] And the question now, Jake, is whether or not that's going to happen here in Wisconsin tonight.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins with the president in Wisconsin, thanks.
OUTFRONT tonight, April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House." We have with us, Jen Psaki, former White House communications director under President Obama and also with us, Scott Jennings, former assistant to President George W. Bush.
Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh tweeted earlier today. Quote: The president has one of his political rallies scheduled tonight. Don't think it's a good night for one of his political rallies. Instead maybe he could be a president of the whole country tonight and give a speech from the White House condemning the growing political violence.
What do you think about that?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, as you know, this president has to be persuasive tonight and these rallies are very dangerous, because the president likes to rile his crowds up. I liken him to a minister in church. He feels the rhythm of the people and feels the crowd and when he feels they are into him, he goes in even further and even further and they just go crazy.
Now, the issue is this president has got to keep the same stance that he had in the East Room earlier today, and I watched that statement by the president and it was something we haven't heard before, but he's got to continue it.
But, Jake, what really surprised me was when the president said it, a few people started standing up and clapping, giving him a standing ovation. It took a while for the whole room to feel what he was saying because he said something totally opposite before.
So, tonight, let's see how the president delivers this message and how the crowd reacts. This president, if he wants to see unification, if he wants to see a change for people getting death threats and these bombs in the mail, he's got to change his tone and his rhetoric.
TAPPER: Jen Psaki, what did you make of the president's comments earlier?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think his sentiment is right, but as April said, it was an entirely new tone and statement, and he has shown that he can sort of stay on the script for about a half a day. I hope it's much longer. I mean, these are moments not exactly like today but moments of threats like this that many presidents have faced and it's really a test of leadership and how they will wield their power.
And his power is over this group and faction of the country that is angry, that is chanting, lock her up, that is threatening CNN, that is threatening individuals who have served in the past.
So, if I were advising him, I would say he should have cancelled his rally tonight. He should have addressed the public. He should have encouraged his supporters to stop this language, stop this rhetoric.
That's where it's being rooted from and what we're missing is some acknowledgment and some forward looking action. I hope we see that.
TAPPER: Scott, I want to play for you something Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said earlier today about the president's response.
(BEGI VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: He needs to follow up what he said with actions and we'll see in the next rally, for example.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which will happen tonight.
FLAKE: Tonight. I mean, if there are lock her up chants that he doesn't say, hey, that's inappropriate, don't do that, or if he is talking about a journalist that's been beat up and that's okay, I mean, that's wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you want to hear from the president this evening?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to hear exactly what I heard from the White House today. What he said at the White House was right on. He resisted the urge today to be at each other's throats over this.
That's why I'm really disappointed in the Pelosi statement and disappointed in what Senator Merkley just said here on CNN. The president got it right today, yet they can't say that the president got it right because they just can't.
PSAKI: I think Merkley did say that. He said the sentiment was right.
JENNINGS: He walked right up to the line of casting blame for this heinous act on the president of the United States.
Now, whether this person that did this today is a disturbed human being or something more sophisticated, the world is watching here to see, are we going to continue to tear each other apart internally in this country, the president got it right today. What he has to do tonight is get it right twice in a row and in front of a crowd of partisans. If he does that, and no Democrat steps forward to say, the president got it right today, that will be a tragedy.
TAPPER: Well, let's see what happens.
But I want to bring in right now Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas. He was at the Republican congressional baseball practice when that gunman opened fire last year. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. There were several people wounded.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: Thank you.
TAPPER: The shooting on that baseball field last year was a clear political attack by a left wing nut. Do you believe that today this is potentially a political attack as well?
BARTON: Well, it's obviously an attack on very high-profile national Democrat leaders or Democrat fundraisers. But I obviously don't believe that it was instigated by President Trump. I mean, whoever or whoevers if it's more than one person did this, are sick people and they need to be arrested, tried, like the individual who took a shot at myself, and the other Republicans on the baseball team and my two sons.
[19:50:18] He would have been tried. Unfortunately, he was shot by law enforcement officers protecting us and he later died that day.
TAPPER: Yes, when I said no fatalities, I should have pointed out I meant no innocent people were killed.
At the time of that horrible, horrible day, and we're so glad that you survived and all the other members of Congress survived. There were calls for politicians to tamp down politically heated rhetoric. That clearly has not happened.
Why hasn't it?
BARTON: I will point out that that evening, the Democratic manager, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, invited myself and the Republicans to a dinner at the Democratic campaign committee headquarters, which I went to, and was delicious.
So, you know, we get things done in this country when we work together. Unfortunately, both political parties more often than not play to their bases, which gives us heated rhetoric which occasionally, apparently, results in things like happened at the baseball practice and then this pipe bomber or bombers who delivered these packages today.
Luckily, they were discovered and there is a massive investigation under way, which you've been covering throughout the day. We'll find out who did it and we'll bring them to justice.
TAPPER: I hope we do. Congressman, stay right there because I have some breaking news right now to bring in.
There might be another device, and Pamela Brown is going to join me live.
Pamela, what can you tell us?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we can tell you according to my colleague, Mary Kay Malany (ph), that a second suspicious package addressed to Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters is now being examined. This time in California. Earlier today, there was one that was found at a mailing facility, a congressional mailing facility in Maryland.
Now, this is found at the U.S. postal facility in south-central L.A. We can tell you that the ATF and LAPD are headed there now to further examine this package, but according to the ATF spokesperson, Ginger Colburn, this was similar to the packages we've seen in New York, as well as D.C. and Florida. And so, this will now be examined, a second suspicious package that has been addressed to Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
And this press release from the FBI, Jake, earlier today, it warned that there could be more suspicious packages out there. And now we're learning that yet a second one is now being examined, addressed to Maxine Waters. The one that came through the Maryland facility earlier today is being examined currently by the FBI to see if it is connected to the other five packages found in New York, D.C., and Florida -- Jake.
TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
Congressman Barton, let me ask you, you and I are both old enough to remember lots of political violence in this town. There was the gunman that walked into the U.S. Capitol and killed two Capitol Hill police officers. There was the anthrax -- BARTON: Tried to get into Tom Delay's office. Right.
TAPPER: There was the anthrax attack.
Does this period of our history right now feel worse, feel more dangerous for politicians than previous periods where there was violence?
BARTON: I think it is more dangerous because of the pervasive nature of the national rhetoric. I also think that it's, with the Internet, it's easier to get access to the materials and the technology, if that's the right term, on how to build these devices. And whoever did this is somewhat sophisticated because apparently knows if you send it to a congressional office, it's screened, but if you send it to a home address, it's not, and also using Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's return address, she's the past campaign leader of the Democratic Campaign Committee in the House. So, you know, and obviously she's not behind this.
So whoever is behind it is showing some knowledge of the systems and the processes in Washington that the average citizen probably wouldn't have.
TAPPER: Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, thanks again for being with us. We're glad you're all right, your sons are all right and your colleagues are all right from the horrific attack last year.
Let me bring back my panel.
April, you have received threats. Do you blame President Trump in any way, does he bear any responsibility for that, in your view?
[19:55:05] RYAN: Jake, this is tough right now, you know, in the midst of all of this. But the rhetoric that comes out of that White House is not helpful at all. There's collateral damage. And it has got to stop. And it's getting worse.
And I blame the rhetoric out of that building, out of the White House. It comes from the top, the president of the United States.
TAPPER: What specifically? The idea that when he calls journalists the enemies of the American people, when he calls us fake news, when he jokes about a congressman --
RYAN: Opposition party, yes.
TAPPER: -- literally pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter for daring to ask him a question an health care.
What is it -- what specifically do you think is responsible?
RYAN: All of the above. All of the above.
One way to unify people or base is to find a common enemy. And I guess, you know, he wanted to rally the base and find us the enemy. And unify that base. We are doing a job that is in the First Amendment. You know, soldiers
have fought for our freedoms and the freedoms of others who want to demonstrate to forge or make America more perfect union. We, the people, are trying to form a more perfect union. Still going through growing pains in.
And in the midst of this, we have this rhetoric that's saying we're unpatriotic. We're the opposition party. We're the enemy of the people. There's collateral damage. I've been saying it for months and the reports are true.
TAPPER: Scott, obviously, we don't know who did this. We don't know their motives. It could be any number of people.
There were those horrific death threats on Jewish centers across the country and it turned out that it was a bizarre individual in Israel. American and Israeli and he obviously had serious emotional problems. He was not actually threatening Jews.
So, we don't want to get ahead of where the facts are, but that said, the president's rhetoric is what it is. It's not rhetoric you use. It's rhetoric sometimes you condemn and every single person that received the bombs is someone President Trump not only criticized but openly demonized and attacked on the stump.
JENNINGS: Yes. I think that's why -- I don't agree that the president should cancel his rally because there would be no powerful statement than to set the national tone at a rally when everyone's expecting him to do something else. So he can step out in front of that crowd tonight in front of thousands of people and say, I know we have our disagreements with the Clintons and the Obamas and Maxine Waters and so on and so forth, but I want everyone in this hall tonight to know, in the strongest possible terms, you're not going to act in my name, I condemn this violence.
At the same time, I'd like to hear people of similar stature, Hillary Clinton, say the same thing. On this network a few nights ago, she said, quote, you cannot be civil with a political party that's trying to destroy what you stand for. National unity requires both sides do be unified.
It's Trump's job to lead us. He started today. He can do more tonight, and should do more. And then everyone else should fall in and we could have powerful moment tomorrow if all that came into place.
TAPPER: Jen Psaki, we're going to go to president Trump in a spend what's your final thought?
PSAKI: Let's hope he does that. But I think the false equivalency here is very dangerous, because this is the president of the United States. It's not every Republican who's saying this. Many have made statements that are quite in the right tone today.
I think we have to call this for what it. It's only one leader of a party, one person who is saying "lock her up" and prompting that who's encouraging violence against journalists. We need to gather together and condemn that. That's the crisis in our country.
TAPPER: Did you -- OK, he's coming to the microphone. We're going to go to Wisconsin and listen in and see if Scott Jennings measures up to what he wants him to do tonight.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Wisconsin. This is a great state. I am thrilled to be back with the thousands of loyal, hardworking American patriots who, by the way, gave President Trump a win. Thank you very much.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Incredible people.
I want to begin tonight's rally by addressing the suspicious devices and packages that were mailed to current and former high-ranking government officials. My highest duty, as you know, as president, is to keep America safe. That's what we talk about. That's what we do.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)