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Nationwide Manhunt After 10 Package Bombs Sent; 3 Additional Packages Sent to Biden & De Niro; Trump Called for Unity Yesterday but Attacks the Media Today. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2018 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:30] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

As you can see, we're back in our offices. We're back in our studio. We're back doing our jobs. And we won't be intimidated.

Now, let's get to the news. As of last night, two former presidents, one former secretary of state, a former attorney general, two members of Congress, a former director of the CIA, and CNN all targets of what law enforcement says is a serial bomber. And as of this morning, you can add to that another suspicious package sent to Robert De Niro at his film company in lower Manhattan. And authorities have tracked down two suspicious packages addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware. That means, at this hour, law enforcement have located 10 explosive devices. Look at this map. This is crazy. Now, a nationwide manhunt is under way. And big questions this morning: Are there even more packages out there? Who built these bombs? Who sent them? And of course, why?

Let's get all the details that we have at this moment. CNN correspondent, Ryan Nobles, is in Delaware where one of the packages was sent to Vice President Joe Biden.

Ryan, what do you know right now on the ground?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Kate, just in the last few minutes, we received a briefing from a local police officer here who told us this facility behind me has now been cleared. They've determined it's safe for employees to go back in. This is a post office in downtown Wilmington where one of those packages that was addressed to the former Vice President Joe Biden was sent and then discovered by authorities that were sorting through the mail. When they found that package, it matched almost identically the packages sent to these various other locations you outlined. They immediately knew this was something that was similar to that situation. Now, the address for Vice President Biden was not the correct address, which is one of the reasons it was held up in a facility like this. So that meant today, earlier today, they evacuated this building. When we arrived just a few minutes ago, all the employees were standing outside as the authorities went through to determine that it was still safe for them to go back in. They have now deemed that this facility is now safe. And they have allowed -- they have handed it back over, is how they described it, to the postal authorities to determine whether or not they want to reopen this post office, allow those workers to go back in.

It's also important to keep in mind this is a regular post office in Wilmington where anyone can come in and do their business as it relates to the post office. So an extra layer of potential danger for people in this area that may have just been coming in to pick up their mail or to mail something out.

Now, in addition to this facility here in Wilmington, we're told there's a second facility in Newcastle, about five miles from where we're standing right now, where there was a second package that was also addressed to Vice President Biden. That package has also been taken by authorities and is being examined right now. The latest here, Kate, in Wilmington is local authorities say they have handed the investigation back over to the FBI. This particular facility is now clear and determined safe. But again, a very scary moment here in Delaware as this issue with these packages being sent to different addresses around the country has really thrown people for a loop -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Just keep adding up.

Ryan, thank you very much.

I want to go now to CNN's Miguel Marquez in lower Manhattan where the bomb was mailed to Robert De Niro.

Miguel, what are you hearing there?

MIQUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not clear the bomb was actually mailed. Like the one that was sent to John Brennan at CNN, this one may have been stamped with the six forever flag stamps and then hand delivered here to Tribeca Film Productions in lower Manhattan. Somebody in the mail room who was a former police officer, who saw the package yesterday, put it in his office, didn't think much of it, and then realized after he saw media coverage of the bombs planted around the country yesterday, that this package seemed to fit that profile and, indeed, it did. On the outside, it is exactly, almost a carbon copy except for the address being to Robert De Niro here at his business in downtown Manhattan. And police were very quick on it. Around 5:00 a.m., they got here. They put it in that specialized vehicle. They got it up to their facility in the Bronx where they can now go through it and try to figure out what signatures there are, try to match it to others to see if there's any DNA, fingerprints, or other evidence that might lead them to understand who is doing this.

Meanwhile, Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro put out a statement saying that, "The building was evacuated, that everyone is safe. It's back open now. But this is not what free speech should look like."

Obviously, Mr. De Niro is a frequent and fierce critic of the president, and something that has caught a lot of attention among the president's supporters -- Kate? [11:05:30] BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Miguel, thank you so much.

Now from lower Manhattan to back where we are right now. Let's go to CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, your reporting is amazing, getting the latest information to us and to everyone out there who wants to know what's going on.

What are you hearing about the investigation into all of this this morning?.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Now that we're up to 10 packages, look, I think investigators are breathing a little easier today. So far, nothing new today. A lot of the packages that we're now reporting on, a lot of the bombs are things that were sent or delivered yesterday or in days previously. So nothing new so far today that I know of or that authorities are speaking about.

Right now, everything that we all know about or things we have been talking about are things sent in the last few days. Even the thing with Robert De Niro breaking this morning, that had been received yesterday.

And really, the big thing is clues as to who is behind this. And really, no one has any answers about that.

BOLDUAN: Is that why we're seeing the FBI with a public request --


BOLDUAN: -- or a request to the public for help?

PROKUPECZ: Absolutely. What we're seeing is not only is the FBI asking the public for information. They're also sending out tweets saying we have now -- we can now confirm 10 packages. They don't normally do that kind of stuff.


BOLDUAN: Incremental updates.

PROKUPECZ: You see them taking a different position on this because they understand what's happening here. And the fear certainly that's going to take across the country.

The other thing is, look, there's a lot of things going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. A lot of forensic work. There are things they're pulling off the devices that they're trying to see where this was built, who obviously made this, but where some of the items that were used to build this were purchased. That's how they're going to build the investigation. I don't have any sense that they're zeroing in on some location or they're zeroing in on some person.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: Or even at this point, even a region of the country.

PROKUPECZ: Correct. And what they could know easily, and they probably already know this, is where some of this was mailed from.

BOLDUAN: Mailed from.

PROKUPECZ: Because that's easy to find out. That's the easiest thing for the FBI to determine. Now, who actually brought them to the post office, how they were brought, that's a big question that still remains unanswered. And really, you know, that's really the focus right now. I think, yes, there's this whole investigation and building a criminal case, but who is behind this. There's a lot of talk about whether these could have detonated, whether these were real, whether these could have hurt someone. It doesn't matter. These are explosive materials sent across this country, that's being delivered to people. You don't know. Something could possibly have happened. Someone could move this in a way, and that can cause harm. The idea that this is not dangerous or couldn't harm someone is ridiculous.

So, look, a lot of some good things in the sense there haven't been new things but a lot of work behind the scenes by the FBI.

BOLDUAN: So much still unknown.

Thank you, Shimon. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss this further is former Secret Service agent, Joe Funk, and former FBI agent, now CNN law enforcement analyst, Josh Campbell.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Josh, thank you for your help throughout the day yesterday.

What would you say, Josh, is what the FBI is doing right now, and Shimon is laying out where things seem to be standing at the moment?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: There are two aspects here that are major focus. You have the forensic examination. We have devises, we have evidence that law enforcement officers will be processing. And each is a clue, a potential gold mine to try to determine who was the person behind this, is there evidence of DNA, hair fibers, the signature, all that piece. You showed the map earlier, which was incredible. The number of potential crime scenes here that we're now dealing with, from coast to coast. So the FBI and law enforcements will be doing from Los Angeles to New York is working with the different agencies, working with law enforcement to try to track back where the packages came from.

The reason why we're not getting answers right now at least as far as whether they're zeroing in on someone is because these investigations take time. I can tell you having worked cases involving the mail and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, they're very good at what they do, but it takes time to go from gathering intelligence on a letter and the transit route it took and then trying to open the aperture and determine a particular neighborhood, who brought a letter to the post office, where was it sent, all it takes time, but it's going on right now.

BOLDUAN: Going on right now.

Joe, I want to play for you what the New York police commissioner told me yesterday. Listen to this.


JAMES O'NEILL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Not really sure. This is the initial stages of the investigation. So wherever that leads us, that's where we're going to go. Whether it's one person or a network, not really sure at this point.


[11:10:02] BOLDUAN: And he was answering a question when I asked him, do you think this is one person, do you think this is a team of people? As he made clear, they're following -- they don't know. They're not ready to say. Either one they're not saying at this moment. What do you think? Could this have been one person or do you think it must be more?

JOSEPH FUNK, FORMER SECRET SERVICE ANALYST: In my experience, my opinion is that most bombers like this are lone individuals. So my belief, when this is all settled and the dust settles, it will be one individual who was behind this rash of bombings. To echo what Josh just said, I do believe that what we are hearing from the police, the FBI, is what they want us to know out of abundance of caution for the investigation. I can only imagine how much work is being done behind the scenes. And they are providing information which they feel the public should know without compromising the investigation.

BOLDUAN: Josh, one thing that has not been lost on you, that's for sure, but I think just to put a fine point on it, we're talking about two former presidents being targeted here. I mean, that's pretty unheard of.

CAMPBELL: It's incredible. We were talking with some of our law enforcement sources throughout yesterday. They describe this as the most important case right now for federal law enforcement because you're dealing with -- and let's stop as you mentioned, and think about what we're dealing with -- the attempted assassination of two former presidents of the United States, and then a collection of other officials, high-ranking government officials. This is something where you have agents and law enforcement officers around the country dropping what they're doing to now focus on, and that work will continue so long as this person is still at large.

BOLDUAN: About the whole issue of the mail, Joe, as Josh was talking about, the package that was delivered to CNN was believed to be delivered by a courier, but also they believe most if not all of these packages went through the mail at some point. If that is the case, does it make it harder, do you think, or easier to track down this person? Is the public at greater or less risk that this went through the mail?

FUNK: Well, two things that come to my mind right away, Kate. First off, the public officials are very insulated. The former presidents and other high-profile individuals are insulated. My concern is for the average person, the mail handler, the individuals that may come in contact with these packages on a daily basis. However, if we are going to see incidents like this, it probably could not have happened or at least began in a better place than the epicenter for law enforcement, New York City. The FBI and NYPD are the front-runners in law enforcement, in my opinion. They probably jumped on this aggressively right from the beginning, as Josh was saying, because of the threats to two presidents. But if we are going to see, unfortunately, incidents like this, it's best that they are occurring in a place where we have the premier law enforcement agencies, the FBI, the NYPD, Secret Service, postal inspectors and ATF all in one place to investigate this.

BOLDUAN: Joe, what are the chances, though -- the fact that as Josh was talking about, this involves an assassination attempt on two former presidents and many high-ranking former officials. What are the chances that, I don't know, DNA is already on file? Because when you're talking about the DNA of this person is already on file with law enforcement, because these are current and former protectees of the Secret Service.

FUNK: Correct. And as I said earlier, this is probably some of the things that are going on behind the scenes that we're not aware of. The Secret Service has a vast volume of library of individuals who have written threatening letters to the presidents, who have corresponded with the presidents in some shape or form. I'm sure they're sharing that information with the FBI, NYPD, to collaborate to see if they can't form a picture of this individual using not only written language but also DNA, fingerprints. Somewhere along the line, this is a great cache of information, these 10 or 12 packages which are going to lead to a wealth of identifiable evidence, I believe.

BOLDUAN: Josh, Joe, thank you so much.

And as you were talking, Joe, what was on our screen is live pictures of what looks to be the explosives robot that was used in the Wilmington, Delaware, facility. Ryan Nobles saying that scene has been cleared so it appears they're taking that robot home. But still, just looking at all of the resources, all of the people that have to be used, the seriousness that has to be taken with every single one of these situations. It's just astonishing.

I really appreciate it, guys. Thanks so much.

[11:14:58] Coming up for us, yesterday, the president called for unity. Today, he's attacking the media, and the White House is defending him. That's next.


BOLDUAN: A potential serial bomber is on the loose. Law enforcement says more bombs could still be out there. And the president of the United States this morning is, at least on some level, blaming the victim, tweeting that, quote, "A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media." He goes on to say, "Mainstream media must clean up its act."

First and foremost, as you know, CNN was under attack yesterday, so purposely false and inaccurate reporting we do not do.

Let's go to the White House. CNN's Abby Phillip is there.

Abby, the president is making his view known on this this morning. What are you hearing from the White House?

[11:20:04] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kate. The president is being very clear about how he sees this issue. And the White House is not backing down from where he stands. The president has been last night calling for more civility, but declining to do any sort of introspection, looking at his own rhetoric, looking at his own language in recent weeks and month. His use of the word "evil" to describe his democratic critics. His criticism in sharply personal tones of his political rivals, including many of the people who received those pipe bomb packages this week. And he did say, however, that he thought the media had a role to play.

Now, we posed some of these very questions to Sarah Sanders this morning as she spoke to reporters, asking her, doesn't the president think he himself should re-evaluate some of his language? Doesn't he think he ought to lead on this? She essentially said he's been leading just in the last 24 hours, and she went back to what the president was saying, blaming the media for the tone in politics, and also accusing the media of being negative in terms of how they cover the president. Now, Kate, obviously, being negative in terms of how they cover President Trump's policies or statements is not the same thing as personal or biting attacks. But that's the line that we're getting from the White House this morning. And I think it's clear they are not backing down from that one bit.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and negative or not, nothing -- negative or not, the job of journalists is to hold our government officials accountable to the truth. And that's what you have been doing, what we all have been doing. OK, I'm done with that.

Great to see you.

Also, I have a quick question, I'm sorry. As of last night, I hadn't seen any reporting that the president had reached out to the Obamas or the Clintons over this, from one current president to former presidents. Has the White House said anything about that today?

PHILLIP: We reported last night that President Trump hadn't. He hadn't called President Obama. That club of presidents is very, very small. A pipe bomb was mailed essentially to his house. The president hadn't made a phone call to him or to Hillary Clinton. And this morning, we also asked Sarah Sanders if that had changed. She refused to answer any of those questions at all, Kate. As far as we know, those phone calls have not happened.

BOLDUAN: OK. Great to see you, Abby. Thank you.

Joining me now, CNN political director, David Chalian.

David, one thing we know already is that the president, he's not sticking with the idea of, let's see how the investigation plays out. He seems, with what he said and on Twitter, he's willing to weigh in on who is to blame.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. You know, the call for unity, the statement of resolve, what the president said yesterday is what I think any American would hope to hear from any president. But as you point out here, where the disconnect occurs is that President Trump on Twitter today, and even later in the Wisconsin rally last night, clearly is engaging and thinking about the context in which these events took place. He ascribes blame to the mainstream media. So he certainly is not saying the mainstream media is responsible for the actual sending and delivering of these pipe bombs. Just like critics of his are not saying he's responsible for the actual action that took place yesterday. But he is engaging on the context, and he's doing it without taking any responsibility for his own actions. Why is that off the table for this president and the White House to look at his rhetoric and how that contributes to the political climate?

BOLDUAN: Let me play something from the president last night, when he talked about kind of the rhetoric in the country right now. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. We have to do that.


TRUMP: The language of moral condemnation and destructive routine, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop. No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains.


BOLDUAN: So there's that. Then also, here's the president just a few weeks ago talking about people opposing Judge Kavanaugh.


TRUMP: It was a disgraceful situation. Brought about by people that are evil.

It's a very dangerous period in our country. And it's being perpetrated by some very evil people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: What are people supposed to do with this?

[11:24:41] CHALIAN: You can see one is the scripted teleprompter President Trump last night. And one is Donald Trump revealing his extemporaneous inner thoughts in real time, which is not to say that a president shouldn't be scripted. Again, I think the words of ident shouldn't be scripted. Again, I think the words of "resolve" and "unity" are good words for Americans to hear from the president of the United States, Kate. I think there's no doubt about that. But how -- I just don't -- I truly don't understand how he can look at himself in the mirror and not -- as he's thinking through all the factors that are out there that may contribute to this environment, how could he see this video of himself, how can he know what he's said day in and day out on the campaign trail at rallies and not look in the mirror and wonder if his own rhetoric also has contributed to this environment.

BOLDUAN: We will keep asking questions. That's what we can do.

Great to see you, David.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, the clues that could help investigators find this serial bomber. What could the bomb itself tell them? We'll ask two explosives experts, next.