Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

CUOMO: 10 Packages Sent to Trump Targets, "Capable of Detonation"; Lawmakers Call for Cooling Off on Rhetoric; CIA Director Briefing Trump on Journalist Killing as Saudi Arabia Changes Story Again. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 25, 2018 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:29] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're following three new potential bombs discovered today. Two sent to former Vice President Joe Biden, a third to actor, Robert De Niro. None of the devices went off. All appear, according to law enforcement, to be very similar to all of the other bombs located so far.

Now, yesterday, the New York City police commissioner called the bomb delivered to CNN a live explosive. Today, the governor of New York said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR (voice-over): They are bombs capable of detonation. That has been established. They did not detonate. Was that purposeful or incidental? Was it a poorly constructed bomb? You can go to the Internet now and learn how to build a bomb. We have dealt with that in New York, where we had terrorist attacks on the more traditional sense from international -- with international implications, where people went to the Web site, learned how to build a bomb, and built a bomb, and the bomb exploded. So it could just be a person who was not proficient and, therefore, the bombs didn't explode. Or it could be there was an intent not to have the bomb explode, but only intimidate. You won't know that until you know who has done it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And how do you get there? Let's find out. Joining me now, Jimmie Oxley, explosive expert at the University of Rhode Island, and Sam Rabadi, a former ATF special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Division.

Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

Let's talk about one bomb, the bomb that came to CNN. Law enforcement say it used PVC piping, explosive powder, glass-active shrapnel, a digital clock linked to a battery, put in a manila envelope with those six American flag stamps. You can see here, the x-ray of the bomb, courtesy of the "New York Times."

Sam, what do you see here when you see all of this?

SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, PHILADELPHIA DIVISION: Morning, Kate. I see a potential wealth of investigative information that all the investigators from the different agencies are going to be able to pursue vigorously. You have the components of the devices themselves. Some of the devices, they didn't have to go through the formal process of trying to render them safe and dismantling of that device through either a countercharge or a disrupter. You have fairly intact devices that will be able to provide a lot of clues. You have potential serial numbers on the electronics, whether it's the battery, the digital timer. And as well as information from the actual possibility of the PVC pipe providing information. On the exterior of the package, there's always, of course, the potential for physical evidence like DNA, fingerprints, et cetera, et cetera.

BOLDUAN: Jimmie, what does it say that none of the bombs have exploded?

JIMMIE OXLEY, EXPLOSIVES EXPERT, UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND: Well, it may say we're doing a really good job of screening because after the anthrax letters a number of years ago, we have put in place a number of caution cautionary locks where these packages don't necessarily go directly where they were mailed, especially if they're to government officials. On the other hand, we don't know much about the initiating system. It's rather strange that we have a digital clock. If anything went through the mail, how could you possibly know, how could it possibly be a timed event. Usually, package bombs -- and Sam may want to speak to this -- but they're often operated in this case. And then of course, you have your small diameter to look at and say only a few materials could do anything, could actually detonate. I have done 130 pipe bombs in a research program, looking at the difference between an explosion and detonation, and exploding would be bad, but detonation is much worse. This is probably too small depending on the fill, to be a detonation. It doesn't mean that if it went off it wouldn't have hurt whoever was next to it.

BOLDUAN: That's important information you guys are offering up.

Sam, the fact that all of these, it appears all of these traveled through the mail, does it surprise you that no one was hurt?

[11:35:08] RABADI: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the last portion.

BOLDUAN: Does it surprise you no one was hurt if all of these traveled through the mail?

RABADI: To Jimmie's point, it goes back to the motivation of this potential bomber, whether he, in fact, or she wanted to have these devices go off. You know, in looking at some of the photographs and just from what I understand from talking to folks, the level of sophistication is not quite there. As Jimmie mentioned, if there was intent when the package was handled or moved around, either via some type of tilt fuse or tilt switch or flip switch, that would have detonated the device and caused a lot of damage if it had the proper contents in it, proper explosive material. It seems with these devices, you really don't have that level of sophistication. As a result, you know, what you probably have is an inadequate device for an explosives effort, but very adequate in terms of causing alarm and fear.

BOLDUAN: Sam, what about the misspelled names? On more than one of these packages, things were misspelled. Does that -- I don't know, does it help you build a profile or a bomber or ring true in what you have seen in the past?

RABADI: You know, over the years, that's one of the things that we have tried to do on outreach with office buildings and other institutions, on some of the signs to look for, and some of the signs that we typically try to tell folks to keep an eye out for are excessive postage stamps, a lot of tape around a packaging, and some of misspellings that you may find occasionally or just a return address that doesn't quite look right. We asked folks to be very vigilant when you look at something. If it doesn't look right, to call 911. So that was maybe a potential clue. And obviously, with all the media coverage the last 24 hours, that, in fact, is what kind of happened today, and the discovery of the additional devices.

BOLDUAN: And then, of course, the question is, what is the one clue that's going to lead all the law enforcement all over this to this person or persons. We'll see.

But I appreciate it. Appreciate the perspective. Sam, Jimmie, thank you.

Coming up, politicians on both sides of the aisle are now calling for a cooling off of the divisive rhetoric. But is the president onboard? And what makes this time any different? That's, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:42:12] BOLDUAN: A massive manhunt is under way for whoever sent 10 explosive devices to targets across the country, targets like political rivals of the president and one major media organization, CNN's office here in New York. While there's still so much to learn, so much unknown, politicians on both sides of the aisle are already calling -- are already coming forward to say what this tells them is that the rhetoric has to stop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: I want to bring down the heat. I want to bring down the rhetoric. I want to bring down the rancor. There's an apparent political pattern to this, but we have to do an investigation. I think for everyone's sake, the president, the Senate, the Congress, governors, let's bring down the rhetoric. Remember, at the end of the day, we're all Americans, and we're going to wake up the day after election day and we're going to go back to work as one country. And let's just take this as a warning sign that hot rhetoric can actually push some people to do very bad and wrong things.

REP. RODNEY DAVIS, (R), ILLINOIS: We've got to make sure that the American people know that we agree on more than we disagree on in this country, and we have to come together as Americans. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That right there's from a politician who knows about political violence. Republican Congressman Rodney Davis was one of the Republicans on field in Virginia when a gunman opened fire on him and his Republican colleagues, and also security, of course, at a baseball practice last year.

Joining me right now, a former Republican Congressman, Charlie Dent. He's a CNN political commentator now.

Congressman, thank you. It's good to see you.

You're hearing now calls from both sides that folks need to just cool off. What then do you make of the president's tweet today and continued blame on the media last night?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Kate, yes. Look, obviously, the media had nothing to do with these bombs. That was just an absurd thing to say.

I agree with Rodney Davis and Governor Cuomo, that we need to turn down the rhetoric. There's too many politicians frankly on the left and the right, speak to an anger and a rage. This intemperate speech is unhelpful, it's unnecessary. It's incendiary, inflammatory. And it may motivate people.

I don't blame, Bernie Sanders, by the way, for one of his supporters went out and tried to shoot Rodney Davis and the other congressional baseball players. I don't blame Bernie Sanders for that. Just as I don't blame Donald Trump with these bombs. But at the same time, these politicians have to calm down. And they just cannot be speaking to the anger and this rage because I fear it could motivate people to do really destructive things.

[11:45:08] BOLDUAN: Let me play you something that the Democratic mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, told CNN's "NEW DAY" this morning about all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO, (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I'm a little frustrated that everything keeps coming back to Donald Trump. In the end, this is an American problem. We have to solve it ourselves as leaders and as everyday Americans. Donald Trump is not going to change. We have to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Do you agree with that?

DENT: Well, you know, I think to a certain extent I do. Actually, that we can't simply go out and blame everybody for our own bad behavior. I tend to think that, yes, there's a lot of anger out there. I think a lot of politicians in many respects are reacting to the bases, to the fringe elements of their bases that are very angry. I used to hear from some constituents who said it's not that I disagree with you so much, but you're not angry enough. And I would say to some folks --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: They would actually say that to you?

DENT: Yes. Oh, I would have people say, you're not angry enough, you're too measured, too careful. That would drive me careful. I got to the point with some folks, I would say to them, you know, if I set myself on fire for you, you would complain the flame or the temperature isn't hot enough. That was the type of thing I would see that people were upset, in this case, I'll say Republican politicians, for thought being angry enough, for not fighting hard enough. I'm not sure exactly what they're expecting. But these were ordinary people who frankly that alarmed me. It frightened me quite a bit that they just felt that you need to be more angry and more upset. If you weren't upset, you weren't passionate.

BOLDUAN: I think, so if we -- there's a bit like the chicken or the egg, right? Is the anger a reflection of society or is society a reflection of kind of the rhetoric that we hear from Washington and leaders?

Let's forget that for a moment and just think of -- I think back to our conversations about your decision to leave Congress. There are many reasons for your decision to leave Congress. One being, though, this toxic nature. The toxic nature, we talked about the president's rhetoric and having to answer for that all the time. If the president doesn't seem interested in doing it, in being the leader to calm things down, who else is out there then to right the ship?

DENT: Well, that's why we have other elected officials too. You know, you're right. The president has those rallies and he'll say some things that are very inflammatory, very incendiary, so it's up to the rest of the elected officials to do so.

By the way, this is not just a phenomenon of the right. It's also on the left. I often felt Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were two different coins of the same coin. When they campaigned, they both appealed to an anger. Bernie Sanders had economic anger. You're not doing well because of some bank or pharmaceutical company. And Donald Trump appeal appealed to a culture anger, the immigrants are causing your problems. I think we -- I'll say the more measured elected officials or former elected officials, have to stand up and calm down. For conservatives in particular, I always say small "C" conservatives, we talk about order, discipline, control, temperance, measured statements. We don't believe in instability, disorder and intemperance and chaos and anarchy. As a conservative or center right movement, we should be able to try to bring people to a better place.

BOLDUAN: I think everyone should agree with that.

Is the president just in general -- the president, the office of the president of the United States, though, regardless of what he wants to do, should he -- is he, should he still be held to a different standard, a higher standard, of how -- of this kind of discourse?

DENT: Yes, the president makes all sorts of statements that are incendiary and inflammatory. And the role of the president as far as I'm concerned is to try to be the one trying to keep us all together, to unite us, not to divide us, to try to speak to the better angels of our nature. At times, we know the president will make these harsh statements that are very divisive. And that's the name calling, the insults, and the other types of, you know, damaging statements that he makes that I do think contributes to this degradation of civil discourse. So he has to accept some responsibility for that. It's hard to take him seriously when he says, hey, we all need to be civil when he goes out there and starts talking about violence or celebrating the congressman who body slammed a reporter.

BOLDUAN: Right.

DENT: It doesn't really help the president's case much if he's going to talk on the one hand for civility and on the other hand glorify these bad acts.

BOLDUAN: And folks can start maybe looking to leaders like you.

Congressman, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

DENT: Thank you.

[11:50:00] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Gina Haspel briefing President Trump on her trip to Turkey to find out what really happened to "Washington Post" Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. How was he murdered? Who did it? Who ordered it? This, as Saudi Arabia changes its story again about what they say happened. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Fresh off her trip to Turkey, CIA Director Gina Haspel is briefing President Trump on the evidence she's seen about the killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This, as the Saudis are changing their story again about how he died.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins me now from Istanbul.

Ben, what's the Saudi story now?

[11:55:01] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it's changed five times, by our count. We heard in a statement from the Saudi attorney general, via the Saudi press agency, that it's an act of premeditated intention. The wording is interesting. They don't call it a murder. That is, yet again, a different version of what happened in this consulate behind me.

What is happening behind me right now is a demonstration by a group called the Friends of Jamal Khashoggi Association. That's organized by the Association of Turkish Arab Journalists. But still a lot of questions -- Kate? No answers.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Ben, thank you so much.

Haspel briefing the president today.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a nationwide search for a serial bomber. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)