Return to Transcripts main page
Two More Targets of The Bomber and Three More Bombs; Bombs Show Mix of Sophistication and Lack of Sophistication; Trump Lectures the Media but Ignores His Own Rhetoric; Trump Has Not Spoken the Names of The Targets of The Bomber nor Has He Called Them. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 25, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN. A massive manhunt is under way for the serial bomber as they try to determine if there are more devices out there. The stories rapidly developing. Let me just reset what we know right at this moment.
The FBI is now investigating at least ten suspicious packages and devices addressed to eight people who have all been targets of President Trump. CNN has obtained images of six of the packages that are quite similar in the markings, you can see for yourself. Just today we are learning two packages were addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden and another was sent to actor Robert De Niro. The other targets include the Clintons, the Obamas, former Attorney General Eric Holder, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, two packages were addressed to her and liberal billionaire George Soros and ex-CIA director John Brennan, which was the package that was sent to us here at CNN in New York.
As investigators frantically search for the person and motive behind these pipe bombs, the President is blaming the media for stoking anger. Next hour authorities in New York will provide an update on their investigation. We'll take that live as soon as we see the NYPD. Let me bring in CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupesz who has been all over this. Shimon, talk to me about the two packages
addressed to Biden.
SHIMON PROKUPESZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Those packages found overnight, this morning, the FBI and local police were able to get to the packages. They were safely removed. We have a photo of one of those packages, exactly similar in ways of the other packages, between the postage --
BALDWIN: All the stamps.
PROKUPESZ: All the stamps, the return address, the type of envelope, the type on the label. So, all of that very similar. The weight of the packages is similar. I'm also told that the design of what's inside, these pipe bombs in some of these packages, like the one sent to Robert De Niro also similar. So, everything here is adding up. The question really on everyone's mind -- well, there's two things. Who is this and also is this a hoax? This is ludicrous. If you talk to people at the FBI, these are bombs. They could have exploded. Whether or not they were meant to explode or there was a design flaw, that is what they are investigating. That's what's going on now. They're going back, trying to find out where the parts were purchased for these devices, everything from the electrical, the black tape that we've seen on some of these to the wiring, the casing and the metal. And the other thing is it's clear that they probably at least have some idea now of at least where some of these packages were shipped from, which postal centers or post offices perhaps from where these were shipped of. That will give them some clues.
BALDWIN: Stay with me, I have Anthony May, a retired explosives investigator and CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, former FBI, has been all over this as well. Josh Campbell, these packages got to these different places some by courier, some ended up in mail facilities through the U.S. postal services. What do you make of that?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We are learning the different methods and mediums of delivery of these packages. We talked about how broad this investigation is, essentially coast to coast now, New York to Los Angeles to Florida. Each one will be looked at differently. The United States Postal Service, if you think about commercial shipping companies such as Federal Express and UPS, they all have highly sophisticated ways of track being packages that transit their system. If you look at the Unabomber and the anthrax attacks of 9/11, the postal inspector came to local authorities and said we need to beef up ways to track packages and you see a more sophisticated level. When it comes to delivery, the couriers --
[14:05:00] BALDWIN: But what's your read on that, that this was even sent via courier?
CAMPBELL: In any investigation, you want to cast a net but investigators have to determine how wide to do so. The U.S. Postal Service, if they're shipping packages, it could be the whole country, the whole world. When you start getting into couriers, investigators hone in on that location. It shows a level of sophistication that the person wasn't just relying on one method of shipping to deliver the devices.
BALDWIN: By the way, in New York we courier and messenger things all the time.
CAMPBELL: The level of sophistication I think we're underestimating here. That's one thing law enforcement has stressed to me, we just don't know. There's a lot of talk that the person wasn't very sophisticated but what if they were designed --
BALDWIN: To appear to look sloppier.
CAMPBELL: And that's a fact of terrorism. As you know, you don't have to kill someone to instill fear. They're achieving their goal regardless.
BALDWIN: That's the thing that law enforcement is stressing, to me certainly, they're concerned that maybe people aren't going to take these as serious as they should. As far as they're concerned, these are bombs and that's how they're moving forward. There is concern this person may have been more sophisticated. There's also misspellings.
The person who sent it, didn't know how to spell Florida or Debbie Wasserman Schultz but on the other hand knew enough -- I would argue there is a level of sophistication. Yes, they looked rudimentary. I heard one expert saying sloppy but I'm conflicted between the two.
PROKUPESZ: So is law enforcement. There are different theories and they're running through everything. These are great points.
BALDWIN: Let me get Tony May in here. Tony, what do you think of what I just threw out?
ANTHONY MAY, RETIRED EXPLOSIVES INVESTIGATOR: Well, Brooke, let me try to un-conflict you a bit here.
BALDWIN: OK, please.
MAY: I've heard a lot of commentators today make different statements about these devices, are they functional, are they nonfunctional? I'm going to walk you through my 40 years of experience as a bomb tech. When these packages are recovered like they have been, a bomb tech is going to respond. He has several tools in his tool box. One of those is an x-ray. Depending what that x-ray tells him, it's going to provide a path of how to render that device safe or maybe I can move that device to another place. As a bomb technician, looking at the x- rays, what I'm seeing is possible hazardous material inside of a pipe I should be concerned about. Let's make that perfectly clear. It could be explosives, it could be pyrotechnics. There's something there. But what I'm not seeing is going to drive what do I with this thing. I'll tell you straight up what I'm not seeing is enough means to initiate this device, whether by design, whether by accident, I'm not seeing that.
BALDWIN: So, what does that tell you about motivation?
MAY: Well, if I'm going by design, it was designed that way, then the individual's motivation was simply to spread fear --
BALDWIN: Instill fear.
MAY: Instill fear. Now, does that make it not a device? Let's clarify that. As a destructive device, which is a functioning destructive device, there are federal statute the individual can be charged with. If it is a hoax device, there are federal statutes the individual can still be charged with. It doesn't matter whether it's real or not real. What does matter is how the general public reacts to this. Let me take you back to the bomb tech. He's looked at this, decided I don't need to disrupt it on site, I can move this to a location via my robot and exploit it further. I guarantee you the one that came out of your building yesterday has already been exploited, the information is out there. That's why the other nine devices is being rapidly cleared because they're doing the x-ray, seeing the same thing. They already know this device.
[14:10:00] BALDWIN: Josh, go ahead. Hang on, Tony.
CAMPBELL: Tony is spot on. I was just talking with a law enforcement official who explained they are prepared to do just what he described. He's bomb technicians can show up and use their equipment to x-ray a device on site. If they think they can move it, they'll extract it. Devices are being moved to the FBI lab at Quantico. What's going to happen there is he's bomb technicians can show up and use their equipment to x-ray a device on site. If they think they can move it, they'll extract it. Devices are being moved to the FBI lab at Quantico. What's going to happen there is exactly what Tony was saying. There's actually a bomb-proof room at that setup where investigators can stand and view with cameras and glass and they actually manipulate the device using robots in order to go in and take that apart. An x-ray will tell you one thing. It's like x-raying your bone. This is going to be a lot more sophistication in the analysis about to be underway and that will tell you much more.
BALDWIN: Close us out. We've got a news conference with NYPD next hour where you will be. What are you listening for?
PROKUPESZ: I'm going to be listening to see if they have clues. I want to hear more about how the bomb was made. We're hearing about clock, a battery. I think we need to hear more about the construction of the devices and if investigators have been able to learn any more about the person because of their knowledge of how it was constructed and if they have any idea of where these were being sent from. I think what the NYPD will do at 3:30 is tell people we have this under control, we're monitoring everything, we're working, but people should feel safe in the city. There is some -- I was going to get to this. There is some good news in all of this today in that we have not seen any new packages. Everything so far as we've seen was sent yesterday or received yesterday or days before. Nothing so far that has come forward to indicate that anything has been received today. So maybe this is over. Obviously, law enforcement is not going to act like that and they're going to keep looking. But so far nothing new today.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Tony, quickly.
MAY: Quickly, OK, the question in everybody's mind is we've got ten devices, why no explosion? What does that mean? That means that the 11th device could explode. The bomber could be changing his design. He's lured us into a false sense of security. Let's not go there. Let's treat every device individually and exploit it.
BALDWIN: I think Shimon hit it on the money, that no one should act like this whole thing is over. Gentlemen, I appreciate every single one of you. We'll talk live, by the way, with one of the main investigators in the anthrax attacks, hear what he says. What stand out in this investigation for him. Also, ahead, the President is blaming the media for anger in America, as this manhunt intensifies. Now we're hearing what he's saying behind the scenes. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. While in New York, investigators were just discovering another suspicious package this morning, President Trump tweeted. Let me read it for you. "A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news. It's gotten so bad it's beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast."
But former CIA Director John Brennan, one of the bomber's targets is pointing the finger right back to the President telling him to "stop blaming others, look in the mirror."
"Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies and encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act, try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much, better. By the way, your critics will not be intimidated into silence."
Let's go to our White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins and CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, host of the "Honestly Speaking with Tara" podcast. And ladies, Kaitlan, first to you. Just on our latest reporting from our colleague Jeff Zeleny, apparently behind the scenes Trump is digging in and has no plans to claim any personal responsibility.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. He doesn't feel he should take responsibility for this. The reason we're seeing the President make comments about the media since the pipe bombs have been discovered, he and his allies feel he is being unfairly tied and blamed for this. Even though they say that just because he made these comments that we have seen him make in the past about the media, they do not think the President should be in any way linked to this. They think he's being unfairly linked to this. So, aides are not trying to stop the President from making the comments about the media. We saw a different President when he came at the stage in Wisconsin. It wasn't the typical rally, I was at that rally, there were no lock her up chants, nothing about fake news, nothing about Elizabeth Warren, none of the staples of his typical rally.
He kept pointing out how he felt he was being so muted and behaving well. He did have criticism of the media at the beginning of that speech when he said it was the media's responsibility to set a civil tone in this country. That's because behind the scenes the President has been watching the coverage of these pipe bombs and he feels he's being unfairly linked to all of this.
[14:20:00] Whether the President's critics agree with that or not, they say he should take responsibility for his own rhetoric and what it has done for the country, but instead he is focusing, saying it is the media that is responsible for how divided this country has become, even more so as we are just two weeks away from those midterm elections, Brooke.
One other thing I do think we should point out is here we are 36 hours later or whatever time we're at and the President still has not called President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, any of these people that these pipe bombs were sent to, to check in on them, to update them as to how the investigation was going. That is something the President hasn't done yet and it's unclear he has any plans to do so. We've asked and we'll let you know if he plans on doing that.
BALDWIN: That to me is one of the things that are whole stunning and I've got a whole segment dedicated to precisely that point. Look at me, independent 'm behaving so well l since last night. The President's Twitter fingers are working as bomb squads are called in to investigate another suspicious package in downtown New York and Trump is blaming the media.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Donald Trump has to be one of the most malignant narcissists I've ever seen in public office. He's incapable of ever taking responsibility for anything. He's constantly the victim. Constantly. Points the finger at everybody but himself. No one's saying that Donald Trump is responsible for this person putting a bomb and sending it into packages across the country, but to be so unaware of what he says and does every single day, to think that this doesn't contribute to the division in this country is pretty astonishing.
And that he's surrounded by a bunch of enablers who seem to not think there's anything wrong with that, that they're pushing forward this narrative that it's OK for the President to turn around to try to blame the media. It's our fault? We're not out there saying we're the enemy of the people. The President of the United States is. The enemy of the people? The free press in this country? That is not what we do in America. When you dissent and have a dissenting opinion in political discussions or opponents, we don't vilify them to the point where we glorify violence against them. This has been a purposeful tactic bit President of the United States since the election to constantly play the victim so that his followers never know when he's being held accountable. And look at what we see. We saw signs, for goodness sakes, at that rally last night of people holding up signs of "fake news, fake bombs." Tell that to the law enforcement officers who are there to investigate those bombs. And the President can't rise to the occasion, to the bully pulpit to say enough is enough. God forbid he stand up and rises to the occasion. I have news for the American people -- he never will.
BALDWIN: I just come back to a simple question, which is where is his humanity? When you watch him, it appeared that much of his speech was written for him, it was rolling on teleprompter. But this is the part that really stood out to me, presumably unscripted. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: And, by the way, do you see how nice I'm behaving tonight? This is like -- have you ever seen this? We're all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way, right? We're going to keep it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Do you see how nice I'm behaving? That is something -- hang on. That is something that you hear from a 6-year-old when the 6- year-old wants dessert. That is not what you hear from the President of the United States. Again, I just go back to he lacks humanity. COLLINS: And he pointed it out multiple times throughout the night.
When he would say something, even when he was talking about those races there in Wisconsin and he was talking about one of the Democratic opponents, he was saying a comment and he said if it had been a week ago, he would have said it in a much different tone, much more forceful but he said look how nicely I'm saying it now and how much more muted I am tonight.
[14:25:00] He kept going back to that, Brooke. It was a much more muted tone than we've seen but that likely came at the direction of aides who talked to the President about the gravity of the situation, what was unfolding, the conversation that was unfolding yesterday after these pipe bombs were discovered and the conversation as well about rhetoric in the country. But aides did point out he didn't have an option to make those remarks, especially after Paul Ryan and Scott Walker got up and denounced the attacks as well.
And the president got up as well but what aides are pointing out, it's not just the President's rhetoric that should be on focus here. It should be the rhetoric of Hillary Clinton, all these people who have not only been targets of the President but have also been critics of the President.
Several people that work in the White House pointing out that comment by Hillary Clinton you can't be civil when someone is trying to destroy your party, your ideals. Thee had a much different tone yesterday. And critics pointed out that Hillary Clinton was someone who got one of these pipe bombs sent to her, addressed to her, and so the focus is really just on what the conversation is. Of course, it's President Trump that's President and the question is whether or not he's making Presidential remarks by not only calling for unity but by going after the media a few minutes after saying that.
BALDWIN: And not mentioning nor calling two former Presidents on the receiving end of assassination attempts in one single day in this country. We've got to leave it there, Tara and Kaitlan. I appreciate both of you. We're going to come back to that, I promise you. But coming up nice, ten devices, eight targets. What investigators are revealing are similarities and who they were intended. And the Lou Dobbs tweet that has now been deleted.