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Bomb Device Sent to CNN En Route to FBI Lab; Officials Say ISIS Flag on Bomb Packages Not Credible; Trump Blames Media for Anger in Society; FOX Host Lou Dobbs Refers to Bomb Devices as "Fake Bombs"; NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Talks Bomb Packages Investigation, Trump Rhetoric. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 25, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:18] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Got a little bit of news here on one of these devices. This is according to Josh Campbell, former FBI, who just got seated.

We're learning this device that was sent to us here at CNN in New York is actually now en route to the FBI lab on Quantico, Virginia, for further testing.

Which is what you were saying, Josh Campbell, that that's where they would be taken to be taken apart to determine how they were made and presumably figure out who made them. Tell me what you know about this powder.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. If you recall, the CNN device, the package that was found there was an unknown substance. We're told from law enforcement sources in between hits here that the initial testing was done on that suspicious powder. Authorities don't believe it's anthrax or any kind of known biological agent, but we're told testing will continue over the coming days to determine what exactly that is.

As we speak right now, this device is en route in an FBI bomb truck moving down the eastern seaboard from New York, down to the FBI's laboratory at Quantico, Virginia. We know that the CNN device is currently being transported.

One other interesting tidbit we're learning is we've seen reporting about what was on at least one of these devices. We don't know how widespread it is --


BOLDUAN: This reported ISIS flag.

CAMPBELL: This ISIS flag, correct. People were looking at that and wondering if this was some type of international terrorism signal or did somebody try to throw something off. We're told from officials familiar with the investigation that they're not giving credence to this. They're not saying this is international terrorism. They actually believe that this ISIS image is some type spoofed image from the Internet parroting ISIS. It seems every time you learn something new in this investigation, that generates more questions for us. We're trying to get into the mindset of a depraved person sending pipe bombs. At least at this point, the investigators working the case they don't give credence to the fact that because the ISIS symbol is here, that it's international terrorism.

BOLDUAN: FBI is up to the task.

Appreciate you for breaking this news. Go try to get your lunch.


BALDWIN: -- talking on TV here.

Let's bring in Charles Marino, a former Secret Service agent and Homeland Security official.

Charles, good to see you, sir.


BALDWIN: I want to begin with the fact that we know two of these packages were sent to both the Obamas and the Clintons at their homes, right, so no official offices, but their homes. I'm wondering what kind of security is in place at a former president's home to intercept something like this?

MARINO: Former presidents and their spouses are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. They have full-time protection details with them at all hours of the day. Also in this example you see some of the other safeguards that come with that protection in the form of offsite mail screening, which identified these packages, which were addressed to the former presidents. So the men and women of the Secret Service did what they do best and they keep all their protectees safe. In this case it was the men and the women assigned to the mail screening facility that identified these suspicious objects and took the appropriate measures.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of the fact that whoever sent these things didn't try to send to offices but to their personal homes?

MARINO: Yes, you know, there's a lot of different ways you can look at this, Brooke. First of all, nothing is going to get directly to any of these former presidents. Everything is --


BOLDUAN: Nowhere near them?

MARINO: Nowhere near them. Nowhere near them. So these devices were nowhere near them. They were never in any danger. These packages were automatically routed to an off-site location where they were screened. So they were never in danger. No matter how much -- even if somebody attempted to hand deliver something, that would never happen.

BOLDUAN: And would never happen. Obviously, they have the outer rings of security, it was intercepted, story closed in a sense. But, obviously, I imagine officials are even more on high alert, not only for those former presidents, but also other potential targets, other, you know, folks who have been critical of this president -- seems to be one of the themes pervasive among these various targets. Do you think security would be increased not just around the former presidents but other officials as well?

MARINO: I think in this situation, Brooke, you already have federal agencies that are responsible for protecting people, be it the Secret Service, the FBI, the capitol police. These men and women operate at a very high level each and every day. It's not like they say we need to come in tomorrow and say we need to ramp this up.


[14:35:00] MARINO: The security is excellent. The threat intelligence is something that's reviewed and evaluated on a daily basis. If changes need to be made, they are. However, the security ring around these former presidents and other high-level officials is already at such a high level.

BOLDUAN: That's good to hear.

You would know, Charles Marino. Thank you.

MARINO: Thank you, Brooke.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, an early morning jab from the president blaming the media for some of the anger in our society. We'll talk about the media in all of this.

This, as FOX News host, Lou Dobbs, refers to the devices found at 10 locations as, quote unquote, "fake bombs." We'll go there next.


BOLDUAN: President Trump, this morning, attacking the media as this manhunt intensifies for a serial bomber. The president tweeting in part, "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."

That is from our president.

With me now, former CNN Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno, now director of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.

Frank, when you saw that tweet, what did you think?

[14:40:19] FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS & FORMER CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I thought it's really a shame. It's really a shame that the president in the middle of what is essentially -- not essentially, what is a national crisis --


BOLDUAN: An investigation.

SESNO: An investigation -- and still something that is a developing story. We don't know if there are other bombs out there, if any of them are going to go off. This is a time when we really need to hold our breath and also catch our own anger. And instead, he's fanning it, he's blaming others. I've been in this town for a long time and we've watched this kind of thing very closely. There are times when presidents must be uniters and not dividers, when they need to rally public support and not further aggravate the debates and the divisions that always exist. And now is one of them. So I'm sorry to see him point fingers like this.

I'm also sorry to see him get it wrong. The mainstream media does not deliberately make it up. The disinformation campaigns, they deliberately make it up. He's commingling all these things, and it's wrong, it's dangerous and it's a shame.

BOLDUAN: All of these people who have been on the receiving end, been the targets of these bombs, they are the constant focus of FOX's primetime coverage.

When you look at FOX right now, one of their hosts, Lou Dobbs, has been tweeting and initially tweeted about these fake bombs, which is a tweet he deleted. He then tweeted about fake news, changing the narrative from illegal immigration and the caravan to, quote, unquote, "suspicious packages," which he later deleted.

By the way, the investigators say the bombs were rudimentary but very much functional. And now his latest tweet, not yet deleted, writing, "Whether hoax or bombs, they were clearly designed to influence the election."

Frank, I checked. Lou Dobbs has 1.84 million Twitter followers and he has no evidence of this, of any of this.

SESNO: Right. Look, this is the issue. Everybody's the media, right? How does Lou know they were clearly designed to influence the election? Maybe.

BOLDUAN: He doesn't.

SESNO: We have no idea yet. How does anyone know where they came from? We don't know if they came from the right or left or a crazy person in between. That will be revealed by the investigation. We don't know if they were prompted by Donald Trump. That conversation needs to be tempered as well.

We know, wherever they're coming from, this is dangerous business. We're in a time where very divisive, demonizing rhetoric can make this worse. That's where the role of the president needs to be as a uniter and not a divider. BOLDUAN: The president -- you and I have been covering him since the

get-go. He seems to think any news coverage of him that is not favorable is, quote unquote, "fake news." Give the man credit at being pretty brilliant at branding and his own P.R. When we watched him on "60 Minutes," he admitted to making fun and mocking Christine Blasey Ford, because, for him, it was a way that worked, because he won, because Kavanaugh got the votes he needed to be on the U.S. Supreme Court.

When you look at his tweet this morning, Frank, his messaging, isn't it more of the same?

SESNO: The president of the United States bears a disproportionate amount of responsibility when you look at the messaging. When you look at George Bush after 9/11, think of Ronald Reagan after the Challenger exploded, these were times when the commander-in-chief stood up and said, we are on people, we are one nation, we grieve together, we search together, we fight together. I think that's something that has been really missing. Right now, where we are right now -- and, yes, we're two weeks before the election so it's a very dicey time.


SESNO: But the president is being called on his rhetoric. He will be held accountable, I think, this is what this is going to be, this conversation is going to be on an ongoing basis, accountable for the word and actions that he's taken. Yes, you get pummeled when you're president of the United States. Every president has by everybody, from late-night comedians to columnists you don't like. Thomas Jefferson, there were columnists he didn't like. It goes way back. But it's in the job description of the president to find a way to navigate that, to rise above that, to outsmart that, certainly to criticize that. But to be very careful that you don't inflame the passions of the people in dangerous ways that can then not be controlled. And we've not experienced something like this. This is a presidency that is unprecedented and, therefore, for people on all sides of all issues now something to really think about in terms of where we're going and what is the potential cost of this and how do we pull it back? Well, to say the media should pull it back, the media is the most plural word out there, but there's only one president and only one president that sets a tone for the country. I've watched that, as a White House reporter and in other ways, and it's incredible how influential that one person can be on any side of a particular issue. So, Teddy Roosevelt and the bully pulpit, Mr. Trump has that.

[14:45:52] BOLDUAN: Yes.

Frank Sesno, a pleasure. Thank you very much. Great perspective.

SESNO: Pleasure's mine.

BALDWIN: We have New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joining us live as he gets new information on this investigation. He also spoke with the president. Stand by.


[14:50:32] BOLDUAN: We are back. The manhunt is intensifying here into determining who sent these bombs to these various offices, including our own here at Time Warner Center in New York City. We do know an FBI bomb truck left en route to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, to learn more about one of these devices that did not go off.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is with me here in the great state of New York.

Governor Cuomo, my goodness, first of all, incredible with NYPD and everything they did for us here at CNN and, of course, what they're doing currently. The question on everyone's mind is the investigations, sir, are they closer to knowing who did this?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK: Well, first, good to be with you, Brooke. And also kudos to the person at CNN who handled it very well. Part of what we're trying to do is educate people in mailrooms, in mail operations about what to look for. Your CNN people were very heads up. And Jeff Zucker and the entire team were very cooperative, so we thank you.

The more these packages that are sent, actually, the better for the investigation, in a cruel irony. We have more information, more possibility for DNA, more possibility for fingerprints, et cetera. So we have a fully coordinated effort that's working on the investigation. And that is going on literally around the clock.

In the meantime, we're adding more protection in New York State, more just to give people comfort. This is about people trying to inflict terror. Terror only works if you let it work. And we have more of a police presence just for people to understand that everything is safe and New York is going about business as usual.

Joe Biden is coming to Buffalo tonight, and we have more state police presence with him. We have more state police presence for George Soros, which is a private resident. The Clintons, obviously, have Secret Service protection, as do the Obamas and other parties.

But the investigation is going forward full speed ahead. And New York is up and we're running. And New Yorkers are resilient and we're tough and we're not going to allow this act of terror, political terror, which is a new dimension in this terror war, but we've been through worse, and we're not going to let it slow us down.

BOLDUAN: On the investigation, I know we're waiting for the New York police to brief everyone next hour, but on how they were made, there were reports that there was this digital clock connected to a small battery as a possible trigger device. What can you share with us?

CUOMO: I'd rather not share the details of the investigation. I'd rather leave that to the JTTF and the FBI, the state police, the NYPD, who have been handling it. It is wrong to say, in my opinion, that these are fake bombs. There's a question as to whether or not the bombs were designed to detonate or to intimidate.

BALDWIN: Do they have a sense?

CUOMO: The question is the motivation, right?

Well, I think it's a question of motivation, and you don't have the motivation until you find the sender. You can now download from the Internet designs on how to build a bomb. We've gone through that. We've had terrorist attacks where a bomb has gone off, but it hasn't been highly effective because it was built by an amateur. So it could be that or it could be that the design was designed not to go off but only to intimidate. But you don't know that until you have the person or people who actually designed and sent the bombs. But it's way too early and I think misleading and dangerous to say these were fake bombs. These were dangerous instruments that were sent.

BOLDUAN: CNN has just learned that investigators believe some of the packages may have originated from Florida. Can you tell me anything about that?

[14:55:08] CUOMO: You know, Brooke, I'd rather not get into any details on the investigation itself.


CUOMO: The -- I spoke to -- the president called earlier today, and I had a conversation with the president about the investigation. He pledged full support from all federal authorities, JTTF, FBI, et cetera, ATF. He inquired as to whether or not we felt the state of New York was receiving the cooperation from the federal sources, and I said that we were working well together. And we are. The JTTF, Joint Terrorism Task Force, is the main coordinate entity --


CUOMO: -- that has on it local police, FBI, et cetera, and all law enforcement is working well together, which is good news because this is inherently a political situation, right? So we want to make sure that stays contained and law enforcement is doing their job. And it is and they're working very well.

Also, Brooke, when we start to analyze what happened, why did it happen, and a lot of the conversation is about the elected leaders and how they have to rein their rhetoric and how they've been fueling rancor anger, which is true, my query is another one. Rather than just stopping the speakers, let's start appealing to the audience, let's start appealing to the American people, and say to the American people that this has gotten to a point that's so ugly and destructive, that we are now tearing at ourselves, we're ripping at the fabric that is America.

BALDWIN: You look at the president's --


CUOMO: And at the end of the day, we're not Democrats or Republicans, we're Americans.

BOLDUAN: Governor, you look at the president's tweet --


BALDWIN: -- first thing this morning and how critical he was about the media. I don't want this to be about -- it's about this president, it's about true unity. You have been critical of him. Your rhetoric -- you called out his rhetoric very recently. Did that come up in your conversation with the president today?

CUOMO: The conversation with president was only on the law enforcement and the investigation. But look, I think we go down two tracks simultaneously. Yes, leaders have to be more responsible. Yes, the president's rhetoric is inflammatory, it's hot. He uses really vulgar expressions at times and that has an effect. He is now the president of the United States. He's not on a talk show somewhere. He's president of the United States and he has thousands of people listening to him. And that position of power I think he has to appreciate. And when that position of power is spewing hateful rhetoric, that has an effect.

Second track, let's start saying to the American people, turn it off, turn it off. The movie is negative, turn it off. And don't listen to it and don't accept it. And if you want to see how quickly they take the movie off the air, don't buy tickets to the movie, because the movie is anti-American. The movie is divisive and ugly. And we're not red versus blue, we're red, white and blue, and that's America, and that's what it means to be an American citizen. So turn off the movie.

BOLDUAN: It's so real for so many Americans, so many New Yorkers. It's frightening. People are on edge. I'm hoping -- answer me this, is this over? Are all these packages intercepted? And does this appear to be the end?

CUOMO: Look, you don't know. I would assume it's not the end, which is the safe assumption. I also have a fear that we are now accomplishing for the sender or senders what they wanted to accomplish. All this attention is actually achieving their goal. When the first package arrived at the Soros residence, I held my breath because the question to me was is this a one-off or is this going to be a pattern.