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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Manhunt Intensifies As Officials Intercept More Possible Bombs; Sources: Authorities Questioning Why Bombs Didn't Detonate, Believe Several Went Through Mail Facility Near Miami; Ten Suspected Bombs Intercepted As Manhunt Intensifies. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 25, 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: It's an awful, awful situation. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, an all-out manhunt. Who is responsible for 10 potential bombs sent around the country, and could there be more than one bomb maker on the loose?
Plus, were the bombs ever intended to detonate? Why investigators are looking at this angle as they search for motive.
Plus, one of President Trump's spiritual advisers says the country is at a breaking point and the angry rhetoric has to stop. Is he also telling that to the President? He'll be my guest. Let's go out front.
Good evening, I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, manhunt, investigators focusing on at least one state as they intensify their search for the individual or individuals behind the now 10 potential bombs sent to two former presidents. Other prominent Democrats and former CIA Director John Brennan care of CNN. According to law enforcement officials, it is believed that several of the packages passed through a mail facility just outside Miami.
You're looking at live pictures of this facility where police are currently inside the distribution center. This facility handles incoming and outgoing mail from and to South Florida. As for the devices, CNN is learning authorities are trying to determine why none of the bombs went off. Were they, in fact, designed to detonate, or were they designed simply to terrorize, to strike fear in the hearts of the people they were targeting? Including president and former first lady Obama, president and former Secretary of State Clinton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former CIA Director Brennan, CNN's New York Headquarters, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and in addition, today, authorities also intercepting or retrieving three packages, two meant for vice President Joe Biden at two separate locations in Delaware, and one for actor Robert de Niro received at his production company's office in New York City.
All those I mentioned have been frequent targets of President Trump on Twitter and on the campaign trail through rhetoric and while the devices sent to those individuals did not detonate, the FBI made it clear today they believe the threat is real. They warned there still could be devices out there and those devices should be considered dangerous. The President speaking just moments ago, he did not address the matter, and so far he's declined to call these bombs an act of domestic terrorism. Instead, he's doubled down on Twitter, blaming the media for the nation's incivility.
He wrote, "A very big part in the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposefully false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news. It is gotten so bad and hateful that is behind description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast."
Jim Sciutto is out front live in Washington for us. And Jim, what else are we learning about where these bombs may have originated?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the essential question from the beginning of this is who sent them, what person or persons, and a big part of that equation is where, where did they come from, because that provides a clue, helps lead them to the origin of these packages and today, we got that first clue, that is, the state of Florida and this mail processing facility in Opa-locka and that's why you see that law enforcement presence there now. Doesn't mean that the package or the person, the perpetrator lived around there, even necessarily in the state of Florida, but it's a good chance, because that processes mail for a number of locations around that area, that that's at least where these packages, at least several of these packages may have started. They still have a long way to go in determining who it is, but it moves them at least a step closer today.
TAPPER: And Jim, on some of these packages, there is, I guess, a key clue that appears to be missing. What is that?
SCIUTTO: Well, it's the postmark, and that's something we noticed from the very beginning as we saw images provided by law enforcement of these packages. They all had those six American flag stamps on them. What they didn't have is the postmark you see after they get processed through the facility, except one of them.
One of our colleagues here noticed that there was sort of the edge of a postmark on one. There's a possible explanation here that a thick envelope like that can't go through the machine to get that stamp that you'll see on a letter, for instance. But again, we now know, based on that focus on that Opa-locka facility that at least three or four of them were processed through a center to prove that they went through the mail because there was some question as to whether some of these were hand delivered.
For instance, the one that came to CNN offices in New York, that one, at least the final mile of it, it was delivered by a courier, but that is a courier that regularly does this for the post office. So it does appear that at least several of them went through the mail system and now they're looking as to where the origin of that was and this Opa- locka facility, at least a clue as to where that might be.
[19:05:00] TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
Out front now, former Assistant Director for the Investigations with U.S. Marshals, Art Roderick, former CIA operative Bob Baer, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, Juliette Kayyem and former FBI Investigative Supervisor on the UNABOM Task Force, Max Noel. Art, let me start with you. Sources telling CNN that investigators already think they know where at least some of the packages originated in Florida. Big lead?
ART RODERICK, FMR. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: Yes, it's a very big lead, and I think, you know, we have to -- we saw the presser earlier with commissioner from NYPD, and we have to listen to what he says. It's really a lot what he doesn't say. I mean, there's really only a couple reasons why law enforcement would release information to the public and one is because there's a public safety issue. We have that here. I mean, they've released numerous photographs of all these devices.
The second reason is, because they need help on a possible lead. They're not going to release any information based on actionable, viable leads. They're going to work those out until the bitter end. We're not going to know about it. We might know about it at the end but we're not going to know about the real, actionable stuff that they're doing.
It's interesting that we have this Florida lead. I think that's a very good lead. It sounds like some of those packages might have gone through that facility, but, you know, law enforcement is just not centering on Florida. They're looking at other locations.
TAPPER: Just one thing we know about. Juliette Kayyem, this is just one day after most of these packages were discovered. If we already know where they came from, how long until authorities will be able to figure out who they believe may have sent them?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY DEPT. UNDER OBAMA: So, it probably will be relatively quick investigation only because this is so different from the times of the unabomber earlier times. There's so many ways to capture someone, either digitally or on camera or talking to people or they've been online. So I don't want to put any time frame on it but obviously, the focus through the JTTF is to, you know, sort of focus in and we possibly have a focus on Florida.
I think the most important thing I'm looking for now in terms of the speed of the investigation is a simple answer to the question, were these bombs intended to detonate and fail, or were they never intending to detonate? That is a question that, to me, the NYPD and the FBI clearly did not want to answer today. And the reason why that's relevant is then you're -- the scope of the investigation will change, because of that. And so, that's the question that I think that right now is the primary question from the outside as an analyst, looking at this.
TAPPER: And Max, you say that this package, which was sent to CNN, reminded you of the packages that were sent by the unabomber. What similarities did you notice?
MAX NOEL, FMR. FBI INVESTIGATIVE SUPERVISOR, UNABOM TASK FORCE: Well, very similar in the fact it had filament tape on it, excessive postage stamps on it. It was wrapped in either heavy wrapping paper or a heavy manila envelope. The way it was addressed with misspellings of two of the names, I believe. Very characteristic of bombs that the unabomber sent and reminded me a great deal about that.
And I think we need to let the postal inspectors do their work, that postal processing facility, those packages came in there from elsewhere, from satellite postal facilities or from post office boxes sitting on the streets, and there's a great deal of work to be done, interviewing carriers who might recall such a package because they've been trained in postal awareness programs with regard to what to look at and packages like that. And determine whether they entered the mail stream and then go out and determine if there are surveillance cameras in those areas and people, unabomb, several devices entered from satellite mail stations, postal workers at those stations remembered them because of the excessive postage and the strapping tape and using that filament tape is a very future thing. It obviously is used -- was used by the unabomber to keep the firing train intact until the recipient opened the package at which time the firing train would be the electrical -- circuit would be complete and the package would detonate, so there's a lot of similarities.
TAPPER: And bob, there are at least 10 potential bombs that we know of that were sent. Could one person have done this, or do you think there's probably more than one?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I think what's interesting is that some of these could have been hand delivered, and clearly, they're running through a chronology. Soros was the first bomb. Supposedly that was hand delivered, put in his mailbox.
BAER: You look at Florida. That's a long way away, so going through chronology, they're going through, for instance, telephone metadata. They're going through WiFi cameras around the post office, and they're putting this and they're using software to combine this all.
[19:10:06] And unless this guy was really, really good or these people, they're going to come up with a clue and my guess is -- and I'm out on a limb -- it won't be long. Ten bombs around the country, there's just a lot of stuff out there. Unless he's truly -- has some sort of professional training.
TAPPER: So, just to drill down on what you said, the idea that if he had a phone on him, not even that he made a call, but that he had a phone on him and then delivered it to Soros' house and to Katonah, New York --
TAPPER: -- you'd be able to trace him. BAER: Absolutely. The GPS locations, the time, the phone in front of the house within 10 feet, and then other, you know, places he visited, and a lot of houses around there are going to have cameras out in the street --
BAER: -- and you put it all together, and you give the FBI enough time and ATF and it's amazing that they can reconstruct where these letters were sent from. And, like I said, unless the guy's really good, but I seriously doubt that.
TAPPER: Art, tell us about your dry run theory.
RODERICK: Well, I mean, you know, law enforcement, when they look at any of these types of high-profile cases, looks for the worst case scenario, and this particular case, we hope and pray that it's just these 10 and that's it. And it's ended. Hopefully we can grab this individual here in the next 24 to 48 hours. But in past cases we have seen where terrorists or other individuals will go ahead and do a dry run and they'll be sitting back there taking notes on how law enforcement's responding, what's being said in the press.
I wouldn't be surprised if this individual is watching us right now and taking notes and checking off his checklist. OK, I saw that they x-rayed these devices, let me do something different. Instead of delivering them through the postal service, let me use another means of getting these devices to my targeted individuals. Let's hope that this is it, but I mean, we have to keep in mind, worst case scenario, and that's exactly what law enforcement is doing right now.
TAPPER: And Juliette, at this moment, based on what we know, how sophisticated a plot does this appear to be to you?
KAYYEM: So, there's two types of sophistication. So, one is on the technology side, the bomb making, and that's why I'm focused on this question, was this someone who didn't know how to make a bomb or who actually knew how to make a fake bomb. Those are different questions.
But I agree with Bob. I mean, as you know, this is not -- the person did not wake up one day and decide to do this. This is multiple states. You have to hunt down the addresses, you have to get to the post offices, there's all sorts of courier deliberations, so this is someone who -- or people who meticulously planned this out over, you know, it's not years, but it's not days. And so -- but the good news, is in that planning, because this is so big, all sorts of vulnerabilities will be exposed.
Did they talk to someone? Were they online? Were they looking at certain materials? Did they purchase, you know, a bunch of envelopes at the same time, you know, 20 envelopes? And so, in some ways, the sort of breadth of this actually will expose a lot of vulnerabilities that I'm pretty confident will be sort of unearthed by law enforcement relatively quickly.
TAPPER: Max, I want to follow up on something you said. You noted how both this bomber or bombers and the unabomber, you work on that case, included misspellings in the envelope. Take a look at this one sent to CNN. It's Debbie Wasserman Schultz's last name is missing an s. John Brennan, the former CIA Director to whom it was sent, it's missing an n. Florida is misspelled.
The unabomber, as we know, who was waging his own private war against technology, went to Harvard, and was -- fancied himself quite brilliant. Did his misspellings, were they intentional so as to try to throw people off the track and do you think that's what's going on here?
NOEL: I have no idea if that's what's going on here, but I know that he did that intentionally and he wrote about doing it intentionally, and why he did that. The -- Someone mentioned the acquiring of the addresses and the names. Most people don't know George Soros' home address or the Clintons' home address or what have you.
Very important project that's probably going on right now is how did the -- this bomber acquire the addresses and where did those particular misspellings come from? Were those names misspelled in print somewhere? Were they misspelled on a blog somewhere? Why did the bomber use that? Was it a red herring or whatever to throw investigators off?
But the fact of the matter is, you have to look at it regardless. And determine and run it out and put it to rest so that you can go on with the rest of the investigation. So, address acquiring the appropriate addresses to send these bombs should be an important part of the investigation, and I'm sure it is.
[19:15:12] TAPPER: In addition to other big mistakes, he got Eric Holder's wrong address. That's why the package was returned to Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida and John Brennan is not a consultant for CNN. He works for a different network.
TAPPER: Go ahead.
NOEL: In the unabomb's case, he killed Thomas Mosier in New Jersey because he believed that his firm, the only Rubicon (ph) had done the Exxon Valdez publicity campaign to clear up their reputation after that horrendous environmental spill. That was not the case. But he believed they did because he read it in a particular periodical.
TAPPER: Interesting. Max Noel, Juliette Kayyem, Art Roderick and Bob Baer, thank you so much.
Out front next, new details about what exactly is in the bombs. Small battery, digital clocks. Were they meant to explode?
Plus, the President believes he's being unfairly linked to these bombs sent to his frequent rhetorical targets. He's digging in on his tone tonight.
And a member of Trump's evangelical counsel on how the President could be handling this crisis. Stay with us.
[19:20:06] TAPPER: Tonight authorities questioning why none of the bombs actually exploded. Some analysts suspect these devices were not intended to explode at all. Drew Griffin is out front with new details.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were mostly delivered like this, in padded manila envelopes, printed address labels, the same printed return address of Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and six American flag forever stamps, all tell-tale signs of a suspicious package and perhaps meant to look that way. The initial examination, they are rudimentary, potentially destructive devices, according to the FBI.
JAMES O'NEILL, NYPD COMMISSIONER: The NYPD and the FBI were taking this seriously. We are treating them as live devices.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): But none actually exploded. A clue, say former investigators, who say despite handling by couriers, mail rooms, even returned by U.S. mail, nothing exploded.
RAY LOPEZ, FORMER FBI AGENT: I think they were made to be found and, again, just to deliver the message of fear and terror and to, you know, garnish attention.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): While investigators have released few details, the pictures and even x-rays released do provide clues to several bomb and explosive experts talking to CNN, including former FBI hazardous device expert Ray Lopez.
LOPEZ: If he's trying to kill somebody, I think this is the worst bomber in the world. If he's trying to scare us, he did a very good job.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): According to a law enforcement source, the devices are made with PVC pipe. They contain explosive material, believed to be a pyrotechnic substance, fireworks and packed with some shrapnel, all easily available. The crude design also easily found on the internet. What is unique is just so many bombs or devices unexploded that will offer investigators lead after lead.
BRAD GALVAN, FORMER ATF EXPLOSIVES SPECIALIST: They're going to have actual components in there that are undamaged by blast or heat, and there's nothing better for an investigator to get actual intact components. They're going to trace back the piping that was used, they're going to trace back the wiring, the batteries.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The envelopes, the stamps, the printing, the materials used all analyzed and potentially traced back to the exact location where they were purchased. Security cameras will be scoured and the suspect potentially linked through possible fingerprints or DNA he or she may have left behind on the unexploded devices. The New York Times reporting the pipes were equipped with a small battery, a digital clock as a timer, and an initiator, which causes the bomb to explode, according to a law enforcement official. Several experts tell CNN that timer is something you'd see in a movie, not on a real bomb.
GRIFFIN: And Jake, I've talked to several former bomb investigator and forensic experts today. They all caution now they haven't inspected the actual devices themselves but based on these photos, these x-rays released all but one think these devices are probably a hoax, not meant to go off. Investigators obviously can't treat them with anything but the utmost serious.
I did want to point out that on the device delivered to CNN, that symbol of what looks like an ISIS flag, a law enforcement source telling CNN the image appears to be a spoof of an ISIS flag widely circulated on the internet. Jake?
TAPPER: Fascinating. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
Out front now, Ray Lopez, who you just saw in Drew's piece, is a former FBI special agent and team leader for the bomb squad and Tina Sherrow, a former ATF explosives specialist. Ray, let me start with you. This is fascinating. You think these devices may not have actually been intended to explode. Why?
LOPEZ: Well, you can -- two reasons why. One, the bomber in this case or the individual in this case may have been actually looking for intelligence. And he could have sent these things out and actually, you know, taken notes as to how the police respond and how first responders respond, which is very scary in and of itself. And secondly, it could have been just a hoax to scare, intimidate, terrorize, and eventually, you know, garnish attention to himself and to his cause.
TAPPER: So when you say hoax, a fake device but still meant to scare people.
LOPEZ: Exactly. Exactly. And as the piece before mentioned, you have to take these things very seriously. You take them seriously all the way to the end.
TAPPER: Yes. The law enforcement wouldn't answer questions about this earlier today. Tina, these devices reportedly had a small battery and a digital clock that's used as a timer and initiator. What might that tell you?
TINA SHERROW, RETIRED ATF SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT, EXPLOSIVES SPECIALIST: Well, they certainly are elements that would comprise a live device, so that is something that we would look for and then we would treat it accordingly. So, I completely support what the authorities are saying in terms of using care and caution to not call it a hoax device. Only the people that have examined it and put hands on it, like you said earlier, are the ones that know if it is or not. It's a matter of safety, so the bomb technicians, rightly so, and anybody that encounters something like this or suspicious should treat it as such by not touching it, not handling it, because you just don't know.
[19:25:12] If we would to start to report that this was a hoax device, then it might lull someone into a sense of complacency to not treat it accordingly, and based on what has been shown and based on past experience that I had with an actual device that had a timer on it that expired, it was just wired incorrectly. The bomb maker actually learned from his mistakes and did it differently the next time. So, we just don't know what the bomber's intention was.
TAPPER: Yes. Let's just be very clear. Law enforcement says they are not saying that these are fake devices. They are saying they're real. We're just talking about why they did not go off.
And even if some of them did not go off and were not designed to go off, that doesn't mean, one, that somebody might encounter wouldn't go off. So I don't want to lull anybody into a false sense of security but we are just trying to explore why they didn't go off.
And Ray, we've learned there was this parody ISIS flag on the device that was sent to CNN. What might -- what kind of clue would you get from that?
LOPEZ: Well, it could be anything. I mean, it could be the bomber actually trying to mislead investigators to go down the road of, you know, Islamic extremist somehow connected with this device. We don't know that. That's something they're going to have to work through. So it could be a false flag.
TAPPER: And Tina, these parts are very common. How do you go about tracking where individual parts might come from?
SHERROW: So, the good news is that I think as you all talked earlier, Ray did too, about finding the device intact. So you can definitely exploit any of the identifying information that's on the pipe, on the battery, on the timer, and then investigators can use that actionable intelligence immediately versus having to wait for the lab to tell them what it is, if it had exploded. So, they will start doing good old-fashioned interviews, just going to those places where they may have been able to identify those things were manufactured and/or sold at.
TAPPER: All right, Tina, Sherrow, Ray Lopez here in the studio, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Out front next, President Trump's tough partisan talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crooked Hillary Clinton. Good old Maxine. Low I.Q. individual.
I think he's a total low life. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Why he resents any implication that there's any link between his words and the attacks on those individuals.
Plus, Miami police are now inside a processing and distribution center in Florida where authorities believe several of the explosive devices went through. We'll have a reporter at the facility and we'll get the latest. Thanks. Stay with us.
[19:30:21] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, President Trump digging in. According to people who have spoken with the president today, he believes it's unjust for anyone to discuss the heated and often nasty rhetoric he uses about journalists and his opponents in the context of the current law enforcement investigation, that he's being unfairly linked to the pipe bombs delivered to some of his most frequent political targets. And despite calls from Democrats and Republicans, the president has no plans to tone it down.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at the White House.
Jeff, are those around the president okay with his response?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, in a word, they are, and largely because there's nothing they can do about it. It's kind of a mixed school of thought here as we spent the day reporting this out and talking to a variety of people here at the White House and Republicans who are allies of the president. They -- some believe he missed a moment here. Some sort of wondered -- 12 days before the midterm elections, if he could have stepped into more of a presidential leadership role and talked about national security, you know, sort of framed this as a security issue.
But the president has not done that. He's framed it as an anti-media issue. We saw that at the very beginning of the day. At 7:18 a.m. this morning, he tweeted out his only comment so far of the day about all of this was going after the media. He did not address this at all as he was talking in the -- this afternoon as he was talking about lowering prescription drug prices. He didn't talk about it elsewhere.
So the question is, has he missed a moment? But the president believes that he is being unfairly linked to all of this. He believes that he, you know, his rhetoric is not to blame.
So I'm told by a variety of people he is not going to change his posture on this at all. He's not going to claim any personal responsibility for the rhetoric, of course, not the actual act of this suspect or suspects. We should make that clear. But he's not going to claim any responsibility for the rhetoric.
But, Jake, my question is, as he goes into more campaign rallies, again, we're 12 days out before this midterm elections, he has at least a dozen rallies between now and then. Will he change his tone? He did a bit last night, didn't talk about Hillary Clinton at all. We'll see if he does that tomorrow night. We'll be in Charlotte at his rally in North Carolina, seeing if he dials it back up.
But Jake, it's an interesting point. Still tonight, he's not reached out to his predecessor, Barack Obama, or the Clintons or anyone else who was affected by this. It seems unusual. The president's club, of course, is very small. But as of now, the people around the president are just fine with how he's reacting, largely because he drives the train on all of this, Jake.
TAPPER: He sure does.
Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT tonight, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent from the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Karine Jean-Pierre, national spokesperson for moveon.org, and Stephen Moore, he's an informal White House adviser and a former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
Congressman Dent, let me start with you.
The only person responsible for sending these bombs or whatever they are is the person who sent them, period, full stop. We have no idea what motivated this person and we have no idea if the president's heated rhetoric has anything to do with it at all.
That said, did the president miss a moment here?
CHARLIE DENT (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA: I think so. Look, the president's job is to try to keep the country together, unite us, not divide us, and sometimes his rhetoric is very incendiary, very inflammatory and I think he missed that moment. On the teleprompter, I think he said the right thing. Off teleprompter is where he goes off the rails from time to time, and I think that's the case.
And I've often felt that both he and Bernie Sanders, you know, when they campaigned for president, I felt that they both kind of spoke to an anger. Bernie, an economic anger, you know, it's the banks, it's pharmaceutical companies, Donald Trump on the cultural side, it's the immigrants, trade.
So I think we've got this -- we're just in a bad place in this country and as a small sea of conservatives, we should be more temperate. You know, we're about order, discipline, stability, temperate statements, measured statements, incremental changes, and I'm afraid that, you know, when we talk about the incendiary comments, instability, chaos, dysfunction, that's bad for us.
TAPPER: Stephen, I want to play something that the president said last night, campaigning in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. Have to do that. The language of moral condemnation and destructive routine, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: On the other hand, take a listen to some of the things that President Trump has said about the individuals who were apparently targeted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A very dishonest person, crooked Hillary Clinton.
Good old Maxine, low I.Q. individual.
No confidence in a guy like Brennan. I think he's a total lowlife.
Holder is a -- he's got some problems.
[19:35:02] Sleepy Joe Biden. We call him 1 percent Joe.
And, by the way, George Soros declared $1.5 billion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, obviously, I mean, it's a lovely sentiment that people, you know, we shouldn't use the language of moral condemnation and destruction and make it routine, but the president does.
STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: Well, look, I mean, I disagree with a little bit with Charlie. I think he did seize the moment a little bit yesterday. And I think he did sound very diplomatic and tried to bring the country together.
But look, this is a president, you know, who is a -- and he was the same way on the presidential campaign. This is a guy who is a counter-puncher, and politics is a contact sport. And. you know, I know Donald Trump. When he gets attacked, he attacks back.
He feels, and I think there's a lot of justification for this, that he's treated extremely unfairly by the media, and he goes after them. Just as an example this morning, Maggie Haberman from the "New York Times," who's not an editorial writer, she covers the White House for "The New York Times", and she was on CNN, she just trashed the president, you know? And I think Trump gets sick of that.
TAPPER: What did she say that was factually inaccurate?
MOORE: She said what a horrible character he is and repeated all these allegations about how, oh, he tries to instigate violence and things like that. And it's just -- I just --
TAPPER: I don't know what she said but a lot of times, people say things about president Trump that are just factually true and people consider that to be editorializing.
MOORE: I watch CNN every night, you know, and look, every night, Donald Trump is a racist, he's a misogynist, he's a xenophobe, he is mentally unstable. All these things, and look, that's just an unfair thing to say about the president and, yes, if you call him those kinds of things, he's going to strike back.
TAPPER: Well, all -- OK. Karine, go ahead.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER & NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN, MOVEON.ORG: So, first of all, let me just say that, yes, Bernie Sanders had a populist message and he did tap into some anger, but he never incited violence or praised violence, and he also is not the president of the United States. So that's number one.
Number two, Donald Trump has the most powerful bully pulpit not just in the country but in the world, and he uses it to go after his political enemies, who he perceives to be his political enemies. He incites violence. He praises violence. And he does that every time he's at a rally, and he does it behind the presidential podium, behind the presidential seal and that is -- that matters.
Yesterday, after the crisis that we had yesterday, most presidents, both regardless of if they were Republican or Democrat, would have brought the country together. What does he do? He goes to a political rally where they are chanting, "lock her up", and the next day, or even that night, I can't remember anymore, he attacks the media and then he makes himself a victim.
This is not the behavior of the president of the United States. He is -- he's showing himself to be unfit to hold an incredibly powerful office.
TAPPER: Speaking of --
MOORE: By the way, that's an exact example of what I'm talking about. You said he's unfit for office.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, but I also laid out why he was --
MOORE: I know, but that's a pretty serious charge to say he's unfit for office.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, after I laid out why he was unfit for office.
TAPPER: Can I just say that every president gets attacked? I mean, Obama was called racist on Fox News. George W. Bush was called racist by Kanye West of all people.
MOORE: I don't think I've ever seen it anything like this. I mean, look, I didn't agree with very much of any of Barack Obama's policies but I was always very respectful.
TAPPER: I'm not talking about you.
Anyway, I want to get your reaction because we're talking about Bernie Sanders. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House today said the president responsible. She said, quote: Look, there's a big difference between comments made and actions taken. The president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone, no more than Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a Republican baseball field practice.
DENT: Well, I agree. Bernie Sanders is not responsible for Steve Scalise being shot, just as Donald Trump is not responsible for these pipe bombs.
But what I would say, though, when you're the president of the United States, your words matter. I always thought when the president spoke, that was policy and with this president, that has not been the case. How many times does he say something only to be contradicted by staff?
I've heard this from foreign heads of state and others. They're not sure where the United States is on a given policy despite what the president has said. That's what I guess disturbs me that the president's words do matter on policy, just as they do with when he gets into the name-calling and the insults.
It's simply not presidential. I don't think he should do it. It demeans the office, and frankly, it doesn't help.
MOORE: Look, let me, I think you're right about that and Donald Trump's approval rating could go up, you know, substantially if he would do that. You know, I don't know if he's got it in him, but I think that that's what a lot of the American people want to see, and I did think yesterday, he did a pretty good job of that when he responded to --
DENT: On the teleprompter.
TAPPER: Karine, final word.
[19:40:00] JEAN-PIERRE: He ruined it after going to a rally and then the crowd was saying, lock her up.
MOORE: Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to do that.
JEAN-PIERRE: He always fails. That's the thing. He has this moment and then usually it's 24 hours. This time it was about 6 hours, and then he fails and he shows that he's not fit for the presidency. I'm sorry. It's just --
TAPPER: Beyond the fitness because I don't want you two to devolve into a thing on that. You agree that he initially handled it okay.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I wish he had mentioned president Obama, President Clinton and their families. I wish he had taken it a little bit further and actually called them. There's more that he could have done but he fell flat.
TAPPER: All right. Charlie Dent, Karine Jean-Pierre, Stephen Moore, thanks one and all. Really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news, CNN learning the Miami-Dade bomb squad and K-9 unit are going through that mail facility in Florida where it's believe some of the bombs were processed. We'll have the details.
And a member of Trump's evangelical advisory council says the country is at a breaking point. So, what is his advice to the country? What is his advice to the president?
Megachurch pastor Jentezen Franklin is my guest. Stay with me.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you now. The Miami-Dade County police bomb squad and its K-9 unit are at the scene right now of a mail distribution center in Opa-locka, Florida. According to law enforcement officials, authorities believe the facility processed several packages with potential bombs, the same ones that were delivered to top political targets of President Trump, high-profile Democrats, two former presidents, and CNN.
[19:45:00] Let's go right to Rosa Flores. She's in Miami.
Rosa, what do you know about this sweep taking place there?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Jake, what I can tell you is that according to Miami-Dade police, they say that they are on scene as a precautionary measure, that they are working with their federal partners on this ongoing investigation regarding the suspicious packages.
Now, I was just at the facility in the last few hours, and I can tell you that outside -- outside the facility, I should say. I can tell you that I talked to several employees as they were leaving or arriving in the facility and they said they hadn't seen a bomb squad, they hadn't seen K-9s at the facility before.
But here's what they had seen: at least 20 inspectors inside investigating, talking to their managers. They also had what they called a service talk where all of the employees received information regarding these suspicious packages. They were shown the pictures that we have been showing on CNN of what those packages looked like. Their managers telling them to be very careful and to follow the protocols that they're trained for to handle these dangerous packages.
And we should add that there's about four facilities in south Florida that process mail. Three of them are for domestic mail. The Opa- locka facility is one of those facilities.
And employees there saying, many of them that I talked to, saying they didn't actually know that this facility had actually processed these bombs and these suspicious packages, and Jake, most of them saying that they're just hoping that everybody stays safe. One woman saying that she just wanted to go home safely to her three grand babies. Again, people here are counting their blessings, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Rosa Flores in Miami, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT now is Democratic congressman from Florida, Nanette Diaz Barragan. She sits on the House Homeland Security Committee. Congresswoman, good to see you as always.
As a member of the committee, have you learned anything tonight about this mail facility sweep? Have they told you anything about it?
REP. NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGAN (D), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: We don't have anything new. I know what you know. I think first we should thank first responders. We should thank postal workers and law enforcement for being on top of this and doing everything they can to try to find this person and put a stop to it right away.
TAPPER: All of this comes as officials have made it very clear today they're not ruling out the possibility there are more explosive devices out there. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Any reason to believe there may be other packages like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know at this time.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I would assume it's not the end, which is the safe assumption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you know anything about any more bombs that might be out there or any assumption about how many there might be?
BARRAGAN: We can't confirm whether there are or not. I think what is a good thing to do is to tell the American public, if you see something suspicious, call it in. We have to remain vigilant, especially at a time where we're continuing to see breaking news and new devices, new mail being put out there, so we should all be vigilant around this time.
But we don't have any confirmation of how many devices are out there still, if there are any, or if this is it.
TAPPER: So, one of the questions that I get from the public, from viewers, is, we see law enforcement asking for help, and we don't know much more in terms of leads other than this mail facility in Florida. Should we assume that there's a lot more out there that the investigators know that we don't? Or they're asking us for help, does that indicate that they're really -- they don't have much to go on?
BARRAGAN: Well, I think you always have investigators asking for help, because they're always trying to find different leads, additional information. I don't think we can assume that they know less or they know more. I think it's -- the public is a tool to aid them in investigating. And so if you see anything, I think that's why it's important that they speak up, they say something, you know, you see your post person delivering something that looks suspicious, you know, I would certainly say something. But I don't think we should assume anything from what we're hearing. TAPPER: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been at the
border for several days, preparing for the arrival of this caravan full of migrants. Are you surprised she's not in Washington, D.C., at her office helping to lead the response to this serial bomb maker or bomb makers on the loose?
BARRAGAN: I am. Frankly, here we have an act of terrorism where people are certainly concerned, inciting some fear, and it's a huge concern for me and the American people. Instead, what we have is a secretary down at the south border really just doing more of what the president's doing and making the immigration issue political.
I think this is a time where the country needs to come together. We can start with the president not just unifying people but staying there. Stop blaming the media, which is what he does all the time. Stop using divisive language and let's get down to the bottom of what's happening and stop what is happening and let's catch this person and focus on that, which is the real threat to this country right now.
[19:50:03] TAPPER: Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it as always.
OUTFRONT next, President Trump says it's time to put our differences aside. Then he attacks the media. Is the president capable of unifying the nation?
One of the president's spiritual advisers is my guest. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Tonight, a mega church pastor, who is a member of President Trump's evangelical advisory council, is asking for everyone to cool down their rhetoric against this country's political leaders. Tonight, his message is love thy neighbor as thyself. Is he also talking to President Trump?
OUTFRONT now, Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor at Free Chapel Megachurch in Atlanta.
Pastor, thanks for joining us. You think our country is at a breaking point. Why?
JENTEZEN FRANKLIN, MEMBER OF TRUMP'S EVANGELICAL ADVISORY COUNCIL: I do, Jake. Thank you. It's an honor to be here.
First of all, I want to say thank God that everybody is safe. Thank god that you wonderful people at CNN are alive and well, were able to go back to your families. We're praying for you. It's a lot of pressure that you can feel even coming in the studio, a lot of security presence.
So, you know, we need to be praying. We need to -- it's just reached a point, the anger, the rage, the words that are being spoken back and forth, there's enough blame to go around for all the incivility that we're looking at. [19:55:05] And it's time to realize it's not winding down, it's
winding up. If we don't stop -- we can control this. And the bible says blessed are the peacemakers, and I'm calling for peacemaking.
Scripture says come, let us sit down and reason together. If there was ever a time where we needed to find some middle ground, you're not my enemy if you believe differently politically than I believe.
I refuse to make you my enemy. I hope that you extend that same invitation to me. I'm ready to see it change.
I'm so thankful President Obama is alive and well, and Hillary Clinton and President Clinton and all the people who have lived the horror the last 24 hours. So I'm thankful that we don't have flags at half-mast today.
BLITZER: I am too, Pastor. I'm afraid I have to break into this. It's the sign of the times.
We have breaking news. We're hearing about evacuations right now at a restaurant that is part of the Time Warner Center in New York City where CNN is located.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT right now.
Miguel, what can you tell us?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these are the shops at Columbus Circle. CNN is just behind us, all of this area was evacuated yesterday. It is happening again, in the middle of the dinner rush essentially. The entire mall area has been evacuated again.
This sounds like, from NYPD and initial accounts, that it is out of an abundance of caution. There was a suspicious package that was seen in the mall, and they decided to, out of complete caution, have everybody move out. I mean, you can see here in the street just how many police officers have shown up, emergency services units is also on its way, which would be used in the event that there was some sort of device that they needed to move out of here. So, NYPD jumping on these things very quickly, people obviously on edge.
We were actually eating in a restaurant just a little while ago, and there was a backpack next to us that no one was claiming. There was a bit of concern in the restaurant. I don't think it was that backpack that caused this stir. But there was a lot of concern about finding the owner of that backpack in the restaurant that we were in.
But clearly people in New York on edge tonight, and not taking any chances -- Jake.
TAPPER: Miguel, we're told that the New York Police Department emergency service unit has just been requested to the premises to where you are. Now, you're at 1 Columbus circle. There are restaurants in there. It's a mall. That entire area has been evacuated? I mean, there are luxury
apartments on the top of that. Have they been evacuated, as well, or just the mall area?
MARQUEZ: I don't think that the apartments on top have been evacuated. You can see even on the ground floor here, people are still milling around, waiting. Police have now moved people off the upper floors, the fourth floor, the third floor and second floor. We were on the third floor eating, and they seem to be mostly concerned with the upper floors.
There are now no civilians on the second floor where there were some just a moment ago. It is a cold night in New York, so people are staying inside. But now, you can see police inside the mall asking people to move out. There is also security for the mall itself, the shops here who are asking people if they don't work here if they don't belong here, if they could move on. But literally, it was seconds that diners had to evacuate the restaurant there. It is not clear that many of them were able to get their personal effects before leaving the building.
It was not a rush for the exits, though. It was an orderly exit. People walked down the stairs. It wasn't as though they felt they were in imminent danger. But, clearly, a great concern.
We have dogs now coming in, sniffer dogs in the event that there is something serious here. Whatever the package is, whatever that set all of this off. They want to have all the means necessary to deal with it, to indicate whether it is a device that they have to be worried about, and also have the specialized truck and the equipment here to neutralize it, and then move it to wherever they need to -- Jake.
TAPPER: Miguel, thanks so much.
Art, let me just ask you in the 30 seconds we have left, based on how the police are going in there with the bomb sniffing dogs, how seriously do you think they're take thing in
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Obviously quite seriously. We talked about this yesterday. All the suspicious packages were going to be reported over the next 24 to 48 hours. And this is one of these reports right now. Hopefully, it turns out to be nothing. But thank goodness people are hyper-vigilant about this type of stuff.
TAPPER: So annoying that we were interviewing a pastor about love thy neighbor message and we have to interrupt it because of a bomb scare.
TAPPER: Because of the current political atmosphere.
TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.