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FBI Warns More Package Bombs Possible As Three Additional Devices Discovered, Urgent Nationwide Manhunt For Bomber. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 25, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: An opponent, Republican, didn't matter. It was an attack on an American, an attack on the United States. Doug Brinkley, thank you so much.
[17:00:07] You can -- our coverage continues on CNN right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. "Absolutely terrorism." The FBI treating a series of apparent package bombs as domestic terrorism, with three more devices discovered today. We have new details that emerged at a news conference just moments ago.
Tracking the bomber. An urgent nationwide manhunt is under way as investigators try to determine potential suspects. Why do they believe some of the packages may have originated in Florida?
Blaming the media. President Trump says the media are responsible for the country's angry political climate, ignoring his own hostile rhetoric. Tonight, sources describe the president as digging in.
And remain vigilant. The FBI warns more package bombs could be out there and should be considered very dangerous. Officials say they're already chasing down tips from the public, and they're appealing for more help.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. An FBI update just a little while ago on the investigation into the attempted terror attacks targeting CNN, along with top Democrats and critics of President Trump.
Three more apparent package bombs have been discovered, bringing the total now to ten, spread across five states, plus Washington, and officials say there may be more out there. The FBI says it's treating all of them as live devices and analyzing them at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
I'll talk about the breaking news with Congressman Chris Stewart of the House Intelligence committee. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by.
First, let's get the very latest on the breaking news. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is with us. Jim, ten apparent bombs so far. And there may be more.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And so many open questions now. Who the bomber or bombers are, what the motivation for him, her or they was, but also the intention here, to kill or to scare. This as they begin to zero in on a possible origin for the bombs, as well.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, a nationwide manhunt is under way to find a possible serial bomber who has now sent ten potential explosive devices to targets around the country.
Investigators now believe that some of the packages may have originated in Florida, the FBI treating this as an act of domestic terror.
JOSEPH FUNK, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: In my experience, my opinion is that most bombers like this are lone individuals.
SCIUTTO: The latest devices discovered: two packages addressed to former vice president Joe Biden, found at separate post offices in Delaware; and a package with a possible explosive addressed to the actor Robert De Niro at his office in Manhattan, where authorities say office security alerted police. Sources tell CNN that De Niro was not in the building at the time.
JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INTEL & COUNTERTERRORISM: A retired NYPD Intelligence Bureau detective who was awake and watching the news saw the image of the packaging that has been common to most of these devices as they have turned up at various locations; and it struck him that that looked very much like a package he had seen on Tuesday.
SCIUTTO: Many of the packages have striking similarities. Outside, identical packaging: yellow bubble wrap envelopes, six American flag stamps, and a return address to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And inside, a rudimentary pipe bomb, which police say they are treating as explosives.
WILLIAM SWEENEY, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, NEW YORK DIVISION: We continue to advise the American public to remain vigilant as it does remain possible further packages have been or could be mailed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have over 600,000 postal employees out there now, so we have their eyes and ears looking for these packages.
SCIUTTO: The fear now: that more packages are on their way to other locations.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Whoever is sending these devices or the group of people sending these devices, I'm worried they're getting the desired effect, which could actually feed them and feed them sending more packages.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: Spoke to the New York governor this morning, spoke to the New York mayor, also members of the New York Police Department, and a consistent message from all of them, Wolf, and that is continuing concern that there could be more packages, more targets.
BLITZER: A lot of concern out there. There's a nationwide manhunt under way. Jim, stand by.
I want to bring in Evan Perez, our justice correspondent; and CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is with us, as well.
You're getting new information, Evan, from your sources. What are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of first things that -- Wolf, that the investigators are doing is trying to figure out where these packages went through the mail system, which -- which facilities in the U.S. Postal Service.
[17:05:34] And so one of the things that they've been able to isolate is that at least -- or several of these packages were handled by a particular facility in Florida. This one in Opa-locka, Florida, which is just north of the city of Miami.
Now, this is one of several mail-processing facilities in that area. That handles mail for the Miami area, the general South Florida region. And so the question is, you know, was the person who did this -- were they in South Florida? Did they come to South Florida to drop these off?
I think this is one of the first clues that we're getting as they try to narrow down where this originated from, where these packages originated from. Again, the postal service is going to be a key part of this investigation. And I think you're beginning to see a little bit of that.
BLITZER: We certainly are.
And Shimon, officials say there could be more packages out there, similar to these other ten. What are you hearing?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. There's always a concern that there could be more here, Wolf, especially in this case.
But, you know, I just left the press conference where the police commissioner was, folks from the postal inspectors were there. But they did say that within the last several hours, during this day, at least, that they have not found any new packages.
You know, since this morning, we had the two relating to the former vice president, Joe Biden. They have not found anything new.
But they are concerned that perhaps packages may just have not entered their system yet, but they're still searching. They're still searching through their system. They're warned their clerks and their employees over -- all the post offices, basically, to be on the lookout for things like this. What they should be looking for.
So the concern is still there, because we just still don't know who is behind this. And quite honestly, I'm not sure that law enforcement right now has any idea who was behind this.
BLITZER: I hope they find out fairly soon.
What struck you, Jim, at this news conference, from the FBI, the New York City Police Department, the mayor, and the others who spoke there?
SCIUTTO: It still strikes me that they don't know. Right? Not only do they not know the attacker, but they don't know the intention of the attacker here. Right?
These are potentially functioning explosive devices, and yet they went through the mail system. They were jostled. They were knocked around. They were picked up. They were dropped, et cetera, brought into buildings and did not explode.
So what was the intention? Was it to strike fear with was still -- and they will always say still say that they were potentially functioning devices. But what was the actual intention here? It is one of many questions they don't have the answer to yet.
BLITZER: He makes a good point, Evan, Jim Sciutto, that today we heard law enforcement call these devices potential explosive devices. Yesterday, they basically were saying they were pipe bombs, they were bombs. What happened?
PEREZ: Well, I think, Wolf, they still have to treat these, every single one of these with a seriousness that this is a live device. I think people should stay away from this idea that this is a hoax.
There are a couple of things that happened here. The device that was found at the CNN -- that was addressed to CNN, for instance, had a sticker for a sort of parody ISIS meme that is available on the Internet. Did someone take this --
BLITZER: We're showing the picture.
PEREZ: Right. Did someone take that off the Internet and purposely put it on there as sort of a way to sort of say this is a joke? We don't know. But this is serious business.
The idea is that ten of these things have entered the mail system, some were addressed to two former presidents, this is something that is treated extremely seriously by the FBI, by the -- by law enforcement, because they, you know, the possibility remains that there was a substance in here, including the fact they -- when they first tested it, they found some kind of pyrotechnic substance, something that contained sulfur. That stuff could -- could burn if it, you know, happens to be in the right substance. Or right circumstance.
So that's the fear, is that something could happen here that could cause harm to these -- to anyone who's handling these devices.
BLITZER: You know, Shimon, the ten devices didn't explode. What are you hearing from your sources? Was that the result of a lack of skill on the part of bombmakers, or was it deliberate?
PROKUPECZ: It could be, you know, Wolf, that it's the lack of skill. And I've talked to several law enforcement officials. I was over at NYPD headquarters just a short time ago and talking to people there. They really don't know, Wolf. That's why they're trying to examine this. They really need to find out who did this to get a better understanding of what the person's, or people's, intention here was.
Look, the bottom line is you could have someone who just doesn't know what they're doing in how they're constructing this, and they thought maybe they had a device that could go off; and they thought they were constructing it the right way and it would go off. And it just hasn't.
Or it could be someone who just wants to send a message, doesn't want to harm anyone, and doesn't want this to go off, but is certainly getting the attention that they want by doing something like this.
And the NYPD, you know, just to echo kind of what Wolf said, they're saying that this is dangerous stuff. You know, the idea that this is some kind of a hoax, they're certainly not treating it as a hoax. Look at the way they responded. Look at the way they've removed these items. Look at the truck that they used, a bomb containment vehicle.
[17:10:04] So they're concerned, certainly, and they're not treating this in any way as any kind of a joke, a hoax. This is, for them, a very serious situation.
BLITZER: Yes. They're calling it acts of terror, specifically terrorism, a strong word.
Jim, you just got back to Washington. You were in New York. All of our viewers know you were on the air with Poppy Harlow when all of a sudden, you heard the fire alarms going off at the Time Warner Center.
As you know, and a lot of our viewers know, there are cameras, closed- circuit cameras all over the place in Time Warner Center, but all over New York City, for that matter. So I assume law enforcement is reviewing who may have walked into that building and other places to try to determine who may be responsible.
SCIUTTO: That's right. The police have told us that point blank, that they are reviewing that. This is a legacy of 9/11. The city of New York is blanketed with cameras, particularly in places that they suspect could or may be targets. And this is the kind of thing they go to right away, particularly when there was a question as to who these were delivered, whether by mail, courier, the possibility, at least, of in person, which seems less likely now. But still, that is valuable intelligence that they need.
And just to that point, the whole hoax point, you know, listen, look at the way the New York Police Department dealt with this. There's a reason they brought those containment vessels to take those devices away. There's a reason they sent the bomb squad to CNN and other locations, because they take it seriously. And I would say follow their lead.
BLITZER: Yes. Look at the way the FBI nationwide is undertaking a massive, massive manhunt right now.
BLITZER: Very serious indeed. I know all you guys are working your sources. We're going to get back to you. Evan, Shimon and Jim, thanks very, very much.
Joining us now, Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. He's a member of House Intelligence committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Give us your thoughts on the latest developments in this investigation, because as you know, authorities, they're sort of reluctant now to give a lot of specifics. They don't want to undermine their investigation. What does that tell you?
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: Well, I think a couple things. One is they don't want to undermine. And I think honestly, Wolf, that they really don't know much at this point.
The information that I've been given, as you know, this is very, very early in the investigation, and it's a complicated investigation. But I think they're going to be successful. I'll be very, very surprised if we're not able to really determine who sent these, and I hope we can do it very quickly.
And one other thing, Wolf, if I could, listening to you and your previous reporters and making comment that this an act of terrorism, it clearly was. Whether anyone was injured or killed, this clearly was an act to create terror, to create fear and uncertainty, and it's, frankly, political terrorism.
And I think it's just worth reminding something that you and I talked about in the past, and that is we could probably moderate some of our -- some of our rhetoric, some of our political conversations with people and ask ourselves, are we enflaming the emotion or are we trying to moderate the emotion? Because someone disagrees with you politically, that doesn't make them a bad person. That doesn't make them un-American. And it would be good to remember that. And I think this is a good illustration of where that might lead if we don't do that.
BLITZER: You know, Congressman, we often focus in on terrorism that originates overseas, foreign terrorism. This, as you correctly point out, appears to be domestic terrorism. You're on the House Intelligence committee. Are American intelligence agencies devoting enough attention and resources to foiling domestic terror plots?
STEWART: Well, I really believe that they are and having said that, it doesn't -- that doesn't mean they'll always be perfect. Because one failure, of course, it completely eliminates the thousands or whatever number there may be of the success that they may have.
But it's not something that they ignore. I can promise you that.
We do spend a lot of time looking overseas. We do look at foreign threats, and there's no question we should. But we spend an appropriate -- and I think a significant amount of time looking at domestic terrorism, as well.
And it's very difficult to do, by the way. Because investigating a foreign agent or a foreign threat is much easier than investigating a U.S. threat, because they're U.S. citizens; they're protected by the Constitution. And that makes the law enforcement and the -- precluding them from carrying out some of the threats or some things we're fearful that they'll do, it makes it much more difficult.
BLITZER: President Trump, as you know, he has yet to mention those targeted by name, including former presidents, a former secretary of state and other high-ranking government officials, including one member of Congress. He's blaming the news media for what has happened, at least in large part. What's your reaction to that?
STEWART: Well -- and I haven't seen his comments. I've heard some people mention it. I've been kind of busy today.
BLITZER: Let me -- let me interrupt you then. I'll read you the tweet from earlier today. "A very big part of 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 has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream media must clean up its act fast."
So that's what the president is tweeting today.
STEWART: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: And I wonder if you agree with him.
STEWART: Well, look, I don't think you can say the mainstream media is to blame for this. I think they probably contribute, as I think many of us do. And let me illustrate that, if I could.
[17:15:08] When we have -- when we have reporting that turns out to be inaccurate, it actually affects both sides. If you have reporting making accusations against someone or perhaps the president, the people who dislike the president get agitated and angry by that.
And then, if it turns out not to be true, then the people who defend the president or like the president are angry, because they said, "Look, he was falsely accused."
Whenever there's false reporting or inaccurate reporting, I think, is a much more accurate description of it, it really agitates both sides, and it really doesn't serve the American people.
Now, look, I don't think reporters go out intentionally to deceive. I don't think they intentionally -- BLITZER: On that point -- on that point, Congressman, with all due
respect, the president disagrees with you, because he repeatedly says we, the news media, the mainstream news media, what he calls fake news, we deliberately go out there and post false information.
And I can assure you if we do get it wrong -- and journalism is the first draft of history -- if we make s mistake, we try to correct it. We go out as quickly as possible and correct it if there's a mistake out there. But the president, you know, he is determined to go after us, and it's clearly inappropriate.
STEWART: Well, and I would just, again, I would say, look, I don't agree, necessarily, that most reporters are out there trying to create or to report inaccurately or things they know is not true. Maybe the president feels differently on that.
But we do see cases where there's just clear bias in the reporting, there's a clear slant to it, and it does generate a lot of emotion, as I said, on both sides. And I'll give you a quick illustration.
There are tens of millions of Americans right now today who are convinced that President Trump was colluding with Russians to steal the election, even though there's no evidence of that. And when you have millions of Americans who think the president was colluding with Russians and stole the election, you can understand why that would create a lot of emotion, a lot of anger. And you saw some of that reflected in some of the dialogue that we've -- that we've seen over the last certainly year or so.
BLITZER: Well, all that is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who was named, as you know, by the -- by the Trump administration to go ahead and look into all of those allegations. We'll see what, if anything, Robert Mueller and his team come up with at the end.
But I know you, and I know your -- where you stand. But look into the camera and tell us what you would like to hear at this sensitive moment from the president of the United States, because when someone is out there who wants to try, apparently, to kill former presidents, former secretary of state, former attorney general, former CIA director, a sitting member of Congress and others, and also attacks against CNN in New York City, it's a sensitive moment. And the country deserves to hear precisely from the president.
STEWART: Well, and I would never tell the president what I think he should say. But I'll tell you what I would say and what I say in this situation. And that is this. It's -- as I said, this is an act of political terrorism; it is always wrong. All of us should look at our dialogue with one another, see if we can moderate that, make it more reasonable, less emotional. And we'll be far better served if we all do that, on both sides do that.
But if anyone crosses that line, whether it's attacking my friend Steve Scalise at a baseball field, whether it's chasing people out of restaurants, whether it is sending bombs that are designed to terrorize and they're clearly targeting one political persuasion, all of that is wrong. It should never happen. We should all condemn it.
BLITZER: Do you believe the president should at least have the courtesy to call the former presidents, whether Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others, and just as a courtesy, tell them, "We're working on this. We can assure you the security will be tight," just to -- he hasn't mentioned their names let alone picked up the phone and given them a call.
STEWART: Well, Wolf, I just -- I mean, I honestly have no idea what the protocol would be on something like that, what the professional courtesy would be. I mean, I'm sure that Bill Clinton knows that they're working on this. I'm sure Secretary Clinton does and President Obama. I'm sure that they know that he's concerned about this. I suppose a phone call would be a courteous thing to do.
But I don't think it's -- I don't know that I'm willing to sit here and condemn the president because he hasn't said their names specifically. It seems to me that's maybe stretching to find something to criticize him for when there's much more important issues we could talk about regarding this.
BLITZER: Do you remember what the president has said over these longtime, the news media, "enemy of the American people" for simply asking a question about healthcare.
BLITZER: The president, he has to be careful. He's not just a -- he's the leader of the free world. He's the commander in chief. He's the president of the United States. And words really do matter.
STEWART: Yes, there's no doubt. And by the way, I would not call any member of the press the enemy of the American people. But I would call on the press to be accurate and fair and non-emotional in their reporting and we have not seen as much of that over the last few years. Since this president has been elected, we have not seen as much of that as I wish we would have.
[17:20:08] And Wolf, I just think a lot of people feel like that way. A lot of people feel like there's so much emotion, and in some cases information that isn't very accurate that's been reported as fact. And we turn out to find out that it isn't fact and it isn't accurate.
I just think the press, just like I can do better, just like the president could do better, I think it's fair to say that the press could do better on this, as well.
BLITZER: Well, you know, we're not perfect by any means, but when we do make a mistake, we try to correct it as quickly as possible. And I can assure you and our viewers now we -- we don't deliberately try to put out fake news or anything along those lines. We try to be as responsible --
STEWART: I understand.
BLITZER: -- and as accurate as we possibly can. Next time you speak to the president, you may want to mention to him,
just privately without the cameras rolling, "You know, this is not a good time to be slamming the news media," because there are crazy people out there, as you and I know, who believe that kind of junk. And we don't know what they do. In this particular case, we have no idea who's responsible for this; law enforcement is looking. We hope they find the suspect or suspects soon, so we can all move on and learn from this awful experience.
STEWART: No doubt about it. No doubt. Thank you.
BLITZER: Congressman Stewart, as usual, we appreciate your joining us. As always, thank you very much.
STEWART: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right. There's much more on the breaking news coming up. New details emerging as far as the search for the serial bomber and suspected domestic terrorist or terrorists.
And are there other package bombs still out there? We're going to have more on the FBI's disturbing new warning.
[17;26:05] BLITZER: Breaking news, a nationwide manhunt is under way right now for a serial bomber, as the FBI says ten apparent explosive devices have now been discovered, targeting CNN, top Democrats and other critics of President Trump.
The president is reacting to all of this by digging in and blaming the news media for the divisive political climate. Sources say, despite his own hostile rhetoric, the president feels he's being unfairly linked to the bomb scare.
Our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is joining us right now.
Kaitlan, I understand the president has yet to even name the intended targets or let alone reach out to former presidents Clinton and Obama and make a phone call.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The president still has not reached out to a single person who has been a target of these attacks; and the White House isn't responding to requests for comment on whether he has any plans to do so or what his reasoning for not reaching out to them, to simply update them on what the investigation developments are, is.
Now that comes as the president is abandoning yesterday's calls for unity in light of these attacks and instead choosing to renew his focus on the media.
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump tonight selling a new Medicare drug plan, as much of his administration remains focused on the manhunt for the serial bomber responsible for terrorizing the country.
The president didn't address the investigation late today, relying instead on Twitter to denounce the media, blaming journalists for what he says is angry rhetoric that has divided the nation, writing, "It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description."
Sources tell CNN Mr. Trump believes he's being unfairly linked to the attempted assassinations and has no plan to back off his verbal attacks on the media, one confidant adding there's no talking him out of that.
One day after calling for unity and condemning the attacks as un- American, the president changed course, writing on Twitter that "A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposefully false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media." The tweet a return to the president's standard criticism of the media, after bragging multiple times at a rally in Wisconsin that he had toned down his demeanor.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.
COLLINS: But even at the rally, his come-together sentiment was short lived. Trump got one of his biggest applause lines when he said this.
TRUMP: The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories.
COLLINS: Sources tell CNN Trump has no plans to take responsibility for enflaming tensions with his divisive comments.
(on camera): Will you tone it down tonight, Mr. President?
(voice-over): CNN is told Trump has made no phone calls to any of the targets of the attacks, including Clinton, former president Barack Obama, and former vice president Joe Biden.
Biden became the tenth known target of the attacks today, after two packages similar to the ones sent to other prominent figures were discovered in Delaware postal facilities, setting off a new wave of alarm in the country.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the president hasn't called anyone targeted in these attacks, but he did phone the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. They talked about the investigation, and Cuomo told Brooke Baldwin earlier that the president, quote, "pledged full support from all federal authorities."
Now, when asked if they talked about the president's rhetoric during that phone call, the governor said, no, but they did discuss the investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thanks very much. Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
We've got our panel here, our correspondents and our analysts. We have a lot to assess. I want everybody to stand by. We've got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The breaking news, at a news conference said this afternoon, the New York City Mayor called the explosive devices being sent around the country, and I'm quoting him now, absolutely terrorism. We have a lot of ground to cover with our correspondents and our analysts. And, Pamela Brown, why are the authorities right now, law enforcement, the local, state, federal, reluctant to provide a lot of details about what they know?
[17:34:54] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are a couple of reasons. And it's right, I mean, if you watch that press conference earlier, they were all very tight-lipped to the point we're wondering why are they even having a press conference. They really didn't released any new information. And there's a couple of key reasons why. One is, if and when they identify a suspect, they wouldn't be able to have the leverage in an interview with the potential suspect of information that hasn't already been released publicly in order to test the suspect.
Also, when it comes to prosecution, you want to be able to use this information and not have it inadmissible in a courtroom because if it's released to the public, then the other side can challenge it and so forth. So, there are some legitimate reasons why. But clearly, the FBI is sort of walking this fine line of releasing just enough as they did yesterday with the pictures of the packages asking for the public's help while also not jeopardizing this investigation.
BLITZER: You know, Abby, you cover the White House also for us. The President feels he isn't getting enough credit for his words yesterday. Why does he feel like that?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in some ways, I think he always feels that way, that when he tries to placate the media by apologizing or by going a step in their direction, he doesn't get praised enough for it. And gets instead blamed for anything negative that's happening in the political sphere. So, in some ways, he doesn't see a whole lot of value in doing it, which is why every time that the President has done something like this, think back a year ago to Charlottesville when he gave that whole speech that was from a teleprompter, he read it, diligently, and then the next day he went and took it all back because he felt like it didn't really serve him, it didn't serve his supporters.
So, this President is a person who feels very under siege, his administration feels under siege and times like this really amplify that for him. And I think to him, fighting back is the best way to deal with this sort of thing, not giving in to the people who are only out to get you.
BLITZER: But the White House said the President specifically based on that tweet this morning, what he said last night, he's blaming the news media for creating this climate.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. You know how you get credit for words about unifying, taking actions that are about unifying the country. That's how you get credit as President for doing that, you have to back up your words with action. And to your point, Wolf, about the tweet, what is so intellectually dishonest about what the White House is saying is that the President is clearly thinking about the contextual factors at play, he has engaged on that, in mind. For him, he's talking about the mainstream media and the way they handle it. So, he's not just focused on the who is the person that sent this? So, he is thinking about the broader contextual factors. But somehow cannot handle or completely disparages the notion that -- or accept any responsibility that his rhetoric is part of the contextual factor at play.
BLITZER: Well, speaking of rhetoric, I'm going to play a clip. Now, this is the President, when he said yesterday, we're going to contrast what he said yesterday to what he said over this most recent period on the exact subjects he's referring to. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation, coercion, or control.
Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of --
Such conduct must be fiercely opposed and firmly prosecuted.
Yes, get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court.
We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony.
A future under Democratic mob rule would be a total catastrophe.
Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.
I've been going around lately saying the Democrats are the party of crime.
No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains.
Obama is the founder of ISIS.
There is one way to settle our disagreements. It's called peacefully at the ballot box.
We've got so many people voting illegally in this country, it's a disgrace, OK? It's a disgrace.
The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility. I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news.
We must accept the verdicts of elections.
Folks, it's a rigged system. It's a rigged system and we're going to beat it. We're going to beat it.
So, let's put it all together, right? Let's put it all together. Let's get along. Great country. We're going to get along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. I want everybody to weigh in, But David Chalian, I know you're anxious to go first.
CHALIAN: Well, I -- this is dumbfounding to me that the White House would somehow actually express surprise that we don't just take him at his one speech on teleprompter words at an event like this, that we actually are somewhat skeptical that he means what he says when he's tied to the teleprompter like that because there is a mountain of evidence that was just provided when he's not on teleprompter and when he's expressing his true will, what his real intentions are.
[17:40:08] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And the truth of the matter is it's only an hour-long show, you probably could run another five minutes' worth of him making comments that go directly against that. Which is interesting, obviously, to David's point, obviously the words are so incongruous between last night and what he said before. But what's as fascinating is, tonally, he sounds like a different person, because he is reading off the teleprompter, folks. It's no mystery. He's reading off the teleprompter, and in all those other clips, he's speaking extemporaneously. Why does that matter? Because we know over and over again, it's been proven, the real Donald Trump is the off-teleprompter Twitter Donald Trump, and he will revert back to that.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Cillizza, THE SIT ROOM is two hours, not one hour. So, you know, you got to watch both hours.
CILLIZZA: That's true.
TOOBIN: Look, all you need to know about Donald Trump, I think, is the fable of the scorpion and the frog. It's his nature. He really hates the news, he hates us. So, he doesn't pretend not to hate us. He hates Barack Obama, so he doesn't pretend not to hate Obama. You know, we're always, like, saying, oh, he should say this, he should say that. He's not going to say any of that gracious stuff because that's not who he is. And, you know, we can -- we can, you know, twist ourselves in knots and say, well, you know, what he really should do is try to bring the country together. When are we going to learn that he's never going to do that?
BLITZER: Because the right thing to do at least would be make a phone call to the former presidents, the former vice president, and just say, you know what, sorry, what's going on, we're working on it, and don't -- and, you know, don't worry, everybody is going to protect you.
TOOBIN: Yes. And, like, when would you think Donald Trump would do that? That's not how he behaves?
CILLIZZA: And he doesn't --
TOOBIN: I mean, that -- I mean, it's just -- that's just not how he behaves. And, you know, as Chris says, yes, occasionally, he'll read things off a teleprompter that they tell him to say, like, yes, we abhor of violence, blah, blah, blah. But then, when he's actually speaking extemporaneously, it's obvious what he really thinks.
CILLIZZA: And he doesn't -- he does not see -- I think the biggest difference between -- we're talking about past presidents, the biggest difference, among many, one of which is he doesn't tell the truth all the time, but the biggest difference, I think, between Donald Trump and past presidents, is he does not regard the presidency as a place by which to show moral leadership and moral authority, he doesn't. Charlottesville is the shining example, but there are lots and lots of other examples. His belief is, how does this affect me? He does not see himself as a moral leader for the country in word or deed. It keeps -- we keep coming back to it. Sorry, Wolf.
BLITZER: And it doesn't even mention the targets of this terror attack by name.
BROWN: Right. Exactly. One of which he had just gone after, what, a couple of days before during a rally, Maxine Waters, saying that she had a low I.Q., which it was especially rich, but then he said last night during the rally that we shouldn't go after our political opponents for being morally defective. I think some of us were scratching our heads, and I could tell you from talking to White House officials, as I'm sure you have, too, Abby, they are very -- they balk at the question of, well, should the President tone down his rhetoric in the wake of what has happened? Now, he did, to be fair, tone it down by comparison last night, but officials are very defensive, saying how dare you basically even ask that question, even insinuating that his dialogue, his rhetoric could have contributed just to the context of political discourse surrounding what happened.
PHILLIP: Yes. And they are also not -- they all know that the President himself is never going to do that. So, they are taking umbrage to the question why won't he dial it back, in part, because they already know that he's never going to do that, and they don't -- they don't want to be in the position of having to answer for him. This is a President who his mantra is punching back. He does it every single time, it used to be something that we talked about in the campaign, it didn't change when he became President, he didn't decide to sit on -- something of a pedestal and say, I'm going to be the shining example here for the rest of the country, moral leadership and what not. He never did that, he's never changed his strategy.
And his aides, because they work for him, they work in the building with him, they are like him in that way. They ascribe to the same mentality about it. I think many of them are aware that it's not always politically advantageous to do it. But I think at this point, it's been two years of the Trump presidency, they believe in his methodology, they have signed in on to it, and they are going to back him up on this one.
CHALIAN: And his strategy, Wolf, here, just from a crass political perspective here that Abby is talking about, this is a base strategy, that's how he's governed for a better part of a year and a half, that's how he's chosen, and he believes has gotten validation of success, he got into office this way, he believes he's maintained this rock-solid level of support among his supporters. So, while other Presidents may have taken this moment, called for national unity actually backed it up in the actions they've taken. They're after, like, you said, reach out, make phone calls, what have you.
[17:45:06] He relishes this fight with the media, he loves that he's out there, blaming the media, and that the media is criticizing him because that can program friendly media for him, double down his efforts with his supporters, and completely stay with that base strategy which he believes is going to help his party stem some losses this year, save the Senate, perhaps. He is whole-heartedly committed to this base strategy.
BLITZER: I want everybody to stand by because there's more breaking news we're following. Authorities now warning more bombs may be discovered as the manhunt -- nationwide manhunt continues for the person or persons responsible for the attempted bombings. The New York City's Mayor is now calling "absolutely terrorism."
Up next, what profilers are telling us about the bomber's level of sophistication.
[17:50:35] BLITZER: Breaking news, we're following a manhunt, nationwide manhunt for whoever is behind this week's attempted bombings. Ten devices have been located, authorities are warning more may be discovered. CNN's Brian Todd has been talking with experts. They say at times the bomber appears to be quote sophisticated, but other times, Brian, not necessarily so sophisticated.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. And the question is, is that all by design to throw investigators off the trail or is the attacker simply clumsy, making it up as they go. Veteran federal agents are telling us putting together an accurate profile of this bomber is a challenge.
TODD: The bomber's tactics, targets, the packaging, and delivery methods, all being intensely scrutinized by investigators tonight. Investigators want to know if the bomber unintentionally left a trail of evidence or if this person was cleverly trying to throw them off the trail.
SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: It'll be very interesting to see as this investigation unfolds as to whether it was truly his desire to try to create that alarm and fear without necessarily having the devices detonate and cause a lot of harm or was it because of just the lack of sophistication?
TODD: Bomb experts tell CNN the unsophisticated characteristics of the operation are reflected in the bombs themselves. So far, there are no signs of triggering mechanisms. At least one suspected explosive had a timer, but one which experts say could be easily detected when mailed. The explosives are considered unstable, rudimentary.
RABADI: The component, the explosive component that was in there is not necessarily one that you would typically find that would cause a significant detonation and cause significant injury.
TODD: The packaging and delivery, experts say, lend to confusion over whether the bomber is sophisticated or not. On one hand, the fact that most of the packages looked very similar, manila envelopes with bubble wrap. Each envelope with six American flag forever stamps on it, may make it seem like a simplistic plan, leaving a clear pattern for investigators to follow. But some dispute the idea that the packaging and delivery point to an unsophisticated attacker.
STANTON SAMENOW, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: They are sophisticated. They had a plan, they decided to whom to send these bombs, they arranged for these bombs to be delivered. So, they were able to calculate, they were able to plan, they were able to deliberate, and do it over a certain time period.
TODD: Most of the intended victims appear to have received one bomb each. But former vice president Joe Biden and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters each received two.
SAMENOW: And it does appear to suggest that there was more venom directed towards those two individuals for whatever reasons.
RABADI: We wanted to ensure that in case one device was intercepted or didn't make it through, that obviously he had that second device to make it to its final destination.
TODD: The choice of targets appears to imply a political grudge on the part of the bomber. But one profiler says that also could be deceptive, that the psychology of this potential killer is more complicated.
SAMENOW: It was about power, it was about control. This is about a buildup of the self. This is about being able to baffle others. It's about a conquest or a series of conquests.
TODD: Does all of this point to a second wave of attacks coming? Investigators cautioned that there could be more packages out there. Analysts, though, are divided on that score. Some believe that with all the law enforcement agencies so intensely searching for this person, that the attacker might lie low for a while. Others say this perpetrator could really be more energized by all the attention and that what has been done may never really be enough, that more could be coming. Wolf?
BLITZER: And Brian, the people leading this investigation, they just apparently gave us an indication that they're cognizant of the possibility that this attacker is watching a lot of this coverage on T.V., right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. And this is the game that's always played in these situations, William Sweeney, the Assistant FBI Director, he just told reporters that, quote, it's vitally important that they do not disclose information which could adversely affect their investigation. That's why he would not answer specific questions on what the FBI knows regarding suspicious packages here. They may know that this person could well be watching all this coverage on T.V.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Good report, thank you very much. The breaking news continues, next. An urgent manhunt and a disturbing warning as the search for a serial bomber or bombers continues tonight.
[17:55:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, live devices. Law enforcement officials say they're treating all the packages sent to prominent targets to the President as active explosives after three more suspected bombs were intercepted. We're getting new information on the investigation this hour.
Urgent manhunt, as authorities try to find the person or persons behind this act of political terror, sources are now telling CNN some of the suspicious packages may have come from Florida.