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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Being Briefed on Two New Suspicious Packages; Interview with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: One, in New York City addressed to the former director of National Intelligence James Clapper at CNN's New York offices.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. The other one that was just found was found late last night in Florida. It was addressed to sitting New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

We are expecting a press conference soon from the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Of course the Democratic congresswoman from Florida is the woman whose name has been printed on the return address of all of these packages. Again, just to reiterate, not believed at all to be from her office, but she will address what has happened here now on 12 different suspicious packages with live explosive devices in them. At least the last one that was sent here to CNN certainly had that.

Meantime, we're also learning the president is being briefed on all of this this morning. Let's go to a very active scene here in the middle of a busy New York City on a Friday morning. National correspondent Jason Carroll is there.

Jason, to locate you for our viewers, this is you are at 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue. Six blocks south of CNN.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In fact, I can almost see our building from where I'm standing here on 52nd and Eighth Avenue. And just so you know, Poppy, we're just now hearing that that suspicious package, again, located at the postal facility here on 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, that suspicious package expected to be moved very shortly is what we're hearing. Moved very much in a similar way that we saw earlier this week from the package that was removed from the CNN building, and that special vehicle that can hold explosive devices.

Again, this package discovered called in early this morning here from this postal facility. I spoke to a postal worker here, asked her what happened. She said we just heard that someone saw something. We were told to evacuate the building and we did it in an orderly fashion.

I also had an opportunity to speak to John Miller, the deputy commissioner with intelligence and counterterrorism with the New York City Police Department, and Miller says that look, what they're going to do is follow the same protocol that they followed earlier this week. They bring in all the investigators and we've got a myriad of investigators here from FBI, NYPD, state police, bomb sniffing dogs, all here at the scene.

They isolate the suspicious package, move it out as best they can. Interview all those who came in contact with it to get whatever information they can get from those people to add to their investigation. So that's the scene right here at 52nd and Eighth Avenue. You can see the street here is cordoned off. A number of folks here who were trying to get to work, trying to get back to their apartment buildings here on 52nd Street, trying to sort out what's going on, but again, this investigation very much now under way -- Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Jason Carroll, thanks very much.

Just in to CNN, and as you're watching, and as you're watching there, that is live pictures of a containment vessel carrying the suspected explosive device, a now familiar scene. We saw the same kind of vehicle pulling away from CNN on Wednesday. Another package delivered there.

We understand that the New York Police Department is going to brief shortly with what they know at this point. And of course, we'll bring that to you live. Meanwhile, I want to go to Shimon Prokupecz who's been on this since day one.

So you look at a picture of this package, it's virtually identical to the others sent, that yellow envelope, the six stamps, the Florida return address, Florida misspelled. So the outside virtually identical. Do police, do authorities have a sense of whether the inside contained the same kind of device?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. Yes, they do. So based on the weight, you know, obviously, the bomb squad has x- rayed the package and the belief is it's exactly or at least just to be safe similar to what we have seen in some of the other packages that have been delivered. So certainly they're treating it the same way. They're not taking any chances here. They feel that it's safe to move. And that's what they're doing.

It's interesting enough. You know, we've been seeing images of this other truck that the NYPD is using. This is a different kind. It's exactly the same thing. It's just being towed by an emergency services unit vehicle, but that is exactly the same thing that they've been doing now with the third suspicious package here in New York City.

And really, Jim, when you think about it, the bomb squad in this case really knows what they're looking for now. They have seen the other type -- the other devices. They've now had to deal with three similar devices. So they know exactly what they're dealing with. So this device is going to make its way up to the Bronx as did the others. They will then look through it. They will do whatever they need to do to pull some of the forensic evidence, perhaps, from it, and then they're going to secure it, and it's going to go to the FBI, just like the others did.

At some point, the FBI will take custody of it and then it's going to make its way over to Quantico, Virginia. And look, here's another piece of evidence in this entire investigation, which I'm telling you, Jim, is growing.

[10:05:01] And law enforcement feels pretty confident about where things stand and I think having all this evidence is going to prove very helpful to investigators.

HARLOW: OK. Again, that is significant, Shimon. Obviously, you're -- you know, there's only so much that you know from your sources and you can share, but that is significant because it's a very different tone than we heard and what we heard from yesterday in terms of really they had no leads.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

HARLOW: And they feel more confident now.

PROKUPECZ: The sorting facility, it seems, has changed a lot. That is the sorting facility in Florida. Having -- now that they know where -- or at least where they think these packages originated.

HARLOW: Right.

PROKUPECZ: From some of them in the Florida area, has changed the game for them. Whether or not they're closer or moving in towards a person who is behind this, we don't know. But suffice it to say, there's a lot of activity that's ongoing in the south Florida area.

HARLOW: James.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And Poppy, as I'm looking at this total containment vessel, which Shimon just pointed out, is being towed by the emergency services unit of the New York Police Department up to Rodman's Neck, a couple important things to understand here for the viewers.

The purpose of that device, that vessel, that white orb that we're seeing on the screen right now, is to prevent the three things that a bomb does or could potentially do. The first is the overpressure. That thing is designed to keep that pressure and bleed it off safely. Secondly, the shrapnel. We know that there were some glass fragments put in some of the devices. And thirdly, the thermal effect, because bombs cause fires.

I think this is, as Shimon just pointed out, this is a blessing to us in the fact that first, nobody is hurt, but secondarily, investigators now have 12 unexploded devices. Typically what happens in investigations where there was a bomb, and I have been on the site of many of them over the years, is that the evidence is destroyed. In this instance, because the bomb is intact or the bomb parts are intact, evidence, it's just going to be recovered.

And I was standing in the crater in the World Trade Center in February of 1993 when they recovered the partial vin of a truck that had been used there. So very key here. It's very difficult to recover evidence when explosions go off. We have a lot of it now in intact devices.

SCIUTTO: You know, Jay, as you tell that story, I remember the Pan Am plane blew up over Scotland, and they discovered a piece of -- I believe it was a radio, amazingly, having exploded many thousands of feet up, a piece of radio which led them to where the explosive was hidden there. So the advantage here, of course, is these devices did not explode so you have an intact device.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: With a whole heck of a lot of intel you can glean from it.

Sam Rabadi, former ATF special agent in charge, when you hear from our colleague Shimon Prokupecz there that the FBI, that law enforcement is becoming confident that they've made significant progress, what does that tell you in terms of getting closer to who -- the people or persons behind this?

SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: I think it's huge for the investigators on the ground to essentially be able to get to that transfer point. In my view, the transfer of those devices at whatever mail facility they're able to focus in on, that's going to be the key here. You know, were they all 12 mailed at the same time or the person went to that mail facility at the same time or were they done at different times of the day?

Either way, it's going to provide a significant benefit to investigators, and now that you have a geographical area that they can focus in on, there's just a ton of things that they can do. As we mentioned before, you know, surveillance footage at the mail facility, these are some of the most secure federal buildings in the government.

License plate readers, facial recognition technology, cell phone records from towers. There's just a number of things that they're going to be able to focus in on now that they have a specific area to start looking at.

HARLOW: Jason Carroll -- thank you very much. Stay with us, Sam.

Jason Carroll down at the scene, 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue as you're seeing some chopper shots here over New York following that vehicle.

Jason Carroll, to you, I understand you just spoke to some NYPD officers. Is that right?

CARROLL: Right. Just a quick update for you, Poppy. This officer, once again, explained that that vehicle, as you see there from some of the footage, is on its way in that special vehicle. It will be neutralized then taken to the FBI facility in Quantico, Virginia, for inspection. Something else he wanted to point out. I said how is it going back there? He said look, what we want everyone to do is just to take a deep breath.

Everyone is doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. We put out the alert for postal workers or whoever the case may be, to be on the alert for packages like this. People are listening. They're doing exactly what we're doing. He said we have been very fortunate that none of these devices have exploded.

[10:10:04] I said so what's next for this investigation? They are going to be coming out. John Miller, who is head of counterintelligence here with the New York City Police Department will be here just shortly. I spoke to him a little while ago. They are going to give us an update in about 30 minutes. But once again, he wants everyone to take a collective, he said, deep breath here. He said investigators are doing their jobs. He says that the public in a sense are doing what they're supposed to be doing in terms of staying vigilant. Again, an update expected in just about 30 minutes from now -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Thank you, Jason, very much.

SCIUTTO: Jason Carroll --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much. If you're just joining us, and you can see our banner there, two packages discovered today. One in Florida, addressed to Cory Booker. A second, and that's the one being transported in that police vehicle right now, addressed to the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, with an address of CNN's New York offices.

We know that the president has been briefed on this. No public comment from him yet. He has been tweeting, his most recent tweet about a complaint about Twitter. We're going to keep you updated on all the developments. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:45] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. Poppy Harlow here in New York. Along with my colleague, Jim Sciutto, in Washington. You are looking to the left of your screen at a containment vessel carrying what is believed to be an explosive device. Another -- a 12th suspicious package. This one intended to be delivered to CNN and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper. That is being taken up to the Bronx where authorities will go for it, look for any evidence.

On the right of your screen, they're getting ready for a press conference in Hollywood, Florida, with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Her name and office address is what has been on the return label of all 12 of these packages. Again, obviously believed not to be from her, but what does she have to say about all of it? She will speak in moments.

But first, Jim and I want to bring in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Thank you for being with us, Governor. Look, you were on this show yesterday, and you told Jim and I there will be more, and there are. What do you know at this hour? GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think as we discussed

yesterday, Poppy and Jim, and thank you for having me, the person was getting the desired effect, right? Getting the results they were looking for. They were causing terror. And if there was going to be one and then two and then three, there was going to be a pattern.

I think we have several levels here. On the manhunt investigation and the ongoing drama and the two new packages today, I think they're making significant progress. I'm the former attorney general, I was a former prosecutor. I think the focus on Florida is going to bear fruit. I think he's done so many packages or she has done so many packages, there's inevitably going to be DNA evidence or fingerprints.

And I think that is going very well. And my instinct is they're going to have a result there on the specific on the manhunt. In terms of the bombs, there will then be a back and forth, how sophisticated were the bombs? Were they supposed to explode, were they supposed to intimidate? I think no one can say that they were fake bombs. These were dangerous devices that could explode.

There may be a question of level of sophistication. I think we then have to look at what changes we make in the system. You know, in New York, we are constantly being attacked. It's a focus, it's a function of who we are. And we try to learn from them. We're going to focus here on New York. And I think the federal government should, too, on the screening procedures for mail. Both privately and the public system.

But entities, governments, et cetera, need to do a better job on screening of the mail, but long term, look, this is a dysfunction of our democracy. This is a lesion on the body and the question is, what is the virus causing that lesion? And we have to get to a point where you can have political debate without political violence.

This is at a torrid level that is just unpalatable. And we're learning that. When you keep stirring that pot and you have leaders, the president of the United States, people listen to him. He's no longer on a talk show. He's the president of the United States. And this is whipping up people, and you will see people respond.

I think there's two tracks. Leaders have to be more responsible. And second, the American public has to demand that responsibility. They will not market if the American people do not buy, right? This is a great marketer in chief. If the American people don't buy, he won't sell. And that's true for every politician, by the way. They only sell what people buy. There have been changes in our society that were more culturally bottom-up driven.

We have racial sensitivity we never had before. We have a sensitivity now about how we treat women in the workplace that we never had before.

[10:20:04] We need a new political sensitivity that says there are boundaries. And they are culturally driven and culturally imposed. And they are unacceptable, and if you step outside of that boundary, you will be condemned. I think there's too much emphasis on we want the president to stop, et cetera. It has to also be the American people. We need both. The president is hyper rhetorical, vulgar, et cetera. And when he gets on the stump and wants to whip up a crowd, he uses language that is wholly inappropriate for a president to use.

But I'd also like to see the American public sensitized and developed to the point where they say, we won't accept it. We're not buying it. And he will stop selling it.

SCIUTTO: Governor, just as you have been speaking there, we have a live picture of the containment vessel carrying that suspected explosive device.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: It's been going up slowly on its way. It just stopped. Now it's going again. We were curious if there was a significance to that. But we'll continue to monitor.

Governor, if I could ask you.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: You spoke to the president in the last day. Can you tell us about that conversation?

CUOMO: Yes. Look, I have political differences with the president. That is no secret. I have been vocal about it. So has he. What we did discuss was this investigation and what was going on with this investigation and how we need to work together and have the relevant law enforcement agencies work together seamlessly, tirelessly, and there can't be any dislocation between the federal and the state.

And the president assured me, and it has come to be, the FBI, the joint terrorism task force, which is the main coordinating body, has worked with the state police. They have worked with local police. They have really been extraordinary. I believe the FBI has pulled out all the stops. The connection to Florida, the work they have done. I think that was done extraordinarily well. And I think that's one good thing to feel good about in this miserable situation is how well the federal, state, local forces all worked together.

HARLOW: Governor Cuomo, we have just heard for the first time this morning since this news broke of these additional packages from the president of the United States. Let me read you his words in full. Quote, "Republicans are doing so well in early voting and at the polls, and now this 'bomb' stuff happens. And the momentum greatly slows. News not talking politics. Very unfortunate what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote."

That -- those are the first words, Governor, from the president on an attempted attack on the former director of National Intelligence and on journalists at CNN and on New Jersey sitting Senator Cory Booker. Your response.

CUOMO: Look, it's just wholly inappropriate. I believe the president never fully made the transition to the presidency. This is not a person who was in government before, who was not in public service before. He was in the entertainment business, the real estate business, the marketing business. I don't think he's ever fully appreciated the import of the office. And the import of his position. And it always comes down to a competition and his politics.

And he feels aggrieved. And I am sure that's how he sees this situation. He views it through a political lens. He's worried about the election. He wants to win the election, especially the Congress. He's focused on the Senate. And everything becomes political. And that then starts the anger all over again. We are in a destructive cycle. He doesn't like CNN. It's not -- he voices against CNN. CNN winds up a target of these attacks.

It's not a coincidence. There are no coincidences here. So should the president act more responsibly? Yes. Should he ask less politically? Yes. Should he be more concerned with safety as opposed to electoral effect on some convoluted strategy? Yes. Am I hopeful that the zebra changes his or her stripes today? No.

[10:25:02] That's why I say track two, let's start talking to the American people and saying we can't sustain this. We can't as a democracy. We have to be able to have debate and disagree where Democrats, we're Republicans, we're red, we're blue, but we're red, white, and blue. The day after the election, we're still America, and we have to function as one. I believe the American people are going to respond faster than the president of the United States.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point. It's a national responsibility.

Just before we let you go, Governor, you said at the top that you feel there's been significant progress in the investigation. You feel that there will be a positive development on identifying who's behind this. I don't want you in public to get into details that you can't share, but I just wonder what you can say about what gives you that confidence and what has turned in the last number of hours, because as Poppy was saying earlier, yesterday, we were hearing no hard leads, but now the language coming from law enforcement and yourself has changed.

What can you tell us?

CUOMO: Well, every time there is a package sent, you have a new piece of evidence, right? And the FBI's ability and sophistication is so advanced, every package, fingerprint, DNA, handwriting analysis, spelling analysis. So every package was a new piece of the puzzle. And they have sent out or he has sent out or she has sent out many pieces of the puzzle very quickly.

You saw the shift to Florida. I think that's going to be a telling tale. And I think with all these pieces on the puzzle, we are going to get to a resolution of the puzzle on who it was. And that's going to be very good, and then people will relax. But my point is, when I say it's only the symptom and not the illness, what stops this from happening next week or the week after? Or the week after? And we can't sustain this. We just can't sustain it. So leaders, change your behavior, yes. OK,

we don't think that's going to happen. Let's start talking to the American people and have a national dialogue about where we're going and what we're doing. And I believe the American people will get it faster than the leadership will get it.

Look at how we changed on our racial discussion, on how we treat women, behavior in the workplace. In a matter of months we have made dramatic progress on some of those issues. Let's change our political dialogue.

HARLOW: Well, I will say, Jim and I can both tell you, Governor, that we have been so warmed and filled this week by the outpouring of support that we and this entire CNN family have received from people of all political stripes. Right? The American people banding together around all of us.

We appreciate your time this morning, Governor. Thank you, and please update us as you hear more.

CUOMO: Poppy, people get it. It's the president who doesn't get it.

HARLOW: Thank you, Governor. We are going to take a quick break. Jim and I will be back with an update on the breaking news right after this.

SCIUTTO: We'll stay on the story.

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