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Two Packages: One to Sen. Cory Booker Found in Florida, other in New York to Former Intel Director James Clapper at CNN; CNN: Feds Arrest Man in Connection with Suspected Explosives. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired October 26, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Poppy Harlow and I continue to cover the breaking news. You're watching a live picture there of yet another explosive device expected, device being transported through the streets of Manhattan. This is number 12 so far this week. Investigations continue. Earlier in the day, the 11th -- addressed to Senator Cory Booker. This one was addressed to the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, at CNN offices in New York, but intercepted at a mail sorting facility. Shimon Prokupecz, crime and justice reporter has been covering all the latest. Shimon, what is the latest?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: All right. So, the latest is right now, this device certainly moved now up to the Bronx, as we have been reporting, where they're going to safe keep it, keep it there, and then it's going to go to the FBI for further analysis. I think what the most important thing right now I think for people to know and some of this is what the governor talked about is where the investigation stands in terms of finding the person or people that were behind this.
I think as the governor has said, there has been significant progress made by investigators focusing on the Florida area, specifically the south Florida area. A lot of clues came in, a lot of new information they were able to gather once they figured out where some of these packages came from. The sorting facility was a key instrument in helping investigators. They then learned other information. Certainly, it is information that they're not sharing publicly because they do not want to hurt the investigation. But I think you can read into some of what the governor said, that there's been a lot of progress, and I think things will be happening, you know perhaps maybe soon. And we'll see where this goes.
[10:35:01] But you know, for me, it was important to hear what the governor said because as we know, he's being briefed -
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
PROKUPECZ: -- as well as the president. So they know what's happening here, and they know what the next steps are in this investigation. HARLOW: Jim, you know, from our Kaitlan Collins, our White House reporter, she just has some new reporting on what Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has to say about all of this. And he said, and I'm quoting him, "I can tell you this. We will find the person, persons responsible, and we're going to bring them to justice." OK? That is from the attorney general.
The president, Jim, on the other hand, the first comment he has made about this today is a comment in which he put bombs in quotes. This quote/unquote bombs, and talked about politics and Republican momentum slowing. Just to juxtaposition of those two is striking.
And Mike O'Neal, to you, former commanding officer for the NYPD who has dealt with this stuff, and it is your former colleagues, lives are on the line with these 12 packages, right? That they're dealing with so sensitively and the president is putting bomb in quotes.
MICHAEL O'NEIL, FORMER COMMANDING OFFICER, NYPD COUNTERTERRORISM DIVISION: Yes. This is very serious business. What I will tell you about these devices quickly is bomb techs look if four components in an explosive device, power, initiator, explosive switch, the PIEs acronym. These devices all had those four components. Whether they were put together properly to execute explosive train is one thing or another, but they should be treated very, very seriously. People had found them or the police officers actually handling them right now.
SCIUTTO: Well, look at how the New York Police Department is treating these. They have shut down major highways in Manhattan, busy time of day, to slowly and carefully transport it, an explosive containment vessel. I mean, listen, Poppy, the president will have been briefed on the same intelligence that the attorney general has, so either the president doesn't believe what he's been told about these packages or he sees another reason to downplay them.
As we're watching this, Evan Perez, if you're still with us, noticeable change in the language about this. Yesterday, making it clear they didn't really have a good idea where this was coming from. That's changed in the last several hours.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly, Jim. I think it's very clear that the tenor, the body language that you're getting from law enforcement, even from the Governor Cuomo, who has been briefed, is that they have made significant progress in this investigation. And you can tell the difference between when the FBI just two nights ago put out that statement, a very extraordinary statement, in which they had a photograph of one of these packages. I think that told us a lot. That told us that they were -- everything was wide open. They didn't have a lot of clues. And now they do.
And I think one of the things that we have to focus on is the fact that now they have 12 of these things, and the chances are that this bomber, no matter how good he is, no matter what he was wearing, no matter if he was wearing gloves, no matter how careful he was, he definitely made some mistakes. He likely made some mistakes. And I think that's what law enforcement is probably capitalizing on behind the scenes. And I can tell you, there are hundreds and hundreds of agents from the FBI, from the ATF, from the Postal Service Inspection Service that have been working on this, and they have been working overnight trying to do exactly that, to capitalize on the mistakes that this bomber may have made. And you can see the difference in the way they talk about it in the last 24 hours. I think you're capturing it exactly right.
HARLOW: You got to believe that there were some of those mistakes given the fact that Florida was spelled wrong on the return labels here. You know some of the names were spelled wrong.
All right, we're on top of this breaking news. Live pictures again, there's the package, the 12th package intended for the former director of the National Intelligence, intended to be sent here to CNN, intercepted six blocks south of here.
Jim and I, we'll be right back with the breaking news.
[10:43:23] SCIUTTO: Welcome back, Jim Sciutto here in Washington, Poppy in New York. We continue to cover the 12th package now with suspected explosive device sent to an address in New York, director -- former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, addressed at CNN offices in New York. It was intercepted at a mail sorting facility. It's now on its way. That's the package, identical to the others we have seen sent all week, now on its way to a New York Police Department facility north of Manhattan.
We also have this news just in to CNN moments ago. The Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he was scheduled to fly to Louisville, Kentucky, for an event today. He's now canceled that, he says to insure that all the FBI's resources are at hand to find the person or persons behind these bombs. We have our Jason Carroll. He's down at the location where the latest package was found. Jason, what can you tell us?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're waiting now for a press conference, which is expected to get underway in just a few moments. You can see now, a number of cameras that are lined up. John Miller with counterintelligence, the NYPD, expected to be one of the city officials who update us on exactly what they found here. We can tell you that that call came in at about 8:19 a.m. this morning. That, according to what an NYPD officer told me just a few moments ago. Postal workers here who had already been on alert to be on the lookout for suspicious packages, came across that package and immediately called it in.
Again, as you say, it fit the similar description of packages we saw earlier this week. Same type of manila envelope, same type of stamps on those envelopes as well, again at this postal facility here on 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, located just six blocks south of where you are Jim and Poppy.
[10:45:09] Again, postal workers were immediately evacuated. John Miller says they followed the same protocol that they followed earlier this week. You had a number of investigators. You had state police, NYPD, FBI, all descending upon the scene. Bomb sniffing dogs here as well, where they isolated the suspicious package, put it in that special vehicle that you talked about. It's now on its way to the Bronx where it will be neutralized. After that, it will then be taken to the FBI facility in Quantico, Virginia, for inspection.
Again, earlier when I spoke to an NYPD officer, I said how's it going? He said look, we just want everyone just to take a deep breath and take a step back. Everything that we're asking people to do, they're doing. Investigators are doing their job. We're asking the public to be vigilant in looking and being on the lookout for packages like this, and that's exactly what happened when these postal workers spotted that suspicious package and immediately called it in. So again, waiting for that press conference for an update that should be happening just in about a few minutes from now, but it's a sliding scale, as you know to developing investigation. Jim.
HARLOW: Of course, Jason Carroll, thank you so much. Stand by for that press conference from the NYPD. The mayor of New York City, it will begin any minute. You'll see it here live of course.
Let's go now to Sam Rabadi. He's with us still. He's a former ATF special agent in charge. So, Sam, talk to us about what the investigators will be looking at outside of the physical devices and the packaging themselves, 12 of them now. What else are they going to be doing in terms of looking, for example, for odd purchases, a string of purchases that someone may have made, maybe they're honing them on Florida. Did someone buy 12-plus timers? You know, at least one of these devices had a timer on it. What will they be looking for that's actually outside of the packages themselves?
SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, PHILADELPHIA DIVISION: So now that we have potentially a particular geographical area in Florida that investigators can focus in on, this is where the forensics comes in now. So there's going to be -- it's occurring right now, I'm sure, a very close examination of those components to see if in fact, as you said, are all 12 timers same manufacturer. Envelopes, are they all 12 of the same envelopes? Identify who the manufacturer is, where were those items distributed to. The envelopes -- are they all from Staples, Office Depot. The timers, were they delivered to Radio Shack? So that really provides investigators a solid lead. I believe they're going to flood those locations with agents. Look, you know, were all of them - all 12 timers. Were they all purchased at the same time? Five or six at a time? Something that you can really key in on. But when we talk about forensics, it's not just obviously DNA and prints, which are the obvious links that you're going to be looking for, but also a very close examination of the components and tracing their origin.
SCIUTTO: And people, too. What did they know? Did they see anybody buy this stuff? Do they know someone who's been talking about doing this kind of thing? I'm sure they're canvassing for that kind of information and would welcome it if folks out there believe they have something to add. We're waiting - Poppy and I -- a news conference about to begin in New York City, just down the street from where this 12th package was discovered. We're going to bring that to you live when it comes. Meanwhile, we'll take a short break.
JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER OF INTEL AND COUNTERTERRORISM: A series of suspected pipe bombs and packages going through the mail, recognize a package that postal workers across the country have been warned about and shown photographs of in the postal system here at Radio City Station. That postal worker was able to notify the U.S. Postal Police on scene here who contacted the joint terrorism task force and the NYPD.
This area was secured while Emergency Service and the NYPD bomb squad responded. The package was isolated in the post office. The bomb squad was able to use their equipment to conduct an x-ray inside they saw what appears to be a pipe bomb consistent with other devices we have seen this week. Contained in a package consistent with the packaging we have seen this week. It was addressed to an individual at a location in Manhattan.
The bomb squad was able to safely remove that package with the device intact, into the total containment vessel and transport that under highway escort to the NYPD range at Rodman's Neck where it will be placed in a secure storage area for the FBI to then transport it along with the other suspected devices we have seen this week to the FBI's lab in Quantico.
[10:50:04] With me, I have Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison and Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Gallo, from the fire department. And Chief Harrison will address the logistics of this operation.
RODNEY HARRISON, NYPD CHIEF OF PATROL: So once we were notified about the device, we put a frozen zone in place. We evacuated a couple of the residents as well as the educational facility which is right across the street as well as the post office. At this time now, since the device has been removed, everything will be back up in play and up and running. As you can see, the streets are moving, and we want to ask all New York City residents to continue to stay alert. And if you do see something, call 1-888-New York City safe. Thank you.
FRANK GALLO, DEPUTY ASSISTANT CHIEF, FIRE DEPARTMENT NEW YORK: We had no injuries, but we're here - the FDNY to support our partners in the NYPD and law enforcement.
MILLER: Just housekeeping matter for those of you who are aware of it, there was another suspicious package operation involving a suspicious box that was found leaning against a tree in Central Park. That's been resolved. It's not connected to this or similar to this. It is also contains nothing hazardous, so that has also been resolved if you were following the developments on that end.
I want to especially commend the work of the postal inspectors, but also the work of the 600,000 postal employees across the country who had been working within the postal system to locate these packages before they're delivered and to alert authorities. And this is an example on the part of one postal worker who when she saw this, recognized it, froze it in the system, and was able to resolve that before it got delivered to a location in Manhattan, so very good work here. We're not going to be able to take questions, but thank you very much.
HARLOW: All right. There you have it, John Miller and Rodney Harrison of the New York City Police Department. Let me update you on what they said. That package that you see intended for the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, here at CNN, has been safely removed from this postal sorting facility at 52nd Street, six blocks south of CNN. What we learned of critical importance from John Miller with the NYPD. The pipe bomb in the package was, quote, "consistent with the other pipe bombs" in the 11 other packages that have been found in the last four days. Also, the packaging was consistent, which you can see from that picture. But again, this is a continuing, evolving situation. What was inside, the pipe bomb, again consistent with the 11 other ones.
We have breaking news. Evan Perez is with me. Evan, what have we learned?
PEREZ: Well, Poppy, at this hour, we know that federal authorities have arrested a man in connection with the suspected bomb packages. At this hour, we don't have a lot of information about this person. We don't even know exactly where he was arrested, but at this point, the authorities have arrested and detained this person. And now the work begins to try to get to the bottom of this, to question him, to find out the motivation. We don't know a lot about the suspect, but at this point, they at least have identified and they have detained and arrested a suspect in connection with these 12 now bomb packages that were sent around the country.
SCIUTTO: Evan, do we know, I know you have been hearing indications all morning of positive progress here. Do we know what helped lead them to this suspect?
PEREZ: Well, Jim, I think just in the last few minutes, the last time I was talking to you, I mentioned that the fact that there were 12 packages increased the chance that this person made a mistake. And that's what I'm told happened. Exactly what I was told that happened is in the course of examining these packages they noticed something that led them to this suspect. So no matter how careful you are in building these things, in putting together these packages, the chances are the more you make of them, the number, the greater the number of them, the greater the chance that you're going to make a mistake. And so, that's apparently what happened in this, that there is something. Something that he left behind in these packages that led them to this suspect. And keep in mind, you know, the FBI is very, very good at retrieving DNA from these packages. We have seen this in other cases in this past year.
So again, we don't know a lot about what led to this. But we're certainly told certainly this morning we were told by sources that the investigators believed they had a very good idea of who this was. And one of the ways they were able to do that is simply because the person made some mistakes. [10:55:00] (CROSSTALK)
HARLOW: Do we know -- go ahead, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Stands to mention, that's quick work by the FBI and investigators involved here.
HARLOW: It's incredibly quick work, and we are so grateful to them. You know, being here at CNN, where one of those packages was delivered and to all those people. Evan, if you're still with us, I'm going to let Evan do a little bit more reporting. Let me bring in James Gagliano. So, we don't know -- Evan is back with us, James, come into the conversation as well. Evan, I was just going to say to you, do we know that it was DNA, for example, from these packages, something physically within, contained within the packages that led authorities to this suspect, or was it suspicious behavior elsewhere? Was it purchases they may have made? Do we know?
PEREZ: We're able to do forensically in examining these packages that was - was key to this. But look, there's a lot of clues, as James can tell you, having done many of these investigations over the years. It's not just one thing, right? It helps that they were able to find the nexus in Florida there, in that facility in Opa-locka, where Rosa Flores has been reporting from. They were able to identify that that was a facility that processed many of these packages. So, that at least allowed them to narrow their focus and they were able to see that there was - that facility collects mail or processes mail to and from a specific part of the region of south Florida, of the Miami area. So that was very, very helpful.
And then they -- the forensics work was going on in Quantico, in New York, to examine these packages, to look at the ones that did not -- that had not been detonated by the bomb squad. And with that, they were able to put together a lot of clues. There's a lot we're going to learn in the coming hours, I expect. But this suspect now is in the custody of the FBI. They're going to talk to him, try to see whether he can maybe explain himself, explain why he was doing this, how he put it together. There's a lot here yet to come in the coming hours from the FBI.
HARLOW: James Gagliano had a question I think -- comment.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: A huge thing here from Evan's reporting. Huge distinction between an investigative detention where you're trying to seek more information and maybe you're just going to hold somebody, we call that a Terry stop and what Evan is describing which is an arrest which indicates there was probable cause that they had enough evidence to suggest that beyond a reasonable doubt, this person was involved.
SCIUTTO: You need a warrant for that.
GAGLIANO: Huge distinction.
SCIUTTO: Need a judge to approve a warrant. PEREZ: Right and I think James is right. I mean, James is exactly right. So our understanding is, as recently as last night, they had a good idea. They were beginning to do the work to build exactly what James says, the probable cause to be able to move on this person. This morning, they had made sufficient progress, they believed, and they had a pretty good idea that they would be able to make an arrest, move on this person today. So my understanding is that they have a good idea that this person is in some way involved in this.
So look, this is an investigation that's not over. I think James is exactly right. This is an investigation that is not yet over. There is a lot yet to learn. They want to make sure that this person doesn't have any co-conspirators as perhaps someone else who might have been involved in this. So again, the arrest is sort of like the new beginning of the next phase of this investigation. It doesn't really end it, per se.
SCIUTTO: I imagine the first question, James, will be did you send any more devices and where?
GAGLIANO: Yes. Law enforcement is definitely not breathing a total sigh of relief with this. To Evan's point, you want to make sure there's not a conspiracy so there are co-conspirators out there, and certainly remember, crisis resolution first. Make sure there's nothing out there. And we don't know if in some of the 250 mail sorting facilities in this country there could be other packages lying. Make sure that doesn't happen. And then if they have a person right now in custody, that is going to also be an opportunity for investigators to ask them questions and to try to move forward and see if there's any other potential danger and any other people who need to be tracked down.
HARLOW: All right, if you're just joining us, let us get you up to speed. Jim and I have been covering this breaking news for the last two hours. A 12th package received in New York City, intended for former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, intended to be sent here to CNN, but Jim, in the past few minutes, an arrest made of a suspect. Huge.
SCIUTTO: That's a lot of developments in a short time. We saw this web expanding this morning to two more targets. One in New York, one intercepted in Florida, and now before the end of the morning, East Coast Time, we're seeing the development that folks were hoping for. And that is an arrest in this. Of course, a lot of investigation to move forward, are there others? Is this certainly the person? Those questions investigators working on right now, but our colleagues are going to continue to follow this throughout the day. We have our colleague Kate Bolduan. She's coming up right now.