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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Man Arrested In Mail Bombs Identified As Cesar Sayoc; Interview with Tom Steyer; Interview with U.S. Congressman Mark Walker of North Carolina. Aired 7-8pm ET
Aired October 26, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We are so, so lucky they weren't hurt. I think I speak for all of my colleagues here in the United States and around the world when I say thank you to those folks, those people you never see for discovering these devices and for keeping us safe. And I can assure you, CNN will keep doing what it does, reporting the news undeterred, unafraid as we do every night, including tonight.
Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next, breaking news, the alleged bomb maker linked to at least 14 bombs now is in custody tonight. Who is Cesar Sayoc? A former coworker who says he was, quote, crazed, is my guest.
Plus, President Trump says he doesn't need to tone down his rhetoric, he needs to tone it up. Really?
And CNN just learning that authorities now believe the suspicious package addressed to billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer is also from Cesar Sayoc. Steyer is my guest. Let's go out front.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, we have breaking news. Behind bars, the alleged bomb maker now linked to at least 14 IEDs sent across the country is in jail tonight. This, we're going to show you is video of Cesar Sayoc leaving the FBI field office in Miramar, Florida. He's been charged with five federal crimes, including illegal mailing of explosives and threats against former presidents. Sayoc could face up to 48 years in prison if convicted.
And this, we're going to show you, is where it all went down. In the parking lot of an auto parts store near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Officials also hauling away the suspect's white van, which has been plastered with stickers, with images, a lot of images of President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, but also images of Democrats like Hillary Clinton with a target on her face as well as a sticker that says, CNN sucks. The FBI Director this afternoon laying out how serious a threat Sayoc posed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Thirteen IEDs were sent to various individuals across the country. Each device consisted of roughly 6 inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, some wiring and what is known as energetic material, which is essentially potential explosives and material that give off heat and energy through a reaction to heat, shock, or friction. Though we're still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Not hoax devices, from the FBI Director. And this list, as I mentioned, it's now growing. Again, tonight, 14 IEDs that map is absolutely crazy. Authorities are just telling CNN that they believe the suspicious package addressed to billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer is also from Cesar Sayoc.
Also discovered today, packages to Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. That package intended for Clapper was addressed to CNN here in New York. And tonight, the President is acknowledging that the suspect does support him politically.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not. I did not see my face on the van. I don't know -- I heard he was a person that preferred me over others, but I did not see that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Guess that's an acknowledgment of something.
Jim Sciutto is out front in Washington joining me now. Jim, this all went down fairly quickly today, and now the suspect is in custody.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Within about an hour of that package to Director Clapper being discovered, the Feds had their man, remarkably quick work here, and the keys were two clues, a fingerprint and DNA discovered on more than one of those packages.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc is in custody.
WRAY: We can confirm that 13 IEDs were sent to various individuals across the country. These are not hoax devices.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Officials say that he was living with his parents, but they had kicked him out. So he was now living out of his van, which authorities took into custody after his arrest. The van, covered in political decals, images of the President and Vice President and one saying, CNN sucks.
A frequent chant at the President's rallies. Sayoc attended one of those rallies in Melbourne, Florida, in 2017, and held up a sign with the same message. He has been active across social media, posting images of himself at Trump rallies, pro-Republican messages, attacking many of his alleged targets, such as Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Even posting memes attacking billionaire investor George Soros after a potential explosive was found at Soros' home.
[19:05:03] Other alleged targets, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. And Sayoc posted a series of threats directed at CNN. Its anchors, correspondents, and contributors.
The Washington Post quoting one of his former employers, describing the disturbing images on his van. It was puppets with their heads cut off, mannequins with their heads cut off, Ku Klux Klan, a black person being hung, anti-gay symbols, torchings, bombings. Online records show that Sayoc had an extensive arrest record across two states including grand theft, battery, fraud, drug possession and one in Miami in 2002, which according to a police report he threatened to blow up a Florida utility company worse than September 11th. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year's probation. Now, he faces five federal charges, up to 48 years in prison.
GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: The defendant's conduct as charged is cowardly and reprehensible and totally anathema to our democracy.
SCIUTTO: Sayoc will make his first court appearance on Monday. Ultimately we're learning this is going to be handled by federal prosecutors in New York. The southern district of New York, the same court that has dealt with many international terror suspects as well, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Jim. Thank you so much.
Out front for us now is Debra Gureghian. She's a General Manager of New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Sayoc worked as a delivery driver for several months until he quit in January. Debra, thank you so much for joining me this evening. Really amazing circumstances that I'm speaking to you under. He worked with you until January. What did you think Debra when you heard him named today?
DEBRA GUREGHIAN, MANAGER OF RESTAURANT WHERE SAYOC WAS A DELIVERY DRIVER: I was shocked. I could believe it. My hair stood up. I knew he had issues. He really was not -- he definitely beat to the beat of his own drum. He was anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish, you name it, everybody that really wasn't white and wasn't a white supremacist didn't belong in the world. That's what he used to say to me all the time.
But I really was shell shocked when I found out it was him. I really couldn't believe it, because as far as an employee, he was on time, he was cordial, he was articulate. I never had any problems with him. There was no theft. My customers liked him. But it was just his political views that scared me. Basically, he was a model employee. That's what I -- I can't understand. I'm sitting here saying to myself, what happened? I just can't -- go ahead.
BOLDUAN: Debra, it almost sounds like two different people. You're talking about an employee who shows up on time, who was, as you said, cordial, but he had issues -- I mean, and when you talk about the things he's spouting, clearly he had issues. Was he violent?
GUREGHIAN: Not at all. There was no violence at all. I mean, he made it a point -- he knew I was a lesbian and a very proud lesbian. And he made it a point to tell me that, you know, God had made a mistake with me and that I should burn in hell and --
BOLDUAN: He would just say that to you, just straight to your face?
GUREGHIAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. But my mother brought me up to always, you know, believe the best in people. You know, and turn the other cheek, and I had people not like me because I've been gay, and to me, I didn't have to go home with him. He was not a friend of mine. I just hired him. He did his job. And that's how I looked at it.
You know, I didn't -- you know, accept his political views. We had arguments about it. You know, he invited me many, many times out. He said he worked at a casino, to come and see some shows with him. But I couldn't bring a partner. I had to come alone.
Sorry about that. But as far as an employee goes, he really was wonderful. I'm just -- I wish I had more like him as far as that aspect goes, but on the other aspect, the van was frightening.
BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you about the van because there has been so much attention on his van today. Did he bring that very same van with those very same stickers to work?
GUREGHIAN: Absolutely. He did. And that's why I hired him to drive at night. I couldn't have him driving in the daytime. I had him driving at night. He parked the van around the corner. I never got any complaints from any of the customers. If I did, he would have been fired.
I can't -- and this is what people seem not to understand. I can't fire somebody because of their political views. Whether they don't like me or they don't like a black person or a gay person, I can't do that. I can't. As much as I'd like to, I couldn't. But his van was freaky scary.
[19:10:06] I actually was talking to my brother a few minutes ago, and I was telling him he was driving me home one night because it was raining, and when I got in the van, I just remember looking, is there any way I can get out? Because I said, he really appreciated me as a general manager, liked me, but hated me as being a lesbian, so I always wanted to make sure if he ever offered me a ride that I could find a way out of that van.
BOLDUAN: Debra, that's actually what I wanted to ask you. You've been inside that van. Can you describe what you saw inside?
GUREGHIAN: The van had a lot of McDonald's, taco bell boxes, lot of laundry, hygienically, it was filthy. It was dirty. It was smelly. It was beer bottles in there, vodka bottles in there. But he always dressed impeccably. He always had on nice cologne. He always looked great.
If he was delivering my food to me, I'd say, hey, come on in. He always played the part very well and maybe that's just it. He played the part real well.
BOLDUAN: Was he -- was it your understanding he was living in the van at the time when he worked with you?
GUREGHIAN: No. He told me that his family -- they were from the Seminole tribe and he had a home on the reservation here, and he also had a home in plantation, and he was very proud that he just got accepted into driving, like, a hazmat trucker, going to the different ports with biochemicals, and this was -- he was going to school in North Carolina. And he was very proud of that.
BOLDUAN: I saw in The Washington Post, he told their reporter that inside the van, there were puppets with their heads cut off and mannequins with their heads cut off.
GUREGHIAN: Puppets with their -- mannequins and puppets and nooses, you know, but that was on his van also. There was Ku Klux Klan, there was nazi symbols.
BOLDUAN: Did he talk to you about these things when you were in there?
GUREGHIAN: No. Absolutely not. He talked to me about coming to a show at the Hard Rock, but I would have to come by myself. He really -- he appreciated me as a general manager and that whatever I could do for him, I did. If he needed time off to go home early, I would let him go home early. And I appreciated him as being on time and being, you know, articulate and due diligent and all of that.
As far as the political views, no, we -- when he would start on that, I would just kind of nip it in the bud and say, you got a delivery up, you got to go. He knew that I was a very strong supporter, very strong lesbian, very proud of my sexuality, but more than once, he told me that if he had complete autonomy, I would burn in hell with all the blacks and Jews and Hispanics and everybody else. It was just the white supremacists that were going to rule the world. And unfortunately, he said, Debra, as much as I like you, you're going to be the first one I burn.
BOLDUAN: Geez. Did he openly talk proudly about -- did he call himself a white supremacist? Did he openly talk about it?
GUREGHIAN: Yes, he called himself a white supremacist and he called himself a nazi supporter. And --
BOLDUAN: Did he talk about -- I mean, if you look at his van, you see stickers of President Trump, Vice President Pence, did he talk about the President?
GUREGHIAN: He talked about Obama and Hillary Clinton, that he detested them. And that I would be on that island that he blew up with them. So, those two, the only two. And CNN, and CNN. And as a matter of fact, Rachel Maddow, I love Rachel Maddow and we talked about her, and she was one of the other lesbians that was going to go on the island with me.
BOLDUAN: Did he talk about where he got this from? I mean, did he talk about -- because he's seen it -- he was seen during, you know, 2016 and he's been at rallies, he's posted about being at rallies with the President. Did he talk about where his burning hate of CNN came from or of anyone else?
GUREGHIAN: No. He just -- he just said that the people that he labeled were very weak and that he would -- that he wanted to purify society. So, in order to do that, he would have to get rid of the gays and the lesbians and the transgenders and the blacks and the Jews and whoever else didn't follow his suit, whoever else didn't follow his policy and political views.
BOLDUAN: Did he ever talk about family?
GUREGHIAN: I must --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, go ahead. I'm sorry. Go ahead, go ahead.
GUREGHIAN: No, his father -- no, that's all right. His father, he told me, was a construction worker and he had a lot of contracts with the Hard Rock casino, and he was living on the reservation and I was -- we would talk a lot about certain things because the referendum was just coming up in Massachusetts about gambling and I wanted to know about, you know, what it's like, you know, being born in a tribe and, you know, what it affords you and things like that, and he would tell me about that.
[19:15:15] How much money he would get and the stipends and living on the reservation, and his father getting all the contracts from the reservation. Things like that. I mean, we actually had intelligent conversations, but then, I don't know, it seemed like -- I don't know if it all of a sudden he came to and said, oh my god, I'm talking to a lesbian and she seems to be a little bit articulate and smart, now I've got to throw her a dig. So it really lasted like five minutes and then he would tell me that, you know, God made a mistake with me and I was deformed and abnormal and things like that.
BOLDUAN: Geez. I think a lot of people tonight are going to be amazed that you could carry on those conversations and work in a workplace with him. But why did he quit, Debra?
GUREGHIAN: Well, I'm -- he quit because he got this job driving a truck in North Carolina. And he had to quit. And we were -- I was -- everyone was real proud of him because he said that only a few people get picked for this, and everybody was, like, you know, you're going to do really well at it, Cesar -- we called him Cesar and you're going to do very well at it. And I have to -- you just brought up a point, you know, why I, you know, I was able to deal with him.
I must tell you that my mother is, right now, in my brain, in my heart, she always told me, you know, you never know where people come from in life, and you always have to give them, you know, love and kindness and maybe they're suffering something tragic that you don't know about, and that's how I looked at it. I mean, I've lost a lot of friends because I've been a lesbian. But to be honest with you, my mother used to say, those aren't the friends that you want.
So, I look at it as that he did his job, he did his job impeccable, and I had no right to fire him because his political views were something that were against me. If there was theft or something that I was hearing from different customers, absolutely. He would have been gone in a heartbeat. But just having those political views, I could not fire him. That's what this country is made of, you know, and I'm very proud of that.
BOLDUAN: Well, talk about picture of civility and allowing other views to be heard. Debra Gureghian, thanks you so much for coming on tonight. I really appreciate it.
GUREGHIAN: Thank you very much. My pleasure. Have a great night. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: You too. That was amazing.
Out front with me now, James Gagliano, Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Casey Jordan is here, Criminologist and Behavioral Analyst, Art Roderick, former Assistant Director for Investigations of the U.S. Marshals and Jennifer Rogers, former Terrorism Prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. You guys were all sitting here with me while I was speaking with Debra. Casey, I -- what picture and profile is painted here? It seems like two completely different people that Debra is describing.
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST AND BEHAVIORAL ANALYST: Well, OK, so, technically, everyone's going, he has to be mentally ill, but not necessarily so.
BOLDUAN: And you have to be deranged to want to hurt someone like this.
JORDAN: Not necessarily so. He's just as decompensating, if you ask me. He's in what we call an anomic state in criminology which he believes he's followed the rules his entire life but nothing's going his way, his long criminal history. He's working as a pizza delivery guy. He's never held down a specific job and, you know, he's been living in his van.
I think the pivotal hinge was getting kicked out of his parents' house. When his mother kicked him out and he finds himself homeless, and living in his van, that gives him a lot of time to start externalizing his locus of control, blaming, scapegoating and as far as we know, he never voted until 2016, which is when he registered as a Republican. So for somebody who has a huge void in his life, specially somebody who was a body builder, according to his cousin, a lost soul, a lost canon (ph), abused steroids that he says rotted his brain, he is looking for direction for the rest of his life and he latched on to an extremist ideology, white supremacy, right wing extremism and it filled the void in his life with purpose. And once he could wake up in the morning and say, I'm going to build a bomb and get back at my President's enemies today, he was probably filled with all kinds of purpose.
It gave him a reason to get up and get through his day when I think he had absolutely nothing else going on and I think he's a pathological liar. We don't think he's Seminole. We know he's half Filipino. I don't think he had a job driving a truck. You know, more will come out but I think he presented a false sense of himself to the outside world. And at a certain point, that snaps, that breaks, and you have to face reality.
BOLDUAN: James, you -- you go -- you interview someone like Debra to try to learn more about this suspect, what do you take from that?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So, to add on to Casey's clinical analysis, which is spot on, and that's what our behavioral analysis would look at, but look at this guy. This guy is an enigma. He's a guy that claims membership in the Seminole tribe, has a sticker on his van that says Native Americans for Trump and then claims affiliation with white supremacy.
[19:20:09] The Seminole tribe has now disavowed him. (INAUDIBLE) we just reported that. And the white supremacist would certainly disavow somebody with Native American heritage. So this guy is what we would call a New York lexicon (ph) or law enforcement lexicon and EDP, which is an emotionally disturbed person. Somebody who's confused, conflicted.
Look, was there a partisan aspect to this? That's obvious to everyone. But I think on this, you look at his background, you look at the fact that in 2002, he already made a terroristic threat that he was going to blow up the utility company in Florida --
GAGLIANO: -- the fact that he's been arrested for drugs, theft, fraud, this guy had a history. What makes it so difficult for the law enforcement, everybody wants us to go back and look at Facebook posts or look at something that somebody says. And unfortunately, when you have free speech rights in this country, people retreat back to, it was just wild hyperbole and that's what makes it difficult.
BOLDUAN: And that's, you know, something that strikes me in our conversation just now with Debra who worked with him. His views were in plain sight. His hate was out there. But is there anything there that would raise a red flag to suggest that he would do what he did?
ART RODERICK, FMR. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: That interview was quite interesting, because when she started talking about white supremacy, I dealt with white supremacy in my career and that rhetoric was exactly what you hear out of their mouth. So that -- BOLDUAN: They're weak, I need to cleanse.
RODERICK: -- that struck me as, like, wow, this guy is in up to his neck in this stuff. But it's right. I mean, he's -- it's a juxtaposition here where he claims that he's a Seminole Indian and he claims he's a white supremacist. Those two things don't go together. And that interview was pretty -- very interesting.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating. I mean, fascinating. And now it is the SDNY's job to peel it all apart and put it all back together because they'll be prosecuting the case against him. Where is the -- what do you think of the case right now?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FMR. TERRORISM PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF N.Y. U.S. ATTY'S OFFICE: Well, it looks like a strong case. Obviously, they're just kind of now starting to go through the materials that they seized. You know, they have the van, they did a search warrant on the mother's house, so they'll be going through all of that, but they have his fingerprint, they have his DNA in the packages, you know, he apparently admitted at least to some degree he didn't think he was going to hurt anyone, so it looks pretty strong.
It's interesting to see what they charged and what they didn't charge. They could up the ante, if you will. When they --
BOLDUAN: This could not -- this is the floor, not the ceiling.
BOLDUAN: So all they're doing in a criminal complaint is establishing probable cause for the arrest and then they're just trying to hold him, right? So he's detained. When they have time, they go through the evidence, they go before the grand jury, then we're going to see what they're really going to charge him with. So I think instead of assault, you might see attempted murder, for example, and we'll start to see the evidence of the terrorism enhancement and that really comes into play at sentencing, but it turns it in from around 50-year case to a life case, essentially, if that's what they ultimately do.
BOLDUAN: OK. And James, sources have told my colleagues here at CNN that initially, when they took him in, he was cooperative, told investigators though that the pipe bombs wouldn't have hurt anyone and that he didn't want to harm anyone. Do you believe that? Should investigators believe that?
GAGLIANO: So from what I'm hearing from my law enforcement sources, the four components of a bomb were there. There was a power supply, there was an initiator, there was a switch, and there was explosives there, so, yes. I think the important thing to think about when we're looking at this from a law enforcement framework and trying to make sense of this, we're trying to make sense of the nonsensical.
This guy was clearly imbalanced, but law enforcement not only has a huge treasure-trove right now of 13 unexploded bombs that they can go take a look at, they are obviously going to get a search warrant for his house, and because of the public safety exception, Kate, the Miranda rights don't apply. So when they snatched him up today, when FBI, SWAT, and the hostage rescue team and members of local law enforcement snatched him up, they had the right to ask him questions. Who else is involved? Are there any other unexploded devices out there?
BOLDUAN: And Casey, to that exact point, does this personality, does this profile, is this someone who acts alone or needed some help to pull this off?
JORDAN: No. He acted alone. He really is living in his own world. He has a set of rules.
BOLDUAN: Down to his own van.
JORDAN: Down to his own van. I mean, he really -- the isolation. He lies when he doesn't even need to lie. He is simply living in a world that works for him, and I think that he's -- I don't want to call it something as simple as a midlife crisis, but he's 56 years old, OK? He has nowhere to live, he has no permanent job.
BOLDUAN: A lot of people have a midlife crisis, though, Casey.
JORDAN: Agreed. But here's the key. He found a purpose with the Make America Great Again vitriol, hatred, extremism. It actually gave him a new identity and a new reason to live. Now whether or not those bombs would have exploded, the real question is did he intend for them to explode and he just got lucky because he didn't really know how to make a bomb? I don't think he was very sophisticated. But the key is if they had exploded, we would be having an entirely different conversation.
BOLDUAN: But you're saying something really interesting and no one can say that Donald Trump is responsible for this man putting together a bomb or this man putting bombs in the mail. No one can say that and no one should say that. What you're saying is he found a home for his hate.
[19:25:10] JORDAN: He sure did. It could have gone -- like with Dylann Roof, it went to extreme racism, right, with the incel that goes towards hatreds toward women, right? In his particular case, it's anyone who speaks out against his beloved President. And because the President has normalized hating anyone who disagrees with him, it gave him comfort, it made him feel valid to actually find a home with this party.
BOLDUAN: When you know the case that they need to build and all of the parts that are still out there to be investigated because this is really just starting, are you surprised that they arrested so quickly?
RODGERS: No, not at all because you're talking about a bomber, right? So you may have other bombs out there, there may be other people who are helping him out there so you really do have to scoop him up as soon as you can so that you can start doing the kind of questioning that Jimmy mentioned. You have to know those things first.
BOLDUAN: Art, what's your big burning question right now, still tonight, Art?
RODERICK: Well, I mean, there's a couple things. You know, was anybody else aware that he was planning to do this, number one. But I think what's interesting is, you know, we talk about all this high- tech stuff that we have, you know, the fact that we're able to track cell phones, internet communication, and how did we initially get him on forensics that we've had around since the early 1900s? A fingerprint.
RODERICK: They matched it up with the DNA, obviously, that's newer science, but I thought that was pretty interesting today that the first thing that got him was the package sent to Maxine Waters, the first package --
RODERICK: -- that had the thumbprint or a fingerprint on it.
BOLDUAN: Amazing work and coordination between -- from top down. From federal authorities, it's been an amazing thing to watch and a very scary thing to watch. I really appreciate you guys being here. Thank you guys very, very much.
Out front for us next, President Trump insists he toned down his rhetoric. But has he really?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Fake polls. I call them fake polls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Plus, Democratic mega donor Tom Steyer, he is my guest. His reaction to the breaking news of the suspicious package addressed to him is believed now to have been sent from this very same man, Cesar Sayoc.
[19:31:04] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Breaking tonight, authorities now believe a mail bomb sent to Democratic mega donor Tom Steyer is also from Cesar Sayoc. Steyer has been an outspoken critic of President Trump, even pushing for his impeachment. But this now brings the number of suspicious packages, bombs linked to Sayoc to 14.
OUTFRONT now is Tom Steyer, founder of Need to Impeach and Need to Impeach Campaign and Next Gen America.
Tom, thank you for coming in.
TOM STEYER, DEMOCRATIC MEGADONOR; MAIL BOMB ADDRESSED TO HIM: Kate, thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: I mean, what have you been told about this package addressed to you?
STEYER: You know, it's an ongoing investigation. I just heard it was sent through the mail. I'm extremely grateful to the police and to the post office for doing such an efficient job, both to protect everybody and make sure no one gets hurt and also to apprehend the suspect. I think they've done an amazing job and I'm very grateful for what they've done.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Have you seen a picture of it? Has anyone even shown you a picture, if it's identical to what we've been seeing over and over and over again now?
STEYER: I saw the picture but I don't think I'm really competent to do the forensic detective work here.
BOLDUAN: I hear you on that. What did you think, though, Tom, when you heard that -- when it was confirmed to you that it was -- that they believe it's Cesar Sayoc that's behind this one as well?
STEYER: I thought two things. The first thing I thought was that I'm very concerned about the safety of the people I work with and my family, so I was very relieved to know that it had been found and that it was not going to harm anybody who I work with or who I'm related to. And secondly, I thought of this as part of an ongoing attack on our democracy.
Clearly, this is an act of terrorism, but I think that it falls into a pattern where, in fact, our norms and rules of democracy have been under attack systematically for several years, and I think this just happens to be a very egregious and obvious example of trying to subvert the open discussion, open debate and civil political situation that is the norm for America but which has been put into bans for the last several years.
BOLDUAN: You have taken a very public role, of course, we know I opposing President Trump, calling for his impeachment. Is this -- is this threat, is this -- we'll call it a threat. Is this threat making you rethink being so vocal in taking on the president?
STEYER: On the contrary, Kate. I believe that our president, the reason that we have an impeachment petition with more than 6 million signatories is because we believe that Mr. Trump is reckless, dangerous, and lawless. And if you look, in fact, at where this gentleman has been sending his bombs, it reflects the kind of violent rhetoric that we have heard. It reflects the attacks on the press which have been consistent, and it really reflects the attacks on open, peaceful democracy that have been going on now for several years, and which Mr. Trump should absolutely apologize for and promise never to do again, but I don't think we're going to hear that.
BOLDUAN: Well, if today is any evidence, absolutely not. I mean, he says he doesn't think he needs to tone it down. He thinks he could tone it up and he's already returned to attacking the media. At least, that's one example.
Do you, though -- do you though blame the president for this potential attack against you?
STEYER: Look, I don't think there's any direct link, but I think what he has done, I think what Mr. Trump has done is create an atmosphere that condones violence, that actually incites people's most emotional and violent feelings, and creates an atmosphere where people feel free to live out those -- that kind of behavior and those kinds of feelings.
[19:35:02] So I feel that he has -- look, we're leading an impeachment drive because we believe that he is -- that Mr. Trump is antithetical to the rule of law and his reaction to this, his unwillingness to say that it was wrong and to apologize, absolutely shows where his heart is. He does not understand that in a civil society, the kind of rhetoric that he uses, his attacks on the press are absolutely wrong and it goes to the attempt to intimidate voters, the attempt to suppress the vote, the extreme gerrymandering that we've seen, what we're seeing across the board is an attack on our democracy.
And this is just a very specific and obvious example in an atmosphere where we've seen it much more broadly to people who aren't famous or, you know, well known.
BOLDUAN: Let me ask you, though, about the specific circumstance you're dealing with right now and the country's dealing with at this very moment. The president was asked tonight if he would reach out to the former presidents, President Obama and President Clinton, and Hillary Clinton. I want to play for you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they wanted me to, but I think we'll probably pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He'd call if they -- we don't know who they is, if they wanted me to but I think we'll probably pass. Do you want a call from the president? I mean, you say you want to hear apologize. Do you want to hear from him though?
STEYER: I don't want to hear, personally. I want him to address the American people and apologize for his behavior. What he was saying as far as I could tell, and that's the first time I ever heard that recording, was that he didn't feel that he owed any kind of apology, he didn't feel that he owed any kind of statement to either the Clintons or the Obamas. That's what I heard.
And let me say this. If we're going to have a civil society, we have to all remember two things. Tell the truth, put America first, and have respect for your opponents. And that is not what I heard in what he said tonight and I didn't expect it anyway.
BOLDUAN: Well, Tom, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate your time.
STEYER: Kate, thank you very much for having me. BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
OUTFRONT for us next, President Trump now saying that the media is exploiting the pipe bombs that have been sent across the country.
Plus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the attacks by the bomb suspect appear to be political.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: He may have been a part -- appears to be a part partisan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: We're going to talk to a top Republican in the House. Does he agree with the attorney general?
[19:41:42] BOLDUAN: Tonight, lip service, the word "unity" came out of the president's mouth today, but it was from teleprompter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The bottom line is that Americans must unify, and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: There's that. And then less than ten minutes later at that very same event, the president once again spoke his mind, and then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We get these poll numbers and a lot of them are fake polls. I call them fake polls.
And I can do the greatest thing for our country and on the networks and on different things, it will show bad. They will take it back -- he goes, fake news.
They're called globalists. They like -- they like the globe. I like the globe, too. I like the globe, too, but we have to take care of our people. We have to.
Globalists. Lock them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Again, that was the very same event ten minutes apart.
Now, President Trump is at a rally in North Carolina. Before he left the White House, he had even more to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The media has been unbelievably unfair to Republicans, conservatives, and certainly to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT. Kaitlan is joining me now.
Kaitlan, it didn't take long for the president to switch gears, switch back, I guess.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Only a matter of minutes there, Kate. You saw the president, even in that event in the East Room, he was talking about this, calling for unity and then he quickly switched to those comments that you showed and also complained that a lot of the coverage yesterday on television and in newspapers was about this unfolding manhunt for this person that they arrested today and not focused on his new drug policy proposal.
Now, President Trump is speaking right now in Charlotte, North Carolina. He started open -- he opened his rally with remarks about the attacks, but then he turned to those same old attacks, those verbal attacks on the media, saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The media's constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks, you know that. Only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, you see there, he's going after the media, saying that they're undermining healthy debate, and then he brings up that congressional baseball shooting just like he did earlier when he was leaving the White House, Kate, and he said, no one blamed Bernie Sanders, even though it was a supporter of his. But, of course, Kate, Bernie Sanders is not the president, and he has not had near the same rhetoric that we've seen from President Trump, not only about the media but also about the people who have been targeted in these attacks, including Hillary Clinton who the president just brought up there.
Even though he did not say her name in Wisconsin at that rally on Wednesday night when he kept remarking that he had such good behavior, he just brought her name up there tonight, calling her crooked Hillary, and the crowd started chanting, lock her up, as they typically do, Kate, as you know, and the president joked to the crowd saying that the media is going to be reporting about you tomorrow. So, making light of all of this, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And he didn't do anything to say, after he heard "lock her up", to unify, to be more civil. He didn't say that tonight, right?
COLLINS: No, he didn't. He didn't say anything like that. We should also point out that that is also someone the president hasn't called. He hasn't called anyone who's been targeted in these attacks, even his predecessor, Barack Obama, who used to occupy this White House.
[19:45:06] And when the president was asked about this earlier, he said they didn't think that they would want to hear from him so he was going to pass. And that was after a senior official told me that there is pretty much no intention in this White House of giving a call to anyone who's been targeted in these attacks.
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Kaitlan. Really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT with me now, Frank Bruni is here. He's a columnist for "The New York Times," Joan Walsh is national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", and Rick Santorum, of course, a former senator from Pennsylvania.
Thank you guys for being here. Really appreciate it.
Senator, the president, he called for unity today. Minutes later, he does exactly the opposite. Reporters in the room heard them yelling, "CNN sucks", "lock her up", talk about George Soros, and more. He didn't do anything to stop those people.
How can he even call for unity with a straight face anymore?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I mean, I think the president should take a pause and do just that, call for unity.
SANTORUM: I guess I can say I'm disappointed that he's continued, particularly today, the harsh rhetoric, but you know, that's -- that's what the president is. And I don't -- look, I see the harsh rhetoric across the board, the president certainly is guilty of it, but so are a lot of other people, and frankly, so are members of the media, very harsh on the president.
So, you know, it's harsh rhetoric all around. It's incivility all around and it doesn't lead to a positive result.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: I just don't know how you can compare what the president has done for the last three years with what anyone else has done in the Democratic side. I really -- I want to take a moment to address this comparison with Bernie Sanders, because first of all, Bernie Sanders didn't have an enemies list. Bernie Sanders never attacked Steve Scalise, who unfortunately got shot.
When Bernie Sanders heard about the shooting and heard about the guy was connected to his campaign, he volunteered once, he denounced him, he denounced the violence. Bernie Sanders --
SANTORUM: So did Trump. WALSH: Bernie Sanders did not -- he mentioned him by name and he
separated himself. Trump did not separate himself, Senator Santorum, today. He had the opportunity to do so. He said it had nothing to do with him. I hear he likes me better.
Senator Sanders came out right away, held a press conference --
SANTORUM: He denounced him.
WALSH: Please don't interrupt me. Held a press conference and denounced this follower of his. His staff came out.
And also, Senator Sanders did not attack the media. I'm actually somebody who endorsed Hillary Clinton. I had a contentious relationship with the Sanders folks but when people came after me online occasionally and they sometimes they did, Senator Sanders himself told them to stop it. His staff, I remember one night when people were being brutal, his staffers told their own supporters to knock it off.
BOLDUAN: And I honestly say, in this moment, forget the what- aboutism. Forget what happened yesterday or the day before. I think let's talk about right now.
The president called for unity. He is not unifying. I mean, Frank, the president -- the president took to Twitter, shockingly, earlier today, and this was before the suspect was captured, and this tweet, just want to read it for everybody. Republicans are doing so well in early voting and at the polls, and now the, quote/unquote, bomb stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows. News, not talking politics.
I mean, in that, the president is seeming to fan the flames of the false flag hoax conspiracy theories that are out there among conservative media and have been out there since the moment this even popped up. I mean, just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Look how evenly proportioned every sticker is. Look -- nothing is offline. There isn't any overlap. Nothing has been slapped up there in passion or anger.
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I will repeat it's a high probability that the whole thing is set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats.
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS: He was a wretchedly incompetent bomber who didn't know how to make a bomb, someone who wanted to embarrass President Trump, somebody who wanted to affect American political life. It could have been a Russian invention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: How can these conspiracy theories endure after the director of the FBI came out and said these are not hoax devices and Jeff Sessions is clearly -- says this man is partisan. FRANK BRUNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, the bigger
question is how can the president of the United States fan these conspiracy theories? I mean, how does he say on the one hand, we need to unify, we need to be dignified about this, and then actually feed this sort of thing.
BOLDUAN: I think he does it all the time, but when it's truly lives were threatened, it just has taken on a very different feeling.
BRUNI: But also, Senator Santorum said earlier there's incivility across the board. Yes, there is, but he's the president of the United States, so why do we keep on saying, well, Donald Trump, may not be perfect but none of us is perfect.
That's all true. I'm not president. Joan isn't president. There's a higher standard, or there used to be, for the president of the United States, and what he's happening is he is lowering that standard every day more and more to the point where we're not even surprise by this and that is tragic.
BOLDUAN: So, let's stay the standard is completely gone, Senator, I still wonder why is there this knee-jerk reaction or knee-jerk desire to not believe the facts before you? Instead, start feeding these conspiracy theories?
SANTORUM: Yes, look, I condemn all that. This kind of talk that somehow, that this was some conspiracy and how the bumper stickers, look -- these friends are mine. This is, they talk about Trump derangement syndrome on the left, which exists. But I think you're seeing a little bit of it on the right.
You can't defend -- you can't defend the president when he tries to elevate conspiracy theories that aren't there. The president is not to blame for this man doing what he did. And I know there are people this network and a lot of networks saying that.
BOLDUAN: We're not saying that.
SANTORUM: Yes, but people are saying it. I can show you clips of people saying that. People are saying it.
BOLDUAN: Well, I'm saying on this, on any show I'm on, I am not making that. President Trump did not tell this man to make a bomb. But, but, Rick --
SANTORUM: My point is that the president and a lot of people are reacting to those comments and making equally outrageous comments on the other side. Neither is helpful.
WALSH: Both sides.
SANTORUM: You're talking to someone who has been vilified by the media when my political career for 20 years, so I know what it's like to have people threaten me and my life threatened, because it happened to me. And it happened because I was vilified in the press. I didn't go after the media. Maybe I should have, I don't know, I didn't.
Don't sit and think that this is somehow just one-sided and there is nobody else to blame here. The reality is, this is a very tough world that we're living in right now with rhetoric escalating on both sides. And it is both sides.
WALSH: It's not both sides.
BOLDUAN: Rhetoric might be escalating, I will just say this, this has been a terrifying week and this is an act of terror. The president has said that himself.
I will leave with this thought. We don't know what is in this man's head, Cesar Sayoc. But would his list of targets exist if wasn't for the president and his, and what he says all the time over and over again. That's what I'll leave you with.
Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.
WALSH: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, the top Republican who has been the target of threats weighs in and what the president needs to do now.
[19:55:15] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, President Trump doing nothing tonight to tamp down animosity among his supporters toward the media.
Here's what he just said at the rally in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We must unify as a nation in peace, love, and in harmony. The media has a major role to play, whether they want to or not.
And they do indeed. They have a major role to play as far as tone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Tone. This is just hours after a man was arrested and has been linked to at least 14 now IEDs sent to targets. Targets of his and targets of the president, including the Clintons, Obamas, and, of course, CNN.
OUTFRONT now, Republican Congressman from North Carolina, Mark Walker. He's a leading conservative in the House.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. MARK WALKER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Our privilege. Thank you. BOLDUAN: Do you think the president -- he said today, he said
tonight. Do you think the president is at all sincere when he call for unity? Do you believe him?
WALKER: I do believe him. I believe in his heart he wants to see things unified. I believe we are all, certainly, as your host talked about, there is responsibility that goes around. I think it is the bottom of his heart, I do believe that he wants to have a more peaceful union.
BOLDUAN: But as long as it is a union that he decides how it looks? How does it begin? Doesn't it begin with him?
WALKER: Well, I think if he's the commander in chief, certainly, there is responsibility there. We have always, the three years, almost four years now that we served in the United States Congress, we have made sure that our tone, our heart, the way we share things is always in a form that does more than just simply make the argument. It is more about making a difference.
This coming Monday evening, I'm a presenter at the Thurgood Marshall College Foundation gala awards and I hope that is in due part to some of my tone. I think it is very important. I think all of Americans need to get back to the place where we're sending messages in the ballot box and using the post office for absentee ballots and not IEDs.
BOLDUAN: Amen to that. I just wonder how? When you see what we are seeing playing out yet again at a rally tonight, as we're still is law enforcement is still looking for maybe more IEDs out there. I mean, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, already, he said today that he thinks the motivation behind the attacks seems to be political. I'm going to play for you Jeff Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Could you tell us plainly, why was he targeting Democrats?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know. Other than what you might normally expect. He may have been -- appears to be partisan but that would be determined by the facts as the case goes forward and I'm not able to comment on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: What we know outside looking in, do you agree with Sessions?
WALKER: I will tell you, as the starting pitcher on the baseball team and my teammates, once we found out that a guy's name we to this name don't mention, the name is James Hodgkinson (ph), most of your viewers probably wouldn't realize that name, we made an agreement that, one, we would never blame Bernie Sanders, even though he worked as a volunteer, and two, that we would not give him the attention that maybe he craved.
Absolutely. We abhor any kind of act of terror like this. And to say that there wasn't some kind of undertone I think would be mistaken. But it doesn't mean there is a specifically a connection as well. But people are driven lots by times by biases, by partisans and we've seen it multiple times.
BOLDUAN: So, then, Congressman, I appreciate what you're saying tonight. I really do. What do you say to the folks on the far right, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Geraldo Rivera, I played it earlier. I'm not sure if you had a chance to hear it, who are questioning whether these attacks were even real, calling it false flag attacks, calling them a hoax, saying that it's, I don't know -- I think perpetrated by the Russians to embarrass Trump. I mean, something like that.
What do you say to them?
WALKER: You know, I think my responsibility, as an elected official, Republicans and Democrats alike, we've got to make sure the tone is right. There are many people -- as a former pastor, I dealt with many couples who had family members who were struggling with mental health disorders, people sometime take that at face value.
Just three weeks ago, we had a Secret Service issue on ours. We had some threatening messages and somebody trying to find out where my 12- year-old daughter was going to school. We have to set a better tone.
I can't speak for all these organizations about left and right, who may propagate some of those false messages. But I know what I can do. And I would call on the other 434 members of the House to do the same.
BOLDUAN: And probably maybe the one person living in the Oval Office as well. Congressman, I know you do. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.
BOLDUAN: And thank you all for joining us this evening. So much to cover. I really appreciate your time.
"AC360" starts right now.