Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Threatens to Suspend Nuclear Talks with U.S.; John Bolton Disputes North Korea Claim that He, Pompeo Created an "Atmosphere of Hostility and Mistrust" at Hanoi Summit; U.S. Police Ramp Up Mosque Patrols After New Zealand Terror Attacks; At Least 49 Dead in Terror Attacks at New Zealand Mosques; A Source Tells CNN Trump May Publicly Veto Wall Emergency Rebuke Today. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] CAMEROTA: Donnie Wahlberg, great to see you. Thank you very much for previewing this series for us.

DONNIE WAHLBERG, HOST, "VERY SCARY PEOPLE": Of course. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: You can watch the new original series, "Very Scary People," hosted by Donnie Wahlberg Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on HLN.

BERMAN: All right. CNN NEWSROOM picks up our breaking news coverage right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you. And a sad one this morning for the people of New Zealand. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow joining us live from New York this morning.

In New Zealand this morning so much grief, so much death seemingly fuelled by so much hate allegedly on the part of one man. At least 49 people are dead this morning, 20 others seriously hurt, after brazen attacks during Friday prayer at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Officials and survivors say a gunman fired on anything that moved. Taking care to hit as many victims as possible and to live-stream it all. The video as he went. He also apparently posted a venomous manifesto.

SCIUTTO: Let's call this what this is right away. In a word, it is terrorism. It is driven by hate and bigotry. Right now four people are being held by police, but only one so far charged with murder. And authorities say that they are still sorting out the involvement of those others if any of them were involved. Surviving these attacks meant escaping as in the case of Mahmoud Nassir who spoke to reporters this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAHMOUD NASSIR MOSQUE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: First we hide behind the cars and, you know, under the cars. And then when we see the fighting was still on, we tried to, you know, jump the fence. And then we hide next house for the mosque on this side. And fighting was on and on, you know.


SCIUTTO: We have extensive coverage this hour beginning with CNN's Clarissa Ward in London.

You know, Clarissa, this was premeditated, it was driven by hate. And just an incredible bit of bloodshed here, 49 people dead this morning.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Forty-nine people dead, as you said, 50 remain in the hospital. Four people arrested, although it's unclear how three might be involved. One suspect believed to be the primary perpetrator. He of course has been charged with murder.

And we're also learning now, Jim, that heavily armed New Zealand police have evacuated an area about 200 miles from the city of Christchurch. It's a town called (INAUDIBLE). They are inspecting or looking through a property there that they believe may be connected.

I think what made this attack so particularly egregious as well was not just the vicious attack itself but the fact that the perpetrator wore a body camera and live-streamed his massacre on to Facebook. Now CNN very deliberately is not going to show any of this video. But I have watched parts of it. I can say that it is nothing short of absolutely horrific.

It shows essentially people being mowed down in cold blood in a place of worship. Some of them after they are injured or on the floor begging for their lives. The attacker goes up to them and shoots them dead at point blank range. It is absolutely horrific to watch. The attacker appears calm throughout.

And of course many people including investigators are now poring through this 87-page manifesto that was believed to have been written by the attacker, posted before his attack and which outlines some of these sort of venomous, far-right wing tropes and memes that have become so prevalent on the Internet talking about the invasion of Muslim migrants, talking about the replacement of white people in the West -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Clarissa, thanks so much.

And, you know, Poppy, I watched this video out of a sense of duty. And what struck me is the calmness even his excitement on the way to the shooting. He was playing music on the way, in his car. It's just a disgusting act of violence.

HARLOW: Horrific. Clarissa Ward, thank you for all the reporting on that. Stay close to us as you get updates.

Let's now go to New Zealand. Blis Savidge is in Christchurch outside of one of the hospitals treating all of those injured.

Blis, what can you tell us? What's the reaction on the ground?

BLIS SAVIDGE, FREELANCE PRODUCER: So it's been a little bit over 12 hours since the first calls of this active shooter came in. It's about 2:00 in the morning here. It's relatively quiet here right now. We're standing right in front of Christchurch Hospital where a lot of the victims were taken. And there is a very high level of guard happening right now. There is a lot of security, armed guards at the door which is unusual for New Zealand.

A lot of New Zealand cops don't even carry weapons on them. They're available in the cop cars but not usually on the person. So to see armed guards with these massive guns in front of the hospital is just unusual to begin with.

[09:05:00] This is not only a country that doesn't see a lot of gun violence. This is a country that doesn't see violence -- high violent crime rates in general. So I think people are just really in a state of shock. Everywhere you go, people are still trying to understand what's happening and how this could happen in their own country.

And everybody I talk to keeps saying, you know, putting the words mass shooting and Christchurch together it just -- it doesn't even sound right. How is that possible? So there is definitely a lot of confusion happening right now.

As far as the investigation itself, really early on in the investigation. And New Zealand Police are being really tight-lipped about everything that's happening. They do have one man in his late 20s who's been charged with murder. And he'll be appearing in court tomorrow morning for the first time. There are other people in custody right now. But police don't exactly know what their involvement is at this time.

Of course the death count right now is 49 with over 40 people still in the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to very critical.

SCIUTTO: One of those already died in the hospital.

Blis Savidge, it's good to have you there on the scene. Thank you.

Let's discuss now more with Jason Howk. He is author of "The Qur'an: A Chronological Modern English Interpretation." He also served in Afghanistan under General McChrystal, has dealt these issues for some time, Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst.

And Jason, if I could begin with you, because you have an unusual background here. You served in the warzones and now you go around the country, you talk about anti-Muslim hate, you've got a podcast attempting to address this as best you can.

What strikes me about the shooter here is the shared motivation and hatred with other killers we've seen. The Norwegian shooter, a mosque shooter in Quebec some time ago. In what you look at, what you study, is there a rise around the world in this kind of anti-Muslim violence that we saw today in these last 24 hours?

JASON CRISS HOWK, AUTHOR, "THE QUR'AN: A CHRONOLOGICAL MODERN ENGLISH INTERPRETATION": I don't know what the statistics are on that, Jim. But there is a rise in all of this anti-religious violence. So we're seeing it from numerous points of view. And this is just the latest in that type of attack. Just discussing -- his hatred is very clear. This is well thought out. Just disgusting. I don't even know how to put it into words right now.

HARLOW: Peter Bergen, what about fighting this extremism? Obviously given your extensive history and experience covering radicalization, what about fighting this kind of terrorism and trying to prevent this terrorism, this kind of extremism?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Unfortunately there isn't really a good answer to that, Poppy. I mean, the people that have been arrested so far apparently were not known to authorities. And when we look at these kinds of attacks in the West, typically the people involved, they tend to be people who are not doing particularly well in life. They attach themselves to a violent ideology. In this case, you know, violent anti-Muslim fanaticism. And that allows them to kind of carry out these attacks and sort of be a hero in their own story.

Again and again when we look at this country, Omar Mateen in Florida who killed 49 people in the Florida nightclub, you know, he was kind of going nowhere fast in life. He was -- he wanted to be a cop. He didn't get into the police academy. And so typically we don't know yet much about the perpetrator. But typically they're people who are not doing particularly well. And they attach themselves to these violent ideologies.

And unfortunately if they're not known to authorities and even if they are you can't stop these things very easily.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

SCIUTTO: Jason, the language is important here because in this manifesto, and we don't want to go too deep into it but the relevance is important because it explains apparently his motivation. He calls migrants, Muslim migrants specifically, in New Zealand invaders. He repeatedly used the term replacement. You know, something we heard in Charlottesville in the protest, right? You know, these outsiders replacing us in the country.

I'm curious. Have political leaders mainstreamed some of this rhetoric to a dangerous extent? I mean, there is an Australian senator, sitting Australian senator today who is blaming this attack on the Muslim migrants just incredibly.

HOWK: We've got people on all ends of the spectrum here, political and religious who are really ramping up this type of divisive language. When I first started reading the manifesto I replaced the words instantly with the word crusader and the word invader. And it was the same Taliban and al Qaeda propaganda and ISIS propaganda. I have been reading through my whole career and trying to get inside

their heads. There is just an extreme violent movement on all ends of the spectrum. And it continues to ramp up and people feed it. Whether they are politicians or religious leaders. People are feeding this type of anger, all these tropes and all this language of division.

SCIUTTO: It's interesting, Poppy, the point Jason makes.


SCIUTTO: You know, the extremists among the anti, you know, these Islamist extremists who are against them often use similar language, right?

[09:10:05] And kind of just replace some words there and, you know, the manifestos can sound the same.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. No. It's an important point.

Peter Bergen, social media, responsibility, knowing something is imminent. Look, there were signs here in terms of this manifesto. It was posted, we know, hours before. We don't know how many, but hours before on Twitter and on 8chan.

What needs to be done to have better screening, to know that something is coming, be able to determine what, you know, IP address it's coming from, et cetera?

BERGEN: Well, part of the problem here, Poppy, is, you know, for instance, YouTube gets 400 hours of content posted every minute. So I mean, the volume of material on Twitter, on YouTube and Facebook is just --


BERGEN: It's unimaginable. However, and I do think the social media companies have kind of, you know, stepped up to the plate. Facebook has hired 3,000 people. Many -- quite a number of whom are focused on counterterrorism issues and fluent in many languages to address this issue. But I mean, you know, you can't take everything down. And all the things are, you know, it is not -- by the way, this manifesto it may not actually necessarily be something that would be immediately taken down because there is often -- you know, there's kind of a discussion about, you know, is it really calling for violence? Is it really inciting violence? Which of course is against the terms of use.

HARLOW: Right.

BERGEN: So, you know, these are not easy -- you know, sometimes they're not easy calls. There is a huge volume. And I would just add one other quick point, Poppy. I mean, we saw three years ago an ISIS militant in Paris broadcast live on Facebook. And so this is not the first time we have seen it. but I can guarantee you almost in any future terrorist attack we will see terrorists using Facebook Live or other live platforms to kind of simultaneously broadcast and carry out the attack.

HARLOW: Peter Bergen, Jason Howk, thank you both for your expertise on this tragedy this morning. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Just incredible. And you would imagine, Poppy, that there would be technology to, I don't know, capture the sound of a gunshot, right? I mean --

HARLOW: I know.

SCIUTTO: There's a lot of technology out there. These are hard questions. We're going to keep asking them.


SCIUTTO: Well, a summit 3.0. not looking good. North Korea considers strapping all denuclearization talks with the U.S. How will the Trump administration respond?

And President Trump is set to sign his very first veto after a very public Republican rebellion against his position on the national emergency declaration. We will have the latest.

HARLOW: And also the Democratic field for 2020 getting larger but Senator Amy Klobuchar trying to set herself apart from the pack, not by working against Republicans all the time but working with them. More of our exclusive sit-down is ahead.


[09:15:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: North Korea says it is thinking now about scrapping denuclearization talks with the U.S., according to a Russian state news agency, North Korea's foreign minister says it has quote, "no intention to yield to the U.S. demands in any form."

This diplomat went on to say that the U.S. was quote, "too busy with pursuing their own political interests and had no sincere intention to achieve a result. That is quite a different description than the bromance we've heard from the president that last several months.

POPPY HARLOW, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Markedly different. This North Korean official also added that national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a quote, "atmosphere of hostility and mistrust."

But this morning Bolton is disputing that characterization, telling reporters it's quote, "inaccurate" and saying he would like to speak further within the U.S. government before we respond. Now, this comes of course just weeks after that failed summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby joins us now. Good morning to you, General Kirby --


HARLOW: My first question is, is this real? I mean, does this mean that this is all dissolved and we're back to the starting point here or is this --

KIRBY: Not --

HARLOW: About the North trying to look strong to its own people?

KIRBY: I think it's -- I think it's more of the latter than the former, Poppy. I don't think this is the end at all. This isn't Armageddon here. I think this is a negotiating tactic, they're trying to get the attention of the Trump administration. In particular in my view, President Trump himself.

This is a shot across Pompeo's bow right directly into the Oval Office to see if they can get Trump to sort of you know, negotiate more with his own team about the process itself. As we were talking about it a couple of weeks ago in Hanoi, I think there has been some splits inside the administration.

Pompeo and Bolton much more hard lined than Trump is on this process and what denuclearization means. And I think the North Korean team is trying to take advantage of that.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, the North Koreans might have put their finger on that internal division there. It's certainly --

KIRBY: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Interesting because this North Korean official who is making this comment now about the talks is the same one who based on our reporting made this kind of last-minute hail Mary in North Korea, delivering a personal message from Kim to Trump after those talks had broken up on his way to the airport, eventually rebuffed.

I'm just curious what the way forward is because it clearly from the second summit, the positions are quite far apart.

KIRBY: That's right, I think this will certainly spur renewed discussion between the teams certainly at this Steve Biegun and the special envoy level without question. But Jim, I think what this really comes down to is what is denuclearization?

You know, after Singapore, we never really got a defined sort of agreed upon definition. We certainly didn't come away from Hanoi with that. And I think that to some degree, that's really the essence of what we're talking about here.

If Pompeo and Bolton and Biegun are privately as they are publicly so staunch about denuclearization complete before sanctions can get lifted, then I think what they're doing is they're painting the North Koreans into a box and the North Koreans using this statement today are trying to kind of find a way out of that box.

But I think -- SCIUTTO: Yes --

KIRBY: Really, this ultimately, this has to do with the fact that we don't agree on what denuclearization is, and they perceive rightly or wrongly that the United States position is they've got to denuclearize first before any sanctions can get lifted. I think what the --


[09:20:00] KIRBY: North Koreans want is sort of a give and take, sort of a stair-step approach.

HARLOW: But they never -- I mean, were on the same page, even going into summit 1.0 or --


HARLOW: Two-point zero on --

KIRBY: Right --

HARLOW: What denuclearization actually meant, Admiral Kirby?

KIRBY: That's exactly right, Poppy. And that's why I think what this -- what this statement will do will probably re-energize Steve Biegun to get in touch with his interlocutors and try to come to sort of agreement a little bit better agreement anyway about what denuclearization is supposed to be going forward.

I still think there's negotiating room here, and I think what the North Koreans are doing are trying to signal that they really do want to get down back to the table and come up with something. But they perceive that Pompeo, Bolton and Biegun, particularly Pompeo and Bolton are being much more hard-lined and uninterested in sort of negotiating a stair-step approach forward.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and it also raises questions about whether the president exaggerated the chances for peace here at least initially.

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Rear Admiral John Kirby, always good to have you on, thanks very much --

KIRBY: Thanks, man --

SCIUTTO: We're all watching the latest from New Zealand. More than four dozen people killed, 49 people dead this morning in attacks on two separate Mosques. Many more people still in the hospital fighting for their lives.

Now across the United States, people are -- police rather are ramping up patrols at Mosques in this country.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: An extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. That

description coming from the Prime Minister of New Zealand after massacres at two Christ Church Mosques right during Friday prayers.

HARLOW: Forty nine people this morning are dead. Emma Cropper from "Newshub" is live for us in ChristChurch this morning. Our deepest condolences for this horrific act to your fellow New Zealanders. What can you tell us this morning? I know it's the middle of the night there.

EMMA CROPPER, NEWSHUB REPORTER: Thank you. Yes, it is 2:00 a.m. here in New Zealand, and I'm outside the local hospital here in Christchurch. And there are still family members walking in and out to see their loved ones who are inside there.

At the moment, what we know is that there have been 12 operating theaters working nonstop, operating on those injured, who have been showed up here injured this afternoon following this attack. It's been incredibly frightening and shocking to see what has happened here in Christchurch.

It's just something that does not happen here. Everyone is in disbelief that something like this would happen and what we consider to be a very quiet city as well as country.

SCIUTTO: As we look at this, we know that already one of those 49 dead died in the hospital. I believe the figure we saw was 50 others still injured. You mentioned 12 operating theaters, do we have any sense, any update from the hospitals about the status of other victims and how many of their lives are in danger?

CROPPER: We know there are 48 injured, children and adults have been taken into the hospital behind me. But the injuries, well, we've been told range from minor through to major and we know those who have had surgery undertaken here in Christchurch.

It's likely that they will need multiple surgeries ongoing, so it's likely they could have some long-term injuries from what has happened. Other than that, it has been a very quiet night around the streets here, many of them are in lockdown, mosques is in lockdown at the moment.

But a very uneasy night for especially a lot of those loved ones who are inside the hospital at the moment waiting for any news about what is happening in there.

HARLOW: Emma, speak to -- for people who haven't spent time there and don't know just how open and welcoming New Zealand is to immigrants and people of all faiths. Just speak to the reaction there from your friends, from acquaintances, from people on the street to this happening especially in a place that is so warm and welcoming.

CROPPER: Yes, exactly. Just as you say, that's what we pride ourselves on here in New Zealand. Is that we do welcome everyone that comes in here into our country and anything like this that has happened are just -- it's shocking to us. This is something we are used to seeing on the news, not happening here in our backyard as our Prime Minister said it is unprecedented.

I actually grew up here in Christchurch and used to live not far from the Mosque where one of these attacks was. And it's just hard to believe something like that would happen here in New Zealand, and not just here in Christchurch, but across our whole country.

Everyone was a bit unease here tonight. And police have seized(ph) the property and to Natom(ph) which is about four hours south of this city here in Christchurch, and I said that this is a location of interest in it, they do believe it is linked to the firearms incident here in Christchurch.

So it just shows that, you know, police, they aren't certain and there aren't more people linked to what has happened here in Christchurch out there in New Zealand than -- it's just -- there's such a sense of fear here in New Zealand at the moment.

But also sadness that something like this would happen here because it just doesn't happen, and there's just no idea that it would either happen here at all.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Emma Cropper, thanks so much. And Emma makes a good point, the police they're not certain --

HARLOW: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Yet that the threat is over. We're going to stay on top of this --

HARLOW: Right --

SCIUTTO: Story. Here in the U.S., a source tells CNN that President Trump could sign the first veto of his administration as early as today. This comes after 12 Republicans voted alongside Democrats to reject the president's national emergency declaration over his desired border wall.

We are told that the house will likely schedule a vote soon to override the president's veto or to attempt to, but it will likely fail in the Senate where, of course, a two-thirds majority is needed. Joining me now is Jeff Mason; he's White House correspondent for "Reuters".

So Jeff, here, first on those numbers there. In the Senate, in the House, very unlikely you'll get to the numbers, the two-thirds necessary to override. Is that right?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Yes, that's right. And that's the most important thing, really looking forward to the fact.