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Man Accused Of Explosive, Grenade Plot On Times Square In Court; Trump Comes Out Against NASA's Efforts To Return To Moon; Tourist Cracks Safe Locked For 40 Years On First Try; Warriors Team Investor Fined, Banned From NBA For One Year; Soon, Deadline For Trump To Sign His Mexico Tariff Threat. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:29] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: New York police have arrested a man they say was planning a massive bomb attack on Times Square. Investigators say the suspect talked about buying explosives and firearms to kill police and civilians and a government official. And right now, he's making his first appearance in court.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is with me now.

And this is mighty frightening. He's been under surveillance. How did investigators find him?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a joint operation between NYPD, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, JTTF. It's been going on since August of 2018, the surveillance. And undercover officers were making contact with him and befriending him in some ways.

And his name is Ashiqul Alam, a 22-year-old living in Queens. And through the conversations with the undercover officers, according to authorities, he expressed a high interest in wanting to take a terrorism activity, wanted to do it in Washington, D.C., against a senior government law official or he wanted to do it in New York City.

He talked about wanting to buy grenades or a suicide vest. He even went to Times Square and deciding that might be a good target. Took surveillance video with his own camera.

And he went so far as to get Lasik eye surgery, telling this undercover officer if his glasses fell off, he didn't just want to shoot anybody or call the Looney-Tooned terrorist, according to the complaint. This is what he's telling the undercover officer.

And it went far. And when authorities said he said, I want to buy guns, and they tried to do that sale and he paid money for guns, that is when authorities nabbed him. And that's why he's in custody now.

BALDWIN: Good for JTTF and NYPD.


BALDWIN: Brynn, thank you very much for that.

GINGRAS: All right.

BALDWIN: Just into us, the president coming out against NASA's efforts to return to the moon. Where he said astronauts should go instead.

Plus, for 40 years, no one could open up this safe. But one tourist visited this town and walks into this location and cracks it open on his first try. Find out what was inside when I talk to him live.


[14:38:05] As President Trump is back to Washington, D.C., he's tweeting about the moon. And I'll let the tweet speak for itself. Quote, "For all of the money we're spending, NASA should not be talking about going to the moon. We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we're doing, including Mars, parenthesis, of which the moon is" -- let's see -- "of which the moon is part defense and science."

So there you have it. We're assuming the president means the moon is part of the mission to Mars.

But just three weeks ago -- just three weeks ago, he touted maybe we should be doing -- in restoring NASA greatness and going back to the moon.

So CNN Senior Media Correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, is with me.

And let me add to that it was just a couple of months ago, down in Huntsville, Alabama, the Space Rocket Center, Vice President Pence said 2020 isn't good enough to go back to the moon. So what's he talking about.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: So, 2024. The new goal was, at the theoretical end of the Trump term, they return to the moon. Some people though that might be political posturing.

In any case, it's true. The Trump administration has been focused, first and foremost, on a return to the moon. And then eventually, a travel, a trip to Mars. That's been the framing of the Trump administration, by the president himself, and by NASA.

It does seem he's changing his tune a little bit. It may be because FOX was talking about this earlier in the day, he was annoyed by it. Or maybe because, coincidently, I had an interview with Apollo astronaut, Michael Collins yesterday.

Collins came out and criticized Trump and said we need to focus on Mars. Here's a portion of what Collins told me.

BALDWIN: Oh, we don't have it.

(CROSSTALK) STELTER: Well, I'll tell you what he told me.


STELTER: He said -- he criticized Trump and mocked him, and said, I don't even know if Trump knows where Mars is.

Collins point of view, which he admits is a minority point of view is that we don't need to go back to the moon first, that the priority should be Mars. He said it takes a John F. Kennedy express, the same way that Kennedy said, we're going to go to the moon by the end of the decade, and then America accomplished that.

Collins wants the same action taken around Mars. He wants the focus to be there.

[14:40:10] So let's try it again and see if we have it.

No. OK.

Look, I think the point is there is kind of a debate raging about what is the best strategy for NASA. Collins, for example, said rename NASA and call it NAMA, for Mars, focus on Mars and make that the priority.

But what we've seen from the Trump administration for the last couple of years is a real focus on returning to the moon first, to use that as a gateway or launch pad to get to Mars.

It is interesting, today, the president is changing his tune. And I think there might be space buffs out there very excited about that.


STELTER: Make Mars the more priority.

And all of this is coming 50 years after Apollo 11. We're coming up on the 50th anniversary --

BALDWIN: Of the lunar landing.

STELTER: -- of the lunar landing. It will be celebrated in June here on CNN with an incredible film on the 23rd. And the anniversary is July 20th.

So we'll hear the president and the vice president talking even more about space all summer long.

BALDWIN: And Michael Collins, reminding everyone, was the pilot who took Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong up for the footprints on the moon. He's the one who -- sorry, nerd alert -- orbited the moon for some 21 hours while they were down doing the do.




STELTER: We do have the podcast. We put out a podcast yesterday and that is where people could check it out on Apple, iTunes or other options.

BALDWIN: Awesome.

STELTER: And it is interesting to hear Collins and these other NASA veterans talk about what it is like 50 years later.


Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: It may not rank with opening King Tutt's tomb or even Al Capone's vault, but, for 40 years, a locked safe has bedeviled the owners of the Vermilion Heritage Museum in Alberta, Canada. The safe in the museum basement has resisted the efforts of former owners and blacksmiths, and who knows how many guests took a crack at opening this thing, until Stephen Mills showed up.

Stephen Mills is with me now.

Stephen, how? It took you one try and it was like, bada bing, bada boom, open.


It is just like that. A lot of good luck that day for sure?

BALDWIN: How did you even come up with this combination? Where did this come from?

MILLS: I was there with my wife and kids and I just knelt down and looked at the combination lock on the save, and it ran zero to, 60 so I just tossed my head for a second and let's give 20, 40, 60 a shot. And so I done the typical combination lock three times to the right, two times to the left, and one time to the right, and tried the hand wheel and it cracked open.

BALDWIN: And -- the big reveal? What was in the safe?

MILLS: I was -- my mouth dropped to the floor. And I stood up and I'm like, I'm buying a lottery ticket tonight. The curator came over from the museum and we opened the door together. It wasn't the gold and everything that we hoped for. It was some old notes from when the hotel closed in the late '70s, a waitress pad, and an old check and a receipt. Yes.

BALDWIN: It wasn't oodles of cash or gold medallions like I'm thinking of --

(CROSSTALK) MILLS: No. I'm still at work. Still working.


BALDWIN: I'm showing my age.

Stephen Mills, congrats. Go buy that lottery ticket. Thanks for coming on.

MILLS: Thanks, have a great day.

BALDWIN: You, too.

Foul play in the front row. A Golden State Warriors investor shoves a player and now banned for a year and has to pay a fine. Do you think that is long enough? We'll discuss that.

And why a Colorado school district is proposing to tear down Columbine High School.


[14:48:17] BALDWIN: So by now, you've likely seen the shove, and there's no mistaking the shade. Golden State Warriors investor, Mark Stevens, angrily and intentionally pushed Toronto Raptors player, Kyle Lowry, during game three of the NBA finals after Lowry chased after a ball into the stands. Watch.


ANNOUNCER: To the ball -- the ball goes in and goes crashing into the fan. There you see -- there's - in the blue shirt pushed him off.


ANNOUNCER: I don't know if he's talking about one of the Warriors or the fans.

ANNOUNCER: But you see one of the - well, it is interesting that he's --


ANNOUNCER: -- he's got a press pass, too. He's got something.


BALDWIN: There were also some choice words allegedly hurled at Lowry. And now Mark Stevens is in trouble. He's been slammed with a half million dollars fine by Golden State and the NBA. And the league goes further, to ban him from all games and activities for a year.

The backlash on social media has been swift. L.A. Lakers NBA all- star, Lebron James, calling Stevens out.

And this from Kyle Lowry himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYLE LOWRY, TORONTO RAPTORS BASKETBALL PLAYER: A guy like that shouldn't be a part of our league. Being honest with you. That is my personal opinion. That is how I feel. And, you know, we've had situations like this before and it is -- it -- the league has done the right thing and protecting the players and protecting the image of the league.

STEVE KERR, WARRIORS HEAD COACH: It is really not my jurisdiction. But I will also personally apologize to Kyle and to the Raptors. That's unacceptable.


BALDWIN: Here is what Stevens had to say for himself. Quote, "I take full responsibility for my actions last night at NBA finals. And I'm embarrassed by what transpired. What I did was wrong and there was no excuse for it. Mr. Lowry deserves better. I need to be better and look forward to making it right."

LZ Granderson is here, ESPN host, and sports and culture columnist for the "L.A. Times."

L.Z., what were you thinking when you saw that?

[14:50:16] LZ GRANDERSON, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: A couple of things. Number one, there's another fan again, overstepping his or her boundaries.

I could see if he had gotten hit when Kyle jumped into the crowd to try to save the ball. Maybe even get contacted. He just got emotionally involved. And we've seen fans overstep boundaries across multitude of sports. And this is another example of that.

BALDWIN: What about the fact that it is the -- the year ban. I want to play what Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said, on why it is not a lifetime ban. Here he was.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I think we recognize that it is not a science in terms of making these decisions. I think ultimately we felt that, given how contrite Mr. Stevens was, the fact that he was extraordinarily apologetic, the fact that he had no blemishes on his prior involvement with the NBA or the Warriors, that a one-year ban seemed appropriate together with the fine.


BALDWIN: Again, this guy is an investor. And there's discussion over whether the Warriors should -- him or whether just the one year is justified. How do you see it?

GRANDERSON: Well, I did reach out to someone who is close within the Golden State Warriors organization, and I asked one quick question, is this guy a jerk? And the response was, no, he's not a jerk. We have jerks. He's not one of them.

BALDWIN: He's not one of them.

GRANDERSON: With that being said, rules aren't set for whether or not you're a jerk or not. Rules are set based upon behavior and the ramifications of that behavior. And so I believe that the board of directors for the Golden State Warriors should consider forcing him to sell his minority stake.

BALDWIN: You do?

GRANDERSON: I do. I do believe they need to take that case.

Adam Silver is in a difficult situation, obviously. He tried to do the best he could from his position as commissioner. I know the fine could be up to million dollars and he chose half a million dollars. And I don't know why but he did and the one-year ban.

But the Golden State Warriors could do something themselves. And they're in a unique situation because, in all of the franchises in NBA, maybe all of sports, the Golden State Warriors are held up as the one being the most progressive and forward-thinking and concerned about players and players impact on the society.

And so if any franchise should consider doing this step because of the behavior of Mark Stevens, it should be the Warriors.

BALDWIN: The NBA is a predominantly black sport. Do you think white investor, black player, do you think race is playing a role here at all?

GRANDERSON: I don't think race was a factor when it came to Mark Stevens in that particular moment. I think it was more about being caught up as a fan. And fans in general, regardless of race, tend to overstep their boundaries. I don't think it was a sense of privilege, if you will, in that situation. Beyond privilege of being a fan and overstepping his boundaries.

And I understand that he felt bad about it. That is nice. But there's punishment, nonetheless. And I don't think what the NBA did was enough.

BALDWIN: We'll see if the Warriors do anything more. We'll watch it.

L.Z., a pleasure.

GRANDERSON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

It is just a programming note. This week, W. Kamau Bell is in Milwaukee to examine how implicit bias can shape views you may not be aware of. All new "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs Sunday, at 10:00, on CNN.

Right now, warnings of logistical and economic nightmares if the Mexico tariffs go into effect. President Trump heads back to the White House as negotiations there continue. We're watching and waiting to see if the U.S. and Mexico can make some sort of a deal.

We'll be right back.


[14:58:16] BALDWIN: Four climbers stranded near the summit of Mt. Rainier National Park have been rescued. They called 911 on Monday saying they were trapped near the peak, just above more than 13,000 feet. They began their assent of the mountain but ran into trouble because of high winds, which destroyed their tent and other equipment. It took Rangers several days to finally rescue them because of the windy conditions and poor visibility.


UNIDENTIFIED MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: I'm doing wonderful. I'm alive. Yes. And in this beautiful place with beautiful people. So couldn't be better.

At night, the storm hit. Just high winds and breaking and ripping the tent. We tried to hold on to the tent. Trying to hold on to everything that was outside. Everything just got -- slipped out, somehow we made it through. Really cold.


BALDWIN: The former climbers escaped serious injury but are being treated for frost bite at a Seattle hospital.

Top of the hour. You're watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

We may be just hours away from the first Trump trade war that has nothing to do with trade. The president must sign by today his order to impose tariffs on all goods from Mexico in order for it to take effect on Monday as he has been threatening.

Now, if imposed, the 5 percent tariff would be the first in a series of penalties the president has promised unless Mexico does more to curb undocumented migrants from reaching the U.S. border.

A high-level delegation from Mexico has been in talks in Washington for the last couple of days. And it seems, each hour that goes by, gives a different reading on how the talks are going.

The president just tweeted that there's a, quote, "good chance of a deal." But we are also getting word that things did not end well last night.

[15:00:07] So let's go straight to the White House, to our correspondent there, Kaitlan Collins, with an update.