Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Author Salman Rushdie Hospitalized After Attack During Lecture; Ohio Police Kill Armed Suspect in FBI Breach Attempt; Violent Rhetoric Spreads on Pro-Trump Sites After FBI Search; Polio Virus Detected in NYC Wastewater Samples. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Just in into CNN, award-winning author, Salman Rushdie, has been airlifted to the hospital with a stab wound to the neck. He was attacked on stage during a lecture this morning in western New York. Police say a suspect is in custody.

Let's go right to CNN's Erica Hill.

Erica, what do we know about this attack and Rushdie's condition?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So it turns out, his condition, what we do know is actually coming from Governor Kathy Hochul who just said at a separate event that he was, quote, "alive and hospitalized."

She praised the actions of the New York State police who were there, credited them with saving his life.

What we know from the New York State police is that he did suffer an apparent stab wound to the neck. The interviewer, the moderator who was there, we're told also suffered a minor head injury.

But you can see the venue here, the venue itself. We're trying to get a firm number on the actual attendants this morning at the venue.

But you can see what happened there. This is a venue that holds some 4,000 people. We are told by witnesses that this happened as Rushdie was being introduced on stage.

A witness also telling us that there was not a security check for the event. There were no metal detectors. They were checking whether only you had a pass for the event.

Witnesses have told us, as you see there, people immediately rushed up to help to both subdue the suspect and also to help Salman Rushdie.

We don't have a lot of details on the suspect at this point. Trying to get some more information there. But, again, in terms of his condition, according to Governor Hochul,

he is alive and hospitalized. He was airlifted to an area hospital, as you mentioned. Ana, we'll update you as we learn more.

CABRERA: OK, Erica Hill, thank you for that update.

We are learning a lot more about the armed man killed yesterday after trying to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, including the weapons he was carrying, the violent threats he may have posted on Donald Trump's social media platform, and the people he was associated with.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been on this story from the beginning.

Brynn, what do we know about this suspect?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, authorities have now said his actual name. And we're learning more about who this person is.

In fact, sources telling me that they actually knew who Shiffer was. They were aware of him. Federal agents had a radar on him ever since his likely involvement in January 6th.

And his known associates, to the right extremist group, Proud Boys. That's something that they already knew about him. And that's something that is still being investigated as -- my understanding is, as they search through his social media platform.

We do know about one account, as Ana mentioned, about Truth Social, Donald Trump's social media platform. And that user, bearing Ricky Shiffer's name as well as a similar photo, talks a lot about sort of violent extremism against FBI agents, federal agents, the Justice Department.

The user actually talks about January 6th itself, how the election was a lie in 2020. And even details about some things about what happened that day, yesterday, at the FBI field office in Cincinnati.

I want to read a little bit to you because it's very interesting. It says:

"Well, I thought I had a way through bulletproof glass and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, I tried attacking the FBI. And it'll mean either I was taken off the Internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops while --"

And it trails off. And , assumingly, because he was being chased by authorities.

Listen, as I said, there are a number of posts that likely could give a clear picture, if it is, in fact, Ricky Shiffer's account, as to possibly why he wanted to attack federal agents there in Cincinnati.

Of course, we don't know the full story yet. That's still being investigated. But certainly the rhetoric did boost up on the social media platform

this week after what happened at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. Him calling people to go to Florida, go after officials.

And it's a violent picture of what this man possibly had on his mind.

CABRERA: Right. And that poster posting things like, "This is a call to arms, need to be ready for combat," and "get whatever you need to be ready" to fight a civil war to take back this country. So a lot of disturbing rhetoric and word choice there.


Thank you, Brynn.

Let's bring back our experts now.

Juliette, let me ask you now, can you draw a line from the rhetoric from some top Republican leaders, including the former president, to what we saw in Ohio yesterday?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I could draw a line, or more of a web. Let's put it that way.

I think one of the successes of the kind of dialogue that's being used in the political space, made expert by Donald Trump, is its ability to incite, to engender violence, to welcome it, to nurture it, essentially and, of course, with January 6th, as the January 6th committee showing, actually direct it.

It is a skill that he has mastered, that the party or elements of the party have mastered in their language.

And so what you saw after the arrest on Monday, or -- excuse me -- the search warrants on Monday, was an elevated sense that the civil war had begun, this idea of us against them. And this is what you heard and saw on right-wing platforms.

For a long time, I've been saying that Trump's skill is to utilize violence. And the threat of violence as a national extension of politics.

And because it wasn't stopped or because his own party didn't stop it, it's festered. And it won't win. I don't believe that.

It's scary. It's violent. And you see it all around. You see it yesterday in Ohio. The judge in Florida is under threat. His synagogue is under threat.

These are the kinds of things that we will see until this festering, this directing, this nurturing of violence ends.

CABRERA: Phil, words matter, right?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. And let me be maybe just a little more direct. I would draw a direct line, based on my experience following radical groups around the world.

That might seem odd, Ana, comparing what I saw with groups with al Qaeda to what we've seen in places like Ohio. But let me give you a quick explanation as to why there's a direct parallel and why people who are speaking about violence and the FBI, including politicians, are responsible.

Radicals and the experience that I spent following them overseas and now watching them in the United States of America require validation.

Typically, if someone is getting into the radical stream, if that person maybe isn't that educated or doesn't have sophisticated views about how to view politics, they're going to look for a leader figure to validate what they feel and to tell them the use of violence is appropriate.

When I watched this overseas, typically, that's a youth or an older person watching a video where a preacher would tell them the use of violence is OK.

Transition to the United States, we are seeing American citizens who watch politicians who tell them that government institutions are appropriate to distrust and to attack.

Validation and extremism inspire radicals. That extremism comes from a leader. We are seeing that leadership emerge in political circles of the United States. It's not much more complicated than that, Ana.

CABRERA: So, do you believe some of these Republican lawmakers are radicalizing their supporters?

MUDD: Whether they know it or not, they are.

You have to understand this is a numbers game. Let's say millions of people listen to you.

You're telling them that the government is not to be trusted, as we heard during the Russia investigation, as we heard just in the past couple days when political leaders say not only should you not trust the FBI but they planted evidence.

I realize that those politicians will say they didn't intend violence. But if 10 million people listened to you and one-tenth of 1 percent of them are on a fringe that thinks that's a cause to violence, you cannot speak that way.

Because you will validate that fringe to say that person told me to go do something. And that's what we saw in Cincinnati.

CABRERA: Renato, as we just went over, we saw posts like this appearing to be from the suspect yesterday. "Get whatever you need to be ready for combat, kill them."

Earlier this week, after the Mar-a-Lago search, post like this on a Trump forum, and I'm quoting here, "Garland needs to be assassinated, simple as that." Another, "Kill all feds." So, Renato, when does this stuff cross a legal line? When could you

take legal action?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Great question, Ana. The First Amendment broadly protects speech. Generally speaking, the default rule is that speech is not criminal.

But when there's something that's either what's called a true threat where you're actually threatening someone and you intend to carry it out, and you're saying let's work together to kill Merrick Garland, that would be not protected.

In addition, if you were inciting people to engage in imminent lawless action, as opposed to just more vaguely calling for action to be done, that is also actionable.

I suspect with some of these posts regarding Merrick Garland that some of these people may end up getting a phone call regarding that.


CABRERA: Renato Mariotti, Phil Mudd, Juliette Kayyem, thank you for being with us throughout this hour. I appreciate all of you.

We have more proof now that you need your polio vaccine if you haven't already gotten it. Officials finding the virus in New York City wastewater samples. The latest on that.

And the head of the NFL wants him benched for a year over sexual misconduct allegations but, tonight, Brown's quarterback, Deshaun Watson, is expected to hit the gridiron.



CABRERA: A new sign of how polio is quietly spreading. The virus is being found in New York City wastewater.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us now.

So lay it out for us. What do we know?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What we know is that there's one known case of polio in Rockland County.

But when there's one case, there's probably hundreds of cases of people who aren't really showing up in the medical system because they don't really feel sick but they're still capable of spreading polio.

So let's take a look at the vaccination rates in New York City compared with the national rates.

For young children nationally, it's 92 percent. So that's a really quite a good number. But look at these neighborhoods in New York City. Williamsburg, Battery Park, et cetera, 56 to 58 percent. That is not good.

So the polio virus is in the wastewater, Ana. So that means that people have it and they don't realize they have it. And in these neighborhoods, that means that some children could become paralyzed because the vaccination rates are so low.

CABRERA: I have to imagine, for it to show up in the wastewater, it has to reach a certain threshold for it to be detected.


CABRERA: And this all comes now, as we switch gears and talk about a different virus, the CDC is easing some restriction when's it comes to COVID, right?

COHEN: That's right. It's a little bit of an end an era where the CDC is saying there are enough people who are vaccinated, there are enough people who have been infected, or enough people that are both, so it is time to start changing some of these guidelines.

People have been doing these for a while now. The CDC is sort of catching up.

The CDC is saying no more six-feet social distancing recommendation, no more screening in most circumstances. For example, no more screening in schools. If you've been exposed to someone with COVID, you do not need to quarantine.

And now let's look at two things that they are keeping. One of them is masking. They are saying indoors most people should mask in the United States. And if you have COVID, you should still isolate.

CABRERA: OK, thank you. That was quick and dirty. Just the way we like it. Thanks, Elizabeth.

We have an update now on Anne Heche. The actress' family says she is not expected to survive her injuries from that fiery crash.

They put out a statement saying Heche has a severe brain injury and is being kept on life support while doctors determine if her organs can be donated. Her family says that was her longtime wish.

Heche crashed her car into a house in L.A. last week that caused a fire that also injured a woman inside. The LAPD said Thursday it was investigating Heche for felony DUI.

Glaciers crumbling and they're crumbling fast. The pictures don't lie. A new study on just how quickly climate change is wreaking havoc on the world's largest ice sheet.



CABRERA: The U.S. is poised to make an historic move against climate change with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. This comes as the planet deals with multiple environmental catastrophes.

Scientists say the Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the earth. And in Antarctica, the world's largest ice sheet is crumbling faster than previously thought.

Let's bring in CNN chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir.

Bill, explain this is so concerning. It's not just the melting ice sheets. It mean rising sea levels, right?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's all about sea level rise, especially considering the amount of ice at the South Pole.

New satellite technology was able to show this in more detail. It turns out, as much ice crumbled around the edges of Antarctica that could cover an area the size of Switzerland.

That, along with the ice sheets themselves sort of shrinking as they get melted from below, adds up to 12 trillion tons in the last 25 years, twice as much as previously thought.

Because the shelves hold back all that ice in the center, it adds to the urgency of leveling off global temperatures as fast as possible. Because when those go, we can say goodbye to many coastal cities as we know them.

CABRERA: Wow. So where do the climate measures in this bill that passed fit in? Ten, 20 years from now, will we be getting fewer headlines like this because of this bill?

WEIR: Well, unfortunately, so much of it is our new normal. That process is not going to stop. Adaptation will be a big part of this.

But what we see in this bill is what a lot of climate folks, hawks think is a real inflection point that will move this country finally towards an industrial revolution 2.0.

Plenty of critics like "Don't Look Up" Director Adam McKay, they say this bill gives too much to oil and gas. It doesn't break our addiction to fossil fuels fast enough.

But it's interesting that the Sunrise movement -- we show some video here from back in 2018, 2019 when they were sitting in, in Congress, to start the movement on this. They're taking partial credit for the climate provisions in this bill.

A lot of it survived the whacking and paring away up against Republican opposition and Joe Manchin's reticence, of course, up until the 11th hour there.

But they say every kid who took a Friday off from school to march in the street can take credit for what they hope is a real inflection point that changes the economy towards electrification.

[13:55:02] It doesn't stop the Antarctic from melting but maybe it gets this country moving in the right direction to address it.

CABRERA: We all hope so.

Thank you so much, Bill. Good to see you on this Friday.

That's going to do it for us today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

I'll be off the next couple of weeks for family time. So I hope you enjoy the weekend. Until then, be well. Thank you for joining us.

The news continues with Victor Blackwell right after this.