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Erin Burnett Outfront
Feds File Criminal Charges Against Bombing Suspect; Official: Bombing Suspect's Wife Cooperating With Investigators; Bombing Suspect Jailed in 2014 For Stabbing Relative; Sources: Bush 41 Says He Will Vote for Clinton; Interview with Kellyanne Conway; Complaint: Suspect Purchased Bomb Components on eBay. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 20, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news. Federal charges just filed against alleged bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami. We are learning the FBI knew about Rahami more than two years ago.
Plus, was he radicalized in Afghanistan and Pakistan? A former classmate and coworker OUTFRONT tonight.
And did Donald Trump use money from his foundation to settle his own business lawsuits? I'm going to ask his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. Federal charges filed moments ago against alleged bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami. The charges including use of a weapon of mass destruction and the bombing we're also finding out that that dumpster moved 120 feet. That windows were shattered as high as three stories. Much more about the fingerprints and where he even bought the material. Some of these on eBay. This filed in New York where 29 people were injured on Saturday night.
And as I said, some of those materials from eBay according to this federal complaint. This comes as we are learning a lot more tonight about the missed signs on Rahami's background. The FBI interviewed Rahami's father more than two years before the bombings following on a tip that he had called his own son a terrorist. Earlier today, his father spoke to reporters outside the family's chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you call the FBI two years ago? What happened?
MOHAMMAD RAHAMI, FATHER OF AHMAD RAHAMI: Because he's doing bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing bad. Why did he do bad?
RAHAMI: He struck my son. He hurt my wife. And I put him to jail two years ago. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And today we're learning much more about Rahami's wife. Her name is Asia Bibi Rahami, a Pakistani woman. Her married her while he was overseas. And here is something important. She was in the United States until just days before the bombings.
Deborah Feyerick begins our coverage OUTFRONT tonight. And Deborah, what do you know at this hour?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do know is the wife now does appear to be cooperating with authorities and she could provide critical information as to where Rahami was during his time in Pakistan and Afghanistan to areas that officials call high risk. Rahami himself, the terror suspect still not talking.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Two years before allegedly detonating a bomb in Manhattan, Ahmad Khan Rahami came to the attention of the FBI in New Jersey. In 2014, agents interviewed Rahami's father Mohammad. Following a domestic dispute in which he allegedly called his son a terrorist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you call the FBI two years ago? What happened?
MOHAMMAD RAHAMI, FATHER OF AHMAD RAHAMI: Because he's doing bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing bad. Why did he do bad?
RAHAMI: He struck my son. He hurt my wife. And I put him to jail two years ago.
FEYERICK: At the time, Rahami had just returned from a year-long trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Officials tell CNN, FBI agents did not interview Rahami. After conducting internal database reviews, interagency checks and multiple interviews, the FBI ultimately concluded, it was family dispute.
WILLIAM SWEENEY, JR., ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI NEW YORK: We reported the domestic incident some time ago. The allegations were recanted and I don't have any other information. We'll keep digging.
FEYERICK: However because of his repeated trips to areas associated with terrorists when Rahami returned to the U.S. in 2014, customs and border patrol agents pulled him aside for extra screening. A law enforcement official telling CNN that information was sent to the FBI before the family dispute. While the FBI so far does not believe Rahami was part of a terror cell in the Newark, New Jersey area, investigators are digging on Rahami's connections in the U.S. and overseas to determine if he had any help.
COMMISSIONER JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Moving forward, we have to identify everybody involved and see what their backgrounds are. See where they have been. See what they have been up to.
FEYERICK: Rahami allegedly built at least ten bombs. Eight pipe bombs and two pressure cooker bombs. A federal law enforcement force tells CNN, Rahami used a highly volatile chemical explosive easy to make it home. The material is so powerful it could create an even bigger blast than the one caused by the Boston bombers. Tonight, investigators are learning more about what could have inspired Rahami. After a shootout with police, investigators discovered he had a notebook on him with a bullet hole. According to a law enforcement official, it referenced the Boston marathon bombers and American born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike.
FEYERICK: And that pressure cooker bomb exploded just in a -- right behind me. It blew out all the windows, shattered windows just across the street. And it was so powerful that it propelled that dumpsters you said across this six-lane highway basically. This street here, 23rd street. I spoke with an explosive expert earlier today and he told me that he's very surprised that given the sensitivity of the compounds he was using in that pressure cooker that that device didn't detonate sooner -- Erin.
[19:05:18] BURNETT: All right. Deb, thank you very much. I want to go live to Brynn Gingras now. OUTFRONT live outside the hospital where Rahami is being treated in Newark, New Jersey. And Brynn, what do you know about his condition? Is he talking to police cooperating at this time?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not just yet, Erin. We know from police that Rahami is listed in critical but stable condition and will likely survive according to officials after undergoing surgery for several gunshot wounds. Of course those he experienced in that gun battle with Linden police officers just yesterday. So, at this point because of his medical condition, authorities have not had a chance to talk to them but we're told federal authorities of course are eager to do so.
We should also mention that Peter Hammer, the second Linden police officer that was injured in that gunfight, he was released from the hospital today to his fellow police officer whose stood in line cheering for him. He gave a sort of salute back to them and you could see that he had that wound on his forehead. A graze wound that he experienced during the gun battle with Rahami. His fellow officer Angel Padilla was released just yesterday -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Brynn.
OUTFRONT now, our panel Bob Baer, former CIA operative Art Roderick. Former assistant director for investigations at the US Marshals. Jeffrey Ringel, a former FBI special agent and Evan Perez, our justice correspondent.
And I want to spend this time here going through the breaking news. There is a lot of significant details Evan here in these charges that we are looking at.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A number of things, including the fact, the key thing which we've been reporting for a couple of days now. The fact that the unexploded bomb was frankly the linchpin on this case. There were 12 fingerprints that were recovered from the unexploded pressure cooker device that was found on 27th Street. That was key to helping identify him. We also, according to these documents, the prosecutor, the FBI investigators were able to find lot of evidence from cell phones, including cell phones that belonged to family members.
Cell phones in which he appears to be exploding practice devices near -- very near to that home in Elizabeth, New Jersey that we've been showing a lot. The chicken restaurant that has been shown a lot. It appears that this journal that we've also talked about which was recovered, there is a lot of ramblings as we've described it. Including a reference to wanting to carry out jihad, hoping that he's able to carry out jihad before the FBI is able to catch him.
He makes references to Anwar al-Awlaki, Nidal Hassan, this is the terrorists who killed people at Fort Hood in Texas as well as to what he refers to his brother Osama bin Laden. A mix of ideologies that are seen to animate him, to influence as he was planning to carry out these attacks. And as you've mentioned at the top of the hour there. The FBI recovered evidence that he bought the components that were used for make these bombs on eBay. These were common things that you could easily buy.
PEREZ: And he bought them just in the last couple of months in June and July. Was able to buy these on eBay. So he's been planning this for a little while.
PEREZ: We previously reported that he bought multiple flip phones, were the phones that are believed to have been used to carry out or to at least be attached.
BURNETT: Pull the trigger.
PEREZ: As the triggers for some of these devices.
BURNETT: So, Bob Baer, let me ask you because as Evan is talking about here. I mean, we are learning he was buying citric acid. He was buying circuit boards. He was actually buying hardened lead milling balls, all of these things on eBay. All going to this the same address. It appears that he really was living in fact in this home on top of the family chicken restaurant. And yet none of this triggered anything.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, exactly Erin, the problem is we've been promised with these databases that they would be combined in something that set up, you know, red flags on the FBI assessment travel to Balochistan -- to Quetta. A whole year in Pakistan. That is long time to disappear. This all should appear in databases or that, you know, the ICE databases, but it doesn't.
The fact is these databases are not unified, if you like. And they don't work. I mean, this guy should have been, you know -- they should have looked into him again after the first FBI interview. But it is not entirely FBI's fault. They are just overwhelmed with leads. Unless they can tie it to one overt act in the name -- for terrorism, they can't do much about this.
BURNETT: And so let me just ask you Art about something else we are learning. I want to be clear though. That he did send most of these to a Perth Amboy address where he worked. All right? So, he worked there. But it looks as if he was at this time at the Elizabeth home where the chicken store was. They do say that they found a video of him, okay, on a family member's phone from the cellular phone belonging to a family member of Rahami of him igniting a bomb. Now, we don't know whether he filmed -- but obviously this means, he appears in the video. OK. So it would appear someone else made the video of him doing an explosion they said just a couple of days before the Chelsea bombings.
[19:10:36] ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, US MARSHALS: Well, it makes sense that he would be out testing this type of device. What's disturbing here is it is on a family member's video. What happened? Why wasn't there a phone call made? It was previous reports of domestic disturbances of the brother's having a violent confrontation, a stabbing occurred.
The father actually named him as a terrorist back a couple of years ago. The FBI did an interview. I mean, this really should have triggered something in the family's mind that why is he out behind the chicken restaurant blowing stuff up. And why wasn't any phone call made? I mean, this must have been some pretty low grade explosions for nobody to hear them.
BURNETT: So, Jeff, let me ask you. On this front, right? They are saying that the video was filmed at or in the immediate vicinity of that Elizabeth residence. Right? Kind of big place. It is not a big place. It was on a family member's phone. So, again the implication is someone else filmed it so someone else knew that this was going on.
JEFFREY RINGEL, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Right.
BURNETT: And yet none of this was put together as Art pointed out to a guy who his father reported him two years to the FBI as a terrorist.
RINGEL: Right. I think there is another example of, you know, see something, say something. But so often I think we hear after an incident is when people say, oh, I should have reported that but no one seems to do it at the time. And, you know, so again people see something they don't like or the family members see this, they should have either contacted local law enforcement or contacted the FBI.
PEREZ: One of the things that is emerging I think in talking to law enforcement official whose have been -- who are doing this case. You know, they tell me the thing that's emerging now is the fact that there was pretty much a dysfunctional relationship within this family. BURNETT: Yes.
PEREZ: So that is some of the context here. I think in hindsight, of course, all of these stuff makes sense but at the time certainly as the FBI was looking at this in 2014 --
BURNETT: Right. They said, oh it is a domestic issue in the family --
PEREZ: And certainly when the father recants and says, oh no, that was just in my -- in the passion of the moment I said that. But I don't really mean that. They spent actually a couple of months looking into this. And getting -- looking at the reports that were received from customs and border protection. They looked at his travel. They had looked to some of the reports that were filed by people who interviewed him when he came back into the country. And they didn't think it added up. Now, I will tell you this. This was 2014. If this case, I think came up more recently, perhaps things might have turned out differently.
BURNETT: All right. All staying with me. Next, Rahami's close friends speaks out for the first time. What he's saying about his family life that could shed new light on the investigation tonight.
Plus, inside a bomb lab for a closer look at the devastating effects of a pressure cooker bomb as we are learning the horrific details tonight of just how damaging this bomb was. And President George H.W. Bush says, he is voting for Hillary Clinton. Trump's campaign manager is our guest.
[19:16:41] BURNETT: Breaking news on the suspect allegedly behind the series of bombings in New York and New Jersey. Tonight, Ahmad Rahami's relatives telling investigators they have not had contact with him since the bombings on Saturday morning. This includes family members who lived with them in an apartment above their chicken shop. Of course we're finding out tonight that on a family member's phone, there was video of him exploding an explosive device just days ago. Court documents showed that that family was in turmoil.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friends of Ahmad Khan Rahami point to a lifelong feud between the eldest son and his strict father who brought his family here seeking asylum but also trying to hold on to a strict family tradition of their home country, Afghanistan.
EHSAN, FAMILY FRIEND OF BOMBING SUSPECT: For him, it was his father. It was just tension. It was his part too. He should have listened more to his father. Maybe, you know, stayed in school.
GRIFFIN: This long-time friend of the accused bomber says in his teens Rahami was outgoing, funny and looking forward to a future in law enforcement. But in high school, he got his girlfriend pregnant and Ahmad struggled to make jobs support payments. There was more stress and this family friend says, it led to one of the most dramatic events in Ahmad Rahami's life. The time his father literally abandoned him in Pakistan.
EHSAN: He told me himself that he was basically left there and then he had to find his own way back. Which I'm sure traumatized him for life. That I'm sure scar him.
GRIFFIN: The friend who doesn't want to be identified says it was a shock when Ahmad actually came back.
EHSAN: He left and they took away his way of coming back and that was about it. And it hurt him a lot. And that night like when he told me he said it in a very devastated way.
GRIFFIN: During the multiple trips back and forth to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ahmad and his brother married Pakistani cousins. He asked the Congressman to step in when his wife had visa issues.
REP. ALBIO SIRES (D), NEW JERSEY: She was issued a new passport and then after they got a new a passport, they found out that she was 35 week pregnant and they would not give the entry visa and they said that they would give other visa once she had the baby.
GRIFFIN: After she was allowed into the U.S., Rahami and his wife tried to get away from the troubled family life moving into this apartment but a friend says they couldn't afford it, were evicted and ended up back in the family apartment governor the chicken shop.
EHSAN: It was not good what happened. That was a violent night, there was blood --
GRIFFIN: Court documents show a family in turmoil, lawsuits over big debts incurred by the father. And allegation of child abuse by the mother. The tight quarters led to family fights in 2014 the violence escalated. Ahmad pulled a knife and according to this arrest warrant attacked his brother stabbing him in his left leg. Today, Rahami's father briefly told reporters, he is the one who called police.
EHSAN: It was a very bad situation for Ahmad. Because he was trying to live with his parents and his wife and kids. But I guess drama just unfolded that night between them.
GRIFFIN: This friend Erin is not excusing any of the actions of Ahmad Rahami. He just came forward to explain the terrible home life that Ahmad was trapped in. He blames his friend for making terrible decisions to try to get out of it -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, Ahmad Rahami's former classmate and coworker Amarjit Singh. And Amarjit, let me just ask you. What was your reaction when you first heard that he was a suspect in the bombings?
AMARJIT SINGH, FORMER CLASSMATE AND CO-WORKER OF BOMBING SUSPECT: Little as I know Ahmad Rahami, when I get an alert on my phone, I was at work. Didn't pay any mind to it as much. Just looked at it and then, you know, put my phone away and then saw his picture. Still didn't really, you know, pointed it out because I didn't really got any contact with him for such a long time. And after my mom asked me to send a picture over to her so she could have it in her phone, that is when I looked close before sending it to her. And I zoomed in a couple of times to see if that is really him or not. And I was starting, you know, I was just in shock, seeing that was Ahmad that I knew. From back when he used to work with me.
[19:21:04] BURNETT: And you know we just heard, you know, another one of his friends talking about his feud with his father and, you know, of course we now know his father Amarjit accused Ahmad of being a terrorist in 2014. What was their relationship like?
SINGH: I didn't get in touch with Ahmad around that time. Last time I think I spoke to him was around 2012. He used to work with me basically around between 2011 to 12. And his relationship with his father when he spoke to me during work times, which was 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. A lot of times in between. He spoke to me, told me -- like he didn't really get along with his father as much. Due to because he had a daughter that was not in his race.
BURNETT: All right. So you also know I know during the time that you knew Ahmad. He became more religious as you described. We're just learning tonight, you know, that he had posted a journal a letter where he talked about Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda. That he talked about jihad. What was he like in terms of his religion?
SINGH: He never spoke about any of that. And he was more, about, you know, just going to pray and wanted to raise his daughter religious. Every time he want to go come and meet his daughter to his mom, bring her to her mom and, you know, just do it the right way so she won't feel like she's out of the race and not the same religion so they could feel more comfortable with it and probably accept him more I think.
BURNETT: All right. Amarjit, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us. And my panel is back with me now. I mean, we're starting to piece together Evan more about this family. And you just heard Amarjit talking about the relationship with the father. How fraught that was. You are now learning more tonight about Rahami's wife, his current wife. The Pakistani woman.
PEREZ: That is right. She had a pre-planned trip. A trip that she had planned for sometimes. Bought the tickets. Traveled overseas. We don't know exactly when she traveled. However she was on her way back we're told by sources and when all of this went down, she was intercepted. She was stopped in the United Arab Emirates. And the FBI worked through the UAE authorities, Pakistani authorities, today they were able to take a statement from her, she went and spoke to the FBI legal attache in the embassy there in the United Arab Emirates and provided a statement.
The FBI does not believe that she had anything to do with this but they certainly wanted to talk to her because she, you know, might have seen certain things. We don't know exactly everything she said but they describe her, officials described her as being cooperative with their investigation.
BURNETT: And Bob Baer, I know this begs the question. There is her. There is also the fact that we now know he was doing his training or bomb building, at least some of it, right there in those tiny quarters by the chicken restaurant. It appears very clear that somebody knew something was wrong.
BAER: Oh Erin, I think absolutely. When you hit, you know, HMTD, when you hit with a hammer and explode, you hear it. It is a crack. It sounds like a bullet. So the fact that, you know, he was testing the stuff in the backyard. He clearly had problems inside the family. He's going off to Quetta, the rest of it. They could have added this up and saw it was going very badly. I'm not paying attention to the father talking to the FBI and saying, he's a terrorist. Because he didn't provide any proof of that. But two years later, when he's testing these explosives, oh absolutely. And the wife not knowing anything, it would surprise me. The family always knows something is going on at some point.
BURNETT: And again, the question here we that still don't know whether others were involved and the complexity, three different types of bombs at least that we are aware of and some of them requiring some real expertise or knowledge to build.
RODERICK: We were talking earlier, Jeff and I. And we were specifically talking about that. That on the one hand he seems to be somewhat knowledgeable about what he's doing putting these -- the complexity of the explosive that went into the pressure cooker was -- you know, takes some knowledge to put that together.
RODERICK: But then where his placement of the bombs and, you know, was he dumping the bombs in Jersey? The pipe bombs that he threw in the trash can that were found by the two homeless gentlemen. So there is a real paradox going on here. On the one hand his knowledgeable. On the other, he's pretty inept.
BURNETT: And so Jeff, how urgent is the search right now to find others who may have --
RINGEL: Well, fortunately he's in custody.
RINGEL: And so the investigation now is going to be building the motivation and also building anybody who may have assisted.
BURNETT: Right. That's what I am saying. RINGEL: So, I mean, I think right now it is not going to require the 24/7 like past weekend required. But all of the law enforcement assets are going to be pushing to exploit the information as quickly as possible so that they can determine if there is somebody else out there and to trail them and apprehend them.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. And next, Donald Trump son compares Syrian refugees to skittles. Trump's campaign manager is my guest.
And costume agents alerted the FBI about Rahami's travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They did alert the FBI. So, how did he slip through the cracks?
[19:30:23] BURNETT: Breaking news: the former President George H.W. Bush says he is voting for Hillary Clinton. Sources close to Bush tell our Jamie Gangel that he shared his plans during what he believed was a private gathering. Kennedy at that gathering first leaked the news.
Jamie joins me now.
So, let's just start with the significance of this. A Republican ex- president coming out and publicly saying he's voting for a Democrat for the highest office in the land.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, in any other year, this would be a big, big surface. But with Donald Trump, let's face it, we've had a lot of Republicans defect. And I think there are splits in the Bush family.
BURNETT: But this is the first former president.
GANGEL: But this is the first former president, and remember, he was chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was the party chairman. So, this is -- it's a big deal.
BURNETT: And are other Bush family members following suit?
GANGEL: So, we have been reaching out to Bush 43, repeatedly, and he is sticking with his guns. He's sitting this one out. He's not going to say anything. The only thing his spokesman reiterated today was he is going to do everything possible to reelect Republicans to Congress but he will not say who he's voting for.
However, the Bushes do not vote as a flock. Jeb Bush told me he's going to not vote for Donald Trump and he's not going vote for Hillary Clinton either. He has not decided who's going to vote for. Maybe he'll write someone in.
His son, George P. Bush, who's the Texas land commissioner, is voting for Donald Trump and is trying to get other Republicans to vote for Trump. So, it's a mixed bag. And Barbara Bush, last time I saw her, she
said, "I'm sick of Donald Trump and I don't know how any woman could vote for her." She's not on the record as voting for Hillary Clinton, but in her usual candid way I think we know.
BURNETT: Where she's going.
GANGEL: She's not voting for Donald Trump.
BURNETT: Right. It is pretty amazing, though, as you say, for a former president to come out and say that. It's one thing to not say anything at all.
All right. Thank you very much, Jamie.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now: Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thank you so much for being with me. I want to give you a chance to react to this news, that Jamie just -- was breaking. The former President George H.W. Bush says he will vote for Hillary Clinton. That, of course, is not just voting for Donald Trump. It is voting for Hillary Clinton.
What is your response to that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I respect the 92-year-old former president very much and his decision. And I think Americans are very grateful to the Bush family for his service. That is his right.
It is ironic that he would vote for the wife of man who knocked him out of the race. Bill Clinton defeated George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, Erin, in 1992, for his reelection. But, look, this was a bruising primary, and Jeb Bush really failed all expectations, that he would be the, quote, "electable", the predominant person on the stage. I mean, he lasted through South Carolina, got out of the race before March 1st.
So, I know there are a lot of hurt feelings there. That is his right. I think what's most disturbing about this report to me, Erin, is that someone divulged a private conversation. It doesn't seem it was meant for public consumption and that is always very bothersome to me.
BURNETT: Originally saying to a member of the Kennedy family at the private gathering, as you point out. He has, of course, since come out and said it and said to Jamie. But, yes, fair point. It was originally meant to be private.
I want to ask you Kellyanne about another story that is breaking tonight. This is "The Washington Post" report, reporting that Trump may have violated laws against self-dealing through his foundation. And I don't know if you got a chance to read it. But they lay out several donations he made to charities in order to settle lawsuits. One of them involved Mar-A-Lago. It was a $100,000 donation to a veterans' charity and it was to settle fines that Mar-A-Lago owed Palm Beach about some dispute over a flag pole.
Of course, it is illegal to use a charity's money to benefit yourself or your businesses.
Are you concerned at all that Trump may have broken the law?
CONWAY: No. And I would point out in the second paragraph of that story that you mention, Erin, it says "may have", and later on the story, it says the IRS may want to look into it. But, of course, they haven't.
And let's go back. This is classic Donald Trump. He wanted to raise the American flag as high as he possibly could over Mar-A-Lago. I think a lot of Americans at this point would applaud that, and, of course, the town or the county said he couldn't do it. I had to be smaller. So they started assessing a $1,250 a day fine.
So, the way that they, quote, "settled" it was for Mr. Trump to donate $100,000 for a veterans' group. I don't want that to be lost here. And so, the money went to veterans.
You know, the Trumps Foundation started with Mr. Trump's money. He was sole owner for a very long time. And I want to point out, too, that the Trump Foundation has no permanent staff, no paid staff, no overhead, no one from the Trump family takes a penny as salary or as benefits.
Contrast that to, as we know, the slush fund otherwise known as the Clinton Foundation. As we speak, they have their international donor fly in so they can pick up all kinds of foreign cash to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly.
So, I think there's absolutely no comparison between these two foundations, especially when you think about Hillary Clinton being a public servant, a secretary of state, while the Clinton Foundation was doing a lot of its cash collecting.
I know when they left the White House, they were, quote, "dead broke". But, boy, are they worth a quarter of a billion dollars now and it's no coincidence that it went along with the Clinton Foundation and her time with the State Department.
BURNETT: So, let me ask a couple of questions that you raise there, because you mentioned in "The Post" saying may have, and you are right, it does say may have. It goes on to quote a lawyer Jeffrey Tanenbaum who advises 700 nonprofits annually and his quote was, "I've never encountered anything so brazen", saying, "it's as blatant an example of self-dealing as I've seen in a while," again, referring to that Mar-A-Lago. That was another one with a golf course, as well, to settle a dispute -- a donation was given from a foundation to charity.
Can you categorically say there was no self-dealing? Or at this point, are you not sure? CONWAY: Well, I've been talking to the people who are responsible for
the Trump Foundation today, trying to get some facts and some figures. And so, I know this is all developing. We need to gather information.
But let me tell you something. It's very important for people to you said what happened in these cases. Donations went to veterans groups. Donations went to another person's foundation in another instance.
The idea that the money -- when people hear self-dealing, Erin, you know what they think immediately, that it's going or the plane rides and fancy hotels and expensive meals and certainly salaries and overhead. Again, that sounds to me like the Clinton Foundation where a report this weekend said about 6 percent of their money got to charity. A lot of it was wasted in overhead. That is not --
BURNETT: Kellyanne, the point, though, is the Trump Foundation and if this was settling a lawsuit that enabled Donald Trump's business to benefit, whether it be Mar-A-Lago or a golf course, that would possibly then be self-dealing?
CONWAY: How -- I'm sorry, how did his golf course benefit from him redirecting moneys that mistakenly came to the Trump Foundation? He redirected them to someone else's private foundation based on a hole- in-one contest. They were misdirected to his foundation, I'm told by his accountants and attorneys. They went to the right foundation after that.
How in the world did his business benefit from that? How did Mar-A- Lago benefit from him giving $100,000 to veterans. The veterans benefit. And I think that's great. I applaud him for doing that. All he wanted to do was fly the American flag higher.
BURNETT: Business, of course, benefitted by the lawsuit going away and being settled, right? That would be how the business benefitted.
CONWAY: Well, there are man lawsuits y against people. That's -- I think that is a bridge too far. I think you are making things up based on facts as they are not reported in this story, which also uses a lot of conditional phrasing, I would like to point out.
But look, foundations exist to help charities, to help those in need. And Mr. Trump has been increasingly generous throughout his career. I'm up in his office here in Trump Tower routinely when he is writing -- he is signing checks privately to help people that isn't even part of the foundation.
I mean, could you imagine? I know you can imagine, Erin. Can you -- you can only imagine how many people have asked Mr. Trump for his time and his resources and his connections and his money privately. And he does that. He doesn't have cameras in there. It doesn't go through foundations. And, by the way, everybody should also note that foundation
dispersements, as you know, under federal law are all a matter of public record. That is how this "Washington Post" reporter seems a little obsessed with Donald Trump these days, that's how he got this information in the first place. So, it's a matter of public record.
BURNETT: Yes, it is a matter of public record when it comes to the foundation. And you mentioned that he writes private checks. Obviously, part of the issue here, for some people, is that Trump has not donated to his own foundation since 2009. He did up to that point and then he no longer did.
CONWAY: For decades. For decades, Erin.
BURNETT: But since 2009 -- OK.
CONWAY: This foundation started in 1987. Let's be fair here. If we're going to throw words and figures around, let's be fair to Mr. Trump. The foundation as I understand started in about 1987. For a very long time, Donald Trump was the only donor to the foundation.
CONWAY: I think people think that there's no history before 2009. Let's be fair to him. And you say that some people think this is an issue.
I don't see it in a CNN poll anywhere. I see jobs, economy, terrorism, healthcare, immigration.
[19:40;03] I mean, Good Lord, just down the street from us right here, we had this terrorist -- this radical Islamic terrorist whose ex-wife says he hates gay, he hates America, tried to kill people. Thank God he didn't. But he certainly scared a whole heck of a lot and he certainly injured many people who have our prayers here at the Trump campaign.
So, I do want to talk about issues that Americans are talking about, but this isn't on the list.
BURNETT: I would say, Kellyanne, one thing though, of course, when you talk about the private checks and private donations, everybody would know what they were, there would be no issues if he just put out his personal taxes, because that's where all that would show up, so that's the only thing I would say on that, is all that would be out there for everybody and quiet perhaps some of this, which I will say I do believe is a real issue to have full financial transparency. And I said that with Mitt Romney as well.
CONWAY: One thing you wouldn't see in his tax returns is $16.5 million for some advisory position at Laureate University that Bill Clinton gets. You wouldn't see $ 21.5 million speeches for 92 speeches that Hillary Clinton gave. She gave speeches for free now, nobody seems to want to listen to them. She doesn't get this rally crowds that Donald Trump gets anywhere. So, I think if we're going to use foundations as an issue, we actually -- that would be great if actually people want to do some fair even- handed reporting about the foundations at work here, because the Clintons are very involved in their foundations, seem to have financially benefitted, seem to have used through the foundation to help, not to have necessarily the victim this is the earthquake in Haiti get all the money they were expecting, but certainly to help their friends and allies and colleagues get special favors and be granted access, yes, at the State Department. That's in their -- made very clear through some emails, but also around the world.
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, I want you on the record about another news story out there today. Of course, the tweet from Donald Trump Jr. He tweeted a graphic yesterday that likened Syrian refugees to Skittles.
The tweet was, "This image says it all. Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America first. Trump 2016."
And then the graphic said, "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refuge problem."
Now, obviously, he got a lot of criticism for that. Mars Candy who owns Skittles actually put a statement out saying, "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy."
Look, Kellyanne, I know that you and the campaign have an issue with the lack of vetting that's possible with a lot of Syrian refuges with the increase in Syrian refugees, but do you believe that this analogy specifically was appropriate?
CONWAY: Well, the analogy was not -- I don't think it is as you just characterized it.
But what I do think, what we do know is that many Americans are very concerned with the lack of vetting that's going on. We see what's happening all across Europe, Erin. The lack of vetting there and just sort of, sure, just come on over. That's been a disaster. Many women have been raped and you know that there's been -- look at Germany. Look at the problems in France.
And, of course, you know, it's really a shame to those refugees who want to come here through the regular channels and who are law-abiding peaceful people. Which of course is most of them. It's very -- it's a shame that people are resisting vetting programs that would actually just keep out those who want to do us harm.
The idea that Hillary Clinton's plan wants to increase Syrian refugees by 550 percent is very concerning to many Americans. They know what's happened. They know there's homegrown terrorism here. They know people are coming into our country like in San Bernardino and they know they are being radicalized and they come here on fiancee visas. They killed 14 innocent coworkers, whose biggest crime is giving them a baby or bridal shower at work, and going to a Christmas party? So, people aren't blind. They know -- they want to have a country
where people who are coming in are known to our authorities, those who are in charge of this. And we have to start giving local law enforcement and our federal authorities the tools they need. Many of them tell us, tell Mr. Trump and our campaign all the time, they feel very hamstrung. They feel like they can't do that their job.
So, you know, careful vetting of countries that are, again, where there aren't -- there is not vetting going on now, where we don't have strict vetting processes at all. And which have a history of terror or exploiting terror I think is incredibly important. It matches up with what many people are saying. As Mr. Trump has said just this week, twice on the campaign trail because he actually does rallies with people, not fundraisers with donors only, he has said immigration security is national security. That's actually a phrase that resonates with many Americans.
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, I want to ask you about something with Donald Trump. He was very critical of Hillary Clinton not taking reporter questions, as were we at CNN. That's a changed in recent days. And Trump himself has actually not held a formal press conference in 55 days. The last formal one was on July 27th.
Will he do it again? Really start having press conferences? Hillary Clinton, I mean, just to fair at this point is now doing this almost every day.
[19:45:02] CONWAY: Well, when Hillary Clinton is in front of the press, she's got the press asking her these -- they might as well just ask her, lovely blouse, where did you get it today, Mrs. Clinton? I mean, some of these questions are not journalism. Some of them are just, it's great to see you, do you think this is will hurt Donald Trump because he -- I mean, did you see this question from a Bloomberg reporter yesterday?
And so, you know, she also gets words like bombing scrubs from any -- I watched CNN all weekend and what are they saying? Donald Trump called it a bomb before it was a bomb. It was a bomb.
And nobody -- and very few people were mentioning from a journalistic point of view that Hillary Clinton also said the bombings or the bombing --
BURNETT: But again, the question Kellyanne is --
BURNETT: Is he going to take questions?
CONWAY: Sure, he'll take questions but, Erin, we're very -- listen, we -- Erin, I have to respectfully disagree because Mr. Trump is out there. We have the press pool with us every day. He's in public places at rallies, with voters. Not at fundraisers where the cameras are not allowed like which she does constantly. And the press is right there to covering anything. And you know what? They really do. A lot of the people who travel with us don't give us a positive tweet. Don't give us positive stories. Are they not there yesterday in Fort Myers where was with Mr. Trump? There were 10,000 people inside and we had 31,000 RSVPs for a place that only held 3,500 people. I mean, it's just incredible.
We don't get these stories from the whole press pool. So, sure, maybe he'll take a question here and there but, you know what? He gives press availability every day by doing these rallies in these swing states where he is every single day and they are there with him. We don't get fair questions.
Just last night CNN added in the word "racial" that he never mentioned with profiling. Your network added in racial to make it look like he has said "racial profiling" where he never had. So, you know --
BURNETT: I want to interrupt you there, I want to interrupt you there, because that was a lower third as we call them on our screen. It actually happened during this hour and I want to make it clear the word "racial" should not have been put in quotes.
CONWAY: Thank you.
BURNETT: But I want to ask you something about this though. But a lot of other people were happy to describe it as racial profiling without putting quotation marks around it because Donald Trump continually does speak about profiling related to Muslims. So, if it isn't racial, what specific profiling is he talking about?
CONWAY: Well, how about a profiling where hypothetically speaking a man who then has pressure cooker bombs in New Jersey and New York, father tells the FBI or tells authorities, "My son is a terrorist" and then they drop it. They don't investigate it. He's not on a watch list.
BURNETT: He did recant just to be clear.
CONWAY: Let's start -- the father recanted and did they look in this man's journals? When he was caught yesterday sleeping in a bar in the middle of the morning and the authorities caught him, we just so impress with law enforcement. We in this campaign can't show enough love and gratitude and respect towards our law enforcement. And you saw it on display again yesterday. You saw on display again yesterday, law enforcement in Linden, New Jersey, capturing this criminal.
And what was in his journals? They found anti-American pro-ISIS stuff in his journals I read in the paper today. He had been to Afghanistan. His wife or his ex-wife said he hates gays. He hates America. He is a terrorist. His father said he was a terrorist.
I mean, if the FBI -- if authorities are going look the other way, then at least we have a presidential candidate who's telling the Americans who say, I'm so tired of looking the other way. We don't have a vetting process. We don't have borders.
We have people just so worried about political correctness that this -- look what this did the other night. People were injured.
BURNETT: OK. This issue, though, of profiling and whether it is racial, ethnic, religious -- all of them, for many, under the same umbrella.
CONWAY: He didn't say that.
BURNETT: But let me ask you, because it's not just what you would probably call the mainstream media that is saying this and having these questions, OK? It's come up on FOX News several times, where they have interpreted this and ask these questions in similar ways. Trump many times has indicated that he supports profiling based on ethnicity. Let me just play so you can hear it, Kelly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Another thing you said that was very controversial is you want to profile. You want to profile Arab or Muslim men. How would that work?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, we have no choice. Look, Israel does and Israel does it very successfully.
In San Bernardino, they saw bombs laying around the apartment. People saw it. And they wanted to be -- they called it racial profiling. We didn't want to call in because of racial profiling. In other words, a lawyer got to them and said, you got a problem here. You knew it was a -- say racial profiles.
But, look, we have whether it's racial profiling or politically correct, we better get smart. We are letting tens of thousands of people into our country. We don't know what the hell we're doing.
I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK? If that's OK.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, if it isn't religious, if it isn't ethnic, if it isn't racial, what is it?
CONWAY: It's based on what he just said, which is, look at San Bernardino.
[19:50:01] Let's use an actual real world example instead of hypotheticals here. In the real world, San Bernardino happened. There are 14 families who will always feel grief because people look the other way. You saw all the reports afterwards, CNN went right out there, and you had people saying, yes, I thought it was kind of weird or I saw bomb-making devices or whatever they had said at the time. It wasn't like if they are just hanging around my house or your house, Erin, and saying, frankly, all the peaceful people of many different ethnic backgrounds, and saying, gee, I didn't see bomb making materials. I mean, the idea that people feel they have a reason to be suspicious and don't feel comfortable to say that. I mean, I talked to Mayor Giuliani about this. We used to have police officers were able to patrol certain places of worship based on reasonable suspicions, and that's just all gone away.
Again, we -- I just want to say that we in this country, Mr. Trump's message is that we in this country, if we're going to have a country, it would be nice too know who's here and why they're here. In the case of this Ahmad Khan Rahami in Linden, New Jersey, he had been to Afghanistan and his wife said he came back, hating America. Hating gays. Being so angry. His father called him a terrorist.
I mean, if this doesn't raise suspicion among law enforcement, what in the world will? How many more people have to die or be afraid, or be injured in Chelsea, New York, Erin, for us to wake up?
BURNETT: All right. Kellyanne, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
BURNETT: The campaign manager, as we said, Kellyanne Conway, for Donald Trump.
And next what Kellyanne was just talking about. Bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami spent extended periods of time in two of the world's breeding ground for terrorist. It is a fair question. What happened to him there? We are live in Afghanistan.
And as we learn more about the explosives he's using, we're going to go inside a bomb lab to witness the devastating potential.
[19:55:35] BURNETT: And back to our top story, the breaking news. A law enforcement official at this hour telling CNN that U.S. Customs and Border Protections officers notified the FBI and other agencies about the suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami's overseas travels. The FBI and others were specifically flagged after Rahami returned from a yearlong trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The trip may have been a turning point.
Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is OUTFRONT tonight in Afghanistan on the ground in Kabul.
Ivan, what else do you know about that trip to Afghanistan?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He made a couple of trips, 2011 and 2013. That one lasted almost a year according to U.S. officials. On the first trip, he's found a Pakistani wife.
Now, we're told by U.S. officials she's in the United Arab Emirates right now and she's cooperating with U.S. officials and expected to return to the U.S. some time in the coming weeks. Rahami, according to U.S. officials, was subjected to additional questioning, screening, when he came back to the U.S. from these trips and when he was asked why he was spending so much time in these countries, he said that he was visiting relatives, that he was attending an uncle's wedding, for example. We don't know exactly what he was doing on the ground. The Afghan and Pakistani governments have not spoken about his case to the press yet, but you better bet that U.S. government is reaching out to both governments to try to get more information. It's worth noting that both the Taliban and the al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, Erin, have both denied any links or any connections to Ahmad Rahami or to the bombings in New Jersey and New York -- Erin.
BURNETT: And let me just ask you this. This -- OK. All right. Thank you very much, Ivan. Obviously live from Kabul.
We're learning more tonight about the bombs themselves and I want to get to the latest just coming in, because we're learning here from federal officials at this hour that Rahami bought what he needed to make his bombs on eBay and shipped them to where he worked, which was Perth Amboy, New Jersey, near where he lives.
Officials say the pressure cooker bombs contained aluminum powder, ammonium nitrate, ball bearings, all of those things, he just went and bought on eBay, had shipped to one place, didn't raise red flags. How destructive can these easily obtainable materials be in a bomb?
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The power of a pressure cooker bomb.
Packed with explosives and bolts, this is what a terrorist can do. Buy materials in a hardware store, using knowledge pulled off the internet, weapons of war now on America's street.
Pressure cooker bombs used in the attack in New York and at the Boston marathon.
DET. BRANDON MARTIN, LAPD BOMB TECHNICIAN: Anything you can think of to turn something on or off can be used to initiate a device.
LAH: Flip phones, motion detectors, says L.A. bomb technician Brandon Martin connected to simple pipes.
MARTIN: You can add your own shrapnels to it. This will be adding nails to it, so when it explodes, it send these nails off at, you know, a thousand feet per second.
LAH: The pressure cooker just a bigger version.
MARTIN: Put a lid on it and confine it so it locks everything in there. The thing about these things like is they can just easily fit into anybody's backpack, you know? And you walk down the street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pressure cooker bomb with a frag pack inserted.
LAH: At New Mexico Tech, we asked them for an up close look at just how damaging a pressure cooker bomb can be. We won't show how but this test bomb will be filled with explosives. A plywood set up to simulate people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will get an indication of the blast and the fragment impact.
LAH (on camera): To give you an idea of safe distance, that white truck that you're looking at, that's where the pressure cooker is. We're standing five football fields away. But even here isn't considered safe. We're going to be standing right behind that bunker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is where the pressure cooker was on the ground. And you can see it's actually created a crater.
LAH: Where is the shrapnel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, the shrapnel has expanded out like bullets from a gun. It's gone out in all directions. If you look at the plywood, we can see some holes in the this chunk of plywood.
LAH: If a person was standing where this plywood was?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to be severely injured.
The globalization of knowledge is what it is today. And so, as much as you can learn anything on the Internet, I think that is what we're faced with.
BURNETT: And that was Kyung Lah.
"AC360" starts right now.