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Manhunt Underway in Subway Attack; Mass Transit Faces Security Vulnerability; Bill Browder is Interviewed about Putin; Millions Brace for Hail, Tornadoes and Wind. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 13, 2022 - 06:30   ET



MITCH SILBER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, NEW YORK POLICE: Because if you look at this, he came into this very well prepared, multiple clips, fireworks, gas mask, grenades. It looks like he planned more than just this one attack.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's that part right there that I find so -- I mean clearly this was planned. I mean he had -- what, he had a hatchet. He had gas. He had fireworks. He had multiple magazines.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: But just to follow up on what Mitch was just saying, the Secret Service has done a study on mass shooting attackers. Seventy-five percent of the time in their study they had seen that somebody had telegraphed or did -- had concerning communication in advance of an attack. And we're seeing this. We're seeing this, you know, this violent tendency online, his comments, his posts. That's why at the, you know, top of the segment your comment was very important. We need the public's help.


WACKROW: And, you see something, say something. Call crime stoppers. You know, if -- you know, don't -- don't be ashamed to call at all if you just see a clue, something you want to raise, because that's going to be that one piece that may, you know, get this person into custody.

BERMAN: In your experience, Mitch, given there was clearly a plan going into it, right? Whether or not it was executed the way that he thought it was going to be executed. But given that there was a plan going into it, what are the chances that there was a plan for this point and beyond?

SILBER: I think highly likely. I mean the fact that he used these smoke grenades possibly could have been his way to sort of literally create a cloud into which he could disappear and make his escape. The fact that it looks like he prepared and wore this orange transit looking vest. Again, something you would do to sort of blend in. People didn't look at his face. There say, oh, there's a guy is an orange transit vest. Looks like an MTA worker. So he clearly, you know, planned this out.

Now, why he left his bag behind with some of his material, unknown. Maybe in the frenzy of the moment, it was a mistake that this individual made. And a fortunate one for us, that and the U-Haul key.

BERMAN: Yes, look, Mitch, Jonathan, thank you so much for being here.

WACKROW: Thank you.

BERMAN: I feel like we understand what's going on at this moment much better.

And there is, as I said, a manhunt underway. As you're looking at these streets right now, there's someone on the loose who fired a gun 33 times on the subway right below us yesterday.

Thank you, gentlemen.

So, the subway attack does raise concerns about mass transit in the United States. How vulnerable is it?

Plus, in Ukraine, new video of cluster munitions. A major escalation in the war. This is CNN's special coverage. We're live in Brooklyn and Ukraine.



BERMAN: All right, I'm John Berman, live in Brooklyn this morning.

And right behind me, New Yorkers are boarding subway trains to go to work, go to school. This all happening in the wake of the shooting inside this station. It took place right behind me.

The attack is, you know, every rider's worst nightmare, and it does raise concerns about the safety of mass transit in the United States.

CNN's Pete Muntean joins us now with the latest on this. Pete, obviously, this is something that no one really even wants to think about ever, but, obviously, it's right now in the forefront.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So true, John. And, you know, the big question is now, how do you protect a mass transit system from an attack like this and what could have been done differently? We're been hearing from the biggest public transit systems in the United States, and they all say they've been monitoring the New York subway attack.

We also know Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was briefed on this attack and is offering DOT support to the MTA.

Here's what's changing right now.

Mass transit systems say they are stepping up police patrols. They're also doing extra canine sweeps. Though these systems all underscore they're facing no credible threats right now. Remember, surface transportation is very hard to secure. It's not like beefing up airport security. We're talking 140,000 miles of track nationwide. Before the pandemic, people were taking about 10 billion mass transit trips each year. So this notion that mass transit is a soft target is really backed up by this 2020 Government Accountability Office. It told the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA, to step up ways that it could conduct inspections. The TSA did its own analysis of mass transit security and it admitted, quote, these systems are difficult to protect due to open infrastructure, high concentration of travelers and multiple access areas with limited inspection and control points.

It begs the question, though, what will change after this attack, because it's a pretty tough balance here. So many people rely on public transit and cities don't want to make it more difficult to get on a train or a bus right now, especially as ridership is just now bouncing back from the lows of the pandemic.

Back in January, New York Mayor Eric Adams, he's a former police transit offer himself, called for more frequent police sweeps of the subway system in an effort to lure riders back. So we'll see what changes here, John.

BERMAN: That's right, they're pushing to get more riders at this point. So this attack could not have happened at a worst time.


BERMAN: Pete Muntean, thank you so much for that.

Just ahead, a victim who says he was sitting next to the shooter on the subway. I had a chance to talk to him from his hospital bed.

Plus, Vladimir Putin vowing not to stop military operations in Ukraine until Russia succeeds. We'll tell you his plans for his next move.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live in western Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now saying that peace talks with Ukraine are at a dead end and that he refuses to stop military operations, as he puts it, in Ukraine until Russia is successful.

Our next guest is familiar with Putin's mind-set thanks to a decade of work tracking down the Russian leader's financial activity and human rights violations. Bill Browder is joining us now. He's also the CEO of Hermitage Capital and he's the author of "Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Surviving Vladimir Putin's Wrath."

Bill, incredibly relevant book for this moment in time here.

You think that Vladimir Putin is acting rationally. Can you explain that?

BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL: Well, so, in my opinion, this war that he's executing in Ukraine is not about NATO or the EU and Ukraine joining the EU. This is was is about him being a dictator for 22 years, being afraid that he's going to be overthrown, because he's seen it happen in Kazakhstan next door and Belarus almost happened.

And what does a dictator do when they're afraid of being over, they start a war. And so when we look at this war, when we look at why he is there, this is -- he's acting in his own interests very rationally.


He may be a psychopath, he may be a killer, but from his own perspective, this is a very rational course of action.

KEILAR: I've heard local officials say that the NATO thing is just an excuse. I wonder if you think that is the case. They think that it's about, you know, seizing part of an economy to bolster Russia and to bolster his personal position.

BROWDER: Yes, that's exactly right. So, basically, if you're a dictator and you want to get everybody to rally around you, you need to come up with some narrative. And so he comes up with a talk about NATO, he comes up with talk about all these other things. But, in reality, what he's trying to do, and it's been -- it's worked very successfully, is he's trying to create a whole sort of fervor, patriotism, a rally around the leader, we're at war. And so by going into Ukraine, he's done that.

If you look at his approval ratings, he's well into the 80 percent approval ratings. So these are not fake approval ratings right now. The Russians are all worked up into a lather. They're all, you know, angry, they're all angry at the Ukrainians. They've somehow convinced themselves the Ukrainians are different than them, and subhuman, and they need to be attacked. And this is all what he's done because, you know, when a dictator has been around for 22 years and has stolen all the money from the country, the dictator needs something in order to get everybody riled up. And he's got that something now.

KEILAR: So, Bill, what's his Achilles' heel, you know, financially speaking? What would make him stop?

BROWDER: Well, there's nothing that would make him stop per se. In other words, when Putin decides to do something, he can never then reverse. He's not a guy who will compromise. He wrote (ph) peace treaties are complete folly.

What will make him stop, though, is if he is seen to be a loser. So, if he loses the war in Ukraine and the Russian people see that they have a loser, not a winner, not a strong man, but a loser, they won't tolerate him anymore. And that's what we have to do in the west is to make sure that the Ukrainians are winners.

And so whenever the Ukrainians are asking for in terms of military support, we have to give them. And whatever the Ukrainians are asking for in terms of economic blockade of Russia, we have to do it for them because, at the end of the day, we don't want to be fighting a war with Putin. We have to let the brave Ukrainians fight this war. And if we want the brave Ukrainians to fight this war, they have to win this war because that is the one thing that will cause the Russians to get rid of Vladimir Putin is a loser.

KEILAR: They want a no-fly zone, the Ukrainians do. Many Americans and many allies pushing back. They say, you know, this is going to spiral out into World War III. You say what to that?

BROWDER: I say that time that we say something like that. That we -- we're worried about spiraling into World War III. We're giving Vladimir Putin the green light to go and kill more Ukrainian civilians. People were saying the same exact thing a couple of years ago when it came to them -- the Ukrainians asking for any defensive weapons to help them in the future, that we were saying, we don't want to do that because we don't want World War III.

I mean Vladimir Putin has to look at this from his perspective. So let's just say we set up a no-fly zone. We say, and we warn Putin, we say, don't send any Russian jets into Ukrainian airspace. And then he sends a Russian het in and we shoot it down. What happens then? Does he then declare war on the west? I don't think so. He can barely win a war in a very remote part of Ukraine. The last thing he can do is win a war against NATO. He won't do that.

But what that will do is showing strength. Vladimir Putin is a man who only understands strength. If you show him strength, if you show him a real hard barrier, that's the one thing he respects.

KEILAR: What needs to be done, because, you know, you talk to Ukrainian officials, they say sanction all Russian financial institutions, embargo all Russian energy.

BROWDER: That's exactly correct. Every day that goes by, the Europeans, for the most part, not so much Americans, send Russia, Vladimir Putin, a billion dollars in the form of payments for oil and gas. So, just think about this. The war in Ukraine cost a billion dollars a day. And every day the Europeans send Vladimir Putin a billion dollars. It's pretty much break even for him.

And so we have sanctioned the central bank reserves. We have sanctioned SWIFT. We have sanctioned oligarchs, although more need to be sanctions. But that's all for naught if we're sending him a billion dollars a day to pay for his oil.

To get this thing right, we need to stop giving him money totally. And we're a long way away from that. And this is pretty much on the backs of the Europeans right now. They need to stop, particularly Germany, Italy, Austria needs to stop buying Russian oil and gas.

[06:50:01] And it's not easy. It will hurt their economies. But it will hurt their economies a lot more if this war continues and it explodes into something where we are now facing Vladimir Putin with our own tanks and planes and so on.

KEILAR: Bill, you yourself have a harrowing story of just barely escaping Russian captivity. The lawyer that represented Hermitage, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison after being detained. And I know you're friends with Vladimir Kara-Murza, that you actually met with him recently before he was detained by the Putin regime. What is your worry?

BROWDER: Vladimir Kara-Murza is one of the last remaining opposition activists in Russia. He has stood up to Putin. He has lobbied for the Magnitsky Act, which Putin hates more than anything, that freezes Russian assets. He's been poisoned twice, nearing dying twice in an assassination attempt in -- against him by the Putin regime.

And I -- he -- I had dinner with him in London two weeks ago. And he was on his way to Moscow. And I begged him not to go. I said, you know, they tried to kill you twice. You just can't go right now. He said, how can I ask the Russian people to stand up to Vladimir Putin if I'm afraid to go? And he went. And he gave an interview on your channel calling Putin a murderer. And an hour later, he was arrested and he's in jail right now. And, of course, I'm terrified about what they might do to him while he's in their custody.

KEILAR: Bill, I'm so sorry for your friend. We are -- we are going to keep an eye on his story. And I really appreciate your perspective today.

Bill Browder, the author of "Freezing Order," thank you so much.

BROWDER: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. We are getting some new video of cluster munition explosions in Kharkiv, in what would be a major escalation in this war. We are seeing proof of it here in the images.

Plus, back in the U.S., a manhunt intensifying after the subway attack in New York City. We are live on the ground, next.



BERMAN: This morning, nearly 100 million Americans bracing for severe weather from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Tornadoes, hail, strong winds expected.

Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is the third day of a three-day streak of tornados, wind damage and hail, John. And this could be the worst day of the three. Already 14 tornados on the ground in the past 48 hours.

Now, things have calmed down, and they normally do in the morning hours. Things aren't bad right now. But by 10:00, this weather, 10:00 a.m., this weather is really going to get going.

There is the significant risk of severe weather. It goes all the way from Chicago to the Gulf Coast. We will have tornados on the ground, absolutely. Watches and warnings will be posted by noon.

And then there's also a significant risk of wind damage. Some of these gusts could be 70 to 80 miles per hour.

So let me take you through the day. This is what the computer simulates what the radar is going to look like. 10:30. Let me move you ahead into the afternoon. Things start to get going because the air gets warmer. The air gets more buoyant. By 4:00, things really get rolling. And this still goes on until 9:00 or 10:00 tonight for some people.

Now, by midnight, it's about over. But you need to have a way to get your watches and your warnings today, either on your phone, a NOAA weather radio, keep your local TV station on, because this will be a significant, severe weather day.


BERMAN: All right, pay attention, stay alert.

Chad Myers, thank you very much.


KEILAR: The unforgettable comedian with the unforgettable voice. That is how Gilbert Gottfried is being remembered this morning by his fellow comedians. Gottfried died Tuesday after a long battle with a rare genetic muscle disorder. He was known for his signature voice and his penchant for dirty jokes.

Gottfried is the latest comedy legend that we have lost here recently, along with Bob Saget, Norm MacDonald, Louie Anderson, and Betty White.

Gottfried posted this picture after MacDonald died last September. And this one shortly after Anderson and Saget passed away in January. Gottfried was then a guest on NEW DAY and he talked about getting the news that his good friend Bob Saget was gone.


GILBERT GOTTFRIED, COMEDIAN: I found out yesterday, last night. Jeff Ross (ph) called me, and he said, sad news, Bob Saget has died. And, you know, I always enjoy a sick joke. And so I was waiting for the punch line. And then that didn't come. And now I feel like it's a day later, I'm still waiting for the punch line to happen to say, no, it was all a joke, because, yes, everybody liked Bob. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Gottfried is survived by his wife and his two children. He was 67.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, April 13th. I'm John Berman in Brooklyn, New York. Brianna Keilar is in Lviv in western Ukraine.

We are learning more this morning about a person of interest police are trying to find in connection with yesterday's mass shooting at a Brooklyn train station. Let me be clear, there is a manhunt at this moment for whoever fired 33 shots in a subway right below me. At least 10 people were hurt, 20 injured.


Five of the victims' children heading to school.

At the moment, people -- or at the time people were rushing from the train, some of them wounded.