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Search For The New York Bomber; Unexploded Bomb Being Analyzed For Clues; President Obama Suggests Sexism Hurting Clinton; Christie Defends Trump On Birtherism; Martha Stewart: I'm Voting For Hillary; Week-Old Syria Ceasefire In Jeopardy. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 19, 2016 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:03] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are getting new details on that. This as new surveillance video appears to show that one man was in two key locations Saturday night. He's first seen on video near the scene of the blast on 23rd Street before that bomb went off.

Then he's seen again a few blocks away where a second undetonated bomb was found. A lot of developments overnight. A lot of new fears.

Breaking it all down for us this morning is CNN's Rachel Crane in Elizabeth where those five devices found in a backpack. Rachel, what's the very latest?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the FBI and bomb squad and local authorities here on scene. The mayor telling us that there could be up to five devices in that backpack found. Now one of those devices was unintentionally detonated when the bomb squad was using a robot that cut one of the wires.

John, I heard that explosion over the phone because I was on the phone with the mayor at the time. He also told us that those devices did not have a cell phone attached or a timer.

The FBI calling them IEDs, improvised explosive devices. They've also said that they've rendered the area secure. The mayor said that this trash can where the backpack was found by these two individuals also close to a pub where he says there is surveillance footage that is being reviewed right now by authorities.

Now, of course, this is the second device that has been found in the state of New Jersey in less than 48 hours. But important to point out, John, that there has not been a connection made between these two incidents -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Rachel Crane for us in New Jersey. Thanks so much.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight, police and the FBI conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle of interest in the Manhattan bombing. This as new surveillance video appears to show that one man was in two key locations Saturday night.

He is first seen on video near the scene at the blast on 23rd Street before that bomb went off. Then again a few blocks away where the second undetonated bomb was found.

BERMAN: All right, so that's what is happening in the tri-state area. Of course, there was another attack this weekend, ISIS is now claiming responsibility for a multiple stabbing attack at a Minnesota shopping mall.

The attacker knifed nine people before an off-duty police officer shot him to death. Officials say three of those people remain hospitalized. One is in life threatening condition.

The FBI is calling this attack a potential act of terrorism. Authorities have not yet identified the attacker. But the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" says he was a 22-year-old college student born in Kenya, who grew up in the United States.

CNN has not yet confirmed that information. The FBI says it is still trying to determine whether the attacker had any direct contact with ISIS. A lot going on, on multiple fronts.

CNN contributor, Michael Weiss, joins us now to help break down these events. He is a senior editor at "The Daily Beast" and co-author of "ISIS Inside The Army of Terror."

Michael, let's start here close to home in New York City. You know, clearly an intentional act, you know, a terror related act. Not sure yet if it is connected international terror.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says they have no knowledge of that at this point. What is the latest MO for ISIS and international terror groups? Would they have claimed responsibility for this bombing by now?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If they had directed it and had for knowledge of it, sure. The MO is twofold. One is to have these things planned in Raqqah as part of the foreign operations. They have a very powerful foreign intelligence wing called the (inaudible), which is responsible for conceptualizing and perpetrating the Paris across these attacks.

And then the second plank or MO is the lone wolf or stray dog attack. The ISIS spokesperson who was recently killed by the coalition said two years ago, look, now is the time for all Muslims living in the land of disbelievers to take upon themselves to kill the infidel.

And he said by whatever means possible. If you have a knife, stab somebody with a knife. If you have a rock, smash his head with a rock. If you have a car, drive over them with a car such as the Nice attack.

What are finding, though, strangely, is many of these attacks, which appear at first blush to be lone wolf were in fact directed by ISIS central command.

Now they are claiming credit for Minnesota leading me to believe that that may have actually been something that was known to ISIS HG. But with regard to this attack, if this was jihadi in nature, and we don't know, we won't find that out until the suspect is identified and we know his or her background and ideology.

This is what ISIS wants. I call it the invisible soldiers of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. People that are unknown to even the caliphate who go on and carry out these attacks.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Minnesota because right now you have investigators still putting the pieces together of what's happening in New York and New Jersey and then there is this other event that happened in St. Cloud in Minnesota at a shopping mall in the evening.

The "Minneapolis Star Tribune" saying the father of the suspect identified him as a 22-year-old college student. His friends said he was a straight "A" student. You roll your eyes a little bit there.

[05:05:12]What do we know about this case? And I know that you have said that Minnesota, there would be likely an attack in Minnesota?

WEISS: Yes, well, one of ISIS former spies who defected, I profiled the guy over a year ago now, he told me and he feeds me regular bits of information because he has his own spies and informants who work still within ISIS.

He said this was several months ago within the next three months, they are planning something in Minnesota. Drawing from the Somali-American aspect, which has had a hard time integrating in American society.

It's sort of the anomaly of most Muslim-Americans are very integrated. Somalis in Minnesota, I particular, it has been difficult. There's been a lot of cases of those who have shown loyalty or sympathy to al- Shabaab, which is the Somali-al Qaeda affiliate.

But it is not uncommon for ISIS to try to pull people way from other going jihadi franchises to join this fold. Whether or not this is indeed the suspect and he had any connection to ISIS remains to be seen.

I wasn't surprised when I heard that. What kind of depressed me, though, is I tried to bring this to the attention of the FBI several months ago.

I sat down with them and said I have what could very well be a credible threat against the American homeland. Didn't have much follow-up on that. I specifically said it was Minnesota to look out for.

BERMAN: One last question here about New York. One of the biggest pieces of intelligence that they have right now is this undetonated bomb that was found a few blocks from where one explosion took place. They are looking at the device clearly designed to maim and kill. You have ball bearings and Christmas lights inside there. What kind of clue does that give you?

WEISS: The Christmas lights struck out to me because that was used in the San Bernardino attack and that is specifically referenced multiple times in "Inspire" magazine, which is al Qaeda's sort of -- it's their version (inaudible), their propaganda magazine.

And the fusion between, you know, the little red book and anarchist cookbook, how to build a bomb in the basement, kitchen of your mom, that kind of thing.

It is just a way -- you know, it's DIY, do-it-yourself kind of low tech way of constructing these IEDs. That is not just position sort of registered with me.

It doesn't mean though that this again was Islamic or jihadi in nature. Anybody can Google their way to Christmas lights as part of the detonation device.

BERMAN: All right, Michael Weiss, thanks so much for bearing with us. A lot going on. A lot of arrest to follow this morning.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are showing how different they truly are. Trump now being criticized for announcing there was a bombing in New York less than 30 minutes after the explosions this weekend. Hillary Clinton waited two hours to tell reporters about the bombing. We will break down their responses next.



ROMANS: Overnight, President Obama suggested sexism could be hurting Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, the president also went after Donald Trump calling his campaign a reality show.

Trump slammed by critics over the weekend for saying a bomb had gone off in New York before officials publicly confirmed any details about what caused it. Critics saying it's not presidential to jump the gun like that.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand waited two hours before speaking to reporters about the explosion.

Joining us this morning to discuss the effects of the bombing on the race and everything that happened over the weekend, CNN Politics reporter, Eugene Scott. Good morning. It's so nice to see you this morning.

I want to talk first about these comments the president made at this fundraiser in New York on Sunday night. This is what he said. We don't have sound of it, but we can tell you what he said.

"There is a reason why we haven't had a woman president. That we as a society still grapples with what it means to see powerful women and it still troubles us in a lot of ways unfairly and that expresses itself in all sorts of ways." The president saying that sexism may be holding Hillary Clinton back. EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It is very interesting. We had a poll at CNN where eight in ten American voters say they are ready for a female president, but they weren't quite ready for Hillary Clinton. So many of her surrogates have said she is held to a standard that Donald Trump has not been held to.

Obama over the past weekend as well as Michelle Obama reiterated their belief that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to run for president.

And they have said other surrogates that is, that if a woman had the qualifications or lack of qualifications, then Donald Trump is brought to the table. We would not see the race that we are seeing right now.

BERMAN: It is interesting hearing the president talk about women over the weekend. Of course, he also talked about the African-American vote. He said it would be a personal insult to him if the African- American vote did not turn out.

And Hillary Clinton today is giving a speech on millennials. You can see team Clinton/Obama directing themselves at the tradition Obama coalition trying to bring them all together again. That seems to be a theme. They may use this whole birther controversy along those lines to rally African-American vote.

Of course, Donald Trump now says that after five years he believes the president was born in the United States. Governor Chris Christie, one of his top advisers over the weekend with Jake Tapper seemed to give a version of events that flat out wasn't true. Jake wasn't having it. Let's listen.


GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It is not true he kept it up for five years.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Sure it is. It is true.

[05:15:03]CHRISTIE: No, Jake, it wasn't like he was talking about it on a regular basis. When the issue was raised, he made clear what his position is.


BERMAN: Jake's right there. The governor is wrong. The "Washington Post" gave him four Pinocchio's. How many more days will this be an issue? You know, if at all, look, the terror situation right now may have usurp it as an issue?

SCOTT: It certainly is a part of a larger narrative with some voters of Donald Trump saying things that they felt like otherwise parts of America that other political candidates have embraced throughout this election.

Whether or not that will hurt him with his base is not under question. It probably won't. It will hurt him with independent voters. How he pivots from this point remains to be seen. But you may be right, this may be last week's news.

ROMANS: But I want to read what "The Washington Post" said. "This is such bogus spin. We have to wonder how Christie manages to keep a straight face. Regular readers know we shy away from using the word lie, but clearly Christie is either lying or he is so misinformed that he has no business appearing on television."

That's sort of four Pinocchio's times a thousand. One thing about the events of the weekend is interesting on the campaign trail. We will see how Donald Trump and Team Trump pick it up.

The Minnesota case in particular. The father of the suspect saying he came here as a child. He is Somali. He came here from Kenya. He grew up in the United States. How that plays into Donald Trump's entire immigration platform or if he uses it to say I told you so.

SCOTT: Well, if he certainly will likely say I told you so if it turns out that this is true. He believes that the vetting for immigrants coming to the states is not strong despite many people who oppose him proving and saying this is what we do. We don't just let anyone in.

His supporters will go with him if he says this is what exactly is happening and this proves the point I have been trying to make. Independent voters are going to wait to see what more information is revealing and what could be done to make things easier in the future.

ROMANS: And we need more information on the Minnesota case. "The Minneapolis Star Tribune" reporting a 22-year-old college student. More details coming out.

BERMAN: All right, Eugene, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Eugene.

Another wealthy celebrity speaking out for Hillary Clinton. Martha Stewart says this is the most important election in the past 100 years and that Clinton is the more qualified candidate. Here is what she told CNN Money.


MARTHA STEWART, BUSINESSWOMAN AND TV PERSONALITY: We have to very certain that we elect a person who has experience, knowledge, and a base of education in the world of world politics as well as domestic politics. Obviously I'm voting for Hillary Clinton.


ROMANS: She said Donald Trump is totally unprepared to be president. The two have a professional history. Stewart and Trump had a public spat back in 2006 after he criticized her reality show. Trump and Mark Burnet were the executive producers of that show.

BERMAN: I confess. I erased from memory. It hurts that it's back in my head. All right, the ceasefire in Syria is more fragile than ever. This is only a week into the truce. There really never was that. Airstrikes targeting both Syrian government troops and rebels caused tension between the United States and Russia. We are live in Syria next.



ROMANS: Welcome back. Russia says the mistaken killing of Syrian soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition airstrike has put Syria's fragile ceasefire in jeopardy. Secretary of State John Kerry is blaming Russia for not doing enough to enforce the ceasefire.

Kerry telling CNN's Elise Labott he wants Russian leaders to make sure President Assad lets humanitarian aid through to Syria's hardest hit areas.

CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is live for us in Damascus, Syria, with the latest on the ground. Certainly, an already very fragile ceasefire and diplomatic scuffle is not helping things.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are absolutely right, Christine. It is tragic for the people on the ground especially in those contested areas. I was in Aleppo yesterday. Some of those very destroyed neighborhoods and there were people who were moving out of tents and moving into the bombed out ruins of houses and trying to clean those up.

They said we really hope against all the odds this time the ceasefire might hold because at this point in time, they really don't have very much of anything else.

However, the big problem is it is not looking that way. We have seen over the weekend especially in the Aleppo area there was increasing number of breaches, Christine, of that ceasefire.

Nighttime hours and air strikes we heard as well. Later, a group saying there were three airstrikes on rebel held areas in and around the Aleppo area.

The big problem right now is the fact aid is not getting through a lot of the besieged areas. The U.N. says their aid trucks are still stuck on the border between Turkey and Syria.

They don't have guarantees of safe passage to make it to Aleppo and they don't have permission from the Syrian government to enter the country. Once again, we are seeing is really the people suffering because big politics is getting in the way of helping them.

[05:25:07]ROMANS: All right, Fred Pleitgen for us in Damascus. A day after touring Aleppo. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news overnight, up to five suspicious devices found in New Jersey. One detonated already. Investigators, the bomb squad, at the scene right now. We are getting new information. We will have an update right after the break.


BERMAN: Overnight, five suspicious devices found in a New Jersey train station. At least one has been detonated. We have new details just in as investigators comb through that scene.

ROMANS: Also overnight, the FBI obtaining new surveillance video that could give them their biggest clue yet as to who is responsible for that bombing in New York City. We have the latest on the manhunt and evidence.

BERMAN: Plus similarities between the bombs used in the explosions this weekend in New York and also New Jersey, and new details into the stabbing spree at a Minnesota mall. ISIS now claims responsibility for that attack.