Return to Transcripts main page
Teen Arrested in Bomb Threats; ISIS Claims Responsibility for London Attack; Trump on Credibility; Trump Pushed Debunked Theories; House Intel Committee Meeting. Aired 9:30-10a
Aired March 23, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:31:24] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us.
This just into CNN, a 19-year-old man with dual American-Israeli citizenship has been arrested in connection to a string of bomb threats against Jewish centers all around the world.
Let's go straight to our Oren Lieberman. He is live in Jerusalem with the latest.
What do we know about this 19-year-old?
OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question we don't have answered yet, of course, is the motive here. Why is it that an American-Israeli Jewish teenager from southern Israel made and set up a series of calls, robo calls, to more than 100 Jewish community centers, not only in the U.S. but also in Australia and New Zealand, calling in bomb threats. Police even say those threats led to the cancellation of a flight, an emergency landing of a flight.
Police say they arrested the 19-year-old suspect whom they have not yet identified this morning. Police also went into his house and gathered evidence that they say will come out that shows that it's this 19-year-old teenager who used his home computers to set up a series of robo calls to make those bomb threats, to make those threatening calls.
The suspect is due a little later on this afternoon in court and that may start what could be a long process of trying to figure out the critical question here, and that is the why. Why did this happen? Why is it that this American-Israeli Jewish teenager called in these - these bomb threats?
It was a joint investigation, Israeli police working together along with the FBI. There were some hints earlier this month that it might be somebody overseas. It was the head of police intelligence who had said it looks like this is one person working overseas that made these calls. Now police say they have identified that person making most of these calls. The man behind these robo calls, again, the suspect, a 19-year-old American-Israeli Jewish teenager who faces the court a little later on this afternoon.
John and Poppy.
BERMAN: I was going to say, that motive - that motive will be fascinating if it ever comes out.
Oren Liebermann, thank you very much.
We have more breaking news this morning. ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the terror attack in London that killed three people and left dozens injured.
HARLOW: We now know that the attacker himself had been investigated before by authorities for potential ties to extremism.
Paul Cruickshank is with us. He's our terrorism analyst and editor in chief of "CTC Sentinel."
Look, the language that was used in this tweet claiming responsibility, is that they're calling him a soldier of the Islamic State. That doesn't necessarily, you say, mean he had a direct - had direct contact with ISIS.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Exactly right. And they used the exact same formulation for the Orlando attacks, the San Bernardino attacks, the Nice attacks. No contact whatsoever we know of between the attackers in those cases and ISIS. There may not necessarily be any contact.
But what we've seen in Europe over the last couple of years, there have been 38 plots related to ISIS. Now, out of those 38 plots, since 2014, only six have merely been inspired. All the other ones have been either directed in person by ISIS in Syria and Iraq or directed by ISIS operatives there over the Internet, virtual instruction. So ISIS is really driving this wave of terrorism in Europe. And I would not be surprised at all if there was some kind of contact between this attacker and ISIS. We saw that in the Berlin truck attack just a few months ago. Aneesh Amory (ph), the Tunisian extremist who carried that out, was in contact over these encrypted apps with ISIS in Libya. He managed to upload a video to the group which they put out after he was killed. Will we see something else like this, this time around?
[09:35:03] BERMAN: We're pulling on the threads right now. The other key development, British-born. Theresa May, the British prime minister, said that this killer was born in Great Britain.
CRUICKSHANK: Born in Great Britain and that the MI5 are currently aware of 3,000 individuals, mostly British-born individuals, who have the potential for violent extremism, potential for violence in the U.K. That's a very large number indeed. And it means they can't carry on monitoring everybody that comes across their radar screen at a certain point. They've got to prioritize, look at the ones they think are truly dangerous. It's a judgment call. And, obviously, at a certain point they judged that this person was not a priority. He was on the periphery of some - of intelligence concerns back a few years ago. And the British had no idea at all that he had any intent to do this. So they'll be looking back at all of that obviously now.
BERMAN: All right, Paul Cruickshank, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.
All right, coming up, I'm president and you're not. Those words -
HARLOW: You're not president.
BERMAN: I'm not. He's right. President Trump is right, he is president. I'm not. You're not. No one else is. This really remarkable interview that came out just this morning where he says that and also some other wild claims, including that maybe more than 3 million people, undocumented, voted illegally in the last election.
[09:40:47] BERMAN: All right, this morning, some remarkable new statements with varying degrees of evidence in a new interview with President Trump just released by "Time" magazine.
HARLOW: Right. In this interview, the president justifies some of the most controversial statements that he's ever made. Statements not backed up by any fact. He doesn't provide anymore facts, but he does say that his presidency isn't going that badly because, after all, quote, "I'm president and you're not."
CNN host of "Reliable Sources," our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, is here with more details.
So that - I mean perhaps the most blunt line of the entire article, he ends it by telling the reporter, things aren't going that badly because I'm president, you're not.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And, fact check, that is true. There are other falsehoods in this interview, talking about Sweden and voter fraud and other issues. But it is a remarkable interview for President Trump say the people believe me. The media is saying I'm wrong on these issues, but the people believe me. At every point the president turns to cherry-picking news stories that he says prove his points.
Now, we've seen him do that with "The New York Times" on the topic of wiretapping. "Times" reporters have said, no way, our story does not say what you think it says. But he's selectively using those news outlets, whether it's Fox or "The New York Times" or others to support his position.
BERMAN: And, look, this interview happened just after the news that Devin Nunes said that there were Trump team associates picked up in incidental contact during the transition. The reporter, Michael Scherer, he didn't know it when he sat down with Trump at the time.
STELTER: Right. Right.
BERMAN: But the president knew it. And the president said, you know, when I said wiretapping, it was in quotes because wiretapping is, you know, today different than wiretapping. We, of course, know that not to be true. The president said he was wiretapped by President Obama, not true at all. But he hung this whole interview on his comments with Devin Nunes.
STELTER: That's right. I think it seems like this interview was designed to support the president's accuracy rate, his credibility at a time when we've seen a lot of stories on this network and all over the place about the president's credibility, suggesting the credibility's in tatters.
You know, "The Wall Street Journal" editorial a couple of days ago, saying that the president, if he continues this way, he will be a fake president.
HARLOW: A more friendly publication.
STELTER: That's right. And Trump called that editorial a disgrace. But time after time, the president likes to kick that can down the preverbal road. Here's the one about voter fraud, for example. In the interview with Michael Scherer, the quote in "Time" magazine is, "I think I will be proven right ability that, too." This is on the claim that millions of people voted illegally in the election. Now, the president even says, I have people that told me it was more than the 5 million that I claimed. So he's pushing it down the road saying there's going to be an investigation and eventually I'll be right.
HARLOW: Who - I mean he says you're wrong, the media is wrong, the people trust me and the people trust what I'm saying. I know he doesn't like polls, but all of the daily tracking polls show a continual decline. I think the latest number was a 37 percent approval rating.
STELTER: And I think that's the broader point Michael Scherer in "Time" magazine is making. The cover of the magazine this week "Is Truth Dead?" I think the point that the magazine's trying to make is, among Trump's base, this is very effective, this messaging strategy, saying things that in some cases aren't true, but feel right and feel good. It's an effective messaging strategy. And as we cover various falsehoods and distortions in interviews like this, we've got to recognize the effectiveness sometimes of these (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: Michael Scherer did a nice job. He pressed the president on many things, he said, including about the claims that Donald Trump repeated about Ted Cruz's father -
BERMAN: Trying to link Ted Cruz to Lee Harvey Oswald. And the president said, that was in the newspaper. You know, I wasn't - I didn't say that. I was referring to the newspaper, as if that absolves him. You know, so the president's saying this now and it's just so strange given the fact that the president had Ted Cruz over the eat. (INAUDIBLE) -
STELTER: And he said I'm a friend of Cruz, right.
STELTER: By the way, that newspaper was "The National Enquirer." Now, I see that magazine on the supermarket tabloid newsstand, sometimes laugh at the headlines. I don't think many of our viewers watching take "The Enquirer" that seriously. Even if you buy it and are entertained by it, it's not a newspaper that you would call a reliable source. So the president citing that article in order to defend himself once again.
One other quote, if I can share from the magazine, I thought this was striking also, talking about his instincts, talking about the president's instincts. It said, "I tend to be right. I'm an instinctual person. I happen to be a person who knows how life works." So he's talking about a guttural reaction that he - he knows in his gut that he's right about these stories.
[09:45:03] BERMAN: Look, he has political skills. I mean that's true. That he has proven. You know, whether he's right on many of these issues, I mean sometimes the evidence does not bear that out.
Brian Stelter, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.
STELTER: Thank you.
HARLOW: It's not a right or wrong on some of these issues. There's just the facts.
HARLOW: All right. Thank you, Brian. We appreciate it.
HARLOW: Coming up next, stay with us, we're going to take you live to Capitol Hill. The House Intel Committee meeting right now. We'll go there after this break.
BERMAN: All right, happening now, what has to be a pretty awkward meeting on Capitol Hill.
BERMAN: The House Intelligence Committee, behind closed doors a day after its chair claimed that member of the Trump transition team were picked up on incidental communications, ran to tell the president of that fact, which caused the lead Democrat on this committee to essentially say that the chairman, maybe he shouldn't be running the committee at all.
[09:50:10] Manu Raju outside this meeting right now on Capitol Hill. Manu, what's going on?
MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, they've actually been meeting for roughly 50 minutes at this point, John and Poppy. This is the first time that Democrats on this full committee will be able to meet with Devin Nunes, talk to him about exactly what he revealed publicly, that to the president of the United States yesterday, that the president's own team's communications were incidentally picked up, legally, during the transition period last year.
Now, of course, the - as we saw last night, this prompted an uproar among the committee Democrats who believe that Nunes should not have revealed this publicly, should not have briefed the president of the United States, and believe that it could have undermined this bipartisan inquiry that's happened into Russia and any alleged contacts that according to Russian officials and Trump officials.
Now, what I've been told about what the data information that Mr. Nunes has looked at in these reports include communications about President Trump, the forming of his new government from senior level transition officials. This information appeared to have been disseminated widely within the intelligence community, something that Devin Nunes himself was not happy about because he believes those officials should not have been, quote, unmasked, John and Poppy. So this is one reason why he believed he had to go public. The Democrats believe it could undermine that investigation.
HARLOW: All right, Manu Raju on The Hill, thank you very much for that.
Coming up, President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, did admit that he did indeed work for and get paid by a Russian billionaire back in 2005.
BERMAN: But he is denying allegations that he helped push Russian leader Vladimir Putin's agenda. So what was Paul Manafort doing for the Russians exactly? CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin took a look.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest connection between a close Trump associate and Russia was dug up by the Associated Press, reporting a 2005 memo in which Paul Manafort, already working for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska, was pitching a plan to "greatly benefit the Putin government." Manafort confirmed he CNN he did work for Oleg Deripaska, but he rejects the Associated Press interpretation that he was pushing the political interests of Vladimir Putin, including to, quote, "influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States."
"I have always publicly acknowledged that I worked for Mr. Deripaska and his company, Rusal, to advance its interests," Manafort told CNN through a spokesman, adding, "I did not work for the Russian government." Once again Manafort writes, "smear and innuendo are being used to paint a false picture." A spokesman for Deripaska told CNN, Manafort provided "investment consulting services" but declined to provide any additional details.
Manafort and his Russian billionaire had a major falling out. Court documents show Deripaska funneled nearly $19 million into a Manafort business venture registered in the Cayman Islands in 2007. They invested in a Ukrainian telecon (ph) company. But the deal went south, and according to a legal filing, Deripaska's company said Manafort "simply disappeared."
White House Spokesman Sean Spicer downplaying any connection this has to the president.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was a consultant. He had clients from around the world. There is no suggestion that he did anything improper or - and - but to suggest that the president knew who his clients were from a decade ago is a bit insane. He was hired to do a job. He did it. That' it, plain and simple.
GRIFFIN: It's just the latest Russian headline headache for the Trump administration. CNN has reported the FBI's already investigating possible connections between Trump campaign officials, including Manafort, and Russian officials. Manafort was fired by the Trump campaign on August 19th. That was the same day the FBI announced Manafort was involved in another investigation and another possible connection to Russia.
This time it was his consulting work for the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanakovich, who eventually had to flee his own country, seeking refuge in Russia with Vladimir Putin. The government of Ukraine opened an investigation into possible corruption and money laundering charges against Yanakovich and his political party. After Manafort's name appeared on a ledger of $12.7 million in secret payments. Manafort denies he ever took money illegally from anyone in his worldwide consulting business. He denies he pushed any Russian agenda while working in Ukraine and he now denies that connection with a Russian billionaire had anything to do with a plan to enrich Russian President Vladimir Putin.
[09:55:08] GRIFFIN: Poppy and John, as of last month, Paul Manafort told CNN he had yet to be contacted by the FBI. And while he's no longer granting any interviews, he did tell us through a statement that he looks forward to meeting with those who are conducting what he calls a serious investigation into all this so he can discuss the actual facts.
HARLOW: All right, thank you very much, Drew Griffin, for the reporting. We appreciate it.
And back on to health care. Time is running out. Can this president seal the deal with his own party before the House takes up the health care vote? It's supposed to be later today. We still don't have a CBO score. We still don't know what's in or what's out. That's next.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You didn't show them that?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we don't - we don't have it. So it's just a matter of time. Hopefully we get some or part of what - what I've seen.
[10:00:03] RAJU: Did this come from the White House? Did this information that you got came from the White House?