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22 Killed, Dozens Injured in Manchester Area Blast; Sources: Trump Asked DNI, NSA to Deny Russia Evidence. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: -- just as the concert let out Monday night. The venue holds 21,000. We're told it was sold out. Many are still unaccounted for. This is the deadliest attack on British soil since subway bombings in 2005 that took about 50 lives.

[07:00:20] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators say a lone suicide bomber carried out this attack, using improvised explosive device. British Prime Minister Theresa May says police believe they know the attacker's identity, but they are not releasing it publicly yet.

Emotional reactions are pouring in from around the world. So we have it all covered for you. Let's go first to CNN's Clarissa Ward. She is live in Manchester, where she has some new breaking details.

What have you learned, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, that's right. Just moments ago we learned that there has been another arrest in conjunction with this attack. We're hearing that a 23-year-old was arrested in South Manchester, as I said before, in connection with last night's attack. We don't have the details yet on whether others may be arrested, whether we may see terror raids taking place.

But certainly, it is fair to say that this is a city on high alert. Just moments ago, there was a crush of people running down the street after a false alarm in a shopping mall around the corner led to an absolute panic.

And you can probably see behind me in the distance there the arena where this concert took place. There's still a large police cordon around the entire area. But as Chris said, this event sold out. Ariana Grande fans, many of them young tweens, little girls with their families, large groups of children. And it was just as the concert finished that chaos broke out. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on? Oh, my gosh.

WARD (voice-over): A deadly explosion rocking Manchester arena in England. The blast sending panicked concertgoers, including many young fans of pop singer Ariana Grande, running for the exits and jumping over barricades. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just bodies scattered about

everywhere, at least 20, 30 people on the floor, some that you could see. They were just -- just dead.

WARD: Police now investigating the incident as an act of terror carried out by one male suicide bomber.

CHIEF CONSTABLE IAN HOPKINS, GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE: We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated, causing this atrocity.

WARD: The attacker died at the scene after detonating the device in an area near the box office outside the arena at 10:33 p.m. as the concert ended.

JAIMA WALTER, WITNESS: There was just a mad rush to get out, because nobody knew what was happening.

WARD: Parents screaming, frantically searching for their children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just mayhem on the streets. There were children crying, trying to get in contact with the parents. There were parents on their phones, who obviously were upset. They were crying, trying to get in contact with the kids. But it was just an awful, awful thing to witness.

WARD: The attack leaving many traumatized, especially the children.

CAROL LONG, WITNESS: She's just petrified that whoever did this will come to the House or go to her school. She's just -- she's devastated. For her to, at 10 years old, to witness something like that is just horrific.

WARD: One mother in anguish pleading for help finding her missing 15- year-old daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the most horrible feeling ever. You know that your daughter's there. You can't find her. You don't know if she's dead or alive. I don't know how people can do this to innocent children.

WARD: The city left reeling from the tragedy.

SIR RICHARD CHARLES LEESE, LEADER, MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL: A dark day, yes. But it's something that Manchester, in its own unique way, will make sure that we turn into a strength for us as a city by working together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARD: Authorities now have two main focuses. Firstly, to try to reunite loved ones who had lost each other in the chaos. Some people still don't know where their family members and friends are.

And secondly, of course, the investigation. They know the name of the young man who carried out the attack. They're not releasing at this stage. And we also know that they have arrested another 23-year-old in South Manchester, also arrested in conjunction with that attack. They will be looking for other potential people who may have participated in the network. This was a bomb, Chris. And it takes some expertise and some know howto build a bomb. And that will be a great concern to authorities -- Chris.

CUOMO: It's well put, Clarissa. And that could be driving the police M.O. right now. They say they believe they know who this man is, haven't released the information. They could be working his network, see who he was talking to, trying to figure out exactly what Clarissa Ward was just telling you, who helped.

[07:05:10] President Trump using strong words to condemn the Manchester attack. Let's get right to CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray traveling with the president. He is live in Jerusalem. That's where you are. What do we know?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. So the president did speak with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May earlier today and express his condolences in the wake of this attack, which as you pointed out, comes amid President Trump's foreign trip.

Earlier today, he appeared with Palestinian Authority President Abbas, and he offered up sharp words for those who carry out terror attacks. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life. I won't call them monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that's a great name. I will call them from now on losers, because that's what they are. They're losers. And we'll have more of them. But they're losers, just remember that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: The president also called on civilized nations to band together and drive out terrorism and suggested that is the broader message he wants to convey on his foreign trip, which continues tonight in Rome.

Back to you, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Sara, I'll take it. Thank you very much for that.

So let's bring in our panel now to discuss this. We have Clarissa Ward. She's back with us. Also joining are CNN terrorism analyst, editor in chief of CTC Sentinel, Paul Cruickshank; and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Paul, it seems as though the investigation is moving quickly. Just in the last hour, you told us that you thought the police there had a name of whoever did this. And now they've made an arrest, this 23- year-old arrested in South Manchester. What do we know? PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that's right. The

British prime minister, Theresa May, saying that the police think they have identified the person who carried out this attack, but they're still working to absolutely confirm that person's identity.

If they have got that confirmed, that will be a huge step forward in terms of this investigation, in terms of seeing if this individual had other associates. They'll be keen to interrogate them, interview them, take them into custody, if they believe they have any sort of connection to the attack. They'll be doing a lot of forensics on the -- at the scene, looking at the explosive device. The more powerful that device was, the more sophisticated that was, then the more likely it is that there is a network behind this, a bombmaker behind this.

But I don't think we should rule out the idea that this was just a one-man band who carried this out. We've seen solo bombmakers carry out or plot attacks in the past, notably about a decade ago here in the U.K., Andrew Ibrahim, an extremist convert from Bristol, managed to put together a quantity of HMTD, a high explosive, for a suicide vest, that they thwarted that plot.

And more recently, there was a suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany, in Bavaria, by an individual who managed to build a device alone. And even more recently than that, as we all recall, in New York City, Ahmed Brahimi is alleged to have left behind, planted two very high- powered explosive devices, also left some devices in New Jersey. Those devices in New York City much more powerful than the Boston devices.

And so yes, it could be a one-man operation. But the worry is there's a bombmaker behind this, there's a wider cell and other parts of it could strike again.

CUOMO: Well, again, word that a 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the ongoing investigation in Monday's attack in Manchester. We'll see if it holds and what that connection is.

Clarissa, obviously, we know that they're throwing all terror resources at this investigation. How much concern is there about active cells or small teams working for these type of attacks with the terror alert level as high as it is there?

WARD: Well, the terror alert level is at severe, which basically means, Chris, that another attack is likely. And I think it's fair to say that there's a great deal of concern that, as Paul said, it's entirely feasible that this man may have operated on his own.

But it's also probably quite likely that he had some kind of support. Whether that was emotional support, financial support, technological support, physical support, that's what will be of interest to authorities right now.

[07:10:03] Historically, what you tend to see with terrorist attacks is that the bombmakers do not usually blow themselves up, because the bombmakers traditionally are quite valuable to these terrorist organizations. So that's something that they will definitely be looking at. They will be trying to get any DNA evidence they can whatsoever from that improvised explosive device that detonated at the arena just behind me.

But certainly, also I would say, Chris, it's fair to say that people here are on high alert. You can really feel a sense of nervousness in the streets. And the Mancunians, as they're known, the people of Manchester, they're known for being tough. They're known for their grit. But just about an hour ago, there was a false alarm at a shopping mall just around the corner, and there was a crush of people running down the street, all of them in a panic. It's safe to say people here are very concerned perhaps there could be more people out there and could be more attacks like the hideous one we saw last night, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Julia, it is so heartbreaking for all parents and just anyone with a beating heart to think that you're going to this concert. It attracts tweens. There were 8 years old, 9 years old, 10 years old. We know that some of those are among the dead.

You take your kids. As a parent, you go with them to keep them safe. We do that, obviously, here. What -- obviously, we've talked before with you about soft targets and stadiums being that. Is it the same here in the U.S. Or is there more security around stadiums?

KAYYEM: Well, there is security. It's equivalent to a lot of what Britain has learned, because obviously, they've had cases, as well as France. The challenge is at any hard target there's inevitably doing to be a soft target next to it. Because at some stage the security apparatus can't build up. And I think that the -- that the -- at least the reporting right now suggests that is the case, that a suicide bomber did not have to pass through any security.

I will say, though, I agree with you. I know we all have children. This one feels different. We -- you know, we have gotten used to this cycle. This has lowered the sort of bar of humanity in some ways. because not only is it tweens and teens -- I mean, we -- those of us who are parents know all of her songs, Arianna's songs. It is those -- a lot of them are alone. In fact, the pictures we're showing right now show parents on the other side of security. A lot of us have done that. You drop your kid off, let them have fun. You're on the other side.

These kids are not only the most vulnerable. They also often don't know what to do in a crisis like this. So the response becomes that much worse.

So while the investigate is going on today, we cannot lose sight that there's an operational response still ongoing, and that includes family unification. It is of primary importance for the British officials to notify the parents of this tragedy in their lives or to try to link parents with children that may not be identified but may be still alive but in hospitals. So you're going to have two pieces to this right now simultaneously going on.

CUOMO: Twenty-one thousand people is the capacity of the venue. We're told it was sold out. We're told people are unaccounted for. We did hear from one mother there on the phone who was saying she's

still looking for her 15-year-old. There's going to be some time to go here.

Paul Cruickshank, in terms of the investigative component into who did this and why, he wasn't in the arena, or at least not when the detonation happened. He was, though, in a very convenient place that was actually a funnel piece, a covered funnel piece of people going from the concert hall into the metro station there. That does show some kind of planning, right?

CRUICKSHANK: Yes, it does. And investigators believe that was no accident that he was there. The access of the venue, to time the explosion for when everybody was going to come out of the concert, streaming out of the concert, to absolutely maximize the amount of casualties in this attack. So that was all very carefully thought through in terms of trying to maximize the amount of blood shed, also by not having to go inside the venue itself, minimize the risk that he would be picked up by some kind of security check.

So that whoever did this was carefully thinking through how to make this as bad as possible. And also carefully thinking through the target here. A lot of young girls having the time of their lives at this concert. They wanted this to create shock headlines, or he wanted this to create shock headlines around the world.

And that's really what ISIS have been telling sympathizers, operatives: "Do everything you can to maximize the coverage that you can get for these kind of attacks, because we want to change the conversation away from the fact we're losing territory in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and other places."

[07:15:05] CAMEROTA: Paul, Clarissa, Juliette, thank you very much for all of your expertise. Obviously, we'll continue to monitor all of these breaking developments out of Manchester.

Here at home there's also news. The Russia investigation is heating up. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn tells Congress he will take the Fifth. So what will lawmakers do about that? A member of House intel joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Current and former U.S. officials tell CNN that President Trump asked top intelligence chiefs to publicly deny evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. This comes as sources say the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, plans to plead the Fifth in connection with the investigation.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Chris Stewart. He is on the House Intelligence Committee.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: Good morning. CAMEROTA: What is your reaction to these reports that President Trump

pressed these intelligence chiefs beyond director Comey to publicly state that there was no collusion between his team and Russia?

STEWART: You know, it's hard for me to respond. And I haven't seen that directly. Of course, as we talked about over the last several weeks, it would be troubling for this president or any president to be viewed as interfering or to take actions that would be interfering with any investigation, and I think it's one of the things that we would want to understand.

[07:20:15] CAMEROTA: On its face, is that obstruction of justice to you?

STEWART: I don't think so. I think he was asking to make a public comment on something that he believed had come and gone, and that is that he wasn't under investigation for collusion. I think he wanted that to be known publicly. I'm not an attorney, but it's hard for me to imagine that that would be viewed as an illegal and a technical definition of obstruction.

CAMEROTA: But therein lies the problem. The president thinks this has come and gone.

STEWART: Yes.

CAMEROTA: The investigation is just beginning. Has your investigation wrapped up? Has it come and gone?

STEWART: No, no. For sure not. And by the way, when I came home from Moscow last August, I told people Russians are going to -- they're going to interfere with our investigations, with our -- with our elections. They're going to try to mess with that, and they did.

And we started investigating it last September. I'm actually really glad, and I was one of the few Republicans who said before this, we should put this in an independent counsel. We should make this in a less partisan, less political environment. There's some important work that the House Intelligence Committee is undertaking. We've been diverted from that a little bit.

I'm glad this has been put aside again in a little bit of a more professional, less partisan environment. It allows the investigation, as you said, to carry forward. It is just beginning in many aspects. And let's let that investigation work and let Congress do its work, as well.

CAMEROTA: So you're happy with the appointment of Robert Mueller, who...

STEWART: Very much so.

CAMEROTA: ... is now the special counsel investigating this. But in terms of the committee that you sat on, House Intel Committee, what have you uncovered? STEWART: Well, I mean, we know several things. As we said early last

fall, they're going to try to interfere with our elections. We've seen to what extent they have, to a large degree. We may learn more. But I think generally, we know to what extent that they've interfered. But we know that there was unmasking now. We know that there's been some leaks that have been troubling to people.

I think that there's some individuals who have some questions to answer. We'll give them a chance to do that. We're meeting with Director Brennan today in both an open and a closed session. Some information I suppose will still come out.

CAMEROTA: How about Michael Flynn wanting to plead the Fifth?

STEWART: Yes. You know, people, I think, think that's rather dramatic, but it's really not. I mean, we've seen almost every one of these investigations, whether it's Hillary Clinton with her e-mails, and there were some technical people who were on the I.T. side who took the Fifth. You remember Lois Lerner with the IRS scandal, she took the Fifth.

I don't think you can presume guilt because of that. In fact, I think almost any good attorney in similar circumstances would encourage their clients to do the same thing.

CAMEROTA: Look, it's obviously every American's prerogative if they want to exercise that amendment against self-incrimination. This is something President Trump when he was candidate Trump really railed against and felt that it implied guilt. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Pled the Fifth, that's the end of him. Ay yi yi.

When you have your staff taking the Fifth amendment, taking the Fifth so they're not prosecuted, I think it's disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it's disgraceful -- really think it's disgraceful also.

You have five people taking the Fifth amendment like you see on the mob. Right You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Is the president right in that mindset?

STEWART: Yes, you know, this is where I might disagree with him. And I think it's an example, maybe, where campaign rhetoric kind of overtakes what I think most people are comfortable with.

And that is once again this is not uncommon. We presume innocence until they're proven guilty. And we also don't presume that we can force someone to testify against themselves in this case.

But I think the important thing here is to recognize once again the investigation will move forward. Mr. Flynn taking the Fifth doesn't stop the investigation. There's other people that we can talk to. There's other questions that we can ask.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

STEWART: And I'm very confident that in the end we'll get the information regardless.

CAMEROTA: But it stymies the investigation, doesn't it? He is, I've been led to believe, sort of the heart of the matter. He has a lot of information that you would like.

STEWART: Yes, I don't know that he really is the heart of the matter. If you're talking about -- if you're assuming that there was collusion between, you know, the previous campaign and the Russians, I guess maybe he would be one of the key witnesses there.

But there really is much more than that. There really are many other people we can talk to. Like, I think most investigations where people do take the Fifth, which isn't unusual, at the end of it they're still, I think, almost always able to come to the truth.

CAMEROTA: But when you say there's much more than the collusion, what else?

STEWART: Well, I think the core of this is that central question about Russia's interference. Their motives for doing that, how they were able to do that. And I think most importantly, how do we recognize that and how do we minimize their influence?

It's not like they've looked at this and said, "Wow, that was a horrible failure. Let's never do that again." Quite the opposite. They're looking at this and they're smiling ear to ear. This is beyond their wildest expectations of success.

[07:25:15] And remember, primarily, what they wanted to do was just to break down these foundations of democracy, break down trust of American people in the electoral process. And they've certainly done that. And I'm sure that they'll try to do that again. I think that's the area we should focus on, is how do we recognize that and how do we counter that?

CAMEROTA: Do you have any way to compel Michael Flynn? The information that he's maybe sitting on in terms of documents, do you have any way to get those?

STEWART: Well, I think it depends on his -- on his reaction. If he continues to plead the Fifth, and I guess legal proceedings can go around that obstacle. But the fact is that you can't legally compel someone to testify once they've taken that position.

CAMEROTA: All right. Congressman Chris Stewart, we'll be watching, obviously, the hearing that you have today, House Intel. Thanks so much for the information.

STEWART: You bet. Good to be with you. CAMEROTA: You, too.

Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So we've had another terror attack that is just shocking the world. What can be done to prevent future attacks like what we saw after the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England? President Obama's assistant for homeland security joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)