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Suicide Bomber Attacks Concert in Manchester; One Arrest Made in Connection to Terrorist Attack in Manchester; ISIS Claiming Some Responsibility for Manchester Attack; Interview with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 23, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We have it all covered. Let's go first to CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward live in Manchester. One arrest made so far plus the bomber, so two people involved, but there could be more, right?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. And we just don't know at this stage. We do know that the authorities have actually identified the bomber at this stage. They're not releasing any more information about him. And this is as close as we can get to the arena itself. There is still a large police cordon here as authorities comb through massage amounts of photographic evidence, video evidence from closed circuit television cameras that would have been in operation, and of course primarily looking at the explosive device itself. Was the DNA on that device just of the bomber? Was there the DNA of somebody else on it? Could somebody have helped to build that bomb? These are the sorts of questions that authorities are asking themselves.
And as you mentioned, that venue was sold out, Chris. It was full of young children. I have seen girls who were eye witnesses as young as eight and nine years old. Ariana Grande very popular with the so called tween audience. And the concert had just finished when all of the chaos broke loose. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God!
WARD: A deadly explosion rocking Manchester Arena in England, the blast sending panicked concert goers, including many young fans of pop singer Ariana Grande running for the exits and jumping over barricades.
KIERA DAWNER, WITNESS: The bodies were scattered about everywhere, these 20, 30 people on the floor that you could see straight off 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 WALLER, WITNESS: We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.
WARD: Parents screaming, frantically searching for their children.
KAREN FORD, WITNESS: It was just mayhem on the streets. There was 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 would come to the house or would go to her school. She's just -- she's devastated. For her 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.
CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, DAUGHTER IS MISSING FROM MANCHESTER CONCERT: It is the most horrible feeling ever to know that your daughter is there and 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: Adult guests is something that Manchester in its own unique way will make sure we turn this into a strength for us as a city by working together.
WARD: And we have heard multiple reports of people in this community all throughout the night offering people free rides home, offering people to stay in their homes for the night if they couldn't get back to their own homes. And since we've been standing here, there have been groups of people coming out, handing out to police officers and journalists snack packs, coke, drinks, water. Truly, I have been covering terror attacks for too long now and I have never really seen anything quite like the kindness and community spirit that we are seeing on display here in Manchester in spite of this hideous attack, Alisyn. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh, Clarissa, that is really
telling about how that community is coming together today. Thank you for that. We'll be back with you in a minute.
Thousands of children and teenagers were in the crowd at the Ariana Grande concert. We now know they are among the dead and wounded. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live at the Manchester Royal Infirmary where many of the victims are being treated. What's the latest there, Erin?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this hospital is one of eight hospitals treating some 59 victims of this horrific attack. This hospital, though, is one of the closest to the arena where the explosion took place.
[08:05:03] It also has a children's hospital, which is adjacent, which is perhaps why so many of the world's media have gathered here today. And they are waiting for a hospital update. Let me let the camera pan over that way, you can see. Very shortly, we are expecting hospital officials to come out and brief the media on the sort of casualties they're seeing, the age range of the casualties.
So far authorities have been very tight lipped with those details. What we know we know from Theresa May who said that many of the victims are suffering from life threatening injuries. Many of the victims, she said, are, sadly, children.
Now, I arrived here overnight in the small hours of the morning, and you definitely got a sense that it was all hands on deck here at the hospital. They actually closed the hospital to normal patients, administering to critical patients only. Hospital officials say they do have emergency plans in place for this sort of thing. But of course, the question is, how do you prepare for an attack that targets children?
CAMEROTA: Erin, thank you very much for that reporting. We'll check back as developments warrant. So let's bring in our panel now to discuss. We have Clarissa Ward back with us. Also joining us is CNN terrorism analyst and editor in chief of CTC Sentinel Paul Cruickshank, and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. Phil, I'll start with you. The fact that investigators have already arrested someone, a 23-year-old man, South Manchester, what does that tell you about the pace of this investigation?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM CORRESPONDENT: As soon as you get a name that pace is going to accelerate. In 2017 we live in a digital world. I get that name, that's a phone number. That's an email address. That's apartments. So the people who are investigating this are fanning out. You can expect in the first phase the number of people who are going to be questioned and detained is going to increase dramatically.
That doesn't mean these people are all guilty. If you're investigating this you can't afford to sit around for a day and say maybe he was involved and maybe he's not.
Last thing I want to tell you, Alisyn. There is a couple of phases of this. You are not only looking at whether there is potentially conspirators or conspirators or coconspirators. I want to know money, who knew something, who provided an apartment. There is a second phase of this investigation about people who may have been aware that could take days or weeks to determine whether he was actually alone or not.
CUOMO: Paul, there is something that we haven't heard about yet, and even though it's early it is probably a concern, whether or not the man involved, the 23-year-old arrested or anybody else were known to authorities, people who are on watch lists. That's always a sensitive consideration because it fuels suspicious that you should have known about these people. But the list in the U.S. is huge, let alone in the U.K., right?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: That's right. They are looking at a lot of people, thousands of people in the United Kingdom who are on the radar screen because of their extremist activity. We've seen in past terrorism attacks and plots, people being already on the radar screen of authorities sometime before. We saw that in the Westminster terrorist attack just back in March.
But there is a new piece of information that now is being added to the mix. And that's just that in the last few minutes ISIS has put out a statement saying that the individual who carried out this attack was a soldier of the caliphate there, starting a degree of ownership over this attack. They are providing no proof whatsoever, however, that they are behind this. This may be an opportunistic claim.
That claim, U.S. counterterrorism agencies are aware of. A U.S. counterterrorism source claim saying the claim was put out on an official ISIS telegram channel. Sometimes they put these claims out first on their semi-affiliated news agency. In this case they put it out directly on their centrally controlled telegram channel, a statement describing a degree of ownership over this attack. But no proof whatsoever in their wording that they even knew who was responsible for were in contact with them. But they are at the very least saying they believe they inspired this.
CAMEROTA: So what does that mean, Clarissa? That this is, could still be a lone wolf who was inspired? Or if they are a soldier of the caliphate, does that suggest some sort of correspondence in contact?
WARD: Well, I would just add to what Paul is saying, Alisyn, that ISIS is extremely opportunistic in situations like these. They almost always like to claim credit whether or not they had a direct role in orchestrating the attack or not.
I think we'll probably know more. If this really was an ISIS coordinated attack, then you will be likely to see some sort of a eulogy on one of their outline outlets or one of their magazines for the attacker. They will know more information about him, such as his name, whether he spent any time in Iraq or Syria.
[08:10:04] So at this stage it is still too early to see whether this is just ISIS being opportunistic or whether indeed they did have more of a central role in coordinating the attack. I will say, Alisyn, that looking at the optics of it, it does have the hallmarks of a lot of ISIS attacks. And I say that because even there are a few terrorist groups who will stoop to this level of depravity where you actively target young little girls and their families at a concert. I mean, we have seen ISIS target civilians and terrorist groups across the world, regularly target civilians. But this seems to have particularly targeted children. Why would you target children?
Well, part of the reason you do that is to precipitate a huge outpouring, a reaction, a backlash, anger, grief, rage. And ideally for ISIS, they want to sow the seeds of division. They want to spread this hatred, this perceived war of cultures between Islam and the west. It is that that they are trying to do when they launch these types of attacks. But as I said, still too early to say declaratively that it is an ISIS attack, but certainly it does have the hallmarks of one, Alisyn.
CUOMO: The point of terrorism is to scare people. You go after their kids you're going to do that. It also creates a lot of antipathy towards the people who do it. And it's a coward's crime any way you look at it.
Phil Mudd, the idea of whether or not this guy who did this was known to them, what does that mean? How is that helpful if the name does hit in the system?
MUDD: Let me help you explain how this works because there is one characteristic here that I don't think people understand, and that's the mindset of someone that conducts an operation like this. Let's say you have 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 people under investigation. That's a daily triage operation especially in the U.K. which sits on I'd estimate at least 10 times the threat we sit on here in the United States. Every day you are making a decision, who gets surveillance, who gets email coverage, who gets phone coverage.
While you're doing that, if this person was a radar, you have to make a decision that's impossible. Whether somebody is triggered some day in a way they weren't two weeks ago by something they've seen on TV, by a friend they've talked about over the Internet, by a video they've seen on YouTube to switch from thinking about an operation to acting. So while you're doing that triage every day, how are you supposed to know of 5,000 people, which of those last night watched a YouTube video is going to do this in Manchester? That's why these attacks are inevitable. You can't triage that number of people and estimate what their intent is every day without an occasional mistake.
CAMEROTA: Paul, just going back to your reporting that ISIS has now claimed responsibility, CNN is, of course, trying to confirm that as well. But what Phil originally said in terms of the investigation and the different sort of veins it will take now. The money obviously is always a key concern. If it's a lone wolf, does it cost much money to prepare this kind of improvised explosive device? Would he have had to have support from somewhere?
CRUICKSHANK: It depends about how sophisticated the device was, how powerful the device was. The more sophisticated and powerful the device was, the more likely some kind of network might be behind this. But we've seen instances in the past where you've had essentially one man bomb making, plotting operations. We saw that a decade ago here in the U.K. with a wannabe suicide bomber from Bristol who managed to build a quantity of a high powered explosive. We saw that recently in Germany with a suicide bomber trying to target a music festival over the summer last year, and very recently in September of 2016 with those devices left behind planted in Chelsea, those very powerful devices in New York City. That was just one individual as well in that case who managed to put together those devices.
So we'll have to see whether there was a network behind this. But CNN, we are reporting now there has been this statement put out by ISIS, by the ISIS central command over their official telegram channel, asserting that this individual was a soldier of the caliphate. But they provide no evidence of that whatsoever, and in the past they have made opportunistic claims. For example, after an attack here in London just a few months ago, that attack on the Westminster Bridge, they also claimed responsibility soon after that. But there has been no evidence that there is any link between that individual and ISIS yet.
[08:15:00] CUOMO: Phil, Clarissa, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: Up next, President Trump on his first major trip overseas, that he cannot shake the shadow of the Russia investigation. There is more happening every day, seemingly every hour on this. Republican Senator Marco Rubio is going to join us with his take, next.
CAMEROTA: We're following two big stories this morning. An arrest has just been made in the deadly Manchester terror attack and President Trump addressing the attack during his overseas trip. All of this as the political drama over the Trump Russia probe intensifies in Washington.
Joining us now to talk about all of it is Republican Senator Marco Rubio. He is on the Senate Intel Committee.
Senator, thanks for being here.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you. Good morning.
CAMEROTA: ISIS has just claimed responsibility, online at least for this terror attack last night at the Ariana Grande concert. Is there anything the U.S. can do if this turns out to be a lone wolf attack? What is the answer?
RUBIO: Yes, and I think we have to be cautious about the term lone wolf. It makes it sound like some guy just went off on his own and did this. This is clearly inspired by them. I mean, this is the kind of attack they have been calling for and you're going to see more of these attempts as they lose territory. Their ability to actually coordinate an attack, you know, send
somebody over there with a specific plan continues to erode. Their ability to inspire people on line and gives specific instructions and ideas, these are the kinds of ideas they're putting out there in their publication, and they're telling people find soft targets, kill as many people as you can, be willing to die in the operation.
So, obviously, I think the eradication of -- going after their ability to continue to inspire online is a key part of our effort.
[08:20:07]: But ultimately, and there's got to be a rejection of this ideology, and that's an ongoing effort and I think part of what the president is endeavoring to do in this trip beginning in Saudi Arabia.
CAMEROTA: The president, as you know, is in Israel this morning, and he's talking about attempting a peace process. So, let me just play for you what President Trump has said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I know you've heard it before. I am telling you that's what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Do you think that it will be -- I mean, President Trump has suggested at time this is what he does. It will be easier than people think.
RUBIO: Well, it won't be easier. And, look, I think it's a noble endeavor. Every American president has tried it and there's a reason why it doesn't happen.
And let me say, the Israelis would love to have peace. The problem -- the fundamental issue we have here is the definition of peace. Everyone says they want peace. How do you define peace?
If peace means that Israel can no longer retain its nature of a Jewish state, if means they have to give up control of Jerusalem, if that's peace, that's not peace. That's not going to happen.
So, from the Palestinian -- and I would just say from the Palestinian leadership because the Palestinian people I have no quarrel with, but from the Palestinian leadership's perspective, I don't think their definition of peace fits within what most of us at least here in Congress and in the United States would define as peace. And that's always been a problem.
And I think it's a very noble endeavor. I think the White House and president needs to be careful that in an effort to make things better, we end up making things worse. It is my view the conditions for the sort of peace, we all desire do not exist and therefore we need to try to begin to create those conditions, more prosperity, more security in Judea and Samaria, and then ultimately reach a point where there is the opportunity to go further. But, again, I hope I'm wrong. I hope there is an agreement that
everyone can live it. I truly do. But I'm not very optimistic.
CAMEROTA: Senator, let's talk about what's going on here at home and the Russia probe. U.S. officials have told CNN that not only did President Trump press then FBI Director Comey to publically state that he saw no collusion, he also pressed the directors of National Security Agency and national intelligence to do the same. How serious is this to you?
RUBIO: Well, we have to confirm that that's what actually happened. And I'm not disputing that it did. If it does, I would say to you that t goes further in my mind as a member of the Intelligence Committee than just the focus on the Russia investigation. I think it goes into the very nature of the intelligence community's work and its ability to work with the executive branch and the presidency.
So, I think the first step here, my understanding is that both Admiral Rogers and Director Coats are on the Hill today testifying. I know for a fact they're going to be asking this question in a public forum. We'll see what they say.
RUBIO: I can guarantee you, the intelligence community -- the intelligence committee that I sit on, which has oversight over these intelligence agencies that they run will be asking this question. And for me, the fundamental question is: has this -- did this happen? And, if so, what impact has it had on the intelligence community's ability to work with the president? And, by the way, related to that are these leaks that are coming out.
And I'm -- again, I understand that the public wants to know, but I also think we have an environment now in the executive branch where the president and the people around them are potentially cautious or afraid because they don't know what the people -- they don't trust the people around them. They know someone in that room or someone in that building is leaking things to the press, sometimes selectively.
RUBIO: So, we've got a broader issue here, and that is the ability of the intelligence community to function for its most important client, the president of the United States.
CAMEROTA: But is it obstruction of justice in your mind? If this happened as reported, is it obstruction of justice?
RUBIO: Well, I think that's a legal question, I'm not prepared to opine on simply because I don't know all the facts behind this. I know what the press report says. But for me, as someone who's sitting on the Intelligence Committee, it's important to not go in and be making public pronouncement. That's what got Chairman Nunes in trouble and had to recuse himself and I'm not criticizing him. I think he's a good guy who I think was trying to do a good job. But in my mind, our job and that's why most of the members of the
intelligence committee are so cautious about what that they say. It's not that we're trying to evade it, it's that we don't want there to be any doubt when we issue our report, that we took our work seriously, that we didn't go in with any preconceived notions, that we weren't influence solely by what was being reported in the press, but that we looked at the facts and reported them as facts.
I don't want there to be an Intelligence Committee report that sits out there and people doubt. We can't afford to have, you know, an open question here for years to come about what's really happen. But suffice it to say that, we want to know all the facts. We want to lay them out to the American people and then I think we could make clear judgments on what happened or did not happen.
That's really important for the country, the sooner the better.
CAMEROTA: Senator, every day, there seems to be some sort of new bombshell.
[08:25:01] I mean, for lack of a better word, whether it's calling the director of the FBI publically a nut job, whether it's divulging classified information to the Russians, every day, there is something that grips the news cycle, and I would assume keeps lawmakers from sort of getting their jobs done.
Is this what you expected? I mean, I know that you said recently, what did people expect when they hired Donald Trump, when they voted for Donald trump? This is how he ran his campaign.
But is this the level of what you expected?
RUBIO: I'm not sure. I can tell you that he's not a politician. That's pretty clear. So, he's not operating by the conventional rules that presidents have up to this point.
And we knew that. That's what I meant by the campaign. He didn't run a conventional campaign. He didn't campaign as a politician, and he's not running as a -- he's not president as a politician. And there are aspects of that that are very positive.
So, clearly, I have said publicly, I think the White House needs to systemize a little bit and get a little bit more conventional, and that includes the president.
But I would also say and related to this -- I think we also have to begin to talk a little bit about the people within the executive branch that are leaking some of this information. There are appropriate venues in this which to do that. They can bring that to the intelligence committee. They can bring that to law enforcement.
Again, I'm not criticizing whistle blowers, but I do think we have an issue now. And that is, if I'm sitting in the Oval Office, if I'm sitting there working for the president, I'm worried about what I'm saying and so are foreign leaders. They're concerned that their words are going to be leaked out by someone in the room they can't trust. And that's a big problem, too. It begins to impede our ability to conduct national security in a way that's good for the country. So, we've got a lot of moving pieces here. This is less than ideal. Obviously, this is a big problem and hopefully, we could begin to turn the corner here and part of it is the fact finding and the report the intelligence committee I'm confident will produce.
CAMEROTA: But you do see --
RUBIO: But is it what I expected? I don't know if anybody knew what to expect, to be honest with you. But the president is not a politician and I think you are seeing the good of that and I think you're seeing some of the side -- some of the side problems that come with that, too.
CAMEROTA: But are you making an appeal right now to the people inside the White House who you consider -- who you just used the term whistleblowers to come and speak to your committee?
RUBIO: Well, I think if someone has information that they believe is damaging to the country, their first option should be to follow the proper authorities, whether it's -- you now, the general counsel or the oversight within your own agency. That exists there now where there are all sorts of independent individuals within the CIA, for example, and other intelligence branches where people can go. And there's also the opportunity to produce information to the committees that are looking at all of this.
Look, I am not here to ask people not to talk to the press. I think the press plays an important function in all of this. I'm just telling you that I have no doubt that this is having an impact on our ability to contact national security operations because of the growing level of mistrust that must exist when you are in a room and you don't know where these notes or where these comments are going to wind up in the newspaper in 48 hours. I mean, I imagine everyone is looking over their shoulder and wondering, you know, who is doing this?
So, again, it's very complicated situation, and we hope to bring some clarity to it in our work.
CAMEROTA: Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much for your time on NEW DAY.
RUBIO: Thank you. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Up next, we have the Democratic take. Senator Joe Manchin is going to join us live. We'll get his reaction to the Manchester carnage, and what you just heard Senator Rubio talking about is the big concern here -- the leaks of the information or the information that we're learning all the time about this White House, next.