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Three More Arrests After U.K. Concert Terror Attack; White House Gears Up For Legal Fight on Russia Probe; U.K. Raises Terror Threat To Highest Level In A Decade; President Trump Meets Pope Francis. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired May 24, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We stand together. So, yes, look, it is an unmitigated tragedy. This is terrible. It was wrong on every level. But people do step up and try to do the right thing in the face of the wrong thing.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That is beautiful. Well, time to send you now to CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow and John Berman with more breaking news.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman here.
HARLOW: And we begin with breaking news on the horrific terror attack at a concert in Manchester, England. The attack, as you know, killing 22 people, including children.
And right now, police are searching an address in Manchester City. This new photo you see on the right-hand side of your screen shows where that police activity is going on. We are monitoring the situation. We are also waiting for an update from the investigation. We will hear from the chief constable in Manchester at any moment.
Also, live pictures of this press conference about to get underway. Police are making three new arrests, bringing the total number of people in custody around this attack to four.
Also, new details this is morning about the 22-year-old business student who carried out this attack, including this photo taken just a few years ago.
BERMAN: Yes. He was known to intelligence services. He had recently made a trip to Libya. Authorities are now trying to figure out if he acted alone or if he has terror ties inside the country.
The United Kingdom has raised its threat alert level to critical. That is the highest level that it's been for a decade. The country's Prime Minister has warned that another attack may be imminent.
All this as we continue to learn the names of the victims, including Olivia Campbell. Her parents told CNN just yesterday they were waiting for their daughter to call home.
We're following all of this with our team of reporters. I want to begin with CNN's Senior International Correspondent Atika Shubert at the site of one of these raids.
Atika, what's going on?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here is what we know from talking to eyewitnesses. Police blocked off a part of this road, and then they saw about a dozen armed and masked police with body armor actually enter the building. A short while later, they heard a small bang. And we know from other police searches that this is what they used to often access an apartment or a house so that may have been what that sound was.
What we know is that the search is still ongoing. Police are still inside, but we don't know exactly who or what they are looking for. Now, police have confirmed that the search that's going on is a part of the Manchester attack investigation, and we are hoping to get an update very shortly from the chief constable. But at the moment, we're waiting to see what they might be bringing out of the apartment that they're searching.
Now, just to give you a sense, this is a very different location from the suburban homes we saw earlier yesterday that were being searched. Those, you know, were houses where families lived. You know, a lot of students live on this road, a lot of young professionals, design studios, for example.
And it is very central in the city. It's just about a mile and a half away from the arena where the attack occurred. So very different search happening today. We'll bring you details as soon as we find out what they're looking inside.
HARLOW: OK. Please do that. Atika Shubert there where they're doing this raids right now. Let's go to Clarissa Ward for more on the investigation.
I mean, it's really accelerated overnight. You've got three more arrests, four people in custody. What else are learning?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Three arrests (inaudible) four people now in custody. We also heard Britain's Home Secretary today, that, you know, essentially, she believes it's unlikely that the suicide bomber acted alone.
That's very much gels with what we have been reporting, simply put because the fact that the bomb itself seemed like a fairly sophisticated device. It certainly was a powerful device. It managed to kill 22 people.
And the concern always when you have explosives being built is that there is a larger network at play, that potentially a bomb maker is still on the loose. And I think the fact that we have seen the terror threat elevated to critical, as you said, the first time in a decade. The last time the terror threat was at critical in the United Kingdom
was back in 2007 when a man tried to ram his flaming car into the doors of Scotland's Glasgow airport. So clearly, the British Prime Minister thinks that this is a very serious situation.
One other thing that was interesting to note that we heard from Britain's interior security forces today was that they have said that they find U.S. officials, quote, "irritating" in their continuing leaking of information about the British investigation into the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena to media officials. They say they don't think it's compromised the investigation, but they would like it to stop. Poppy and John.
BERMAN: All right, Clarissa Ward, thanks very much. Also, thank you to Atika Shubert. We're going to keep our eye on Manchester. We are expecting a news conference from law enforcement officials there very shortly to bring us an update on the investigation.
[09:04:59] In the meantime, back here at home, the investigation into the White House and its possible ties to Russia is in the spotlight after a pretty dramatic testimony from former CIA Chief John Brennan. He revealed to lawmakers that he saw intelligence that led him to believe that there were contacts between Russia and Trump campaign associates or officials, but the former director stopped short of saying that he saw evidence of collusion while he was in office.
President Trump is lawyering up, looking to a long-time associate for legal help. And while this is going on, the troubles continue for fired national security adviser Michael Flynn as lawmakers press for documents and threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress.
I want to bring in CNN Washington Correspondent Joe Johns with the very latest. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The President hiring his long-time attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to represent him on matters related to the investigation.
It is expected that Kasowitz will be part of a team of attorneys, that team also likely to include someone with super lawyer status in Washington, D.C., familiar with navigating issues involving the Justice Department. The President has said he hasn't done anything wrong and that he's not under investigation, but the naming of a Special Counsel to investigate Russia complicates the picture.
Meanwhile, the legal trouble appeared to deepen for the President's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who is invoking his Fifth Amendment right in the Senate Russian investigation. The heads of the Senate Intel Committee's now saying they will subpoena two of Flynn's companies to get documents he has declined to give them, and they're suggesting Flynn could be cited for contempt if he doesn't cooperate. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VICE CHAIRMAN, U.S. SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: While we disagree with General Flynn's lawyer's interpretation of taking the Fifth, it is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the Fifth.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), CHAIRMAN, U.S. SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: If, in fact, there is not a response, we'll seek additional counsel advice on how to proceed forward. At the end of that option is a contempt charge, and I've said that everything is on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Also new, the search for someone to replace the fired FBI Director James Comey may be back to square one. The President has said last week that he was close to naming a replacement. But now, it's our understanding the pool of applicants is being expanded, John and Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. Joe Johns, for us in Washington, thank you very much. Let's talk about all these with our panel.
Joining us now, Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor. Jackie Kucinich is here, the Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast." And Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
So to you, Counselor. First, a few things here, legal issues we want to get through. So the President is hiring Kasowitz, his sort of lawyer he's worked with for a long time. What are the advantages, disadvantages to that versus White House counsel?
Why bring in someone from the outside? Because this happened. It's happened in the Reagan administration, happened in Clinton, all while there were troubles surrounding those presidencies.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It makes a lot of sense for the President to be doing this because the White House counsel really is there to defend the institution of the presidency, but not the president personally.
Kasowitz, on the other hand, is an aggressive commercial lawyer who's been involved with a lot of Trump's big deals over the last 15 years, a lot of his litigation, so he knows the personal aspects of the Trump Empire. And we can expect that Special Prosecutor Mueller will be subpoenaing records relevant to that empire, so I think he needs that kind of advice.
He also needs a Washington insider, though, on the team. And I'm waiting to hear who that will be because Kasowitz doesn't have that inside Washington experience.
HARLOW: That's a good point.
BERMAN: Let me ask one more legal question before we get to the politics here. What is Congress trying to do with the various subpoenas and various summonings of Michael Flynn here, right? There's calling for him to testify personally. There calling for his
documents. There's going after his businesses. Where can he claim the Fifth? Where can they claim contempt?
CALLAN: I think that they're being very aggressive with him because they're trying to get their hands on those documents. Now, the Fifth Amendment generally can only be used as a protection against forced testimony. So he can sit in the witness chair and take the Fifth, but generally, documents are not protected by the Fifth Amendment. So Congress may have a strong argument here that this is not a legitimate assertion of the Fifth with respect to documents.
HARLOW: Even if those documents could incriminate him?
CALLAN: Even if they can incriminate him. There's a very limited legal exception that sometimes allows Fifth Amendment protection, but I think we'll see the court's ruling on this eventually.
HARLOW: Jackie, to you, just following up on what John Brenna said live during this show yesterday that is certainly making headlines around the world, "I was worried by a number of contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons." He went on to say, you know, wittingly or unwittingly, connections that he was worried about between some Trump associates on the campaign and the Russians.
How much of a headache did he create for the White House? Given the fact that they made his point and then say, look, this isn't -- you know, they didn't respond but, you know, they can say this is an Obama loyalist. Take it with a grain of salt.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: They used his testimony as saying that there was no collusion.
HARLOW: Collusion, yes.
[09:09:58] KUCINICH: It was not what he said. And the wittingly and unwittingly is another key thing that Brennan said yesterday, saying that may be they didn't mean to end up colluding with the Russians because the Russians were using them rather than them, you know, willingly going along with the Russians. And that is a very important distinction.
But how much of a headache? I mean, we've said this many times throughout the last couple months. Any time we're talking about the Trump associates and Russia, it is not good for the White House. And the fact that you did have someone like Brennan, the fact that he was concerned and felt the need to report this is problematic.
He also said during that testimony that he called the head of Russian intelligence and basically said, if you guys are doing this, it's not going to end well for you. So there were several really interesting pieces of that testimony that I think will continue to spark the discussion as we go forward.
BERMAN: You know, Larry Sabato, there's another former official who could testify very soon. That's fired FBI Director James Comey. And last night, with Anderson Cooper, James Comey's friend, Benjamin Wittes -- he of the famous drapes in the Oval Office story, Benjamin Wittes -- went on "ANDERSON" and basically said this, said the President should be worried. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN WITTES, FRIEND OF JAMES COMEY: I thought it was interesting and very telling that he declined an opportunity to tell his story in private. He clearly wants to do it in a public setting and I interpret --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Right. He's asked to testify in private and he said no, so now it's going to be public.
WITTES: Right. And I think that's a reflection of the fact that this is a guy with a story to tell. I think if I were Donald Trump, that would scare me a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Larry Sabato, if you were Donald Trump, would it scare you a lot?
DR. LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, I don't know what scares Donald Trump, but, John, I think it's pretty obvious that former Director Comey will have a great deal of credibility.
When you put Donald Trump up against James Comey and you ask a very basic question, which one of them would be more likely to tell the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth? I think it's obvious that the vast majority of us would say it's former Director Comey.
So sure, he's got a lot to be worried about there. He's got a lot to be worried about, generally. Trump and the White House keeps saying what I've heard White Houses and presidents say for decades when there is a scandal going on. Move along, folks, nothing to see here. There is almost always something to see there.
HARLOW: So if you are, Paul Callan, Special Counselor, former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, would you want Comey to testify publically? Because some experts have come on the show and said, you don't want him to muddy the water. He'll talk to you privately as special counsel and then he'll say things publicly and you want the two to be in lock step. So does Mueller, do you think, want Comey out there?
CALLAN: No, I think Mueller probably would prefer a quiet approach. Prosecutors like to keep control of their investigation and keep things secret so that they can move carefully and quietly.
However, Mueller has been friends with Comey. I think he respects Comey. And I understand why Comey wants to go public, so I don't think you'll see strong pressure from Mueller.
HARLOW: Yes. CALLAN: Comey is trying to protect his own reputation, and everybody
BERMAN: So, Jackie, all kinds of reports that the White House might be turning to an old friend to help manage them through this crisis, a guy named Corey Lewandowski. You may have heard of him. He was campaign manager for Donald Trump and, briefly, was an analyst here on CNN as well. What do you make of the idea of Corey helping manage them through this crisis?
KUCINICH: You know, it's an interesting choice, for sure, because Corey Lewandowski really doesn't have the best tract record in getting through them crisis. He's been pretty good at creating it during his time on the campaign.
That said, he's someone that Trump himself trusts. He's someone that has stayed within the inner circle, even though he had that attempt at a lobbying firm, you know, for the last couple of months. He has stayed close to this White House. So if you look at Trump's track record, he does like people who are very loyal close to him. So for that reason, it makes sense.
Now, I think some others in the White House might be pushing back on this because they don't want this sort of chaotic person back in their orbit. But we'll have to see. Trump usually gets what he wants.
BERMAN: It's interesting. He's been seen going to the White House a couple of times over the last two weeks.
BERMAN: Jackie Kucinich, Paul Callan, Larry Sabato, thanks so much.
We are waiting for a live update from Manchester, England in the deadly terror attack there. This as the United Kingdom raises its security level to critical. What information have officials seen to determine that a new attack is imminent?
HARLOW: Plus, the Pope makes an impression. President Trump says, quote, "he won't forget" what he said after meeting with the Pontiff.
And Republicans bracing, bracing for the bill. Today, the price of their health care overhaul, but how will that impact what the Senate does next?
[09:15:07] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BERMAN: All right. We have new developments from the United Kingdom after the terror attack that left 22 dead including children. The security threat has been raised to critical for the first time there in a decade. The British Prime Minister Theresa May says another attack could be imminent.
HARLOW: This morning police have arrested three additional men in Manchester. That brings the number of suspects in custody up to four. Investigators are not saying what role these individuals could have played in the attack. The arrests were announced shortly after Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it is likely the 22-year-old suicide bomber had help.
With us to discuss, Kimberly Dozier, our global affairs analyst, and Paul Cruickshank, a CNN terrorism analyst.
Paul, let me begin with you. You are so dialed into your sources on this one. What are you hearing about these arrests and what role they may have played?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we don't know what British authorities suspect about these men who have been arrested over the last 24 hours or so. But the British clearly at this point believe that there was likely a wider conspiracy here. Other people part of this, part of the network. That raises concern that there could be a bomb maker still out there.
[09:20:06]Not clear whether the attacker made the bombs or whether someone else may have provided those bombs to him. All of this leading to this really quite extraordinary raising of the alert level right to the maximum level just two weeks out from a British general election.
The backdrop to all of that is a really high elevated threat here in the U.K. and terror plots in recent weeks. It is the start of Ramadan on Friday and (inaudible) ISIS have called for a surge in attacks during that period.
And last year we saw the Orlando shootings at that nightclub take place after those kind of calls. So a lot of concern right now. I can tell you one big part of what they're looking at is this travel to Libya, what happened there, who he came into contact with.
Is it possible he managed to get some terrorist training out there? Intelligence has come in recent months indicating that ISIS has set up an external operations wing inside Libya and that external operations wing had connections to the Berlin trunk attack back in December 2016.
That there were communications going back and forth over encrypted apps between that attacker and ISIS in Libya. Is it possible that this attacker managed to find contact in ISIS or another group like say, al-Qaeda who also still have a presence inside Libya?
BERMAN: So Kimberly Dozier, we've seen video of raids going on. In fact, one going right now in Manchester city center. Does the threat of an attack increase as the investigation digs deeper?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, what you're probably seeing right now with these raids is they are hoping that all this police activity will cause the terrorist either to get flushed out, do something stupid that gets them exposed or possibly go to ground so that the immediate risk is passed.
You know, it can go either way. But the idea is to put the pressure on and since the name of the attacker got leaked early, to try to wrap up as many people who might be connected just to question them to try to head off any sort of future attack.
They're also worried about copycats because now anyone watching who is thinking about launching an ISIS inspired attack knows one of the vulnerable points is when people are leaving a venue. The security is often focused on when people are arriving, checking them on the way in, not on the way out.
HARLOW: Paul to you. There are some experts who have questioned ISIS's claim of responsibility here because they didn't release details about the suicide bomber. Speak to whether that gives you doubts or not and also this Libya issue, I mean, the travel back to Libya of Libyan descent, the war on ISIS has focused on Iraq and is focused on Syria. Is Libya the new hotbed?
CRUICKSHANK: It has been the new hotbed, Libya, over the last couple of years. ISIS really expanded there, but the peak of their expansion was at the end of 2015. Since then their position has been eroded. They had been in control, but they were pushed out of there by the end of last year.
But they've regrouped to some degree in the deserts and desert remote areas of Libya's interior and from there they have increasingly have been focusing on international attack planning.
And if you'll recall, there was that B-2 strike, the two B-2 aircraft traveling on a round-trip from Missouri to Libya on the last day of the Obama administration that took out to these training camps in Southern Libya.
That was because of one of the reasons was because of the possible presence of two individuals there linked to the Berlin attack. A lot of concerns. But ISIS really hasn't as you said provided any evidence they were behind this.
BERMAN: All right, Paul Cruickshank, Kimberly Dozier, thanks very, very much. Again, we are waiting for a news conference to bring us the latest developments there.
In the meantime, two men with a rich history not always friendly, the president and the pontiff. They have had a lot of words between each other, but a new meeting this morning, it was all cordial. There was banter. There were gifts. And the last thing the president said before leaving that got everyone asking, what did Pope Francis just say? That's next.
BERMAN: All right. Happening now, President Trump is on his way to Brussels, where he will attend his first NATO meeting. A few hours ago the president was face to face with something of a critic, Pope Francis. This time, though, they cast aside past differences to highlight peace.
HARLOW: He did indeed. CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Rome this morning. There was banter. There was an exchange of gifts and clearly an important message from the pope to this president.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What we saw was these men who had exchanged some fairly barbed comments during the election campaign. They did seem to have a fairly cordial meeting this morning at 8:30 local time. It lasted for 30 minutes. Afterwards, President Trump had words of enthusiasm for that meeting. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He is something. He is really great. We had a fantastic meeting and a fantastic tour. It was really beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: And he went on to tweet just about an hour ago that "It was the honor of a lifetime to meet his holiness, Pope Francis.