Return to Transcripts main page


Brother of Manchester Bomber Arrested; U.K. Upset over Leaks; Trump Gears up for Fight; Brennan talks Treason; Flynn Denies Request for Documents; Stadiums Beef Up Security. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 24, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar. And we are following some major developments out of Manchester, England. The brother of the bomber now under arrest for planning his own terror attack in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Back in the U.K., five people are now in custody in connection with the bombing as police there now say they believe the bomber was part of a wider terror network. The country raising its terror threat level to imminent attack for the first time in a decade. And all of this as we get word from U.S. officials that the attacker spent three weeks in Libya, returning to England just days before he walked into that Ariana Grande concert surrounded by children and teenagers and detonated a suicide bomb.

Joining me now is Hala Gorani. She's our CNN international anchor and correspondent.

And we're getting some brand new details about the bomber's brother, Hala, who's now under arrest. What can you tell us?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: He's under arrest in Libya. This is according to a militia that works closely with the interior ministry in that country for planning a terrorist attack thy say in Tripoli. They say that under interrogation the brother of Salmon Abedi, whose name is Hashem Abedi, admitted under interrogation that both siblings were members of ISIS. This is something we can't verify independently, but that is coming to us from this militia.

Now, the militia said, as I mentioned, that he admitted that they had planned these attacks and that he was, in fact, the brother, who's about 20 years old according to the date of birth we've been given, was in Manchester when Salman Abedi was planning the attack on the Ariana Grande concert. So this gives us more pieces to this puzzle as to how this was planned, how wide this network is and that really is appears more and more that this is going well beyond a lone wolf situation.

So, again, this militia detaining Hashem Abedi, the 20-year-old brother of Salman Abedi, is saying that he's admitted he's a member of ISIS, that Salman Abedi is also a member of ISIS, that he was in Manchester when Salman was planning that attack against that concert venue and that he, himself, according to the militia, was planning a separate attack in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.


KEILAR: Very significant new information.

Hala Gorani, thank you so much, for us from England.

And I want to bring in now Amy Pope. She served as deputy homeland security adviser for the National Security Council under President Obama.

I want to get your reaction to what we just heard, Amy, that the brother is now under arrest in Libya, and also that it appears the bomber in England had gone back to Libya recently for a few weeks.

AMY POPE, FORMER DEP. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER, NATL. SECURITY COUNCIL: Right. So it's not a surprise that there's a connection to Libya here. There's been reported intelligence that there is a branch of ISIS that's operating in Libya. We know, based on public reporting, that there have been attacks planned against western Europe for some time, including against the United Kingdom.

So we don't know the extent of the network here. We don't know whether or not he was operating with an established cell or whether or not he was operating with a smaller group. But it's not a big surprise to hear that there's a connection back to that country.

KEILAR: Information that we do not have confirmed, but you heard in Hala's report there, that the brother saying that he - the brother who's now in prison in Libya, and his brother, the bomber in Manchester, they were both members of ISIS.

POPE: Right.

KEILAR: What does that mean? Does that - does that to you mean someone who got training, someone inspired by ISIS?

POPE: It's hard to say because belonging to ISIS in this context is not the same as al Qaeda, for example. It doesn't necessarily mean that they've had training. It doesn't necessarily mean that they've sworn an oath of allegiance or have been part of an actual cell. And ISIS has been content to basically inspire people and get anybody acting on the street to act in the name of ISIS. So it will take some more investigation to really understand what's at the heart of that.

KEILAR: And this threat level that they're at now, the highest in a decade, what do you make of that? Is that a precaution or there - do you think actionable intelligence that has them saying, we need to be on this level?

POPE: It's difficult to say. If I were in their position, I would do it at least as a precaution. We know that there have been threats made against the United Kingdom. We now have information that there was a plot that was carried out. If I'm in their shoes, I want to be safe, even if I don't yet have the intelligence to back it up.

KEILAR: All right, Amy, stay with us.

I'm going to get to something else real quick. All interrelated here, though.

The U.K.'s home secretary says she's irritated with the U.S. after U.S. officials leaked the identity of the Manchester bomber hours before British police. Although we do not know the exact source of these disclosures, the leaks are renewing some concerns over the Trump administration and its handling of classified information. And during the president's visit to Israel, the country's defense minister may have made some changes to their intel program because of this meeting two weeks ago where the president shared classified information with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador. I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst Elise Labott. Amy Pope back with us on this conversation.

[14:05:06] So, first explain what's going on here and this irritation.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think it's a little bit of apples and oranges here, Brianna, because you had President Trump -

KEILAR: The Israel compared to the British.

LABOTT: The Israel comparison to the British.


LABOTT: Because what you have with President Trump in that meeting with the Russian foreign minister, is I think he kind of was bragging and blurted out some of the U.S. intelligence that he shouldn't have. And, you know, this was - he didn't really know what he was and wasn't supposed to say because you heard Dan Coats yesterday, the director of National Intelligence, speaking to lawmakers saying that no one really ever went over him - with him what he - there was no process involved.

I think what you have with the British example is that U.S. law enforcement officials who - and other officials who are familiar and being briefed on the investigation are talking to CNN and other reporters here in the U.S. about the investigation. They want to look as if they're working with their British counterparts. They want to be on top of it. So maybe some of the changes are going to be the same. They may be, you know -

KEILAR: But they got out in front of the British, which is annoying the British.

LABOTT: They got in front of the British. And not only is it annoying because the British want to be in lead of their own investigation. But what the home secretary was saying is, listen, this is damaging our element of surprise when we're going about our investigation. And we're not coming out and saying these things because we want to protect the integrity of the investigation and we would appreciate that our U.S. counterparts, who are working on this investigation, understand that.

KEILAR: Is it usual, Amy, that something like this would happen, or does this happen all the time?



POPE: This is not unusual. This is very unlike the president of the United States sharing highly classified information with a foreign adversary. I mean this is sort of typically what happens in an investigation. It's difficult to keep all the details under wraps. I absolutely agree that it's damaging to the investigation. Right now in the United Kingdom they're focused on trying to undue sort of what's in place here, to figure out what the network is here, whether he's working with somebody else. Any bit of detail that the bad guys can see means that they can get ahead of law enforcement. And so that's the problem, but it's a different matter.

KEILAR: OK, so then let's look at the matter as it pertains to Israel and if they do change how they're going to share information with the U.S. How does that affect things? The U.S. is trying to fight ISIS.

POPE: Right.

KEILAR: What's the real effect here?

POPE: It could be extraordinarily damaging. The information that they share - that the president shared, in this case, was about an aviation plot, right? The results of that information was that the U.S. put in place a series of measures to protect passengers from that potential - the consequences -

KEILAR: To do with laptops, right?

POPE: To do with laptops, right. And so that information directly impacted the way we do business here. If we didn't have that information, that means that there's a layer of defense that's missing and that puts us all at risk.

LABOTT: I think what you're going to see is the Israelis be a lot more explicit about what you can tell allies, who you can tell and that. What usually happens in a process like this is officials go through it, they go back to the ally and say, look, we want to share this with some of our other partners and friends and allies. What do you think is, you know, responsible for us to tell them? And there's a discussion between the two countries. I think the Israelis are going to be a lot stricter about not - I don't think the intelligence relationship is going to change. I think they're going to be a lot clearer about what they can and cannot share.

KEILAR: No, really, you cannot share this.

LABOTT: Exactly.

KEILAR: Right? We'll see.

LABOTT: Exactly.

KEILAR: Elise, Amy, thank you so much for that.

POPE: Great.

KEILAR: Well, a close friend of James Comey says that the fired FBI director has a story to tell and that President Trump should be scared. We'll have his warning ahead.

Plus, when talking about the Trump campaign, the former CIA director says oftentimes it's too late before people realize they have committed treason. What does that mean? We'll talk about that.

And the pope and President Trump, it's a rather complicated relationship, as you probably know, but after a war of words, they meet face-to-face for the first time. See what happens.


[14:12:59] KEILAR: Welcome back. I'm Brianna Keilar.

Fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has now denied giving information to both members of Congress. Just a day after pleading the fifth to a Senate Intelligence Committee, today Flynn has rejected document requests from the House, one of five investigations looking into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia. Well, now the House Committee's ranking member, a Democrat, plans to subpoena Flynn for the paperwork.

And as Flynn clams up, his former boss is shoring up an outside legal team. A senior administration official says it is expected that President Trump will bring in Marc Kasowitz, who has been his lawyer for more than 15 years. Kasowitz has handled several well-known Trump cases, including a lawsuit against the author of "Trump Nation" for allegedly undervaluing the president's net worth at the time, the president did lose that case, and also the Trump University class action case which was settled at a cost of $25 million paid by Donald Trump.

Joining me now is trial attorney Renato Mariotti. He served as a federal prosecutor for the northern district of Illinois for nearly a decade.

So, Renato, I hear some people who would look at this and say, oh, my goodness, he's lawyering up. But when you talk to lawyers about it, they say, of course he is. Your take?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. I would recommend the same thing to the president in this circumstance. The president has a White House counsel, but the White House counsel represents the office of the president of the United States, not Donald Trump in his personal capacity. So, for example, things that Mr. Trump did before he became the president of the United States would not be privileged, if he was talking about those matters with the White House Counsel. Similarly, if there are things that he's doing that aren't in his official capacity, that are not part of the office of president, arguably those would also not be privileged if he's talking about those issues with the White House Counsel. So it's very important for him to have his own attorney. KEILAR: It sort of takes some of this off the plate of White House

Counsel. Obviously they're working on a lot of other things that have nothing to do with this Russia investigation.

MARIOTTI: For sure.

KEILAR: I want to go back to something that we heard the former CIA director, John Brennan, say. He told a House Intelligence panel that sometimes people may not know that they're on the path to treason. Here's what he said.

[14:15:16] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: By the time I left office on January 20th, I had unresolved questions, in my mind, as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion. Frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they're along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.


KEILAR: So, this idea that he introduced yesterday, this idea that someone unwittingly could have participated in something that ultimately is treason, if, say, that did happen, if a member of the Trump campaign or an associates of Donald Trump, is - well, would they be charged with colluding if he or she was not even aware that they were involved in something with say a Russian intelligence officer?

MARIOTTI: So, I - there's, I think, an important distinction that I - your viewers should realize is that treason - there's something called treason that's a specific crime and being charged with treason requires that you act intentionally to subvert your allegiance to the United States. But there are a variety of other things that you can do that are improper, like mishandling classified material or other things that you could do that, you know, you could, for example, make false statements or other things. And what you might - what I think, you know, what I think he was referring to is that sometimes you might do things that you think, oh, well, this isn't such a big deal. I'll show this to this person or I'll stay - I'll try to - I'll fudge something here or there without realizing that the person you're assisting is an agent of a foreign government. I think that's what he's referring to.

KEILAR: And maybe the idea, do you think, the difference between the idea of something being treasonous, as maybe a layperson would use the word, and treason, as you would use legally. I mean you make that distinction there?

MARIOTTI: Exactly right.


MARIOTTI: So, you know, if someone, for example, is lying in order to protect Russian interests, the average person might call that treason. But if he didn't know that the person he was lying on behalf of was a Russian agent, perhaps it wouldn't legally fall within that definition, although he may be committing some other crime.

KEILAR: OK, let's talk about Michael Flynn. Obviously he can refuse to speak. But this idea of not cooperating when it comes to subpoenaing paperwork, you have the Senate Intel Committee, they're looking at possibly charging him with contempt. What can they really compel him to do with their actions?

MARIOTTI: OK. So there's a few different things. First of all, they've issued subpoenas now to corporate entities that he's affiliated with because corporations don't have a Fifth Amendment privilege, at least right now, obviously. Courts can change that. We've - they've been giving more rights to corporations over time, the Supreme Court has. But they don't have a Fifth Amendment right. In addition, they could either - they could - the Senate could give him immunity as to the production of documents, which would mean he'd have to give up the documents, but - and they still could be used against him, but the source of those documents would not be used against him.

In other words, let's say he has some incriminating document. They could still use that document against Mr. Flynn but they could not say that they got it from him in that proceeding. Or what they could also do is they could pursue contempt proceedings. Either the Senate could do that by themselves, which they have not done since 1935. They could have a full hearing and essentially a trial themselves and order him imprisoned, or they could - they could more likely, which is what they've done more recently, refer this matter to a criminal prosecutor and ultimately that U.S. attorney could decide whether or not to pursue contempt.

KEILAR: We will see what happens. Renato Mariotti, thank you, sir, for being with us.

MARIOTTI: You're welcome.

KEILAR: And, next, on high alert in the aftermath of the terror attack in Manchester, the United Kingdom raises its threat level to critical. That's the highest that it's been in a decade. They're saying that another attack could be imminent.

The terror attack also triggering security changes here in the U.S., including at tonight's U2 concert.

Also, the White House considers a familiar yet controversial name to help advise the administration on crisis management. That's right, Corey Lewandowski, you know that name, could soon be heading to the West Wing? Is that going to happen? We'll talk about it in a moment.


[14:24:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We are following some major developments out of Manchester, England. The brother of the bomber is now under arrest for planning his own terror attack in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Back in the U.K., five people are now in custody in connection with the bombing as police there now say they believe that the bomber was part of a wider terror network. The country raising its terror threat level to imminent attack for the first time in a decade. And all of this as we get word from U.S. officials that the attacker spent three weeks in Libya returning to England just days before he walked into that concert surrounded by children and teenagers and detonated his suicide bomb.

And just in, back home, homeland security is, quote, "tracking upcoming events" across the U.S. This includes NBA playoff games. This includes the Indy 500. Stadiums, arenas are on high alert, including at tonight's U2 concert in Houston.

[14:25:03] Let's talk about this with CNN's Ryan Young.

Ryan, tell us what you've been hearing about this beefed up security at big events, including last night near Chicago.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Outside of Chicago last night the Weeknd had a concert, 14,000 seats sold out and a lot of people who showed up to that concert, one of the things they did see also was armored personnel vehicles and police officers with long weapons who were outside mingling with the people. Of course there were dogs outside to make sure everything was OK. We even talked to a group of young ladies who came over from Great Britain who said at first they were a little scared about going to the concert, but with all the extra security they saw they were glad to see the extra, beefed up patrols.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We did get slightly scared but it didn't stop us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With all the police and security, I feel pretty safe out here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we got a text from our parents last night saying be careful tomorrow night and make sure you guys get home and just be safe considering what happened in Manchester.


YOUNG: You could understand that. Of course, we made phone calls from L.A. to New York to see what is actually going on throughout the country. We heard over and over again police officers telling us they want to make sure people who are going to these events, if they see something strange, they say something.

But the beefed up security is something that we're going to see throughout the Memorial Day weekend. You named some of those events that are going to be pretty big this weekend. Even here in Chicago, outside of Wrigley Field, there was an announcement. They're going to spend $1 million, add 30 new cameras to the outside of that venue to make sure people are safe.

But it's the soft targets that people are concerned about. We've seen several changes to arenas throughout the country where clear bags are only allowed on the inside. But now that extended perimeter, we've talked about this before with airport safety, how far can you extend it? And, of course, with those large gathering events like the NBA, like Nascar, what you may see is a further pushout of that security where you'll also see checkpoints to make sure people who are mulling around who don't look like they belong will now be checked and kind of scrutinized once again.

KEILAR: All right, Ryan Young, thank you for that update.

Police say it's going to be several days before they officially release the names of all of the victims in Manchester. But one by one, families and schools as well are confirming that their loved ones have passed. The Campbells are one of those families. You heard Olivia's mom and her stepfather here yesterday pleading for help, trying to find their missing 15-year-old daughter Olivia. But a few hours after we spoke with them, Olivia's mom confirmed on FaceBook that her daughter is gone, saying, "rest in peace, my darling, precious, gorgeous girl, Olivia Campbell, taken far, far too soon. Go sing with the angles and keep smiling. Mummy loves you so much." In Olivia's memory, we wanted to take a moment to share part of that interview again so that you can hear her mom describe her daughter's vibrant personality in her own words.


CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL, MOTHER OF OLIVIA CAMPBELL: Olivia's just a bubbly child. Cheeky as - cheeky as anything. I you're feeling down, she'll make you laugh. If she can't make you laugh, she'll hug you until you're smiling again. She's always there for everybody. No matter how she's feeling, she'll put everybody else first. She's just adored by so many people that knew her.

PAUL HODGSON, OLIVIA CAMPBELL'S STEPFATHER: She's a very, very grown up teenager -


HODGSON: Which we - I mean had no problem of they're going and seeing the concert. A young lad got the tickets for his birthday.


HODGSON: And that's (INAUDIBLE) always a singer herself and she liked singing every type of music.


HODGSON: And, yes, it was -- it was a -

CAMPBELL: It was like a dream come true to her.

HODGSON: (INAUDIBLE) she wanted to do. She wanted to see it. And as far as we were concerned, Manchester on the Metro is 20 minutes away. A young girl and -

CAMPBELL: Hundreds of people.

HODGSON: Hundreds of people. She'll be safe.

CAMPBELL: It was half past 8:00. She said (INAUDIBLE). She said they were amazing. She was waiting for Ariana to come on. And she was so happy. And she thanked me and said she loved me. And that was the last I heard from her.

I love her so much. She's my baby. And I miss her so much.