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Report: Concert Bomber Likely Got ISIS Training In Syria; Washington Post Suggests Comey, FBI Duped By Dubious Russia Intel Document; Spicer Furious For Being Kept Out Of Pope Meeting. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired May 25, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: That this individual was not only in Libya weeks before this attack but had gone all the way to Syria, traveled and trained with ISIS, would that have been more training and bomb making or brainwashing?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think what we have here is he volunteered to become a suicide bomber. There's some indications, broke, that this is a couple of years in the making. And once they had determined in Britain that, you know, he was - going to go through with it, then you need to train him to make a bomb, test him, put him on the battlefield. What disturbs me, Brooke, is the fact that he got into Syria. The Turkish border with Syria is supposed to be closed. He certainly didn't come through Iraq because you'd have to go through militia lines and the rest of it and ISIS territory is supposed to be pretty well fenced off. It's not, though.
BALDWIN: Apparently, he flew through Istanbul.
BAER: I'm afraid there are a lot of criminal gangs that can get these people across the border into Syria and get their training, whether it's to learn how to make a bomb like this, a very sophisticated bomb, or to be vetted further. Either way, it's dangerous. Let's not forget, Brooke, he could have just as easily, under the visa waiver program, come to the United States and done the same thing. We are not immune from this. We can look at Britain and say that happened across the Atlantic, but that's just not true.
BALDWIN: We mentioned training. Be specific, Bob. What kind of training would he have gotten in "x" period of time in Syria?
BAER: It was multiple, primed, had a circuit board, it had a backup and a booster charge, all sorts of things, keeping the explosive cool. If you get on the internet and look at these designs, you're more than likely to blow yourself up in your kitchen. These had a lot of safety measures built into the bomb and there are networks clearly operating out of Syria, out of Raqqa into Europe. We should all be concerned about this.
BALDWIN: So that speaks to the sophistication level. What about this other piece of information that we learned. His brother has been arrested back in Libya. We've talked about these other attacks. "Charlie Hebdo," that was brothers. Boston, the Tsarnaev, that was brothers.
BAER: It's indoctrination into the family, that the whole idea of martyrdom is acceptable. A deep belief in Islam. You see this over and over again. I see it in Lebanon. Gadhafi drove out the Muslim Brotherhood and with the father going back to fight a jihad in Libya, none of this is very surprising. These, you know, indoctrinations start in the family, continues in the mosque and then continues in narrow circles, the belief in the Islamic state.
BALDWIN: Bob, thank you. Bob Baer in Colorado.
Let's move on. More news into CNN news. The search for the FBI director. Rene Marsh is in Washington with the details. What are you learning?
RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Brooke, that sources are telling both myself and Pamela Brown that TSA -- former TSA administrator is under consideration for the post consideration for the top spot at the FBI.
[15:35:00] There have been discussions with the former administrator about whether he'd have interest in the position. It's unclear if he does or not. We know that those conversations, at the very least, have happened. And then a separate source telling us that pistol and the acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein recently discussed all of this over lunch. So that is what we're hearing. Of course, his background is very attractive as far as the FBI because he served there at the FBI before. He was at TSA and over the counterterrorism program at the FBI and started as a special agent with the FBI. So, he's very familiar with the agency. But Brooke, that is the latest here. That is another name that we're now hearing. Former head of the TSA John Pistole under consideration at the very least in conversations with people about potentially his interests in that post.
BALDWIN: All right. Rene, thank you.
Coming up next, the stunning new report today out "The Washington Post" on the Clinton e-mail investigation. Did fake Russian intelligence spark the infamous Comey letter that Hillary Clinton blames for her election loss? That's next.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Russia may have planted a document to make the Clinton e- mail investigation look like a conspiracy. This is what sources are telling "The Washington Post," that this secret intelligence document that officials say played a key role in then FBI director Jim Comey's handling of this investigation. That secret document appeared in March of last year, an apparent piece of Russian intelligence. This document referred to e-mails claiming that the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had previously assured someone within the Clinton campaign that the handling of classified information wouldn't go too deeply. And it was this revelation that led to this pivotal moment with Comey back in July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes of handling classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Opinions are irrelevant and they were all uninformed because we did our investigation the right way. Only facts matter and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: James Comey, this is according to "The Washington Post" sources reportedly felt he had little choice but to step around the Department of Justice and announce the end of the Clinton investigation because he feared that if Loretta Lynch announced no charge against Clinton and then this secret document got out, if it leaked, the legitimacy of the entire question would be questioned. The problem was it turns out the document was a fake.
Joining me is director and senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute. Mr. Balboni, nice to have you on the show. Here's my question. In all places, the FBI, how is it possible that this document wasn't vetted.
MICHAEL BALBONI, DIRECTOR AND SENIOR FELLOW AT THE HOMELAND SECURITY POLICY INSTITUTE: Put yourself in a context. You've got all elections are partisan, this one is hyper-partisan. You come up with a blockbuster document from a foreign intelligence agency. That is not our friend, it is not like it came from Britain or Israel, this came from Russia. You take it on face value which is what the "Washington Post" report indicated, so for example you don't go behind the document that says -- well, what these e-mails say and secondly the people that are referenced in the e-mail you don't go and interview them and say, gee, did you actually have this conversation and you go out with it, it doesn't seem to add up.
BALDWIN: We've talked a lot recently in the news about how James Comey is a guy who writes everything down. Is it possible that what happened behind the scenes with regard to this investigation and his thoughts going into his decisions come out during possible testimony?
BALBONI: Well, it is certainly going to be interesting to see what the initial steps were taken once the document like this hit the desk. So, there are all sorts of ways that the intelligence community can work. The Director of National Intelligence, that's a huge resource. I hope that the FBI reached to them to say, gee, what does the CIA know, what does the State Department know about this source, these documents and try to make sure that there's all the information that they have at their disposal that wasn't just kept internally. There's so many resources.
[15:45:00] Moreover, what's the timeline in this? What happened in the period of time from when it hit the desk to when it actually was revealed, how much vetting was done. It wasn't just done over a weekend. BALDWIN: Right. No. A lot of excellent questions. Hopefully the
facts come out. Let me ask you, since I have you switching gears, just on the UK, the UK says today it will stop sharing intelligence on this Manchester terror attack investigation after multiple leaks to the U.S. involving the name of the attacker, involving the bomb specifics itself. The President of the United States says he will prosecute liker leakers for this. Tell us why these leaks would damage or compromise an investigation.
BALBONI: First off, when you take a look at what "The New York Times" published and take a look at the pictures, what you see is --
BALDWIN: Let me be clear for people watching. "The New York Times" posted pictures of the bomb explaining how this thing might have been put together. Go ahead.
BALBONI: So, when you're in the middle of an active investigation and against the backdrop of a critical alert that says you might have information that other plots are being carried out, what you don't want to do is introduce into that setting, here's how they did it so that if you're a copycat bomber, you sit there and say, OK, that looks like this. Maybe there's a way I can do it. They got in how? That's another concern. If you're an investigator and you've got this case, it's your case to move forward and decide what information would be useful to have out there and what you must keep together. Once you lose that flow of information, you really lose the advantage in the case and, again, if you have an emergency crisis situation where you believe that another attack might be imminent, that type of release of information can be very, very damaging.
BALDWIN: It's significant. The UK was saying, well, maybe we might not share but now they are saying they might stop intel with the U.S. because it's a big deal. Michael Balboni, thank you so much, sir.
Let's talk about Sean Spicer who was apparently furious after being left out of the President's meeting with the Pope. So why was the press secretary who is a devout catholic left off the list?
Plus, just insane video of this woman. She jumps in front of a car to stop a hijacker or a carjacker, grabs on to the windshield wipers. See what happens in the terrifying moments after.
[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is reportedly very upset because he did not get to meet Pope Francis during the President's visit to the Vatican. Spicer is a devout catholic. So, you know, he thought he would be a shoe-in in the room. He was told before the meeting that there wasn't enough room for him on the guest list. Those who made the list, though, besides the first family, secretary of state, national security adviser and several lower level white house aides. With me now, Maeve Reston, CNN national political reporter. When you read this, this was like bucket list opportunity for him. Say what you will, no matter what you think of Sean Spicer, this was just mean.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we've all known Sean Spicer for a long time and long before he was part of the Trump White House, clearly, you know, a devout Catholic, something very important to him. Such a strange decision on the part of the President or whom ever made that decision. You know, the fact is that as you mentioned, you had other lower level aides who were there Like Keith Schiller, for example, also Hope Hicks was there, his social media aide. So, I think this underscores, once again, it's family and loyalty that matter the most to him, the people that have been with him for a long time. Sean Spicer came in with Reince Priebus and as we all know his job is often talked about as one of the ones that might be on the ropes even on a given day it's unclear whose job is on the ropes. This was a snub and a hurtful one and it may tell us something about future. Donald Trump does need to change his mind about where people are on his gold star list on a daily basis.
BALDWIN: Do we know if the snub directly came from the President?
RESTON: We don't know that from our reporting. What our white house team was told by a senior administration official was just that Spicer was very upset about this. I don't think that we know the details yet of who made out the list and made the decision. Obviously, with a high-profile visit like this, there would be a lot of planning that would go into it and, you know, decisions about who would actually be there in that room and family first. That's the Trump way.
BALDWIN: And the body man and the social media guy. Thank you. Thank you so much for that.
And coming up next, something you have to see. We'll talk live with this woman who jumped on the hood of her car toing fight off a carjacker. See what happens.
[15:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: You fill your tank at the gas station when a carjacker jumps inside your car, tries to take off, what do you do? A Wisconsin woman chose to fight back. Not just fight. Watch her. This is surveillance video. Melissa Smith jumps on her SUV. Holds on for dear life. Determined not to let the carjacker take her car. He tried to throw her off the hood. Then the thief jumped out. He runs. She runs. She chases her SUV and jumps inside and hits the brakes before it hits the other cars. This is insane, amazing. Fill in your adjective. Melissa Smith joins me now. Melissa, I'm so glad you're OK. Thousands of people saw your video and thought are you crazy? I meant that in the kindest way possible.
MELISSA SMITH, CONFRONTED CARJACKER: Apparently a little. Definitely not how I thought would have reacted. But it is what I did.
BALDWIN: How was that instinctual for you? You're pumping the gas. The guy jumps in. Why was your first thought ah-ha, I'll jump on the hood of my car.
SMITH: I held on to the side I knew he could drag me and leave. With me on top this, is what I'm doing, you're not leaving with my car. I'm not dealing with this sort of crap today. That's just what I did.
BALDWIN: Note to self, don't mess with me. I read somewhere earlier you said today is not the day to mess with me. Is that how you were feeling?
SMITH: Yes. First saw him, hopping into my car, this is not happening to me. Don't tolerate that sort of behavior. I just said that, I'm glad my reactions reflected what my thoughts were. However, I knew that wasn't the safest thing to do.
BALDWIN: When you're hanging on for dear life and looking in on this guy are your screaming at him, is he screaming back?
SMITH: I was screaming at him. I pounded on the windshield a couple of times. He turned and laughed at me. He continued to laugh at me.
BALDWIN: Have you watched yourself on the video?
BALDWIN: And you thought what?
SMITH: I don't remember falling or like not fully being on my knees the entire time. It happened so fast. My brain fully didn't process everything. I don't remember doing that. But it was a lot of very quick thinking.
BALDWIN: In the minute I have left with you, have you talked to, you know, husband, boyfriend, family, mother about this?
SMITH: Yes. Yes. My fiancee was the first person I called. He didn't really believe me at first and then he saw the video and had a holy smokes moment. He wasn't too thrilled with my decision, but is very glad I'm safe.
BALDWIN: OK. Final question, just quickly, have they caught the guy?
SMITH: No. Not yet. I'm hoping to talk with the police later to find out where they are with their investigation.
BALDWIN: Melissa Smith, I hope they find him and you can go find him and laugh at him back. Is that horrible for me to say. Melissa Smith, I'm glad you're okay. Thank goodness. Appreciate your time. Nice to talk with you.