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Manchester Bomber's Brother Arrested in Libya; U.K. Angered by U.S. Photo Leaks; More Bombing Victims Identified, 64 Wounded Remain Hospitalized; GOP Montana U.S. House Candidate Accused of Body Slammy Reporter; Manchester Islamic Center, Other Muslims Condemn Attack; DOJ: Sessions Didn't Disclose Kislyak Meetings; Trump Attends NATO Summit. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:15] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. We're live in Los Angeles where it's just gone 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Hala Gorani, in Manchester, England. It is 7:00 Thursday morning.

More now on our breaking news coverage of the attacks on Monday. British police have arrested two more people. They say in connection with the Manchester concert bombing. This brings the total number of people in custody to eight, though some have been released over the last few days.

Now, investigators say they're working to shut down what could possibly be a much wider terror network behind the attack. They raided locations around Manchester Wednesday, carrying out controlled explosions in some cases, we believe, to open up doorways and gain access.

Authorities say the 22-year-old suspect, Salman Abedi, who blew himself up Monday night, probably did not act alone. And that is worrying. He had just returned to the U.K. after spending three weeks in Libya.

Now, "The New York Times" has published photos claiming to show the aftermath of the bombing, and they appear to have been taken by British authorities first on the scene just after the attack. Now, they show, if you look, what could be a detonator, a battery, shrapnel, and fragments of a backpack in which the bomb was placed. A spokeswoman for the Greater Manchester Police would not comment on the photos. And Britain's national police chief's counsel has warned that leaks like this could undermine the investigations. So British authorities here not happy that this leak happened in the United States.

Meanwhile, the latest on the investigation itself, the brother of the suicide bomber was arrested in Libya, accused of plotting a separate terrorist attack in Tripoli. He says he and his brother were members of ISIS, according to a militia in that country.

CNN's Clarissa Ward has our story.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators say they do not believe the 22-year-old British bomber, Salman Abedi, who blew himself up outside of this concert hall Monday, killing 22, acted alone.

IAN HOPKINS, CHIEF CONSTABLE, GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.

WARD: Abedi's brother was reportedly detained by a militia in Libya, which alleges that he was plotting to launch his own terror attack in Tripoli. The Libyan militia claims Hashim Abedi told him that he and his now-dead brother were members of ISIS. CNN is reaching out to the militia and Western authorities for verification.

U.S. military sources tell CNN Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, had been in Libya for several weeks before the attack.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: He certainly might have had the opportunity in Libya to connect with a terrorist group. ISIS has a presence in Libya, al Qaeda has a presence in Libya, other jihadi groups.

WARD: Police say he was known to both British and U.S. intelligence officials, and investigators are now trying to piece together whether Abedi met with ISIS or al Qaeda operatives or received terror training while abroad. They also want to know who he was in contact with here in England.


WARD: Police continue to raid buildings across Manchester. They say they have made arrests in connection with the bombing, in a frantic race to find anyone who may have helped Abedi build his bomb or plot his attack.

HOPKINS: There's extensive investigations going on and activity taking place across greater Manchester as we speak.

WARD: The prime minister has raised the terror threat to its highest level, critical, for the first time in a decade. Police have increased security at major sites across the country, including at Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral, and armed officers continue to patrol Manchester.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Manchester.


GORANI: Well, we are walking to visible patrols. Certainly, more of a military presence to guard these important British landmarks. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is at the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital.

Nina dos Santos is outside 10 Downing Street in London.

I'm going to start with you, Nina, and the latest on this investigation.

We know British authorities are very unhappy about these photos leaked by some United States sources.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORESPONDENT: Yeah, yesterday, we saw the Amber Rudd, the home secretary, say that she was irritated at these leaks. You can probably imagine that she's probably incandescent by now, now that we've seen those photos that "The New York Times" has published overnight, appearing to show forensic photos from the police, showing potentially what looked like a detonator, nuts and bolts on the floor. So that kind of shrapnel that would have injured people and also fragments of what looked like a ruck sack, a backpack that may have been used and worn by Salman Abedi to carry out this particular attack.

02:05:15] And we've also had the police coming out with a very strongly worded statement overnight saying that this has the potential to undermine what is a very important live, and fast-paced investigation. Just to give you an idea of how fast-paced it is, Hala, as you just said earlier on in your introduction, we have had two more arrests just made over the last couple of hours or so. That means in total we have eight people currently under detention, all of them men, some of them outside of this country, including in Libya, including the brother of Salman Abedi. And what is really important to try and piece together the network of this individual is to share information with countries like the United States because they'll be relying on their intelligence in places like Libya as well. So if they can't protect this information, it is a huge issue for the British authorities.

You can bet it will come up in conversation when Donald Trump meets with the British prime minister, Theresa May, later on today on the sidelines of their key NATO meeting -- Hala?

GORANI: All right. Nina, I want to get to Erin right now, with more on those people in hospital, still very much going through a tough time. Some even with still life-threatening injuries.

Tell us more, Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. We are hearing more about the victims killed in this horrific attack. Sons, daughters, parents, sisters perished in that explosion.

And that includes a young couple, 17-year-old Chloe Rutherford and 19- year-old Liam Curry. Their parents asking for the Manchester police to tweet out a tribute. This is what their families want you to know about this young couple. They said, "On the night our daughter, Chloe, died and our son, Liam, died, their wings were ready but our hearts were not. They were perfect in every way for each other and were meant to be. They were beautiful inside and out to ourselves and our families, and they were inseparable." The statement goes on to say, "They lived to go to new places together and explore different cities. They wanted to be together forever, and now they are."

Just heartbreaking. Two of the 22 lives lost in this attack.

There's also, of course, the wounded, some 64 individuals being treated across eight different hospitals in the Manchester area, including the one I'm standing in front of. 20 patients in critical care -- Hala?

GORANI: Erin McLaughlin at one of the hospitals treating the wounded, and Nina dos Santos at 10 Downing Street, thank you to both of you.

I want to give you a little background on the bomber. Salman Abedi was 22 years old. He was born in Britain and of Libyan descent. He'd been studying business at the University in Manchester. He spent a few weeks in Libya before the attack. And a family friend says Salman's father in fact took him and his younger brother to Libya because they were getting into trouble in England. This is according to a source in Libya. Now, that friend says Salman's father took his sons' passport when they arrived and only gave them back, at least to Salman, because he thought his son was going to Mecca for the Umrah, the smaller pilgrimage. Salman Abedi returned to England instead, and as we now know, carried out the attack just three days later.


RAMADAN ABEDI, FATHER OF MANCHESTER BOMBER (through translation): At the beginning, one of the girls was on the Internet and saw on the news that Salman is a suspect of the explosion in Manchester. So I went on the Internet and watched BBC World and started following the news. They said he was only a suspect, and I kept waiting for news until morning. At 1:00 p.m., I saw the news that the suspect is Salman Abedi. I was not expecting this to happen and didn't know anything about this matter because he didn't say he was going to Manchester and staying there. He said he was going to Umrah, and he got a special offer from Manchester, and he will go to Umrah from there.


GORANI: All right. Carlton King is a former Scotland Yard Special Branch and MI-6 officer, and the author of "Black Ops, The Incredible True Story of a British Secret Agent."

Thanks for joining us.

Before we get to our conversation, we are getting more sad news of the confirmation of a death, this time a 14-year-old. The family of that young girl releasing that statement. So there you have it.


GORANI: Once again, the target obviously young people.

Let's talk a little bit about the fact that we think that Salman Abedi and his brother and possibly a wider network in this country all planned this attack. What do you make of that?

[02:10:05] CARLTON KING, FORMER SCOTLAND YARD SPECIAL BRANCH AND MI-6 OFFICER & AUTHOR: Yeah, I mean that's possible. As it stands now, obviously I'm no longer part of those organizations, so I don't have the latest intelligence. That said, obviously, I wouldn't give the latest intelligence that would undermine the operation, but it could well be the case. The situation is quite simple in a simply, in a sense, that what you have angry individuals, some of them that feel, in some shape or means, are not tied to the United Kingdom so seek something else to belong to. His father, as we know, was already involved in such activities against the Libyan state, which is, if you will, a cover all for the jihadi movement as well.

GORANI: But you have a lot of the opponents of the state that are not terrorists. This is a big leap to make.

KING: Very true. Very true. Some of the people most dedicated to that process, which don't show themselves in the form of actual violent terrorism, but it is a move from that street activity sometimes, from other types of political activity into terrorism. Now, obviously with the Islamic perspective to that, that move is much easier into activity that makes violence more, let's say, possible because there is this action at the present time.

GORANI: I know intelligence agencies in the U.K. have done a great job in the last few years of avoiding and diffusing some of these plots. However, in this case, if it's as extensive as we think it might be, in other words, that we have two brothers, one in Libya, one in the U.K., possibly a bomb maker still in this country, because that bomb was sophisticated, so they really missed this one, didn't they?

KING: This is why I started off as I have because what I'm trying to do is give you the width of this problem. There are a lot who feel alienated from the state, some of them may be just sympathizes, some may think what's happening in the Middle East is wrong, we don't like British foreign policy. Not all of them. The vast majority of them don't go into activity. However, if you do involve yourself in such things and you don't communicate openly, it's very difficult to find out who is involved and going that step further. So you're looking at a lot of individuals who may well be so orientated, or very view. Who is going to make that jump? When do you start looking at them?

GORANI: That's the million-dollar question, isn't it?

KING: Exactly. It's not a science. It's an art. So what you're trying to do is look at many, many people. It's a very complex operation, this. So prior to the bomb going off or prior to the van being driven into individuals, you've then got to look at parts of the community that might involve themselves. But how do you do that? We have laws in this country that say you can't observe people for no reason. We have collection laws in terms of network intelligence that restricts certain activities, quite rightly, because civil liberties are important. What you have to understand is what do we try to know who is going what.

GORANI: It's always, always going to be the big question and the big challenge for authorities. Who do we place under surveillance 24/7? We're talking seven, eight employees potentially of the government to do that.

KING: Way more.

GORANI: Way more?

KING: Way more. Way more.

GORANI: But we're going to have an opportunity to talk in more detail in the coming hours about where this investigation plight lead us.

Carlton King, we really appreciate your time and expertise. Thanks very much for joining us.

We'll have a lot more from Manchester later this hour.

Back to you, John and Isha, in L.A.

VAUSE: Thanks, Hala.

SESAY: Thanks, Hala.

We'll have more from Manchester coming up shortly. But first, a candidate for U.S. Congress accused of attacking a reporter the night before the election.



I'm sick and tired of guys! The last time you came in here you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!


GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here!





[02:17:43] SESAY: Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the state of Montana has just been charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly attacking a reporter at his campaign headquarters.

VAUSE: Greg Gianforte is running for an open seat. This confrontation with Ben Jacobs from "The Guardian" newspaper happened just a day before voters actually head to the polls. According to Jacobs and witnesses, it started with a question about the Republican health care plan. There are no images of the altercation, but Jacobs says he has the audio of what happened, and here it is.


JACOBS: -- the CBO score. You were waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill, and it just came out?


GIANFORTE: We'll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: But there's not going to be time.


GIANFORTE: Speak with Shane, please.

I'm sick and tired of you guys! The last guy that came in here you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here! The last time you came in here you did the same thing! You're with "The Guardian?"

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body slammed me and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You'd like me to get the hell out of here. I'd also like to call the police.

Can I get your guys' names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body slammed me.


SESAY: Well, in the past hour, Montana's "Billings Gazette" rescinded its support for Gianforte saying his attack on the reporter was bizarre and deplorable. A second paper has also pulled its endorsement.

Democratic strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican consultant, John Thomas, are with us now.

It is bizarre. I mean, Dave, to you first. When you hear that, what goes through your mind?

DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A couple things. Number one, last time I checked, we weren't in a third-world country, number one. And, number two, this vicious attack I think underscores the fact that this guy really ought to get out of the race. This is not WrestleMania for crying out loud.

VAUSE: I think you're being unkind to third world countries.


JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It's a little late to get out of the race. We've got mere hours. And about 80 percent of the ballots have already been cast. So you're looking at a small sliver of the electorate. The latest polling I saw had Gianforte with almost a 14- point lead going into election day. My hunch is he still pulls it out. It would make for an awkward time being inaugurated with this hanging over his head.

[02:20:05] SESAY: You talk about most of the votes being cast already, seven in 10 have already voted. Let's very quickly read that full statement from Billings Gazette. "While there are still questions left unanswered about GOP House hopeful Greg Gianforte's altercation with Ben Jacobs, eyewitness accounts, law enforcement investigations and are all shocking, disturbing and without precedent. That's why the 'Billings Gazette' editorial board is also doing something with that precedent, we are rescinding our endorsement."

VAUSE: We're also seeing Democrats also running ads about this on Facebook.

JACOBSON: As they should.

VAUSE: Sure. So John doesn't think it's a game-changer, but does it have an impact maybe not in Montana but beyond Montana?

JACOBSON: I think so. If you read the tea leaves nationally, we just had a win for Democrats in New Hampshire and New York. They weren't federal races, but I think those were two flips from red to blue. I think increasingly you're seeing Democrats pick up steam and some momentum. This Kansas special election we had about a month ago, Democrats came a lot closer. So I think we clearly as Democrats have the wind at our back. We've got momentum. Even if this race is a nail biter and we come within striking distance of flipping this seat, I think it's telling that this could be the beginnings of --


THOMAS: You know, Trump carried it by, what, 20 points? I just don't know. Now actually it's to the detriment of Democrats if for some reason the Democrat wins, I don't know how you pin this on Trump.

VAUSE: We'll get to that in a moment but I want to get to the statement from Gianforte's campaign. This came out pretty soon after the event. " Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, 'The Guardian's' Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone, and that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer barbecue."

John, the problem with this statement is it bears no semblance to reality. This is not what happened. And as somebody who runs campaigns, you have this altercation. Do you then double down and blame the reporter for it?

THOMAS: So there's the right thing to do --


-- and then there's the strategically best thing to do. They're actually taking the strategically best thing to do. What they're doing is denying and trying to muddy the waters for another 12 or 20 hours until people can't sort out the truth, hoping they squeak across the finish line and settle it after that.

JACOBSON: Let me translate that. That is what Republicans call, at least in Trump world -- love you, John -- alternative facts. Enough said.



JACOBSON: Totally right.

SESAY: Let's listen to Ben Jacobs himself. He spoke to MSNBC's Chris Hayes. Listen to how he described the altercation.


JACOBS (voice-over): Went up and asked him about it and sort of said -- said, you know, I talked to my communications person. I followed up and said, you've been talking about this, just wanted to get your response. And then he should have had said, no, I've had enough. And next think I know, I'm being body slammed. And he -- you know, he's on top of me for a second. My glasses are broken. It's the strangest -- it's the strangest moment in my entire life reporting.


VAUSE: Dave, this was all over a question about health care, about the Republican health care plan and the score from the Congressional budget office which shows 23 million people will be without health care in ten years.

JACOBSON: This is Trumpcare version 2.0. Trumpcare 1.0 obviously had a 17 percent approval rating. But let's not forget this perhaps could be emblematic that the candidate has a grudge with this reporter. This guy, Ben Jacobs, exposed the $250,000 that the Republican had invested in the Russian Index Fund, which was sanctioned by the U.S. government.

SESAY: John, I want you to swap hats for a second. THOMAS: Sure.

SESAY: You've told us how as the man in the hot seat, Greg Gianforte, how you would handle it. What if you're his challenger and you see the spin, if you will. How would you respond?

THOMAS: Well, I would let the news cycle doing the talking. You don't want to lay it on too thick and look like you're seizing the moment. Let's make it big news. It's either going to do the trick or it's not at this point. It's too late to roll any more TV ads. It's just the electorate's either going to get it or they're not. What I would do is do a last round of like get out the vote. I would call my base if I were the Democrats and say, we can do this. There's a last- minute move. Don't forget to vote.

JACOBSON: There's got to be a huge influx of money.

VAUSE: Let's get back to the president, Donald Trump, because you don't think he bears any responsibility for this.


But there is a school of thought out there that he's the one that's gone out and called the media the enemy of the people. He's encouraged his supporters to support them and boo them. During the campaign an MSNBC reporter had to be escorted out.

You know, there is an argument to make, Dave, that perhaps, you know, the president by attacking the media, creating the media as the opposition party, has set this up in some way.

[02:25:24] JACOBSON: He set the tone. This is a guy who incited violence all across the country. So, yeah, I think he did sort of create this dynamic at play here, and I think this Republican obviously is just brushing this off as if it's not a big deal because that's precisely what Donald Trump does.

SESAY: John?

THOMAS: I don't think that's fair. I think both sides, particularly the extreme left, threaten Republican journalists and people like Ann Coulter, and what not, with violence.


THOMAS: OK, Republican commentators, but with violence. So I don't think it's fair to blame the president for a rookie candidate who screwed up.


SESAY: All right. Appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you, David. Thank you, John.

Still to come here, we'll have the very latest from Manchester where there have been new raids and new arrests after that deadly bombing attack.

SESAY: Plus, a powerful message from Manchester's Islamic Center, condemning what it calls "a horrific atrocity."

Stay with us.


[02:30:17] GORANI: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Manchester Arena attack. I'm Hala Gorani. We're live in Manchester this morning.

Well, there have been a flurry of police raids across the city. British authorities obviously are working against the clock to try to shut down what could be a much wider terrorist network they say is behind that concert bombing. Police have just arrested two more people bringing the total number of detainees to eight. It's not clear, though, yet how many of them are connected to the attack that left at least 22 people dead and dozens more wounded because there have been some individuals released over the last several days that had been arrested earlier on. But police say that the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, did not act alone.

Former FBI special agent, Bobby Chacon, joins me now from Los Angeles.

Bobby, I've got to ask you about these images that were leaked from U.S. intelligence that were sent by British intelligence of pictures of what appear to be a detonator, a backpack, and also some sort of battery pack from the scene. What do you make of the fact that these pictures were leaked?

BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: You know, it's really infuriating to someone like me who has been in on these investigations and know that the more stuff that you can keep to yourself, the further you can get down the road before people start scurrying and hiding things and things like that. So there's no excuse for these leaks. Leaks seem to be an epidemic in this country right now, and I hope that there's some investigation into who leaked these and why and some penalty be paid.

GORANI: Right. And what does it tell you, though, that authorities are now saying they believe this wasn't a lone-wolf attack? Not only that, but this probably spanned -- you know, was a transnational plot that went from Libya all the way to the U.K., that potentially involved two brothers? We're talking about something a lot more serious here, aren't we?

CHACON: Well, I mean certainly much more coordinated, the seriousness, I think from the victimology and things, I mean you can't get much more serious than they did it. But I think from a perspective of how widespread this might be and follow-on attacks, certainly that's much more serious. You know, this is what we've seen in France and in Belgium when you have the days that are just coming out after the initial attack. You get people rounded up, and then you start getting an idea of the scope of the group and, you know, the scope of the attacks that might be planned. That's why you heard the prime minister say, you know, that the situation was imminent, that there was an imminent threat to the country. And this is after the first attack, so they don't use those words lightly. An imminent threat means that lives are hanging in the balance, and so law enforcement and military, the intelligence community, everybody drops what they're doing and pays attention to this and works this case.

GORANI: Also it was a sophisticated device. Is there a bombmaker out there?

Bobby Chacon, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Members of the Manchester Islamic Center, not far from Salman Abedi's home, strongly condemn the attack and they want to make clear these types of acts do not represent their faith.


FAWZI HAFFAR, DIRECTOR, MANCHESTER ISLAMIC CENTER: The horrific atrocity that occurred in Manchester on Monday night has shocked us all. It has indeed shocked us all. This act of cowardice has no place in our religion or any other religion for that matter.


GORANI: Joining me now is Jahangir Mohammed, the chief executive of a company providing expertise on counterterrorism and also the director of the Center for Muslim Affairs here in the U.K.

Thanks so much for being with us.

We heard from the Manchester Islamic Center, we've heard from many other Muslims saying stop associating us with these types of acts. What has been your reaction over the last several days since we've learned the identity of this bomber?

JAHANGIR MOHAMMED, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, COMMUNICA LTD & DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MUSLIM AFFAIRS, U.K.: Well, I'm a Mancunian, and as Mancunian and as a Muslim, we're absolutely shocked and appalled by this act. You know, there's been a statement by ISIS that this person was one of their soldiers, and he was fighting crusaders. I want to make it clear that the person who committed this was no soldier. Soldiers don't kill innocent young children and girls. And those girls were not crusaders.

GORANI: People watching all around the world will say, well, there's a Muslim community in Manchester. Why didn't someone notice something was going on? Why didn't they tell? These questions come up again and again after these types of attacks. We heard condemnation from the Muslim community, but how do you react when you hear sometimes veiled accusations that the Muslim community should have somehow --


[02:35:14] MOHAMMED: Well, you know, we have to be realistic about this. This has come out of the Middle East, whether it's ISIS or Libya. The violence and the terrorism is coming out of that region. The Muslim community in Manchester is not responsible for it. We didn't create it. The circumstances of its creation lies there, and we have to recognize that the British government is at war with this group. And because their territory is diminishing, they will retaliate, and that's what they are doing. So, you know, we're helpless in a way because we didn't support the invasion of Iraq, which has created, you know, this terrible thing that's going on in the Middle East, and we don't support the reaction to that.

GORANI: It's a much wider, much more complex set of reasons.

MOHAMMED: It's more complex. When people are going back and forth to Libya and here or there and --


GORANI: Let me bring you back --


GORANI: -- sorry to jump in -- to the individual, this individual. We've seen it. We've covered terrorist attacks in France, in Belgium, even in Germany, that Christmas market attack, and very often the profile is the same. It's a young, locally born man, young usually, late teens, early twenties that somehow just gets divorced from his community and becomes radicalized. What is the process there because it is so unthinkable, the act that this individual has committed?

MOHAMMED: Well, I think we have to realize that these people are connected to communities elsewhere in the world as well. So --

GORANI: Through the Internet?

MOHAMMED: Through the Internet. If it's ISIS, we know that they are very sophisticated in their propaganda. ISIS consists of people who are ex-Baathists, ex-Iraqi military, and they have a lot of sophistication, and they've recruited youngsters who are there, who speak the language, different languages, and then they go on recruiting on the Internet. As someone who has seen that propaganda, it's very, very sophisticated. They find out what makes a young person tick, and whatever it is, they start appealing to that. So if it's, you know, disenchantment with your condition in the country, offering you jobs elsewhere or a better life, if it's a disenchantment with foreign policy.

GORANI: They find out what makes that individual tick, they groom them --


MOHAMMED: And if it's theology, you know, they're brilliant at churning out theology. There's somebody there who's doing it all the time.

GORANI: Although, they're not usually big experts on it either.

Jahangir Mohammad, thanks so much for joining us. MOHAMMED: Thank you.

GORANI: Really appreciate your time this morning in Manchester.

MOHAMMED: You're welcome.

GORANI: We'll have more from here in Manchester a bit later.

For now, back to you, John and Isha.

VAUSE: Hala, thank you.

We will take a short break. When we come back here, next on NEWSROOM L.A., the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions facing questions again after another failure to disclose contacts with Russian officials, this time during his security clearance.

SESAY: Plus, Mr. Trump meets with the defense alliance he not so long ago called obsolete. What to expect from the NATO meeting. That's next.


[02:42:36] VAUSE: More than 2.5 million people are employed by the U.S. federal government and most of them are required to fill out this. It's form SF-86. It's an application for security clearance. It is a monster, 127 pages long. And right there on page 1, paragraph three, it says very clearly, "It is imperative that the information provided be true and accurate to the best of your knowledge."

And that brings us to page 60, the part which deals with foreign contacts. It asks, "Do you have, or have you had close and/or continuing contact with a foreign national within the last seven years?" And then you have a space here to list all of those contacts.

Here's the problem now, though, for the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to the Justice Department, Sessions failed to disclose meetings he had with officials from Russia and other countries on his application for security clearance last night. He made no mention of meeting the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He would then fail to disclose that information during his Senate confirmation hearing in January.


SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D), MINNESOTA: If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

JEFF SESSION, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.


VAUSE: CNN's legal analyst, Paul Callan, joins us now from New York.

Paul, good to see you.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nice to be with you, John.

VAUSE: Looking at this on its own, if there was nothing else going on here, no other investigations, no allegations. Russia investigations, how serious is an admission like this on a security clearance application form, just in and of itself?

CALLAN: Well, for an ordinary human being working for the federal government, I think it would be a very serious matter if there had been many contacts with a foreign government that were not disclosed. But we're not, of course, dealing with an ordinary human being here. We're dealing with a United States Senator who is soon to become the next attorney general of the United States. So they're going to cut him a lot more slack on this than they would an ordinary person. But it's a criminal offense to fail to answer that form accurately and a somewhat serious criminal offense. You can go to prison for it.

[02:45:00] VAUSE: OK. So let's look at the bigger picture now because there is the context here, the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Jeff Sessions played a major role in the Trump campaign. So does that change the dynamic here in any way? What does it say?

CALLAN: It should change the dynamic because Senator Sessions had very serious explaining to do when he failed to disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador in that clip that we just showed. Now in filling out this very important security clearance form, he fails to mention numerous contacts with foreign governments. You know, I think he has some very serious explaining to do about how this omission could take place. I mean I guess he's going to say, I don't remember, I didn't remember, or I thought that because most of those meetings had to do with my role as a United States Senator, I didn't have to list them. But if you look at the form, it doesn't say, oh, by the way, if you're a Senator, you don't have to answer all these questions. The same questions are posed. The final question, though, is would he be prosecuted for this in the way a normal human being would? Well, that's a harder road to go because it's the Justice Department that makes the decision to prosecute, and you'd have to have a special prosecutor, a new special prosecutor come in to look into this case to see whether it's worthy of prosecution. And even if he were prosecuted, President Trump could pardon him. So I suspect in the end, nothing's going to come of this other than some more embarrassment for the Trump administration.

VAUSE: What you mentioned just briefly about essentially this excuse that as a U.S. Senator, he was exempt from listing these meetings with ambassadors, that's what the Justice Department is saying that they were told by the FBI that, you know, he didn't have to do it because it was some official capacity there. There's no legal exemption for that as you point out, but if you look at the overall behavior here of Jeff Sessions, there does seem to be a pattern of behavior which a lot of people are pointing to now. CALLAN: Yes. Of course, he's going to say, even though it's not

listed on the form, the custom and practice in Congress has been if we were meeting with these officials in our official capacity as Senator, we didn't have to list it. And there have been other Senators who have said, well, if he was at a conference or a convention of some kind with other Senators and these meetings occurred, they wouldn't have to be listed then. But from what I've heard, the meetings that he did not list were not convention meetings. They were sort of maybe one-on-one contacts that he had or small group contacts that he had with foreign officials through the years that clearly should have been listed on the form. It certainly looks very, very bad. But, you know, how it will pan out in the end, you'd have to prove that these were intentional omissions in order to prove a crime. And as I said, you'd probably need a special prosecutor appointed, and that would have to be done with the approval of Congress and the president. So -- and you have a Republican Congress in place. He's a Republican. So I don't know. In the end, I think it's going to be extremely bad politics for the Trump administration, but Sessions probably will survive this scandal.

VAUSE: Paul, as always, good to speak with you. Thanks for coming in.

CALLAN: OK. Good talking to you, John.

SESAY: Well, Donald Trump is in Brussels. The Belgian royals welcomed the U.S. president and the first ladies at the royal palace shortly after their arrival on Wednesday. Official business will get started in about an hour and a half. Mr. Trump will meet with European Council leaders before sitting down with the new French president and attending the NATO summit.

One of the biggest issues on the agenda is combating terrorism, and Mr. Trump is acknowledging the challenge he and his allies are facing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Number one right now is terrorism, and we are fighting very hard, doing very well under our generals and making tremendous progress. But when you see something like happened two days ago, you realize how important it is to win this fight, and we will win this fight.


SESAY: Well, our own Phil Black joins us live from Brussels.

Phil, given the critical comments of NATO made by Candidate Trump on the campaign trail, is the expectation that this will be a confrontational meeting between Donald Trump and other NATO leaders?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, not every leader of neighboring countries would agree with Donald Trump's criticisms of NATO, but there is a widespread understanding of the importance of keeping Donald Trump on side, because the United States is simply the most powerful, the most important member of the alliance. So tonight, over dinner, all 28 members will be thrashing out different ways to try and satisfy and appease Trump's criticisms. Those criticisms are that most members aren't paying their way. They're not spending enough on defense, and the alliance as a whole isn't doing enough to counter terrorism.

On top of that or in response to that, I guess, the NATO alliance members will be hoping to receive from Donald Trump a more traditional American policy and line on NATO. That is a very firm public backing of the alliance, and more than that, a very firm public backing of the idea which the alliance is built on, that is collective defense, Article 5. The idea that an attack on one is an attack on all because here in Europe it is widely believe that that commitment and its deterrent effect is what really stops wars from starting in the first place -- Isha?

[02:50:37] SESAY: Phil Black there, joining us from Brussels. Phil, appreciate it. Thank you.

Time for a quick break now. Next on CNN NEWSROOM, black arm bands, a moment of silence, and then some moments of joy. How Manchester United is helping fans heal their wounded city.



[02:54:48] GORANI: A quick update on the Manchester bombing investigation. Police have arrested two more men in connection with that terrorist attack, and that brings the total number of people in custody to eight. Now, a woman who was detained on Wednesday has since been released without charge.

Amid the sorrow in Manchester, there is a bright spot for a city that is passionate -- and I mean passionate -- about its sport. The city's most famous football club has won the Europa League final. The timing of the match far from ideal, but it went ahead in a dignified and respectful manner in Stockholm. The clubs and their fans determined not to let the attack derail hopes of Champions League glory. They did hold a minute of silence before kickoff.




GORANI: Well, after that, Man U. made quick work of their opponents, overcoming them 2-nil. Now, back home in Manchester, fans seemingly desperate for a release, and, believe me, I can confirm -- I heard it -- went just a bit wild.



(END VIDEO CLIP) GORANI: Now, obviously, the city is still coming to terms with what happened on Monday. And for a list of ways you can help those affected by the attacks, go to And you can also help with the investigation by uploading photos or videos of the scene for the Manchester police at

We'll be right back.