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Comey's Testimony Threatens to Rock Washington; Kushner Under Fire For Secret Meeting with Russian Banker; Ambassador Haley Defends Trump's Withdrawal From Paris Accord; Incident on London Bridge. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 3, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:59:58] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hello on this Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
We begin with what is shaping up to be one of the most pivotal weeks in the Trump administration. On Thursday, fired FBI Director James Comey is in the hot seat. He is testifying publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And while he can't talk about the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion, he can't talk about his meetings with the President. Like the one where Trump allegedly asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty, or the one where the President reportedly asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
Now, their meetings that are said to have made Comey so uncomfortable, he made notes about them afterwards. And now there's a chance Mr. Trump could use executive privilege and stop Comey from talking. As of right now, the White House isn't explicitly saying it plans to do that, but according to the New York Times it's becoming highly unlikely. Two senior administration officials telling the paper the President will let Comey speak.
Let's talk more about what we can expect when Comey will testify about this Thursday on the Russia investigation over all.
Joining us, CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier, and politics and business reporter for "The Wall Street Journal," Shelby Holliday. So, Shelby, Comey's testimony is now be compared to Anita Hill back in 1991 when she went on and testified about sexually being harassed by Clarence Thomas who was at the time being confirmed by the Supreme Court. Is this being much built up, so much people are going to be let down?
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the hype is certainly there. And obviously we're talking about different issues, different people. All eyes are on Comey this week. And people are curious whether or not he will even be able to testify in the first place. The White House does seem at this point that it thinks it's too politically risky to try and invoke executive privilege to prevent Comey from going under testifying. So, we will see him up there, I believe.
But there are so many questions. And they're very nuanced tiny questions that he could answer that would tell us a lot. For example, did President Trump invite Comey to dinner or did Comey invited President Trump to dinner? President Trump has said one thing, Comey may be able to say another thing. One of the, you know, President Trump's been very vocal about his relationship with Comey. He tweets about it. He's spoken to Lester Holt about it. He puts it all out there. So, whatever Comey says that contradicts President Trump will raise even more questions about this Russia probe.
CABRERA: And create further investigation. Kimberly, all of this keeps going back to Russia. Counterterrorism expert Richard Clark was on CNN earlier today. And Clark, he served under President Bush. And he talked about this. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR SECURITY AND COUNTER- TERRORISM: If this isn't ignorance, and it certainly doesn't look like just ignorance, why are they doing it? Why is there a Russian under every rock? Why is there a Russian involved in everything that this administration has done and everything involved in the campaign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So it does seem that every move this administration makes either involves or benefits Russia.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I'll add another why. Why don't they explain some of these relationships and be more transparent about it. Because their refusal to explain, for instance, Jared Kushner's refusal to explain what he was discussing before the press, not just through a statement, but tell the press, what were you discussing with a Russian banker? That just fuels everyone who is suspicious of this administration, and those investigating, was there any collusion between members of the Trump transition team, or the Trump campaign team, and Russia.
It could be a simple matter of, you know, the Trump team was coming from behind. There weren't many major political leaders willing to talk to them. They had preexisting relationships with Russians. Russians want to be onboard in such an influential election. So, they were the people who were in the -- as Trump came into the finish line and one, defying even his own expectations. Could it be as simple as loyalty stemming back from that, and wanting to thumb their nose at the Obama administration by restarting relations with Russia? Maybe. But they're not explaining that.
CABRERA: So Shelby, the thing is, though, he can't talk about the investigation into the Russia election meddling, because, again, he's not part of the FBI. And that part of the investigation is in the purview of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
CABRERA: And the FBI continues to investigate. We also have this Senate Committee investigations that are ongoing. But he can talk about these private meetings with President Trump. Do you think he'll have the memos with him that we've heard so much about? HOLLIDAY: This is the first time we'll hear about Comey as a private
citizen. So, we don't know what to expect. He could have those memos. He's likely to be asked a number of questions about whether or not these meetings were uncomfortable, whether or not Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty. I think we should also note that Comey testifying just in and of itself will get under President Trump's skin. When Trump fired him, he said Comey is a showboat, and Comey has been, you know, running his mouth and speaking on the hill.
So, that will be interesting to see how the President reacts. So far he hasn't tweeted much about the Russia probe. And I'm not sure if that has to do with this special outside group that's being put together to handle inquiries into the Russia investigation? It is sort of the war --
[17:05:14] CABRERA: The war room that we're hearing about?
HOLLIDAY: Right. A communications war room, a legal war room.
CABRERA: And we kept hearing Sean Spicer now this week, at least on a couple of locations during the press briefings, say that all questions are going to be directed to Marc Kasowitz, the President's private lawyer, not the White House Counsel.
HOLLIDAY: Right. So, we are seeing indications that they are at least streamlining communications a bit when it comes to this investigation, but you never know, Trump made fire off a tweet.
CABRERA: He tweeted all through Comey's testimony the first though around back in March --
CABRERA: -- when we learned that the President's campaign was under investigation for collusion, potentially. Kimberly, at the end of the day, though, you know, even if the sanctions stay in place with Russia, is Putin still getting this Democratic disruption he may have wanted?
DOZIER: Well, absolutely, this is an experiment that has not only worked well, but possibly went a little too far if Moscow was trying to undermine the Democratic political system here, and stir up suspicion between the political parties. At its best, in terms of what Moscow wanted, you've got Republicans and Democrats in such a heightened partisan state, that it is impossible to see them accomplishing much on Capitol Hill. Frozen U.S. government in some terms because of all this controversy. But at worst, Moscow is not getting the benefits that it might have gotten out of the Trump administration in terms of seeing those sanctions lifted and seeing some sort of a warming of diplomatic relations and cooperation on things like the Syrian war.
CABRERA: All right. Kimberly Dozier and Shelby Holliday, thank you both.
Be sure to watch our special coverage of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony. It will be live Thursday at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN. You can also stream it online.
Now, Vladimir Putin has been very vocal this week about the U.S. probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. Speaking at a panel on Friday, the Russian president said people who blame Russia for the election hacks are like anti-Semits. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through a translator): He found an approach to electorate who voted for him. The other team decided not to admit their errors, their mistakes. They decided not to admit that they did not think all the way through. They decided to say it's not our fault, it's the Russians' fault. It really smells like anti- Semitism, to blame Jews of everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Meanwhile, President Trump's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is increasingly under fire for his private meeting with a Russian banker during the Trump transition.
Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance tracked down that banker and questioned Sergei Gorkov and this was in St. Petersburg. Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sergei Gorkov has emerged as a key figure in the sprawling allegations surrounding the Trump administration and its connections with the Kremlin. He heads an institution called Vnesheconombank, a Russian bank sanctioned by the United States. He was appointed to that post by Vladimir Putin, and like the Russian president, he's a former Russian intelligence officer. And it's with this man that Jared Kushner, President Trump's special adviser and son-in-law had a private if not secret meeting in New York and Trump Tower last December.
Now, the White House says the meeting was about diplomacy, that Kushner attended in his capacity as a Trump transition team member. The bank, however, insists the talks were about business and that Kushner represented his family's sprawling property empire. Well, Sergei Gorkov is a very hard man to track down. But I caught up with him after he had spoken to economic students here at the university here in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Quick questions, what did you really speak to Jared Kushner back in New York when you met him in December?
SERGEI GORKOV, RUSSIAN BANKER: No comment.
CHANCE: Did you talk about sanctions?
GORKOV: No comments.
CHANCE: What was discussed? The White House says, it was a diplomatic meeting, that Kushner met you as part of the transition team. Your bank says it was a business meeting.
GORKOV: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Clearly Mr. Gorkov was not at all happy about being confronted on the issue of his contact with the Trump team. We did offer his office the opportunity to answer our questions more fully, given the controversy in the United States. But the response was a firm no.
Matthew Chance, CNN, St. Petersburg, in Russia.
CABRERA: Turning now to some devastating news out of Afghanistan. Seven people were killed, more than 100 were hurt today in a trio of suicide bombings in Kabul during the funeral for an anti-government protester who was killed in demonstrations this week. The head of Afghanistan was at the funeral, but survived this attack. The violence coming as much of Kabul is on lockdown right now amid the anti-government demonstrations going on.
[17:10:23] Done with evading the questions. Ambassador Nikki Haley is the first Trump official to comment on the President's belief on climate change. What she told CNN, next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:14:41] CABRERA: We're now hearing from one of Trump's team about the President's latest view on climate change. U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley said the President does believe the climate is changing. She sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper. Watch how this goes.
PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES: Thank you. We're going to do it.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The President's America first campaign promise, on full display.
TRUMP: We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won't be. They won't be.
NOBLES: And here in Greenville, Iowa, that message is hitting home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people are sick and tired of the federal government, and in some instances the state governments not working for their own people. You know, why shouldn't the American citizen be first in the eyes of the American government.
NOBLES: Barack Obama carried the state in 2012. Just four years later, Donald Trump won Iowa by nearly ten points. Many voters here embraced his campaign promise that he would stand up to the rest of the world. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should we want to at the very least treat
ourselves fairly first. And I think that was the message of Donald Trump's campaign.
NOBLES: For small business owners, like Theresa Cadre setting up shop at a farmers market in West Des Moines, the local economy feels strong. She voted for Donald Trump. And believes he has her best interests in mind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he can make it a little divisive. You know, I'm going to be fair about it. But I also think that he's trying, but it's the way he knows how. You know, I think he's just got a different way about going about it.
NOBLES: It is a way that sometimes may make her feel uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might appear that it's coming off strong or whatever, but this is actually what he's really trying to do, and it makes sense. You know, instead of taking everything he says literally. Which I know you should be a little careful on that.
NOBLES: But to the Trump supporters here, it is still a better way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think every day that he wakes up and gets, you know, taken on by the Rachel Maddows of the world and Kathy Griffins of the world, he becomes more popular with that group.
NOBLES: One of the main reasons President Trump continues to close to those issues and the main message that initially got him elected.
TRUMP: And we will make America great again.
CABRERA: I want to bring in Ryan Nobles. That was not the right sound that we were initially talking to. We thought we were going to Jake Tapper and Nikki Haley. But Ryan, we wanted to include -- we'll going to come to you next and your great piece there from Iowa. You've been speaking to all the folks there, reacting to what we've heard in the last few days. Give us your sense of how things are going for the administration in that state, where the President and the Vice President won by about ten points in the election.
NOBLES: Yes, you know, Ana, it's not a big surprise that Donald Trump escapes Washington from time to time. And his advisers said often that he feeds off the momentum that he receives from these crowds in states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and Michigan. States that were once in the hands of Democrats and presidential elections, and then went for Republicans the last time around. And I have to tell you, that Ben and I went out for about 48 hours, we talked to a lot of voters, Republicans and Democrats, and there's no doubt that Republicans are sticking close to this president.
They like his approach. They feel that -- they feel like his attitude about putting America first is exactly what they wanted to hear. And that's one of the reasons that they voted for him. And here today at this event in Boone, Iowa, we heard from the Vice President that he really doubled down on that. You know, he described the administration as being very successful up until this point.
And this crowd fed off it. They cheered loud for many of those points, including every time Donald Trump's name was mentioned. We should point out, though, Ana, one thing that never came up today was Russia, we never heard the name James Comey, we didn't hear anything about the controversies that are facing this White House which are real and substantive. But at this point here, on the ground here in the states like Iowa, Donald Trump still retains a lot of that support from Republicans.
CABRERA: Thank you, Ryan Nobles, reporting from Iowa for us.
Now, climate change alone hasn't really ever been a top issue on the ballot. So, could sticking to his nationalist and his populist agenda and being a political win for President Trump?
CNN's John King has a breakdown of the poll numbers at the magic wall. John?
[17:19:08] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Visitors to the Oval Office say the President gives them his version, a paper version of a map like this. When he makes big decisions, especially about economic issues, he looks at this map. Particularly the President looks at this. The former blue states he turned red in last year's elections. The climate change decision he made actually is risky for the President politically. Because if you look at the data, it's not what the American people want.
Ninety percent of Democrats as you see think climate change is real. The majority of Republicans think climate change is real. Fifty four percent there. And what about the specifics? Should we stay or should we go when it comes to the Paris climate change deal? Well, millennials, generation x, younger voters, their support for the Paris deal is higher. But look, it runs across the spectrum. Baby boomers, World War II veterans. Nearly seven and ten are higher. The seven and ten say, we should stay on the deal.
So, why would the President get out? Analysts look at it from a more political perspective. So, right this over here, 86 percent of Democrats say stay in the Paris accords. But even a narrower majority, 51 percent of Republicans say stay in. And almost half of the President's voters, 47 percent of Trump voters say, stay in the Paris climate change accord. So, the President was not doing this because his base was overwhelmingly demanding, hey, get out based on climate change. The President looks at this map, remembers the last election, and thinks, on every big decision, he's going to make the point that for these people here, whether you're in coal mining or manufacturing, it's not about climate change, it's about jobs.
CABRERA: Thank you, John King. Now, France tops the U.S. on the climate again. Why the newly elected French leader is seizing the spotlight, standing up to President Trump and other world leaders. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:24:58] CABRERA: We're now hearing from one of Trump's team about the President's latest view on climate change. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley says the President does believe the climate is changing. She sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Let me show you what President Trump has tweeted about climate change. Quote, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive, unquote. Are you willing to acknowledge that is nonsense?
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: What I will tell you is the regulations from the Paris agreement were disadvantaging our companies. We know that. I knew that as a governor. We know that now. The jobs were not attainable as long as we had to live under those regulations. It wasn't possible to meet the conditions under the Paris agreement. Had we even attempted to do that?
So I think we have to look at what's realistic. We've got a president who is going to watch out for the environment. It's what we do, it's who we are. We are going to continue to be a leader in the environment. The rest of the world wanted to tell us how to do it, and we're saying, we will do it, but we'll do it under our terms.
TAPPER: But the standards were set by the United States for the United States. But just to be clear on this climate --
HALEY: No, the standards were set by President Obama. And not passed through the Senate because the standards couldn't have been achieved.
TAPPER: Yes. But my point is, you said that the world was imposing standards on the United States. President Obama, the President of the United States at the time is the one who set the standards. But moving that aside for one second, I just want to be clear on this, you're not willing to acknowledge that calling climate change a Chinese hoax is just a big box of crazy?
HALEY: President Trump believes the climate is changing. And he believes pollutants are part of that equation. So, that is the fact. That is where we are. That's where it stands. He knows that it's changing. He knows that the U.S. has to be responsible with it. And that's what we're going to do. Just because we got out of a club doesn't mean that we don't care about the environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, you can catch the rest of that interview tomorrow on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Let me bring in CNN senior economics analyst and President Trump's campaign advisor on economic matters Stephen Moore. And also with us, CNN political commentator, White House aide during the Bill Clinton years Keith Boykin. Stephen, the Trump administration and you have said pulling out of the accord will create jobs. The biggest driver of jobs right now as of late is clean air energy.
Here are the numbers from the Department of Energy. Fossil fuel jobs, 160,000 right now. And the U.S. clean energy jobs 362,000, natural gas, 374,000 solar power, 102,000 in wind power. So solar employment also is expanded in the last year, 17 times faster than the total U.S. economy according to the International Renewable Energy Agency report. When you look at these numbers, there is a lot of jobs and money in renewable energy. Why not focus energy and effort in that direction?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, we have ten times more people who work in the oil and gas industry than the wind and solar industry combined, so it's not even close. I mean, and we have something like six million people who are directly or indirectly in the oil and gas industry. And I think the answer is --
CABRERA: But where are your numbers coming from? Because that was from the Department of Energy, those numbers that we just put up there.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he is using the word indirectly, Ana, to create a loophole for himself.
MOORE: No, no, no, but look, wait, hold on a minute.
CABRERA: Let him answer the question. Let him answer the question.
MOORE: Put up that chart again. Because I think that was talking about natural gas. I just looked at it, I just saw a flash of it. So, I didn't -- but look, we have somewhere in the neighborhood, four or five or six million people -- I mean, look at Texas, and North Dakota and Oklahoma and West Virginia and Pennsylvania, those are dominant energy states. Here's I think why this is so raw. The game- changer in energy, unquestionably, the thing that has changed the whole dynamics of the energy field is something called shale oil and gas. And that has created bountiful amounts of oil. Has made the United States potentially the global leader in oil and gas for the next 25, 30, or 40 years. And by the way, natural gas is a fuel that is abundant. It's made in America. It's cheap. It's reliable. And --
CABRERA: A lot of people have gone towards natural gas. It is a cleaner energy. Nobody's arguing about that point. I think the question is though, how is going towards a cleaner environment hurting the U.S. economy when you at the number of jobs that are in the clean energy --
[17:29:28] MOORE: No, no, we are going -- no, we are going to a cleaner environment. It's going to be the future. It's not going to be wind and solar, they are extraordinarily expensive compared to natural gas. Natural gas is the fuel of the future. And I would just mention one other thing. If we want to completely eliminate carbon emissions because of climate change, then why would we invest in wind and solar power which are extremely expensive forms of power when we could build nuclear power plants which emit no carbon whatsoever? It's very reliable source of energy.
I mean, France gets about 75 percent of their electricity from nuclear power. And it would be a lot less expensive than --
MOORE: So we ought to go with natural gas and nuclear power.
CABRERA: So, go ahead, Keith, in terms of getting your response in. You were eager to jump in.
BOYKIN: You know, I don't really know who President Trump is trying to impress with this pulling out of the Paris agreement. It doesn't help the world. 194 other countries have signed on to it. Only Nicaragua and Syria are not. And now the U.S. will be the third country. It doesn't help the United States, most Americans support staying in the Paris agreement. Even most Republicans support staying in the Paris agreement. It doesn't help American businesses. Many American businesses have come out, CEOs of Apple and Tesla, and Disney and others, have come out and said that they -- Exxon even have come out and said they support staying in the Paris agreement.
It doesn't help American jobs. We know that -- the reality is the jobs of the future are not coal mining jobs. They're energy jobs that come from clean energy like solar and wind. And there are more solar jobs that are being created by wind than there are in the field of coal and oil and gas combined. When we talk about electricity generation, that's the issue. Electricity generation.
And finally, it doesn't help even the people of Pittsburgh. The mayor of Pittsburgh was even talking about this the other day, saying that, you know, Donald Trump says he represents Pittsburgh and not Paris. But the reality is that people in Pittsburgh not only did they vote for Hillary Clinton, but they're not even represented by the whole idea, the backward out of this notion that the coal mining society in the past, this is a future oriented nation, a future oriented city there in Pittsburgh.
And I think the president has basically put us back in the 20th century, while the rest of the world, China and India and other countries, are taking advantage of the 21st century.
CABRERA: So, Stephen, the Trump administration says that they will be environmentally friendly despite leaving the Paris accord. But one of the questions that has come up is the budget that this administration has proposed. Looking to cut significant funding for the EPA and programs that fund research to combat climate change.
CABRERA: So how can you have it both ways?
MOORE: Well, you know, natural gas -- the country, by the way, in the last seven years, that has reduced its carbon emissions the most, I keep saying this on CNN because a lot of Americans don't realize this, the United States has cut its carbon emissions more than France, Italy, Spain -- China's carbon emissions are going through the roof. I heard --
CABRERA: So if that's the case then, it seems like the U.S. is right on track to meet --
CABRERA: It's deal in the Paris accord.
MOORE: But wait a minute, hold on. No. Here's the point. Here's what everybody's missing. The reason we're reducing our carbon emissions has nothing to do with solar and wind power. We only get -- we get -- here are the numbers from the Department of Energy. We get 5 percent of our electricity production today from solar and wind power. We get 37 percent, six times more from coal, and we get eight times more -- we get about 40 percent of our electricity from natural gas. That means almost two-thirds of our energy is coming from coal and natural gas. A very small sliver is coming from wind and solar.
BOYKIN: Again, another sleight of hand, Stephen, you know, trying to slip in natural gas with coal here. The reality, though, is that natural gas is a cleaner form of energy than coal.
MOORE: Right. For sure.
BOYKIN: But still, coal jobs are the jobs of the 20th century. Those jobs are disappearing. They're not really going to come back. Donald Trump sold his voters -- a lot of people in West Virginia and other states the idea that he was going to bring those jobs back, and he won't. So this is a promise to a very small group of people that Trump has made here. And he's trying -- he's basically willing to risk the safety and the security of the entire planet, not just the United States, just to keep a campaign promise to a small sector of people in one or two states. That's kind of --
CABRERA: OK. Guys, got to leave it there.
CABRERA: Keith Boykin, Stephen Moore, thank you both.
BOYKIN: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, America's departure from the climate deal leaves the effort to limit global climate change without a clear leader. And that void could be on the world stage could be changing.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CABRERA: Breaking news right now. We are learning there's been some kind of incident right now on the London Bridge. Let me read you the information we have confirmed. It says, quote, "We are dealing with an incident on London Bridge. When we have more information we will update this Twitter feed." This is a tweet from the London Metropolitan Police posting it on their official Twitter account just moments ago.
We are working to gather more information on exactly what this incident is on the London Bridge. As soon as we have it for you, we'll bring it to you. But of course, there is a heightened sense of awareness right now in the United Kingdom following the Manchester attack a little over 10 days ago. And we know there's going to be this benefit concert now tomorrow in Manchester.
Ariana Grande and many other celebrities will be performing. A lot of build-up to that moment. And I want to bring in right now one of our reporters on the scene. I'm sorry, we don't have them available just yet. But again, we're working to gather more information on what's happening in London right now, on the London Bridge. Some kind of an incident.
We have Tom Fuentes joining us on the phone.
Tom, this obviously is causing a lot of alarm to think that there could be some major incident unfolding on the London Bridge.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. The fact that, you know, we just had an attack on that bridge recently. And someone using a car to run people over. And now possibly a stabbing from some of the reports that are coming out. So we're going to have to wait and see. I mean, we still could have the motive of a copycat that's just a deranged person trying to get attention, like the last person that did this or in fact that, you know, it could be a terrorist incident. It's just too early for us to know that yet.
CABRERA: It's way too early to go there, period. We don't have anything confirmed about what this incident is on the London Bridge. But being a bridge, being a place of traffic, we -- it's safe to assume it has to do with cars, people who are in that area.
[17:35:05] You mentioned that there was a previous attack in Westminster, London's deadliest terror attack in more than a decade. That happened back in March where a car drove over the Westminster Bridge toward the House of Parliament and crashed near the parliament. But again this incident still very early on, happening right now, unfolding on the London Bridge. And England is on a state of alert following the last attack that happened in Manchester, the big concert bombing following the Ariana Grande concert that happened Monday.
It will be two weeks this coming Monday of course. And there's supposed to be this huge benefit concert in Manchester again tomorrow. Obviously I am assuming that there is a heightened level of security throughout England right now, Tom. FUENTES: No. No doubt that there would be increased security. And
there has been particularly since the Manchester attack because that involved a cell. They know that multiple people were involved in that which means that there could be others still throughout the United Kingdom that might be involved with it or supportive of that attack as opposed to just one lone person that commits one of these. So, yes, there is a heightened state of alert based on that attack. And then now you have this incident which we don't know yet if it's an attack. But certainly, you know, it's either that or a terrible driver running over 20 or 30 people.
And then the reports in addition that have been out there are that there were stabbings involved also. But we don't have that for sure yet.
CABRERA: Right. Right.
FUENTES: And of course, when we have an incident happen, it's all we know from the police. So I think we need to give this more time and wait for more information that come out, particularly official information from the Metropolitan Police.
CABRERA: And we are just getting some of that information, reports now 15 to 20 people have been run over. Again this happening on the London Bridge. Some additional information that we're getting now, two individuals ran into a restaurant and stabbed two of the people inside allegedly. Customers are huddled in a cellar, not knowing what's going on. They have been told to stay there and not go into the street.
So now we're getting more information here, Tom. What does this sound like to you?
FUENTES: Well, I mean, it sounds terrible. But as I mentioned, these things are going out over social media which can often be highly inaccurate and/or exaggerated. We just don't know yet. It might be accurate, it might not be. I would like to see a little more official information from the police about what they're dealing with, and whether or not this is still an ongoing situation.
You know, we've had active shooter situations before where we think someone's still at large with a gun. In this case, we could have an active stabber situation where individuals are at large with weapons, using weapons to stab people. So it could be all of that or it might not be all of that. We just don't know yet.
CABRERA: And we do know that there have been ongoing investigations happening into terrorism within England. We know that there were additional people arrested following the bombing of the Manchester concert venue, where Ariana Grande had been performing. And at least 17 people have been taken into custody following that event. They were looking into potential terrorist networks. Again that was in Manchester.
This latest incident happening on the London Bridge. Again, the police tweeting out, "We are dealing with an incident on London Bridge. When we have more information, we will update this Twitter feed." That's the official word. And reports of 15 to 20 people having been run over with a separate incident and no understanding at this point whether they are connected but some kind of a stabling incident happening inside a restaurant, in the boroughs market we're told.
Two people stabbed inside. Customers huddling in the cellar, not knowing what's happening. Somebody from the area saying I've told them to stay there, don't go into the street. So, again, we're trying to get more information on this situation currently unfolding, coming on just the day before the Manchester concert that's supposed to be a benefit concert with Ariana Grande and many other celebrities happening in Manchester to honor the victims of this latest terror attack that happened in England back -- just about two weeks ago now.
And again that was an incident in which more than a dozen people were killed and hundreds of people were injured in that incident. So right now what is unfolding in England, we don't know exactly. But we do know there's some kind of incident on the London Bridge.
Given just the backdrop of all of this, Tom, if you're in law enforcement right now, what do you anticipate happening behind the scenes?
FUENTES: Well, absolutely they're going to be trying to identify who owned the car, who was driving the car, if the individuals that ran into their restaurant, if there was a stabbing incident there, were they from the car, or is that a separate incident that's just coincidentally happening, or are they same people that were in the car?
[17:45:06] What are -- they're going to want to get as many witness statements and possible videos collected as they can, surveillance cameras. London has extensive video surveillance system throughout the city. So I think that they're going to be quickly reviewing whatever video they have of the traffic on that bridge and what exactly occurred on the bridge, and then go from there. If they can identify the individuals that are associated with that vehicle, then look into their background, and, you know, who they are, what they're affiliated with, if they've been on the police radar in prior investigations or are these new people that have come up. We just don't know yet. But that's the kind of thing that they'll be looking at very closely at the moment.
CABRERA: And I think it's really important for us to remind our viewers that we don't have a lot of information. We did just see another tweet from the Metropolitan Police right now saying, "Officers are on the scene at #LondonBridge. More info as we get it." So they're being very careful to put out any information. But again, the reports on the ground right now, 15 to 20 people were run over on the London Bridge. And there's another incident that people are saying involved stabbing in a restaurant nearby.
But again these are initial reports. And we know as incidents are unfolding, sometimes the information as it's confirmed by police does change. So we want to make sure that we're being careful about how we're dealing with this situation. What I can tell you is confirmed on the record by police is they are responding to an incident on the London Bridge. And they have now arrived on the scene of that incident and they are working to get more information. You're looking at a map to get a better sense of where this is all unfolding. The London Bridge, you can see, is near the borough market.
I want to bring in Fred Pleitgen who is joining us on the phone. He is one of our correspondents. He is in London.
Fred, what more are you learning?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Yes, I'm actually right now en route to where this incident apparently took place. And again, we only have the information that the police has given us so far, that they are responding to what they believe is a serious incident there near London Bridge. It's obviously a place where, you know, this time of night, it's about 10:00 p.m. here right now in London, where a lot of people would have been out there. And again, they are responding to this.
Unclear at this point in time what the nature of this incident is. That they're obviously still trying to find that out. They say that they're going to keep providing information as they get it. They've already said they're going to do that via their Twitter feed. But the early pictures that we see coming in seem to indicate that there are a lot of police vehicles out there on the scene. There are a lot of -- or a couple of ambulances, at least, on the scene. But again, at this point in time, unclear what the nature of this incident is. The London police say they've clearly just responding to this trying to find out more information, Ana.
CABRERA: What can you tell us about how things have been going there in England, around the country?
CABRERA: And obviously there's been such a huge response in the ongoing investigation into the Manchester attack, and on top of that there is going to be the big concert tomorrow night in Manchester, the benefit concert for the victims of that attack that happened. Has there been a heightened security level throughout the country that you've noticed and been reporting on?
PLEITGEN: Yes, absolutely. That's absolutely what we've been noticing over the past couple of weeks especially since that incident took place -- the terror attack that took place in Manchester. Not just with the investigation going on, but generally with the terror alert. You know, for two days the terror alert here in London was at its highest level, at the level of critical. It's since then been downgraded to a level that they call severe, which is the second highest level but that still means that an attack is highly likely. And you can certainly see that at key installations, especially in and around the London area, at airports, but also around government buildings, around areas that tourists frequent as well.
You do notice a heightened presence of the authority, of the police, as well there on the ground. And then certainly, especially we've got incidents in Manchester having taken place, you do feel that the authorities really are trying to show more presence. And then you're absolutely right, there is, of course, an Ariana Grande benefit concert that's set to take place in Manchester tomorrow. And of course there as well there is a heightened police presence.
At the same time you obviously have the police still conducting that very large investigation around the Manchester attack that, of course, killed so many people. And this time the police here really, really is and has been kicking into very, very high gear over the past week, over the past week and a half. So certainly right now with this new incident taking place, you can bet that they have a lot of forces that are on the ground there. But again at a time when they were really, really wary of what might happen when they were really on high alert anyway -- Ana.
CABRERA: Absolutely. I want to just update our viewers who may just be joining us right now about what we are covering and what we are learning right now. There's some kind of an incident happening on the London Bridge that is drawing police to that area.
[17:50:07] We have a tweet from the police department, the London Metropolitan Police, saying, "We are dealing with an incident on #LondonBridge. When we have more information we will update this Twitter feed." We also have another follow-up tweet saying, officers are on the scene at London Bridge. More info as we get it. And as we were just hearing a report from Fred Pleitgen who is on his way to that area, he is seeing video come in of a lot of police activity in that area, a couple of ambulances at this point.
We don't know exactly what happened and now we have some live pictures that we're bringing to you. Again, this is from the area where some kind of incident has happened on the London Bridge. A lot of sirens that you can hear in the background. Clearly traffic is stopping all directions. There are people milling about on the London Bridge. Several buses appear to be lined up on the side of the street. The people crossing the street as this camera is panning around the area.
It appears there is a lot of flashing lights. And that is a car that is on its side or hard to see from some of these videos. It's zooming in and out of focus. Police responding to an incident on the London Bridge. Early reports that some people may be injured, having been run over. We are working to vet as much information as we can as it comes in but very few details at this hour.
Fred Pleitgen is heading to the scene right now.
Fred, just how far out are you and where you are? Describe what you're seeing.
PLEITGEN: Well, right now I'm in traffic on the way to that area. Traffic isn't too bad where we are right now but of course, you know, as we're looking at these pictures which -- where it could some sort of vehicle that's involved, you know, that's one of the things that really the police here have been looking out for a lot, especially since the April 24th when there was an incident here in London where a man, apparently also terror related, ran into a bunch of pedestrian on one of the most iconic London bridges, leading over to the Houses of Parliament.
That was one of the big terror attacks that took place here in London and this year where a man then -- you know, he went on a sidewalk, ran into a lot of people until his car stopped and they used a knife to try and make his way into the British parliament so that's certainly one of the things that the police here have been looking out for so much. And really a pattern that we've been seeing all around Europe.
We have similar attacks take place, for instance, in Berlin, at a Christmas market. I was actually at that incident as well. Then you have one in Sweden also where a van apparently ran into a pedestrian zone around the shopping area. So that's certainly one of the patterns that people have been seeing. Again, we're not really clear if that's what it is right now. But certainly judging by those early pictures that we're seeing that certainly seems to be a possibility and certainly one of the things that the police seem to be reacting to.
Now what else you were saying there about seeing buses sort of being lined up there, traffic being stopped, that, of course, is the standard procedure that the police would conduct immediately shut that whole area down and stop all of the traffic, you know, keep people from getting into that area if in fact there are casualties in that area and then move as much of the authorities in there as they can.
You know, police and ambulances, first responders, as well. We know that here in London the authorities are very geared up for that sort of incident. They react very, very quickly, especially the ambulance services and of course the police as well. So certainly this is something that they will have prepared for and now they have the plans in place to react as fast as possible.
CABRERA: And we now have an eyewitness who's on the scene. I want to bring in Mark Roberts, who is joining us on the phone.
I understand, Mark, you are on the end of the London Bridge. Describe for me what you're seeing and hearing right now.
Mark Roberts, this is Ana Cabrera. You are live on CNN right now. We're looking at pictures from the London Bridge. And I understand you are on scene. What is going on where you are?
MARK ROBERTS, WITNESS: I'm finding it very difficult to hear. I'll just tell you, and hopefully you can hear, I was on London Bridge. What I saw was a van coming across London Bridge at high speed, swerving on and off the pavement. It knocked over several people and came within about 20 yards of where I was before it swerved to cross the other side of the road and it knocked somebody nearly 20 feet in the air. The van then carried on across the bridge and I think it hit a bus stop and came to a halt further down the road. But within my line of sight, there were five or six bodies that I could see on the ground, people who were not moving and now it's massive police and paramedics in the area. [17:55:11] I'm with the police at the moment. They've gathered all
the people who were on the bridge and they are taking us off somewhere to interview us.
CABRERA: Oh, my gosh. It sounds incredibly scary what you just witnessed and being so close to that scene. Did you get a look at who's driving the van?
ROBERTS: Yes, it seems like, you know, I don't know what to do. You can hear the van -- see the van coming. And hear all the screaming but I didn't know how to react at all.
CABRERA: What was going through your mind?
ROBERTS: I was just lucky that it -- I was just lucky that it swerved across the other side.
CABRERA: And when you saw that van coming, I imagine it was coming and there's something happening so quickly. Did you get a chance to see who was driving and do you know where that person is right now?
ROBERTS: No. (INAUDIBLE) I think it's at the other end of the bridge, about five or 10 minutes later, I heard quite a bit of gunfire, that sounded gunfire like 10, 20 shots. I'm now on a bus being taken by the police to interview all of these witnesses.
CABRERA: How long ago did this incident --
CABRERA: Mark, I'm sorry. I did not mean to interrupt you. How long ago did this incident occur?
ROBERTS: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that.
CABRERA: How long ago did this happen?
ROBERTS: It was about half an hour ago.
CABRERA: So just about half an hour ago and since this incident happened, you talked about witnessing a van coming across the bridge at a high speed, swerving and hitting different sides, bouncing off the pavement and you said knocking into several people, including throwing at least one person several feet into the air. At that moment, how many people were on the bridge?
ROBERTS: It's quite busy. There must have been, all told, you know, hundreds. A hundred, 200 people maybe spread across the bridge. It wasn't packed because it's quite late at night here.
CABRERA: Now were you walking?
ROBERTS: I was doing -- I was here for -- you know, just out doing an activity. Just, you know, out at night.
CABRERA: Which direction was the van going? ROBERTS: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that.
CABRERA: Which direction was the van going?
ROBERTS: It was heading south across the bridge. I was walking from the south side to the north side of the bridge. This is London Bridge.
ROBERTS: And it was heading toward London Bridge station which is on the south bank of the river and the area all around the bridge station is very busy. It's busier around London Bridge station than it is -- than the north bank of the river.
CABRERA: OK. As you mentioned, too --
ROBERTS: It was heading towards a busier area but from what I could see, it looked like the van hit a bus and came to a halt.
CABRERA: It looks like the van hit the bus?
ROBERTS: Yes. Right before it left the bridge. While it was still on the bridge. And it was out of my sight and I couldn't see what happened after that.
CABRERA: About how far did the van travel as it was running into people and continuing on its way?
ROBERTS: Well, I could only see it from one end of the bridge to the other.
CABRERA: OK. So you talked about how it's late at night there and there weren't as many people as there would be during the day. Can you just set the scene for me of what was going on, on the bridge at the moment this van came into your sight?
ROBERTS: Well, there's some groups of friends making their way either out of the night to clubs or going home for the evening and it's an area -- London Bridge is quite a photogenic area so a lot of people stop to take photos because from London Bridge which you can get quite a lot of good views of the British city skyline and the other bridges.