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London Terror Attack Investigation Led To 12 Arrests In East London; Ariana Grande And Other Celebrities Are Giving A Benefit Concert To The Victims Of The Manchester Bombing; Twelve Arrests In Deadly London Terror Attacks; Comey Set To Testify Before Senate On Thursday. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 4, 2017 - 14:00   ET



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: hi I'm Clarissa Ward in London just near Borough Market, the site of last night's attack.

SAVIDGE: It is the second terror attack in the U.K. in just 12 days. The British Prime Minister Theresa May says enough is enough.


SAVIDGE: Just in to CNN, we're getting our very first look at the alleged attackers. ITN in London is reporting this video comes from an eyewitness who says these are the three attackers roaming through Borough Market after launching a stabbing spree.

And this image shows the white van of the masked men first used to ram the sidewalk of the iconic London Bridge intentionally striking pedestrians.

WARD: Seven people are dead, 48 injured. Those three attackers were quickly shot and killed by police. The attackers appeared to be wearing suicide belts but it was discovered later that those were fake. Twelve additional people have been arrested. British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for a reevaluation of Britain's counter-terrorism strategy.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: While the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamistic extremism that preaches hatred, so as division and promote sectarianism.


WARD: But Brits are vowing not to live in fear; a benefit concert for victims of last month's attacks in neighboring Manchester will not be canceled or silenced. While we have a team of reporters covering all angles of this story, I

want to begin first though, with CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt. Alex, tell us, what is the latest you're learning about the investigation?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police are saying that they are making significant progress in this investigation. They have carried out raids today, primarily in East London, in area called Barking. They've arrested 12 people, possibly connected to the attackers. There were three of those attackers, of course. The police have not released any information about the identities of those attackers.

Now we have to note that following this attack, the terror alert level has not been raised unlike after Manchester, when it was raised to critical level --


MARQUARDT: -- indicating there possibly might be another imminent attack. Today, after this attack, it has remained at severe, which means there could be another possible attack but the police in doing so were saying that they believe there are no more elements connected to this attack out there. Just a short time ago, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Mark Rowley briefed the press. Let's take a listen.

MARK ROWLEY, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: We have established the venue during the attack was a white rental van that was recently hired by one of the attackers. As our understanding grows, we now understand that the van at London Bridge started the attack at 21:58 hours yesterday as he went from north to south on the river (inaudible) the public polling place a few minutes later.

The van mounted the pavement and collided with pedestrians before being abandoned, where attackers were armed with knives continued into the Borough Market area stabbing numerous people.

The attackers were then confronted by the firearms officers and I can confirm that eight police firearms officers discharged their weapons. Whilst this will be subject thorough an investigation by the IPCC, our initial assessment is in a region of 50 rounds, in (inaudible) of 50 bullets were fired by those eight officers. The three attackers were shot dead.

The situation these officers were confronted with was critical, a matter of life and death. Three armed men wearing what appeared to be suicide belts. They had already attacked and killed members of the public and had to be stopped immediately.

Indeed I'm not surprised that when faced and with what they must have feared were three suicide bombers, the firearms officers fired an unprecedented number of rounds.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUARDT: An unprecedented number of rounds there. He said that 50 bullets were fired by the police at those attackers who were believed to be wearing suicide vests, as we mentioned at the top of the show, seven people are dead. There are some 36 still in hospital wounded of which 21 are critical. So that death toll could still rise.

WARD: I mean, Alex, we're taking now three attacks in the last three months. Is this the new normal for Great Britain?

MARQUARDT: Well, to some extent, Britain has been relatively spared this wave of terror that we've seen consumed Europe over the past two plus years. Of course, Britain is no stranger to terror. They've had IRA attacks over the past century. The 7/7 Bombings of course in 2005 that claimed more than 50 lives.

[14:05:00] But in the past two and a half years starting with Charlie Hebdo which, of course, you covered in January 2015, we're used to seeing these types of attacks taking place in France, in Germany and in Belgium. But now, three attacks just over two months, this is a new reality that we've seen in Europe and a new reality that Britain is going to have to grapple with as well.

WARD: A sobering assessment, OK. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for joining us. Well, I want to bring in now CNN International Correspondent Melissa Bell.

Melissa, you're in the area where police conducted raids earlier today. What are you learning?

MELISSA BELL, CINN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What we're learning, Clarissa, we're learning from locals really, because as we were hearing earlier, the police haven't given much away in terms of the details of what the investigation has uncovered.

Just behind me that block of apartments where one of those raids took place this morning, it was about 7:00 am and local say that they heard loud bangs; these were controlled explosions that allowed police to get into the apartment. They also then saw a series of people being taken away. A group of men, first of all, but also a group of women wearing burqas were also taken away by police.

And what's been emerging over the course of the day is we've spoken to locals who gathered around really very shocked at what's going on, a sense of disbelief that this could be happening in this very quiet East London neighborhood. A number of them have told us, Clarissa, they recognize one of the attackers. So one of the attackers in these pictures that have been circulating now on social media and in some of the British press.

And a picture is emerging of a man that many people say they really hadn't imagined anything about. They thought he was a normal family man, very friendly. And a number of them had fairly close relations with him. But we have spoken to a one woman who told us that she had approached him just a couple of years ago. He'd been approaching children in this park giving them sweets, giving them chocolate, urging them to become good Muslims. She said she reported him to the police but never heard anything back, Clarissa.

WARD: OK. Melissa Bell, thank you. And I should say that so far, none of the attackers have been identified by authorities.

Well, extra security is in place for a show in neighboring Manchester where less than two weeks ago, a bomber killed 22 people outside an Ariana Grande concert. Today, the Ariana Grande and friends' One Love Manchester show takes to the stage, the benefits of which will benefit victims of the bombing and that's where CNN International Correspondent Phil Black is. Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clarissa, this crowd is growing in excitement and in size as it approaches as expected capacity of around 50,000 people. They've been waiting for hours outside making their way through very strict security procedures, gathering in the center of the old ground here waiting for what will be or what would be on any day, an extraordinary pop music lineup: Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry, Coldplay, just some of the acts that they will be hearing here tonight.

It is going to be emotional; that is the expectation. It was a controversial decision to do this so close, just two weeks after the Manchester attack. But now, tonight, the organizers have made this clear. This isn't just for Manchester, it's for London as well. Clarissa, back to you.

WARD: Certainly an emotional tribute. Phil Black, thank you. Martin, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Thanks, Clarissa. And coming up after the break, we'll have more on the events taking place in London. And also, the tweets of the president that some are saying are an embarrassment to the world, right after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) panic, obviously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People running, people screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People running, some are screaming. Some people are in tears from what they were seeing and things like that. So actually, it was a bit a crazy.




SAVIDGE: Welcome back. We continue to follow the developments coming out of London, the terror attack that has left at least seven people dead and dozens of people wounded and injured.

The mayor of London, that Sadiq Khan, he's calling for calm and he's reiterating his confidence in the city's safety as London ramps up security.


SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days; no reason to be alarmed. One of the things that police and all of us need to do is make sure we're as safe as we probably can be.

I'm reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world. But we always evolve and review ways to make sure that we remain as safe as we probably can.


SAVIDGE: Those are the kind of remarks you would expect from the leader of a major city but the mayor's remarks are drawing a swift and critical response from President Trump. CNN's Athena Jones is at the White House with the details on that. Athena, some are even saying this is an embarrassment for the united states.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martin. Well, look, this is not the kind of reaction we're used to seeing from a U.S. president in response to such a terrible tragedy. The president essentially picking a fight with the mayor of London. Here is what he said on Twitter early this morning.

He said, at least seven dead, 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed, exclamation point. But the point here is that, you just played that clip from the mayor of London, Khan was talking specifically about the increased police presence on the streets of London, not about being worried about terror in general.

So the president clearly misconstrued those remarks. The mayor's spokesman says that President Trump deliberately took Mayor Khan's remarks out of context. Here's part of what he said, that spokesperson, the mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack. He has more (00:15:00) important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet.

Now, as you mentioned, the president's tweet has gotten a lot of criticism from members of both parties -- both of the big parties in England, the Conservative Party, the Labor Party. One labor politician saying that the tweet was cheap, nasty and unbecoming of a national leader.

And Martin, it's important to note that this is not the first time that Trump has butted heads with Khan, London's first Muslim mayor from across the Atlantic. Last year, Khan said that Trump held ignorant views. Trump fired back calling Khan ignorant and challenging him to an IQ test.

Earlier this year, Mayor Khan said that President Trump's planned state visit to the U.K. should be canceled as a response to this travel ban, his administration tried to impose targeting six Muslim majority nations blocking their entry into the U.S. Now, of course, that controversial travel ban has been blocked by the courts but it's just a very interesting and odd response to be getting from the president picking this fight over this issue in the face of such a terrible tragedy and, of course, not the first one, London has experienced in recent months, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Absolutely right. Athena Jones at the White House, thank you very much for that.

Happening now, just two hours outside of London, there is an all-star concert that is underway honoring the victims of the Manchester Bombing, another terrorist attack. We will take you there live after the break.



WARD: Welcome back. In the wake of the London attack, there is heightened security at a benefit concert for the 22 people killed in the Manchester bombing less than two weeks ago. Ariana Grande is headlining the all-star show that has drawn a massive crowd. CNN International Correspondent Phil Black is there. Phil, organizers are saying this concert now has a greater purpose. What's the mood?

They're in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert. Phil Black, no? We appear to be having some technical difficulties with Phil Black in Manchester. He's at the Ariana Grande concert. We will be back with more breaking news from London after this break.



WARD: I'm Clarissa Ward in London. We're following breaking news out of Britain's capital where 48 people are wounded in a terror attack here; 36 are still being treated. We're joined now CNN Saima Mohsin is outside London's King College Hospital. And Saima, what can you tell us about the status of the people who have been injured in this attack?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, those 48 victims were taken to hospitals right across London. Now, many of them treating with seriously and critically injured people, both with minor injuries were attended to at the scene by more than 80 medics that were rushed there at London Bridge and Borough Market.

Now, 14 of those people were brought here to Kings College Hospital. I don't know if you can see behind me, there are police still on guard. When we arrived, there were five policemen protecting the hospital.

Now, one of those victims is a young man called Daniel O'Neill, he's 23 years old. And just a short while ago, we spoke to his mother who is here visiting him. Take a listen.


ELIZABETH O'NEILL, VICTIM'S MOTHER: He was in shock. And he said, I don't think work or believe that has happened. I'm going to go have to go in a Monday but he was in shock. I said to him it's because you don't believe it happened, Daniel. And I think other people are going to find it hard. And he feels very bad that he's alive while others have died.


MOHSIN: I've lost (inaudible).

WARD: OK. We appear to have lost Saima Mohsin there. But I want to talk more about the investigation. The three attackers were killed in this attack but so far the threat level has not been raised to critical. I'm joined now by CNN's Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Paul, thank you so much for joining us. Take a step in here. Paul, tell us, what we're learning about this investigation, do we know the attackers yet? Do we know what inspired them?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, they say they think they've identified them. They think there were just three attackers, that there weren't other people that were involved that are still at large. There are some roads leading them to Barking. I mean, that was just an area of East London. There have been 12 arrests there.

And they feel that there isn't a huge sort of ongoing threat. If they did feel that, they would've raised the threat level all the way up to critical like they did after the Manchester attack. But remember in that attack, the fear was that there could be a bomb-maker still at large. It could supply devices to other people that might be connected to summon entity (ph).

And so, in this case, they feel -- probably the dangerous has passed but they're still aggressively pursuing this to see if there was perhaps a wider conspiracy here.

WARD: Paul, I just want to get your thoughts because we've covered so many of these types of attacks together. This one is a little bit different though because it seems part lone wolf but also three men, a bit more organized. What do you make of this?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's a group of individuals, might just be three friends that were inspired by ISIS propaganda that caused --

WARD: Inspired rather than directed, do you think?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, you look at the techniques they use, this is a very crude attack, just going out and hiring a van, getting a hold of some knives. This isn't the sort of attack you would expect from the kind of trained killers that ISIS sent back to launch attacks in Paris and in Brussels where we saw them getting hold of collection of cards (ph), of getting hold of TATP. And when you look at the threat here in the U.K., the one saving grace

is it's very, very hard for extremists here to get a hold of weapons -- guns, I mean, compared to what it is, the situation in somewhere like France.

And so, last night, fortunately, they didn't have collection of cards (ph) or AK-47s or something like that, that we could have had a lot worse blood shed if that had been the case.

WARD: And we heard British Prime Minister Theresa May say that Britain has been too tolerance, that it's time to review counter- terrorism procedures. Is that a fair assessment?


CRUICKSHANK: Well, yes, but she's been in charge of British counterterrorism since 2010. So what is she saying here? She's been in the charge of the strategy. The reality is that there's been a lot of legislation put through, a lot of different measures that have been put in place to try to combat this threat in the U.K.

The security services and the police are best in class. I don't think there's a lot you can really do to drastically improve what Britain is doing from a security point of view. What I think they can do to drastically improve things is to really empower the Muslim community to take on this ideology.

They haven't done that to a huge degree so far. They are better than some of the European countries. The Brits strategy of empowering local community Muslim actors, to go after this ideology, to de-radicalize on the streets of the U.K., but they could be doing a lot more.

People in Whitehall need to be thinking every moment of the day of how to empower the Muslim community to take down this ideology. That is the only thing that in the end is going to work. When you talk about all this internet measures and so on and so forth. That's just the medium.

The problem is the people here in the U.K. that are receptive to this message, you've got to go after that on the theological level and the ideological level and the people -- the vast majority of Muslims here who are absolutely appalled at what has happened on the streets.

WARD: A very important point to make. CNN's Paul Cruickshank, thank you so much for your analysis.

Well, in the wake of the London attack there is heightened security at a benefit concert for the 22 people who were killed in the Manchester bombing less than two weeks ago. Ariana Grande is headlining the all- star show that is drawing a massive crowd.

We're going to try again to talk to CNN international correspondent, Phil Black. Phil, organizers say this concert now has a greater purpose. If you can hear me, what is the mood of the crowd?

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Clarissa, it is pretty incredible here. You joined me as Pharrell Williams is performing to this crowd. We're going to show you a little of what we see. It is 50,000 people moving and singing as one before one of the world's current great pop superstars.

Pharrell Williams, who's currently belting out his huge song. It's really quite incredible here. They're really enjoying this. What we've heard so far have been a couple of veteran British performers, the boy band take that Robin Williams as well. This crowd has simply exploded.

It is very loud here as you imagine, but there is no doubt the mood, the atmosphere, it is an extraordinary celebration, an extraordinary act of defiance as it always was supposed to be. A gesture of solidarity and unity in a city that only two weeks ago was torn apart by a horrific terrorist act that killed 22 people.

Everyone here from the organizers to the people that we've been talking to who are lining up all day to get in here, they've been telling us that yes, this is about Manchester and it was always going to be big and emotional because it's about Manchester. But after last night, it's about London as well. Clarissa, back to you.

WARD: Phil, I mean just looking at those pictures, it gives you goose bumps to see all of those people, such a massive showing. I wonder how are authorities making sure that all these people stay safe, that is a huge crowd behind you.

BLACK: It is a huge crowd and it has taken many hours to get that crowd into that space. They've been lining up outside the grounds since early this morning and then once the gates opened at about 4:00 p.m. local time, that was when everyone individually had to move through. They were all searched, their persons, their bags if they were carrying them.

They've all been patient. They've all wanted to do it. They've all wanted to do it because they wanted to enjoy all of this. You can hear them. It is extraordinary here. The atmosphere is really just so incredible.

You wouldn't know that just two weeks ago, before the last two weeks, these people had been suffering enormous trauma because of terrorism. Again, Clarissa, back to you.

WARD: OK, Phil Black in Manchester. Thank you so much. We'll be right back after this break.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Hello. I'm martin savage. Let's bring you up to date on the latest we have on the terror attack in the U.K. A van rammed pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk on the London Bridge. The occupants then went on a stabbing rampage nearby.

Seven people were killed. Forty eight others have been injured. The head of NATO is now condemning that attack. He has also called the bombing in Manchester two weeks ago barbaric.

Jens Stoltenberg is the secretary general of NATO and the former prime minister of Norway. He is good enough to join us now from Washington. Thank you, Secretary General, for being with us.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you so much for having me.

SAVIDGE: We don't yet know of course the motive of yesterday's attackers, but terror groups such as ISIS are now bringing their fight to Europe's doorstep. That we know. I'm wondering what more can be done to try to stop groups from infiltrating Europe and supporting fighters to carry out these kind of attacks. What can NATO do?

[14:40:06]STOLTENBERG: We have to do many different things at the same time. We have to step up our political ideological fight against this extremist ideologists which are emultuating (ph) this kind of barbaric attacks against innocent civilians.

But we also need to use military means and NATO has a role to play. You have to remember that our biggest military operation ever is our military presence in Afghanistan, which a response to a terrorist attack against the United States on 9/11.

And we are in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists once again

SAVIDGE: But NATO has said that it is not going to get involved at least boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq. I'm wondering that seems to be a place where you directly confront ISIS.

STOLTENBERG: Yes, but what NATO has done is at our meeting last week and supported by the United States, there was a proposal by the United States that NATO should join the counter ISIL coalition and we are stepping our support to the U.S. led coalition to fight in Syria and Iraq.

We do that with our (inaudible) surveillance planes to help improve the air picture over Syria and Iraq and help the air operations of the coalition and we also train Iraqi soldiers enabling them to fight, dodge ISIL.

And they are now -- actually some of those soldiers have been trained by NATO and are taking part in the operations to liberate Mosul. So NATO is playing an important role in the fight against terrorism.

But I agree with President Trump that NATO can do much more and we are now decided to join the coalition and we'll sit down with all the members of the coalition and discuss what more we can do.

SAVIDGE: In other ways that you have been at least on public record stating you were in agreement with President Trump was on the issue of defense spending and terror. He was critical of NATO for not putting up enough of its focus on the fight against terror. So is this a shift in the president's direction? STOLTENBERG: I agree with President Trump that we have unfair burden sharing inside the NATO alliance today. The U.S. is paying more than 70 percent of the total defense expenditures of NATO and that's not a balanced or fair burden sharing.

Therefore we decided to do something with it and to stop the cuts in defense spending and gradually increase and move towards spending 2 percent of GDP on defense in all allies. The good news is that NATO allies have started to move across Europe and Canada.

We have seen now for the first time in many, many years an increase in defense spending and the president has been very clear, very vocal on that message and that is helpful because it helped me in my work to commence our allies to invest the necessary amounts in our defense.

SAVIDGE: Let me ask you this, before you took on the role that you have now, you were of course a leader in your home country of Norway. That suffered terror attacks. You were there at a time where over I believe 66 people were killed, 77 actually.

I'm wondering as the leader of the nation and now Theresa May as the leader in the U.K., from a personal leadership role, what do you say? How do you try to show strength, which you need to do, but at the same time compassion for those who have been lost or who are hurting?

STOLTENBERG: I think the important thing to remember that the terrorists want to change the way we live. They want to attack our open free societies. So the best thing we can do is to stand up for the open and free societies that we strongly support and then we will win and the terrorists will lose.

So of course, we need police. We need military. We need intelligence. But we also need attitudes that stand together and it's great to see how people in the United Kingdom are going out and defending the open and free society the terrorists tried to attack.

SAVIDGE: It is good to see. Hopefully it won't be the norm. Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the NATO, thank you very much for joining us.


SAVIDGE: I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good to see you but not under these circumstances. This is the third terrorist attack in the U.K. in the last ten weeks. So I'm wondering what is going on in Great Britain and I don't want to say it's the new norm, but is this a few phase we are likely to see continue?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It very may well be. It's also the second terror attack in two weeks. Part of this clearly has to do with an election coming up.

[14:40:04]We know that terrorists like to focus on Democratic elections and that's coupled with Ramadan and at least a focus by ISIS. Of course, we have to be careful here. We don't know who the terrorists are, but a focus by ISIS to do Ramadan attacks.

So I think a combination of those two things coupled with, you know, just a general atmosphere of ISIS wanting to have successful, even low grade attacks to prove that they're still relevant as they lose many, many battles in Iraq and Syria.

SAVIDGE: These two attacks two weeks apart, the one in Manchester and then the one last night in London, very different in the way that they were conducted. I wondered as an expert does that tell you something?

KAYYEM: It tells me -- the problem is it actually tells me nothing which is more worrisome, right. I mean, in the sense that Manchester is one type, right? And so you get your head around that. That is someone who was radicalized, traveled abroad.

They were still investigating the Libya connections, how he learned to get the bomb materials, how he learned to make the bomb, acts alone but clearly inspired or maybe even directed by some hand abroad.

And then you have two weeks later something that looks, and be very careful, that looks very different, not very sophisticated. Three men simultaneously coordinating an attack, so it's not a lone wolf situation. We don't know whether there's any ties to any formalized terrorist network abroad, whether there was travel.

We'll learn that relatively soon. There's differences that are worrisome because what's clearly happening is different types of activities are happening simultaneously. Some low grade and easy to conduct. Some harder like the bomb in Manchester.

SAVIDGE: Well, the use of vehicles and the use of knives is something that both al Qaeda and ISIS have actually been, you know, putting out there for years, but it's so easily done. What is the fear that this is going to start happening in the United States?

KAYYEM: So I think that there's always a fear. How I describe the terrorist threat here in the United States is that it's consistent and persistent, right. Yes, we have a certain level of threat, but it's not something that you would change your life for at this stage or even change the way we conduct our day-to-day activity.

Looking hard at events like a concert or soccer game, right, we're going to understand there's going to be heavier security. But there's almost nothing you can do in the urban environment to close off all the streets to that kind of attack.

So what it means is a city and city planners and law enforcement have to think about layered security. How do you prevent, you know, or is there surveillance? Is the FBI working with the private sector?

Working with the U-hauls and the Avis and those companies to find out who might be renting. Then if something were to happen, do we have a capacity to help those who may have been hurt but whose lives that you can save.

SAVIDGE: And I want to bring up a point, Prime Minister Theresa May said this morning that there is far too much tolerance for extremism in the U.K. Do you think that's a problem and is that a problem at all in the U.S. as well?

KAYYEM: Well, I didn't -- to be honest, I didn't quite understand exactly what she was getting at. I mean, if you look at Manchester, at least so far we know it was actually the community that reached out to law enforcement and said look, we have a guy in our midst who we're worried about.

We don't know what's happened with the three guys last night. We'll certainly learn more about them. The United States is very different. It's something I remind my students and others thinking about the terror threat here.

One of America's successes as a safer nation, you know, we always have vulnerabilities, but as a safer nation is our ability to acclimate and better assimilate and integrate different immigrant populations including the Arab and Muslim populations here in this country.

Most Arabs in this country are actually Christians. Most Muslims in this country have African descent with a complicated community. There's not like a monolith to describe. But for the most part it's a relatively successful immigrant population.

We have to remember that's a success story for us as well. We don't have thousands of men here, you know, traveling to Syria, you know, wanting to come back to their homeland and harm their citizens.

SAVIDGE: Got it. Juliette Kayyem, thank you very much for your insights. We appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Turning to politics, that will be right after the break. We're heading into what is going to be a critical, could be historic week for the White House as fired FBI Director James Comey is set to testify publicly on his confrontations with President Trump. We'll discuss that next.



SAVIDGE: We'll have more of our coverage of the terror attack in London in just a moment, but first a pivotal moment for the Trump administration and it's only days away. You could call it historic potentially. This Thursday, all eyes are going to be on Capitol Hill no. Wonder why.

Where after weeks of spec speculation, former FBI Director James Comey will break his silence when he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey expected to open up about his interactions with President Trump including the allegations that Trump pressured him to stop his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. [14:55:03]Here to discuss that, Michael Zeldon, a former federal prosecutor and former independent counsel. He is also a former Justice Department special assistant to Robert Mueller, the man tapped to be special counsel for the Russian probe, which means you are just the man we need to be talking to today. Thank you for being with us.


SAVIDGE: So am I playing it up too big, or is this truly potentially history that we may watch?

ZELDIN: Potentially it's history depending on what Comey says. Comey has three broad areas to talk about. The first area is his direct interactions with the president. There was the meeting in the oval office in February with Sessions and where the president allegedly asked Pence and Sessions to leave so he could talk to Comey directly in which he said can you let the Flynn case go.

There was helicopter chitchat called that made Comey uncomfortable. There was the oval office hug that made Comey uncomfortable. There was the loyalty dinner that Comey felt uncomfortable. So there are three categories of conversations directly.

Then there's the letter of termination where the president said I'm terminating him because, and he gave a specific reason, and he said by the way, Comey said to me I am not under investigation three times. That is something that Comey will likely address.

SAVIDGE: Well, let me --

ZELDIN: And then --

SAVIDGE: What would be the most damming statements that Comey could make? It would be that regarding the Flynn investigation saying that the president gave me an order to back down?

ZELDIN: Well, yes. In the category of these conversations that we're talking about, if Comey says and it is my conclusion, and that's why I wrote these memos, the famous memos documenting his state of mind after these conversations that made him feel uncomfortable, if he says categorically it is my conclusion that the president of the United States was trying to obstruct my investigation full stop, that's historic.

SAVIDGE: That becomes what? A potential leap down the road towards impeachment?

ZELDIN: Well, it becomes the testimony of one person, Comey, who will then become Robert Mueller's witness in a grand jury investigation in which they will determine whether or not obstruction occurred and then if there is, because he's the chief executive, the president, it would be referred to the Congress for possible articles of impeachment. That's the process.

If he doesn't say anything categoric, if he says well, you know, I felt this way, it could have been otherwise, but this is my state of mind, if it's less than fully clear, then I think you give both sides a lot of ammunition to argue through the rest of the summer and probably into the fall about what does all this mean.

SAVIDGE: Why would he not speak directly, though? Why would he leave a question mark? Why would he kind of let it linger in that way?

ZELDIN: I don't know that he will. One would anticipate that he would give a direct answer that yes, I felt that my investigation was being interfered with which is why I wrote the memos similar to the way I wrote the memos when President Bush was president and Ashcroft was in the hospital and I was asked to do something I was uncomfortable about. It is the same pattern and I am doing what I do when people ask me to do things that I think are inappropriate. If he says that, I think the president has heavy sledding ahead of him.

SAVIDGE: Maybe I should have prefaced all of this by asking, do you think that this testimony will go forward? In other words, that the president does not invoke his executive privilege?

ZELDIN: Well, the president has the right to assert executive privilege, but it's a hard privilege to assert.

SAVIDGE: And that means what, just so people understand.

ZELDIN: That he would deny Comey the opportunity to testify. Now, that's complicated for a couple of reasons. One is Comey's no longer a government employee and he could say thank you for your point of view, but I'm going to testify anyway. Then the president would have to go to court and try to enjoin it. Awkward process legally and politically.

Or the president would lose or potentially lose an argument that says I want this man to stop testifying and the reason I don't want him to testify is what? Because he probably is going to say something that's against my legal interests.

Well, the U.S. versus Nixon Supreme Court case says that doesn't hold water. You can't stop an ongoing law enforcement investigation because it's not comfortable for you.

Executive privilege principally works in the area where advisors are giving policy advice to the president and the president wants to be assured that these people will give candid advice in sort of the oval office context that's not going to be revealed to the world. But we saw that when Obama tried to do that.

SAVIDGE: Michael, I'm sorry, but we've just run out of time and we've got so much else to cover with London as well. Michael Zeldin, I'm sure you're going to be back. Thank you very much.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: And we'll have more on our breaking news and it all --