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Iran State Media: Terror Attacks Kill 7, Injures 35; Sources: Russia Planted Fake News Behind Qatar Crisis. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 7, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:32:52] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news right now out of Iran for you. There have been twin bombings and a shooting in the capital of Tehran. Iran's state media reports the attacks have already killed seven people and injured 35. This is the scene outside of Iran's parliament building. State media reports that a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the building and we are told that there are hostages. But it is unclear if this situation is still ongoing.

Now, look at this image. This is a man lowering a child from a window in the parliament building amid frantic evacuations. Now, this incident unfolding the same time as a bomb attack and a shooting spree at the Khomeini shrine just south of Tehran. At least two people were injured there. One woman was arrested.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now to a CNN exclusive, concerns intensifying that Russia is trying to create rifts between the U.S. and its closest Gulf allies after Russian U.S. investigators say Russian hackers planted a fake news report with Qatar news agency that spurred a new Mideast crisis.

CNN is in Doha, Qatar, with more.

What do we know?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, if you recall, a couple of weeks ago, the Qatari state news agency had the story coming out quoting the ruler of Qatar where he was critical of neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia, praising Iran as an Islamic power, critical of the United States and also saying that President Trump was not going to last in office. And at time, we heard from Qatari officials saying that their state news agency had been hacked.

Now, what we are learning in this exclusive CNN reporting by our colleagues in Washington is that U.S. investigators believe that it was Russian hackers who planted this fake story on the state news agency's web site. Now, they don't know if the hackers belong to a government organization in Russia, or if it's a criminal organization. But what they know is they believe the intent of this was to create a rift between the U.S.'s allies in this region. And, you know, despite the tweets we saw from President Trump

yesterday, speaking out against Qatar, we've also learned that the FBI sent a team here to help the Qataris in this investigation of this hack.

[06:35:15] Of course, Qatar is a key U.S. military ally in this region -- Alisyn.

CUOMO: Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very much for being on scene in Doha. And, yes, the president tweets may be reflecting that the hackers have once again been effective for Russia.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, President Trump is taking credit for Saudi Arabia's decision to isolate Qatar. That's not how his national security team sees it.

We have a former deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken, he's going to tell us what's going on.


CAMEROTA: We have a CNN exclusive to tell you about. U.S. investigators believe that Russian hackers may have planted a fake news story on Qatar's state news agency that likely fueled the region into a diplomatic crisis. That crisis President Trump has now inserted himself into.

So, joining us now is Tony Blinken, a CNN global affairs analyst and former deputy secretary of state.

Tony, great to have you here in studio.


CAMEROTA: All of this is a fake news story planted maybe realigning the Arab states in the Middle East?

BLINKEN: Well, it looks like it may be that way. There's been a long-running feud between the Gulf States, between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt and Qatar. And the Saudis, the Gulf states, see Qatar as too close to Iran, too close to the Muslim Brotherhood, too close to Hamas. And also kind of playing above its weight and constantly inserting itself --

CAMEROTA: Right. So, then, there's a fake news story that seems to reinforce that.

BLINKEN: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: It says that Qatar is saying positive things about Iran. Then that's the spark that ignites this?

BLINKEN: Apparently, that's what's happened. But at the same time, we have seen President Trump's visit and seemed to align himself fully with the Saudis. That may give them a sense that they have cover to go and take on Qatar in this instance. So, the real problem is this: the president inserted himself in the

feud between Qatar and the Saudis.

CAMEROTA: Let me show you how he has done that, because this was yesterday -- these were yesterday's tweets, OK? So, the president says: During my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding to ideology. They leaders point to Qatar. Look.

Next, so good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the king and 50 countries paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding.

Part three: Extremism and references pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.

So, in other words, he is suggesting that his visit did shift the stance.

BLINKEN: He is. But there is a little bit of a tweet first ask questions later problem here, because while the president is doing this, other members of the administration, secretary of state, secretary of defense, are trying to calm the waters, trying to avoid this crisis because we have one of our largest military air bases in Qatar. That base is critical to the fight against the Islamic States. Planes are flying out of there every day.

CAMEROTA: How many of our service people are in Qatar?

BLINKEN: We got about 11,000 coalition forces at this base, including a lot of Americans. So, we want to preserve that. Of course, Qatar wants to preserve it, too.

And we always tried to stay out of this fight. We tried to mediate. We tried to calm things down, not ratchet things up.

CAMEROTA: Because, in fact, we are allied with both of them.

BLINKEN: Precisely. And here's the challenge. On the one hand, the president is saying, its now, look, they Qatar played a little loose in the past especially with terrorist financing. So, the president is not wrong on that. But we tried to do this quietly. And, in fact, our ambassador, one of our most experienced diplomats, said recently that Qatar is making real progress in cutting down on terrorist financing, actually going after people, prosecuting them, putting in new bank controls.

So, while she is saying that and the president is tweeting something entirely different, that creates a sense we are not coordinated.

CAMEROTA: So, where does that leave us?

BLINKEN: Well, it leaves us in a place where it looks like the president has reversed course a little bit. He is now trying to calm things down. That's a good thing. Let's see if we can get in there.

CAMEROTA: How is he doing that?

BLINKEN: Well, he actually came out and he spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, said we need to all get along, we need to be unified in a fight against terrorism, that's the right message. Hopefully now, having roiled the waters, we can calm them a little bit.

CAMEROTA: OK. Speaking of terrorism, there is breaking news unfolding, and that this that there appears an apparent terrorist attack in Tehran, Iran's capital. There are seven people killed, 35 have been injured. That's -- these are latest numbers.

There were some sort of explosion at parliament. There were evacuations. We had heard reports that there could be hostages. There are reports that there was an apparent suicide bomber. And at the same time, near the Khomeini Memorial or statue, there was gunfire.

So, two simultaneous things happening -- Iran? We don't often hear --

BLINKEN: Yes, not the first thing that comes to mind. But two things: one, there have been terrorist attacks in Iran from minority groups that are repressed and also opposition groups, opposition of the regime. It's rare. It doesn't happen often, but it happened in the past.

CAMEROTA: But if ISIS is taking responsibility, we don't have that confirmed. But some reports are that ISIS is taking responsibility. Is that a peculiar target?

BLINKEN: It's possible. It wouldn't be their first target. It's not the first place that they look. And in fact, the predecessor to ISIS, al Qaeda, in effect, actually, some of the leadership has had a safe harbor in Iran over the years.

Iran has kind of bought them off by allowing them to stay there sometimes under house arrest. But it's a way for Iran to sort of stay out of it. If that is what is going on, that's an interesting development. But it could well be some kind of an internal group, opposition, minority group that's taking action.

CAMEROTA: OK, we'll keep an eye on all of that. Tony Blinken, thank you very much.

BLINKEN: Thanks, Alisyn. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Help us understand all of thi.

Let's go to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, another developing story: the 25-year-old NSA contractor charged with leaking information to the media. Her parents are frightened for her safety. Is the Trump administration trying to make an example out of her? Her lawyer joins us, next.



[06:48:41] BILLIE WINNER-DAVIS, REALITY WINNER'S MOTHER: If she did what she's being accused of, she is -- I know that she's ready to pay the price. I know that she's going to do whatever she needs to do to pay that price. Our fear, my biggest fear in all of this is that she's not going to get a fair trial. She's not going to be treated fairly. She's going to be made an example of and that's my biggest fear.


CUOMO: Those are the parents of reality winner, the 25-year-old NSA contractor, accused of leaking confidential information to the media. The document sent to an online news outline containing information about Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

Joining me now is her attorney, Titus Nichols.

Counselor, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: Do you and does your client believe that she is not guilty?

NICHOLS: I think the important thing to remember right now is that we are at the beginning stages of this case. We can't get into the merits of the case. What I do believe is that we are going to be fully prepared for the next hearing, which is going to be Thursday. It will be in regards to whether the judge will allow her to be released pre-trial.

CUOMO: Hmm. Well, we'll talk about that in a second.

But, look, while we must respect the concern of parents, 25 years old, obviously an adult, but very much still their child.

[06:50:03] I get their concern. But the facts as laid out in early reports here seem pretty clear about the action and intention and potential admission of guilt by your client.

NICHOLS: Well, another thing to remember is that we don't have the facts yet. All we have is a press release that the Department of Justice issued on Monday. The same day that Ms. Winner had her first initial appearance and then there's been discussion and dissemination of so-called documents on the Internet. As of right now, the best thing to do is just focus on what comes out during the actual court proceedings.

CUOMO: Well, look, of course, you know, justice is fairness under the law. You want the process to take its place. But if it's true that when first confronted by officials, you said, yes, I did this, whether it was a crime of conviction, or something she felt she needed to do. What else do you need to know?

NICHOLS: Well, the important thing is that we don't go in a rush in deciding what's true, what isn't true. The important thing is making sure she receives a fair trial.

CUOMO: Right.

NICHOLS: That's going to include having the facts go to the jury and then the jury decides what is and what isn't true.

CUOMO: So, you would take it all the way through trial, even though that may compromise the kind of sentence deal you get than if you make a deal earlier.

NICHOLS: At the end of the day, my job is to advocate zealously for my client. That's to do whatever is in her best interest. So, I can't say what my strategy is going to be or what we're going to shoot for. At this stage, we are taking it one court proceeding at a time.

CUOMO: And just to get a response to that earlier question, do you deny the reports that she admitted that she did this?

NICHOLS: Like I said, right now, it would be too premature for us to comment on anything regarding the merits of the case. The only thing we can focus on is just being prepared for the court and doing what's in the best interest of Ms. Winner.

CUOMO: Right. But, I mean, you either -- you know whether that's true or not. You've spoken to your client. Did she say that she admitted it or no?

NICHOLS: There are lots of things that I might think I know, but at the end of the day, we are still beginning in the case. It would speculative at best for me to say I know for 100 percent. This is a fact I know, that's a fact. All I know is that we are preparing for our next hearing and we are going to give her the best defense possible.

CUOMO: And in terms of why she should be held versus released, what is your argument for why she should not be in custody, especially in light of the reports about the facts which again, pretty clear on the face of them at this stage?

NICHOLS: The arguments in align with the federal statute in regards to pre-trial release. We're going to explain for the judge the fact that she's not a risk of flight, not a risk for intimidating witnesses, or committing any new state or federal crime. At that point, it's going to be up to the judge to make the decision whether she should be released pre-trial and if so, if he'll put conditions on her release.

CUOMO: And what are you asking?

NICHOLS: I'm going to ask that my client be released pre-trial so she can assist us and prepared her defense.

CUOMO: And what about her being a flight risk?

NICHOLS: Specifically, I think it is already mentioned that her passport was confiscated by law enforcement. Plus, with all of the worldwide media attention she's received, there is little to no chance she can go anywhere without anybody recognizing her.

CUOMO: Hmm. And a little bit of what is known about her, is obviously by her own doing, right? These tweets have now come out. You know, the account has a different name, but it's the same picture. It seems pretty clearly to be hers.

She had an obvious political animus towards the president. What role do you think that these tweets will play in the reckoning of the facts of her case?

NICHOLS: Well, the federal rules of evidence have very strict for documents or so-called social media pages can and cannot come in trial. So, while we can talk about them all day long on television. When it comes to the actual trial or any court proceeding, that's going to be a different matter.

Now, for a better idea of who she is, I think her parents have done a phenomenal job in explaining to the world who she is as a person, not just this figure that's been created in a span of a week.

CUOMO: Understood. Parents are always going to have a positive image of their child, especially in a situation like this. What's your best case for the audience as to why those tweets shouldn't come out?

NICHOLS: Well, it's not a matter of what I believe the audience should know. I just know that if we come to trial, we're going to fall directly in line with the federal rules of evidence as far as what is and isn't admissible.

CUOMO: Right. I'm just saying, we've certainly seen statements of intent come in from lots of different sources. Tweets wouldn't be beyond that level of recognition by the court. But again, remember, I'm asking you some of these questions lawyer to lawyer. But you've got parallel situations of scrutiny going on here. You've got the court of law. You've also got the court of public opinion.

NICHOLS: Absolutely. And the best thing I can do is not be distracted by any type of political statements or social media statements and just focus on exactly what the law says. Specifically the statute, 18 USC 793-E, which the government is going to have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt. That's what my primary focus is.

CUOMO: Understood. The burden is certainly on the government. This is a forum for you and for your client to come to make arguments as you see fit. Thank you for coming on NEW DAY today.

NICHOLS: Thank you. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

[06:55:00] CAMEROTA: Well, Washington is watching two blockbuster hearings. Senators are set to grill top intel officials today ahead of the main event tomorrow and that is former FBI Director James Comey breaking his silence. How will President Trump respond? We have it all covered for you, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I want to get to the bottom of the circumstance surrounding these various meetings.

CUOMO: "The Washington Post" reporting Trump asked the head of the U.S. intelligence to intervene in the FBI probe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a tremendous amount of things that maybe at stake. Only he and James Comey know what was actually part of the conversation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said, if it is possible, would you let me know am I under investigation. He said, you are not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Comey is expected to tell senators he never gave Trump such assurances.

CAMEROTA: The White House unable to say if the White House still has confidence in Sessions.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't had a discussion with him about the subject, I tend not to speak about it.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: His frustration is mounting. Sessions ought to be considering whether his tenure is going to be strong or long.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

Up first, we have two blockbuster congressional hearing that are about to grip Washington. You see there a live shot of the Capitol. Things are going to get busy there today.

The nation's top intelligence chiefs will be grilled by senators about Russia and their interactions with President Trump. And that includes Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.