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FBI Raids Home of Paul Manafort; Pentagon Issues Dramatic Ultimatum to North Korea; Hawaii Finalizes Emergency Plan for Nuclear Strike; U.S. Diplomatic Personnel in Havana Raise Health Complaints. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired August 9, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right. There are breaking developments in the Russia investigation. We are learning the FBI raided the home of a man who once ran President Trump's campaign, a man by the name of Paul Manafort. FBI agents executed the so-called no-knock warrant early, early in the morning at Manafort's Washington area home in late July. This happened the day after Manafort met with senate intelligence investigators, and a source tells CNN that those FBI agents seized financial and tax records, including documents that Manafort had already given to congress.
So, with me now, on his August recess, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen from the great state of Maryland. Senator, thank you so much for taking the time.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D), MARYLAND: Great to be with you.
BALDWIN: So quickly off the top on the Manafort news, when you heard that the FBI raided his home, what was the first thing you thought?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it's a strong signal that Special Counsel Mueller and his team are really actively engaged. They're going to turn over every stone in this investigation. They're not going to let people sit back and stall the investigation. So, it tells me that they're going forward full speed ahead.
BALDWIN: OK. On North Korea, senator, we have, you know, learning from the White House that the president's whole fire and fury line was off the cuff, that it was improvise. Your reaction to that.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, you've seen what happened today, Brooke. Secretary of State Tillerson has had to really clean up the mess created by President Trump's very dangerous comments, because it appeared that the president was creating a new red line, saying that if North Korea crossed the red line, whether that meant building more nuclear weapons or more missiles, that the United States would initiate this fire and fury.
Secretary Tillerson essentially walked that back and said that the United States would continue to defend itself and itself allies against North Korea if North Korea took hostile action. That has been traditional American policy that we would respond with overwhelming force if North Korea initiated a conflict and hostilities. But what the president did was dangerous, because it created this new possible red line, putting American credibility at stake, and I should say, Brooke, when you engage in this war of words with the North Korean leader, it actually enhances the North Korean leader. This is exactly what Kim Jong-un wants to see happen, and it diminishes the president of the United States.
BALDWIN: But the state department says he's speaking a language that Pyongyang can understand.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, but the reality is the ambiguity in the president's statement is what created the problem here. Because what the president essentially said was, if you threaten us, we will initiate overwhelming response with fire and fury. If that's what the president's saying, it creates a very new and different red line, and that's what's so dangerous about this. Because as Senator McCain and others have said, the United States needs to be very clear on what our policy is. We need to be firm and steady, not popping off the way the president did.
BALDWIN: Sure, and Senator McCain said no other president in history would have used that kind of language. But Senator Van Hollen, here's my question.
[15:35:00] Isn't it possible that this -- call it what you will, over the top, unpredictable, these sort of tactics that the president is using, that it might actually work because we have had, you know, 30 years of bipartisan failures on getting anything done, concretely, on North Korea?
VAN HOLLEN: No, I'm glad you raised that. What will work is steady and very firm pressure on North Korea through our allies, especially the Chinese, which is why --
BALDWIN: But isn't that what they've tried thus far the last several decades.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, but here's the thing. You can pass sanctions at the united nations. You can pass sanctions at the United States. That's just words on a piece of paper unless they're actually enforced, which is why Senator Toomey and I have introduced bipartisan legislation modeled after the Iran sanctions so we really put teeth in these sanctions. Right now, Chinese banks, Chinese firms and others are saying that they're complying with the sanctions, but they're not. They're violating the sanctions right and left, which continues to provide aid and comfort for the North Korean regime.
So, what we need to do is pass legislation like the Iran sanctions legislation that actually puts teeth in this, gets the attention of China. One of the things president Trump has done is he's gone hot and cold on China with respect to North Korea. What we need is a firm message to China saying, you can't just go to the united nations security council and say you're going to implement sanctions. You've actually got to follow through. And that's the whole purpose of our bipartisan legislation, and I think we're going to have hearings and I think we're going to have a vote on that when we come back.
BALDWIN: Then it's also making sure China really, really follows through. Let me ask you this. Nuclear expert Jeffery Lewis, senator, he recently said that the best chance to stop North Korea was actually in the late 1990s before North Korea had nuclear bombs, and he put some of the blame on the Clinton administration. Do you agree there's fault there?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, if you go back over the history of negotiations with North Korea, you'll see they went through the Clinton administration, they went through the George W. Bush administration, not so much during the Obama administration because we kind of learned our lesson that those negotiations won't work unless there's overwhelming economic pressure on North Korea. There were moments back in the late 1990s where we thought we had a deal, where an exchange for more economic support for North Koreans, they would stop their nuclear program. That clearly did not work. But what did bring them to the table at the time was the -- some economic pressure that the United States was threatening to bring. We need to recreate that and even more so.
And China is key here. I mean, I know everybody says it, but China cannot just, you know, say the right words. They can't just, you know, talk the talk. We've got to pressure them, and we've got to pressure them through the threat of secondary sanctions with respect to taking North Korea seriously. Because what's happening now -- and this was illustrated in a recent U.N. report -- is that a lot of banks and firms in China and some other countries are continuing to do business with North Korea, and it's only when we say that either you do business with North Korea or you have access to the U.S. markets, you won't get both, will those firms really wake up and will the pressure really be brought to bear on North Korea, which is why this bipartisan sanctions legislation -- but sanctions with teeth. It's more of an enforcement mechanism as opposed to just more and more sanctions that are not enforced.
BALDWIN: Sanctions with teeth. OK. Senator Chris Van Hollen, I hope it works. Thank you so much. Thank you for your time.
Let we get back to the news. I mentioned a moment ago about that FBI raid at the home of President Trump's former campaign manager's home, Paul Manafort. A former federal prosecutor, Renatto Mariotti is with me.
So just first on the face of this, the fact that it was this, you know, raid in the early morning hours, you say the fact that investigators were able to attain a warrant there to do that is telling. Tell me why.
RENATTO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it means that investigators believe that there is probable cause -- in other words, there's good reason to believe that a crime was committed, and that evidence of that crime would be found in the home of Paul Manafort. And that also means that they got a federal judge to agree to that, so that means that there's an independent person, a federal judge, who decided that there was sufficient evidence that a crime occurred, and that it would be in his home.
BALDWIN: This is what -- let me just read for everyone. This is what Paul Manafort's spokesman told CNN. FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort's residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well. So, do you read any more into it? I mean, the fact that he has cooperated, you know, how do you see it?
MARIOTTI: Well, I think there's a couple of important takeaways there.
[15:40:00] First of all, the FBI could have just sent a subpoena to Mr. Manafort's attorneys if they wanted to get documents. And that's a lot cheaper, and it's a lot easier. It costs less. So, the fact that they executed a search warrant suggests to me that the FBI believed that they would not get all of the evidence that they wanted if they sent a subpoena. And that could be for a number of reasons. But it could be because they were concerned about destruction of evidence. It could mean that they thought that some evidence would be withheld on fifth amendment grounds. But that would ordinarily be what that means.
I mean, maybe they were being overly careful but it's an unusual thing to do. It also indicates that at the time that this search warrant was executed, Paul Manafort had not flipped on anyone. He was not cooperating with the government actively against somebody else. You don't execute search warrants in the homes of your cooperators. They are doing everything they can to help you. So, he may be cooperative by responding to the requests of the government, but he's not being as forthcoming as the FBI might like.
BALDWIN: OK. Renato, thank you. Back to our breaking news on North Korea.
CNN goes inside the bunker where Hawaiians are preparing for potential strike. We're live in Honolulu coming up.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Twenty minutes. That is how much time Hawaiians would have to get to safety if North Korea -- if North Korea launches a nuclear strike aimed at them. As Pyongyang and the White House ratchet up the rhetoric, Hawaii is actually preparing for that possibility to protect itself more than 1 million people who live on the islands, and they're doing it from a concrete reinforced bunker on the edge of a crater. Sara Sidner, we sent her to Honolulu. She is outside of this bunker. Sara, tell me about the preparations.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, they've been preparing for many months now, and just what you're seeing now is not the reason for these preparations, but they are noticing that things have ratcheted up, and they're trying to make sure that the population understands what to do in the unlikely event that there is a nuclear attack from North Korea. You mentioned the timing, and that's really important.
The reason why they want families to have plans in place is because it only takes 20 minutes from the point of launch to the point of detonation in Hawaii, if that is where Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime decided to send a nuclear bomb with an ICBM. So, not much time to plan in 20 minutes. You should have that plan in place beforehand. I want to bring in someone who knows way more about this than I ever will, Mr. Vern Miyagi, the administrator for the emergency management agency here in Hawaii. You are part of this planning process. Can you give us some idea of what you're working on now?
VERN MIYAGI, ADMINISTRATOR, HAWAII EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Right now, the main plan is to preparedness, and that's to make sure
that people in Hawaii understand what's going to happen, what they have to do. This is really for all hazards but we're focusing it right now on the nuclear effect.
SIDNER: There are a lot of hazards in Hawaii. It is a beautiful place. It is paradise but there is peril in paradise, you have volcanos and hurricanes and potential tsunamis. And you have a lot of different kinds of disaster here. This being one more. You are going to do something that you haven't done since the cold war. Tell me what it is that Hawaii is planning on doing in the next several months?
MIYAGI: OK. This is the siren sounding. Right now, we have one single siren to alert people to tsunamis and hurricanes. Because of the timing on this one, we have very little time, we're going to activate a new -- old attack alert siren and what this will do, it's a wailing tone, and it will alert people to take shelter, shelter in place.
SIDNER: It happens that Mr. Miyagi and his staff let us listen to what that tone will sound like when they do decide to test it and they want people to know what the sound is and what to do when the sound goes off in the event that there is actually a nuclear attack. I have it here for you. I'm going to play it for you off the phone. This will obviously not be played off a phone. It will be going out from the sirens that are on the beaches and the neighborhoods.
Here's what it sounds like, Brooke. [siren] so, that will go on and on, and it sort of sounds like a wave, and it is different from the tone that would be used or that currently is used to warn people about, for example, a tsunami, and that is what emergency planners want to impart to the public, that when you hear this sound, there are different things you want to be doing as opposed to, let's say, if there's a tsunami. Let's talk about that. What should people do if they hear the sound and there is actually a nuclear attack?
MIYAGI: OK. Let me emphasize one thing is that this is not in place yet. We're working on this. We have to make sure the technology, we can handle this and the counters can and pass it on. It is not in effect yet. I've had some calls from the radio stations saying that we're testing this now. We are not testing this now.
[15:50:00] SIDNER: You're still working on getting it put in place so it works perfectly when you do test it.
MIYAGI: That's correct. We need to make sure we do it right. Your question was about the what to do when we hear this -- when this siren is activated and we're full on as far as operational, people will have to shelter in place immediately. That's because of the short time between missile launch and missile impact. So, shelter in place immediately.
SIDNER: I have to wrap this up but I do want to mention one really important thing that Mr. Miyagi told us and that is that a lot of people on the island will talk about a nuclear attack and say, you know, why prepare because we'll all perish if there's an attack. The response to that is, what nuclear capabilities that Korea has now, North Korea has now is very similar to what the U.S. had back in World War II. We're talking about the bomb that fell on Hiroshima. If that is the case, it means that hundreds of thousands of people will survive. How you survive, how long you survive, that is all going to depend on the plan you put in place and the plan that is executed by the emergency management folks in the military here.
BALDWIN: It's crazy we're even having this conversation. Thank goodness for the preparations. Here's hoping he will never, ever have to push that siren button. Thank you too Mr. Miyagi so much.
Breaking moments ago, the State Department addressing a mysterious situation involving American diplomats in Cuba. Americans returning to the U.S. after coming down with unexplained physical symptoms. The U.S. booting Cuban diplomats in an apparent response. We're live in Havana.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We're getting some breaking news. An unusual situation unfolding in Cuba regarding some personnel. Some U.S. government personnel in Havana reported incidents that had caused them, quote, physical symptoms? Some of those staffers affected have returned to the U.S. earlier this year in apparent response to the situation, the U.S. expelled two Cuban diplomats. Let's go to Cuba. Explain this to me, because the U.S. believes employees in Havana have been subjected to acoustic attacks? What does that even mean?
PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a good question. It all sounds like something from the cold war. Essentially what has been described to my colleague and myself is that U.S. employees here at the U.S. embassy in Havana were essentially targeted by people unknown and were so physically traumatized by these, quote, acoustic attacks that they had to go back to the U.S. for treatment. And the Cuban government has not issued any kind of statement to officially deny this, but one Cuban official I did speak with said they were aware of the situation, it was brought up with them months ago.
At the time they denied it, they continue to deny it, and they feel this expulsion of the diplomats was over. Before relations improved with the United States, Brooke, there used to be this sort of tit for tat where tires might be slashed, people might be harassed, diplomats in Havana or diplomats in the U.S. if they were carrying out work that Cuba did not like. They strenuously said to me they were not behind this. The U.S. seems to be pointing the finger at Cuba and said once again U.S. diplomats are facing some sort of harassment here in Havana, enough so that two had to leave and we've seen this expulsion response expelling two Cuban diplomats back to Cuba. So very much a developing situation, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Let's go back a step. We were listening to the State Department briefing the past hour. We were really listening for the threads on North Korea and what arose was what happened in Havana. Here's a spokeswoman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:00:00] HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Some U.S. State Department personnel that were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duty, so they were working on behalf of the U.S. embassy there. They reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms. I'm not going to be able to give you a ton of information about this today but I'll tell you what we can provide so far. We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents. We can tell that you on May 23rd, the State Department took further action. We asked two officials who were accredited at the embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States. We take this situation very seriously.
BALDWIN: So, it's my understanding, Patrick, that the FBI is now looking into this whole matter? They're quoted as saying, this is very strange. Is the FBI in Cuba investigating?
OPPMAN: No, as far as we know, but of course we're just learning about this minute by minute. Of course, that would require Cuban government permission, so at this point we're not aware of any FBI investigating. They're probably investigating the diplomats, but we just don't know what their investigation will entail. This is something that used to happen before relations improved with Cuba. There would be harassment on both sides and you would hear about people being followed, having their tires slashed, having their houses broken into, and certain U.S. diplomats would tell these stories.
In recent years as relations improved between the two countries, it seemed that that was stopping. Now, of course, president Trump has reset relations with Cuba, said he's going to be much tougher on the Cuban government on issues like human rights, and it remains to be seen whether or not diplomats are once again being targeted. But as one Cuban official told me, they are denying that they had anything to do with this, Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. Patrick in Havana, thank you. Thanks for being with me.