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Terrorist Incident On London Train; North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan; Trump Repeats Equivocal Charlottesville Rhetoric. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Investigation still very much underway. We understand that Prime Minister Theresa May is receiving regular updates about this ongoing situation that again, authorities are describing as terrorism-related. Still unclear at this hour if anyone has been arrested or if they're looking for any suspects -- Dave.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: There was a photo we just showed on the screen that had been making the rounds on social media for quite some time of a flaming bucket. No reports if this, indeed, was the cause of the explosion and the fire, but a software developer tells the U.K.'s press association he heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around.

What do we know about this photo, Erin?

MCLAUGHLIN: There's so many questions surrounding that photo, Dave. It was taken reportedly by a passenger onboard the train after the incident took place. The so-called explosion, according to eyewitnesses, that shows some sort of plastic bucket with wires hanging out of it inside of a shopping bag. Authorities have yet to comment on that.

Experts, though, taking a look at that photo say that if it was some sort of device it would have rudimentary, not sophisticated at all, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. We have a statement now from British Prime Minister Theresa May saying, quote "Thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terror incident at West London tube station."

Erin, the threat level has been at severe there in London. Have you noticed a difference in the security on the subway -- the tubes there?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the threat level has been at that level for quite some time, Dave. After all, London is no stranger to terrorism.

In June, there was that attack on the London Bridge, the Borough Market. Multiple people killed in that incident.

In Manchester, a city to the north of London, there was that attack at an Ariana Grande concert, killing dozens of little girls. This is something that authorities -- people here in London have been living with for quite some time and I think that was evident in the response that we saw, too, this morning. An ambulance arriving on scene, according to a statement from the London ambulances, within five minutes of that call to emergency services, Dave.

BRIGGS: What's the sense there? Is it a sense of fear -- of inevitability that these types of attacks will go on? Soft targets like the subway just too difficult to secure?

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Well, security experts will tell you that soft targets like tube trains, tube stations are particularly vulnerable to attacks such as this. It's very difficult to predict, very difficult to prevent.

At the same time, you do see a security presence on the tubes. I travel this particular line regularly. It was particularly, I must say, congested at 8:20 this morning, the time this incident took place.

There is a police presence at the tube stations. You will see the odd police officer onboard some of these tube trains.

But I think what was evident in terms of the response -- in terms of the speed in which they closed the tube station, evacuated the tube station. It was described by eyewitnesses as extremely orderly.

You can tell that London authorities have prepared for this to make sure that they are able to maintain some sort of level of calm when incidents like this take place.

Again, thankfully in this case, at this point from what we know from authorities we are not dealing with fatalities but, rather, injured -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes. We're told injuries from the fire that was caused by this explosion aboard the tube, but also from those being trampled trying to get off of the subway.

Erin McLaughlin live for us on the scene there in London.

For those of you just joining us, 5:34 Eastern Time. Some type of explosion begin treated as a terror incident in London -- 8:20 Eastern Time -- 8:20 local time, excuse me, authorities were alerted of this explosion.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweeting just moments ago, "I'm in contact with Metropolitan Police and emergency services about the incident at Parsons Green. Follow the Metro Police U.K. for updates and advice."

Let's go live to Washington and bring in CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, thanks for joining us, once again.

[05:35:04] Earlier, we were talking about North Korea and here we go with another terror attack in London, this the fifth this year.

Now, there's this photo that we showed that's making the rounds on social media. When you see this, it's a bucket surrounded by a bag, some flames. What type of explosive device is this, to you?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, AIR FORCE COLONEL (RET.): Well, to me, Dave, it's a very primitive, very unsophisticated device.

It, you know, could be something that it might possibly contain TATP, which is the type of explosives that terrorists really like to use, especially ISIS-inspired terrorists, so that is something that the police are going to have to analyze. They're going to have to take a look from a forensic standpoint if it, in fact, is TATP.

Or it could be something as common as some household chemical that can be used as a -- as a means of catalyzing an explosion. So those are the kinds of things they're going to have to look at.

The fact that this explosion did not, apparently, involve any fatalities is certainly good news, but it also one of those where there may have been some mistakes made in the assembling of the device. It's, you know, also something where you have to look at how they got the device through the various security cordons that Erin McLaughlin was mentioning earlier in her reporting.

So we have to look at, you know, all of these different areas before they can actually make a concrete judgment. But, you know, right now I would certainly look at the possibility of it being either a household chemical-type explosive device or something slightly more sophisticated -- in that range.

BRIGGS: Yes. Eyewitnesses report a boom -- a loud boom and then a fire, and that resulting in several of the injuries. Ten thirty-six there, local time in London. This happened in the eight o'clock hour.

When you see that rudimentary bomb -- we've seen some very sophisticated terror attacks across Europe recently. What type of groups might be behind something like this, though?

LEIGHTON: So what you're looking at is that if -- you know, one of the things that if I were Scotland Yard or the Metropolitan Police looking at this, I would take a look at the Islamic-inspired groups, you know, and see if one of them may have possibly done this.

This may, though, be the work of a lone wolf because it was such a -- it appears, at least, to be such an unsophisticated device. It smacks of something that somebody put together in either desperation or in haste or without really knowing what they were doing.

And to the fact that they did this and let this explosion take place in rush hour -- during rush hour --


LEIGHTON: -- that indicates to me that they wanted to have some degree of impact. But they probably did not really think it through or have a plan of

execution that a really sophisticated terrorist group would have. But that's something that, of course, we'll have to await more investigation as we find out more here.

BRIGGS: Sadly, an all too familiar scene for the folks in London, the fifth terror attack this year. The terror threat level has been at severe but, Colonel, how difficult it is to secure a target like the subway?

LEIGHTON: It's very difficult because when you look at subways they tend to have many access points -- every station, every door that opens on every train. All of these kinds of access points are such that you really have a difficult time controlling entry and access to the train itself.

The other thing that, of course, also happens is that historically and in general practice, the type of security that you see in subways or in regular train service really is not at the same level as you have with airlines. And there are a lot of reasons -- costs, more people use trains, especially in places like London, so it would be very hard to actually get everybody to go through metal detectors, for example.

And, of course, then presupposes that you could have detected this explosive through a -- you know, some kind of metal or other explosive-type detector.

So that's really one of the difficulties. It's a very tough target for the good guys to secure and that really becomes the challenge that police forces around the world have.

BRIGGS: Several people injured after what's been treated as a terrorist attack at the Parsons Green station in West London. Again, the fifth terror attack in the London area this year.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thanks so much. A busy morning for you, also reacting to this story.

Kim Jong Un thumbing his nose at the world, once again. North Korea launching a ballistic missile over northern Japan for the second time in less than a month, and for the first time since conducting its sixth nuclear test two weeks ago, a provocation that triggered a new round of U.N. sanctions.

[05:40:07] The North's latest launch fired from the capital, Pyongyang. Initial assessments indicate it was an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over the northern Japan island of Hokkaido. The Japanese on high alert.

This missile test coming after North Korea threatened to quote "sink Japan and reduce the U.S. mainland to ash and darkness."

Let's go live to Tokyo and bring in CNN's Phil Black for the very latest. Good evening to you, Phil.

What is different about this launch compared to the last one, which also flew over Japan?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Dave, just like about two weeks ago, vast numbers of people were woken by those sirens which you just heard, startled by messages on their phone which told them to seek cover because a North Korean missile was in the air.

Just like last time, it was fired eastward on a very similar track, we are told by Japanese officials. They believe it was the same type of missile -- intermediate-range missile, as well. Crucially though, this time it flew for longer. It covered more than 2,200 miles.

And, Japanese authorities make the point that if that had been fired south instead of east that would have brought it within splashing distance of the American territory of Guam. Now, that's something that North Korea has threatened to do and has yet to follow through on.

It's something that no one in the region wants to see because they know that that would really escalate things. That would put the United States in a position where it would feel compelled to act in some way and potentially, it would raise the possibility of military conflict.

Now, the Japanese government is outraged by this. It, once again, has called on North Korea to stop these tests.

It wants the international community now to band together and put on the sort of pressure that will make North Korea rethink because the reality is, is that after the last round of sanctions that have just been imposed by the United Nations Security Council, that clearly wasn't enough to make North Korea rethink to stop developing and to stop showing the world -- making these very defined statements about just what it's missile are capable of doing, Dave.

BRIGGS: How terrified are people there, Phil?

BLACK: Well, I think in the north of the country where they've now experienced another one of these terrifying mornings they are very nervous, indeed. We heard reports of fear, of anger, and frustration mostly that North Korea has done this again, been woken to these sirens, receiving these messages on their phone, not necessarily knowing how to respond.

Where it is safe under those circumstances. Where to seek shelter. The Japanese government has been conducting evacuation drills around the country but a lot of people still don't seem -- or feel fully informed about just what the right response is.

More broadly, the country is taking it in its stride. This is a country that has dealt with threats from North Korea for a very long time.

And to put to note, too, these latest missile tests -- these are for missiles that are clearly designed to fly beyond Japan, over Japan, to strike targets elsewhere. So, these people have been living with this threat. They know that this is probably more designed to antagonize the likes

of the United States. But that also makes people nervous here as well because that's when the stakes are really being raised, if you like. How the United States responds to this and to what degree the United States is provoked going forward will determine the peace and security of this entire region, Dave.

BRIGGS: Right. Earlier in the day some rhetoric coming from Pyongyang. "Japan is no longer needed to exist near us."

Kim Jong Un has launched more missiles this year than his father did in his entire 17-year reign.

Phil Black, live for us in Tokyo. Thanks.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sending a warning to North Korea after consulting with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan. He released this statement.

"These continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. The United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take."

Tillerson also calling on Russia and China to voice their outrage and take some direct action.

South Korea responding to North Korea's missile test with a show of force of their own.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks with the latest on that, live from Seoul. Good morning, Paula.


Well, it was a very quick response from South Korea this time around, the quickest that I can remember. Within just six minutes of that North Korean missile launch, the South Koreans actually fired two missiles of their own. One of them failed fairly quickly and landed in the waters just off the east coast. But the other one, they say, was successful.

The purpose for this, according to South Korea, was to show that they were able to hit the Sunan air base in Pyongyang, the North Korea capital, which is exactly where North Korea fired its missile from. So they're trying to show Pyongyang that they are able to react very quickly to any kind of so-called provocation or any threat that they perceive as coming in their direction.

[05:45:04] The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, had said that he wanted the sternest response possible.

There's also a growing call -- or has been a growing call for the potential deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.

I spoke to the South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday and he brought that out. He said that was not an option.

He said it wouldn't bring peace to the peninsula, and also said that potentially it could actually spark a nuclear arms race within the northeast Asian region. So he said it's simply not possible.

He did say that he was still open for talks, not at this point, though. It is up to North Korea to make the right conditions for them.

BRIGGS: All of this ahead of President Trump's first meeting with the U.N. General Assembly. He will speak next week.

Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, thanks.

Ahead, we shift to politics and why the president would, once again, dredge up perhaps the lowest moment of his presidency, saying there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville. Is he trying to satisfy a base with new questions about his commitment to campaign promises?

That, and the latest on this morning's terror attack on a London subway, next.


[05:50:38] BRIGGS: All right. Back with an update on the breaking news out of London this morning.

Metropolitan police now declaring a terrorist incident at the Parsons Green train station. Police receiving calls about a fire on a train at 8:20 this morning, London time.

Officers from the Metro Police, British Transport, the London Fire Brigade, and London Ambulance Service all on the scene. Met Police say a number of people have suffered injuries. Too early, though, to confirm the cause of the fire.

This photo, though, has made the rounds on social media. It appears to be a crude explosive device. These pictures taken aboard that very train. Not clear if it's a rudimentary bomb, if it is connected to the tube incident but the station remains cordoned off. People are being told to avoid the area.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair an emergency Cobra meeting today. We'll have updates throughout the morning.

The London mayor, Sadiq Kahn, does confirm this is being treated as terrorism, adding "Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life."

This is now the fifth terror attack in the London area this year alone. We'll keep you updated throughout the morning, into "NEW DAY," after us.

But we switch to politics now because there is, once again, blame on both sides in what CNN's Chris Cillizza calls a quote "holy cow moment."

President Trump reverting to his first explanation equating white supremacists and protesters from the violence in Charlottesville, and he did it a day after meeting with the only black Republican senator about that very topic.

Let's bring in John McCormack from "The Weekly Standard." Good morning to you, John.

Let's listen to what the president first said aboard Air Force One yesterday in a head-scratching moment to reporters.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa if you look at what's going on there. You know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and, essentially, that's what it said.

You look at, you know, really, what's happened since Charlottesville. A lot of people are saying -- in fact, a lot of people have actually written gee, Trump might have a point.

I said you've got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.


BRIGGS: OK, John, we get it. There is some bad people in Antifa, but why revert to this? After being given credit for coming up with some deals -- some bipartisan deals, moving forward, he turns back to this. What does it reveal to you and why do it now?

JOHN MCCORMACK, WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, you know, it's hard to explain what's exactly going through the president's mind but I think that we have a pretty good sense that he can't really admit error and he didn't really get -- he really missed the point the first time around, you know.

He said that there were, you know, many sides to blame for the violence. That was in his media response on Charlottesville.

That ignored the fact that one of those sides committed an ISIS-style vehicular terrorist attack. That was the white supremacist neo-Nazi side.

It ignored the fact that one of those sides supports him and claims that the president supports them. That was the white supremacist neo- Nazi side.

And so that was why the president's first remarks were so bad, that he didn't explicitly condemn and marginalize these people who have -- you know, he's played footsie with in the past and try and sport (ph) them to get their support.

And I think that even made things worse not really by blaming both sides but when he, a few days later, said there were -- there were very fine people marching on both sides. That was my first clue it was objectively untrue.

I mean, if you're marching as a neo-Nazi chanting vicious anti-Semitic slurs, whether you're chanting those slurs or you're marching alongside silently, you're not a very fine person. You're actually a bad person.

So I think the president just really didn't understand. I think sort of a lack or moral compass or moral reasoning.

BRIGGS: Yes. This on the same day that Congress passes and the president signs a joint resolution condemning the KKK, the white supremacists, and the neo-Nazis.

Is there a strategy here with any of this on the president or is it just -- to your point, is it minute-to-minute, is it day-to-day? Any strategy he's trying to play?

MCCORMACK: I don't really think so. I think this was -- you know, he got asked a question and, you know -- the president and what we know about him is he likes people who like him. And so, when these, you know, white supremacists groups or alt-right types say that they support President Trump, he has a very hard time denouncing them forcefully.

[05:55:12] We know what it sounds like when the president wants to denounce somebody forcefully. We've heard him do that to countless journalists and political rivals when he's angry at them. The fact that he didn't that first time just really shows you that there's something of a soft spot.

BRIGGS: The same could be asked of this deal or agreement he reached with Chuck and Nancy on DACA that could perhaps legalize the 800,000 Dreamers in this country. Some are asking again, is there a strategy here?

And an interesting moment caught on an open mic with Chuck talking about that meeting, talking about that agreement, and more importantly, the relationship between Chuck Schumer and President Trump.

Listen to what was caught by Congressional mics.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Here's what I told him. I said Mr. President, you're much better off if you can sometimes step right and sometimes step left. If you have to step just in one direction you're boxed. All this will work out and it'll make us more productive, too.

He likes us. He likes me, anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: OK. So, is he turning away from the base -- the hardline immigration people or is this simply a man who likes Chuck and wants a win?

MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I think that if you look back over the years, President Trump has changed his mind on just about every issue you can imagine.

Sometimes it's -- it will take a matter of years, sometimes it will take a matter of months. Sometimes he'll change his mind in the course of a day or even in an hour. So I think that's going on right here, you know.

One day he was supporting ending DACA, the next day he talked to some people who talked about how unpopular it would be to let that -- to let that go away. And I think he's persuaded.

I think he wants a deal, you know, and he's not going to get a wall out of it. It's been clear that the Democrats -- and he's even basically negotiated himself out of getting a wall. He's talked about border security but there will not be -- you know, talk about repairing or renovating existing fencing that was put up many years ago.

BRIGGS: And not clear if there's anything to the timing of this but the same day the president appears to widely divert from his thoughts on immigration and apparently legalizing DACA an interesting report in "The New York Times" from Maggie Haberman about an incident between the president and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions in which the president berated Jeff Sessions, calling him an idiot, asking for his resignation. Jeff Sessions saying, among other things, he'd never treated like that in his entire public service career.

Is there anything to the timing of this and what does this incident reveal?

MCCORMACK: Well, I think that incident reveals that with President Trump, loyalty is a one-way street. He expects everyone to be loyal to him but if you do something that he thinks was wrong he'll go and call you an idiot and, you know, leave Jeff Sessions --

Jeff Sessions was the first senator -- I think the only senator who endorsed Trump while the Republican primaries were still hotly contested so that just goes to show you that if you cross him he will turn on you very quickly.

But, you know, Jeff Sessions really can't complain. I mean, this is Trump's nature. He has never been a loyal person to other people. He is -- you know, look at his business dealings.

So, you know, yes, did Trump -- when he turned right around on DACA did he think that he didn't really care where Jeff Sessions stood knowing that this was a priority for Jeff Sessions? That could be. That he was miffed as Sessions and really didn't care, that could have been a factor.

Interesting times at the Trump White House.

John McCormack from "The Weekly Standard," appreciate you coming on this morning.

MCCORMACK: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. The latest on this terror attack in the London tube. "NEW DAY" has it covered for you right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, September 15th, 6:00 here in the east.

And we do begin with breaking news for you because there's been a terror incident on a tube train in West London, according to British officials.

Witnesses describe panic and chaos after a small explosion and fire broke out inside a commuter train.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Police say there are injuries. Emergency responders are at the scene. The incident unfolding at rush hour. The train was said to be packed at the Parsons Green station.

CNN is there. Erin McLaughlin at the scene in West London. Erin, what do we know now?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Chris, the terror incident happened at 8:20 this morning, which is rush hour here in London. Eyewitnesses describe a small explosion that took place on board one of the trains as the train stopped and the doors opened to let passengers out and more passengers in.

One particular eyewitness describing multiple injuries. As many as 20 injured, primarily burn injuries from a fire.