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Police Investigating Terror Incident on London Tube Train; North Korea Fires Another Missile Over Japan; Trump Again Blames Both Sides for Charlottesville Violence. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired September 15, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[05:59:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, September 15, 6 a.m. here in the east. And we do begin with breaking news for you, because there has 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 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?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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. This one particular eyewitness describing multiple injuries, as many as 20 injured, primarily burn injuries from a fire.
Now, a still photo from one of the eyewitnesses put out on Twitter shows a rather rudimentary type of device. A bucket inside some sort of shopping bag with wires hanging out of it. We are waiting to hear from authorities on the nature of that device and its connection to this incident.
As you can see behind me, I'm about a five-minute walk away from the station in question. Authorities have set up a far-reaching security perimeter. There continues to be a heavy security presence. Police cars, police vans, rather, down that way. You can hear helicopters overhead. Authorities continue to take no chances.
In terms of who was behind what seems to have been a terror incident, it is entirely unclear. Authorities simply have not said how many people, if they've made any arrests, or how many people could have been involved -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Eric, thank you very much. We do know that they're investigating it as a terror incident. Theresa May, the prime minister there, put that label on it. So we'll check back as there are more developments.
CAMEROTA: Joining us on the phone now is CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. Peter, great to have you with us.
I know that Erin -- you just heard Erin's report. Obviously, there are scant details at the moment about what happened here. But when you hear witnesses say there was a bucket of some kind with wires hanging out, they describe -- OK. And there you go. OK? So we're looking right now through the window of a subway door at what looks like a small fire inside of some sort of container or bucket.
Peter, what, if any, conclusions are you drawing at this hour?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (via phone): Well, Alisyn, we haven't had a terrorist attack on the London Underground system for -- for 12 years now. I mean, you'll recall the 2005 attack that was directed by al Qaeda, in which they used hydrogen peroxide- based bombs that killed 52 commuters. This attack sounds, obviously, serious but not as serious as that attack.
I'd be very curious as the reporting develops to see what the basis of this bomb was. Was it a hydrogen peroxide bomb? That's been a signature of ISIS-directed attack over the past three years: in Paris in 2015, in Brussels in 2016.
Or is it more of a, you know, homegrown attack in which, you know, they got some kind of bomb recipe off the Internet, and it didn't succeed quite to the degree that they did -- that they wanted.
Obviously, an attack in the middle of rush hour where trains are packed is designed to kill as many people as possible. Right now, those reports suggest that that -- that didn't happen.
CUOMO: Well, Peter, they went quickly to the assessment of it as a terror investigation. So what does that tell you? You can't tell much from -- it's burning a regular orange carbon flame. So we can't see anything, you know, from the burn-off that we're seeing as to whether or not there's a specific chemical involved that made them think that this had a degree of sophistication to it. But what do you make of such a quick decision to call it terror?
BERGEN: Well, as you know, Chris, I mean, they -- we've had five terrorist attacks in the last year or so in London. We've had, you know, quite a number of attacks that have been foiled. The British government is, you know, on high alert. And, you know, they -- they obviously came to this conclusion pretty quickly, because they are very concerned, and they've been very proactive. Try to disrupt things before they happen.
CUOMO: Peter, again, we're just looking -- it may be hard for people. We have it blown up here in our studio of everyone looking through the subway car in the window. And it's a white bucket? I mean, just sort of your standard mop bucket. And it is, you know, engulfed -- well, orange flames are coming out of it. And it's right there in the middle of a subway car. So does that suggest to you something amateurish? BERGEN: Yes, I mean, it does. But, you know, amateurish can still
kill people and will certainly injure them. And many of the attacks in London that have succeeded or been foiled have been homegrown attacks where there's more of an ISIS inspiration than an ISIS direction. You know, where you have an ISIS-directed attack, as we had in Paris in 2013, 130 people were killed. Similarly, in Brussels, when you had ISIS-directed attacks in 2016, 32 people were killed.
So this kind of attack is relatively easy to organize and tends to be less lethal if it is, indeed, a homegrown attack, which it seems to look like that.
CUOMO: All right. Peter, thank you very much. As we get more details, we'll give them to you to process for us. Appreciate it.
[06:05:06] All right. This is not the only breaking news this morning. We have another development out of North Korea. Another ballistic missile over Japan, in defiance of recent U.N. sanctions. This is the third missile launch since President Trump made his "fire and fury" warning last month.
CNN's Will Ripley live in Tokyo with the latest. The range on this one, the direction of this one both causing alarm for authorities.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. Because this is the farthest that a North Korean intermediate-range missile has ever traveled. It traveled even longer distance than the intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched in late July.
Twenty-three hundred miles the missile went on a northeastern trajectory, flying over the Japanese island of Hokkaido. That's in northern Japan, coming down in the Pacific Ocean. That 2,300-mile figure is important, because that is the distance, roughly, from North Korea to the U.S. territory of Guam, an island with 160,000-plus U.S. citizens, Anderson Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam, key military assets that have come under North Korean threat. And this, obviously, sending a very direct message to the United States, that they have a reliable missile, their Hwasong 12, that can travel all the way to that key U.S. territory.
In Japan, terrifying morning yet again for people living in Hokkaido. This is the -- these are the sights and sounds that they woke up to. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: This is the first time, the first time since World War II that air-raid sirens have been going off in Japan. This has now happened twice in the span of just a couple of weeks. Not the kind of history that Japan ever thought they would be finding themselves living through again here in this country, the only country to have been targeted by a nuclear bomb. Back, of course, in 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
North Korean rhetoric leading up to this, threatening to sink the islands of Japan, using the nuclear bomb of Juche -- that's the North Korea ruling ideology. Also, threatening the United States, saying that continued pressure, in terms of additional rounds of sanctions, simply will not work. And they are promising more weapons of mass destruction and at least more tests in the coming -- in the coming months. And perhaps even sooner than that -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Will, thank you very much for the reporting. We'll be back with you momentarily.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on China and Russia to take direct action against North Korea. This comes as the U.N. Security Council plans yet another emergency meeting for today.
CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us with more. What are they saying, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
We have yet to hear directly from President Trump since this missile firing took place. But as you say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issuing a very detailed statement. Let me read part of it to everyone.
The secretary saying, quote, "These continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime. China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own."
Squarely trying to put the Chinese and the Russians under pressure. No indication that it's going to work any better this time than all the previous calls for this.
The question now really is Kim Jong-un's motivation for all these missile launches. Most analysts, a number of key administration officials, will tell you Kim has no intention of giving up his program. He believes his nuclear program can basically threaten the west to the negotiating table -- Alisyn, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, Barbara, thank you very much.
The play on the North Korean side, pretty obvious. What's going to be the response? That's the open question.
Let's bring back Will Ripley. Also, we have CNN military analysts Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Colonel Steve Warren.
So, General Hertling, one of the questions that is popping up early on here is why didn't the U.S. take this missile out? They knew it was there. They knew it was at the airport. The vice president, we are told, was shown the missile. What do you make of the plus/minus on a move like that?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's interesting, Chris, because I think a lot of Americans will say, "Hey, let's just take these things out as we're ready to launch them. But as soon as you have a threat toward North Korea that could result in a rapid escalation of actions by them and by others. This is one of those kinds of things. I'm going to get a little geeky on you, Chris, and quote Sun Tsu. He said, "Know your enemy. Know yourself. And know the terrain, and in a thousand battles, you'll never be defeated.
[06:10:08] This guy in North Korea is a calculating and very threatening risk-taker. He wants protection against regime change, and any action against him will indicate that that's about to occur. He wants legitimacy on the world stage, and he wants a reunited Korean Peninsula under him.
In the terrain, we're talking about Russia and China. And -- and as Barbara just stated, there have been more announcements by Secretary Tillerson. But interestingly enough, our friends in Russia have just invited Japan, China, South Korea, and North Korea to an economic forum last week in east Russia right after the U.N. vote. So they are not doing anything. And in fact, they're trying to portray themselves as the peacemaker, disrupting further what the U.S. is trying to do.
China is not going to do much more than they've already done, because so many people have already said they want a secure Korean Peninsula. They would rather have that than anything else going on. And the United States has not done much more, other than get a very good U.N. vote. But the action from the U.N. is going to have to be seen as something occurring versus just a vote in a building in New York.
So a lot of things are taking place. Not much changes. There's got to be more coordination among the players in the area. And that's not happening, especially with Russia and China. We don't have an ambassador South Korea to help along this issue, as well.
CAMEROTA: Colonel, I mean, this is why it seems so intractable to Americans and even the international community. If you can't do anything proactive by blowing up the missile when it's sitting at the airport ready to fire, you know, 2,300 miles over Japan; and you can't do anything reactive after they fire it; and the sanctions, these emergency meetings of the U.N., though obviously they're not fully in place yet, don't seem to be changing Kim Jong-un, what's the -- what's the -- what's the solution?
COL. STEVE WARREN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What's the next step?
WARREN: That's the question. And this is a difficult road for us to go down. Because the North Koreans, if they've shown us anything over the years, it's that they are willing to withstand pain. We have been applying sanctions in various ways, shapes and forms
since the middle '90s. The North Koreans went through this horrific famine in the mid- to late '90s, where almost 10 percent of their population was wiped out. And yet they continued. They continued to march down this path of missile development and nuclear weapon development.
So they've shown us, and Will has been to North Korea. I've looked at them, but only from the south down the barrel of a gun. We know that they've demonstrated their resilience, their ability to withstand this pain.
So now we are casting about, trying to find the right combination of pressure directly to the North Koreans. Pressure on other nations of the region that the general mentioned, China and Russia, and of course, bringing in our friends, partners and allies into this mix and creating kind of a battle wave of pressure that we hope can begin to turn the North Koreans. But I think this idea of a nuclear-free peninsula has kind of become a little bit of a dream at this point. And what we need to do is look to what can our strategy be going forward that contains this threat and that works the counterproliferation piece, does not allow the North Koreans to move these threats, these nuclear weapons, these missile technologies to other rogue nations.
CUOMO: Well, and it's more than just the missiles and what they can fit onto that type of munition now, General. The word from one of the U.S. officials is that they believe they can do a bomb. They have the technology, and they have the capability to put together a -- you know, a major munition, a bomb. And that winds up changing the calculus, as well. Does it not?
HERTLING: It does. And something that is a true threat, Chris, I think the United States would certainly react, because they would have no other choice. A bomb on top of a missile threatening the U.S. or the allies. Secretary Mattis has said that would cause action.
But what we're seeing right now is an attempt at -- by Kim Jong-un to go right to the edge. But in this case, I mean, especially these last few missiles that have gone over Japan, in my view, those are threats. Because what you're seeing is the Japanese could have the potential of an accident over their territory. There's something that says big sky, little bullet. You know, that could hit an airplane if it hasn't been announced beforehand. A lot of things could go wrong. And in that case, I think you would see reaction by the United States, using military and other means.
CAMEROTA: So Will, now that there's the Security Council emergency meeting yet again, what is the U.N. or the Security Council likely to do here?
RIPLEY: Well, what can they do, really? They just passed their latest round of sanctions. And North Korea and North Korean officials told me just a couple of days ago, when I spoke with them about this in Pyongyang, that the sanctions will not work, that it will only cause them to accelerate their weapons program. [[06:15:15] They also point out that, even if you cut off all trade
into the country, they say that this -- this -- this missile that could carry an H-bomb, this intercontinental ballistic missile, they could have an H-bomb on it. They say all the components the components they have in the country. They call it a homemade H-bomb. So they say they don't need to import the components to continue producing these weapons, even if everything else is cut off.
And now you're cutting off textiles and coal, and iron, and seafood, and lead. You're not allowing North Korea to legally sell those things. Of course, we know the black market, illegal trade, is continuing, because money is still flowing into the country. I still saw plenty of cars on the streets in the North Korean capital. People are still enjoying an even higher living standard than they were a year ago. This is despite round after round of sanctions.
So from Kim Jong-un's perspective, the North Korean leader is doubling down on these weapons of mass destruction. This test was just one more example of that.
And if he doesn't get the recognition that he seeks, there's a very good chance that we could continue to see even more provocative displays from North Korea, which increases the risk of a misstep, which of course, then could be really problematic, catastrophic even.
CAMEROTA: OK. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being with us. Obviously, we'll follow it throughout the day.
So President Trump reigniting the Charlottesville controversy, the president again blaming both sides for the deadly violence. Why is he thrusting himself back into this racial storm? We're going to discuss all of this next.
CUOMO: President Trump going back to the both sides are to blame line for the deadly violence in Charlottesville last month. Just hours later, the president did condemn white supremacists and hate groups.
CNN's Sara Murray live at the White House with more. What's the take on this?
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, a little bit of whiplash over here at the White House yesterday as the president once again revived this controversy talking about violence on the both sides in the tragic event that unfolded in Charlottesville. And then, just hours later, signing a resolution condemning white supremacy.
[06:20:28] MURRAY (voice-over): President Trump reviving his controversial assertion that both sides were to blame for the deadly violence between white supremacists and those opposing him in Charlottesville.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
MURRAY: While praising his meeting with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott aboard Air Force One, Trump also relitigating a low point in his young presidency.
TRUMP: I think, especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also. A lot of people were saying -- in fact, a lot of people have actually written, "Gee, Trump might have a point.
MURRAY: Scott, who fiercely criticized the president's rhetoric, responding, "That's who he is. I didn't go in there to change who he was."
It comes as the "New York Times" reports new details of the president's outburst at Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a May 17 Oval Office meeting. That's when he learned that Robert Mueller was being appointed as special counsel of the Russia investigation.
The report reveals, "Mr. Trump unleashed a string of insults at Sessions in front of the vice president and other aides, accusing Sessions of disloyalty, calling him an idiot and saying he should resign. Sessions, who offered his resignation, later describing it as the most humiliating experience in decades of public life."
CNN first reported back in June that the two men had a series of heated exchanges in the weeks after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe. Both Sessions and Trump publicly painting a rosier picture of their relationship.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is great. We had a good time with him.
TRUMP: It's fine. It is what it is. It's fine.
MURRAY: Earlier this month, the president elevating Sessions as the front man on his decision to end protections for DREAMers, now leaving him out to dry as he strikes a potential deal with Democrats on the issue in exchange for border security.
TRUMP: I think we're moving very rapidly on the wall. We're renovating large sections of wall. And there will be brand-new by the time we finish. DACA now and the wall very soon.
MURRAY: But despite the recent chumminess with Democrats, the president stressing he's not backing down on building the wall.
TRUMP: If the Democrats aren't going to approve it, then we're not going to do what they want.
MURRAY: Looking to calm conservative critics, the president firmly declaring the plan will not include a path to citizenship.
TRUMP: We're not talking about -- we're not talking about amnesty at all.
MURRAY: Now, the president has a big legislative agenda ahead of him, with both immigration and tax reform on the table. And he has a big day ahead of him as he heads to Joint Base Andrews to deliver remarks perplexing to some of his allies, why he would decide to wade back into this controversy and reignite a debate about Charlottesville.
Back to you, Chris and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, thank you very much for all of that reporting. Let's bring in Maggie Haberman. She's our CNN political analyst and "The New York Times" correspondent who has that new reporting about President Trump and Jeff Sessions exchange.
Maggie, great to see you. But let's start with what happened with Senator Tim Scott.
So the president apparently feels very strongly, since he keeps talking about it, that Antifa, the group protesting the white supremacists, because they resort to violence, Antifa does, he feels strongly that he needs to keep saying he thinks they're bad and condemning him. And I think he's made that point over and over.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
CAMEROTA: But it's just interesting timing. That that was what he wanted to talk about hours after meeting with Senator Scott, who went to meet the president to impress upon him on what, you know, pain white supremacists had inflicted.
HABERMAN: Right. Look, I mean, I think that -- I thought that -- I was really struck by the senator's statement yesterday, in particular, about that, you know, this is who he is, because that, I think, is what most people come away with from hearing the president talk. This is who he is. And this is the way he sees things.
We know that he instinctively tends to do "What about that side?" when any issue comes up, and he's not wrong that violence caused by Antifa is problematic. The issue is that it ends up sounding like he's saying all violence is equal, and it negates the questions about racism, which is what this is about in the first place. It is not just about whether people are violent. It is about certain attitudes and beliefs about race that are propelling violence on one side.
And while the tactics used by Antifa can be discussed, the basic idea is that a lot of people who were at those protests were protesting racism and were -- it was a counter-protest to things that had sprung up in the first place in Charlottesville.
But he thinks he's right on this. And as we've seen many times, when he gets an idea in his head, it is hard to get him off of it, even if he has said something that sounds sort of, you know, reassuring or like what he is supposed to be saying previously.
[06:25:15] CUOMO: Well, let's be clear. He may not think he's right. He just doesn't want to be wrong. Anybody who has known the man for a long time...
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: ... he has always been this way. It would be hard to ascribe any profound or entrenched thoughts about the nature of the alt-right or right-wing extremism. I doubt he's spent a lot of time thinking about what his position is on it.
But if he's going to called out as wrong, he's going to fight, and he doesn't care what it causes. It's almost intellectually dishonest. But look at his motivations. It's potentially contrarian. That's not who he is, Maggie. You know, he said something. He got in trouble for it. He's going to keep fighting it as long as he can, just like Roy Comb told him to.
HABERMAN: I don't understand. You're saying I'm being intellectually dishonest?
CUOMO: No, no, no. That notion that...
HABERMAN: Well, that's not what I'm saying.
CUOMO: Maggie, you couldn't -- you couldn't be intellectually dishonest even if you tried. What I'm saying is the idea that he's a contrarian. Maybe he's just taking the other side. That's not who he is.
HABERMAN: Well, no, I think that -- but I think that we're actually saying the same thing. I mean, I think that he -- when somebody tells him -- and I'm saying what you said. When somebody tells him he is wrong, he immediately says, "What about X, Y, Z?" This administration's default position, his default position throughout the entire campaign was some form of what-aboutism. And that is where everything goes. It's an entrenched position. That's the one he's expressing.
And whether he's actually thought about it or the reasons why he's saying it, when you are president at the day, it doesn't matter. There have been months and months pf his aides saying, "You need to understand where he's coming from." And I think what you're seeing Tim Scott saying is he needs to try to understand where other people are coming from.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, let's talk about your new reporting on theses exchanges between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This is not what Jeff Sessions had in mind when he jumped in first, you know, all in to support candidate Donald Trump, later being berated and humiliated publicly. I mean, we just know so many more details now about how irate the president was and how Jeff Sessions was on the receiving end of it.
HABERMAN: Yes, my colleague Mike Trent and I discovered, you know, just sort of while both of them, the White House and the Department of Justice, tried to downplay all of this at the time, and we had initially reported at the time that the president was just fuming at Sessions over what he saw as this original sin of the recusal on the Russia probe, we now have a ton more information in terms of what happened, the depth of this.
And the fact that the president saw this through the prism of something very specific, which was disloyalty. That was the word he used. I think people have gotten focused on the word "idiot," which is obviously very demeaning.
But the president just saw this as a personal act of disloyalty to him, as opposed to a public official and somebody who is supposed to be a guardian of the public trust, doing their job and stepping away from the investigation where they could have a problem.
Some people around Sessions had said at the time they were very surprised that the president seemed, you know, caught off-guard by this, considering they thought Sessions had been clear during transition he would probably have to step away.
The president seized on what Sessions didn't reveal in his Senate hearings about his own meetings with the Russian ambassador. And that was problematic.
But look, I think that there is a desire on the part of some of the president's supporters and allies to say this is old news. Or this is not -- you don't learn anything new from this. This is not typical or normal to have a president and his attorney general engaged in this kind of friction. It just isn't.
And so, you know, we have obviously had, over history, presidents who have thought with their attorney general. This is -- this is just a different magnitude. And all of it is interesting, and all of it is important toward understanding how this president functions.
CUOMO: I think you're doing a service by cataloging it. Because even -- you could connect these two things: Charlottesville and what's happening with Sessions. You have to point out wherever you can the president is completely focused on protecting himself. That's what he does.
Oh, but you know, saying that Antifa or anything is equivalent is not good, "It's good for me, because I don't want to be wrong." That's where his head is.
You probably shouldn't attack your A.G. as an idiot when he's one of the only guys that supported you. "Yes, but he's bad for me right now, so it's good for me to attack. I'm going to attack him."
You have to catalogue it, Maggie, and you're doing a great job. Thank you.
HABERMAN: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. It just matters. It matters to everything we're going to see. It's going to project onto everything that he does. HABERMAN: What I think it -- what I think it matters to is two things. It matters to he does have -- and all three of us are very well aware of this -- he has a side that can be very charming, and very funny and very engaging and warm. And then he has a side that can -- that can be cruel and extremely difficult for the people who work for him. So that is one piece.
But yes, on the other piece of it, it is about how he has certainly -- he has expressed an enormous amount of anxiety about this Russia probe. And again, it doesn't mean that he is guilty. But the people who support him, who work for him, will privately say, you know, "I don't" -- many of them will say, "I don't believe he's done anything here. And I don't understand why he's behaving this way."