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Bomb Ignites but Does Not Explode in London Subway; North Korea Launches another Missile over Japan; Interview with Rep Scott Taylor (R-VA). Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- the fear and the impetus that really is ratcheting up the investigation now. Our sources tell us that of course this is very much the early stages of this investigation, and they are looking really, first and foremost their ambition and intent is to close in on anyone that is involved in pulling this together.

The broader context has to be if people are trying to pick up the skills of the kind of bomb-making to try and pull off something of this ambition, and that is very worrying. The London mayor has told CNN that this is part of a global shift on the part of terror cells, but now as they lose their territorial footprint in Iraq and Syria, that they are looking to wreak havoc here. And these kinds of attacks do provide them with some sort of propaganda. But the message today from British authorities, Alisyn, is stay calm. We are across this, and we are here for the people of Britain. Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Nima, thank you very much for the update there live for us from the scene. Joining us on the phone is an eyewitness named Gustavo Vieira. He was on the train when the device detonated. Gustavo, tell us what happened on the train.

GUSTAVO VIEIRA, EYEWITNESS: Hi, good morning. What happened actually was they had just arrived at the platform, and it opened its doors. And then suddenly we heard some noise, and then everybody was just screaming and coming out of the train. It was really, really terrifying, really.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we can imagine how terrifying it is. So you heard a big bang and an explosion, and then what did you see?

VIEIRA: To be really honest with, I heard everyone screaming and shouting, we just ran away. We just ran away, and as we run away the station has a staircase going down, so we get out of the station. And people were just falling in the stairs and getting ran over and people were stepping on people. There was a lot of children, children going to school. A lot of people were burned and we had to go to this -- we had to go to this hold position at the station that we were asked to go in there.

CAMEROTA: That is scary. To imagine the chaos afterwards and the stampede, of course, that happens trying to get up the stairs and out of the station, and the idea that children were on trying to go to school because, of course, this was during rush hour. Then what sorts -- I know that first responders came to the scene quickly, and then what sorts of injuries did you see?

VIEIRA: I saw people with burns, head. There was a lady, she had both legs burned. There were people with their heads burned, and people were walking over them and running over them. And I saw a lady, she had blood on her clothes. It was horrific. It was really, really bad.

CAMEROTA: We can imagine seeing that level of blood and burns, Gustavo, of course it is. And we can hear obviously how upset you are. Thank you for taking the time to share with us this eyewitness account. Please take care of yourself.

VIEIRA: Sure, thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So what does this look like, why? Let's bring in our CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. Paul, always good to have you. Thank you for being with us this morning on short notice. They made a quick reckoning here, the U.K. authorities. The reporting about the timer, if true, sheds a lot of light on why.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It does. It takes it up a notch. It suggests this was not meant as a suicide attack. This means that whoever did this may want to launch more attacks. They're always planned to launch more attacks in the U.K. in London. This is a race against time now to find this attacker, the perpetrator, anybody that he is connected with.

The good news is there's a lot of CC-TV on every carriage of the London Underground, so they will have had already a good idea of what he looks like. This good news is this device didn't go off. That means there will be a wealth of forensics they can extract from the device to try and figure out who is responsible. Are there any fingerprints that goes to any sort of criminal records.

So the entire U.K. counterterrorism services are now immobilized to find this individual, stop more attacks that might be planned today in the U.K.

CUOMO: Frightening in an absolute sense, but also in a relative sense in terms of what it means in terms of threat perspective, because if this had been a more sophisticated device, you know who you are dealing with. But if this is one of those anything you can do is welcome, that ugly and malignant message by ISIS, that informs to a new and evolving threat where it's not that sophisticated person. It's that Internet radicalized idiot who learns just enough to be dangerous.

[08:05:07] CRUICKSHANK: That's right. And we've seen in the U.K. that people haven't needed to make bombs. They have got vans driven into people, a lot of people have been killed in the U.K. this year because of that. We don't know much about the device yet, what sort of chemical was involved, was it something like TATP which would be on the high end of the sophistication level and maybe it didn't go off. If it was something like that, then everybody's life in that carriage would have been in jeopardy. Or was it something a bit more amateurish. For some reason this thing didn't work. It just ignited. It didn't explode. There was no detonation, and for that reason many lives were saved.

CUOMO: A quick take. President Trump says this happened in the U.K. because you are not proactive enough, and it doesn't happen here in part because of the travel ban.

CRUICKSHANK: I don't understand the logic. The U.K. counterterrorism services are pushing masses resources to deal with this threat. There have been almost 400 terrorism-related arrests in the last year. That's a 70 percent increase. They are the best in class in terms of experience of how to deal with this. They have all that history of dealing with the IRA as well.

And with the travel ban, Chris, I haven't spoken to one expert who thinks that that is a good idea, that that helps protect the United States from the terrorism threat. And of course this individual was in the U.K., likely probably to be British. What is he suggested? That they ban everybody coming in from Britain as well?

CUOMO: Paul Cruickshank, thank you very much, let us know what you learn. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Chris, we are also following news out of North Korea. The North firing another ballistic missile over Japan in defiance of recent U.N. sanctions. This is the third missile launch since Trump's fire and fury warning last month. CNN Will Ripley is live in Tokyo with the latest for us. What you have learned, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know, Alisyn, for one, this is the furthest any North Korean intermediate range missile has ever travelled, 3,700 kilometers. That's 2,300 miles up over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Had it been to the south that it would have put it right down near the U.S. territory of Guam, an island that North Koreans have threatened repeatedly. And this launch clearly sending a strong message to the U.S., that they have a missile and if they wanted to they could fire it in that direction, which of course would cross a red line set by President Trump.

Meanwhile, for the first time since World War II people in Japan including children are waking up to the sound of this.




RIPLEY: Yes, those are air-raid sirens. People also got messages on their phones telling them the North Korean missile was coming and to seek shelter in sturdy buildings. It's terrifying that schools are now having duck and cover drills and people are getting notices about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. This is a country that is scarred by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two times that nuclear weapons have ever been used against citizens. And now they are hearing rhetoric from North Korea just in the past few days, threatening to sink the islands of Japan using, in North Korea's words, the bomb of Juche, Juche being their ruling ideology.

Also threatening the United States, North Korean state media saying that they will not buckle to the pressure of U.S. sanctions. South Korea responding with a live fire drill of their own. They attempted to fire two ballistic missiles. One of them failed, and the other one did succeed, and South Korea said those missiles could have hit the launch site in North Korea at the Pyongyang airport. That's the airport right there in the capital. I was just there yesterday. And in fact there was a commercial flight that flew out from that airport very shortly after that missile launch incredibly. But it also shows North Korea very confident, they think they have a missile that won't blow up and fall down on their own city, their own highly populated area. Still, little to ease the fears of people here in Japan, Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Will.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. In fact, Will, do me a favor, stay with us. And let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory and Gordon Chang, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes on the World." Gordon, your take on the range of this and the reporting that there are concerns among U.S. officials that they may have the capacity in North Korea to build an H-bomb?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN, NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Yes, well, that was yesterday. The head of the U.S. strategic command said this was probably an H-bomb. He didn't say it in those words, but that was where he was going.

CAMEROTA: Not last night, but the one prior to that was the H-bomb?

CHANG: The September 3 detonation. And really what we have got here is North Korea making accelerated progress. But the thing that concerns me most not is their technical achievements recently, but their actual defiance, because remember, this is just a few days after Monday's Security Council resolution. They saw China and Russia water that down, and so therefore they are pretty confident.

[08:10:07] And so they are going to say whatever they want and they're going to do whatever they want. And this was extremely provocative, arcing it over Japan.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, about Donald Trump's response, he seems to have tempered it since his fire and fury comments weeks ago. Yesterday he gave a more measured response, I don't know if we have it but I can read it to people. "We are working on different things. I can't tell you what I am working on, but believe me the people in this country will be very, very safe." What do you hear in his differing responses?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It goes to the point that Gordon is making about the defiance. So I think that President Trump wants to work with China and South Korea and Japan on a couple of levels, to keep pushing for more draconian measures to further inflict damage on the North Korean economy, fuel supplies for one, pushing China into a position where it might be willing to do more, and maybe this is trying to give North Korea a little bit of room to negotiate on some kind of freeze.

Now, you know, perhaps the north wants to exact certain concessions and keeps firing these missiles to demonstrate what it can actually do to get a better result in the negotiation. But there's another piece. I've talked to lawmakers who say, look, there is probably going to be a preemptive strike on the part of the United States. Maybe they intercept one of these missiles or destroy some of the capacity. That's an extremely dangerous option. But perhaps the administration wants to say to China and South Korea, look, we can't keep sitting back and being toyed with like this, and in the face of the defiance, we're going to keep letting these things go, trying to ratchet up the sanctions piece of it, but at each stage we're going to keep letting you know that this gets more and more unacceptable.

CUOMO: Will, you can give us the perspective on this. We keep saying in our introductions, this just after the president of the United States gave his fire and fury talk. The fury of the administration is ratchet up the strength, tough talk, match the mouth of Kim Jong-un. How does it resonate to North Korean ears when the president of the United States says we are bringing it to you if you bring it to us?

RIPLEY: It reinforces what North Korea's regime has told its citizen for decades, that the United States a threat looming at their doorstep waiting to start the next Korean war, because, keep in mind, North Koreans are taught a different version of history than the accepted view in the rest of the world. They're told that America started the Korean War, and that the U.S. wants to drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea. So people grow up hearing this, and then of course when their government says we have no choice but to develop these weapons to protect you and to protect our way of life, and if people know it's an authoritarian system and a different, hard life for many, many people in the country, perhaps the majority of people in the country, they still feel that perhaps that alternative is better than the evil Americans coming in and nuking them.

And so people will say that they hear what President Trump is saying and that just reinforces that the U.S. is a bully with what they consider a hostile policy. And this is really what has kept the North Korean regime firmly in control. Even in the hardest years of the famine when people were dying of starvation, this persistent threat from the United States kept people somewhat unified, that of course plus just brutal force against anybody who dissents. But it kept the country unified and behind the regime even when things got tough. And that is why the North Koreans will say that sanctions and economic pressure absolutely won't work because they have been through hard times before and they say they are prepared to do it again.

CAMEROTA: Gordon, what do you think about the timing of this? Is it a mistake to think that Kim Jong-un was monitoring the news in the U.S. for the past three weeks and felt that all the hurricanes had perhaps knocked him off of the headlines?

CHANG: That's exactly what I am sure he was doing because he was very quiet during Irma. And we know that North Korea propaganda is very keyed into what is going on in the U.S. because they actually referred to Harvey when they said they were going to put the rest of the United States underwater.

So it's clear that they think about the headlines cycle, the news cycle here, and that is why they didn't launch during Irma. They knew that that would be something that would get Americans really mad. But this is something that is defiant, and I think it actually was a mistake, because we have, you know, perhaps another Security Council resolution, and this time the United States just may say to China and Russia, we are not going to water it down, we're not going to delay it. We're going to force your hand and see if you want to veto it.

So this is going to be I think a very different attitude on the part of the State Department because, remember, Tillerson just yesterday said China and Russia have to take direct action, which means if they don't, we will.

CUOMO: Will, do you have a take on this?

RIPLEY: Look, China and Russia are not going to support anything in the U.N. Security Council that they feel would destabilize North Korea.


This missile was no different than the one that was launched a couple of weeks ago. If the nuclear test didn't push China and Russia to agree to an oil embargo and blacklisting Kim Jong-un, putting his name on an asset freeze and travel ban, if it didn't cause them to ground North Korea's only airline Air Koryo then this missile test isn't going to do it. And the fact remains Russia if anything is looking to trade more with North Korea to fill in the gaps left by China as China starts to crack down further.

I was in Wonsan and saw the ship that goes back and forth from Vladivostok, Russia to the North Korean coast bringing workers, bringing supplies, some might argue bringing other things that we don't know about.

And so I see this as more of the same. At this point, I don't think there's been a measure that's going to push Chinese President Xi Jinping to take any drastic action, destabilizing action, especially considering he has this big party congress next month. He needs to consolidate his power. He doesn't want any distractions, including a destabilized North Korea.

CUOMO: Reporting has brought us that reality in different ways. And scientists from outside countries in the region that are supposed to be helping control them go there to help them.


CUOMO: That the equipment that often carries the missiles are Chinese equipment. That matters to us.

CAMEROTA: Right. Gentlemen, thank you all very much.

So how should President Trump respond to North Korea's latest aggression? We have a Republican congressman and former Navy SEAL with us next.


[08:20:01] CUOMO: North Korea posturing about fire and fury of its own, launching another ballistic missile over Japan in defiance of recent U.N. sanctions and U.S. talk. This is the third missile launch since President Trump's fire and fury warning just last month.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia, a former Navy SEAL.

Always good to have you on the show, sir.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, sir. Good to be with you.

CUOMO: So what do you make of the U.S. strategy, this White House in specific, of match the mouth? This guy talks tough, we're going to talk tough.

TAYLOR: Well, you've certainly seen some of that but you've seen other things as well, too. When we saw the armada that steamed towards those waters earlier on this year. You also have China to the table now a little -- unlike before. So I mean, I think that there's been diplomatic efforts, there's been rhetoric of course, as well, and there's been the potential for force there.

So they've definitely changed the dynamics of what's going on there but there needs to be more things -- more things need to be done clearly.

CUOMO: What is your take on -- you just said China at the table more than before.


CUOMO: We get a counter take from a lot of experts and observers and people involved with diplomacy. They say, look, if China wanted to do more, they would have. If Russia wanted to do more, they would have. They see trade here, they don't see the threat that the U.S. does.

TAYLOR: Well, that's a good point. But there's a difference between China and what they could do and what they are doing. They are certainly doing more than before. They publicly denounced them. They have stopped some imports of coal. They have -- you know, went along with the U.N. Security Council. That being said, yes, they could do a lot more. There's no question about that.

I think quite frankly, in light of what just happened, I think that the president should visit China actually in November after the party congress, and when he's over there in Asia. I think that would set -- it would create a big symbol, I believe, as well as I think there needs to be more coordination between Japan, South Korea and the United States to shoot down a missile the next time they launch it.

Well, it's very clear that North Korea is -- they're expediting their tests. It looks like 2017, they're trying to gain a lot of ground there. And I think that you have to step up the diplomatic efforts but as well as the security coordination.

CUOMO: Interesting but also provocative. If you shoot down that missile what if that is seen as an aggressive act and it starts a domino effect of retaliation by North Korea?

TAYLOR: Do we not think that what they're doing is an aggressive act? You know, I think, listen, it's unacceptable for any president, Democrat or Republican, to have North Korea doing what they are doing over Japan right now, to be shooting off the waters of California, and it looks like they're increasing those -- the length of those ballistic tests.

I understand what you're saying, but again that's why I said you have to have an uptick in diplomatic efforts as well as security cooperation to reduce the potential of miscalculation, of course, but there's no question that they're being very provocative of themselves --

CUOMO: No question.

TAYLOR: -- and showing acts of aggression.

CUOMO: No question.

TAYLOR: And Japan, right now, we can read what Tokyo is reporting, I mean, folks are having to take shelter. So I mean --


CUOMO: We hear the war sirens. They haven't been on since World War II. No, I'm deferring to you. You have the military expertise. I'm saying, you see shooting down a missile as a real option that should be on the table for the United States?

TAYLOR: In partnership with Japan and South Korea, absolutely.

CUOMO: All right. Let me get your take on what just happened in London. The president tweeting about it. There's reporting that there was a device on that explosive device, which feeds into the theory that the U.K. has that this was a terrorist act.

The president tweeting, "Another attack in London by loser terrorists. They're sick, demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive. Loser terrorists have to be dealt with in a tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool. Must be cut off and use better."

London's Metropolitan Police says these tweets are pure speculation and that it's unhelpful. Your take.

TAYLOR: Well, obviously it's early on in the investigation and I think it's -- we need to be very clear here in the United States that we will support our ally and will help them in any single way possible, obviously time is of the essence right now to be able to find this person that perpetrated this attack. You're seeing these types of weapons that they've used on the battlefield and then they just say, how to do it basically, or the Internet. And you're seeing an uptick in these types of attacks. So I think it's best for us to, you know, obviously be able to be cautious about what we say until the investigation is done. But just be there for our allies and help in any way possible that we can.

CUOMO: Fair assessment of the president of the United States of our main ally in the war against terror, the U.K., to say they were known -- whoever did this was known to the U.K. that they have to do a better job? Fair assessment?

TAYLOR: Well, the president is, you know, privy to some information that I might not be, so I just -- I can't really comment on that.

CUOMO: All right. Congressman Scott Taylor, thank you for being on the show as always. Appreciate it.

TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Chris, President Trump reaching across the aisle to strike a deal on protecting Dreamers. There's a lot happening today. So here's what to watch.



TRUMP: We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people brought here, no fault of their own. So we're working on a plan. We'll see how it works out. And we are going to get massive border security as part of that and I think something can happen. We will see what happens. But something will happen.


CAMEROTA: All right. That was President Trump addressing his bipartisan outreach to reach a deal on protecting Dreamers that marks a shift from a key campaign promise. So are Democrats on the verge of cutting a second deal with the president.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas.

Good morning, Congressman.