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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Manafort's Subterfuge; Terror Investigation; Interview with Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas; Terror in New York: Suspect "Prepared for Attack for Number of Weeks". Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 1, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says the process through which we prosecute terrorists in this country is a laughingstock and a joke.
THE LEAD starts right now.
A man who rented a truck commits the deadliest attack on New York since 9/11. Today, new information on the suspected radical Islamic terrorist who was taken alive and pledged allegiance to ISIS, his plan and his path to radicalization here in the United States.
New today, President Trump doesn't rule out sending the suspect to Gitmo and calls for an end to the diversity visa lottery program. Will Congress go along?
Plus, international man of mystery. He had three passports and traveled with a cell phone under a phony name. Why all the subterfuge for President Trump's former campaign chairman?
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're going to start with the national lead today and the latest in the investigation into yesterday's deadly terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan. Officials say charges will likely be filed today against Sayfullo Saipov, the suspected radical Islamic terrorist who official say seems to have been inspired, though not necessarily directed, by ISIS and apparently was planning yesterday's attack for weeks.
Saipov, authorities say, rented a Home Depot truck in New Jersey. Then he drove it down a busy bicycle path along the West Side Highway, hopping a curb at West Houston Street and then plowing several blocks towards the site of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
He killed eight innocent people and injured 20 others. Nine remain in the hospital, some in critical condition.
CNN's Jason Carroll starts us off near the attack scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, we have multiple people on the ground from Chambers all the way up to Houston. JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the
deadliest terror attack in New York since 9/11. Authorities say it took just four minutes, but had been planned for weeks.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This was the actions of a depraved coward.
JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: He appears to have followed almost exactly to a T. the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media.
CARROLL: The alleged attacker is 29-year-old Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov. Eyewitness video shows him brandishing fake guns immediately after Tuesday's attack before police shot him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the vehicle at Chambers and West.
CARROLL: Multiple knives and a note pledging allegiance to ISIS left at the scene.
MILLER: The gist of the note was that the Islamic State would endure forever.
CARROLL: This as sources say the married father of three was not on any terror watch list.
MILLER: Mr. Saipov has never been the subject of an NYPD Intelligence Bureau investigation, nor has he been the subject of an FBI investigation.
CARROLL: As investigators execute search warrants at Saipov's home in New Jersey, we are learning more about his past. He entered the United States from Uzbekistan in March of 2010 under a diversity migrant visa. He later worked as a truck driver with stints in Ohio and Florida.
A neighbor at his former residence in Tampa says he and his family moved out abruptly three or four months ago. Most recently, he lived here in New Jersey, where he was hired as an Uber driver less than a year ago. Uber tells CNN, Saipov passed the company's background checks, despite a previous misdemeanor offense and traffic citations in other states.
Those who know him say they are shocked by Tuesday's grisly attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We didn't see characteristics of a terrorist in him. He was an aggressive young man with a romantic sense of adventure.
CARROLL: Authorities say the suspect rented the truck used in the attack from this location in Passaic, New Jersey, Tuesday at 2:06 p.m. At 3:04, he began his mile-long massacre between Houston and Chambers Street in Manhattan.
Shortly after the truck crashed into a school bus, 28-year-old NYPD officer Ryan Nash shot the suspect in the abdomen. BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Dozens more lives could have
been in danger. Ryan stopped that threat immediately. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.
CARROLL: More police to subway stations and public spaces. The city's mayor is urging locals to carry on.
DE BLASIO: Do what you do best. Be New Yorkers. Show the whole world right now that we will not be moved by terror.
CARROLL: And, Jake, police say the suspect is talking. They interviewed him at his hospital bed in Bellevue. They're also going to be interviewing anyone else who may have known him, his wife, his family, his friends, associates, anyone who might have more information about how exactly he became radicalized -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll in Manhattan for us, thank you so much.
Today, President Trump attacked the process through which the U.S. prosecutes suspected terrorists. He called it a joke and he called it a laughingstock.
Additionally, he said he'd consider sending the New York terror suspect, whom he called an animal, to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for his trial. That as he also called on Congress to help get rid of the diversity immigration visa program that allowed the suspect to come from Uzbekistan in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need strength. We need resolve. We have to stop it. So we're going to get rid of this lottery program as soon as possible. He came in through the diversity program, as you know, and we're going to stop that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President George H.W. Bush signed that visa program as part of a more comprehensive immigration law in 1990. It randomly awards visas in select countries with low immigration numbers to promote diversity.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, was in the House at the time. He was credited with coming up with the concept, though in recent years Schumer has tried to replace that with a merit- based system.
CNN's Sara Murray joins me live now at the White House.
Sara, after the Las Vegas shooting, the White House cautioned folks against any politicization of the slaughter. But this morning, we got some very pointed comments from the president about immigration laws and also about Senator Chuck Schumer.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.
And usually this tough tone is something the president reserves for his political opponents or for foreign enemies, but today he even used it when talking about the U.S. justice system. Listen to what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We need quick justice and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now, because what we have right now is a joke. And it's a laughing stock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, in the press briefing just now, Sarah Sanders still insisted the president is not politicizing this tragedy, saying there is a difference between playing politics and discussing policy, this in spite of the fact that the president took to Twitter to call out Chuck Schumer as well as Democrats more broadly in the wake of this attack in New York, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Saudi Arabia , thanks so much.
Lots to discuss with my terror panel, former CIA and FBI counterterrorism official Phil Mudd, Juliette Kayyem, the former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, and retired Congressman Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Phil, let me start with you.
Does the diversity visa lottery do any good? Is it worth considering the U.S. getting rid of it?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Look, this is a very for politicians and for Americans thinking about American culture as an immigrant society.
As a counterterrorism professional, I don't think people in my industry would view people coming into that program as a particular threat. If you look at the people who are threats in this country over time, you're talking about native American -- people who are American citizens who are radicalized after they are born here or people, for example, in this case who came to this country, and I believe we will find who were radicalized after they came to this country.
I doubt this individual was radicalized before seven years ago. So if you're looking at the question of whether it helps us from a counterterrorism or security perspective to keep immigrants out from some of these countries, I don't think it's a significant threat.
TAPPER: Chairman Rogers, what do you think? MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, I don't think it's the
threat that we need to get up and worry about every day. I do believe in a merit-based system.
I think even Chuck Schumer has said we probably should move to a merit-based system on the immigration numbers. And I think that's wholly appropriate. It's probably a debate better to have later, given -- throwing that political bombshell right in the middle of the aftermath of a -- you know, the most significant terrorist attack in New York since 9/11 probably not the right answer.
But, again, I think -- and calmer heads should prevail. I think they were moving to a merit-based system anyway, and I probably would support that.
TAPPER: Juliette, let me ask you. President Trump said today that our justice system for punishing terrorists is a -- quote -- "joke and a laughing stock" and he said he would consider sending the suspect to Guantanamo Bay. What do you think?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: So it's not even clear what jurisdiction he would have or Guantanamo Bay would have to cover this case.
Just to remind people, Guantanamo Bay was created as a sort of judicial entity because of the challenge of the captures we were making in Afghanistan and later on in Iraq in the theater of war. You couldn't find evidence these were hostile militants against the United States.
And there was a process built there for military commissions. The United States justice system is really good against terrorists. Just ask Tsarnaev. Just ask Dylann Roof. There are a lot of people facing the death penalty. It is strong. It knows how to deal with evidence.
And in this case, there is no -- there is nothing different about the evidence, nothing different about the courts that would sort of justify, even if you could legally, taking it to Guantanamo Bay.
I think the president is making a political argument, not a legal argument. One quick thing, if you want the terrorists to win, you have them abandon our judicial system, which is the envy of the world.
This is a case that the New York judicial system can handle, the federal judicial system can handle.
TAPPER: Chairman Rogers, as you know, Gitmo is not exactly known for its speed.
In fact, they have yet to prosecute suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid sheik Mohammed or even hold a trial for the suspected terrorist who bombed the USS Cole in the year 2000. Why would sending this terror suspect to Gitmo be better than trying him in the U.S. courts?
ROGERS: Yes, let me go out on a limb here, Jake.
I think the president may have gotten a mixup here. There was a lot of debate early on -- and I think Juliette summed it up pretty well -- about what you do with enemy combatants taken off the battlefield.
And many of us, me included, argued you don't bring them back to the U.S. justice system and then house them in the United States. We had to have an alternative, which is why Gitmo and other facilities were talked about and developed and discussed.
This is someone who has legal standing in the United States, like it or not, and I think that the legal system is the absolutely right place for this individual to go through.
And I think there are some 650 different terrorists sitting in jail right now because of the very tough U.S. legal system. And even the cases which I didn't agree with, by the way, under the Obama administration, where they went and extracted individuals, some of them foreigners, and brought them back to the United States for trial went through the process here and are either in jail or headed to jail.
So the American justice system does work. I think the president mixed up those debates. You want enemy combatants overseas to be dealt with different, completely agree. You want the U.S. justice system to operate the way it is. And I think he may have merged those two issues.
TAPPER: Phil, let me ask you, officials said today the alleged terrorist has never been a subject of an NYPD Intelligence Bureau investigation, nor has he ever been a subject of an FBI investigation, but sources do tell CNN he was connected to an individual who was previously investigated. What can you read into that?
MUDD: That tells me almost nothing.
Look, if you use that word connection, let me give you a number of ways he could be connected. Maybe there was an e-mail connection years ago. Maybe he was a member of a club somebody else was a member of. Maybe he had physical contact, that is, met in a cafe with somebody.
I need definition on that connection. Was it a friendship? Was it a casual relationship years ago? Was it they were common members of a chat room in some sort of online forum? That word connection doesn't mean anything. And to tell me that because somebody was connected with a terror suspect at some time in the recent or distant past doesn't tell me at all that this guy should have been on a radar somewhere, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. We have a lot more to talk about.
We're going to talk next to a member of the House Intelligence Committee and then we're going to more with our panel.
Stay with us.
[16:16:58] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with more in our national lead and President Trump calling for an end to the diversity visa lottery program, which is how the New York terror suspect entered the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan.
My panel is here with me.
But, first, let's go to Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He serves on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees and used to work for the CIA.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
Do you support the president's call to end the diversity visa lottery program?
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), INTELLIGENCE AND HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEES: I think the diversity visa lottery program should be taken into context with the rest of immigration reform. We're talking about DACA. We're talking about H-1Bs. We're talking about ag worker programs.
So, I think it needs to be, you know, a broader issue there. When it comes to the events that happened in Manhattan yesterday, we should be focusing on the fact that this guy was -- this killer was radicalized here in the United States.
And, you know, sometimes I think we get -- we got lulled into sleep with the battle against ISIS is going so well on the ground in Iraq and Syria, but this ideology is something that we still have to counter and it's hard. It's nothing -- you know, there is not going to be an easy fix here in Congress that's going to make this all go away. We're going to deal with this for a very long time, if not forever, and making sure that we're working together to stop this radicalization is very important.
TAPPER: It's a good point because after every disaster, politicians and the media and the public all wonder, is there some law that could have prevented this? Is there anything that could have stopped this? Do you think that there is any law or legislation that might have been able to prevent this attack?
HURD: Look, I don't think there is any specific thing that could have prevented this. What we need to be focused on -- terrorism is like influenza. It's something that, you know, is not going to go away. You can inculcate communities from it. You can take -- have strategies to address it, but this is something that we're going to have to -- we've been dealing with for a very long time and we're going to be dealing with it into the future.
And it's very easy for folks up here in Washington, D.C. to have a knee-jerk reaction to some of these activities. This is hard. This is something that we have to make sure that our local law enforcement is getting the support that they need, that our federal folks are working with state and local agencies as well as they possibly can.
And we also have to remember, terrorists, you're not going to scare New York, you're not going to scare Americans. And this is something we have proven we can work together to keep terrorists on the run and off our shores.
TAPPER: President Trump said today the way that the U.S. deals with terrorists, the justice system is a joke and a laughingstock. Do you agree?
HURD: I don't. I think there have been many people that have been -- that have done attacks here in the United States that have been brought to justice. You know, the grieving families, you know, my heart goes out to the families that many of them were overseas when they woke up and found out they lost a loved one. But we're going to be able to administer that justice here in the United States of America.
[16:20:00] And we've been strengthening laws since 2001 to do things like put people in jail for, you know, material support.
But we're going to be able to administer that justice here in the United States of America, and we've been strengthening laws since 2001 to do things like put people in jail for, you know, material support. This guy killed people. And so I'm pretty confident that our justice system is going to be able to take care of is that.
TAPPER: This is the first attack like this by an Islamic radical, alleged suspect, we should say, by a car in the United States. We saw a white nationalist, white supremacist do this in Charlottesville, but we've seen these kinds of using a vehicle as a weapon, ISIS-inspired attacks in Europe but not in the United States.
Should we expect more of this, do you think? Is this going to be the new normal?
HURD: We should. I think over the last couple of decades, we have seen the tactics, techniques and procedures of terrorist organizations evolve and where you see it in one place, you see it metastasize to other places.
This is something that we're going to have to continue to think about and when you have wide-open public spaces, we're going to have to be prepared to defend against these types of potential attacks in the future.
TAPPER: Congressman Will Hurd of Texas, always a pleasure to have you on, sir. Thank you so much.
HURD: Thank you.
TAPPER: This attack comes as New York City prepares for one of its largest tourist events in just days. What changes might the NYPD make? That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:25:28] TAPPER: I want to show you some pictures here from just moments ago. You're looking at images of the NYPD hauling away the truck that was rented by the terrorist suspect that he wielded as a weapon. Leaving the scene now where those innocent people were killed.
We now know all of the names of each of the eight victims. The NYPD identified the two Americans as 32-year-old Darren Drake from New Jersey, along with 23-year-old Nicholas Cleves from New York.
Five others were a group of friends from Argentina. Their names were Hernan Ferrucci, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Mendoz and Diego Angelini. The friends were in New York City celebrating their 30th high school reunion. Today, flags in their home country are flying at half staff.
The eighth victim, 31-year-old Ann-Laure Decadt. She was from Belgium. In a statement, her husband described her as a fantastic wife and the most beautiful mother to their two sons who are only 3 months and 3 years old.
Let's continue the conversation with my panel of national security experts.
Chairman Rogers, the suspect was taken alive, we're told by authorities he's cooperating somewhat. In these situations, how reliable do you think he might be and is his information worth anything?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: His information will be worth something and it takes rapport. So, normally, in the first few days, as a former FBI guy, I can tell you, those first few interviews will be wildly inaccurate. But there is always a thread of truth in there.
And what they'll do is spend time, build a little rapport and they'll get to the information they need. Sometimes it takes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter depending on the suspect. But they will do both of that.
And they'll look at all the clues. It looks like he's travelled around quite a bit. He's only been here since 2010, and he's lived up north, he's lived in Florida, he's lived in New Jersey. And so, they'll try to find all of that pattern of life and any intersection that they can find with any radicalization effort.
I guarantee you -- he didn't do this all by himself in a basement on a computer. There were some external factors somewhere in that process, and that's what they're going to spend time trying to figure out, where exactly did that happen?
TAPPER: Phil, the terror suspect lived in Paterson, New Jersey, with his wife and three children. She must be key to the investigation right now.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: She is. And I agree with Chairman Rogers. This is not simply a question of
whether someone was a co-conspirator in the investigation, Jake. I want to know everything about pattern of life, including things like home life, work life, anything related to drug or alcohol, mental. Any comments he made about changes in religiosity, comments about American politics.
I'm not looking for strictly whether somebody knew he was going to drive a truck in New York City. I'm looking for whether someone knew there was a change in his pattern of life that leads us to understand when and why he decided to undertake this act yesterday, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Juliette, the attacker said he was inspired by ISIS. He left a note in the truck. There is no evidence, however, as of now anyway, that he was trained or that this operation was ordered by ISIS. At this point, does that matter? Is ISIS-inspired basically equivalent to ISIS-directed in this era that we live in?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a great question, and I think the answer -- I know the answer is no. In fact, the ISIS-inspired attacks tend to be less coordinated. Individual actors, maybe they had conspirators, weapons that like cars and trucks and possibly knives and guns.
What we want to avoid in the United States, though, is the ISIS- directed one, because those tend to be multiple events, highly coordinated, high casualty and fatality rates.
So, there is a difference. And just picking up on Chairman Rogers' point, there is going to be a difference between what he says about his relationship with ISIS and what we actually can confirm. ISIS is an ecosystem now. Some people are in very tight. Some people are on the outsides just passively absorbing what ISIS is telling them.
He may have a conception of himself, which is actually not true. That matters for law enforcement purposes because our goal now is not only to convict him, but also to try to figure out how we stop this from happening again. That's always the takeaway from these, if we can learn something from that radicalization process, can we try to avoid or deter the next person from doing this.
TAPPER: Chairman Rogers, the suspect is from Uzbekistan, which is a part of the world in many cases being described as a hotbed of radical Islamic activity. But we are also told that he was radicalized here in the United States.
ROGERS: Yes, completely so.