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Sources: Terror Suspect Talking with Investigators; 8 Dead, 13 Injured in Truck Attack on Bike Path; Former Trump Campaign Adviser Proposed Putin-Trump Meeting; Prosecutors Focused on Gates Bank Accounts. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired November 1, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:45] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back. Top of the hour, I'm Poppy Harlow down in lower Manhattan with our special coverage of the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11. Of course, John Berman is here in New York with us well. We'll get to him in a moment.
But we do have a lot of developments on what we know about this terror attack. Of course, most importantly, the status of the victims, 13 victims now in the hospital, some in critical condition, eight innocent lives taken, murdered yesterday less than 24 hours ago in this attack. The 29-year-old attacker, an Uzbek national, we know that he barreled down the side of the West Side Highway on a bike path for nearly a mile, taking those lives, critically injuring those others.
Some developments that we're learning this morning from our reporters on the ground, we know that he is in the hospital. He is alive and he is talking to authorities, cooperating somewhat with law enforcement. What does that mean? What questions is he answering? We have also learned that he was a resident of Paterson, New Jersey. That is very close to New York City, just over the bridge, over the river here, not far. We know he is a father of three children. And we also know that he was radicalized domestically, that according to the governor of New York. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK: He is a depraved coward, is what he is. And he was associated with ISIS and he was radicalized domestically. And he's a depraved coward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. Let's go to Jean Casarez. She's following all the latest developments. And Jean, I want to know, so much attention always goes to the attacker, you know, in all of this. But there is also a hero, Ryan Nash, this 28-year-old NYPD officer from the first precinct who apprehended him last night. And that is a name and a face we should all remember this morning.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I think that's one of the amazing and such a heroic part of all of this. His name is Ryan Nash. He was an NYPD officer, simply patrolling the neighborhood. That was his job. And all of a sudden, he's in the midst of what is now being called a terror attack. He saw the assailant jump out of the truck, conceivably with two actual weapons. He shot him in the abdomen and he survived. And that's another very important fact of this investigation that we believe at this point today is in full swing.
My colleague, Shimon Prokupecz, has broken so much news on this. We do understand that the suspect that is in, we believe, Bellevue Hospital, was spoken to throughout the night before surgery, conceivably after surgery. It is reported by law enforcement sources he is cooperating to a point. What he is saying, what he is being asked, anything relevant, we do not know. But while that is happening at the hospital, I can report to you that approximately 1 1/2 blocks away, the primary crime scene, at least this morning, the truck, that was rented at the Home Depot in New Jersey was still there. The crime scene is being processed, a very important aspect of this case.
Now, we also have learned more that it is believed that the suspect Sayfullo Saipov was planning this attack for some time. Authorities say that they believe around 2:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon was when he went to the Home Depot in New Jersey, rented the truck, the pickup truck, left his own vehicle there, crossed over the George Washington Bridge, and into Manhattan, executing this attack at 3:05 p.m. We also can report that investigators are looking at his social media. Investigators have found social media linked to the suspect that includes ISIS-related material. What it actually says, what part of his state of mind it may form, we don't know at this point, but, obviously, a part of this investigation.
And we shall not forget the victims in all of this. There are at least 21 victims. There are at least 13 that are alive, in the hospital now, between Bellevue and New York Presbyterian.
[10:05:01] There are eight victims that we know are deceased. Five of those we can confirm were citizens of Argentina. They were celebrating their 30th year high school graduation, here in New York City, also a Belgian national. We, conceivably through the day, will find out the identities more of these very, very innocent victims that were riding their bicycles or walking as pedestrians along the street and suddenly may not have even know what happened to them. Poppy?
HARLOW: Jean, I'm so glad that you bring them up. And we all honor them and remember them this morning. As I saw the images coming in last night of those mangled bikes strewn across the bike path all I could think were tourists visiting our great city. Jean, thank you very much.
Let's go to Athena Jones. She's our national correspondent in Paterson, New Jersey. And Athena, this is the home of the attacker, the 29-year-old. A lot of activity there right now. We've learned he is a father, three kids, his wife is there. She's been talking to authorities. What else do we know?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy. That's right. You can see the home we're about half a block away. It's that red brick building over my shoulder. You can see FBI agents and other law enforcement standing in front of it. The street has been blocked for some time. We have seen officers carrying various items out of that building. Of course, we don't know exactly which apartment, exactly the location of the Saipov family where this 29-year-old Uzbek national lived with his wife and three children. I have seen at least one white rectangular object carried out about 2 feet by 2 feet, hard to say what that was.
And just a few minutes ago, we witnessed a couple of FBI agents wearing FBI jackets and blue booties on their feet, which would indicate that they are potentially inside the home, searching it. They came out with a black plastic garbage bag, hard to say what was in that. But they put it in a vehicle and then drove away. There was obviously a lot of activity around here.
We've had the chance to speak with a couple of neighbors in this area. One woman said this is not a big Uzbek community. It has some Hispanics, Palestinians. It's a quiet neighborhood. Another woman I spoke with just around the corner from the suspect said that she's been living here for almost all of her close to 60 years. She did not know the suspect. Neither neighbor we spoke with knew the suspect. But this woman said that she was very upset, very scared, because this hits so close to home, when she learned the news last night. She said, she also thought, well, maybe I should move, but then she added that this could happen anywhere. So that is some of what we're getting in terms of learning about the neighborhood where this 29-year-old suspect, Sayfullo Saipov lived. Poppy?
HARLOW: OK. Athena Jones, we appreciate you being there. We appreciate the reporting. Any answers that people can get will be helpful. Thank you for that.
The president is responding, obviously, sending his condolences through Twitter and an official White House statement last night, along with the first lady and then talking about immigration in this country. This morning on Twitter, let me read you part of his -- what he has said, "The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based." That's some of what the president is saying.
Just for, you know clarification here and factual, that was passed in a bipartisan measure. It was passed under a Republican presidency. It's been law in this country since 1995. Will it be debated now? We'll watch. There has been some effort by some Republican senators to get rid of it and overturn it and replace it with a merit-based system.
Let's talk about that and a lot more on this investigation. So much we've learned in the last hour. With me now, James Gagliano, a law enforcement analyst, retired FBI special agent and Nada Bakos, CNN national security analyst. Thank you both for being here.
Where do we begin? I mean, in the last hour, we've learned that he's talking. He's in his hospital bed talking. That is significant, right, James, because you don't usually have that with the attacker after a terrorist attack in the West.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. The new jihadi paradigm, when it comes to these types of attacks. We saw this in London back in June, where they were wearing the fake explosive vests. They are looking to basically martyr. They're looking to die by cop. And I believe that that was probably the purpose of him jumping out with two non-functioning, not real guns, a pellet gun and a paintball gun.
The thing that the JTTF, the FBI's JTTF, is looking at right now, first off, we have folks that are over at the family home. They will certainly interview the wife to try to determine whether or not there were any clues and whether or not she could have been an accomplice.
HARLOW: She's talking. You know, she's talking.
GAGLIANO: She's talking.
The second piece is, it is fortuitous that the subject was shot in the abdomen, survived it, came out of surgery last night and has been speaking as well.
HARLOW: And that goes to Ryan Nash, this amazing 28-year-old NYPD officer who was able to apprehend him, but keep him alive and hope that he would talk.
GAGLIANO: Absolutely and then the third thing is, we need to establish -- as soon as you hear ISIS, nexus to ISIS, was this directed by ISIS, -- which means conspiracy, inspired, or aspiring.
[10:10:07] HARLOW: Yes. And what we know, Nada, to you, that he was, according to the governor, radicalized domestically. So at some point in the last seven years since he came here, something or a series of things happened. Was he on the radar of law enforcement? We don't know yet. We're waiting for a lot of these answers. But to you the fact that he's talking this morning, how significant?
NADA BAKOS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's very significant. I'm thankful that the NYPD officer was table to take the action that he did so that we can hear from the suspect, what his motives were behind this. Because I will say, from a perspective of whether or not he was inspired or it was directed by ISIS, in some ways, it matters very little. We know he was radicalized now here on U.S. soil. So at this point, what we really have to deal and grapple with is how do we stem the flow of radicalization here on U.S. soil? Because right now the U.S. government doesn't have like a verifiable and measurable program to deal with that. I think we're lacking policy at this point, so that leaves law enforcement and intelligence communities to play catch-up. They're having -- when they are at that point where they're having to deal with a suspect, it is too late in the radicalization process.
HARLOW: James, what we've also learned from Shimon Prokupecz is the thorough reporting this morning is that there is some indication, law enforcement is telling him, that this attacker was planning this. We don't know for how long. We don't know to what extent, but he was planning it and all of a sudden, at 2:00 p.m. yesterday, goes and rents this truck, drives it over the G.W. Bridge, drives down the highway and murders eight people and injures 13 more. When you look big picture at these truck attacks in the West, according to New America, a nonpartisan organization, 15 of them killing 142 people since 2014, I mean, even with advanced planning, how do you get ahead of something like this?
GAGLIANO: We've seen this across Europe. We've seen it in Germany. We've seen it in Belgium. We've seen it in London. And it is again, it goes back to that new paradigm. How are we going to -- we've been able to harden certain targets, right? It's very difficult to get on to an aircraft with a weapon, very difficult to attack a big venue with security. Now it's the soft targets.
How do we do that without changing our lives? And I've made the supposition that this is going to change. Bike parks, there are going to be separation between motorized vehicles and pedestrians, where you wouldn't be able to give this man the opportunity to go 16 blocks and one mile to kill many people.
HARLOW: Nada, just final thoughts to you on that because the mayor of New York City did say this morning on CNN, look, some security measures will change, but again, this has to be a livable city.
BAKOS: Right. I completely agree with him. Because at that point, when you start to change the way that we function as a society and the way that we live and changing the whole dynamic and the reaction to terrorism, that's just not going to be helpful for us. That's really not going to stem the flow of terrorism. So I completely agree.
HARLOW: Thank you both very much. We appreciate your expertise. Again, we're getting more and more answers ahead of this press conference, John, set to begin in less than an hour between the NYPD and the FBI.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We'll take you there as soon as it begins. Thanks so much, Poppy.
We have new reporting this morning also in the Russia investigation. You know that former campaign adviser the president dismissed and called a liar? It turns out when he was a candidate, he was in a room with that man who suggested going to Russia and the president didn't rule it out.
[10:17:55] BERMAN: New details this morning about the relationship between then-candidate Donald Trump and George Papadopoulos, the man who pleaded guilty to lying about meetings that had Russian connections. CNN has learned that when Papadopoulos suggested to then- candidate Donald Trump that he meet with Vladimir Putin, Trump didn't rule it out. This idea came up at a meeting that the candidate had with his foreign policy adviser.
CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with the details here. Manu, what have you learned?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. In those court documents that were unsealed on Monday, it was revealed that George Papadopoulos at that March 31st, 2016 meeting said that he could set up this meeting between then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin, because of his connections with Russians. Now, what we have not really got a sense of was how did Donald Trump respond when Mr. Papadopoulos proposed this idea.
But now we have learned from one source who was in the room that the then-candidate Trump did not rule it out. He kept the option open, didn't say yes or no, made some remarks about this. And later in the conversation, it was Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general, then the senator from Alabama, said pretty clearly, this should not go forward and rejected this idea.
Now, how the president responded, we believe, from our sourcing, is that this is going to be an area for the special counsel likely to look at going forward because as part of the Mueller's investigation into possible Russia collusion and how Trump officials dealt with some of the things that were proposed to them at this time. Now, when this question was put to Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this week about how the president responded in these meetings, this March 31st, 2016 meeting. She said at the time that the president had no recollection of some of these details. Did not recall the specifics of what she downplayed as a very brief meeting.
And the White House did not respond to further questions about this, John. But clearly, it reveals some new details about internally how then-candidate responded - Trump responded to George Papadopoulos who proposed this idea of meeting with Vladimir Putin and continued to push on this through other several senior campaign officials for months ahead after Jeff Sessions rejected the notion. John?
[10:20:16] BERMAN: Questions no doubt the special counsel has already been asking. Manu Raju, thanks so much for being with us.
Also this morning, new details about former Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, both men under house arrest. And according to court documents, both men had complicated and peculiar financial setups. This year, Manafort traveled to Mexico, China, and Ecuador with a phone and e-mail account registered under a fake name. He currently has not one, not two, but three U.S. passports, each under a different number. Gates apparently frequently changed banks and opened and closed bank accounts. He opened 55 accounts with 13 separate institutions. Again, these are from court documents.
CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider with the very latest on this. Jessica, what are you learning?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, prosecutors laying out really quite a complicated financial and travel web for both of these men. First to Paul Manafort, not only did he have three different passports, all with different numbers, but prosecutors also say he submitted 10 passport applications over the past 10 or so years. Manafort travelled the globe in the past year, but it was really his travel to Mexico, China, and Ecuador that is raising the questions here. He allegedly traveled to those three places with a phone and an e-mail account that was registered in a fake name, so prosecutors looking into that.
Now, Rick Gates, meanwhile, he frequently changed banks and opened and closed accounts, according to prosecutors. In all, he had 55 accounts with 13 financial institutions. Some of those accounts were in Cypress, as prosecutors say, and that's where Gates and Manafort traveled frequently. So all of these questionable transactions are part of why the government successfully argued for house arrest for both of these men. They have now also surrendered both of their passports. They will be back in court, in D.C., on Thursday.
Now, in the meantime, Special Counsel Mueller's probe is moving full steam ahead on many fronts. White House communications director, Hope Hicks, who has really been one of the president's longest-serving aides, including during the campaign, she is set to be interviewed by Mueller's team in the middle of this month, that's after she returns from the president's 12-day Asia trip. In addition to that, investigators are also ramping up their interviews with other White House officials.
In addition to that, investigators are also ramping up their interviews with other White House officials. Those could be wrapped up by Thanksgiving. So, John, this Mueller investigation really broadening out and proceeding on many different fronts here. John?
BERMAN: All right, new developments on many fronts. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much for that.
We do have some breaking news this morning. Again, it has to do with the terror attack here in New York City that left eight people dead. Less than 24 hours after that attack this morning, the president has been making statements about it of a very political nature.
I'm going to read you some of the statements he has written on Twitter. "The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based."
"We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get much tougher," he says. And then he says, "Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europe's problems," quoting someone that the president had been listening to on "Fox & Friends."
Well, moments ago, and this is the breaking news, the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to this on the Senate floor. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The NYPD who bravely and quickly responded to the scene yesterday and brought the mayhem to the end depends on this anti-terrorism funding to keep our city safe, day in and day out. So, again, I am calling on the president to rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding immediately. Instead of dividing, instead of politicizing, do something real, Mr. President. Restore these funds, now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Instead of dividing, instead of politicizing, do something real, the minority leader said.
Joining me now to discuss this, CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, and CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis. Ron, first to you, again this was less than 24 hours. It's just a statement of fact that the president did go right to politics here this morning, upon waking up, the morning after this terror attack.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And in stark contrast to the response to Las Vegas, right, from not only the president, but the White House after that mass murder, when they said it was inappropriate to have a discussion about gun issues. So, look, it's very different. It is clear that the president, you know, as has been clear since San Bernardino, will use terror as a way to advance his agenda on immigration.
And he is conflating a couple of things here, by the way, that are important. The question of whether to move toward a more merit-based system for legal immigration is one that has been part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013 and 2007.
[10:25:06] The difference is that the president's proposal to do that is in the context of cutting legal immigration in half. So, they not only want to shift away from family reunification toward merit. They want to reduce the number of legal immigrants in half to the point where roughly, I think, 30 million fewer immigrants over the coming decades. So, that debate is something that is going to occur, but it is more complex, as they might expect, than a tweet suggests.
BERMAN: You know, Matt Lewis, I mean, there's certainly a debate over immigration reform and immigration policy, including the diversity visa lottery, which apparently Chuck Schumer wanted to get rid of, as recently as 2013. It's not so much the policy discussion, it's the way the president brought it up and so quickly.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think that's right. I mean, look, I think it's perfectly legitimate to debate, should we have a merit-based program or should we have this diversity visa lottery. And when this -- Chuck Schumer was instrumental in passing it, but that was 20-some years ago. The world has changed. And from time to time, countries do want to re-evaluate their immigration policy. I think the question is, in the immediate aftermath of this terrorist attack, is it proper for a president to politicize something? But, look, if we're expecting Donald Trump to act presidential, it would be unprecedented.
BERMAN: I understand. But I think in times like this, the country needs leadership and needs symbols of togetherness. And you can even bring up immigration discussions and immigration reform and immigration policy. If he wanted to talk about the travel ban this morning in a way that didn't attack Chuck Schumer, you know, you could argue that even that would be OK. It's just when you start calling at it a Democratic Lottery System -
LEWIS: Yes, I think he goes too far and thereby undermines his own argument sometimes. You're right, there may be a smarter way to score some political points and stay within the bounds of normal conversation. And it would actually be more effective if you believe -- if you're a supporter of Donald Trump's policies, he could probably communicate them better.
HARLOW: Ron Brownstein, I think I first met you in the 1950s covering campaigns, so we've covered a lot of campaigns together. George Papadopoulos was a campaign adviser to President Trump. We now know that early on in 2016, he suggested a meeting with Vladimir Putin during the campaign and the then-candidate didn't rule it out. He didn't rule it in, didn't rule it out. He just sort of sat there. Ultimately, Jeff Sessions said it was a bad idea. What does that interaction tell you and how much of interest should it to the special counsel's office?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it will be of interest. I mean, you know, it's hard to know exactly how to read a non-reaction, except that he didn't rule it out, which is kind of the important thing. And it goes with kind of the larger pattern of what we have seen in the campaign, where when various figures in the Trump orbit are approached by Russians, offering various kinds of dirt on Hillary Clinton. The phone call they make is not to the FBI, it is, you know, basically to other people in the campaign, saying, well, essentially, is this something that can benefit us?
I mean, if nothing else, probably the most important single fact we learned on -- when the indictments and the guilty plea was released, was that as early as April 2016, an adviser in the Trump orbit, you know, knew that there were e-mails held my Russians. And as those e- mails were released through the course of the year, no one from the Trump campaign, apparently, you know, told the FBI about these earlier contacts.
BERMAN: He was told that there were e-mails held by Russians. That was in April, which, by the way, was after apparently he suggested to Donald Trump that he meet with Vladimir Putin. The timeline is complicated, to be sure. Ron Brownstein and Matt Lewis, thank you both for being with us today. I really appreciate it.
We do have some live pictures we want to show you right now. This is outside the terror suspect's house in New Jersey. This was from moments ago, actually. Police have been walking in and out all morning, forensic experts going through that house. This is where the suspect lived with his wife and children. Sources now tell us the wife is providing information. We'll give you an update on that information, next.