Return to Transcripts main page


8 Dead, At Least 11 Hurt in NYC Terror Attack; Republicans Delay Tax Bill to Thursday; World Series Going to Game 7. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired November 1, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alex Marquardt. It is Wednesday, November 1st. It's 4:00 a.m. here in New York.

Tightened security here in New York City this morning as victims and their families face the aftermath of a deadly attack in Lower Manhattan. Officials are calling it terrorism. And what we learned so far is that the suspect left a note, claiming that he carried out this attack in the name of ISIS.

ROMANS: The attack killed eight and injured nearly a dozen others. Sources identified the suspect as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov. And at this point, investigators believe he acted alone. He launched this attack in broad daylight on a crowded bike path along the Hudson River, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians for 16 long blocks.

MARQUARDT: It was the deadliest terror attack here in New York City since 9/11, and it ended in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

Now, that's where we find our Jean Casarez live this morning with more on the suspect and the victims -- Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, we are learning more about the victims. We do know that eight people lost their lives yesterday, 11 people were injured. Of those eight, five of them for citizens of Argentina and they knew each other. They were here celebrating their 30th high school reunion, celebrating in New York City. One victim was a Belgium national. We do know that six of the eight were instantly deceased as this suspect drove that flat bed, Home Depot truck southbound along the highway here in New York City.

We also have learned a little bit more about Sayfullo Saipov, 29 years old, Uzbekistan national, been in this country since 2010. He, by trade, was a truck driver by trade. On his marriage certificate in Ohio 2013, it said truck driver.

Currently, CNN was able to confirm that he was a driver with Uber in New Jersey. And one of our producers went to Paterson, New Jersey, spoke with neighbors, saying that he lived at least part of the time in New Jersey. There was also identification correlated him to Florida and Ohio. Now, he went into surgery last night and we were also able to confirm

with law enforcement that they spoke with him before he went into surgery. We don't know what he said or what he said to them.

But here is what we know. It was hours before the 3:05 attack that he rented that Home Depot flat bed truck in New Jersey, drove it over to New York City and began driving southbound on the westbound highway. And that is when he started hitting people as we drove.

We also know that he ended up hitting a school bus, injuring two adults and two students. He then got out of his vehicle brandishing two weapons. An NYPD officer who was on patrol of the area actually shot him at that point, seeing those two weapons, shot him in the abdomen.

Those weapons turned out to be a target gun and paint ball gun, but he was taken to the hospital. The other victims not so lucky, he is alive. But NYPD and FBI believe, as you said, that he acted alone. But they are telling the citizens of New York to be vigilant. If you see something, say something and I can tell you, there are police everywhere this morning and the early hours of the morning here in New York City -- Alex, Christine.

MARQUARDT: Jean, as you mentioned, the suspect was married. Do we know what contact, if any, the conversations the authorities have had with her?

CASAREZ: We don't. Nineteen years old when they got married in 2013. Also Uzbekistan national, Nozima Odilova, is her name. We don't know where she is at this point and we do not know if authorities have found her and spoken with her.

MARQUARDT: All right. Thank you, Jean. We'll be back with you several times this morning.

ROMANS: Ands we know he is alive. I mean, he was shot by police in the abdomen. They were able to speak with him before he went into surgery. But, clearly, they will be able to debrief the subject, this suspect, which is unusual in these attacks.

It comes at a hectic time in New York. It happened just hours before last night's busy Halloween parade, while the city gears up for Sunday's big marathon and next week's mayoral election.

Governor Andrew Cuomo assuring New Yorkers there is no broader threat to be concerned about.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: There's no evidence that suggests a wider plot or wider scheme, but the actions of one individual who meant to cause pain and harm and probably death and the resulting terror. And that was the purpose.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUARDT: President Trump is, of course, from New York City and his wife Melania was in the city when this attack happened. The president tweeting his condolences and prayers to the victims.

[04:05:00] Then he added this, I have just ordered homeland security to step up our already extreme vetting program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this.

Now, of course, we should note that among the countries on that list for extreme vetting, Uzbekistan is not on that list. It is not included in the president's travel ban.

ROMANS: The suspect was admitted to this country with the diversity lottery where you can get a green card or you can a visa to this country, you know, to work and live in the United States. Diversity lottery, not necessarily, usually migration is related to who are related to in the United States, and that's something the president has been critical of in the past as well.

Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Wackrow. He's a former Secret Service agent who served during the Obama administration.

The law enforcement perspective here, it's remarkable that this guy is alive. He came out of that truck, that pickup truck with a pellet gun and paint ball gun. And he is alive. They are going to be able to debrief him.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, police were asking him questions. They were taking the public safety exception and asking him, are there anybody else involved? You know, is there explosives? What is the risk to the public at that time? They were probably asking those questions going into surgery.

The officer that responded did a good job understanding the totality of the circumstances, you know, presented with a weapon. And they put the threat down. I think they did a fantastic job in that moment.

Remember, they didn't understand what was going on. They were on patrol. They were walking along and all of a sudden, they're presented with this threat. And they did their jobs, you know, spectacular response by the NYPD officers.

MARQUARDT: Absolutely.

This was, of course, the deadliest attack in New York since 9/11. It's a very simple one. It's something we have seen in the Middle East. It's something we've seen in Europe over the past few years. Thankfully, it's not something we have seen very much here in the U.S.

What can a city do to stop someone who wants to get in a car and run people over?

WACKROW: Listen, this is the changing tactic of terror. They're looking to exploit the vulnerability of these soft targets. They're looking to, you know, launch attacks where there are no police.

Look at the walkway, it wasn't heavily fortified. They were able to run that truck down and cause immense devastation very quickly.

What can you do? You can start creating culture security awareness. You can start looking at hardening up soft targets.

I mean, there's no one answer that is going to solve for this problem. This is going to take a collective group, a collective mind set to defend, you know, our country against these types of attacks.

ROMANS: This is supposed to be a safe place. When you look at that part of the West Side Highway, it used to be junkie and now it's beautifully developed for people to enjoy. Do we need to think about putting barriers so you can't get a truck in there?

WACKROW: Absolutely. You know, again, the changing tactics of terror, utilizing vehicles as the weapon themselves. You know, I would -- I would think through the course of this investigation you are going to see pre-attack surveillance.

This individual did not take the truck and by coincidence drive down that roadway. There are bollards. There are walls, retaining walls to prevent traffic from the West Side Highway going on to it. So, he knew exactly where to take that truck.

So, again, this is not a crime of opportunity. This wasn't something that happened haphazardly. This was thought of. Again, law enforcement is going to look at was this directed? Or was this an inspired attack?

You know, they are going to look at his network. They are going to dive into his associates to really understand the profile of this individual and the motive. What was it? And is this part of a larger plot?

ROMANS: He passed a background check for Uber. He was an Uber driver for six months in New Jersey in the past year. He passed a background check. He drove a truck. He had a license to drive a truck in Missouri or Ohio.

I mean, he's somebody who police say wasn't on their radar or authorities say wasn't on their radar in a negative way. He was actually utilizing American society to work.

WACKROW: It's terror hiding in plain sight, quite frankly. We don't know when people can be radicalized. Again, there's passing a background check with Uber doesn't mean a lot, unfortunately. This is a for instance of community coming together. If there's anomalies with people, if something is not right. See something, say something. I think you said it earlier.

You know, former police commissioner Bratton said, it's not if, it's when it's going to happen. We are now living in the when. It's happened. We have been attacked. What is New York City going to do? What are the people going to do? The surrounding areas going to do to mitigate the vulnerabilities that we face every single day.

This isn't about building walls around everything and preventing public access, but creating a culture of security awareness, private/public partnerships with law enforcement. You know, civic organizations understanding what we need to do to protect our society.

MARQUARDT: What about his young wife? What will authorities to do reach out to her to get her to talk and question her?

WACKROW: Listen, this is -- the law enforcement right now, it's a hurry-up offense. They are trying to gather as much information as possible around who this individual was. Every associate, to include his wife, her family, they need to expand this network, to find out pathways that, you know, for potential radicalization, pathways for additional attacks.

Who was he talking to? What happened in the moments prior to him launching that attack? Who was he talking to? Searching his cell phone, searching computer, online social media.

Right now, the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI in conjunction with the NYPD, is trying to just put this wide net out there to gather as much as information as possible to start, you know, building a profile for not only this individual, but prevent future attacks.

MARQUARDT: All right. Jonathan, thank you so much.

WACKROW: Thanks.

MARQUARDT: Jonathan Wackrow, law enforcement analyst for CNN and former Secret Service agent during the Obama administration.

Now, the Republicans are delaying the release of their long awaited tax bill to Thursday. Why did they miss their self imposed deadline? Those details, next.


[04:15:43] ROMANS: All right. It was supposed to be Tax Day. But the big reveal has been delayed. The Republicans delaying the release of their long awaited tax bill to Thursday, missing a self-imposed deadline as leaders hammer out some pretty sticky details.

The plan was to unveil it today, this morning. But in a statement late last night, House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, he said leadership, the team there decided to wait. They are still on track he said to approve a bill next week.

The administration is not worried about the delay. The president tweeted that House members are working hard and late toward the massive tax cuts that you know you deserve. A White House aide says this allows more time to resolve differences.

Here are the two sticking points, changes to retirement and eliminating the state and local tax deduction. Both of those moves, if you did that, you would help pay for the tax cuts the GOP members from high tax states don't want to touch the popular state and local tax deduction. Republicans still are working on a compromise.

Speaker Paul Ryan told conservative leaders the GOP may still release some significant details today. One new addition, keeping the top tax rate. Previous proposals cut top bracket from 39.6 percent to 35 percent keeping a higher rate will help fight criticism that the tax plan really helps the wealthy and companies and not the middle class.

MARQUARDT: And it's becoming clear why the feds placed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates under house arrest after they were indicted in the Russia investigation. New details emerged from court filing that reveals Manafort currently has three different U.S. passports. Manafort traveled to Mexico, China, and Ecuador this year with a phone and e-mail account registered under a fake name.

ROMANS: According to prosecutors, Manafort's aide, Rick Gates, has been opening and closing bank accounts frequently, 55 accounts, with 13 different financial institutions to be exact. Prosecutors say both men are multimillionaires with the means and motive to flee. The next court appearance for Manafort engaged is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

MARQUARDT: And a guilty plea from another aide, a former Trump campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos has the White House rattled. CNN has learned that Trump associates are worried about who else could be speaking with the special prosecutor's team. The president and his staff tried to down play the role that Papadopoulos played in the campaign, referring to him as low level and a liar on Twitter.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also reinforcing that message.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What I can say is, I think Papadopoulos is an example of somebody doing the wrong thing while the president's campaign did the right thing. All of his e-mails were voluntarily provided to the special counsel by the campaign. That is what led to the process and the place that we are in now is the campaign fully cooperating and helping with that. What Papadopoulos did was lie and that's on him, not on the campaign. And we can't speak for that.


ROMANS: It is worth noting, the e-mails prove Papadopoulos was in touch with several high level Trump campaign aides. CNN has also learned President Trump is rejecting Steve Bannon's call to fight back hard against special prosecutor Mueller. The president's former chief strategist recommended funding for the investigation should be cut, among other ways, he said, to push back on the Mueller team.

The Mueller's team is also getting ready to interview the White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, by the way. She's one of the president's longest serving aides. The interview is set for mid- November and officials expect all White House interviews done to be by Thanksgiving.

MARQUARDT: And tonight, game seven of one of the greatest World Series of all time. How Los Angeles forced the game at home. That's next.


[04:23:48] MARQUARDT: The World Series is going to a game seven. The Los Angeles Dodgers taking a game six from the Houston Astros, 3-1 last night. L.A. was trailing 1-0 in the sixth inning when Chris Taylor doubled in a run to tie the score. And Corey Seager followed that with a long sacrifice fly, putting L.A. ahead to stay.

Tonight, the Dodgers Stadium will host its first World Series game seven ever, with Yu Darvish taking the mound for L.A. against Lance McCullers Jr.

ROMANS: All right. A teacher in California is recovering this morning after she was held hostage by a parent for nearly seven hours. Authorities say the man barged into his child's elementary school in Riverside, east of Los Angeles. "The L.A. Times" reports the intruder punched a male teacher before taking a female hostage.

MARQUARDT: Officers eventually forced their way into the classroom, shooting the suspect and freeing the teacher. She was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The condition of the parent is unknown. Classes of the school have been canceled for the rest of the week. There is no word on a motive.

ROMANS: TV host Wendy Williams says she is just fine this morning after a scary moment on the show Tuesday. Williams was wearing a Statue of Liberty costume during her program's Halloween costume contest when she fainted on live TV.


[04:25:03] WENDY WILLIAMS, TV HOST: Let's get started. Our first --


ROMANS: The show, as you can see, cut to a commercial break. Afterwards, Williams explained she became overheated in her costume. She acknowledged she did pass out, and added: I'm a champ and I'm back.

Wish her well.

All right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

A terror attack in the shadow of the World Trade Center. This morning, the suspect says he did it for ISIS. What else are authorities learning, live in Lower Manhattan, next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DE BLASIO: Important additional measures are being taken for people's safety. But the bottom line is, we are going to go about our business in the city. We're not going to be deterred.


MARQUARDT: Defiance from leaders and citizens of New York City, in the hours after a terror attack near the World Trade Center. Now, the attacker claims he did it for ISIS.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alex Marquardt.