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8 Dead, 11 Hurt in NYC Terror Attack; Trump Orders Increased Vetting After NYC Attack. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 1, 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.

[05:59:17] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Here we are once again in downtown Manhattan. This, of course, right in the shadow of the Freedom Tower. This is right where 9/11 struck us. And now we have the deadliest successful, if you want to call it, attack since 9/11. Another day with a perfect sky destroyed by terror.

We now know eight people lost their lives. Argentine nationals, a Belgian national. About a dozen hurt. This situation ended with a murderous terrorist ramming into a school bus. Kids were hurt on that bus. Luckily, they survived.

The city, to be honest with you, I don't know how to describe how people here feel. For it to be in the wake of 9/11 and for it to bring back the freshness of those panicked calls of people who didn't know what was going on, who couldn't reach their loved ones, who had kids in that school. It is just all too familiar.

The scale is different. The devastation is different. The destruction is different. But the feeling is the same. And as you'll hear this morning, so many are left with the same questions. Can you avoid something like this? Is this just part of normal life now even here in one of the safest cities in the shadows of one of the safest places in the world after what happened on 9/11?

So a lot of things are brought back. And there were a lot of new questions, as well, about the man who did these murders, about him doing it in the name of terror, about how this could have been prevented and how it can be prevented going forward. They are troubling questions that often don't find satisfying answers.

But let's start with what we know happened here in New York City yesterday afternoon on Halloween. Jean Casarez has the facts -- Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is the worst terror attack in New York City since 9/11. 8 people lost their lives, 11 injured. And we are so very close to the World Trade Center.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got multiple casualties. This is a mass casualty situation here.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Terrifying moments in downtown Manhattan. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need traffic shut down from the 14th Street on

the West Side Highway. It's going to be a crime scene.

CASAREZ: A pick-up truck barreling down a busy bike and footpath for nearly a mile, the carnage ending just blocks from the World Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just out of nowhere, I hear -- see people -- I see people running and screaming, and then just multiple gunshots, one after another.

CASAREZ: Police say the suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was shot in the stomach and remains hospitalized. A law enforcement source says a note was found near the truck, saying the attack was done in the name of ISIS.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: There's no evidence that suggests a wider plot, or a wider scheme. We will be vigilant.

CASAREZ: Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan, came to the United States in 2010. In 2013, he married a young woman, also from Uzbekistan, in Ohio. The occupation listed on his marriage license, truck driver.

Law enforcement sources tell CNN Saipov is connected to a residence in Tampa, Florida, but most recently lived in Paterson, New Jersey. Uber confirms to CNN that Saipov worked for them for the past six months and passed their background check. The company says they are cooperating with authorities.

Saipov was arrested in Missouri in 2016 after failing to appear in court for a traffic violation. Police say Saipov rented the pickup truck from this Home Depot store in New Jersey just before carrying out the attack.

At 3:05 p.m., the truck entered the bike path, driving south along New York City's river front on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, plowing into cyclists and pedestrians for nearly a mile. Bodies and mangled bikes strewn across the path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see two gentlemen laying right there in the bike lane with tire marks across their body, and you can tell that they're not here no more.

CASAREZ: The truck eventually coming to a halt after crashing into a school bus outside Stuyvesant High School. The attacker, caught on camera, running from the truck, brandishing what appear to be two guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was dragging his foot a little bit. He was screaming, and he was screaming in the street. He looked frustrated, panicked, confused.

CASAREZ: Police later discovering that Saipov was holding a pellet and paintball gun. The suspect was shot by a 28-year-old NYPD officer, Ryan Nash. One World Trade Center and Empire State Building lighting up in red, white, blue Tuesday night, despite the attack. The city's Halloween parade going on as planned with tighter security.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: New Yorkers are strong. New Yorkers are resilient. And our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence, an act meant to intimidate us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: And we are learning a little more about the victims in this case. Five of those that were killed were citizens of Argentina here in New York City to celebrate their 30th high school reunion. Another victim who lost their life was a Belgian national -- Chris.

CUOMO: Jean, thank you for the reporting. And part of that reunion party was also among the injured. We're going to learn more about the people who were victimized here. Some are believed to have self- evacuated. That means they got hurt but they got out, because they were so frightened. Just imagine living through a moment like this once you realize what it is.

So we'll take you through what we know about who are the victims here.

[06:05:04] We also have the intelligence component and the investigative component. We have it all covered for you. We have our reporter -- reporter and producer Shimon Prokupecz is in D.C. now, but very few people are as well-connected with New York policing as he is. We have Philip Mudd, of course, CNN intelligence and terror analyst; and James Gagliano, obviously been in the job of investigating this on the federal level for many years and now, lucky for us, a law enforcement analyst.

Let's start on the intel side. Phil, I heard you last night. From an intel perspective, this lays out pretty flat to you. How do you see it?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND TERROR ANALYST: Don't rush to judgment here. You see the public perspective. That's not what you would have on the inside. The public perspective says, "Hey, he yelled 'Allahu Akbar.' He's a foreigner from Central Asia. Must be terrorism."

There are a lot of layers to this. I want to look at the first layer of things like what's his phone say? What's his Facebook say?"

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And he leaves a note.

CUOMO: Which the reporting is that was supposedly in English, supposedly says, "I'm doing this as a supporter of ISIS." And he, you know, says what he says. And I know that there's a whole debate about, you know, what that expression is supposed to mean within the nature of the faith of Islam versus how it's used by these terror guys. What else do you need to know?

MUDD: I need to know a lot. His mental state, drug and alcohol abuse, what his family says, what his employers say. I need to take that time line back. He's been in the United States seven years. So on the inside, I'm just following the facts. I'm not putting a phrase on this guy. I'm not putting a term on him. I'm saying give me a couple days to determine what the facts are. The public can make a judgment. I can't do that yet.

CUOMO: When they start off saying it's a terror investigation, do you think that they're then getting ahead of themselves?

MUDD: No, I think -- on the public side, I'd say I'm 95 percent confident this is a terrorism case. There is the five percent piece there where just let me follow where this goes, because when I talk to his family and they say, "Oh, he just lost his job last year," maybe he's estranged from the family. You start to say there are other mental issues going on here. Let's understand.

CUOMO: And just so you know, you're going to hear these choppers. These are the news choppers. There is no urgency going on down here; there is no continuing threat, as far as we've been told by the authorities. But you will hear it throughout the morning.

James, the paintball gun and the pellet gun, arms raised as he comes out of the truck, according to one of the eyewitnesses we'll have on this morning. What does that mean to you?

GAGLIANO: It means a lot. First of all, we know that the paradigm has shifted, right? Many of these attacks. And let's go back to last June in London, the London Bridge attack. Another of the attackers, when they came out of the vehicle armed with knives, they had fake explosives on. We determine that that is their way of facing martyrdom, hurting themselves. So they want suicide by cop. We know that this attacker was armed with a pellet gun, the paintball gun, a similar type of event, where he was looking to be engaged by a police officer. He was. He was shot in the abdomen.

Chris, the most critical piece of the investigation is going to be the interview with him. He came out of the hospital last -- I'm sorry, came out of surgery last night. The JTTF is there. They're going to interview him, and that is going to be the most critical piece to follow to make sure there are no threats of accomplices.

CUOMO: Now, how does the one fact fit into your analysis that he took off? He didn't stay there and wait to take on officers. He fled, and luckily, a guy from the First Precinct was nearby, took him down. How does that factor in?

GAGLIANO: Well, that's the terror piece of this. He jumps out. He's got the two weapons in his hand. We know they weren't real guns. Pellet gun, paintball gun. But it's the terror effect. And that's what we know that they want to do. They want to sow that discord and sow that terror. That's a component in this.

CUOMO: How about a choice of location? There's the new World Trade Center, right over our head. Look, let's just be honest, we all lived 9/11. This really takes you back. The phone calls from people, you know, who couldn't find their loved ones, the cell towers or whatever. They weren't able to, you know, maybe there was a flood of traffic. They couldn't get through. People with their kids in that school, it's not 9/11. It's nothing like 9/11 in terms of the scope of devastation that we suffered that day.

But this choice of venue means a lot. I mean, this city is a symbol for the world of certain values. He obviously knew that. He obviously picked it on purpose.

MUDD: He did. But if you look at where we've gone in the past 16 years, there's going to be a lot of conversations over the next day or two about what do we do about it?

For example, do you provide more security around a facility like this? As we saw the event in Las Vegas, do you look at outdoor venues differently? Do you look at Times Square differently? I came through Times Square last night. Still, thankfully, a lot of people walking around. But if you look at the range of events we've seen in 16 years, schools, bus stations, train stations.

Now, an event like this where you have the place I run every morning on the West Side Highway, how do you secure those facilities? People will jump to judgment and say we should be putting bollards up, those concrete posts you see. I don't think it's possible over time. Too many targets.

GAGLIANO: Chris, you and I were here on 9/11. My office was five blocks away, you know, the 36 As you pointed out, it is very, very visceral. There are going to be changes coming down. And a number of those changes are going to be the barriers. We believe the subject had obviously scoped out the West Side Highway. West Street, which is just...

[06:10:04] CUOMO: There are barriers along that roadway. He picked a place, West Houston, where he could just hop the curb.

GAGLIANO: He knew where he could hop the curb, and he knew where he could run 16 blocks, one mile unimpeded. I believe that places like Times Square and places like this, where you're going to have pedestrian and bike paths we're going to have to think those and how we have to separate them from motorized traffic.

How do you live life and not be affected by terror, versus how do you insulate yourself from it. It was sickening this morning to see that on Google Maps. I'm not blaming the platform. But when you Google this area, it comes off as New York City attack, and it shows you the whole path. It's now denoted as that. Shimon, let me bring you in here. Look, it is a conspicuous absence. I'm not saying the murderer's names. I don't think that their identity has a lot of value to people in terms of notoriety. I don't think we should do it.

But he does matter in terms of significance to cops and what he can tell our investigators about who he is, what he represents and who he may have known. What do we know so far?

PROKUPECZ: All right. So we know that he was living or he had a residence in New Jersey, not far, really, from Paterson, New Jersey, and really not that far from where this attack occurred.

We don't know how long he's been living there. He also has an address in Tampa, Florida. And investigators and police have been there, as well, in Tampa. They've been in New Jersey. We know that the FBI spent the night and may still be at his home in New Jersey. They've been interviewing family, people who know him, neighbors, trying to paint a picture, really, of what was going on in his life. That is going to be the key here.

At this point, they believe, authorities believe that he acted alone. But again, they're still going through, as you said, his phones. They need to go through his phones. They need to go through his computers and sort of build out what he was doing leading up to this attack. Was he somehow radicalized? Was he watching videos? In a lot of these cases, we find that, up until the attacks sometimes, the suspects are watching videos, whether on their cell phones or at home and computers. And they become self-radicalized and then they go ahead and do these attacks.

So that is what the FBI is doing right now with the NYPD. It's a joint investigation. And you know, we're hoping to get more answers today, when the police are supposed to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. down in -- at police headquarters.

CUOMO: All right. Shimon, thank you very much, pal. Let me know throughout the show as you learn things. And you will. You're one of that precious few who still has the kind of contacts where you'll get information in the moment. Let us know as you get it.

Phil, they didn't want to release the name. Not that unusual. They didn't want to say what hospital he was in. Not that unusual. But there was a cageyness to this. And I'm not criticizing it. But what does that identify for you?

MUDD: Different situations. Hospital, I'm thinking public safety. Let me make sure people aren't coming up, trying to get in the room.

The other issue about releasing the name is more significant in my world, my intelligence world. I want to go to those apartments. I want to talk to people. I can't assume from day one, from moment one that he's acting alone. I don't want to spook anybody. So if they haven't head yet, if they're not confident that it's the guy living next door, that it's the guy who is their roommate at some point, that if the husband, I don't want to spook him. To make sure that when I go there, if I can ensure they'll stick around, they're still there. As soon as I release the name, if there is a co-conspirator, he might run.

CUOMO: You know, you were talking to the guys yesterday who are at the scene. I got here after that. You know, the location, of course, New York City. The World Trade Center is one of the most highly- secured places that you'll find.

JTTF, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, is right there. DCPI headquarters were there. State police headquarters over there. And yet this guy is just able to rent a truck and do this. The biggest thing that I noticed from guys yesterday was disappointment. Not shock. Not that kind of bone-chilling fear of what's next. But just disappointment. Like God, man, we're all over this place, and he was still able to do it.

What do you do? You know what I mean? Where is the better? Where is the safe?

GAGLIANO: And you pointed out earlier, New York City is the safest large city in the world. It truly is. And that's a testament to 35,000 NYPD. Cops. It's a testament to the 1,200 FBI agents, all the federal, local, state folks who work together.

CUOMO: This doesn't happen on a regular basis.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And as we've talked about before, Chris, remember, in law enforcement, have to get it right every single time. The bad guys have to get it right one time. In this situation, I think John Miller from the NYPD spoke about this yesterday at the press conference. There's at a lot of buildup here. After the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, in 1995, we began tracking people that were purchasing large amounts of diesel fuel and fertilizer, because it made sense. Those are components of a bomb. If they weren't farmers or they weren't dealing in petroleum export, we knew to focus on that.

It's the same thing here with the thing John Miller said that they were 200 different rental places -- U-Haul, Ryder, Home Depot -- where we're sending agents and police officers, just to make contact, because we understand now this has been the new paradigm. We have to be prepared for it.

CUOMO: Evolving threat.

[06:15:03] Alisyn, we'll go back to you in the studio right now. You know, people who know trucks will look at this pick-up a little differently. It's got a different kind of bed on it. It was heavy. And the damage to the front of it is, of course, from where it hit the bus and it dinged a couple of things on the way down. But I have to tell you, the people you feel for the most are obviously the victims.

But the eyewitnesses also. What he did in that truck, the images I've seen here, that I don't think many of them have been released to the public. And that's arguably a good thing. But this is a devastating thing to have beheld. And now you have part of this population who has seen something that nobody should ever have to see. We're lucky that the numbers weren't much higher.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, yes. I mean, it's horrifying all the way around. Obviously, the scars, physical and mental, will last. But it was very heartening, Chris, that the parade, the Halloween parade went on. New Yorkers still came out to the streets. They didn't hide in their apartments. You know, New Yorkers are strong. Americans have become strong amidst all of this.

So obviously, we'll be talking about that, as well. So great to have you down there in Lower Manhattan. We'll be back with you momentarily.

Meanwhile, President Trump tweeting that he has ordered increased vetting after this New York attack. What does that mean? And in other news, a source tells CNN that the president is rejecting his former chief strategist Steve Bannon's advice to take a harder line against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

CNN's Joe Johns has all this covered for us. He is live at the White House.

Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

The president has his cabinet meeting scheduled today. He's also got an intelligence briefing around 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Shortly after that is when we expect to see him on camera.

The president has no official remarks scheduled today here at the White House, though it would not be surprising if he has something to say about this terror attack in his hometown.

His wife, Melania, the first lady, was in New York at the time of the attack and even tweeted about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump responding to the deadliest terror attack in the U.S. since he took office, tweeting that he ordered homeland security to step up our already extreme vetting program, but providing no additional information about what the order means.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the president sent a series of tweets calling the suspect sick and deranged and asserting "we must not allow ISIS to return or enter our country" before offering his condolences to the victims.

The suspect is from Uzbekistan, a country that has not been included in any version of the president's travel ban. The New York City attack comes as the White House is facing tough questions about two former Trump campaign aides, now charged, and the third who pleaded guilty in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb telling CNN the president has decided to stick with his strategy of cooperating with Mueller for now, despite being urged to take a harder line by his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, sources tell CNN.

One of the president's closest and longest-serving aides, communications director Hope Hicks, will be interviewed by Mueller's team in mid-November.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

JOHNS: President Trump ignoring questions about former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos after it was revealed he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What Papadopoulos did was lie, and that's on him, not on the campaign.

JOHNS: The White House press secretary attempting to discredit Papadopoulos and distance the president from him after Mr. Trump called his former adviser a low-level volunteer and a proven liar on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the coffee boy. He had nothing to do with the campaign.

JOHNS: This as a new court filing sheds light on why authorities place the president's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, on house arrest. Both men pleaded not guilty to 12 criminal counts this week, including money laundering and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

The new document shows Manafort holds three U.S. passports, each under a different number. He traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador this year with a phone and e-mail account registered under a fake name.

Prosecutors say Gates frequently changed banks, opening 55 accounts with 13 financial constitutions and that both men were frequent travel stories to Cyprus where some of Gates' bank accounts are based.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: We could see Manafort and Gates in federal court here in Washington, D.C., as early as tomorrow. If convicted, they could face upwards of 10 years in prison, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for all those new details.

Up next, we have an eyewitness to the terror. This is a man who watched the suspect's rampage. He's going to join us with his first- hand account of how the attack happened. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:23:43] CUOMO: All right. We're at the site of the deadliest terror attack since 9/11. You're looking at overhead video right now. Obviously, it's still an active police investigation. If you look closely, you'll see the vehicle that was involved in this mass murder. A rental vehicle from a Home Depot acquired just before the attack by this man, who is now known in police custody and supposedly talking, very important to investigators.

But the toll that matters and the names that matter are those of the victims. Eight lives lost, at least; 11 injured, maybe more. Why maybe? Because authorities believe some may have self-evacuated. They may have been hit or come into contact with this and left because of the fear.

It was about a mile stretch of a place that was set up as an oasis here in New York City. This West Side Park. These bike paths. You know, this was a dream come true for people here, a place to get some green, get some air, be outside, enjoy life. This man knew that. He jumped the curb at a vulnerable spot, in an area called Houston Street, Houston Street specifically, and drove about a mile. He was eventually being pursued by an unmarked vehicle we're told by authorities and according to reports.

But they couldn't stop him. And he was taking out people as he went along until he came into contact with a school bus right here. One of the best schools in America, a place that's a bastion of diversity and free education, Stuyvesant High School. He hit a school bus right there. He hurt a couple of kids on the bus, a couple of adults, as well. But that's where his path ended.

[06:25:19] He got out. He was holding two weapons. People didn't know what they were. Arms were raised. He supposedly said something. There was a note on the ground saying why he did this. And it was for the worst reasons. And then he took off and luckily was intercepted by a police officer from the first precinct here, hit in the abdomen, taken into custody.

So those are the facts. The experience of living through this, in this city that is such a symbol to the world, 9/11. The World Trade Center right in the shadow of it. This is supposed to be one of the safest places in the world. And it raises questions about what does safe even mean anymore? There are a lot of people who had to live through this entire population, aware of it obviously.

But we spoke to someone who was there, who literally had this vehicle bearing down on him. His name is Christiaan Wagener. And here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Christiaan, I'm glad you're OK.

CHRISTIAAN WAGENER, WITNESS: Thank you.

CUOMO: So we were talking about, you know, the long life that you've had from Amsterdam to California for so many years. Now you're here in New York. How did you find yourself on that path?

WAGENER: I was moving apartments, actually, and I need to go get a computer display, another one for my -- my job at home.

CUOMO: So you were just taking a stroll.

WAGENER: Taking a stroll, beautiful day, gorgeous day, fall day. I'm walking down Chandler Avenue. And school is letting out. I'm surrounded by kids, and I'm working my way through the noise. And I start getting down the bike path, and I see this truck, like a flatbed truck come barreling down. I wasn't even sure whether it was on the bike path or the road. And I realized it was coming really fast and hitting things.

And I saw the car chasing us. An undercover car with flashing lights chasing it. So I looked at that, and the car was heading directly for me. Then a bus started coming. That car hits the bus, went up in the air a little bit, and then flopped down. I started running, because it was coming right at me. And the bus kind of cut it off, stopping it in the middle of the street.

CUOMO: Do you think the bus was aware or do you think the bus driver was blind-sided?

WAGENER: I doubt it. I mean, you don't expect a car to come barreling down the bike path.

CUOMO: Now was that part of it, in your estimation? Was that part of it an accident? Did you think the guy in that truck wanted to hit the bus?

WAGENER: I don't think so. That would be so random. Because he started a long ways back, apparently. I mean, I just saw, like, the last 10 seconds of his run.

CUOMO: And did you see the guy get out of the truck?

WAGENER: Well, actually, what happened is, you know, it hit the bus. And I was running away, because I was in the path. And then I turned around, and I saw the car had stopped at that point. So I turned around and thought I should take a picture just in case somebody needs documentation or something.

CUOMO: What did you think it was?

WAGENER: Just a freak accident. Actually, what I thought is that the guy in the truck was running away from the police, that he had done something or was in a stolen truck or something like that. I thought it was a police chase.

CUOMO: Did you ever see the guy?

WAGENER: Yes. So then after the truck hit the ground again, I turned around, took the picture of the truck. Then I saw the guy standing next to the truck after I lowered my -- my phone. He was standing next to the truck and was slowly raising his arms. Then I saw a gun in each hand.

So I turned around and called out, "Gun," and there were all these kids there. The kids started screaming, "Gun, gun, gun." I started to run. And so I started running. They were running. But they were kind of frozen. People were kind of frozen. They started turning around and looking at that. I said, "Get out of here." You know. I don't know. I don't know what happened. But I went around the corner. So I said get around the corner. There were some kids that stand around the corner.

CUOMO: So you saw the man exit the vehicle. You saw what appeared to be weapons in his hands.

WAGENER: Right.

CUOMO: Did you hear him saying anything?

WAGENER: I couldn't hear anything.

CUOMO: Did he make any movement while you were there?

WAGENER: Just raising his arms. And as he was raising his arms, I looked at the guns, and I thought those are strange looking guns. They don't look like any gun I've ever seen.

CUOMO: He had a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

WAGENER: That's what I heard much later on, because I was looking at that and I thought, my God, that's very strange looking guns.

CUOMO: Did he take off or did you take off?

WAGENER: I took off. I waited around the corner. I just left at that point. Then I heard the shots right after I went around the corner. It was kind of hard to tell how many shots, because it ricochets. I heard the shots. And I thought, my God. At first I thought the guns that he had were some sophisticated, fast-acting guns.

CUOMO: Fortunately, there was a cop...