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ISIS Claims Responsibility for NYC Truck Attack; Obstruction of Justice against President Trump?; Former DNC Chair Accuses Party of Rigging Primary Against Sanders; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:34] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: ISIS claims the terror suspect who carried out that deadly truck attack here in the New York City is, quote, "a soldier of the caliphate," end quote. The terror ground providing no evidence to back their claim. This comes as New York City is stepping up efforts to protect people from vehicle attacks like that one.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Lower Manhattan with more.

What have you learned, Alex?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. That's right. Well, that's an important differentiation to make. Attacks that are inspired by ISIS versus attacks that are directed by ISIS. The statement that came out overnight from the terror group says that the attacker here in New York was a soldier of the caliphate offering no evidence that they had any sort of role in the attack.

And so far we have not seen any evidence from the investigators that there was any sort of relationship, direct relationship, between the attacker and the terror group. But oftentimes these inspired attacks can be just as deadly. And we know that the attacker was very much inspired by the group. He has waived his Miranda rights. He is speaking with investigators. He said that he has watched the video by the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

When he was apprehended they found his cell phone with some 90 videos and almost 4,000 photos on that cell phone that are ISIS related. And as well as a note in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS. We know that he asked if he could display an ISIS flag in his hospital room, which obviously didn't happen. He'd even considered displaying ISIS flags in the truck as he carried out this attack, barreling down this bike path on the west side of Manhattan.

[06:35:06] So that allegiance to ISIS is unquestioned. It is absolutely certain. Now in response to this horrific attack, New York has responded, as other cities have, by doing what they can, by putting up concrete barriers at some 579 different intersections -- 57 different intersections all along the west side here from 59th Street all the way down to Battery Park, if you know New York as you do. This is how New York also responded to another car-ramming attack in

May. It is how European cities have responded to these horrific vehicular attacks over the past two years. These global cities doing what they can to prevent these very basic but very deadly attacks -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Alexander Marquardt, thank you so much for being with us. Do appreciate it.

Investigators taking a close look at Jared Kushner this morning and the role that he may have played in the firing of James Comey.

Is the Robert Mueller -- is Robert Mueller building an obstruction of justice case against the president? We'll discuss next.


BERMAN: New revelations about Trump campaign ties to Russia. A campaign adviser who attended a meeting last year where George Papadopoulos proposed a Trump-Putin meeting said then candidate Trump listened and heard him out. Jeff Sessions was there, too, but has testified as recently as last week that he didn't know of any campaign workers communicating with Russia.

[06:40:09] Let's discuss now with James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, now CNN national security analyst.

Director, thank you so much for being with us. When you keep hearing former Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos, Carter Page say that they brought up the fact that they have been talking to Russia, then you keep hearing Jeff Sessions denying that he was ever told of campaign workers communicating with Russia, does it raise alarm bells?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it does. I think this drip, drip, drip of denials and then revelations that would indicate something counter to these denials, and, again, as I have said before, the best thing can happen here is come to closure on this and that there be a resolution once and for all. That's why I think the special counsel work is so important.

And I think former director Bob Mueller will continue his very methodical, comprehensive approach to this. But yes, it does raise concerns and it certainly would appear to belie all the staunch denials of any connection with the Russians.

BERMAN: You want the special counsel to continue his work. You have praised him. Does it look to you like he is building a case for obstruction to justice?

I asked this because CNN reporting overnight they're getting documents from Jared Kushner. They keep on focusing on meetings surrounding the firing of James Comey.


BERMAN: Then later on in the summer about that meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with Russians.

CLAPPER: Well, as a layman, I'm not a lawyer.

BERMAN: Right.

CLAPPER: And so I can't parse what is obstruction or not. But I felt that way on its face when Jim Comey was so preemptively fired. After apparently the president seeking pledges of loyalty in this sort of thing, or asking him to fall off the investigation of Mike Flynn. So on its face, again as a layman, it appears that way. And again I think Special Counsel Mueller is going to thoroughly explore all the implications and ramifications, as he should.

BERMAN: You know, you brought up James Comey. And it makes me think about something that happened last night. Tucker Carlson on FOX TV, he opened up his show with a diatribe against the FBI. He talked about failures in Las Vegas investigation. Failures in the Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooting investigation. Also issues surrounding Hillary Clinton.

The president was watching, and this is what he wrote. "The Tucker Carlson opening statement about our once cherished and great FBI was so sad to watch. James Comey's leadership was a disaster."

Again, you obviously were deeply involved with the FBI during much of the time the president is talking about there.


BERMAN: Your response?

CLAPPER: Well, I completely disagree with that characterization. I thought Jim was a superb director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And I know the bureau well enough to know that's how the rank and file employees felt about his leadership.

I thought he was a superb leader. And so I don't buy this criticism. I think the FBI remains a cherished institution in this country.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about what many considered to be this sort of unfunniest funny story from overnight which is that for 11 minutes last night President Trump's Twitter account was disabled. Apparently Twitter says it was by an employee on his last day. But given the fact that the president often uses Twitter to announce official actions, to make statements about official government policy, does it not raise serious concerns if an employee can shut it down for 11 minutes? What else can a Twitter employee do?

CLAPPER: Well, yes, it does. As I understand it, Twitter said this was an inadvertent mistake. So, you know, I can't evaluate that. But yes, there's -- it does raise a concern here when you see how much the president relies on a commercial concern like this to profit making to convey communications to the world and to the public. And the fact that an employee, whether inadvertent or intentional, could cut that off is -- well, it's a sign of the times, I guess. BERMAN: It's the sign of the times, but, you know, on the eve of the

trip to Asia obviously when North Korea will be a focus and there seems to be a back and forth with North Korea that at least on this end is conducted through Twitter, it does make it all seem very serious.

CLAPPER: It does. And I would hope that we can kind of cool it on the tweets with and about North Korea. I think some temperance and moderation here would be very helpful.

[06:45:12] BERMAN: Put in the mind of Kim Jong-un, which I know is something that's very hard to do, but obviously something that intelligence services have tried to do for years right now. You have concerns about this back and forth where you say you don't know exactly where his trigger point is. Explain.

CLAPPER: Exactly. At first, you know, the North Koreans and Kim Jong-un, they are rational in their way. They see world a different way than we do. But I do worry about not knowing what his ignition point is, what would set him off. And in President Trump's case, he is -- does have advisers who are moderate, temperate, wise, and seasoned.

And Kim Jong-un does not. He basically is surrounded by psychopaths that are hardly going to push back or propose counter courses of action. Going against Kim Jong-un is not a good way to get ahead in North Korea as we've seen. So I do worry about the fact that the decision there to do something rash basically resides in the hands of one person and that's Kim Jong-un.

BERMAN: Right.

CLAPPER: And of course what he craves is recognition as a nuclear power and, you know, achieving and sustaining as deterrents by virtue of his nuclear capabilities.

BERMAN: Director James Clapper, thanks so much for being with us. Have a great morning, sir.

CLAPPER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, a stunning claim by former DNC chair Donna Brazile. She says the Clinton campaign rigged the Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders. Sanders' former campaign manager joins us with his reaction next.


[06:50:58] CAMEROTA: Former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile claims in a new book that she, quote, "stumbled onto a shocking truth about the Clinton campaign," end quote. Immediately after becoming chair in July of 2016.

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign allegedly made a secret arrangement with the DNC to pay off all the DNC's debt in exchange for complete control. Brazile says the DNC was therefore rigged in Clinton's favor.

Joining me now is former chairman for Bernie Sanders's campaign, Jeff Weaver.

Hi, Jeff.


CAMEROTA: I'm well. So what did you think when you read Donna Brazile's revelation?

WEAVER: Well, it was obviously a shocking revelation, although I have to say, as you know, as someone who followed this campaign very closely in 2016, it was pretty clear right from the get-go that the DNC was in the Clinton camp with the rigged debate schedule and a host of other interventions including, as you remember, them taking away our access to our voter fraud data in December of 2015.

So it was pretty clear that they were on the Clinton side. I don't think any of us imagined that there was actually a formal arrangement giving the Clinton campaign control of the DNC, that's for sure.

CAMEROTA: Have you talked with Senator Sanders about this?

WEAVER: Yes, as a matter of fact -- as a matter of fact I have talked to Senator Sanders about this, and a lot of other people.

CAMEROTA: And what does he say?

WEAVER: Well, look, this is what he is focused on. As you may know, out of the Democratic National Convention, there was a Unity Reform Commission on which I serve that has appointees by Senator Sanders as well as Secretary Clinton. And they are almost completed their work. And they're going to put forward -- we're going to put forward a number of reforms to the electoral process and to the operation of the DNC.

And what we have got to do is make sure that the leadership of the DNC, Chairman Tom Perez and the other members of the DNC pass these reforms so that we don't have this type of thing happening again. And they have got to come out early and often and say that they're going to support the outcome of the Unity Reform Commission. If they don't, then I think we'll know which side they are on in terms of reforming the party going forward.

CAMEROTA: Jeff, that's awfully magnanimous. Is Senator Sanders angry?

WEAVER: Well, I can tell you that I am angry, certainly. And I'm angry not just for myself but for the millions and millions of people who participated in the Democratic primary process. And that is why we are working so hard, Senator Sanders and others, to make sure that this type of thing never happens again. The rank and file of the Democratic Party should choose the nominee of

the party, not party elites. And for too long party elites have dominated what goes on at the very top of the Democratic Party and the rank and file of the party, millions in millions in millions of people across this country have been shut out. That has got to stop. We have got to empower state parties and we have got to empower the rank and file of the Democratic Party so that is in position to beat Trump and the Republicans in 2018 and 2020.

CAMEROTA: Now, listen, on the flip side, I mean, it sounds like what Hillary Clinton's campaign was doing was bailing out the DNC. The DNC had become cash-strapped. I mean, in financial dire straits. They were -- they might have gone belly up. I mean, they were in huge debt. And so Hillary Clinton's campaign basically bailed them out. So doesn't she get some reward for stepping in to do that?

WEAVER: Well, I think that the Hillary Clinton campaign should be commended for helping the DNC out of its financial mismanagement. But let's be clear, but when you have a primary process, a contested primary process, and let's not forget you had Senator Sanders in the race, you had Governor O'Malley in the race, you had Vice President Biden thinking about getting in the race. If Vice President Biden had gotten into the race in 2015, would he have had to compete against the DNC the way that Senator Sanders did? I mean, it's just --

CAMEROTA: I don't know. What's the answer to that?

WEAVER: It's a ridiculous situation, Alisyn. You cannot have a political party in a hotly contested presidential primary being controlled by one of the candidates. That is just --


CAMEROTA: But I mean, let's be -- when you said being controlled by one of the candidates, I mean, the way the story comes out it was -- let me put this up for you.


CAMEROTA: Because it just shows the magnitude of the debt crisis that the DNC was facing.

[06:55:08] Officials from Hillary Clinton's campaign had taken a look at the DNC's books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt. $15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign.

So this is from Donna Brazile's account. OK.

WEAVER: Right.

CAMEROTA: So then what Hillary Clinton did was say, I'm going to help the DNC raise money. I'm going to help them get out of their debt. And in exchange, I'm actually going to put them on sort of a fiscal diet. I'm going to control what they can spend it on because clearly they can't control their own books. What's wrong with that? WEAVER: Well, look, it wasn't just a fiscal diet. They had control

or veto power over staff hires. And we know from various leaked e- mails that they colluded on the whole debate process about how many debates there would be and when they would be.

We know that the Clinton campaign lawyer was telling DNC staffers how to respond to criticisms from our campaign. So it is not just about a fiscal diet. It was about one campaign controlling the DNC. It's just an unacceptable situation.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Jeff, very, very quickly.


CAMEROTA: Who is the leader of the Democratic Party right now?

WEAVER: Well, I would say that there are a number of leading voices in the party. Certainly Senator Sanders is one of those people. President Obama obviously has a tremendous leadership role in the party right now. And there are a number of other strong voices --

CAMEROTA: Elizabeth Warren?

WEAVER: -- who's standing up to Trump. Elizabeth Warren is still the leader of the party. Absolutely, 100 percent, yes. So there are a number of leaders in the House and the Senate and the governors across the country.

CAMEROTA: OK. Jeff Weaver, thank you very much for coming on and talking about all of this. Nice to see you.


BERMAN: All right. President Trump set to leave for Asia very shortly amid several major revelations in the Russia investigation. Despite repeated denials, we now know the president was told one of his campaign aides was in contact with Russia. We have all the details, next.



JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump did not dismiss the idea of arranging a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Trump.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's about a cover-up to keep us from learning what these people did and what they knew.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Investigators have been asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of Comey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's rather obnoxious to hear everybody talk about this Russia collusion when you know the facts don't bear out.

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: This is not a nothing burger. This is very, very serious.

CAMEROTA: The former interim DNC chair suggesting the nomination was rigged to Hillary Clinton.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a real problem. We've got to hold this party accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our opportunity to make tax reform --

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: The bill is like fish . It stays out in the sunlight too long, it stinks.