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Person in Custody after Explosion; Trump's Watches at least Four Hours of TV; Pipe Bomb Detonates in Times Square. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 11, 2017 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Case, one person, all by his or herself, could do this fairly easily.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. I mean, look, the sad reality is, we're not telling people who want to be in the business of doing bad things anything they don't already know. If you look at Boston, if you look at what happened in London, you know, backpacks, pots, there's lots of different ways to make crude devices that can do a lot of harm.

Now, Tom, people are always anxious to hear that this is terrorism. Will you explain to people why that determination is not as simple as somebody who tried to do a bad thing to a large group of people?

FUENTES: Well, they have to determine, for terrorism, that it's the motivation for doing the attack is political, religious, nationalistic, it's part of some ideology, as opposed to a deranged person. Now, that ideology could be in support of an international terrorist organization based overseas, i could be in support of a domestic organization, a white supremacist group, for example, or neo- Nazi, Ku Klux Klan, that type of organization, which would make it domestic terrorism. So terrorism requires that it's based on an ideology. And then domestic or international is determined by where the organization is based.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. OK, Tom, if you would stand by for us, we'd really appreciate it.

We have our reporter, Brynn Gingras, who is on set with us who has some new reporting.

Brynn, what have you just learned?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've just learned that this person, or this man, was wearing this device. And it was a homemade device, according to sources. And it either didn't detonate according to plan or it somehow malfunctioned when it was supposed to detonate. That's what we're hearing preliminary from these sources as to what exactly what was going on.

Still trying to learn exactly how many injuries we're talking about here, if there's any. I know that Evan Perez was saying that it could have been -- from his sources learning it could have been something catastrophic, and it wasn't, so that's good news there. We also know that this suspect, this man, we don't know anything about

him other than that he is in custody. He is alive. I was told from my source that they just saw him on a stretcher not too long ago. So you can sure that he's going to be questioned very soon.

At this point, we know law enforcement is just taking people -- I mean as I know you guys have mentioned this -- taking people in, questioning them, trying to put all the pieces together.

CUOMO: Right. And this is the Port Authority on our screen right now. This is not Times Square. This is not where the -- this is at the Port Authority. This is where this happened.

GINGRAS: Correct. This happened at the Port Authority. It is an avenue way from Times Square.

CUOMO: Right.

GINGRAS: Certainly it's all connected underground in some way, shape, or form, but, yes.

CAMEROTA: In fact, do you have any reporting that suggests that what Tom Fuentes was just saying may be in one of the underground passageways or tunnels, something like that, anything?

GINGRAS: I don't. I've been trying to get exactly where it happened, if it was even on a train, on a platform, yes, in tunnel. That I'm trying to still figure out. But, yes, that -- you can see the scene stretches for several --

CUOMO: I mean, look, and, again, you know, people get touchy with these types of analyze, Tom, because it makes it seem like we're giving away information. But it's just not a secret that these massive hubs of transportation are huge targets of opportunity for bad guys. They always have been. Underneath the Port Authority the reason it could be confusing in the reporting, whether it's Times Square or the Port Author is that they're all connected. And if you can get into that tunnel structure, you can go a lot of different places.

FUENTES: That's right. Anywhere that a large number of people gather and have not gone through a security checkpoint or are in a line to go through a security checkpoint, they're vulnerable. And we've seen this at stadiums, concert venues, sporting venues, transportation hubs, large buildings, on the sidewalks, outdoor locations like Times Square. You know, so anywhere people gather, if someone wants to get the attention and inflict the damage that they're intending to do, they're going to be looking for a place where there are a lot of people. And those people, including the person carrying the bomb, aren't required to go through security to be there. We have so many open areas that you can't. You can't put everybody through. And even if you set up a security checkpoint, you're going to have a line to go through it. And the people in that line are vulnerable.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

So, Brynn, the Port Authority just put out a tweet saying that they have shut down the entire Port Authority bus terminal. It's -- again, for people who don't live in New York City, it is impossible to overstate the impact that this has on the commute into New York City. Millions of commuters come in through that hub and so shutting down the subway under there, when the buses coming in and out of there, I mean, this is just causing, as you can see, chaos.

GINGRAS: Right. I mean basically people are stuck in New Jersey right now because that's the major hub for people coming in from New Jersey or from really that side of the Hudson. And certainly just the subway, too. I mean anyone who's in Manhattan, trying to get through, that's a major -- that's a major hub, just being Times Square.

So we know that the press is going to get updated soon. I've been told that they're corralling the press at this point to a location on 42 and 8, which would be right outside the Port Authority, to give us more information, but this is where we're getting. Tricked out. So --

CUOMO: Right. And what we're hearing, Tom, and this seems pretty reasonable, is that they shut it down because it's just too big a search area and they can't have people going through it. They may have gotten some mixed information from this perp when they brought him in, whether or not he's able to speak to them, and it's just choosing to err on the side of caution. Does that make sense?

[08:35:15] FUENTES: Absolutely. No matter what that person says, if he says, I acted alone and there's no other devices, why should they believe him? On the other hand, if he's bragging that there's a large group of people on his side that are doing multiple attacks, why believe that? You have to just search that whole facility, huge as it may be, and shut it down, disruptive as that may be, to get to the bottom of whether this was one person with one device and the whole situation is over, or could there be more? And they have to check that out.

Not only that, but they have to check out the other major hubs, because it might not be -- if there's others involved or if there was, you know, some conspiracy using dark communications on the Internet, you could also have a threat to other large facilities in New York or other cities. So this is going to require a lot of searching, just to make sure.

CAMEROTA: Brynn, one more time, tell us what we know about the suspect. What your sources tell you.

GINGRAS: What we know right now is that -- not much -- that the person is in custody at this point and --

CAMEROTA: And alive --

GINGRAS: And alive is what I'm hearing.

CAMEROTA: Is the latest information that you have.

GINGRAS: Yes. What I was told exactly from a source was that we just saw him on a stretcher alive. So that certainly is going to -- they're going to be learning more, no question. CAMEROTA: So we understand he was a man. We don't know the age. We

don't know country of origin. We don't know anything more.

GINGRAS: No, we --

CUOMO: But he wasn't running around with a knife either, you know what I mean?

GINGRAS: Right.

CUOMO: This is a level of sophistication. It's not hard to do this, but it's not like you're just going to do it in five minutes. So that's going to be something that they take very seriously because if someone can make one device, Brynn, they can make six, right?

GINGRAS: Yes, absolutely. And I just want to -- I'm just kind of talking with sources as we're sitting here and I am hearing, again, this is all preliminary, I'm just hearing this as information is trickling in, so I want to preface that. But I'm hearing that this did happen in a passageway from this particular source. So that would explain sort of what we're talking about, of people thinking Times Square and Port Authority because passageways are what connect them under the ground.

CAMEROTA: Right, and why people think that it wasn't the intended target because that's not -- if you were choosing a location for maximum impact, you wouldn't choose one of the passageways, you would choose a platform, a train, somewhere in the big waiting area that's not just one of the passageways.

GINGRAS: I think it's fair to say, but also the passageways are super busy --

CUOMO: They have this choke of people, yes.

GINGRAS: I mean and they're also very narrow. So --

CUOMO: The choke of people, can't get out. I mean --

GINGRAS: People crisscrossing each other. So, I mean, I think if someone wanted to cause damage anywhere in that location would be suitable.

CUOMO: Right. But, you know, a lot of these things, they are volatile. They are unstable devices. And so are the people who are carrying them.

All right, so, Brynn, stay with us.

Let's take a quick break.

Tom Fuentes, thank you. We're going to keep you on hold, as well.

We're going to have more of our breaking coverage. We know that public officials are showing up there. They're getting briefed. More information is going to come. CAMEROTA: We also -- if we get more information about this, and need to take a break, we do have more information for you about President Trump's habits inside the White House. So we will update you on some of those, as well, when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:01] CAMEROTA: A "New York Times" report gives fascinating insights into President Trump's TV viewing habits. The paper says the president watches at least four hours of television a day and drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke a day.

Here to discuss all of this is CNN contributor and Donald Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio.

Michael, great to have you.

And just -- I know you're standing by. We have breaking news, so I may have to cut away from you.

But while we get our sources in place and while we get more information --

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.

CAMEROTA: You and I will chat.

So you, of course, are a Trumpologist. You wrote a biography about him. Did you know about his voracious viewing habits?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, sure. I think people who have been around the president for any real period of time know that he is a television addict. He's probably watching us right now because as "The Times" reported, he tunes to CNN when there's breaking news. CNN is the strongest network in hard news and so, as much as he might berate the network at other moments, he tunes in when he needs the facts.

CAMEROTA: Here's a tidbit from Maggie Haberman's reporting, along with some of her colleagues. People close to the president estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.

Here's another interesting thing, Michael, that I know that you can speak to, it's just how much President Trump still enjoys being -- hearing his name on TV. Though, of course, he's now the most, you know, famous, talked-about person in the world, their reporting says, to an extent that would stun outsiders, Mr. Trump, the most talked about human on the planet, is still delighted when he sees his name in the headlines and he is on a perpetual quest to see it there. One former top adviser said Mr. Trump grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.

Your thoughts? D'ANTONIO: Well, that strikes me as consistent with who he's always

been. The president, as a boy, 14, 15 years old, saw his name in the paper because he got a hit that won a baseball game. And I think that started this cascade of headlines that featured the name trump and made him really happy.

And, you know, I've written about the fact that he is a man of his time. And a lot of us, I think, seek to have ourselves writ large, whether it's on FaceBook or Twitter or, in the president's case, on the news. And it gives us a sense that we're alive and that we matter. And it's remarkable that he could be president and still crave this, but it is consistent with who he's always been.

CAMEROTA: The article also gives interesting tidbits about the other kinds of consumption of the president, including his eating habits. This is about his Diet Coke habit. Let me read it to you.

Watching cable he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.

If you add this, Michael, to what his former -- Corey Lewandowski, I mean, his campaign manager, has a new book out about some of these very things. Corey's book is called "Let Trump Be Trump." Here's what he writes in that. On Trump force one, there were four major food groups, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.

What are your thoughts? I mean, listen, when I -- when I read this, I think, this is not, OK, what doctors would recommend. This is not the healthiest diet. However, obviously, President Trump seems to have boundless energy. So what does your reporting suggest?

D'ANTONIO: Well, some of that energy is obviously caffeine. And, you know, we see him go up and down during the course of a day and during the course of a week. And it may sometimes depend on the supply of Diet Coke.

The other -- the thing that would concern me more is this consistent consumption of fats and sugars and all sorts of stuff that's bad for you. We can get to 65 or 70, the president's now, I guess, 71, and look healthy on the outside, and he does have a lot of energy, but any physician will tell you that that's a recipe for problems. And we need a president who's healthy, who's not going to have an episode that puts him in the hospital.

I would look forward to the physical that he's going to have in January for the country to be reassured or for the president maybe to be put on a different path, as President Clinton got on a different path. And you look at him now and he's quite slim and healthy.

[08:45:08] CAMEROTA: After heart surgery. I mean, let's remember how far down that path President Clinton went.

D'ANTONIO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: But, you're right, he is getting his first official medical, which will be publicly disclosed and will, of course, be fascinating to everyone because he's our president and you want to know what kind of health he's in. What did you think, Michael, about that episode recently where he slurred his speech? Did you know that to be true of him in the past?

D'ANTONIO: No. I hadn't seen that before. And I don't think the public record has much in it that would suggest a speech problem or, you know, a mental processing problem. But there have been observations made by neurologists and psychiatrists about the decline of his vocabulary over the years. When you analyze how he spoke and his public performances in the '80s and '90s --

CAMEROTA: Has it declined?

D'ANTONIO: He did have a much broader vocabulary.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about that.

D'ANTONIO: Yes. Yes. I mean he -- he spoke in --

CAMEROTA: So when you interviewed him, you noticed a difference?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I did notice a difference between the Trump I saw in 2014 and 2015 and the man who was publicly with us in the '80s and '90s. He is a little slower. And he falls back on these habitual phrases, things like, "nobody would believe" or, "it's the greatest you ever saw." And those are ways for him to catch his breath and let his mind grasp the next thought that he's going for. In the past, he was much quicker and could go right to the point he wanted to make.

So I've seen it. I think this is something that he should have checked out. You know, all of us lose words as we get older and we speak with more deliberation. There's nothing inherently wrong in that. But I think we need to be reassured that he's OK.

CAMEROTA: OK, Michael D'Antonio, always great to get your perspective on all of this stuff. Thank you very much for being here.

Chris.

CUOMO: All right, we are following breaking news. Information keeps coming in about what happened in New York's Port Authority during rush hour this morning. We are told one person is in custody. There was an explosive device. We have the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:51:31] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: All right, we're staying on top of what we're understanding about this reported explosion at the Port Authority in Manhattan. It's a huge transportation hub here on the west side, close to Times Square, but not Times Square.

According to an NYPD source, they have a man in custody. There was an explosion. They know that. They believe that the injuries, according to the NYPD, were limited to him.

CNN's Jason Carroll live on the scene. He joins us on the phone.

What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Chris, I'm standing right in front of Port Authority on 30 -- 41st and 8th Avenue.

What they've done along 8th Avenue is they've set up a number of frozen zones leading all the way up here into the scene. One MTA employee described it this way. She was downstairs, underground in that large area that you were talking about. She heard a loud boom. She said everyone immediately started running. In fact, she said she left her coat. She left her cell phone. She ran into one of our producers, gave our producer her phone -- our producer gave her her phone so she could call home and let everyone know that she was OK. She was clearly very, very shaken and got out.

What you -- what I'm seeing here is block by block they are literally hundreds and hundreds of people who are basically stuck. Some who were trying to get to work. Others who were just trying to get through were sort of stuck in some of these frozen zones, and police are gradually letting them come out, letting them know that there's no way that they can get into this scene where they are now.

So what we are doing is we are waiting here to get some more information. We are expecting a press conference within the next 30 minutes or so. Again, right now, I'm at 41st and 8th and we're in the so-called frozen zones. And the frozen zones are set up, again a security perimeter to let people come in and come out.

So that's the very latest from here.

CAMEROTA: We're losing Jason a little bit in terms of the sound. As you can imagine, cell phones are challenged right now there during all of this breaking news.

Jason, if you can still hear us, we had Brynn Gingras on the set with us. Her sources had said that it did happen in an underground tunnel or passageway of some kind. Do you have any more information on the ground there of where exactly this went off and the kind of weapon?

CUOMO: All right, his cell's out.

Let's go to CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick and Tom Fuentes.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.

Tom, let's just check in with you quickly. Have you heard anything more about this situation to expand our understanding?

FUENTES: It's being reported that the police have identified the individual and are in the process of going to that person's residence to conduct searches. But I have not heard the identity or any more details about the individual. CAMEROTA: Hey, Art, one of the things that we have heard all along is

that it's a pipe bomb, but then we also heard that he was wearing it, that the suspect was wearing it. That's different than what we normally, in layman's terms, think about. What are you hearing or what are your thoughts on what kind of bomb this was?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, initially, when I heard about this, it was, wow, this is a major transportation hub in New York City. You've got an individual that has either a pipe bomb on or a pipe bomb in his possession, which is a homemade device, sort of an improvised explosive device, that is made for one reason, to create a limited sort of mass destruction in a particular area to include not only property damage, but obviously personal injury. So, I mean, they've got to move on this fairly quickly.

[08:55:13] It's a really good thing that they have this individual alive because he's going to be the greatest source of intel right now. And they've got to get to his motive right away because that's going to determine how widespread this is going to be. Is it one individual? Are there several individuals? Are there other locations that have been targeted? So I'm sure they've got the answer to a lot of these questions already, but they've got to move very quickly on this.

CUOMO: Terrorism, what do you need to show that it's terrorism, Tom?

FUENTES: Well, you need to know that it's motivated by some type of ideology. Either political, religious, nationalistic, that that's the motivation. It's not just a deranged individual or someone seeking attention or, you know, other issues like that of mental health. We're talking about something that is motivated by a political agenda.

CAMEROTA: You know, Art, we always talk about how the police here in New York City and at major cities, and even small towns around the country, they're just doing, you know, yeoman's duty now. The terrorists only have to be right, you know, once, and the police have to get it right every single time.

And so anytime that -- certainly any of us travel through some of the mass transit zones of Grand Central or Port Authority, you see all of the police presence. They're armed. You know, they're out in force. And I assume that they're doing behavioral profiling and sort of keeping an eye on everybody and watching this, but so many millions of people go through Port Authority and Grand Central and places like that. It's impossible for them to have eyes on everyone.

RODERICK: It is. And it's also an issue where we have the holidays coming up and I know a lot of people are traveling to New York City to see the sights, check out the sights there. And, you know, there's probably a lot more people in the city now than there would have been a month ago.

And again, to me, striking the transportation hub like this is a key part. I mean it has a couple of pieces, and we don't know for sure right now, obviously, we're not going to know for a period of time, but when you look at what terrorism -- what terrorists do, they use improvised devices like pipe bombs and they go to transportation areas. We've seen this in London. We've seen this in other locations around the world where they target these types of facilities during -- specifically during these types of holidays.

CUOMO: And, look, you can't be surprised by any of this anymore.

RODERICK: Right.

CUOMO: This is the call that's been put out by the bad guys in the world. This is what's been responded to. The technology is out there. And if evil is in your heart, this is the way you're going to go.

So we'll get new information as soon as it comes in.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, CNN will be covering this breaking news throughout the morning and the day. And it will continue with CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)