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Source: NYC Bombing Suspect Pledged Allegiance to ISIS; Trump Accusers Speak Out, Demand Congressional Probe. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 11, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, thank you so much. Appreciate it. That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Attempted terror attack. A man with a bomb strapped to his body detonates the device in a crowded tunnel right near New York's Times Square during rush hour. Tonight, officials say the suspect in the attempted terror attack has pledged allegiance to ISIS, and security is being stepped up for mass transit, bridges and tunnels.
Trump's accusers. A group of women are demanding Congress investigate allegations of past sexual misconduct by President Trump. The White House is dismissing their claims, but the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, says women accusers should be heard.
Moore concerns. In the final hours before Alabama voters go to the polls, the state's senior, Republican Richard Shelby, says he doesn't support Roy Moore and believes the women who have come forward with allegations against him. But President Trump is all in for Roy Moore, backing the controversial candidate with a last-minute robocall.
And bioweapons. New warnings tonight about Kim Jong-un's biological weapons efforts. New factories and labs reveal a secret program that's raising alarms for many U.S. officials. So how great is the threat?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. New York City is on edge and on alert as millions head home in the peak of the evening rush hour. It was during the morning rush hour that a man wearing a homemade low-tech bomb detonated his explosive at one of the city's busiest commuter hubs, the Port Authority bus terminal right near Times Square. Three people were hurt in what the authorities are now calling an attempted terrorist attack. And the suspect, a man of Bangladeshi descent, is hospitalized with serious injuries. A law enforcement official says he's pledged allegiance to ISIS. Authorities are beefing up security at transit centers and other high-profile locations.
Also tonight, some of the women who've accused President Trump of sexual assault and harassment are speaking out, demanding a congressional investigation into what one of the accusers is calling, quote, "serial misconduct and perversion." Four senators are calling on the president to resign. And U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the accusers should be heard.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says -- and I'm quoting her now -- "The president has firsthand knowledge on what he did and didn't do."
The president is focused on tomorrow's critical Senate election in Alabama, going all-out in his support of Republican Roy Moore, who's accused of assaulting and abusing women when they were teenagers.
The president has recorded a robocall for Moore, warning his own agenda's at stake. Former president Barack Obama has recorded a pitch for Democrat Doug Jones. I'll speak with Republican Congressman Peter King of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with the breaking news. A possible ISIS connection in the attempted terror attack near New York's Times Square.
Let's go straight to our national correspondent, Jason Carroll. Jason, what are you learning?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Port Authority is open. Forty-second street is open, as well. This as authorities continue to question the suspect, continue to try to get more information about who he is, his motive and that bomb that he made, a bomb that he apparently made just last week.
CARROLL (voice-over): Tonight, a man is in custody after an explosive device detonated in the busy Port Authority bus terminal near Times Square. This cell phone video captures the moment. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio calling it an attempted act of terror.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: And let's be also clear. This was an attempted terrorist attack.
CARROLL: Police have identified the suspect as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a Brooklyn resident of Bangladeshi descent. Authorities say he was wearing a homemade device that either malfunctioned or did not go off as planned.
COMMISSIONER JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK POLICE: The preliminarily investigation at the scene indicates this man was wearing an improvised, low-tech explosive device attached to his body. He intentionally detonated that device.
CARROLL: Three victims who were standing nearby were hurt. With more than 200,000 commuters passing through the terminal daily, authorities say the situation could have been much worse.
The suspect is under close watch at Bellevue Hospital where he is being treated for burns and lacerations. A law enforcement source telling CNN the suspect had pledged allegiance to ISIS and that he was motivated by recent actions in Gaza, most recently, investigators say Ullah worked near the Port Authority doing electrical work along with his brother. He had been licensed to drive a taxi in New York, but it's unclear if he ever did. His license expired in 2015.
Ullah is a permanent legal resident who came to the United States in 2011 to join family members already living in New York.
This attack comes just over a month after an ISIS sympathizer killed eight people driving a bus down a busy New York bike path. And tonight, new questions about security levels in New York's transportation hubs.
O'NEILL: Listen, we have almost 3,000 transit cops that work in the subway system every day. We have the strategic response group. We have the critical response command. All parts of the system are patrolled.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This is New York. The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom. We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, and that makes us an international target and we understand that.
CARROLL: Again, the Port Authority is open, save for that underground walkway that the suspect used. That is still closed while investigators take a 360 scan. This is what one law enforcement source was telling me, Wolf. A 360 scan of that entire walkway so they can cover every inch for their investigation.
They're also looking for anyone at this point who may have witnessed that explosion this morning. They also want to talk to the suspect's brother, who he worked with. At this point they believe this was an isolated attack -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That investigation, though, is only just beginning. Jason Carroll reporting for us from New York. Thank you.
Let's bring in CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. Paul, thanks so much for joining us.
So we now know that this suicide bomber, if he was, in fact, a suicide bomber, has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Does this represent a new chapter in this ISIS war against the United States?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It shows that there's a persistent threat, despite the fact that ISIS' physical caliphate has largely been destroyed. A persistent threat from people inspired by this group, Wolf. There's going to be a lot of attempts at revenge attacks in Europe and the United States, I think, in the years and months ahead.
This doesn't mean that the terrorist threat is growing. The number of terrorism rests (ph) in the rest of the United States actually peaked in 2015; and they've come down significantly in 2016, significantly in 2017. So some of the energy has come out of this jihadi system when it comes to the threat against the United States.
I think that's because of these ISIS supporters are deflated because of all these defeats. But also because of the deterrent effect of these FBI investigations, sting operations that that -- that they have arrested so many people.
BLITZER: He's 27 years old, Akayed Ullah. He came to the United States in 2011. So he was, what, 20, 21 years old at the time. Is there any evidence he was radicalized before he came to the United States? Has he been radicalized online, inspired by ISIS? Any connection that we know of to ISIS -- ISIS members?
CRUICKSHANK: No evidence so far that he was radicalized before coming to the United States. All the indications so far that he was radicalized online at some point in the past few years.
And in fact, there was a recent DHS study of foreign-born violent extremists, and they found the majority of those were actually radicalized several years after coming to the United States.
But they're going to be looking at all the potential travel patterns. Was he going overseas in recent years? Bangladesh has become a significant hotbed of jihadi activity. There are groups aligned with ISIS, aligned with al Qaeda that have built up a significant presence there. They've been launching attacks on secular bloggers. There was that attack in the summer of 2016 which killed many Italians and Japanese against a cafe in the capital. That was masterminded by a Canadian of Bangladeshi descent who had been in touch with ISIS about that attack.
BLITZER: Yes, I remember that. All right. Paul Cruickshank, thanks very much.
Let's go to the White House right now, on the defensive after some of President Trump's many female accusers renew their allegations of sexual harassment. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
Jim, bad timing for the president, but take us through the latest.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The White House is once again denying allegations from roughly a dozen women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. The timing, as you said, not ideal for the president, whose accusers have come forward just as Mr. Trump is throwing his support behind an accused child molester, Roy Moore, in the Alabama Senate race.
ACOSTA (voice-over): For the White House, the questions aren't going away, even if the answers remain the same.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.
ACOSTA: Women who accuse President Trump of harassment and even assault are telling their stories once again, to join the "#MeToo" movement that is shining a bright light on the issue of sexual abuse in the U.S.
RACHEL CROOKS, DONALD TRUMP ACCUSER: This was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, this behavior isn't rare in our society. and people of all backgrounds can be victims. The only reason I'm here today is because this offender is now the president of our country.
[17:10:13] ACOSTA: The women are also speaking out as the president is endorsing Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who's denying accusations of sexual assault or abuse by four women, including one woman who alleges he molested her when she was 14.
JESSICA LEEDS, DONALD TRUMP ACCUSER: In some -- some areas of our society, people are being held accountable -- accountable for unwanted behavior. But we are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is.
ACOSTA: Press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed there are eyewitnesses who will back up the president's denials.
SANDERS: Several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process. And, again, the American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.
SANDERS: Sanders made that claim despite Mr. Trump being caught on tape with "Access Hollywood" tape, bragging about forcing himself onto women.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it.
Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so. I don't think so.
ACOSTA: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley appeared to differ somewhat with the White House view that the issue of the president's past behavior was settled in the last election.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard, and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
ACOSTA: Before the election, the Trump campaign tried to argue past behavior does matter, pointing to women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of misconduct.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Clinton raped me. ACOSTA: In an exclusive CNN interview, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
joined a growing number of Democratic senators who say there's enough evidence to call on the president to resign from office.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible. They are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.
ACOSTA: As the president's accusers were sharing their stories, Mr. Trump was lashing out once again at the news media on Twitter, a line of attack on the American press picked up in the White House briefing room.
(ON CAMERA): Journalists make honest mistakes, and that doesn't make them fake news, but the question that I had...
SANDERS: Well, when journalists make honest mistakes, they should own up to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do.
SANDERS: Sometimes, and a lot of times you don't. There's a different -- there's a very big -- I'm sorry, I'm not finished. There's a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposefully misleading the American people.
ACOSTA: Now as for the press secretary's claim that there are eyewitnesses who will back up the president's denials that he ever engaged in sexual misconduct, the White House has passed along a few news reports that came out during the 2016 campaign, but, Wolf, aides to the president have hardly produced enough eyewitnesses and news accounts to refute all of the claims that are directed at the president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. Jim Acosta reporting for us, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He's a key member of both the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I know you've been briefed on this attempted suicide bombing near Times Square in New York City. What can you tell us?
KING: Wolf, first of all, this person, this assailant, this attacker has been talking. I don't know if he's still talking now, but he did say quite a bit. They're getting information. So far, I think it appears that he was working alone. But, again, the FBI and the NYPD and the joint terrorism task force, they're going to get search warrants. They're going to go through all his phone records, social media. Obviously do a full search of his house. They're talking to his neighbors, his relatives, family members. And, again, they'll also be checking overseas to see if there's any records of him being involved in any conduct there.
Right now it appears as if he acted alone. But you know, we're in the early stages of the investigation. I think it's very fortunate that he lived because, again, they can get more information from him.
Also, they're going to be looking into where he purchased the equipment and got the equipment for the bomb. I know he worked in some sort of mechanical place. Maybe he got it there.
But, again, what it it does show Wolf, though, is how dangerous the threat still is from Islamist terrorism. Especially as we've said before, the fact that ISIS has been, to a large extent, crushed overseas as far as the caliphate, and they feel they have to act to get more credibility back, if you will. Also, you will have foreign fighters who will be going back to their homes, back to their native countries. So Europe, I think, has to face the threat of these attacks.
But this -- what is different about this to an extent, as far as I know, this is the first Islamist suicide bomb attempt in the United States. I know we had Reed, the shoe bomber, but, again, he was on a plane. As far as actually having a suicide attack here in the U.S. by an Islamist terrorist, I think this is the first one.
Now, if he acted on his own, that's one thing. If this is at all coordinated or directly inspired by ISIS, again, it could mark a new turning point.
Also with the Christmas and Hanukkah season coming up and the large, large numbers of people that gather in Manhattan and throughout New York, the NYPD will have to be -- and it will be, I guarantee you, Commissioner Jim O'Neill, on even higher security level than before.
BLITZER: Yes, that's what they're certainly indicating. As you know, he's reported now to have pledged allegiance to ISIS, but one source is also telling CNN the suspect seemed to have suggested he was carrying out this attack because of recent Israeli action in Gaza. Have you heard anything at all to corroborate that?
KING: I've not heard it firsthand. I've heard it second hand, but, again, you know, ISIS and al Qaeda and the Islamists have been saying this now for the last 30 years. Any action we take in support of Israel, any time Israel defends itself, any offensive action by Israel is used as a pretext or an excuse for an attack. We can't allow that to guide our policy. Again, it could well be a motive for him, but they've used this excuse for years. And so, again, it's possible, but that shouldn't affect our policy in any way.
BLITZER: Was the suspect, as far as you know, Congressman, a suspect on the radar of any law enforcement agency, any terror watch list?
KING: Wolf, from all I've heard, no, that he's not on any lists. He's not been subjected to any investigation or examination before, but it also drives home, again, I think the importance of having surveillance in the communities where the threat can come from. Because it's only intelligence that can really stop this.
You know, a person getting on a plane with a bomb can be stopped. A person walking through the subway system in New York where there are 6 million people every day, 6 million passengers every day, it's virtually impossible to stop them unless you have the intelligence in advance. And that just, to me, drives home the necessity for getting intelligence and having sources in the community if they do see somebody acting differently or strangely or in a pro-terrorist way.
BLITZER: Congressman, do you agree with the White House that the president's proposed immigration policies would have stopped this attack?
KING: I think the vetting -- I don't think it would have stopped this attack. If there's nothing in his background in Bangladesh, it would not have stopped the attack.
I do support the president's policy of extreme vetting. That's one, to me, of the many weapons that we can use to stop these types attacks. And I don't think it would have actually mattered in this instance, but it could matter in others as we go forward. So that I do.
As far as immigration at the southern border, I support the president's position there but, again, we have no real instance that I'm aware off of Islamist terrorists coming across the southern border. It's more, I think, people who are radicalized here in the U.S. or people who come into the U.S. as immigrants from overseas who are being sent in by ISIS or by al Qaeda. And they're the ones we have to watch for. All people who have been active in terrorist activities overseas or terrorist sympathizers.
But again, this is -- there's no simple answer to this, Wolf. This requires so many multiple layers of defenses. And even then, we're still at risk. But we have to use every weapon we can and every defense that we can.
BLITZER: Are you with the president when he says the United States must stop what's called chain migration? In other words, letting individuals come to the United States who have relatives here.
KING: Again, it would -- to me it would depend on the country and what the terrorist's background is from those countries. For instance, if somebody is coming from Sweden, I don't really see the threat there of chain migration. I'm using that as an example.
So again, I think all of these things have to be looked at individually. Chain migration from countries where there is a strong terrorist presence. Yes, I can see that being an issue. And I think that is something that has to be monitored extremely carefully, which is why I have supported the president's executive orders as far as vetting and extreme vetting from -- coming from the six countries now and even other countries, to be honest with you. BLITZER: Before I let you go, quick question on a very different
subject. Alabama voters going to the polls tomorrow in the Senate's special election. If Roy Moore, the Republican, wins -- and you're a Republican -- what does it say about your party?
KING: I -- I would not vote for Roy Moore. I agree with Senator Shelby on this. I disagree with the president. I feel like there's a certain line here that has been crossed.
If you're talking about anyone who's accused of child molesting or attempted child molesting, it's not a question, then, of he said/she said or whose word you take. He should not have been dealing with these people at all. I think he's not offered a specific or legitimate defense to any of those charges. I would not vote for him.
BLITZER: Congressman -- all right. Congressman Peter King of New York, thanks very much for joining us.
KING: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, President Trump jumps into the Alabama bitterly- contested Senate election with a robocall on behalf of the alleged abuser, Republican Roy Moore. But the state's senior senator, as we just heard, Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican, says he does not support Moore and he believes his accusers.
[17:24:46] BLITZER: Just hours before Alabama voters go to the polls in a critical Senate election, President Trump is going all in for controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore, who's accused of assaulting and abusing women when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. The president has recorded a robocall for Moore while former President Obama has delivered a pitch for Democrat Doug Jones.
Our White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, is joining us now from Midland City in Alabama. Kaitlan, the battle lines clearly are drawn, but not always necessarily along party lines.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. It's certainly getting interesting here in the 11th hour of this race, and although the White House said President Trump would not come to Alabama to campaign for Roy Moore, he came about 20 miles from the state line on Friday and told an arena filled with Alabama residents to vote for Roy Moore. And he's also on the other end of the phone when Alabama voters are picking up their phones this week, urging them to vote for Roy Moore in this race in a prerecorded message.
TRUMP: Roy Moore is the guy we need to pass our "Make America Great Again" agenda. Roy is a conservative who will help me steer this country back on track after eight years of the Obama disaster. Get out and vote for Roy Moore. His vote is our Republican Senate, and it's needed. We need Roy to help us with the Republican Senate. We will win, and we will make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: But that's certainly not the only presidential message going out to voters this week just hours before they will go to the polls tomorrow, Wolf, because President Barack Obama has also recorded a robocall on behalf of Democratic -- his Democratic opponent Doug Jones, where he urges voters to reject Roy Moore and says, "This one is serious. You can't sit it out. Doug Jones is a fighter for equality and for progress. Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama."
Now we're told that that call is targeted specifically to African- American voters. That's a key demographic here in the state, and Doug Jones will have to have their support if he plans on winning tomorrow. So we'll certainly wait to see how that plays out.
But all of this is coming as Roy Moore is really laying low these last few days. He has not held any public events since last Tuesday, when he held a rally with former White House chief strategist. He's holding another one tonight.
But all of that comes as the other Republican senator in this state, Senator Richard Shelby, issued a stunning statement on CNN yesterday,
saying he just couldn't bring himself to vote for Roy Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA; I understand. We would like to retain that seat in the U.S. Senate. But I'll tell you what. I -- there's a time, we call it a tipping point, and I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip. When it got to the 14-year-old story, that was enough for me. I said, I can't vote for Roy Moore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Wolf, a lot of Democratic support in the state in these last few days. A stunning statement from the other state's wildly popular Republican senator. And we'll be waiting to see what Roy Moore has to say tonight in his first public event in several days.
BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins in Alabama for us. Kaitlan, thanks very much.
And please be sure to join us tomorrow to find out how the people of Alabama vote. CNN's special coverage of election night in Alabama starts tomorrow right here at 5 p.m. Eastern in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, new warnings tonight about Kim Jong-un's biological weapons efforts. Signs of a secret program that's raising alarms for so many U.S. Officials. How great is the North Korean threat?
2Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Tonight, we're following the political aftershocks from this afternoon's confrontational White House briefing. The press secretary, Sarah Sanders, insisted that President Trump has eyewitnesses to back up his denials of inappropriate sexual conduct with women. Although some of Mr. Trump's accusers repeated their stories today, Sanders said, and I'm quoting her now, "The president has firsthand knowledge on what he did and didn't do."
[17:33:40] Let's bring in our political and legal specialists. And Dana, let me start with a little clip of what Sarah Sanders at the briefing just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As the president said himself, he thinks it's a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn't determine the course. And in this case, the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses, and several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process.
And, again, the American people knew this and voted for the president; and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Dana, your reaction?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the notion of eyewitnesses, I hadn't heard anybody from the White House or back then from the campaign say that there -- and also how do you have an eyewitness to something that didn't happen? I mean, it's -- it's proving a negative with somebody, and I'm not sure how you actually do that.
But also, just kind of the big picture here, what Sarah Sanders and what they're saying at the White House is something that we're hearing from those Republicans who are saying, "You know what? Let's just let voters decide in Alabama," which is the American people were informed about allegations. They knew exactly what they were getting, unlike, for example, with Al Franken who won re-election a few years ago. This was new.
[17:35:06] And that may be true, but it's remarkable how, even in just less than a year, the culture and what is tolerated and not tolerated in America has changed dramatically. It's been warp speed change.
And so it's kind of hard to say what the American people knew what they were doing when it wasn't just on these things. It was obviously a totality of issues that people voted on, and many people also had to decide, everybody had to decide between two candidates. It wasn't just, "Do I think the president, soon to be president, did these things that he's alleged to have done."
BLITZER: What do you think, Chris, of this White House strategy? CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well,
first, Dana's right. I mean, I think the idea to portray the 2016 election as sort of a final verdict of guilt or innocence on Donald Trump, there are a lot of things going into a campaign. I went and looked at the exit polling. There was a question in the 2016 exit poll that said, "How much does Donald Trump's treatment of women bother you?" And the options were a lot, some. Seventy percent of people said either a lot or some.
Now obviously, Hillary Clinton won overwhelmingly among the people who said a lot. I was fascinated that 20 percent-plus who said some, Donald Trump won by about 25 points.
Which goes to Dana's point: there were other priorities here. But that is not an exoneration in any meaningful way. To point at the elections -- it's like saying -- pointing at elections and say, "Well, people didn't care about fill in the blank issue." Maybe not. But it's very difficult to draw that kind of conclusion based on the data that we have about the campaign.
I tend to think that -- well, I should say this. In any traditional political campaign or politician, they would have to say more. given to Dana's point, the changing culture and atmosphere that we have. Donald Trump is not a traditional politician and didn't run a traditional campaign, so maybe he won't. But the explanation from Sarah Sanders that the election settled it just doesn't -- there's -- she's not true.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey Toobin, a handful of Democratic senators now are actually calling for the president's resignation, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley. And they're saying, you know, it's time for him to resign. Clearly, he's not going to do that.
But this -- there seems to be a growing list of Democrats who are making that recommendation to the president.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we are in such a polarized moment that, obviously, you know, President Trump is not going anywhere.
But keep in mind, we have a midterm election coming up, and there will be at least a chance for the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives. If the Democrats retake the House of representatives and given how Democrats feel about President Trump generally, particularly if he tries to fire director Mueller, there is a real chance that a Democratic majority might try to impeach this president.
Nothing is going to happen in the interim, but, I mean, this midterm election is not just about health care and the budget. It really may be about impeachment. And that's just something that voters can think about on both sides as we move forward in the campaign.
BLITZER: Do the Democrats, Bianna have increased credibility now that they've, for all practical purposes, forced Senator Al Franken to announce that he's going to resign in the next few weeks? BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, at least it gave them a
platform to do so. Right? We already heard from Kristen Gillibrand, suggesting that the president should resign. But there could be two issues that could affect this president, longer term.
One, how did he win the last election? He seemed to have his finger on the pulse of what was going on in this country in ways that his opponent did not. By Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that the nation somehow has moved on from these kinds of allegations suggests that they don't have their finger on the pulse of what's become the major topic for the country as a whole, not just for the state of Alabama. So that could hurt him one way.
The second way is this president also won because he ran on making the economy better, right? He's going to bring back jobs. If Roy Moore wins tomorrow, take a look at what happens to the local economy there. What's going to happen to the international manufacturers that have businesses there? That employ thousands of people in Alabama, from Mercedes, from Airbus to Honda.
We saw what happened in North Carolina with the bathroom bill. You could see -- and we're already hearing and I'm hearing about concerns from local businesses about the impact of a Roy Moore win.
So those are a few areas, maybe not tomorrow that that president should be worried about, but longer term.
BLITZER: That's just a fair point.
TOOBIN: But Wolf, can I just -- can I just add one...
BLITZER: Very quickly, Jeff.
TOOBIN: Well, just you know, how many times were we wrong? Certainly, I include myself in this about what affects Donald Trump's popularity? The "Access Hollywood" tapes, saying terrible things about John McCain, a racist comment about a federal judge.
Every time we said, "Oh, people are going to turn on Donald Trump," and not enough of them turned on him to win -- to stop him from winning the election. I'm just very -- I have a big dose of humility from the 2016 campaign, and I just think it is wise for all of us to not be so sure about what the implications of what he does are.
[17:40:24] GOLODRYGA: And I'm not so sure.
BLITZER: You're not so sure about what?
TOOBIN: OK, that's good.
GOLODRYGA: I'm not so sure. I'm just telling you of what are some serious questions that are being raised and discussed in this country.
BLITZER: You know, Dana, I want to play a little clip. This is a robocall for voters in Alabama that President Trump has now released. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roy Moore is the guy we need to pass our "Make America Great Again" agenda. Roy is a conservative who will help me steer this country back on track after eight years of the Obama disaster. Get out and vote for Roy Moore. His vote is our Republican Senate, and it's needed. We need Roy to help us with the Republican Senate. We will win and we will make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what happens if Doug Jones, the Democrat, wins?
BASH: Well, it Doug Jones wins, then obviously the razor-thin majority that Republicans have will get even tighter. They'll only have a one-seat majority. It puts...
BLITZER: In the Senate.
BASH: In the Senate. Thank you. It puts the most immediate legislative goal, tax reform, in jeopardy. You know, there's the question of how quickly the Republicans would have to seat Doug Jones if, in fact, that happens.
But then the flip side of that, if Roy Moore wins, then the question is how do Republicans who run the Senate deal with comments that you just heard from the president of the United States? Because they have promised that they are going to run all of the accusations through the Senate Ethics Committee. If they find that it is credible, they will move to begin to expel Roy Moore from the Senate.
So this is actually a perfect example of a case where the voters are going to decide, and yet the institutions like the United States Senate have their own rules and regulations and their own prerogatives; and his fellow Republicans in the Senate promised that they're going to use those prerogatives.
BLITZER: It is pretty extraordinary for the senior senator, a Republican, Richard Shelby -- he was on Jake Tapper's show yesterday. He made it clear he's already voted, and it's not for the Republican candidate, Roy Moore.
CILLIZZA: Yes, and basically said there are more important things than winning and holding a Senate seat, which is a remarkable thing for a senator to say, particularly a guy who, you know, in a few weeks' time or sooner could be calling Roy Moore colleague. I mean, it's very possible Roy Moore wins.
What's interesting about Richard Shelby saying that, Richard Shelby is not Jeff Flake or Bob Corker or John McCain. He's sort of a down-the- line conservative from Alabama. He's not a guy who is poking Donald Trump in the eye to poke him in the eye.
I think it speaks to the very real concerns from a segment of Alabama Republicans, not all, but a segment of Alabama Republicans about what this means for Alabama if Roy Moore wins, and that's a little bit about what Bianna's talking about; what it might mean for the Senate; and what it means for the broader Republican brand.
I'm more skeptical than Dana about -- that they may move to expel him. They may. And they will refer to...
BASH: It's not going to happen right away.
CILLIZZA: But I just -- it's hard. Mitch McConnell is on the record and Donald Trump are both on the record saying, "We need to let the people of Alabama decide." It's just tough to, certainly in short order, to overturn that by expelling him. Maybe over a broad period of time, that will change. I just think it's very hard. The people of Alabama, it's not as though the Roy Moore story has been under- covered in the last month.
BLITZER: And it will be covered extensively tomorrow when the polls open, and they close at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Are Republicans, should they be worried, Jeff, about being on the wrong side of history right now?
TOOBIN: Well, certainly, in some parts of the country. I mean, I was listening to that robocall. I can imagine excerpts for that being put into Democratic ads in the midterm elections and certainly even in the presidential election down the road.
I mean, Roy Moore, I mean, I certainly don't know what the outcome of the election is going to be in Alabama. But I am certain he is going to be very unpopular in not only in blue states but in some swing states. And the idea that the president is going to bat for a man that multiple people have said has an unhealthy interest in teenage girls, I mean, that is something that may come back to haunt the president politically.
You know, the wrong side of history is a little grand for me at this point, but I think -- I think there is a chance that that robocall may be -- may appear in Democratic ads sooner rather than later.
BLITZER: And it's interesting, you know, Bianna, that Democrats are really hoping and some are even counting on a high turnout among young African-American voters in Alabama. Maybe 30 percent of the population.
So the former president, President Obama, he released his own robocall for, among other reasons -- let me read to you a little bit of the Obama robocall.
This one's serious. You can't sit it out. Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress. Doug will be our champion for justice, so get out and vote, Alabama.
Turnout is going to be critical.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Turnout is going to be critical, especially in a special election like this one. And you hear from reports that even the former president's team was
wary about whether or not they were going to release anything because, among Obama's supporters, there are a lot in Alabama that voted for him that would still support any robocall from him, but there are a lot of people who did not support President Obama who are on the fence right now as to whether or not they're going to vote at all tomorrow.
And of course, his camp didn't want to sway them from making a decision by releasing this as well.
I want to go back, though, to what you had asked Jeffrey Toobin as well because it is kind of surprising how people can convince themselves of what history will look like just to get their point across.
And I'm referring to the Frank Luntz poll that he had taken, the focus group, where he talked to people who said, oh, well, you know, my grandmother or 40 years ago, people were getting married at 13, and that was the normal thing to do.
And think about -- 40 years ago is 1977. It wasn't that long ago. So, I mean, we can do a poll now and go back to see how many people were married at the age of 13 in 1977 in Alabama. I don't think many.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And can I --
BASH: Can I just add one thing?
BLITZER: Go ahead.
BASH: It's --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The Jerry Lewis vote may be up for grabs.
GOLODRYGA: That's right.
BASH: A senator said to me very clearly, do we want to be the party of child molesters or not?
BLITZER: All right.
BASH: He's right.
BLITZER: On that note, everybody standby. There's more news that we're following, including new alarm right now about Kim Jong-un and his quest to develop biological as well as nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea could be in the line of fire.
[17:51:36] BLITZER: Tonight, a U.N. diplomat is back from talks inside North Korea and sounding a new warning about the need to decrease tensions. The rare U.N. mission to North Korea comes at a time of growing concern over Kim Jong-un's race to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons.
Our Brian Todd has more on this frightening possibility. What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning tonight that Kim Jong-un has the capability to weaponize more than a dozen biological agents within just a few days if he wants to wreak havoc on the Korean Peninsula.
There are reports that Kim has been methodical but unrelenting in getting his scientists to figure out how to deploy deadly agents like anthrax, which killed several Americans right after 9/11.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, there are new concerns that Kim Jong-un's deadly ambitions go beyond nuclear weapons. South Korean officials and independent weapons experts are growing increasingly concerned that Kim's regime has the intent and capability to develop biological weapons.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": They are a weapon of terror, in a sense, because we have, in our own minds, these thoughts about the horror of biologicals, outbreaks of disease. This is something that frightens us.
TODD (voice-over): South Korean government reports, recently cited by Harvard University, say North Korea has 13 types of biological agents which it can weaponize within 10 days. They say anthrax and smallpox are the most likely agents they would deploy.
JOSHUA POLLACK, SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AT MONTEREY: Anthrax is virtually the ideal biological agent for weapons purposes. It's a bacterium that is very hardy.
It can survive all kinds of conditions. It can persist. It is very deadly. You can aerosolize it and spread it around with sprayers.
TODD (voice-over): June 2015, Kim Jong-un tours the Pyongyang Biotechnical Institute. The North Koreans said it was a factory which manufactured pesticides, but some machinery on display raised alarm.
POLLACK: It seems that they have invested a lot in imported equipment that costs them a lot and is, I think, unreasonable for any civilian application.
TODD (voice-over): Equipment like what analysts say are industrial scale fermenters, which could produce anthrax on a large scale, and other machinery used to convert biological agents into sprayable form.
South Koreans would be in the direct line of fire, a threat taken seriously enough that South Korea holds mock drills for WMD attacks. But nearly 38,000 American troops in South Korea could also be hit.
LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER (RET.), FORMER INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE, UNITED STATES ARMY: A small aircraft, basically, overflying them, individuals who are infected infecting them. There's just no way to guarantee and protect U.S. troops from this.
TODD (voice-over): Officials say there's no evidence North Korea has yet produced a biological weapon. But with the assassination of his half-brother this year, Kim Jong-un has shown the willingness to use his chemical weapons arsenal.
And having the capability for a biological attack with the difficulties in tracing those weapons, experts say, adds another dimension to Kim's threat.
CHANG: With biologicals, there's a slight element of deniability. There could be an outbreak of a disease in South Korea. It would take us weeks, maybe even longer, to trace it back to North Korea. And during that time, he could kill South Korea.
TODD: Experts say another advantage this gives Kim Jong-un is the diversion of his enemies' resources. That for every dollar the U.S. and South Korea spend on preparing for an anthrax, smallpox, or other biological outbreak, that's a dollar they don't spend on preparing for a possible conventional or nuclear attack from North Korea.
[17:55:10] He could also use this as a big diversion if he's attacking one place with biological to attack another with a nuclear weapon.
BLITZER: Yes, very frightening, indeed. All right. Brian Todd reporting. Thank you.
Coming up, the breaking news. An official says the suspect who detonated a bomb strapped to his body near New York's Times Square has pledged allegiance to ISIS. Security is being stepped up for mass transit, bridges, and tunnels.