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Suspect Facing Multiple Terror-Related Charges; Trump Wants Chain Migration Ended; Trump Criticizes Gillibrand; Voters go to the Polls in Alabama; Congress Pressured to Save CHIP. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 12, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, minutes ago we learned that the man accused of trying to blow up a crowded subway station near Times Square now faces multiple terror related charges.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And that is just one of the new developments in this case this morning.

Let's go straight to our Brynn Gingras, who's outside of Port Authority in the middle of Manhattan.

What have we learned, including the charges, but also about the actual device, this homemade device itself?

Oh --

BERMAN: I think we just lost Brynn.

HARLOW: We lost Brynn. We lost her.

BERMAN: I think we're going to have to wait until we get Brynn back up to find out the answer to that question --

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: Because Brynn does have some new reporting that she will give to us.

Brynn is back with us.

Can you hear us?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm here. Can you see me, guys? Can you hear me and see me?

BERMAN: Yes, we are -- we see you. We were asking about the charges and new information about the bomb itself?

GINGRAS: You got it. Yep, you got it. So that -- yes, we're learning about new charges. These are ones coming from the NYPD at this point. We're still waiting to hear more about federal charges. But these are the charges we know about right now. Akayed Ullah was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, making

terrorist threats and supporting an act of terrorism. Again, this is just one step in that process of charges. We expect to hear more, though, as the day goes on.

As far as that bomb, guys, we learned a lot from law enforcement sources. We learned that Ullah did some work in this area of Port Authority and actually took some of that electrical work he was doing home with him, some of the materials, and constructed that bomb last week at his home.

We also know, when he came here to Port Authority yesterday, listen, he took two subways. He spent about an hour on the subway. We've learned from a source that he was wired up that entire time until he got into the walkway here in Port Authority and then detonated that bomb.

Of course now we know a little bit more about that bomb. We've learned some of the materials included in it were some bolts, some screws. We learned about the -- there was wiring, as well as some black powder. And it was about a 12 inch pipe bomb in length. We've also heard from sources they may -- he may have had at least two devices on him as well when this one bomb did explode.

So we're really learning a lot of details. Again, this is an investigation that's ongoing. Some of the motives that we're still hearing about is that he was pledging some allegiance to ISIS. He was also expressing some displeasure in Israeli attacks in Gaza. Again, at this point, guys, investigators are taking all of that information that they've learned from him from his hospital bed, the conversations they've been having with him, and moving forward with the investigation, trying to talk to many of his family members that live in this New York City, in the Brooklyn area, that we're hearing, and try to sort of corroborate or verify if what he is saying is, in fact, true.

BERMAN: All right, Brynn Gingras for us down at Port Authority. Brynn, thank you so much for your reporting.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

First, I want to express our condolences to the loss of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. I know he was someone you knew out in California right now. Sixty-five years old. I just wanted to say we share our regret along with you and send our thoughts to his family.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, John and Poppy.

BERMAN: The president yesterday talking about this terror attack here in New York. He tied it to immigration. He said, today's terror suspect entered our country through extended family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security. Congress must end chain migration. The president says he'd rather see legal migration based on skills.

So, what's your reaction to this?

SWALWELL: Well, you know, first, we're grieving for the victims, hoping they recover quickly and that that terrorists face a New York jury and its justice soon.

But this president is willing to blame, you know, a terrorist attack without any facts on anything. You know, that is provocative. You know, it's either Muslims or, you know, a lack of a travel ban fully being enforced. Now it's chain migration.

You know, I think he needs to just step back, let the federal investigators and NYPD do their job and just encourage us all to be more alert and vigilant because oftentimes it's citizens, not law enforcement, who see something unusual that report it to law enforcement that can stop the next attack. And we need a commander-in- chief to lead right now, not just to stoke fear among all of us, particularly during the holiday season.

HARLOW: To be clear, congressman, do you think that any changes to the current immigration policy after these two attacks in the span of six weeks in New York City need to change, whether it's a visa waiver program, whether it's this? Do you see any necessary changes?

SWALWELL: Well, I certainly believe we need comprehensive immigration reform. And it was passed in the Senate years ago with 68 bipartisan votes. It never got a vote in the House. It addresses a multiplicity of immigration issues, including toughening up, you know, what we do to people who come over here and commit crimes. So I'm all for that.

But, you know, just legislating by attack and, you know, stoking fear among Americans, I don't think that's helpful. And I don't think that's what a commander-in-chief should do.

[09:35:08] BERMAN: All right, congressman, the president, moments ago, wrote about some of the women who have accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct. He called them fast -- false accusations, fabricated stories of women who I don't' know and have never met.

Over the last 24 hours, four members of the U.S. Senate have come out calling for his resignation. Let's start there. Do you agree with them that the president should resign because of these accusations?

SWALWELL: Well, I stand with my 56 colleagues here, congresswomen who are calling of an investigation in the House Oversight Committee. I think we should understand the facts, that there is a reckoning happening in this country, different than what was occurring when the "Access Hollywood" tape was dropped and those women came forward. And I do think that those women should be heard through that process.

HARLOW: But not -- you're not calling for a resignation at this point in time, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ?

SWALWELL: No, I understand -- I understand their concern. I also want to just really, really condemn the president for what he just tweeted about Senator Gillibrand. I mean that was an ugly, suggestive tweet. We all know what he was trying to say there and it's beneath the office of the presidency for him to conduct himself that way.

HARLOW: He essentially said -- he did say, she would come into my office all the time asking for money and would do anything to get it.

SWALWELL: And he put begging in quotes.

BERMAN: Congressman, Axios is reporting this morning that some of the president's lawyers are suggesting that a second special counsel is needed to investigate the investigation, as it were right now. And this is because of some reports that have come out, not just because of Agent Peter Strzok, the guy who had to be removed from the investigation because he had sent pro-Hilary text and anti-Trump text before, but also another official who may have had ties to Fusion GPS during the investigation. Do any of these raise any concerns for you about the Robert Mueller investigation?

SWALWELL: No. You know, Bob Mueller was appointed by President Bush. He was a Republican appointee. He -- as Christopher Wray testified to the House Judiciary Committee, is a man of, you know, high integrity.

But I am worried that there's this effort to undermine this investigation. If you listened to my House Judiciary colleagues last week, they were signaling -- Republican colleagues were signaling to the president that they would give him a free pass if he fired Mueller, that he wouldn't face obstruction of justice charges because they would probably take credit for him firing Mueller because they would like to see that. That's very concerning.

Bob Mueller is someone who acted professionally when he removed the agent, when questions of impartiality were called into question. I don't' really know, John, what else you would want him to do in that situation? Would you want him to keep the agent onboard? It just doesn't make sense. I think this is because the investigation's getting closer to the president and his family. People have already pleaded guilty. And this is panic setting in.

HARLOW: So just the counterargument to that would be, yes, he fired him, but didn't put him -- didn't disclose the details of why, didn't put him forward for interviews, and it wasn't known for many, many months after as to why, and then legs, like John just explained, seemed to be coming out of this.

We hear your argument, congressman, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, a lot ahead for us.

Moments ago, the Democratic candidate in Alabama, Doug Jones, casts his ballot. He's speaking to reporters. We'll head there, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:42:40] DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think they've seen in Doug Jones a partner for a long time and they sure don't see a partner in Roy Moore if you look in the history of what he has said about slavery, secessionists, getting rid of amendments that were passed right after the Civil War. It's only natural, I think, that the African-American community rally around someone who was there for them and prosecuted a heinous crime that occurred decades ago.

QUESTION: Sir, following up on the question about Roy Moore, if the day doesn't go like you're hoping and he wins, should the Senate immediately --

JONES: I am not going to -- I'm not going to answer that question. I mean I, you know, look, that's not going to be me. First of all, I don't think we're going to get that. You know, we -- in Alabama, we have come so far with too many things. And there's this saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Alabama is not going to let that shame happen again.

HARLOW: He is betting clearly that he is going to win today. With us, Bill Britt, editor and chief for the news site Alabama Political Reporter. Someone who has interviewed Roy Moore many times, including the last -- really last interview he did over the weekend.

Thanks for being with us, Bill.

BILL BRITT, EDITOR-IN-CHEF, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be with you on -- it's a cold morning here in Alabama and it's going to get colder.

HARLOW: Spoken like a true Minnesotan, you know nothing about cold, but I'll give that to you.

It is election day in Alabama. What will decide the victor tonight?

BRITT: Well, it's going to be turnout. I mean if turnout is 800,000 or less, Roy Moore wins. If it's a million or over, I think most experts would agree that Jones did get out the vote and they'll win.

A lot of enthusiasm on both sides. The momentum right now is looking in Mr. Jones' favor. But, again, this is Alabama. Nothing is a given.

BERMAN: You know, some of the prognosticators are looking at some of the absentee ballot requests in some of the countries that are up or way up.


BERMAN: Tuscaloosa, Madison, Lauderdale, Franklin, Morgan, Limestone, Montgomery. Anything that you see in some of these? I know Montgomery is a more Democratic area. Tuscaloosa might be a student area. What do you see here?

BRITT: Well, yes, and the other fact is that Montgomery is holding a special election to replace a house -- a state house seat and a state senate seat. And those are both -- seats are going to be won by African-Americans. So that will help with the turnout.

[09:45:05] As far as what we're seeing in Jefferson Counties, you know, that's going to go Jones' way. I think we have to look at Shelby County, which is a suburb of Birmingham, a Jefferson County suburb, and see what happens there. I think that's the place to watch. Mobile County is a place to watch. The rural counties. If voters show up in the rural counties, it's probably all over for Jones.

HARLOW: The polls were wrong, needless to say, in the general election, and there turned out to be what the Trump team had said there was going to be and the sort of secret Trump vote. Is there a secret Roy Moore vote right now in Alabama?

BRITT: I tend to think so. I mean we have spent the weekend in Etowah County, which is the home of Roy Moore. My wife, you know, is from here, of course. And we talked to folks at the grocery store and at the filling station. And by and large, if people will talk at all, they say that they are -- they are voting for Moore. Now, this is just one small county and people here do know Roy Moore for years and years, but people say they're leaning that way. Again, it's going to come down to, can Mr. Jones motivate the African-American community.


BRITT: I mean Hillary Clinton did not motivate them very well in the general last year.

BERMAN: So there have been outsiders coming in. Steve Bannon has been in there campaigning. Charles Barkley, who's not an outsider, is actually from Alabama, was campaigning for Doug Jones. There have been phone calls in from each side. Does any of that have an effect?

BRITT: Well, you know, John, I've said this a million times, we're the (INAUDIBLE) state. You know, folks coming in from the outside have had little influence on us in the past. Similarly, if a bunch of Alabamans came to New York City, we probably wouldn't flip a mayor's race. So I don't know.

I mean Bannon is good for throwing out the red meat, but he's not a rock star among the rank and file Republicans here. He is among many -- pardon me? I'm sorry, I thought I heard something. Anyway, I think that's where we are. It doesn't make a great deal.

BERMAN: Hopefully that was the first wave of exit polls coming back, someone telling you where things stand at 9:47 Eastern Time.

Bill Britt, great to have you with us. Thank you for walking us through this Alabama election.

We think this is the final one today for some time, so we'll talk to you soon, Bill, thank you.

BRITT: All right, thank you. You, too. You all have a wonderful day.

HARLOW: You too. BERMAN: All right, a Colorado family faces a heartbreaking choice, pay their mortgage or pay for their son's medicine. Why? They depend on the Children's Health Insurance Program, which Congress has not renewed.


[09:52:09] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL: Chip has become a bargaining chip.

This is literally a life and death program for American kids. It's always had bipartisan support. But this year they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their millionaire and billionaire donors. And imagine getting that letter literally not knowing how you'll be able to afford to save your child's life. This is not a hypothetical. About 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions. I don't know about you, I've had enough of this.


HARLOW: That's Jimmy Kimmel holding his infant son Billy and saying he's had enough of Congress not acting to pass CHIP, or the Children's Health Insurance Program. Funding ran out in September. If they don't do something, it will be completely gone soon.

BERMAN: All right, Kyung Lah spoke to a family that says without the coverage they have to make a choice, pay the mortgage or buy their son's life-saving drugs.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Very little can slow down four-year-old Ari with his older brothers, until it's time to test his glucose.

HEATHER RICHTER, MOTHER: It's a little high.


LAH: For his Type 1 diabetes.

RICHTER: When we go to the pharmacy and pick up his supplies, this is what we pick up in a month.

LAH (on camera): One month?

RICHTER: One month, yes.

LAH (voice-over): This would cost up to $2,000 a month, but Ari and his two brothers are covered under the federal government's Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, so his family only pays $30. CHIP covers kids like Ari. His family make too much for Medicaid, too little to pay for private insurance. A popular bipartisan plan created in 1997 that's always found funding, until this year. Ari's mother got this letter from the state saying Congress failed to

extend funding this fall. So her Children's Health Insurance will end unless Congress acts. This four-year-old, whose diabetes has meant emergency flights and ambulance runs to save his life, now trapped with his family in an unimaginable choice.

RICHTER: We pay our mortgage or we pay for the life-saving supplies that my son has to have. We have to choose this first or Ari would -- he would die without these -- without insulin.

LAH (on camera): It's your child's life that we're talking about.

RICHTER: Yes. Yes, it is.

LAH (voice-over): It's not just Colorado's 90,000 children who lose their coverage once federal funding dries up. Every month, state by state, the money will run out. By July 2018, approximately 9 million children of working families nationwide could see their medical coverage disappear.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: How can that be the case? How could we let ourselves get in this situation?

LAH: States are left scrambling. Colorado's governor says his state may be forced to prioritize which CHIP children to help. Here's a mind-boggling thing, he says. Congressional Republicans and Democrats support CHIP, but can't agree over how to pay for it, battling over tax reform, budget and Obamacare reform. They'll figure it out pledge Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.

[09:55:10] SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We're going to do CHIP. There's no question about it in my mind.

HICKENLOOPER: They're going to debate it back and forth and they're going to try and get some political benefit. Sometimes there's just got to be doing good, doing the right thing, and not worrying about, what can I get in exchange, right? These are kids!



LAH: Pediatrician Christopher Stille is optimistic Congress will figure out how to cover his CHIP patients, like five-year-old Lania Madison (ph). But he's only cautiously optimistic.

STILLE: I'm just really afraid that other things will get in the way that are completely unrelated to health coverage for kids.

LAH (on camera): Politics as of late has been extraordinarily unpredictable, is that what you're talking about?

STILLE: That's exactly what I'm talking about.

RICHTER: I just wish they could spend a day in our life so that they could understand why this is so important to us. It's not a choice for us. And that we need this.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Loveland, Colorado.


HARLOW: Kyung, thank you for that. If they should be able to figure out one thing, it's how to insure 9 million kids in this country. We'll keep on this, of course.

Ahead for us, President Trump on the attack, going after sitting senators and the woman who have accused him of sexual misconduct of a me too movement hits the White House as Alabama voters hit the polls.