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White House Clashes with Media; Alabama Votes in Senate Race Today; New York City Terror Attack. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired December 12, 2017 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Let it go that quick.

The hypocrisy, the irony that Sarah Sanders is going to look at people and say, you know, there's just this stream of misinformation that's, you know, calculated to deceive. Yes, coming from you. Coming from the podium. Coming from the president. By definition they put out things that they know are not true or are used to conceal what they don't want you to know and they do it routinely. And when it gets exposed, they blame the media, which is fair play. It has always happened that way in politics. You can argue the degree and whether or not it's right, but it's certainly the state of play. But to put that on the media, I just -- I don't get where they think this is going to get them except with their one little concentrated base.

Karoun.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think in some ways it does play well. I mean, look, the fake news mantra has kind of picked up and gone global in a way. It's a very good sort of branding of when you want to be able to take a shot at the media.

Yes, you're right, that this is the same podium from which we've heard things about, you know, crowd size misrepresentation from the very beginning of the presidency on through various other topics that they have tried to present, you know, alternative facts or something. That also came out with this administration. We're well used to this right now.

The press definitely makes -- admits to errors. I don't know a single journalist that hasn't had a correction in some form. You live in fear of having a really big one. But, yes, you say when you get something wrong because you want to maintain trustworthiness. You apologize for it, too. That's not been the standard to which this administration has necessarily held itself in all (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Go ahead.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not even a little bit. And this is the hypocrisy that Chris pointed to, right? I mean, look, there are honest mistakes. We are all human. You try to admit the mistake forthrightly, you move on.

What fake news actually is, is fundamentally false stories written with an intent to deceive and it overwhelmingly exists when it exists on the extremes of the media and political spectrum, which is too often enabled and empowered by this administration, which also, unfortunately, is led by a president who, for all the, you know, fact challenged statements of presidents in the past, for all the, you know, lies and prevarications that are used to push agendas, this is something different we're dealing with in terms of the sheer tonnage of lies. And everyone who works there, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, knows that a large part of their job is clearing up those lies -- clean -- trying to clean up those lies.

So that's the fact we're dealing with. We need to insist on a fact- based debate. That was a pure deflection attack and you can't let it simply stay.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John Avlon, Karoun Demirjian, thank you very much.

So after nearly a week-long absence from the campaign trail, accused child molester Roy Moore resurfaces in an interview with a 12-year-old girl. Some call this bad optics. We discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:36:37] CAMEROTA: Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore, who's accused of molesting a 14-year-old, making a final pitch to Alabama voters in an interesting way.

Joining us now for the reaction on the ground are morning radio show hosts from Talk 99.5, Birmingham, Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg.

Guys, thank you so much for being back and to talk with us. We've really relied upon your having your finger on the pulse of the people in Alabama. So, great to see you guys.

We're going to do a lightning round, because I know I have to get you to your radio show this morning.

So after a few days of being somewhat absent or very absent on the campaign trail, Roy Moore decided to grant an interview and sit down with a 12-year-old girl.

Andrea, any peculiarity about this choice? Some people say bad optics for what he's accused of.

ANDREA LINDENBERG, MORNING RADIO SHOW HOST, TALK 99.5 BIRMINGHAM: Right. I would, as an adult, have liked to have interviewed Roy Moore. That was an interesting choice. And I guess, again, these shows he's been going on -- he went on two programs, almost what you would call cable programs -- cable access programs, and now an interview with a 12-year-old girl. I don't understand why he won't talk to the adults in the room, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. You make a great point. Here's another curious choice, Matt. A friend of his, a former soldier, a fellow soldier from their time in Vietnam, Roy Moore served in Vietnam, came forward yesterday to, I guess, be a character witness and say that he knows that Roy Moore is a real stand-up guy because back in the '60s, in Vietnam, they had an opportunity -- they went to a brothel, without knowing it was a brothel, and there were young Vietnamese girls there and Roy Moore did the right thing. Let me just play for you this sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL STALEY, SERVED WITH MOORE IN VIETNAM: He took us to this place, which turned out to be a brothel. It was clear to us what kind of place it was and Roy turned to me in less time than it took for someone to come up to us, and there were, certainly, pretty girls. And they were girls. They were young. Some were probably very young. I don't know. I don't remember -- I wasn't there long enough. Roy said to me, we shouldn't be here, I'm leaving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Matt, is this the best character witness?

MATT MURPHY, MORNING RADIO SHOW HOST, TALK 99.5 BIRMINGHAM: Alisyn, I can imagine that if you're a Roy Moore supporter and you're listening to that soundbite, you're asking him to just stop talking. It seems -- I'm reminded of the Macbeth quote, the lady doth protest too much. We don't need to hear these sorts of things. We don't need to hear these sorts of defenses. I mean there's no shortage of Roy Moore supporters that are willing to come on camera and support him and speak to his character. We get that.

What we would like to hear is from Roy Moore himself and to talk about some of these past allegations. We've not been able to do that. He's chosen to go to more friendly locations, if you will, to get his message out. And we'll find out today whether or not that technique works.

CAMEROTA: Andrea, is this just the craziest Senate race that you all have ever had to cover? I mean what are your listeners calling in and saying about these past weeks?

LINDENBERG: Yes, to answer your question, it is the craziest Senate race I've ever covered, and I was born and raised here. The listeners feel the same way. We are exhausted with this election. I think no matter who your candidate is, we, as voters, are worn out.

[06:40:06] You know, Alisyn, this started with our governor. Our governor was kicked out of office, has a mug shot to prove it, for having an affair. And the trickledown effect of this is where we are now in this Senate race. I've never seen anything like it here in the state of Alabama.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, there was this really sort of heart-wrenching moment. This man, Nathan Mathis (ph), showed up at Roy Moore's final campaign stop holding a sign. It was telling the story of his own daughter, who at 23 years old, took her life. Maybe we have a picture of the sign that we can put up. And it -- he says that she took her life because she was gay and she wasn't accepted. And he didn't accept her at the time. He has since felt so much regret for thinking that -- saying -- suggesting that it was somehow abhorrent. And he basically said that Roy Moore has suggested that his daughter was a pervert and not normal.

And it's just the -- I mean it's just the saddest thing. This 74-year- old man has so much regret and that's why he wants people not to vote for Roy Moore.

Matt, I mean, what about that? How do Alabamians feel about Roy Moore's extreme positions about things like homosexuality?

MURPHY: Well, I mean, I think it depends on what your faith is. I think it depends on where you are in terms of your belief structure regarding some of these faith-based issues.

One of my frustrations with Roy Moore's candidacy is he tends to lean on religious themes and lean on faith-based issues that are very, very emotional. And, obviously, this gentleman was very emotional about the death of his daughter. And we're not talking about some of the issues that might more directly affect me and directly affect Alabamians and Americans. Issues like immigration, tax reform. I man issues that you guys talk about every morning. We're not talking about those things. Instead, we're talking about things that I would prefer to keep on Sunday mornings.

CAMEROTA: Matt Murphy, Andrea Lindenberg, thank you both so much. We will talk to you again tomorrow when we know what happens in Alabama. Thanks so much.

LINDENBERG: Thanks, Alisyn.

MURPHY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so the attempted suicide bombing in New York City yesterday really rattled a lot of cages. And there's a lot of investigating going on. We have new information about who this man was, why he picked that site, why he got -- where he got his inspiration and no-how from. We have the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:45:56] CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news for you right now because the San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee, die this morning at a San Francisco hospital at the age of 65. The circumstances behind his death have not yet been revealed. The board of supervisors president is now the acting mayor. So we will have much more information on this breaking news as soon as CNN gets it.

CUOMO: As we learn more on that, by the way, we should say right now, our thoughts go to his family. And if there's anything they want us to know, bring it in and we'll shape it in our reporting.

There are also new details emerging about the man that police say detonated a pipe bomb in an underground tunnel at the Port Authority, which is a huge transportation hub here in New York City.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live at the Port Authority bus terminal with the latest.

A very different morning there than yesterday. What do we now know?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure is, Chris.

And I want to say, downstairs, it used to be boarded up where this investigation was going on. That's now gone. So hopefully it will be somewhat of a normal commute for New Yorkers as they get back to work.

What we're learning more now is about the travels that 27-year-old Akayed Ullah took before detonating this explosion according to investigators. We're hearing that he actually took two separate subways, spending nearly an hour on the train underground, possibly with that bomb on him. We're trying to get clarification on how long he possibly had that bomb with him before detonating it though here at Port Authority.

We're also learning a little bit more about his possible motivations. According to investigators who have had conversations with him, he did pledge allegiance to ISIS for one and, two, he said that the Israeli action in Gaza was part of his motivation.

Now, these are of course, things that investigators are going to look further into, check his social media accounts, talk with family members or anybody else who he may have been associated with, and also check to see if he's been traveling, to see if he did have any sort of other inspiration.

So, again, that's the investigation. That continues today.

But, Alisyn, I want to tell you that we have a picture of the four Port Authority police officers that are credited with taking down Ullah within minutes of this detonation. And we have their pictures right there for you. True heroes, though, for bringing this to an end very quickly.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: God bless those guys. I'm so glad that you showed us their picture, Brynn. Thank you very much.

So the attempted suicide attack, or whatever it was, happened at the height of the morning rush hour, one of the busiest hubs in the country. So what did experts learn to prevent a next attack? Our experts are here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:52:24] CUOMO: The man police say detonated a pipe bomb inside a commuter tunnel near New York's Times Square pledged allegiance to ISIS. This happened in the Port Authority, not at Times Square. An important distinction for you to keep at home.

The Trump administration is now using the attack to push for hardline immigration policies, including ending what they call chain migration.

Joining us now is CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.

Let's start with the facts on the ground and then we'll go to the policy,

James, when you look at this situation, what does it speak to, the first suicide bomber attempt in New York City since, of course, 9/11?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We know that there have been three of these attacks, Chris, in the last couple of months. You and I have been at the location where these happened, one down at the West Side Highway and in 2016 in September there was an attempted bombing as well in Chelsea.

What does this tell us? Well, New York City's a city of 8.4 million people. And, on an average commuting day, you could have 600,000 to a million extra net folks that are inside the city. And 6 million people take the subway every day. This was the perfect soft target. What it tells me tactically is, a huge mistake was made here or the device was prematurely detonated.

CUOMO: Let's put up the picture of the guy. They have a great picture of him after it went off. People say, oh, I don't call it great. You know what, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for this guy getting hurt by his own bomb. So there he is. You see the burn marks on him.

What does that tell you about the nature of the device?

GAGLIANO: It tells me a lot, Chris. First of all, it was a five-inch metal pipe bomb that he apparently fashioned at an electronics plant that he worked at. It was stuffed with match heads. The igniter was a Christmas tree light and it was powered by a nine-volt battery. If this device had been put together by say a middle eastern signature bombmaker, it could have potentially collapsed ear drums, squashed organs, the carnage would have been much worse. The fact that three people were injured and the worst were headaches, ringing in the ear, we dodged a bullet.

CUOMO: All right, so, Philip, we hear from the White House, this is chain migration. This has to stop. Is that what your analysis suggests about how this man came to this country and what kind of threat it posed?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That doesn't suggest -- the White House comments don't suggest anything to me. Look at a couple of facts here, Chris. He's been here, I think, since 2011. So you want to stop chain migration from countries that might be the origin for people with terrorist sympathies, let's go across the globe from the Philippines to Bangladesh, to India, to Pakistan, to Saudi Arabia. I could go on and on.

My point is, then you've got to go into Belgium, France, the U.K., where we have a great deal of extremism, far more than we have in this country. If you want to go down that path, you've got to start talking about Europe as well.

I think the question we have to deal with here is one small (ph), did the family know something and is there a see something say something issue here? And, two, and finally, is there Internet stuff out there that we have to work with Internet companies to keep off the web, including searches for how to build an explosive device?

[06:55:12] CUOMO: And, look, it sounds like a no brainer, but you know what happens. When you start talking about monitoring what people can and what they can't see on the Internet, you get into a big liberty argument here. But this does suggest a pattern.

These home-grown types that are not in any way officially doctrinated by any terror organization, but they get -- we're using the word inspired -- I would prefer the word influenced -- that they decide that, you know, they believe in something about this. Maybe it's the manifestation of other discontent. That seems to be the new M.O., Philip. Am I wrong about that?

MUDD: That's right. I'd even go beyond influence, Chris. I'd say validated. What you're seeing is people who, whatever they have a grievance about, they look at ISIS and say, I'm validated. I'm angry at my school teacher, I'm angry at Pakistan, I'm angry at Gaza, I'm going to go blow something up because ISIS tells me I can do something.

You're right about the free speech issue on the Internet, but we're already seeing that pendulum swing. YouTube is taking off extremist videos that would have been out there as soon as -- as recently as a year ago. I think we'll head into a stage where there's a conversation about Google searches saying, can you search how to make a bomb at home and is that search going to be allowed on the Internet? A good free speech question, but we're just starting it now.

CUOMO: What about the White House case, though, James, which is, look, you're letting in people. You don't vet them properly. Sure, maybe they're here for years and years leading a normal life, but you never know. They're sleepers. We have to stop them all.

GAGLIANO: Chris, to Phil's point, 21st century society, globalization. People can get radicalized at home or abroad. And I believe the terrorism statistics right now bear out that. About half of the folks that have tried to conduct these attacks since 9/11 were born here and half were foreign nationals. And to Phil's point also about where you can find these things through Google searches, all you've got to do is get an old beat up paperback copy of the anarchist cookbook and the same things are there. It is impossible to control in a free society unless we want to give up our own civil liberties.

CUOMO: Jimmy, Phil, thank you very much. And if I don't speak to you both again, Merry Christmas to both of you.

MUDD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, voters head to the polls in Alabama about one hour from now. How are they feeling on Election Day? We take you there live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:59:50] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, a liberal or a conservative, Roy Moore does not need to represent the state of Alabama.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: There's a special place in hell for all (INAUDIBLE) doesn't have Trump's back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Moore will be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about a Republican Party that's been torn apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time that we take a road that's going to get us on the path to progress.