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African Nations Demanding An Apology From Trump; Trump Slurs Could Impact Immigration, Government Shutdown Talks; Federal Judge Issues Dreamers Temporary Reprieve; False Alert Sent Out To Hawaii About Missile Strike. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 13, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But for the critics, trophy hunting remains a barbaric blood sport. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Uvalde County, Texas.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And the CNN film "Trophy" airs tomorrow night. That will be at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.
Hi there. Thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Growing anger and backlash around the world and here at home against President Trump. World leaders and organizations are slamming his comments as racist, shameful, outrageous.
Many African nations are now demanding an apology after the president reportedly made vulgar and derogatory comments about immigrants. So far, no apology from Trump, but he is tweeting this morning saying, "America first." And he did that from his Florida resort where he is spending the weekend.
Meanwhile, his vulgar remarks may also be impacting the already fragile immigration talks and negotiations to try to avert a government shutdown. We've got a team of correspondents and analysts covering all of these developments
CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is in Washington. But we're going to begin with White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. Here's near the president's resort in Florida. Boris, good to see you. What is the president tweeting about now?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. Good afternoon, Martin. Our cameras actually just spotted the president a short while ago at the Trump National Golf Course where he has spent most of the morning.
Shortly before arriving there, though, he took aim at Democrats on Twitter, blaming Democrats for what is seen as a lack of progress during immigration negotiations. As you know, several meetings took place at the White House this week to discuss DACA, border security, chain migration, among other things.
Here are the president's tweets. He writes, "The Democrats are all talk and no action. They are doing nothing to fix DACA. Great opportunity missed. Too bad!"
He then, moments later, tweeted, "I don't believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA. They are all talk and no action. This is the time but, day by day, they are blowing the one great opportunity they have. Too bad!"
These tweets coming amid backlash against the president for comments that he reportedly made during one of those meetings with lawmakers, comments that he made about African nations, about the number of visas being given to Haitians, and his lamenting that more immigrants are not coming to the United States from countries like Norway.
The response so far from lawmakers has been pretty divided. You have Democrats like Dick Durbin, who was in that meeting, for example, confirming the reported remarks that the president made and saying that they were hate-filled.
Beyond that, you have some division within the Republican Party itself. Almost two dozen Republicans coming out and condemning the president's remarks. Yet, some of them like Tom Cotton of Arkansas saying that they don't recall the president making those kinds of comments.
You also have people like Lindsey Graham who publicly aren't confirming what the president said. But, as we've reported, he apparently privately told fellow South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott that the president did say those things about African nations and Haitians.
The one striking thing about these responses, though, is that there's been silence from a key figure in these negotiations. No word yet from Sen. Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, about how he feels regarding what the president said.
We should note, there is tremendous pressure despite what the president has tweeted on both Democrats and Republicans to get a deal done on DACA and, not just that, to get one done in a timely fashion, because, as you know, Martin, government funding runs out on Friday.
So, if lawmakers wanted to include DACA as a bargaining chip, a solution to the issue of DREAMers' legal status during budget negotiations, they'd have to do it soon. Otherwise, they just pass another continuing resolution and kick the can down further when it comes to funding the government and coming up with a deal to do that, Martin.
SAVIDGE: All right. Well, let's bring in Elise Labott. And, Elise, we're getting new reaction, I should say, from African leaders. What are you hearing in the world of diplomatic response?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Marty, last night, the African Union put out a really extraordinary statement condemning the president's remarks and standing strong, saying that the African Union countries that the president talked about do not represent what he said and appreciating that the Americans are disassociating themselves with this. This morning, we heard from Namibia's Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, making a statement, saying "Such language has no place in diplomatic discourse and is contrary to the norms of civility and human progress. Furthermore, it does not contribute to national cooperation. Namibia commends those America people who have disassociated themselves with these derogatory remarks.
[13:05:03] And then, you also heard from the president of Ghana on Twitter, tweeting directly to President Trump, saying, "The language of @realDonaldTrump" - that's the president's Twitter handle - "that African continent, Haiti and El Salvador are "shithole countries" is extremely unfortunate. We are not a "shithole country". We will not accept insults even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful." That's the president of Ghana.
Now, as we reported over the last many months, the US has really stepped up its military cooperation with African countries, trying to increase its counter-terrorism operations there. There are questions of that.
There are questions about other nations and how they're taking the president's comments. US diplomats really fanning across the continent, trying to contain the damage. The governments of Senegal and Botswana called in US diplomats, as did the president of Haiti, some and the top diplomat there.
And what the message has been given to the State Department, to these diplomats to tell their host governments, Marty, is that the US stands with you, the US reaffirms its commitment to its relationship, don't focus on the tweets, don't focus on the language. Focus on the cooperation and the strong relationships that the US has.
And, essentially, Marty, saying that US relationships with these countries are important and transcend the words of any president. Look at the policies.
SAVIDGE: And these are nations that we rely on in many ways including in the fight against terror as well as trade and other things. So, Elise Labott, thank you both very much. Boris Sanchez, thank you as well.
OK. Let's bring in our panel now to talk more about this. Joining me is Jack Kingston. He's a CNN political commentator and a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign. And CNN political commentator, Maria Cardona, who is a Democratic strategist.
Jack, I've got to start with you. Should the president apologize for what he has said and what he has implied against countries such as Africa - or continents such as Africa and the country of Haiti?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if he said it, I think the window for apology has probably passed. I think, at this point, he should say, we are going to continue to work with countries that are our allies.
SAVIDGE: Do you think that there's a doubt that he said it? KINGSTON: I know David Purdue and Tom Cotton fairly well and I also know Dick Durbin fairly well and I'm more inclined to listen to Cotton and Purdue at this point.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Shocker.
KINGSTON: But I want to say this. I mean, I don't know when it became a virtue in a private meeting for somebody to run out and go to the microphones and say he said such and such. I don't know how you have progress in a town that demands bipartisan cooperation, if everything you're going to say is going to go out there for the point of political exploits.
SAVIDGE: I think because it was so shocking and so disturbing to hear from a president.
KINGSTON: What I would say is, if it was so shocking, why didn't Sen. Durbin get up or make a big stink about it right then and there. I mean, we have to ask -
SAVIDGE: Well, they're trying to work out a deal and you can't just walk away from that.
KINGSTON: Well, if he was trying to work out a deal, he shouldn't go out and kiss and tell.
CARDONA: Come on.
KINGSTON: And I'd say that's what he was doing. Maria, I know you well enough to know you wouldn't put it with it for one second for me on or off camera.
CARDONA: First of all, I would never say such racist things. So, that wouldn't even be an issue.
KINGSTON: But if my friend Dick Durbin is so virtuous, at that point, he should have said, Mr. President, this negotiation -
CARDONA: Don't put it on Sen. Durbin, Jack.
KINGSTON: I know he's your hero for the day.
CARDONA: Do not put it on Sen. Durbin that that your president is a racist and a xenophobe.
KINGSTON: He's not a racist and a xenophobe.
CARDONA: He is a racist. He is a xenophobe and a bigot.
SAVIDGE: Maria, let me just ask you this real quick. We know the president has said many controversial things, both when he was campaigning and since he's taken office. Is this a kind of tipping point in your mind?
CARDONA: It's hard to judge, Martin, because when we think that we have hit rock bottom with the incredibly vulgar, racist, xenophobic, bigoted, inappropriate, unfitting to the presidency of the United States comments that come out of the mouth of this so-called president, he surprises us the next day or the next moment with a tweet that is even worse.
So, I don't want to say that because we might even hit more rock bottom as he continues to dig his hole, and so we don't know.
But what I will say is this. The president has reached a new low and I think that he is flushing the reputation of the country of the United States of America down the toilet, both with American voters as well as with our allies, and that is a sad moment that we are living in right now.
KINGSTON: Let me say this, Martin. If they are that offended, they can turn down the $30 billion to $50 billion a year that we send to foreign aid.
[13:10:00] I might point out as somebody who's studied and lived in Africa for many, many years in terms of a member of Congress visiting many times, those nations routinely vote against us in the UN, and not just half the time. Usually 85 percent of the time. And yet, they take our foreign aid.
If this is -
CARDONA: That has nothing to do with this conversation.
KINGSTON: If you think we've ruined our position with them, they're going to take our money and they're going to continue to vote against us.
CARDONA: That has nothing to do with it.
SAVIDGE: The more important kind of voter is not the one that's in the United Nations, but the one that is seated right back here in the United States. And what the fallout could be for Republicans here. We understand the president, much of this rolls off of his reputation, but Republicans could be caught owning this. Do you worry about it?
KINGSTON: I don't. I think if the Democrats are willing to shut down the government for non-American citizens, and particularly on an issue that's been out there for decades -
SAVIDGE: Now, you've given them a cause, and that cause is they can stand up against a president who has made racist remarks and appears to be calling other nations and those who live there as people unwanted.
KINGSTON: You have to put the issue above the style, above the personality. If they're that concerned, they should have dealt with it a decade ago when they were in power.
But regardless of that, do they really want to deny the American military of pay, of money that they need, of all the civil employees, of social security recipients. They want to shut down the government because of a problem that's been out there for decades. I don't think that's a wise move on their part.
CARDONA: That's just completely not true. The Republicans are in charge of the White House, of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. If we get to the point where the government shuts down, the American people will blame this president and will blame the Republican Party because they do not know how to govern.
The majority of the American people want to give protections to the almost 1 million immigrants who came here through no fault of their own, who are as American as you and I, Jack, but yet -
KINGSTON: Well, if they were, we wouldn't be having this debate.
CARDONA: Do not interrupt me. And that's the problem.
KINGSTON: Don't filibuster.
CARDONA: That is exactly the problem. Republicans have yet - not all Republicans because there are many Republicans who understand how misguided their own president is and they do want to come to a DACA deal.
And going into the 2018 elections when right now the generic ballot has Democrats up 15 points, and there is retirement after retirement on behalf of Republicans because they know how much in danger they are -
SAVIDGE: OK. Jack, let me ask you this. The concern here, going forward, is, of course, what impact it could have on 2018. And my problem with the president's words is not the vulgarity that he used. It was the question he asked which is why do we want them here. And it was a Republican - at least I've read - that came forward and said, Mr. President, here's why. Why have not the Republicans come out so forcefully?
KINGSTON: I think many of them have. Many of them don't have the microphone that the president has, but we do know of the 1 million legal immigrants that come to America each year, only 15 percent are allowed in because of their skill.
And I think that the president has raised a very important point. Shouldn't we do what other countries have done and move to meritorious immigration.
SAVIDGE: But it isn't all about skill, Jack. There is culture. There is people's personalities. There are ways that they contribute that until they get to this country they don't even know what it is. But you're trying to deny them at least because they don't have a skill set.
KINGSTON: Well, I've heard the Democrats say we are separating families. Well, nobody has said you had to come to America. If you want to keep your family, maybe you need to stay where you are.
SAVIDGE: Jack Kingston, I've got to leave it there. Maria, I've got to leave it there as well. Thank you both for joining me. CARDONA: Thanks, Martin.
KINGSTON: Thanks, Martin.
SAVIDGE: I know we're going to talk again. Thank you.
Coming up, a cybersecurity firm tracking Russian hackers who stole DNC party e-mails says the group has a new target in its sights, the US Senate. Wow! Details next.
SAVIDGE: The cybersecurity firm that's tracking Russian hacker says the same group that hacked the Democratic National Committee has turned now its target toward the US senate. CNN's Jessica Schneider explains that an attack is already underway.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, an alarming warning from a cybersecurity firm that's been tracking Russian government aligned hackers for years. Their next target is the United States Senate.
The hacking group, often nicknamed Fancy Bear, has honed in on the Senate's internal e-mail system, according to a new report from Trend Micro Incorporated.
Fancy Bear is the same Russian-linked entity that hacked the Democratic National Committee computer network during the election. Security researchers discovered suspicious web sites designed to resemble those used by the Senate. And when they cross-referenced those sites with a digital fingerprint associated with Fancy Bear, they matched.
Trend Micro used the same technique when it discovered decoy websites apparently set up to harvest e-mails from now French President Emmanuel Macron's campaign in April.
MARK NUNNIKHOVEN, VP OF CLOUD RESEARCH, TREND MICRO INC.: Because we've been tracking them for so long, it gives us a very high level of confidence because they've left a little bit of evidence after every attack.
SCHNEIDER: Trend Micro said the hackers are attempting to get into the Senate system by sending highly sophisticated phishing e-mails.
NUNNIKHOVEN: They can pick a current issue, something like immigration, or a statement by the president and use that as a hook to try to trick employees onto clicking on to this link that takes them to a fake log-in server.
SCHNEIDER: CNN has learned Senate staff had been briefed by the US Senate security on this looming threat. Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee released a report this week, claiming Russian-linked hackers have set their targets on the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential elections.
[13:20:16] If United States fails to work with urgency to address this complex and growing threat, the regime in Moscow will become further emboldened. It will continue to develop and refine its arsenal to use on democracies around the world, including against US elections in 2018 and 2020.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: The president is not doing what he needs to. He still hasn't even acknowledged Russia's engagement in our own elections. He's failed to convene an interagency group to counter this attack. He has not announced a US policy against Russia maligned influences.
SCHNEIDER: Sen. Cardin acknowledged that federal agencies have stepped forward to fight the threat, but said it starts with the president.
CARDIN: Our first recommendation is for President Trump to exercise executive leadership, presidential leadership, announce a policy and how that policy is going to be implemented.
SCHNEIDER: President Trump has refused to unequivocally acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite that exact conclusion from the US intelligence community one year ago.
SAVIDGE: That was Jessica Schneider. Thank you very much.
Coming up tonight on the "Axe Files," David Axelrod talks with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice about the Russia investigation and her own experiences with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Here's a little bit of that conversation.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN HOST, "AXE FILES": He was FBI director while you were the national security adviser. Tell me about him.
RICE: Well, he came under the most difficult circumstances, taking over that agency just a few months before 9/11. So, under very difficult circumstances.
He is a terrific person. He's a straight shooter. I think he will push to a conclusion. I don't have any idea what it will be. I hope, frankly, it's over pretty soon because we need to get on with our business.
And by the way, I want to just go back to one thing about Vladimir Putin. David, I think he loves the fact that we're spinning around about this, that our heads are blowing off.
I would have preferred to say, we know you did it and, at a time of our choosing, we will punish it and you won't do it again.
AXELROD: Doesn't it send a mixed signal if the president calls it a hoax?
RICE: Well, the president shouldn't call it a hoax, let's just say that. But the fact is, we will get to the bottom of what happened. I hope that there are people spending as much time trying to figure out exactly how the Russians did what they did -
AXELROD: I agree with it.
RICE: Because that's really the issue. So, we can stop them the next time.
AXELROD: All of these attacks on Mueller and his integrity, do they bother you?
RICE: Well, because, I know him personally and because I have high regard for him. But when you step out there in the public eye, people are going to criticize. People are going to say - they're going to call into question what you're doing. It's the nature of the game.
AXELROD: Just going back to your book, what worries me is just the assault. It's really an assault on the institution of the Justice Department, the FBI, the rule of law. It's not just about Mueller. It suggests that the whole system is rigged.
RICE: There are people who are arguing now that there were some within the FBI that had a view. If they believe that, they have a right to say it. And I will defend their right to say it. I may not agree, but I will defend their right to say it.
AXELROD: But don't mess with Mueller, let him do his work?
RICE: I think Mueller will do his work and the president -
AXELROD: Would it be a mistake to fire him or to try and impede the investigation?
RICE: I'm not going to try to give advice and nobody should try to impede the investigation.
SAVIDGE: You can see the entire interview on "The Axe Files". That will be tonight 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
SAVIDGE: President Trump adding fuel to the already fiery rhetoric surrounding the DACA debate just two days after disparaging Haiti and Africa with some very vulgar language in a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers, he fired off a tweet blaming Democrats for the lack of progress on the DACA deal.
About 700,000 so-called DREAMers brought into this country as children face the possibility of deportation in March if an agreement isn't reached.
Meantime, they have been granted a legal reprieve. A federal court in California has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's efforts to end DACA.
Joining me now to explain what that means, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, criminal defense attorney. And I will say to you both, it is a new year and I get to see you and it's very warming to my heart. It's good to see you both. Really is.
Richard, to you, the Ninth Circuit Court judge in San Francisco ordered the Trump administration to resume receiving DACA renewal applications, but that only applies to DREAMers who have been on the DACA program already. So, what's the legal basis for that and why not all DREAMers?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Basically, Marty, the judge was fearful that Obama was going to - not Obama, that Trump was going to do what he threatened to do and end the entire DACA program in two years and starting with March this year. So, what the judge did, he did not rule on the merits of the case. He issued a temporary injunction.
[13:30:00] And what he said was it would be irreparable harm to the DACA individuals if they were forced to leave this country right now. So, he's going to stop it. And now, it's going to mire its way through the courts and probably end up in the Supreme Court unless this spineless, inept Congress can get together and issue a bipartisan bill.
But Trump is not going to get involved in this, Marty, because - and I don't know how you're doing broadcast with him. I'd like to know what sedative you're on to be able to be so cool and calm covering Trump.
Marty, he wants flesh and blood for this. In order to do DACA, he wants funding for the wall, he wants to end chain migration, the lottery and a points system. And maybe all that could be worked out, but DACA is the most pressing interest. It starts in March. There's 800,000 DACA people here.
He says he loves DACA (INAUDIBLE), but let's see what happens. Let's see if Congress can get together here and do something for the first time.
SAVIDGE: OK. Real quick, though. I should point out, this week's ruling stems from a lawsuit from the University of California. The president of the UC school system is former homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, who helped establish DACA in 2012.
So, here's what she said after the court's ruling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: We were very careful on how we created DACA and it does comply with the law. And that's what the judge out here found. And that's why he found against the administration because their action was premised on the notion that DACA itself was an illegal act, and it wasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: All right, Avery. Go ahead.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, that goes to the essence of it. The first two words of DACA are deferred action. Deferred action until congress takes care of this, Marty, and that's why Congress has an obligation to do it.
In 2007, they tried, didn't get through. 2011, they tried, didn't get through. And what the president said in those vulgar remarks actually were remarks reflective of what Congress said in 1924 when they passed a limitation on Middle European and Southern European residents and Chinese.
Well, in 1965, the president, Lyndon Johnson, said that's disgustingly racist and we're going to abolish that. In fact, that's what happened, that what the president said is what Congress talked about in 1924. And Congress said, we don't talk that way.
SAVIDGE: Look, I'm sorry, guys, but I've got to interrupt this reunion as much I don't want to because there's actually some important clarifications we have to get out real quick for our viewers in Hawaii.
Moments ago, there was - and you may have heard this - an erroneous alert that went out via text message and social media which warned to take cover because of an imminent missile strike.
Again, we are being told that that was sent by error. In other words, there was a test going on, but it went out. It was never meant to go out publicly. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted this out moments ago. "Hawaii, this is a false alarm. There is no incoming missile to Hawaii. I have confirmed with officials there that no missile is incoming."
To talk more about this, I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. What do we know about how this all came about? It would be terrifying.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And it is. So, every emergency management agency is constantly testing their systems, in particular, systems of communication. And more specifically, the use of social media to get information out. Think of an evacuation or a blizzard warning or whatever else. So, they have to test these systems based on how fast they can do it, what areas do they want to tell.
Thankfully, this test was just that, a test. And so, the odd thing is, normally, these go out with either this is a test or we're just testing the systems rather than the text that did go out to a lot of people. I should say, it was quickly corrected, but it does tell you in this day and age how quickly the mistake gets spread and how hard it is to sort of put the genie back in the bottle.
SAVIDGE: Right. And, of course, as we know, with the tensions that have been with North Korea, the vulnerability of Hawaii where it sits out in the middle of the Pacific, there's reason that people would not sort of brush this off.
KAYYEM: Yeah, exactly. And this is the equally troublesome aspect of this. The good news is, let me just say this, is that it wasn't a hack. For a few minutes, I thought it might have been a hack, and that to me would be very terrifying because it could mean that an outside source was trying to sort of manipulate US government communications which would then trigger a response.
So, that is at least a good news that we have to make sure that those systems of alert are protected from outside.
[13:35:06] But, obviously, given the threat that Hawaii feels like it's in and the United States feels like it's in, a mistake like this, I don't want to say it's unforgiveable, but, boy, we better learn from it because we have to test the systems, but we also have to have the public have confidence in the systems of communication.
And if there's a mistake like this, what if the next one says tsunami warning because there's been an earthquake and people go, oh, it's another test, it's another mistake. So, really important for people to have confidence in these systems and this is a mistake and backward sliding in that regard.
SAVIDGE: Julia, did this in any way trigger the emergency broadcasting system, the tone that we're all so familiar with when they say this is just a test. Did that go off?
KAYYEM: No, it didn't. And this is how people who were following in real time like me sort of knew that it was probably a mistake, was that the television systems which are on a different system from the social media platforms - the TV stations were showing games and football and whatever else. So, that was the first hint that this was a mistake.
They're on different platforms for a variety of reasons. They're actually owned by different entities and, of course, are overseen by different government regulators. So, that's not surprising.
It looks like Hawaii - we'll find out more in the next couple of hours - was testing its social media emergency management apparatus in conjunction with its traditional emergency management communications because they have to in this day and age.
You have to communicate with people through Facebook and Twitter. This went out so quickly with the absolutely wrong language. I mean, nothing should ever be drafted that has language like that unless it's actually happening, and someone forgot to put this is a test on the draft language. SAVIDGE: And we should reiterate to anyone who may be tuning in and wondering what we're talking about. There has been an alert that went out on social media in Hawaii that was warning of an incoming ballistic missile. That is not true. It is an error that was made. And, apparently, the information went out when it definitely should not have gone out.
Julia, did this go out on people's cell phones, this kind of automatic text, or was it just on social media?
KAYYEM: I just saw it on social media, so I don't want to answer that question yet just because I don't know. It happened so quickly. My suspicion, or at least based on previous exercises, is that this was a text alert and Twitter alert system, both simultaneously. I only saw it through social media. So, I don't know if they were communicated that way.
Part of, obviously, testing these platforms is to make sure you can communicate accurately with as many people as possible. That's a good goal.
But each time you get it wrong, the public is going to have less confidence in the system. So, Hawaii, Hawaii leadership should get out there quickly, explain what happened, so that people can have confidence in the system.
SAVIDGE: I know I may be asking you things that it's too early to try to discern, but - so, this is on the state level, this error, not on the federal level?
KAYYEM: Yes. So, this is coming from the Hawaii Emergency Management side. So, they're probably testing it. In fact, there was a reporter who contacted NORAD, so that NORAD - the potential for incoming missiles, federal, obviously, military entity and command, NORAD said we're not seeing anything, we didn't put anything out, and that's actually what began the process of understanding that what was coming on the state-side was inaccurate.
Look, in any crisis, whether it's nuclear missiles which are absolutely terrifying or a tsunami or a fire, you're going to want to align local, state and federal communication strategy. That generally happens. What happened here was one of those entities was testing. That's pretty common and, in some ways, fortunately because the federal government was not part of it, it was able to say this was a big mistake.
SAVIDGE: All right. Hold on, Juliette. I want to bring in our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. And, Elise, you've got a statement or you've got new information?
LABOTT: That's right, Marty. I have a statement from the spokesman of PACOM. That's the US Command in Hawaii that does the Pacific. The spokesman, Commander David Benham says, on the record, US PACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible." Obviously, Twitter was blowing up with the idea that so many people were getting this text and it was unclear whether it was a hoax or a false message.
Clearly, as this missile threat continued to be leaving the Hawaiians very concerned about what their missiles - you could understand that the State of Hawaii has been doing contingency planning, possibly even getting these messages ready for the event that there was a missile threat.
[13:40:14] So, I mean, obviously, Pac Command will put out some more information about how this came to be. But, right now, the State of Hawaii sending that message in error.
SAVIDGE: Yes. The Pacific Command, clearly, they would know. Yes, Juliette, go ahead.
KAYYEM: I think it's somewhat outrageous, at this stage, that they haven't sent out a correction. I'm not on Twitter right now, but maybe someone can confirm that. But the mistake is known -
SAVIDGE: I'm told we haven't seen one.
KAYYEM: Yes. We haven't seen one. Look, if you're going to use systems that are fast, you better use them quickly to get the correction out. It's been at least 20 minutes.
Emergencies and disasters, the world I live in, they happen in real time. People react in real time. So, if you don't correct the communication immediately, even though you and I and Elise know that this was a false alarm, part of assurances in the system that we want from the public means that it's on Hawaii 20 minutes ago, but certainly now if they haven't yet to remedy the mistake and to come out with an explanation.
LABOTT: Right, right. I think that's why Pac Com put out that statement that it did as soon as it knew because, obviously, when you're talking about military affairs, they don't want any kind of miscalculation or anything like that.
What if, in this heightened kind of state of rhetoric and these threats going back and forth between President Trump, Kim Jong-un, who knows who could misinterpret something and then you have this totally unintended consequence, which is why I think Pac Command wanted to get out what it knew right away.
And, hopefully, we'll see something from the State of Hawaii very soon.
SAVIDGE: Yes. I mean, that's an excellent point. That is one of the gravest concerns when you start talking about this environment in which we live, the spontaneity of communication, but the confusion that can come about.
LABOTT: Absolutely. SAVIDGE: And if North Korea or some other nation that might be hostile to the US sees this, they might say, wait a minute, this could be a false indicator of something coming our way. And that's the misunderstandings that trigger horrible events.
Juliette, do we know - was this an exercise that was underway?
SAVIDGE: Is that right?
KAYYEM: I don't know - there's different kinds of exercises. There are some tabletop. There's actually real exercise that people are moving around, that the military often does. And then, there are some things like communications exercises where they're just testing the networks to make sure - do they get bounce-backs. Capacity is a huge issue with alert systems in terms of can you push messages out.
So, whether there was a physical component to the communication size, we don't know yet. I'll say it again, it's more than five minutes later, we should be getting some corrections, one would hope, 20 minutes ago and an explanation beyond this was a mistake.
I will say the protocols are generally you would never write texts like that -
KAYYEM: - that the texts would be covered - in fact, sometimes we write them where every other word is draft or text, so that you make sure that anyone who reads it knows that there's a test or it's a draft exercise.
So, a lot of things went wrong, but it's on Hawaii to fix it, so that Hawaiians who are, obviously, very concerned about what's going on now - once again it comes back to confidence, confidence, confidence. We have to have confidence in these systems, so that people behave in ways that we need them to when it's real.
SAVIDGE: Juliette, let me interrupt you for a second because I want to bring in now Lorenza Ingram. She's a CNN producer. She's in Hawaii. She joins us on the telephone and she can give us a better perspective of sort of what is going on as far as reaction to all of this and what have you heard?
LORENZA INGRAM, CNN PRODUCER: So, we actually really haven't heard much. We found out more, quite frankly, through CNN's assignment desk. When it all happened, we were getting ready for breakfast and we got alerts on our phone in all caps saying ballistic missile heading towards Hawaii; this is not a false alarm.
Of course, we all kind of went into a panic, called the hotel. They said they had nowhere for us to bunker down. We opened our sliding glass door to look out through the beach.
We saw probably ten different families running, not walking, running back to their room. And at that point, we really just unfortunately had to rely on my resources at the network to get answers because the hotel had none.
SAVIDGE: So, Juliette, we're just hearing there, of course, that, in this case, it went out and the words were specifically this is not a drill. That would be horrifying to anyone there.
INGRAM: Oh, it was -- I don't know if you can hear in my voice, it was pure panic. I'm a producer, so I'm used to going into troubling situations, but this was sheer panic. My 1-year-old nephew is here and, quite frankly, just thinking, wow, is this where it's all going to come to an end. Not to be dramatic, but that's really where your head goes.
The hotel not having any resources, nowhere to bunker down. My family and I found ourselves basically in a bathroom. In our bathroom. We really didn't know where else to go. Didn't know where else to get answers. So, really, again -
SAVIDGE: How long were you in this state of not knowing? Did you hear me? I was just asking Lorenza how long did you have to wait before you realized this is not going to happen?
Juliette, we'll try to get her back, but as you heard there, it appears that this warning went out not just on social media, it went out on people's cell phones. So, that is the device we all have. And, apparently, it did say that this is not a drill.
KAYYEM: Right. And people - once again, I'm not getting that. I mean, just having been in the field for a long time, you would never write something that didn't have test all over it.
So, got to figure out - look, it's easy to say how stupid. These are professionals within Hawaii's emergency management system. They've got to figure out what happened. Was this a single mistake that no one caught before?
SAVIDGE: But let me stop you there because we've got someone on the phone who may be able to give us some better answers on that. Tulsi Gabbard is a congresswoman from the State of Hawaii.
First of all, thank you for talking to us. What is going on?
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Well, the people of Hawaii just got a taste of the stark reality of what we face here with a potential nuclear strike on Hawaii.
Every single cell phone in Hawaii just got this text message saying that a ballistic missile is incoming, take shelter, this is not a drill. So, you can only imagine what kicked in where people start questioning.
Over 1 million people in my State of Hawaii are being faced with the reality that they've got 15 minutes to find a place to take shelter. Where do they find shelter to protect them and their families from a nuclear attack? It's crazy. SAVIDGE: How did it happen?
GABBARD: Well, we're still waiting on the details. The officials that I've spoken to said it was an inadvertent message that was sent out. Essentially, it was a mistake.
But the reality that this points to - and we'll get to the bottom of that. But the reality and what I hope people across this country and the leaders of this country hear is that this is a real threat facing Hawaii.
So, people got this message on their phones and they've got 15 minutes. We've got 15 minutes before me and my family could be dead.
SAVIDGE: How quickly were you able to notify the people of Hawaii this wasn't true?
GABBARD: As soon as I got the message, I called Hawaii civil defense officials, found out what was going on, confirmed it was a mistake and immediately started sending out tweets, putting things on social media, making phone calls to Hawaii media to try to get the message out to people that this was a false alarm and this was - this was a false alarm, that there was no incoming missile headed to Hawaii.
SAVIDGE: How much time was in between when people got the text versus when you were able to get out word it's not true?
GABBARD: I don't know. It was a matter of minutes. I haven't looked back at exactly the right time. I've been on my phone non-stop and texting and tweeting and trying to get the word out to people.
But the reality is that every American needs to understand that if you had gone through what the people of Hawaii just went through, what my family and so many families in Hawaii just went through, you'd be angry just like I am.
I've been talking about this threat from North Korea for years.
SAVIDGE: I think most would be horrified the second - once you realize it's not going to happen. Now, the anger is going to come in.
GABBARD: Absolutely. It points to the failure of our leaders that we are sitting here in a state where this text message is a very real thing. Today's one was a mistake. But the reality is that this threat is very real. The people of my home state live with this. They live with the reality of this message popping up on their phones.
Donald Trump is taking too long. He's not taking this threat seriously. There's no time to waste. The people of Hawaii in this country should not have to go through something like this before leaders in this country start to take this threat seriously.
Bring us peace, make a deal.
SAVIDGE: Before we get too deep into the politics, let's keep with the present moment. And the present moment is, and I should alert viewers in case they're just tuning in, there was an alert sent out via text and social media, and it was warning the people of Hawaii to take cover, that there was a ballistic missile that had been detected and on the way. And it said, this is not a drill.
[13:50:04] Well, it turns out that was all an error, a mistake. And joining me on the phone is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Tulsi, was there - were they rehearsing something when this happened?
GABBARD: We're still getting to the bottom of the details. The bottom line of what I called and found out was that there was no incoming missile threat. And I immediately took action to get the word out to people in Hawaii, who knew that if this was a real message as the message stated it was, they have 15 minutes to take shelter.
SAVIDGE: And what do people do? What does Hawaii have in place to try to protect its people?
GABBARD: That's exactly the point. There are no nuclear shelters for people to go running to within 15 minutes. Where do they go? What do they do? This is the reality that people in Hawaii are facing.
There was a nuclear threat coming from North Korea that could come at any time. This is the reality that our country faces. And why our leader - why Donald Trump needs to take action, negotiate with North Korea, get rid of this nuclear threat, so that this is not something that people of Hawaii, in my home state, or this country have to live with every single day.
SAVIDGE: In the short time it took for people to be informed this was not true, you could see people racing in automobile, you could see people dashing across streets, you could see where out of fear and panic or trying to get to family members, people could be hurt, injured or worse. Have you heard of anything like that?
GABBARD: I've not been kept in the loop on specifics that have gone on since the tweet went out or the erroneous message was put out. I think most people have been relieved to hear that this was not a real threat coming in.
But again, I highlight the fact that this could have been a real threat coming in and we better take this seriously. We've got to resolve this situation and get rid of this nuclear threat, achieve peace, so that this is not something that we have to live with as a new reality.
SAVIDGE: I just heard that it took 38 minutes to get the sort of retraction out there, that this was not a real missile strike coming in. 38 minutes seems like a very long time.
GABBARD: And I know my tweet went out quicker than 38 minutes.
SAVIDGE: Are people on the air broadcasting now in your state?
GABBARD: Now, they are in Hawaii, yes.
SAVIDGE: Well, congresswoman, thank you very much for your time and your explanation.
We want to explain just to those who are joining us and also to our international audience, what has happened here is early - or it's morning in Hawaii, and apparently, there was a drill going on pertaining to ballistic missile protection and somehow accidentally, in error, there was a message that was sent out both on social media and also was sent out on text - in other words, on people's cell phones - and it told them that there was an incoming ballistic missile and this was not a drill, and that we are also being told it took about 38 minutes before any kind of official notice was then put out saying this was an error, this was a mistake.
You could imagine the horror and panic that could trigger in people's minds. Hawaii especially knows that it is vulnerable to any potential strike, especially if it were to come from North Korea.
CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is with us now. Boris, what are you hearing there?
SANCHEZ: Hey there, Martin. Yes, CNN has been able to confirm with a spokesperson at the White House that President Trump was on the golf course when this false alarm alert about a ballistic missile headed to Hawaii was sent out.
CNN cameras actually spotted him there earlier. It's unclear who the president is with on the golf course, but typically when he travels there, he is with a military aide. They have with them the nuclear football and other contingency plans.
It's unclear, though, if the president has been briefed on this false alarm or the nature of it. The White House referring CNN to the Department of Defense, who we have reached out to. They have yet to get back to us.
We've also reached out to the National Security Council, but have yet to hear back, Martin. Still a lot of questions about exactly the nature of how this false alarm went out, where the president was precisely when it was sent out.
Clearly, he was at the golf course, but what he was doing we still don't know. And whether or not he was briefed on it or perhaps prepared for some kind of response, we simply do not know at the moment, Martin. We're going to keep digging and get back to you with the latest as soon as we hear it.
SAVIDGE: There was no indication where you are, which is, of course, with the president down there in Florida, that officials were rushing the president to get him somewhere or that there was any kind of different posture on the part of the security personnel around the president?
SANCHEZ: We still have no indication of that. Simply what we know is that the president was at the golf course when this false alarm was sent out. He typically travels with a large security presence. There is almost always a military aide with him. The White House, clearly, for years has been prepared for any kind of military action that may take place while the president is traveling. He is typically not far from that security package, including the nuclear football, with security measures in place, nuclear codes there in place should an emergency occur.
[15:55:12] But, simply, at this moment, we're not getting word from the White House on what the initial response was to this false alarm. They, again, are referring us to the Department of Defense. No indication yet as to whether or not the president was even briefed on this, considering that, again, US Pacific Command has confirmed that it was a false alarm and there was no ballistic missile on the way to Hawaii, Martin.
SAVIDGE: All right, Boris. Stay there for us. I want to bring back Elise Labott. We were just referencing Pacific Command and the information they put out. I understand you've got some more for us, Elise.
LABOTT: Well, Marty, our Evan Perez has been talking to officials at the FBI and the Justice Department and intelligence community. And he says officials are looking into whether the system has - could possibly be hacked.
There has been a lot of concern about the security in the system and the possibility that it would be vulnerable to hackers, not just in Hawaii, but these local systems around the United States and indeed the world. US embassies around the world that send out emergency messages.
Now, look, someone - and we don't know - let's be clear that we don't know that it was hacked. As we've been saying, as Juliette was saying, this could have been like a test message gone awry.
But the idea is that if it could have been a hack, just as hackers could have sent out a false message, they could also prevent messages that are real from being sent.
And so, the idea that these systems could be vulnerable and cybersecurity, and increasingly, a more important part of not just local government, but also the US military posture.
SAVIDGE: Juliette, you were discussing the whole issue of the possibility on of a hack. One thing that might down play it is that we know there apparently was a kind of drill going on at the time. So, it would be highly coincidental.
But still, Elise, brings up a great point. People, when they hear that, oh, missile systems might be hacked, you don't have to hijack a missile system, you could just create the panic and the fear within government and the public.
KAYYEM: That's exactly right. This gets back to the point about confidence in the system. So, a couple of things. So, if they're testing what's called the reverse 911 system, right, that's the way you communicate to the public rather than the public communicating to you, they should just confirm that.
I know they've retracted the notice yet, and I'm trying to watch in real time, but we need to see a person who sort of explains what happened just because people were nervous and they were running from the beaches. And you want them to have confidence in our systems and you don't want there to be mistakes, people overreacting, and getting - and harm ensuing.
The second thing is we also need to have assurances that there wasn't some sort of foul play going on, and we don't know. And so, we're super-careful in this regard.
But I will say one thing. The text - the language in the text should have never been written. And the last line, right, this is not a drill, is the last line of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the alert that went out, which, of course, was not a drill, of which people from Hawaii are well aware of.
SAVIDGE: Of course.
KAYYEM: So, that - so, I want to see someone tell us. It's been too long. I mean, at this stage, it's ridiculous if it was a mistake.
SAVIDGE: Elise, you told us originally that it was Pacific Command that came out. I would have expected -- I mean, I know Pacific Command militarily, at least from the navy's perspective and otherwise, oversees that region. But I would have felt maybe the governor or some official other than the Pacific Command that almost seems like they jumped on it right away because we've got to tell people it's not real, that there is a breakdown here.
LABOTT: Yes, Marty. But, also, look, you have the state government and the local government and then you have the federal government. Obviously, everyone is just trying to find out as much information as they can and possibly there is not enough coordination about all three branches of the US government.
I think in addition to making sure that people don't panic and they know it's not a false alarm, I think because of this heightened sense of tension in the region right now, my suspicion is that Pac Command wanted to get out that message as soon as possible, also to just like calm the fears from US allies and even North Korea, so that that tension doesn't get exacerbated and there is not a miscalculation.
I mean, in addition to North Korea's military and nuclear threat, I think one of the biggest fears of military experts, analysts, North Korea watchers is that sense of - that there could be a miscalculation, a misunderstanding.
I think from the US government, even President Trump to the North Koreans themselves, everyone knows the stakes here.