Return to Transcripts main page


False "Inbound Missile" Alert Terrifies Hawaiians; Grief, Fear Swell in Pakistan after Child's Murder; Some Trump Supporters Taken Aback by Vulgarity; Macron to UNESCO: Protect our Baguettes; Aired 12- 12:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The scene in Hawaii after residents learned a missile was heading for them -- except it was a false alarm. We'll tell you what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would give him overall, a 7, 7 out of 10

VANIER (voice-over): How the U.S. president's recent vulgar comments on immigration are playing out among his supporters. We'll take you to Trump territory.

Plus, protecting the baguette: the French president wants the national loaf recognized as a world treasure.


VANIER (voice-over): Welcome on the show, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier from CNN HQ here in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us.


VANIER: It was just after 8:00 am Saturday in Hawaii when this alert went out on cellphones, radios and TVs. So imagine seeing this as you are waking up: a warning that a ballistic missile is heading right at you, saying, "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

For the next 38 minutes, people across the U.S. state thought that they were under attack. This is what happened. They ran for cover, seeking shelter anywhere they could: hotels, basements, some even in concrete bunkers.

These parents opened a manhole cover and lowered their kids inside the sewer. In fact, this was all a false alert. But it took more than half an hour for a corrected alert to go out from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Officials have explained this all happened because of human error.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VERN MIYAGI, ADMINISTRATOR, HAWAII EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: I deeply apologize for the trouble and heartbreak that we caused today. We spent the last few months trying to get ahead of this whole threat so that we could provide as much notification and preparation time to the public.

Today was something that I regret because I accept responsibility for this; this is my team. We made a mistake. We are going to take processes and study this, so this doesn't happen again.


VANIER: Well, all this, of course, caused outrage and calls for an investigation into how it could have happened and why it took so long to correct. CNN's Elise Labott has more.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In the end it all did come to down someone pushing a wrong button. Saturday morning, when Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency was doing a test of its emergency alert system, during a shift change, someone pushed a wrong button and let the people of Hawaii think that there was an incoming ballistic missile.

Of course, this was a false alarm. And Governor David Ige said he takes full responsibility. Take a listen.

DAVID IGE, GOVERNOR OF HAWAII: What happened today was totally unacceptable. And many in our community was deeply affected by this. And I'm sorry. I'm, too, very angry and disappointed that this happened.

LABOTT: The problem is it took the State of Hawaii 38 minutes to correct the error and send out another message to the people of Hawaii, that this was a false alarm.

Before they were able to send that out, Pacific Command, which actually gives the local and state governments the information about any incoming missile, put out a statement that this was a false alarm.

Now Governor Ige also said there were other problems that they have seen so far. In addition to the long time lag, not all of the people of Hawaii got the message on their cell phones. Because the of some problems with cell phone carriers and their subscribers, not all Hawaiians got this message on their phone. If this was a real emergency, they would not have known about it.

In addition, some sirens were alerted after this alarm went out. That should have never happened the governor said. And he is trying to find out exactly the lessons learned so this doesn't happen again.

IGE: We are working to evaluate everything in the sequence of today's activities, to make sure that we are prepared and the procedures are changed so that a single person will not be able to make an error that triggers another false alarm. LABOTT: A lot of raw nerves in Washington as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were trying to find out what happened. At first they thought that this might have been a hacking; cyber systems are very vulnerable.

And they were also concerned that governments, adversaries like North Korea, could have been trying to test the U.S. response time. Now everybody knows that this is a false alarm. But what the governor said is, next time, it --


LABOTT: -- may not be. So even though this was a false alarm today, he wants the people of Hawaii to make sure they, as they fix these systems, that they find out these alerts and listen to them very carefully and take shelter as appropriate because, in the event of a possible missile test or missile launch by North Korea, the people of Hawaii could have less than a half-hour to get to shelter -- Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump was playing golf at his resort in Florida when he found out about the incident. And there are still plenty of questions the White House has not addressed. CNN's Boris Sanchez was following the president.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have learned that President Trump was briefed on the issue of the false alarm missile ballistic alert that was sent out to citizens in Hawaii while he was at Trump National Golf Course by his Deputy National Security Advisor, Ricky Waddell. He was traveling with the President here in West Palm Beach.

We've also learned that the President was later briefed by Chief of Staff, John Kelly who is a retired four-star general and by National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster. The White House not confirming, though, exactly when the President knew that this was a false alarm.

We're also still waiting to find out whether any of our partners in the Pacific, whether South Korea, Japan or China were made aware of this alert going out to the people of Hawaii. And if so, what kind of communications they may have had with the White House. We are still pressing for those answers.

In the meantime, The White House did put out this statement, writing, "The president has been briefed on the State of Hawaii's emergency management exercise. This was purely a state controlled exercise."

At least, part of the statement, seems to try to put the onus of this false alarm on the State of Hawaii itself, meaning, that this was not something that the federal government put into effect. Beyond all of that, this is really a reminder of the tensions that currently exist.

Despite the President earlier this week speculating that he may have a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his praise of direct talks between North and South Korea. This is truly a reminder that we are on the doorstep of danger and potentially nuclear war at any moment -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president, in West Palm Beach, Florida.


VANIER: Hawaii State representative Matthew LoPresti joins us now from Hawaii. He and his family endured the alert as it was happening.

Sir, thank you for joining us.

Would you run us through the moment that you thought a missile was headed your way?

How did you find out?

MATTHEW LOPRESTI, STATE REP., HAWAII: Yes, I was trying to sleep in late and my phone kept ringing and my wife came in with the alert. So her phone got the alert. Mine didn't. It was my staff calling me.

And took a few second to really realize this was happening. And we leapt into action, grabbed our children, grabbed some emergency supplies and moved them all to the most innermost room in our house.

VANIER: As the residents of Hawaii, is this something that you live with?

That you think, well, this might happen one day?

And if so, did you think at that point, well, the day has come?

LOPRESTI: Yes and yes. My role as Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee has been to try to elevate awareness about just this sort of threat and to make sure that there is resources for Emergency Management Agency in order to plan properly and implement as need be. So it was a rather surreal experience. But we took it very seriously.

VANIER: How long did it take you, take you specifically, suppose you were making calls to find out it was actually a false alert?

LOPRESTI: Yes, so we, we got into the -- in the, we put our kids in the bathtub, made as many phone calls as I could. My phone kept blowing up. So it was difficult actually to get information out.

But it wasn't -- so it takes about 12-13 minutes for impact, they say. And at about 14 minutes, we got a notification from a family member in the Air Force, who was on duty at the time, that it was a false alarm. So I wasn't able to get through to any of the Emergency Management Agency people, any of the governor's staff or anything like that. And we found out through family members that are in the armed services that it was an all clear. And then we confirmed that.

The whole time trying to put messages out on social media, letting people know that, as far as we know, we are taking it seriously. Shelter in place. And, as soon as we got the false alarm notice, we put that out as well.

VANIER: All right, Matthew LoPresti, Hawaii State representative, I know that the committee that you are on is going to want to find out more about how this happened, how this could have happened and what can be done to improve the situation shortly.


VANIER: So we will want to talk to you again when you get answers. Thank you very much.

The Israeli military says it attacked a site in Gaza on Saturday. It reports fighter jets targeted, quote, "terror infrastructure" near Gaza's border with Egypt. Earlier in the day, Israel announced it was closing a nearby border crossing.

In a tweet the military said Hamas was being held accountable for all activity in Gaza.

And in Pakistan, the family of 7-year-old Zainab Ansari cannot let her go just yet. They're eager to talk about her life. And they're desperate for answers after the little girl's brutal murder. As police investigate, the entire community is living in fear that their children might also be at risk. Alexandra Field has the details.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They found her with mud caked on her little face, Zainab Ansari, left dead, dumped on a pile of trash.

MUHAMMED AMIN ANSARI, ZAINAB'S FATHER (through translator): Allah had made her so lovely that whoever met her instantly fell in love with her.

FIELD (voice-over): A 7-year old who liked mangos and ice cream, murdered.

ABU ZAR ANSARI, ZAINAB'S BROTHER (through translator): She was so funny. I miss her laughter. I can't forget her laughter. I can't sleep.

FIELD (voice-over): The 12th little girl in 12 months, raped, according to authorities, 11 of them killed in this town in Eastern Pakistan, Kasur. Authorities also say they have discovered DNA links connecting six of the victims. They suspect a serial killer may be on the loose.

MUHAMMAD IGBAL, NEIGHBOR (through translator): We are not letting our girls get out. We are terrified about their safety after what happened to Zainab.

FIELD (voice-over): There have been no answers for Zainab's grieving family and still no justice for the other little girls. Mounting frustration with authorities fueled an outpouring of outrage. Days after her death, demonstrations turned deadly when protesters

clashed with police. Zainab's father now says authorities failed to protect his daughter and they haven't done enough to track down her killer.

MUHAMMED AMIN ANSARI (through translator): I am concerned about this system, that my daughter could have been saved. But the acts of the authorities, their disinterest and lack of help have led to the death of my child.

FIELD (voice-over): Investigators say they're making every effort to find whoever cut short the life of a little girl, who hoped to be a doctor or a teacher. Zainab was last seen leaving to study the Quran. Then, here on grainy CCTV video with a man police still haven't identified.

Kasur is now a town haunted now by loss, a community left only with memories and signs of what the future could have looked like -- Alexandra Field, CNN, Islamabad.


VANIER: Still to come on the show, some of President Trump's strongest supporters now say that he went too far in his racially charged insult of Africa. Details ahead after the break.





VANIER: People around the world are still shaking their heads in disbelief over President Trump's reported insult of Haiti and Africa. The vulgar phrase hit a raw nerve among Miami's Haitian community.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the American president, who said he would be Haiti's greatest champion, by the way, to stand up and make such a comment at this time, it just leaves me reeling. It leaves me angry. It leaves me offended. It leaves me hurt. And it leaves me wanting justice.


VANIER: Mr. Trump denies using the exact words that were attributed to him. But others who were in the room at the time confirmed that he did, in fact, use those words.

Now even some of President Trump's supporters say the crude language was beneath his office. CNN's Gary Tuchman has this report.



TUCHMAN: The Rack and Roll billiards bar in Aniston, Alabama is in the heart of Trump country. And Bob Hollingsworth (ph) is a loyal Republican who voted for Donald Trump.

Bob -- I want to ask you. Overall, what do you think of the job Donald Trump is doing so far?

HOLLINGSWORTH: I would give him overall a seven -- seven out of ten.

TUCHMAN: He doesn't get a higher grade, says Hollingsworth, because of some of his personal behavior, including what he just said.

HOLLINGSWORTH: He used shithole countries.

TUCHMAN: So what do you think of the President using that term?

HOLLINGSWORTH: We could have done better there, but I think he talked more so in terms of voicing that against the leadership of the country more so than the people of the country.

TUCHMAN: Right. But the fact that he used that word at all to describe a country in any way, shape, or form --

HOLLINGSWORTH: Not presidential -- no. Not presidential -- shouldn't have done it. TUCHMAN: We found that to be a common sentiment in downtown Aniston

among people who generally admire the President.

Rodney Perser (ph) works in a restaurant.

With the President using that word, how do you feel about that?

RODNEY PERSER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He should have been more professional about it. He shouldn't have used that word.

TUCHMAN: And as far as the restaurant customers go --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that that was unprofessional and I would think that that shows a little bit of lack of morals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably unpresidential.

TUCHMAN: Gene Robinson feels a bit differently, though. The store owner is a former mayor of Aniston and isn't even a registered Republican, but strongly defends the President.

GENE ROBINSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't think that he would have intentionally insulted any country and that just came out of his mouth and that's the way he operates. He operates from the hip.

TUCHMAN: So you think it was a mistake he said that? ROBINSON: Yes, I do.

TUCHMAN: You don't think he's being derogatory towards any country?

ROBINSON: I don't think he's being derogatory towards anyone.

TUCHMAN: Back at the billiards hall, Bob Hollingsworth rejects accusations the President is racist.

Do you think that he ever would have said that about a country that is mostly white? The countries he said that about are mostly black.

HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, that's a good point.

TUCHMAN: Could it affect you when you vote in 2020? Could it make you say maybe I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump this time?

HOLLINGSWORTH: Crude, but I can live with it.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN -- Aniston, Alabama.


VANIER: Let's bring in Ellis Henican, a regular in the show. He's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a "New York Times" bestselling author.

Ellis, that's quite the resume. Thank you for joining us.

ELLIS HENICAN, METRO PAPERS: Good to be with you, man.

VANIER: One source told CNN, when the news broke on Thursday, of the president having used those derogatory words, that they thought this would play well with his base.

What do you think?

Does this help or hurt the president?

Or do you think the people who support the president have been -- have supported him because of this kind of thing or in spite of this kind of thing?

HENICAN: Well, Cyril, I think that quote from Mr. Bob Hollingsworth that we just heard there says it exactly right.

"I can live with it."

Somebody ought to needlepoint that on a pillow. I cannot imagine a better, shorter, cleaner way of explaining. Trump supporters, even though they don't necessarily like all this stuff, almost to a man and a woman they can live with.

VANIER: Ultimately the outrage, what you think, doesn't go beyond people who are already not going to vote for him anyway, not going to support him or even media circles? HENICAN: One of the realities of this presidency it that it is very, very hard to change anybody's mind. Right, it's hard to convince a Trump base voter that they ought to turn on the guy. But, honestly, it is just as hard to convince a Trump loather that they ought to like him. I think we are pretty stuck right about where we are.

VANIER: Does it ultimately help him or hurt him in terms --


VANIER: -- now of the substance, getting an immigration deal?

Because let's remember how this started. He had congressmen from the Right and from the Left, Democrats and Republicans, in the room, talking about a potential comprehensive immigration deal.

Does what happened help him or hurt him in terms of getting that deal?

HENICAN: Oh, it definitely hurts him. If you want to accomplish anything. Absolutely. I mean, it just complicates it. It hardens the views. It revs up the strong feelings on both sides. I'd say the chance of a clean DACA deal is a whole lot less right now than it was 48 hours ago.

VANIER: The president has been tweeting the Democrats are currently missing their opportunity to get DACA done, to get a DACA fix.

But don't the Democrats have the leverage here?

Doesn't the president need their support in Congress to -- if only to keep funding the government next week?

HENICAN: He does and, in fact, a lot of the issues coming up require bipartisan support, infrastructure and a whole bunch of other stuff. And it seemed like early in the week it was heading in that direction, having that 55-minute on-camera meeting with the Dems and Republicans, listening, frankly agreeing with both sides throughout it.

But, boy, by the end of the week, all of that was turned on its head.

VANIER: Any chance you think that those words were actually a calculated scandal?

Because as soon as he said them, some within the Right, here in the U.S., were saying he is trying to win me over. It was the case, most notably, of Ann Coulter, who tweeted that. And those were the same people who'd been concerned that perhaps the president was going to give in to Democrats' demands in a potential immigration reform deal.

HENICAN: Yes, he was getting a little wobbly there for a minute.

You know, I wrestle and I know you do, Cyril, with the notion of how much of this stuff is planned and some kind of big strategy?

I got to tell you, I don't really think it is all that well thought- out. I think the president kind of goes with his gut and it takes him all kind of strange places. But I can't really discern a grand strategy here.

VANIER: So where do you see this going?

HENICAN: I think it's quite likely that we will not really get the DACA deal, that the vast majority of Americans want, that most Republicans, I think, are sympathetic to, that Donald Trump has said he, too, is sympathetic, talking about a bill of love.

But, you know, the politics just get more complicated by the hour. So my optimism is fading. I'll sure tell you that.

VANIER: Ellis Henican, all right. Thank you very much. Always a pleasure speaking to you. Thanks.

HENICAN: Good seeing you, Cyril.

VANIER: And the French president says that if Neapolitan pizza makers can have UNESCO protection, then why not the traditional French baguette? The fight to preserve the delicacy -- next. Stay with us.




VANIER: And score one for pay equality in Hollywood. Mark Wahlberg is donating $1.5 million to the #TimesUp legal defense fund for sexual harassment victims and he's doing it in Michelle Williams' name.

Reports that Wahlberg's pay checks for reshoots of his latest film eclipsed his costars by a whopping 99 percent blew up on social media this week. The two stars are represented by the same talent agency. Wahlberg says he fully supports the fight for fair pay.

$1.5 million. Not bad.



VANIER: Well, there are baguettes and then there are the traditional baguettes, not the frozen kind you may find in a supermarket but the doughy delicacy protected by French law, made only with four ingredients and no added preservatives.

Well, to keep it that way, French president Emmanuel Macron wants UNESCO to preserve the traditional baguette as World Heritage. Last month, UNESCO agreed to preserve the Neapolitan art of pizza spinning. So Mr. Macron says, why not the baguette?

That's it from us. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.