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Hawaii to Change Protocol After False Missile Alert; Corey Lewandowski and Steve Bannon Head to Capitol Hill This Week for Russia Probe; Mahmoud Abbas Called Trump's Peace Plan a Slap in the Face; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 15, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What are officials in Hawaii doing to make sure nothing like this past weekend's event ever occur again?
BERMAN: This morning, investigators are looking into what caused 38 minutes of terror in Hawaii over the weekend. A false alarm that a ballistic missile was heading toward Hawaii had people running for cover. Now officials including the president want answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that was a state thing, but we're going to now get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility. But we're going to get involved. Their attitude and their -- what they want to do, I think it is terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:35:06] BERMAN: Sara Sidner joins us now from Honolulu where it's still dark.
Sara, what's the very latest?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, the emergency management administrator and the governor both talked to me. They told me we have made changes immediately, but this did happen, and it did create panic and fear across the Hawaiian islands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii.
SIDNER (voice-over): At 8:07, the warning message went out on television, on radio, and via text message saying ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek shelter, this is not a drill.
State Representative Matt LoPresti's family was enjoying a relaxed Saturday morning. Suddenly they were worrying about nuclear annihilation. The family gathered in a bathroom and began praying. MATT LOPRESTI, HAWAII STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We all just got down, got
in the tub, waiting for a flash, and I was going to cover the kids with my body.
SIDNER (on camera): What are your children saying to you?
LOPRESTI: Well, my 8-year-old is praying, she stopped and she looked at me and said, Daddy, are we at war? And I had to say yes, and she just looked at me and said why? And all I could do was hug her.
SIDNER (voice-over): Panic ensued. Students ran for cover on campus. For 38 minutes, citizens had no idea the message was sent by mistake.
(On camera): Inside Diamond Head Crater, in this bunker, is where the state warning point is. This is where the mistake originated. An officer brought the wrong template up on the computer and then the computer asked whether or not you want to send out the message. And someone clicked yes.
(Voice-over): It all happened during what was supposed to be a routine drill, the officer who sent the erroneous message to the public has been reassigned during an investigation.
Retired army major general Vern Miyagi is the head of the team.
(On camera): What would you like to say to those who are angry, who were terrified, whose children were afraid?
VERN MIYAGI, HAWAII EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: For my side, I just want to say I apologize for this. It should not have happened. We're taking steps to fix it so it never happens again.
SIDNER (voice-over): So why did it take so long to send the false alarm message? Well, that message hadn't been created.
MIYAGI: One thing that we've done is that there is a cancellation button right now that will -- if we trigger this again, a false alarm, there is a button right there that will cancel it immediately.
SIDNER: In the months leading up to the mistake, Hawaii had become the first state in the nation to test its attack alert sirens. It hadn't done so since the end of the Cold War. The red hot rhetoric between America and North Korea certainly played a role in the renewed effort to prepare the public. The false alarm, though, officials say, was never part of that plan.
LOPRESTI: The biggest problem now, Sara, is that are people going to believe the system next time?
SIDNER: And that is something that emergency managers are looking into. I do want to mention some of the other things that have been put in place to keep this from happening again. One, instead of just having one warning officer be the person that sends out the message, they're now going to have a supervisor who comes over, if a message needs to be sent out and confirms, double confirms that they will click yes and that message will be sent out.
Secondly, the drills have been suspended until further notice, while the investigation goes on. These drills, by the way, go on all the time. It is just that they're within the emergency management agency. They go through this drill and it's not supposed to be sent out to the public. And then lastly, they have created a template that has the words false alarm with the message there, so they can literally click that, send that out to the public, in case this does happen again -- John.
BERMAN: Yes. All of these things seem like awfully good ideas so that father doesn't have to tell his child anymore that we're at war because he thinks that we are.
Sara Sidner, terrific report, thanks so much.
So new developments in the Russia investigation. Steve Bannon set off a firestorm for his comments to the book "Fire and Fury." Well, now he's headed to Capitol Hill.
[10:43:27] BERMAN: Fascinating days in the Russia investigation. Corey Lewandowski and Steve Bannon, one a former campaign manager, the other a former campaign chair and senior strategist to the president, will talk behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee.
Susan Hennessey, our CNN national security and legal analyst, joins me this morning.
Steve Bannon, now we are told that the questioning isn't due to his comments made in "Fire and Fury," but members of Congress say they will help inform the questioning. What might be learned from him, Susan?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So Steve Bannon was obviously an incredibly central member of the Trump campaign. He was also the liaison between the Trump campaign and Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that reportedly the CEO of that firm had made some overtures to Julian Assange about potentially obtaining some WikiLeaks material.
So Steve Bannon really is sort of a central figure to a lot of different questions here. So investigators are really going to be looking for, you know, what does he know, who does he think they should be talking to, and whether or not his account of what occurred in the 2016 election is consistent with the other people who worked on the campaign that they have spoken to.
BERMAN: And of course Corey Lewandowski was campaign manager during the March meetings that Donald Trump was at along with George Papadopoulos. You know, he was the campaign manager during the correspondents with Carter Page heading to Russia. I imagine he'll face questions on that front.
HENNESSEY: Certainly. So Lewandowski's name hasn't come up quite as centrally sort of in terms of actual communications with the Russians. That said, reportedly he was either CC'd or directly e-mailed by George Papadopoulos about Russian overtures to the campaign.
[10:45:03] So it's relatively apparent that there is actually documentation of the fact that Lewandowski was kept on the loop on a lot of questions that really are central and critical and led to criminal indictments in some cases.
BERMAN: All right. We're also learning Bloomberg among others reporting that the president's lawyers will continue discussions with the special counsel's office about whether the president will sit down and talk to the special counsel's team.
You know, where do you see this headed, Susan? Because lately the sense is, well, maybe the president's lawyers will try to keep him from talking before the special counsel. Can't the special counsel issue a subpoena?
HENNESSEY: And so it really is inconceivable that Special Counsel Mueller is going to wrap up this entire investigation without ever having a face to face meeting with the president. He can issue a subpoena and compel that testimony or a grand jury can do so. You know, that said, there will be some series of negotiation or accommodation about the ways in which that meeting is going to occur.
The president isn't treated like an ordinary witness, they'll do it at the White House, he'll be allowed to have counsel present. You know, the suggestion that maybe he would only be required to answer a series of written questions, and that would be pretty favorable to the president, be pretty (INAUDIBLE) if Special Counsel Mueller was willing to agree to that form of accommodation.
And so it really is overwhelmingly likely that what we're going to see here is at least one face-to-face interview.
BERMAN: And the longer they drag it out, it becomes a political issue more than a legal issue to the extent that those negotiations become public.
Susan, I want to change focus if I can here to something very, very important because there was a football game last night and I would like to play the final moment of this game for you right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baltimore, , 12 yards from Adam, case on the deep drop, steps up in the pocket. He'll fire to the right side. Caught. Oh, my god.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a 30. Touchdown. Are you kidding me? It is a Minneapolis miracle. Stephon Diggs.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: All right, so the Vikings won this game in a dramatic last second fashion. I understand you saw it, but your husband did not. Will you please explain to us how that happened.
HENNESSEY: You know, I'm clearly he put you up to this on national television. I admit, I confess, I forced my spouse to turn the game off with 20 seconds left to help me out with bed time and so he missed this apparently historic -- I've now been informed by the good people of the Internet, historic moment in sports. Fortunately he has not filed for divorce. Very graciously decided to laugh it off.
BERMAN: Look, bedtime is super important. Always. No matter what. We can all support bedtime. On the other hand, you know, there is never just 20 seconds left. You can't count a game over until it's over.
Susan Hennessey, you're a terrific sport. Thanks so much for being with us.
We'll be right back.
[10:52:25] BERMAN: A slap in the face, that is what Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is calling the Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Abbas slammed the U.S. and at the same time seemingly confirmed reports that the Trump administration is offering up the town of Abudiz as the capital of a possible future Palestinian state.
CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me now live from Jerusalem.
And I understand that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now weighing in. What is he saying, Orrin?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He responded a short time ago, but, first, what he responded to, the speech from Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas was an angry speech, a defiant speech. And he didn't just lash out at the U.S., it seems he lashed out at many other players, the British, the Europeans, other Arab states, even though he didn't specifically mentioned those by name, but it was Israel and the U.S. that faced the brunt of his criticism.
Here is part of what Abbas said. He said, "We will not accept the U.S. as a mediator after what they did. The American ambassador to Israel David Friedman and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley bring shame on the administration if it has any self-respect."
This was a nearly two-hour speech and that is just a sample of some of the rhetoric he used. It's important to realize this speech wasn't about foreign policy, it wasn't about charting a new course for Palestinians in the PLO. This was a speech directly to the Palestinian streak, where Abbas' popularity has been waning in recent years. That's who he was talking to with the rhetoric that he used.
As for the response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave that just a short time ago, where he said, "Abbas brought out to the public the simple truth that I've been trying to get through to people for many long years. The source of the conflict between us and the Palestinians is their continued refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state within any borders whatsoever."
This was the speech that laid the groundwork for this PLO Central Council meeting. It set it off, even if Abbas didn't paint a picture of where this is moving or what the PLO's next step is, it was a statement about where the Palestinians stand and they refuse to budge. Not under pressure from the U.S., not under pressure from other Arab states, understandably the Saudis who were working with Trump on a peace plan. Abbas has laid down where he is standing even at the expense of the relations with other countries there -- John.
BERMAN: Oren, you mentioned that the PLO is holding its central council meeting. What decisions are likely to come from this?
LIEBERMANN: So this is day two of the meeting, this is where the central council itself drafts and makes decisions. The big question is, will they alter the agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians, such as the Oslo Accords, which are essentially the bedrock of the agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians.
[10:55:05] That's what Abbas said he intended to do. The question is, was that just an empty threat or real rhetoric? In the past, it was essentially an empty threat, a threat the Palestinians made often, but never followed through on. Trump, however, changed the rules of the game with his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. So we'll see if they follow through and change the agreements between Israelis and Palestinians in some way -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Oren Liebermann for us in Jerusalem. Oren, thank you very, very much.
President Trump wants you to know he's not a racist. This morning, Mitt Romney weighing in on this discussion, plus Lindsey Graham, who was inside that Oval Office meeting, offers new perspective.
All the breaking developments ahead.