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Source: Austin Serial Bomber ID'd as Mark Anthony Conditt; Trump Faces Bipartisan Backlash for Congratulating Putin; Porn Star, Playmate, Reality Star up Pressure on Trump; Judge Rejects Trump Lawyers Bid to Toss Defamation Case; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 21, 2018 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Police say this man blew himself up as a S.W.A.T. team was approaching his car. Now despite his death, police are warning this threat is not over.


CHIEF BRIAN MANLEY, AUSTIN, TEXAS POLICE: We don't know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours. We still need to remain vigilant to ensure that no other packages or devices have been left through the community.


BERMAN: Our Ed Lavandera is live in just Round Rock just north of Austin where this all ended last night. Ed, what's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, investigators are still here at the scene. Some of the lanes of the southbound section of Interstate 35 are starting to reopen but you can still see there across the Interstate, the command vehicles that are still working the scene, that is where the surreal end of this hunt for the suspected serial bomber came to an end just a few hours ago in the dead of night. Investigators were able to -- using cell phone try angulation track down the man that they suspected to be the suspect, 24-year-old Mark Conditt, in the parking lot of a hotel just up the road from here.

And they sent a team out to survey him and put eyes on him and they were -- the team was waiting for tactical units to show up when the suspect left the parking lot and started driving away and ended up driving into a ditch. A S.W.A.T. team jumped out and approached the car and as that team did that, authorities say the suspect triggered a bomb that he had there in the car and blew himself up, John.

So, right now as you mentioned leading into this, still a great deal of concern as investigators are now starting to piece together the parts of his life and trying to determine motivation for all of this. But also more importantly and more urgently right now this morning, trying to make sure that there are no other explosive devices that have been left somewhere throughout the city or have already been mailed before they were able to get close to him. So that is the kind of work that is taking place right now this morning. John?

BERMAN: All right, Ed Lavandera for us in Round Rock. Thanks very much.

Joining me now is James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst, retired FBI supervisory special agent. We now know the name of the suspect. You have to believe authorities have known it for some time. What are they doing with that right now? What's happening behind the scenes?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, John, two things. First of all, to Ed's point there we've got to make sure there are no devices out there, nothing's that left unexploded that somebody could possibly get hurt by. Police and ATF and FBI go through and comb through the subject's home, through digital exhaust, laptop use, Google searches. They're going to try to obtain that as well. Also any accomplices, that's very important. Did he have somebody working with him or somebody that wittingly or unwittingly provided material support? This will all go toward motivation. And that's very important. We want to know what the motivation behind this was. There are usually a number of different things it could be.

First of all, terrorism, we know that that involves violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political or social goals. Also a hate crime, somebody that's motivated by hatred towards a particular ethnicity or religion or creed or whatever, then we got to worry about anarchists. And John, you were - a little younger than me. But back in 70's that was the golden age of terrorism where bombings were used domestically in this country. I believe there were 186 fatalities, 600 casualties during that. So, is this somebody that's looking to create mayhem as police have used that term, because the definition of an anarchist is somebody who is trying to sew disorder?

BERMAN: And the reason of the motive is important here. So they can determine if there is a continuing threat, correct?

GAGLIANO: And also, I think we always want to know what caused somebody to do this so that we can hopefully get out in front of the next one.

BERMAN: Looking backwards at this now, what do you think the big break was in this case?

GAGLIANO: I think the big break was you remember there were three packages delivered on porches on the east side of Austin. There was trip wire on the west side of Austin. The two packages that went to the FedEx distro facility down in the south part of Austin. And the fact that a, one of them didn't explode giving investigators a chance to find out the bomber's signature and maybe latent prints, maybe DNA recovery, as well as the fact that he had to physically take those packages into a store to have them shipped to the distro center.

BERMAN: Good quick police work.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. Two days, amazing police work. The police ATF and FBI, yesterday you had a Maryland deputy sheriff as an SRO confront a school shooter and take him out, two amazing days for law enforcement and for the country.

BERMAN: Important people in Austin. Do not let your guard down though because again, they don't know within the last 24 hours if this person planted anymore devices, a serious threat could still exist for a few days -

GAGLIANO: Good caution should be taken, John.

BERMAN: James Gagliano, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.

Infuriated, disappointed, rattled, that is how sources are describing the mood of the president and his chief of staff this morning, this after a leak about the president's phone call with Vladimir Putin. On that call, the president ignored adviser's guidance to not congratulate the Russian leader on his re-election win. That move drawing backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.

[10:05:08] Our Kaitlan Collins joins us now from the White House. Kaitlan, what have you heard?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, John, to put it frankly, the president is furious. He was fuming last night after news of this leaked out very quickly I should note after the president told reporters that he did in fact congratulate Vladimir Putin on his election victory and the president is very angry here because he fully realizes that there's only a small group of people who had access to these briefing materials and would have realized that he was told not to congratulate Putin during that call. That he ignored those materials clearly and went ahead and did so. So, he's fuming. He wants to know who leaked this. He's been calling his aides, his outside advisers asking who they think could have revealed this information to the media because he is not pleased about it here, John.

And it's not just the president himself. The Chief of Staff John Kelly is also furious that this leaked and he's been asking those around him. He's supposed to address it with staffers here at the White House today. But John, what's interesting here, is this for the president reinforces this long held belief he has that there are staffers who work inside of this administration particularly in the National Security realm that are actively trying to undermine him. And this just feeds that belief of the president and just feeds that fear of that paranoia atmosphere here in the West Wing. The things that they say and that they do will get leaked out. So, he's very fuming.

But aides here to be clear, John, are not mad that the president congratulated Vladimir Putin on his election victory. They are mad that this information was leaked out. But that sentiment is also being reflected by Republicans on Capitol Hill as Marco Rubio just told my colleague Manu Raju.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: You know I don't like he did it. But you know what I like even less, that there's somebody close to him leaking this stuff out. If you don't like the guy, quit. But to be this - and continue to leak things out, it's dangerous. So I don't like what he did but I really hate that there's someone in his inner circle that's willing to leak the stuff. If you don't like working for the president, you should resign your job.


COLLINS: So clearly that sentiment there echoed by the president here, John. I should note that it is snowing here in Washington. All of the events on the president's schedule have been canceled today and he is likely to spend the day in the West Wing -- in the residence, excuse me, stewing over the fact that somebody leaked some very sensitive information about his call with a foreign leader.

BERMAN: Sort of extended executive time today. Kaitlan Collins in snowy Washington at the White House. Thank you very much.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Cardin, thank you so much for being with us.

I think there are two issues here, the fact that the president congratulated Vladimir Putin on his election win, and then the fact that it leaked. Let's take the second part first, because that's what the president and chief of staff are furious about this morning. I'm not sure you heard the reaction from Senator Marco Rubio moments ago. Senator Rubio says if you don't like what the president is doing, quit but don't leak this. Do you think it's proper for someone in the president's inner circle to have leaked the fact he was told not to congratulate Vladimir Putin.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: No. I don't think that should be leaked but let's not lose focus of what the president of the United States did. That's the second question you're asking. He congratulated Mr. Putin on his elections. That's so much against the values and interests of America to promote Democracy and free and fair elections -

BERMAN: We'll get to this. Absolutely, I want to get to the substance of the call in just a moment but there is also substance within the leak. What does it tell you about how much the president can trust the National Security apparatus that surrounds him? Someone on the inside of the inside must have leaked this.

CARDIN: Well, it is troubling. But I want the president to get objective advice. I am concerned that the president has intimidated his advisers not even to give him their independent advice. We saw that with Mr. Tillerson being fired. So no, it's very troublesome that there's a leak within the White House on National Security issues. That cannot be tolerated. But I do want to make it clear, that we want the president to get independent advice and we would hope at times he would give more deference to the experts.

BERMAN: And you do have a problem with the fact of the phone call now. You do not think he should have called to congratulate Vladimir Putin?

CARDIN: Absolutely. He should not congratulate him. It's in our interest to promote Democracy and good governance and the elections in Russia were controlled by Mr. Putin. And the media was controlled by him. Opposition candidates were not allowed to be on the ballot, only handpicked opponents could be on the ballot. It was not what America stands for. So by congratulating Mr. Putin, it gives a green light to his propaganda - Mr. Putin's propaganda. And that is against our National Security interest.

BERMAN: Did you raise similar concerns back in 2012 when then President Obama called to congratulate Vladimir Putin on the last election victory?

CARDIN: I have certainly raised issues in regards to Mr. Putin's prior elections, absolutely I have.

BERMAN: So again, because people are saying, look, Obama called Putin, so what does it matter if President Trump called Vladimir Putin?

[10:10:04] CARDIN: But the issue here is, there are so many issues right now between the United States and Russia, including their continued interference in our system of government that needs to be front and center in conversations between the president of our country and Mr. Putin.

BERMAN: Look, we don't believe he raised the Russian election meddling. We don't believe he raised the nerve agent attack in Russia. You feel both of those things were necessary?

CARDIN: Yes, I think at this point, the failure to mention that gives Mr. Putin the belief that he can even go further against U.S. interests and the reaction from the president of the United States will not be there. We also see sanctions -- very mild sanctions that have been imposed. The full weight of what Congress did is yet to be imposed by the president of the United States. We see European leaders, particularly the Prime Minister of Great Britain, coming out very strongly against Mr. Putin's actions in her country. We haven't seen that from the president of the United States.

BERMAN: Sen. Cardin there was a school shooting in your state yesterday. It happened at Saint Mary's County. I believe you visited St. Mary's County just this morning maybe even to help that community heal from this. It could have been much, much worse if not for the bravery of an armed school resource officer. There are people who look at this and say, hey, this is an example of how someone with a weapon inside a school can help mitigate these disasters. How do you feel?

CARDIN: Resource officers are law enforcement officers specifically trained how to deal with circumstances within a school. And we do have a trained resource officer in each of our high schools at St. Mary's County. We have three high schools. All three have resource officers. We have resource officers in many of our high schools around Maryland. They are a valuable addition to the security within a school. What we don't want to see is more guns brought into the school by arming school personnel that are not - that's not their function.

BERMAN: The difference between a teacher and school resource officer matters here. That's what you believe? CARDIN: Absolutely. There's no question about it. Resource officer is known. He's trained or she's trained to do what's necessary. The local law enforcement know about the resource officer. They coordinate with the local resource officer. This is a trained law enforcement personnel, to have that experience in the school is certainly adds to the security.

BERMAN: Senator Cardin, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you for visiting with that community that I know is grieving this morning as well. We appreciate it, Senator.

CARDIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, a porn star, a playmate, a reality star, fighting back to break their silence against Donald Trump. We have the latest details on this legal, you know, morass. The president finds himself in right now.

And more than 70 million people in the throes of a new nor'easter. This is - I don't know -- number four I guess. I've lost count. The snow coming down hard, we're live at the look at the conditions.


[10:17:11] BERMAN: Three women, three lawsuits, three mounting legal battles for the president of the United States. In just the last 24 hours results of a polygraph test showed that an adult film star the test found believed that she was telling the truth about an alleged sexual relationship with Donald Trump. A second woman filed a lawsuit to get out of a nondisclosure agreement and a judge ruled a third woman can sue the president over an alleged sexual misconduct incident, connected to that incident.

We're covering all of the angles. I'm joined by Athena Jones and MJ Lee. MJ, I want to start with Stormy Daniels, the very latest there.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we now have a copy of the polygraph test that Stormy Daniels took in 2011 as a part of her interview with Life and Style magazine about her 2006 alleged affair with Donald Trump. Now as a part of that interview, she was asked to take this test. Here she is in that photo taking the test to try to determine whether she was telling the truth.

Now two questions that she was asked as a part of this test, one, did you have vaginal intercourse with Donald Trump in July of 2006 and second did you have unprotected sex with Donald Trump at the same time? And she answered yes to both and the person who administered this polygraph test said that there was no reason to question that she was telling the truth, in other words he determined that she was telling the truth about her having unprotected and vaginal sex with Donald Trump at the time.

And to make things even more dramatic, there is allegedly video of her taking this test. Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' lawyer saying that he actually paid $25,000 so that he's in possession of this test. He wants to make sure that it is safely guarded throughout this litigation and make sure that it is not tampered with.

BERMAN: All right. That's behind door number one. Behind door number two here, not to make light of it, because there are serious legal issues, Karen McDougal, former Playboy model, suing to get out of a nondisclosure agreement.

LEE: Yes. And remember that she is someone who has alleged that she had a 10-month affair with Donald Trump. And now she's suing American Media Inc. This is the company that owns the National Enquirer. What she is saying is that she was paid $150,000 for her story but the publication never ran the story. This is a process that a lot of people refer to as catch and kill. She also says that she's been threatened by the company with financial ruin. Just makes you wonder if there are two women now who are taking legal action to try to get out of these agreements, could there be other women who have similar agreements they want to get out of.

BERMAN: Different people though, right, one with nondisclosures with people connected directly to the president and the other with American Media, who have actually, there are questions about how connected they are to the president. Leave that aside for a moment. Those are -- consensual relationships, Athena Jones, the case you're dealing with some reservoirs, not consensual.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're talking about the former apprentice contestant who says that Trump harassed her or assaulted her in 2007.

[10:20:03] He -- unwanted kissing and there was also, he touched her breast at one point, kissed her aggressively. She came out with these allegations in October of 2016, very close to the election. And immediately, that very same day then-candidate Trump denied them in a statement. He continued to deny them on the campaign trail, in debates, at rallies, on Twitter various times.

And he didn't just deny her allegations but those of other women who had come forward to claiming it, harassment in some way. Calling them all liars, saying these were 100 percent fabrications. Zervos argument that Trump defamed her, caused her emotional and financial harm by saying that she is a liar. And this case is now being allowed to go forward.

Trump's legal team tried to get it dismissed on several grounds, one of them being that the president is immune from a lawsuit and state court. The judge did not buy that. They have 10 days to respond. And the big question here is, what impact will this have on other women and other cases? We know that this could mean that the president is deposed and called on to testify. And we also know that Zervos's legal team has subpoenaed Trump's campaign last year asking for all documents relating to her, all communications with or about her and all documents concerning any woman who asserted that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately. So, the Trump legal team is going to of course, fight back. But it's a lot.

BERMAN: It opens the door to a whole slew of new questions. Athena Jones, MJ Lee, thanks very, very much. Anger in the White House after details of President Trump's call with Vladimir Putin are leaked. Now the president's top aides are determined to find out who let that information out. Lawmakers -- some lawmakers saying that's not the real issue.


[10:26:02] BERMAN: All right. President Trump is said to be infuriated by the "Washington Post" report that he ignored direct instructions from his National Security advisers, not to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his reelection.

Joining me now, CNN political analyst, Matt Viser, CNN commentators, Alice Stewart and Bakari Sellers.

And Matt, you know, there is paranoia. I mean we've seen paranoia before. This is justifiable paranoia. Someone is leaking the innermost conversations of the White House, the advice that his National Security team is giving him. You can understand why the president and chief of staff are upset about this.

MATT VISER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and within hours too. I mean the president spoke with Vladimir Putin and within hours the "Washington Post" has a report of about what he was supposed to say on the call and what he didn't say. We've had transcripts in the past of some of his calls which are also sort of a breach. But that stuff goes out a little bit wider and there was distance. There was time that passed before we got a look at that.

So I think, you know, if you're in the White House right now and everybody is suspect because that is such a small closely held group of people that has access to that information. So it is very striking and you have to think that John Kelly and the president of the United States are very frustrated at this point.

BERMAN: And Alice Stewart, this tells us that there are people who work very, very closely with the president who don't like what he's doing.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Certainly. And I don't blame the president for being furious. I don't blame John Kelly for being furious. They should find this person. Kick them out of the White House and possibly seek prosecution.

Look, it's a real problem when you have inner circle members of the White House who are more concerned about their perception outside of the Oval Office than their fidelity inside the office. And that's what we have here, someone who is more concerned about what people think they may not be advising the president on. And that's a real problem.

I agree with the fact -- I think he shouldn't have been so congratulatory in his comments to Putin. I think he should have pulled that back quite a bit when you're congratulating a dictator for winning a sham election, that doesn't do a whole lot as leader of the free world and voice of Democracy. I think that's a problem but also what he didn't say on the call. He didn't call out Vladimir Putin for Russian meddling in the election. He didn't bring up the fact that the chemical attack in the UK and I understand the president wants a good relationship with Putin, but sometimes you have to show a little tough love and talk about things that are uncomfortable.

BERMAN: Well, to that point, Bakari, you know, the leak aside, don't the American people deserve to know that their president is congratulating you know the so-called winner of this so-called election that the president didn't bring up election meddling and didn't bring up this nerve agent attack?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there are two things. First you have the leak. And we all believe and all know with a good deal of certainty that it came from the National Security apparatus and came from someone on H.R. McMaster's team and it's likely because of the fact that they are tired of the president undermining their work to contain Russia, to punish Russia and to have a strong front against Russia. And I think H.R. McMaster, I mean, to his credit has basically taken on the tried and true professional method of YOLO. I mean you only live once. He feels that he's always under attack.

And so, this is a way that his team is able to fight back and say they are not doing what they should be doing, that being the president, to protect the best interest of the United States. That's first.

And second, Alice hit the nail on the head. I mean we as the American public, we deserve to have a president who is standing up for the best interest of our country. And to congratulate a thug who's a dictator of a country that's practically a gas station right now with a nuclear bomb, after they've done things like meddle in our election, meddle in other country's elections. How you a nerve agent or nerve gas attack on an ally's soil. I mean to not even bring these things up. I believe is malpractice and malfeasance. The American public deserves to know this. I think its two fronts. They can find the leak if they want to, but I'm more concerned about the president's acquiescence to Vladimir Putin's wishes.

BERMAN: I will say this. And again, a lot has happened since 2012. A lot has happened since 2012.