Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

ISIS Now Claiming Responsibility For The Van Attack And Stabbing Spree In London; A Celebrity Benefit Concert For The Victims Of Last Night's Manchester Suicide Bombing Went On As Scheduled; President Trump Uses The London Attacks To Renew The Call For His Travel Ban; Fired Director James Comey Gets Ready To Speak In And Out Front Of Congress And The Cameras. Aired 7:00-8:00p ET

Aired June 4, 2017 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Police say everything from black bottles to bricks to balloons filled with a foul smelling liquid are being thrown at officers. But that began as a Trump free speech rally and then other groups showed up to hold a counter rally. Police say they have been forced to use tear gas on the crowd. We are continuing to monitor the situation. We will bring you updates as we get them.

Also breaking tonight, ISIS now claiming responsibility for the van attack and stabbing spree that killed seven people and injured 48 others in the heart of London. We want to get you up to speed on what we know at this hour.

Eleven people are in police custody after raids overnight and throughout the day. Police increasingly confident no other attackers are on the loose right now.

We also have new information about the time line of this attack. Just before 10:00 p.m. London time last night, a van crossed London Bridge, ramming into pedestrians, three attackers then took off on foot to the borough market where they stabbed people indiscriminately before being shot dead by police. At the time, the terrorists appeared to be wearing suicide vests. Although police now say they were fake, designed to stoke fear.

We also have new dash cam video taken from London Bridge just after the van attack. Watch the left side of your screen there. You can see victims laying on the side of the road. We want to warn you the next video is even more difficult to watch. It shows police rushing to help victims at borough market, applying pressure to their wounds as they wait for ambulances to arrive. Thirty six people remain hospitalized, 21 of them are in critical condition. British Prime Minister Theresa May declaring enough is enough as memorials to the victims grow.

We have a team of reporters covering every angle of this story. Let's go live to CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson near the borough market crime scene.

Nic, we now have this claim of responsibility from ISIS. What else do we know about the people in custody? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. So this

claim from ISIS not backed up by any evidence whatsoever. We have seen them do this before. The three men who were shot dead, the attackers, the police say that they believe that they are getting closer to knowing who these men were. The police have been raiding four different premises in the east of London. At two of those premises, they arrested 12 people. Seven of those 12 was women. One of them has been released.

What we have seeing typically in the past and immediately after terror attacks like this in Britain, the police have raided the premises where the attackers were known to have been living most recently. What we have seen of the people that have been arrested today, police have released their ages and there are among them six people who are in the sort of mid to late 50s, one of them is 60. It gives the impression that potentially because three of those were women and three of them were men, potentially these could have been the parents of the three men. It is not clear at the moment.

The police are asking journalists not to speculate on the identity of the attacker but these arrests are certainly giving some of the neighbors in that area and the east of London cause to speculate about who the attacker attackers may have been. Some neighbors feel that they may know who one or two of them so that information perhaps is going to be coming out soon from the police. But at the moment the police are focusing their efforts on trying to make sure there are -- there is no one else trying to perpetrate another attack inspired or in any way connected by these three individuals.

CABRERA: And Nic, of course, the timing of this just before the British election that's going to be held there on Thursday. British Prime Minister Theresa May coming out with strong words today saying enough is enough when it comes to these attacks. What else is she saying?

ROBERTSON: Yes, she says there needs to be a four point strategy. That this say new type of terror threat. So there are four different things. One, need - we need to confront the communities here and what she called a sort of willingness to tolerate extremism. She said there needs to be uncomfortable conversations. She also want to shut down the space that terrorists operate in. The physical space with military strikes in Iraq and Syria and space on the internet by pressuring social media companies by pressuring internet service providers to shut down extremist material. She also wants to look at changing the law in Britain potentially to make - to give police and counterterrorism officials greater, greater strengths, greater abilities to, you know, to complete their investigations -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Nic Robertson there in London for us. Thank you.

In the midst of this terrible tragedy, there are incredible stories of heroism. One eyewitness who was in borough market at that stabbing spree began, describes how restaurant workers jumped into action to get customers to safety. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:05:01] RICHARD ANGELI, EYEWITNESS: I then saw a guy opposite throw a table at someone. It's unclear about what that meant. It turned out this is heroic guy who saw what these guys are doing and threw glasses at them. He threw tables at them just to try to stop them and hurting this poor young woman who they were stabbing. He was remarkable. He was one of the heroes of the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Amazing. For more on the victims of last night's attack, I want to bring in CNN's senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt. He is live there near London Bridge.

Alex, have there been any updates on the wounded?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Ana.

Well, of the 48 wounded in last night's attack, most are still in the hospital, including 21 who were critically wounded which means that death toll which now stands at seven could still rise.

Now, we haven't been told too much about the identities of the wounded but we are starting to hear their stories like the one of the British transportation police officers who according to his boss went after the attackers armed only with his baton after just two years on the force. And earlier today CNN spoke with the mother of one of the wounded who said that her son is struggling with what happened last night. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH O'NEIL, SON INJURED IN TERROR ATTACK: He was in shock. I mean, he said I don't think work will believe this is happening. I'm going to have to go in Monday. He was in shock, you know. I said to him, it's because you can't believe it's happened. And you think other people are going to find it hard. And he feels very bad that he is alive while others have died.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: One of her son's friends and two police officers helped stop the bleeding. Her son Daniel and so many others lucky to be alive tonight - Ana.

CABRERA: Amazing story. Alex Marquardt, thank you for bringing those to us.

Now, despite the terror attack in London, a celebrity benefit concert for the victims of last night's Manchester suicide bombing went on as scheduled. Performers are Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, all invoke the message of lover and unity as they sang before a sold out crowd of 50,000. And tonight Manchester police are thanking the visitors following that tribute concert reading -- let me read you a statement they just sent out saying, thanks goes out to those who joined us at today's events and remain patient as we carried out an increased number of searches to ensure everyone remained safe and enjoyed themselves. Finally, our thoughts remain with all those affected by the heartbreaking events of Monday, May 22nd.

CNN international correspondent Phil Black is joining us now from the Manchester arena.

Phil, I think it goes without saying security was especially tight for tonight's concert.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was. There was no doubt. It was the number one priority for the police who helped make this happen. And for the organizers of concert itself. We saw that on the streets leading up to the concert where most of the fans were gathering outside this ground for the better part of the day. And on the way in, everyone had to be searched very carefully, very slowly. But it didn't change the mood at all. It was such a joyous, positive event. And incredible spectacle as you say, more than 50,000 people and that incredible lineup of stars. There were really so many special moments. Take a look at the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARIANA GRANDE, SINGER: I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia's mommy a few days ago. And as soon as I met her, I started crying. I gave her a big hug. And she said that I should stop crying because Olivia wouldn't want me to cry. And then she told me that Olivia would have wanted to hear the hit. I love you so much. Thank you for coming together and being so loving and strong and unified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love conquers fear and love conquers hate. Tell them I love you. Look in their eyes. Say I love you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these people who are fearless and came for love! You will not be separated. People killing people dying you hear them crying when you practice what you preach will you join me for a treat

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody say we honor you.

CROWD: We honor you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you.

CROWD: We love you.

[19:10:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much for having me, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: So in there, there was one real special moment (INAUDIBLE), Chris Martin and Ariana Grande on stage singing "don't look back in anger," the Oasis song from the 90s which has become the city's anthem ever since of those attacks took place. So all of that are really spectacular occasion. And of course, it raised a lot of money, millions for those people who have most affected by the violence that took place two weeks ago.

CABRERA: That bright light so needed tonight for so many. Phil Black, thank you.

Coming up, a new low tech base of terrorism. Extremists armed with just cars and knives doing incredible damage, is it part of a bigger trend? Our experts weigh in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:15:06] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the taxi driver just went towards me and (INAUDIBLE) run. They have to run. They have a knife. And then his face was just, like -- something was just so wrong. I just started running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a quite lot of city police. And they were chasing people across the bridge. This is normal civilians, normal pedestrians over the bridge and screaming at them to run, run, run for your lives. Terror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I plead with people not to be scared, not to be angry because this is exactly what those people want us to feel. We have to stand together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: We are hearing more from witnesses of the terror attack in London. People describing the horror but also calling for unity and bravery. The latest information we have tonight is that at least seven people are dead, innocent people whose lives were claimed by the three terrorists. Another 48 people are injured. And ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the attack.

Joining us to discuss, CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Bear and CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier.

So Bob, this attack was just so low tech, a van, some knives. Does this strike you that the terrorists are adapting yet again?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Ana, it does. Look, we had the attack in Nice last year. We had the attack in Berlin at the Christmas market, now London. We had another attack on a bridge.

You know, you can trace people buying explosives, acetone, peroxide, people with know-how. It's easy to identify them. People, for instance, like on the Manchester attack went back to Libya possibly Syria to get training. But these kind of attacks, they are just - they are almost unpreventable as long as there's a lot of people in one place and cars are easy to get to or trucks. Yes, it's scary.

CABRERA: And you have to stop the person who is motivated to do this. That is, of course, the biggest question about how do you do that? What do you make, Bob, of those vests that the terrorists were wearing? We now learned they were fake suicide vests. Why wear them?

BAER: Well, to keep people away, Ana. They, you know, if they think they are going to blow themselves up, people tend to run. It causes chaos. It gives them more of a feel to attack people and kill them. You know, they are calling it a hoax. But the police have to stand back and use snipers or long guns to kill people like this. They have no choice.

Now, the British police were incredibly fast. Eight minutes reacting to this, but nonetheless, those vests scared people and probably made it worse than it would have been otherwise.

CABRERA: Kimberly, what do you make of the fact that three attacks happened in the UK in just three months-time and Prime Minister Theresa May says they are not connected? What's going on in the UK that there's this increase number of events?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, part of it is the number of militants who traveled from the UK, served with ISIS in Iraq or Syria or other parts of the Middle East and have come back. They are also many other sympathizers within the British society that British security is tracking. So you have a collection of individuals like-minded with the skills or the will to carry something out.

But you also have this sort of virus spreading of people seeing these attacks in places like Nice in France where more than 80 people were killed. They are seeing these simple tactics work. And unfortunately, that's what I long heard from U.S. counterterrorism officials, they wondered when it was going to start to catch on, when would people realize unfortunately how easy it is to bring mayhem to the streets with very simple devices?

CABRERA: Right. You were at an event earlier today where the President's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster spoke. Did McMaster express a need for a travel ban as the President did in his first tweet following this attack?

DOZIER: He didn't bring up the travel ban. He extended his condolences, his heartfelt condolences to both the British and Afghan people making reference to those massive bomb that's have gone off in Kabul and then the bomb attacks against a funeral there. And he spoke of unshakeable resolve against terrorism. He spoke of top (INAUDIBLE) jihadists. It is a very technical term. It - his has chosen term. You know, there's been a bit of a tussle going on in the White House and H.R. McMaster has been credited with taking the phrase radical Islamic terrorism at least out of the President's overseas speeches. We will have to see if he returns to using that back home.

CABRERA: Bob, the British prime minister suggests cracking down on cyberspace. How would that work?

[19:20:02] BAER: You know, it is one solution, Ana, using algorithms and getting on their twitter, the rest of it identifying these people for being radicalized. The question is if they are on the sites and they are on twitter complaining about Syria or wherever. It doesn't tell the British police when these people are going to go from, you know, evil thoughts to actually committing.

It is really hard to do. And they can't catch these people. And also there's British law. They don't have preventive detention. If you look like you have been radicalized but have taken no action, you know, what do you do with people like that?

And so many of these people are British citizens. They have passports. I mean, you just can't pick them up and deport them which presents a problem for the United States. Because of the visa waiver program, any one of these people could have come to the United States fairly easy. If he were on a no fly list and carried out the same attack. So this problem is very complex and nobody has a completely simple solution to it.

CABRERA: And Kimberly, I just want to get your take about the approach now by law enforcement and by intelligence agencies to try to stop to get out ahead of these terrorists and the ideology.

DOZIER: Well, there are people that they're already watching in the UK. So you can redouble your efforts in terms of continuing to monitor their communications, maybe even put more people into the effort. But in terms of tackling the ideology, there is a strong effort under way within Britain where you have former jihadists who are trying to work with local city officials and reach into some of these communities and catch people before they are taken in by some of these dogmas.

I don't know how you speed that up. We have been trying to do that in this for more than a decade as well. And every time I speak to someone who is involved if those efforts to counter that kind of extremism, they all say, you know, we are just about nowhere with our efforts. They are all pretty frustrated.

CABRERA: All right. Kimberly Dozier and Bob Baer, thank you both tonight.

Coming up, President Trump uses the London attacks to renew the call for his travel ban. Is it a smart move or just stoking fear? We will discuss live in a CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:26:40] CABRERA: Welcome back. President Trump is using last night's terror attacks in London to renew its call for a travel ban that has been stuck in the courts. The President tweeted this, we need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety.

That was right after these attacks started unfolding. Then later, we must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart, it will only get worse.

Joining me now, CNN's senior political analyst and former adviser to four Presidents David Gergen and Jennifer Rubin, a conservative opinion writer for "the Washington Post." Jennifer, you wrote a piece for the Post just today which you say the

President embarrassed himself and America with these tweets. Why do you feel that way?

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, to begin with, he started off with a retweet of a drudge report. This is the chief of the American national security. He is the commander-in-chief. He is the leader of the free world. And this is the information completely unverified that he is sending out. So the first entree into the subject was completely you irresponsible and unprofessional.

He then went on just as you outline, Ana, to talk about the travel ban which frankly, wouldn't apply to England in any case unless he is thinking of expanding it to England. We don't know anything about the nationality of these people involved. And what is more, his formulation that the courts give us back our rights, the courts are enforcing Americans rights. They are protecting Americans rights in the travel ban cases.

And finally with, regard to his sort of political correctness, this is the old sort of saw horse that he returns to whenever he says things that are outrageous. And beyond that, he, you know, went on to attack the mayor of London. This is the man who is helping a city crawl out from another terrorist attack.

CABRERA: Hold your thought, there Jennifer because I want to read that tweet which you speak about, the mayor of London. The U.S. firing up more tweets this morning. Take a look. There is what he writes.

At least seven dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed.

Now what the mayor actually said was that Londoners shouldn't be alarmed by the increased police presence following these attacks.

David, what do you think the President was trying to accomplish with that tweet?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Who knows? Ana, let me first how delight I am to be on with Jennifer. Her recent columns have been especially good. And this one today was another first class effort.

Listen, I think the major issue here is that American Presidents have traditionally responded to tragedy or attacks like this in other countries, especially in our countries that are very great friends of the United States. They responded with sympathy and with calls for unity. We stand together. And that's what leaders across Europe dud today in response to what happened on the streets of London last night.

But our President decided to pick a fight. He picked a fight with someone who has been, you, who has been sort of squabbling with in the past, a mayor of London who is a Muslim. He decided to pick a fight with him. And he did that by -- and as Jennifer writes about this, he did that by taking out of context what the mayor said.

The mayor told people through BBC that, listen, we're going to stand up strongly against the terrorists. We are going to win this. But there are going to be more police on the streets. And don't be alarmed by that parade of police presence. And President Trump decided to tweet, you know, seven deaths, 48 injured and the mayor of London says no cause for alarm. That totally misrepresented what the mayor said. And it just adds to the sense of, you know, where is the -- where is the common bond that we once had with our great friends in Britain.

I'm -- like Jennifer who said this. It really is -- it's hard to say these things about the President. You want a President to succeed. But I must tell you, these kind of acts are just so startling.

[19:30:37] CABRERA: Now, it isn't the first time the President has used a terrorist attack to forward his own agenda. Remember after the pulse nightclub shooting that happened, he tweeted appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism. I don't want congrats. I want toughness and vigilance. We must be smart.

And then there was the report of a knife wielding man at the Louvre in Paris and he tweeted this. A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. Get smart, U.S.

Is this President Trump reinventing the rules when it comes to what is Presidential, Jennifer? Are we just -- our expectations have been such that this is something just outside that bubble of expectations that now here is the new normal?

RUBIN: I certainly hope not. You know, American institutions have held up fine against this President, the Supreme Court, the press. I'm very concerned about exactly what you point to. The democratic norms, the habits of speech. The lines that we do not cross. And he is beginning to eradicate them. And once you have done that, I don't know if it is possible to recapture a sense of self-discipline or preserve of class, frankly. And it is very troubling.

And you know, (INAUDIBLE) personality that would take a tragedy like the post night club with people dead on the streets, people in hospitals and think of all about him? This is a deeply, deeply disturbed person. And I think we have to keep that in mind as we try to piece together why he is saying something, what he is saying. You know, this is a person who does not think like the rest of us. And I think we sometimes overanalyze and think he is very, very clever when in fact he is just very off.

CABRERA: All right. Both of you stay with me. We are going to you have back on the other side of this break.

Coming up, what really happened? Fired director James Comey gets ready to speak in and out front of Congress and the cameras. What bombshell could he reveal? Plus, a complete time line on how we got to this point.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:36:44] CABRERA: Tonight there is still no word from the White House on whether the President will move to block fired FBI director James Comey from testifying at a hearing that will be watched likely by the world.

"The New York Times" is reporting, however, at this point President Trump is not leaning in that direction. One administration official saying the President has nothing to hide. He wants Mr. Comey's statement to be publicly aired. Comey is scheduled to go before the cameras and the bright lights on Thursday and tell the Senate and the public about his private conversations with the President. Whether Trump made any requests for information that made him feel uncomfortable or pressure him to end the investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia.

Comey's testimony is so highly anticipated it's drawing comparisons to Anita Hill and the Clarence Thomas hearings.

CNN's Randi Kaye gives us a time line of the events and interaction that Comey will almost certainly be asked about.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In January this year, a dinner at the White House, now under scrutiny. Dining together, President Donald Trump and then FBI director James Comey. Mr. Trump had been sworn in seven days earlier and on that night a source says the President asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to him. Comey instead offering to give the President his honesty.

The President had a very different account of that dinner meeting when he spoke to NBC last month.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he asked for the dinner. And he wanted to stay on as FBI head. And I said, you know, I will consider. We will see what happens.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Wow. A full house.

KAYE: The White House pushed back on the loyalty question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the din that's right President had with James Comey earlier in January, did the President implore him to pledge his loyalty to the President? Is that true?

SPICER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did that happen?

KAYE: The President says Comey also told him at dinner that he was not under investigation. And that Comey repeated it again twice later.

TRUMP: That time he told me you are not under investigation. Then during the phone call he said it and then during another phone call he said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him, am I under investigation?

TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said if it's possible, will you let me know am I under investigation? He said you are not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was the President so consumed by this situation that he would ask that question on three separate occasions?

SPICER: I think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated. And he wanted clarity to make sure.

KAYE: Still, on February 14th, another key moment between President Trump and director Comey, this time in the oval office. Sources say Comey documents the meeting in a memo which was described to CNN. Comey says the President ushered others out of the room including the vice President then Trump allegedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into General Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia. Flynn was fired as Trump's national security advisor after admitting to inappropriate contacts with Russia.

A source told CNN Comey was so surprised by the President's request he documented everything he could remember for senior FBI officials. In his memo, Comey said the President told him I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. A source told CNN Comey was concerned that President was trying to stop the investigation.

[19:40:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn and also as you look --

TRUMP: No. No. Next question.

KAYE: Despite that, just days after firing Comey in May, President Trump dropped this bombshell, suggesting he let Comey go because of the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.

KAYE: Of course, that only raised more questions about the possibility of obstruction of justice. Given Comey's testimony before Congress --

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: We are conducting an investigation to understand if there is any coordination between the Russian efforts and anybody associated with the Trump campaign.

KAYE: Benjamin Wittes is a friend of James Comey's spoke to Anderson Cooper about how Comey thought personal contact with the President was inappropriate.

BENJAMIN WITTES, FRIEND OF JAMES COMEY: This is a guy with a story to tell. I think if I were Trump that would scare me a lot. He did feel like there were numerous incidents where the President was kind of probing the edge of his defenses. And all in the service of making him a, seeing whether you could make a loyalist out of him.

KAYE: And it wasn't just James Comey the President may have been trying to influence. In March, just days after Comey revealed the FBI probe into possible Trump campaign connections to Russia, the President asked two of the government's top intelligence chiefs to publicly deny evidence of collusion between his team and the Russian government. Sources tell CNN both the director of national intelligence Dan Coats and national security agency director admiral Michael Rogers were uncomfortable with the nature of the President's request and refused to comply. The White House declined to comment and so did director Coats when asked by the Senate arms services committee.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the President.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Congress really needs to find out whether there was an active effort to interfere with the investigation or to draw in the intelligence agencies or the leadership in a way that would politicize the agencies.

KAYE: The effort to uncover the truth continues.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Randi Kaye.

And my panel is back with me now.

David, the ranking member of the Senate Intel committee, Senator Mark Warner, had this to say when asked about the possibility of the President invoking executive privilege to block Comey from testifying. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER, RANKING MEMBER, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think he would on shaky legal ground to say the least. Director Comey was fired by the President. And you have the President himself making derogatory comments in effect at least reported to the press calling Comey a nut job in front of the Republicans. Totally inappropriate. You know, the question --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In front of the Russians.

WARNER: In front of the Russians which is, again, just regardless what you feel about Comey, that's not how he should be treated.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: David, do you agree with Senator Warner? Do the President's past comments about Comey make it virtually impossible to block Comey's testimony?

GERGEN: Well, I do think he would be on shaky legal ground. It would be shakier because of the President's tweets and other things he said because the president may have -- there is a good argument to make that he waived the privilege and the fact that he is going to have his side of the story out. Why can't Comey have his?

But I think the White House -- and, again, I think on this case they deserve some praise for apparently coming to their good senses and telling "The New York Times" and others that they don't expect to invoke executive privilege. They also recognize it is not only shaky legally but from very importantly from their point of view very explosive politically. After all, James Comey is eventually going to be talking under oath to FBI investigators and that's all going to come out. So to block him now and make it look like they have something to hide seems rather pointless. You know, I salute them for coming to what appears to be a sound response and that is let James Comey testify this week.

CABRERA: There was heir caveat though that source told "The New York Times," it is President Trump.

GERGEN: Yes.

CABRERA: You can't be 100 percent sure until it happens. Now Jennifer, multiple news organizations --

GERGEN: We won't know until Thursday among.

CABRERA: We won't know until Thursday morning, exactly. And multiple news organizations are reporting this. Now that isn't likely to invoke executive privilege. But his staff still isn't sounding that confident. Listen to this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the President is not invoking executive privilege?

[19:45:02] KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: The President will make that decision.

SPICER: That committee hearing was just noticed. And I think obviously it's got to be reviewed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that is not a no?

SPICER: It's saying I don't -- literally, my understanding is the date for that hearing was just set. I have not spoken to counsel yet. I don't know what that -- how they are going to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Again, officially On the Record from the White House they aren't saying one way or the other. Do you think though that this is the way the President likes it to build a little bit of suspense?

RUBIN: Yes. And I also think in fairness to the spokes people, they are probably in shell shock. They have been undercut by this President so many times after saying exactly what they were supposed to, what they were told to. And then a day later the President coming back and saying oh, no, that is not it at all. So I think they got gun-shy appropriately so. And so they're just keeping it vague.

Trump, of course, does like playing this game of suspense. But I think he had made an impossible situation for his communications team. He has reportedly furious with them. But nobody is going to be able to carry on a coherent persuasive message with this sort of President.

CABRERA: Now, Comey has been in constant contact we are learning with the special counsel Robert Mueller about what he can and can't share at his testimony from a Congress. That's a big concern for Senator Lindsey Graham. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here is what I worry about, that he will just focus on his conversation with the President and not answer any other questions because of the investigation. That would be a hit job on President Trump. And I hope this hearing doesn't become a hit job on President Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: David, what are you expecting to get out of this hearing?

GERGEN: Well, I'm not sure why a -- eliminating his conversation to what happened with the President, I don't understand why that's a hit job. I have great respect for Senator Graham. But nonetheless, I think what we are going to see, at least this what appears is there is unlike Watergate, there doesn't appear to be a smoking gun. A particular conversation that the President had which was a clear cut example of -- or instance of obstruction of justice. That's what we had in the Watergate tapes when they finally came out. There was that smoking gun right there in the center of things. And everybody knew it was over.

I don't think we are going to see. Rather, I think we are going to see a series of events that Comey will try to connect the events. He will try to connect the dots and see if there is a pattern there that would each event reinforcing the other and pointing in a certain direction but not necessarily being a clear cut case of obstruction that you could take into federal court, for example.

We will have to wait and see. I think we are -- I think that's one of the reasons these hearings are so anticipated and they're going to get a huge audience because people aren't sure what he's going to say. And the President by making it unclear whether he will be allowed to testify I think is only building an audience. CABRERA: Jennifer, that testimony expected to begin around 10:00 a.m.

And it will be that open testimony portion before they move into a closed session ahead of the testimony though we are learning that a White House war room is taking shape to handle rapid response related to the Russian investigation. Are you surprised they didn't do this sooner?

RUBIN: I guess nothing surprises me with this crew. I don't think actually that's the greatest way to go. I think that they have not had good luck with simultaneous feedback on world events. They would do much better to let this pass, to keep the powder dry afterwards to simply make a statement either thanking Comey for his service or personally saying the President has a different recollection.

But this is not a group known for understatement or self-control. So I think they probably will which will insight the situation even further. Build audience as David correctly said. And, you know, the irony of all this as David points out is that there may not have been a smoking gun on the obstruction of justice except for the President's own words when he told Lester Holt in that interview I had Russia on my mind. This is the shame, the crime, whatever you want to call about it this President is that he is continually his own worst enemy. He is the best witness against him. And I think the more he talks the worse trouble he's in.

CABRERA: Jennifer Rubin and David Gergen, thank you both for joining us this evening.

We will have special live coverage of James Comey's testimony. You won't want to miss it. You can watch it on air or stream it live on CNN.com beginning next Thursday. Our coverage begins at 9:00 a.m. eastern.

Quick break. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:58] CABRERA: Did you know that there are more guns than people in the U.S. So how can we stay safe in a country full of guns? W. Kamau Bell tries to find out on tonight's brand new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: Yes I'm looking, you know, buy a gun I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cool.

BELL: It's for I guess home defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

BELL: Like the Honda CRV of guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. BELL: You know, a good family size gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right in front of us we have a CZ-75b compact. So, if that magazine had rounds you would pull the slide back and it would go forward automatically.

BELL: This is complicated. If somebody broke into my house I feel like hold on a second let me get the instruction manual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's something with a nice long barrel. It's a Smith and Wesson.

BELL: Oh wow. This is like a dirty Harry gun. This is 357 magnum. Smith and Wesson. It seems like neat. I mean, it is funny because I kind of grow up with watching TV in the '70s cop show and movies.

[19:55:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all have revolvers.

BELL: They all had revolvers. I never felt so American in my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Join us for a brand new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN.

The next hour of NEWSROOM starts after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:59:36] CABRERA: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We are staying on top of breaking news in the latest developments out of London, a city vastly different than it was. Just last night when a pleasant evening was shattered by a deadly terror attack.

And breaking news at the CNN just a short time ago ISIS now claiming responsibility for that attack. And the death of seven innocent people. More on that claim on responsibility when we go live to London in just a moment.

This is also new information. Most of the 11 people arrested so far following this terror incidents are women. London police say they have been raiding apartments in the Barking section of the city looking for people who know the attack --