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EARLY START

Terrorist Incident On London Train; North Korea Launches Missile Over Japan; Trump Blames Both Sides Again. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, the underground system, obviously, because it has been attacked before, back in the day of 7/7, which by the way was the last time we saw the same significant type of attacks that we've seen so far this year after London Bridge, Westminster Bridge and other security threats as well.

[05:00:16] London underground system has security increased over the last few years, it's always been a point of concern for police and also the commuters that take it on the day-to-day basis largely because it's relied upon by so many Londoners and carried so many people back and forth, so it's a very difficult environment especially underground, but one of the things that hampered the 7/7 rescue effort was access to Wi-Fi and wireless communication, and the fact that these radios don't work underground.

Now, we still don't have telecommunications services underground system. This track of the underground system actually runs over ground, largely because it's a more residential area. And so what we have seen over the last hour or so are people who were above ground saw that particular train carriage being carried to safety. They were in a train carriage, I believe for about an hour and a half and now we've seen solve aerial pictures that they may be being evacuated from that.

It doesn't seem as though there is a -- if indeed the items that we're seeing, that the metropolitan police haven't confirmed. Doesn't seem to force huge massive damage, but obviously, they're concerned that maybe up to 20 people have had burning (INAUDIBLE)

And as I was saying before, this type of area is in shock about this type of thing happening in this area, whatever the nature of the security scare is, because it is such a residential quiet area. People will tell you they wouldn't expect this type of thing to happen in this type of parts of London -- Dave.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: London police certainly initially responding to the incident. Are you seeing, are you hearing this being treated in any way shape or form as a terror incident? Are there counterterror officials on the scene?

DOS SANTOS: Well, often counterterror officials are (INAUDIBLE) plain clothed and undercover. I'm looking at two undercover police vehicles. But otherwise they're unmarked police vehicles. I can tell you when I was arriving on the scene from one of the main

roads in west London that heads towards this area, I did see what looked like hazardous materials police potentially bomb disposal unit trucks heading towards the scene and also other special police vehicles heading away from it as well. I also saw a number of ambulances heading away presumably treating people who may have been injured.

It suddenly looks as though -- obviously, given the hype in security alert that the fact that we have had recently a number about of attacks that these police are taking no chances here. They've being widening the security force to well beyond the underground station. They're sending more police officers as we speak and physically just giving you an idea of the scene that I'm looking down the street, which is 100 meters away from where I was pushed back from earlier, I can see at least about two dozen police cars and vans, as well as a number of fire engines and ambulances as well.

Many dozens of police officers on the streets. As I said, many of them -- some of them in police uniform the and clothing and a number of undercover police officers as well. More fire engines arriving now. Two helicopters at least are hovering over head (INAUDIBLE).

BRIGGS: All right. For those of you just tuning in, there has been an incident on the London tubes. No reason to suggest this is terrorism although it did happen in rush hour just after 9:00 a.m. in London.

The backdrop to this, Nina, are people feeling a sense of inevitability that these types of attacks will continue in London and there's not much you can do to secure something as impossible, as safe, seemingly, to a target, as a subway? What's the sense of the people there?

DOS SANTOS: Well, the irony is after the London bridge attacks we saw a number of signs popping up in the underground system which we Londoners often refer to as the Tube, saying keep calm and carry on, we will not be defeated.

[05:05:00] And in fact it was the underground system where a lot of people decided to post these kind of messages of defiance in the wake of the attacks, off Westminster and London Bridge. This, having said that, is an area is not a very urban area. It's an area where people commute from on the tube, on the underground but also drive around this area, drive to work on this area as well. And a lot of people have moved to this area because they have children. There's a lot of schools in this area, and they will be going on buses.

But you rightly pointed out, the underground has been a source of concern I think it's fair to say, and that predates the recent terrorist attacks over the last 12 years. It goes all the way back to the days of when the underground system had been a top target for the IRA, about 20 years ago, and I was a Londoner growing up at that time. You remember many tube stations, underground stations being evacuated.

Many security measures taking effect in those days to make sure that there were no trash cans inside underground stations where devices could be hidden in. So, the underground has been a point of concern for Londoners, it's also been a symbol I think of defiance as well, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Again, the report some passengers suffered facial burns. Others trampled in this the rush to get away from this apparent explosion. I said in the 9:00 a.m. hour, emergency services were alerted at 8:20 local time there in London.

Nina Dos Santos, thanks. Stay on this. We'll check back with you later in the hour.

All right. North Korea now launching a ballistic missile over northern Japan for the second time in less than a month and for the first time since conducting its sixth nuclear test weeks ago, a provocation that triggered a new round of U.N. sanctions.

North's latest launch fired from the capital Pyongyang. Initial estimates indicate it was intermediate range ballistic missile that flew over the Northern Japan island of Hokkaido.

The Japanese on high alert. This missile test coming after North Korea threatened to sink Japan and reduced the U.S. mainland to ash and darkness.

Let's go live to Tokyo and bring in CNN's Phil Black for the very latest.

Good afternoon to you, Phil. What do we know in how this launch differed from the past?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, the last launch over Japan from North Korea took place about two weeks ago. And the authorities here in Japan say same missile, very similar trajectory except in this case, it went even further. It flew about 2,200 miles.

Japanese authorities make the point that at that sort of range, if it had been fired to the south over Japan, this could have splashed somewhere near the American territory of Guam. Now, that's something North Korea has threatened it would do and something the American administration has said it would respond to. But so far, Pyongyang hasn't taken that step.

One way perhaps of interpreting this is North Korea saying it now has the ability to fire missiles in a very close proximity to Guam if it chooses to do so. The hope within the regime, the hope for Japan is that that will not happen because that would be considered an even greater provocation, one that could raise the possibility of military conflict in this region to an even higher degree.

Now, there is no doubt the Japanese government is outraged by these sorts of missile flights over Japan. They are totally unacceptability. It wants to apply even greater pressure on North Korea because the frustration is that this missile launch has taken place despite the most recent sanctions put forward by the United Nations and agreed on at the United Nations Security Council. Essentially, they haven't stopped North Korea from continuing to develop and show off its missile capability -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Certainly, a terrifying scene as people taking cover and hearing those sirens. Phil Black live for us in Tokyo, thank you.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sending a warning to North Korea after consulting with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan. He released a statement saying, These continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. The United Nations Security Council's resolutions including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution represent the floor, not the ceiling of the actions we should take.

Tillerson also calling on Russia and China to voice their outrage and take direct action. South Korea responded to North Korea's missile test with a show of force of its own.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks live from Seoul.

Good morning, Paula. What is the reaction there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it was a very quick reaction from the South Korean side.

[05:10:02] Just six minutes after that North Korean missile was launched, the South Korean side fired their own. Now, one fails pretty soon after launching and fell into the waters off the east coast.

But what the messages was is that these missiles could hit Sunan Air Base in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, which would be exactly where that missile was launched from. They wanted to show North Korea that they were able to respond very quickly to any kind of threat they saw coming their way.

Now, we also heard strong words from President Moon Jae-in, once again saying he wanted the sternest response possible. He said it's very likely there could be provocations from North Korea. I spoke to the South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday and asked him about this growing concern or at least this growing movement within South Korea, calling for South Korea to have its own nuclear weapons. He was adamant that would not happen. He said there was no need for South Korea to have nuclear weapons, or even tactical nuclear weapons, the deployment from the United States, saying it wouldn't secure peace on the peninsula and could in fact spark a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.

He also said that potentially, of course, this was before Friday morning's launch, potentially he was still willing to talk to North Korea, but it was up to North Korea to make the conditions right for that, saying at this point it is pressure and sanctions that are necessary to bring North Korea in line, saying that Washington and Seoul are on the same page -- Dave.

BRIGGS: What those sanctions are, we do not know yet. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, 6:00 p.m. there. Thank you. Ahead, why would the president dredge up one of the lowest moments of

his presidency with all the good press about the deals with Chuck and Nancy? President saying there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville once again yesterday. He's trying to satisfy a base with in questions about his commitment to his campaign promises.

We'll discuss that and bring you the latest on the incident in the tubes in London. Next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:10] BRIGGS: All right, updating everyone on our breaking news from London this morning, hazardous response crews rushing to an underground train station. Some type of incident. Multiple resources on scene say it's Parson's Green Tube Station, including ambulances there. Commuters are being told to avoid this area entirely.

Now, the London ambulance service issued this statement. We are called at 8:20 a.m. to reports of an incident at Parson's Green underground station. We'll have the latest for you as we continue throughout the morning.

Again, that was in rush hour, no link to terrorism at this point. Reports of people were burned faces and injuries, also from people running out of that particular tube car being trampled. We'll bring you a life guest as we get it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said. You look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying, in fact, a lot of people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point. I said you've got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. People just waking up might be surprised to hear that was actually yesterday. President Trump aboard Air Force One talking to reporters in what CNN's Chris Cillizza calls a holy cow moment. President Trump reverting to his first explanation, equating white supremacists with protesters from the violence in Charlottesville, and he did it same day after meeting with the only black Republican Senator Tim Scott on that very topic.

So, let's bring in John McCormack from "The Weekly Standard".

Good morning to you, John. You're making your debut here on the ground. Good to have you.

JOHN MCCORMACK, WRITER, WEEKLY STANDARD: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Why would the president go back to that original explanation? What has he failed to understand?

MCCORMACK: I think he fails to understand why his comments are morally indefensible in the first place. I mean, there was violence on both sides. That is true. Both sides threw punches.

But only one side committed a vehicular ISIS style terrorist attack. That was the neo-Nazi white supremacist. Only one side claimed that they supported Trump and that Trump supported them. That was the white supremacist, neo-Nazi side. Only one side had people who were just neo-Nazis chanting things like Jews will not replace us, really horrendous anti-Semitic things, and people who are marching alongside them.

And so, only bad people on that side whereas we know there were good people on the other side like Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed in that ISIS-style terrorist attack by that white supremacist. So, again, I think for these reasons, the president just really didn't understand why his blaming the whole situation on both sides was morally indefensible and why it was such really a dark moment for his presidency.

BRIGGS: And just when he's being applauded for showing some leadership, cutting some bipartisan deals, certainly not from his base, but the majority, perhaps, Tim Scott, who met with the president about this issue telling our Phil Mattingly, I didn't go in there to change who he was. I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. I think we accomplished that. And to assume immediately thereafter he's going to have an epiphany is just unrealistic.

So, John, I got to ask you, when he says to Phil Mattingly that's who he is, and that's who he's been, does he mean he's a 71-year-old who refuses to admit he's wrong or is there something else Tim Scott is trying to tell us?

MCCORMACK: You know, I wouldn't speculate. In my personal opinion, I think that this isn't so much as the -- I don't know what's in the president's heart, but we do know for a fact that when people support him, he can't find a way to distance himself from them.

[05:20:08] We saw that back in the campaign, you know, when he was asked to condemn David Duke and he did it first and then three times, he said he didn't really know who that was. He hesitated, he evocated, just a bunch of southern primaries. So, you know, the president definitely has a history here and that in and of itself is another reason why he had an obligation and duty to marginalize, to condemn these people by name. And that's what he failed to do in the beginning.

And then he compounded things by saying not only were both sides to blame, but there were very fine people who were marching with the neo- Nazis and the white supremacists, you know? I mean, neo-Nazis and white supremacists aren't good people, and if you're marching alongside them, you're not a good person either. So, I think, again, there's the president sort of lacks this maybe moral compass, moral understanding here, moral reasoning. BRIGGS: Yes, we get it. There are some bad dudes in Antifa, no

question about that. No one arguing with that point. Just a failure to recognize the harm he did with that statement.

And it's interesting to your point, John, he refuses to really go after that fraction of his base, but the people that fuel his political rise, the immigration hard-liners doesn't seem so concerned about them and reaching this agreement with Chuck and Nancy. We seem to understand legalizing the Dreamers by some form, and putting off the wall for another time.

The base is furious on that one, whether it's Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Steve King. We could point out any number of tweets or comments from the base that are furious.

What is the inherent risk there for President Trump in losing that portion of his base?

MCCORMACK: Well, I mean, that is a really significant portion of his base, but, how many of them will actually be turned off, I really don't know. I mean, obviously people like Ann Coulter, other immigration hardliners, Steve King, congressman of Iowa, they've criticized him very harshly.

But, you know, a lot of people who voted for Trump didn't do it just because of the immigration issue. I think this goes to show you that the president really doesn't have any core ideological beliefs. I mean, people sort of quite Trump -- you know, this idea that Trumpism is synonymous with populism, certain set of issues, he's been on basically every side of every issue if you go back far enough.

You know, maybe he's a little more consistent on trade, but on immigration, on social issues, on economic issues, I mean, he changes his mind sometimes from year to year, sometimes from day-to-day, sometimes from minute to minute. So, that's one thing that's hard with this president, you know, finding where he's going to land on any given day.

BRIGGS: On every side of every issue. John McCormick from "The Weekly Standard", good stuff. We'll see you in about 20 minutes.

We are monitoring this breaking news out of London, a security situation at a train station after what looks like a small explosion during rush hour aboard a train. Details just coming in on what happened in London. We'll check in live there, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:27:14] BRIGGS: All right. Welcome back, everyone.

We're updating you on this breaking news out of London. Met's counterterrorism command now declaring a terrorist incident at a train station.

Here's a statement just in from the Met Police: Officers from Met's counterterrorism command are investigating after an incident on a London tube train this morning. Now, police were called approximately at 8:20, Friday, September 15, Parson's Green, an underground station, following reports of a fire on the trap. That's from the deputy assistant commissioner, Neil Basu, of the CT policing, again, declaring this a terrorist incident.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police service and British transport police attending the scene along with colleagues from London fire brigade and ambulance service. At present we're aware of a number of people suffered injuries, too early to determine the cause of the fire, which would be the subject of the investigation now underway by the Met's counterterrorism command.

The station remains cordoned off and we are advising people to avoid the area. Commuters also being told to avoid the area.

We understand there are injuries both fire related, some burns, some reportedly on the faces of these London passengers, other injuries from those apparently trying to rush off the scene. This in rush hour in London, who has already suffered four terror attacks this year.

Let's get to Erin McLaughlin, who is live for us in London.

Erin, I know you're being cordoned off from that area. What do you know?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, there seems to be more unknowns than knowns at this hour. It's been over two hours since that terrorist now incident authorities are describing as a terrorism-related incidence, was called in, as you can see. Authorities still taking no chances.

Let me step out of the way and show you the scene. We're about a five-minute walk from the train station in question. There is still a heavy police presence, multiple police vans. Authorities are clearing the area, asking pedestrians to stay away.

You can see the police line there saying police in a cordon, do not cross.

Authorities are saying a fire took place on the train. It's unclear what caused the fire. Eyewitnesses saying that as the doors of the train opened, during that morning rush hour, there was what they described as a small explosion, and then there's multiple injuries.

One eyewitness saying he saw as many as 20 people injuries sustained, burn injuries. This particular eyewitness speaking to go local media saying his hair was burned as the doors of that tube station opened. Investigation is still very much under way.