Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Abandons Call for Unity; Trump Considers Closing Border to Migrants; CIA Chief Briefs President; Eleventh Suspicious Package Found; NYPD Investigating NYC Postal Facility; Package Found Addressed to Clapper. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 26, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, happening now, the nationwide manhunt for the serial bomber who targeted high profile critics of the president is focused on a mail facility near Miami. Multiple law enforcement officials tell CNN that all ten packages did go through the U.S. mail system. Several of them did go through that Miami area postal service distribution center.

Joining us now to talk about the investigation, also to talk to us about the tone right now in this country, Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.

Senator Warner, thank you so much for being with us.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: You're the ruling (ph) Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, among other things.

I don't know if you've had a chance to be updated on this investigation. Have you learned anything?

WARNER: I got an update yesterday that, frankly, was not that much different than your reporting.

First of all, I wanted to just say that I'm glad that nobody was hurt. I'm particularly glad -- I mean since your offices were attacked as well. This is a moment when the nation was scared and afraid. I know I've had calls from across Virginia, and one of the things that I think that Mr. Trump doesn't understand is at moments like this it's the job of a president to try to bring us together, to be a bit of a reassuring voice. I know, in a much smaller way, when I was governor of Virginia and we had the sniper incident about 15 years ago, part of my job was just trying to keep the lid on people's concerns.

So, in terms of that test of leadership, at this moment in time, once again Donald Trump doesn't seem to realize that his words now as president really matter. We have not seen him reach out to the two former presidents who were potential victims of this plot. And, instead, we've got him continuing to simply blame the media. I don't think that's doing him any good. I don't think that, frankly, is bringing us together, which he should be doing in this role. And, unfortunately, once again, he's not meeting the test of leadership.

BERMAN: So, again, what you're talking about is at 3:15 -- 3:14 overnight the president again not talking about the investigation on Twitter, not talking about those who were targeted. He put out a tweet criticizing the media.

WARNER: And it's curious he's not even been willing to go forward and compliment the FBI. Of course, this is the same president who, frankly, over the last year and a half, since the beginning of the Mueller investigation, has -- continues to make kind of ad hominem attacks against the FBI, against the Department of Justice.

And part of that almost undermines rule of law. And, again, this whole tenor is not where we should go. We, obviously -- it's partially my responsibility as well and others in both parties to kind of rise above the kind of approach that Donald Trump has brought. That's tough to do in the last few days of an election. But I have been proud of the fact that the vast majority of other public officials have made that call for unity. Donald Trump couldn't even get through part of a political rally without reverting back to the norm.

BERMAN: I want to talk about another development overnight. We've learned that the White House is considering an executive order, a travel ban like executive order, to bar migrants, these apparently about 3,000 now migrants who are 1,000 miles away in Mexico, from coming into the United States. Your reaction?

[08:35:12] WARNER: Well, first, the timing of this caravan, much larger than anything we've seen before. I've asked, and we're trying to get the intelligence community and others to see, why now, why at this moment in time, who would this benefit if this is suddenly in the news.

BERMAN: Are you suggesting that it was ginned up for political purposes?

WARNER: All I'm saying is, we've never seen a caravan of this size. Usually there's been smaller ones that have been about safety. This one seems much, much larger and seems an unusual time.

Now, what I would argue, if the president really wanted to make sure that we increased border security, which I support, he should have taken the bipartisan legislation we had earlier in the year that would have dramatically upped the level of border security, but would have also given a pathway for legal status for the dreamers.

BERMAN: You have no proof that this caravan, though, was ginned up anyone for political purposes here?

WARNER: I have no proof at all. I just simply raised the question --


WARNER: That it seems strange in this timing of this size right before the election. BERMAN: One of the things that Republicans say is that Democrats are

for open borders, which is, of course, not true. But to the question of what should happen to these 3,000, I don't think it will be 3,000 by the time they all get here, but if and when they get to the border, what do you think should happen?

WARNER: I think you have to go through the legal process. I do think you need to protect our border. But I think what we need to recognize, and I'm -- this administration has taken the opposite tact, which is, if we could stop the flow of drugs, if we could curtail the level of violence in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, you would not have these migrants streaming forward, trying to get into our country.

BERMAN: Gina Haspel, the CIA director, has apparently heard the tapes of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Again, you are the lead Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do you have any information about what's on these tapes?

WARNER: I can't confirm those reports. But clearly you even have the Saudi authorities changing their story on an almost daily basis as it appears that Mr. Khashoggi not only was murdered, but obviously murdered by Saudi agents.

BERMAN: And premeditated is now a word being used by the Saudis themselves. Do you believe that the crown prince had knowledge of it beforehand?

WARNER: Again, I'm going to continue to work with the intelligence community to make sure we get all of the facts before I -- before I weigh in on that. But there's clearly enough evidence that I think when Congress comes back, even if this president chooses not to act, that Congress will act.

BERMAN: Were you briefed by the CIA director? She's briefed the president.

WARNER: We have had -- I've had briefings along the way. And I'll continue to get those updates. And it will be appropriate --

BERMAN: Since she -- since she heard the tapes?

WARNER: I'm not going to comment on that. There's been no confirmation of that. I think if and when that is confirmed, we'll go from there.

George Papadopoulos, who, of course, is central to the Russia investigation, or has been a key figure along the way, talked yesterday to House members, Republican House members. They came out of the meeting and they basically said, in short, you know, this guy has nothing. This guy -- the FBI claimed he was the reason why the Russian investigation was started. It should never have been started. He wasn't implicated nearly enough for that.

WARNER: Well, that's one of the reasons -- well, the difference between the House investigation, which is broken down and totally partisan, and the Senate investigation, which has stayed bipartisan, following the facts, recognizing that at the end of the day, you know, Bob Mueller's investigation has to come to a conclusion. Six guilty pleas, over 30 indictments, including an indictment we passed of a Russian that was both indicted for activities in 2016, and activities in terms of trying to interfere in 2018 as well.

BERMAN: Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, again, thank you for being with us. Please come back. Great to have you here on the set with us.

WARNER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.


CAMEROTA: OK, John, the government just released the latest numbers on economic growth. We'll bring you those, next.


[08:42:48] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news, another one. Another suspicious package found. This would be the 11th this week.

So let's get right to CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

Tell us, Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. That's right. So the first thing I want to stress is this is a new package. And I think it's important for viewers to understand, this isn't something that was just received into the postal facility. This appears to be something that was found last night in Florida at the facility that we've been reporting about where the FBI and the local authorities there have been searching.

This package, we're told by one source, was addressed -- by multiple sources in this case -- it was addressed to Cory Booker, the senator of New Jersey.

BERMAN: Democratic senator.

PROKUPECZ: Democratic senator of New Jersey. We're told that there is similar markings, similarities in the other packages that we've been reporting on now all week. So, clearly, another one.

We don't know exactly what was inside. Was it the same kind of pipe bomb. But certainly indications that by all accounts that this is similar to everything else that we have seen.

But I think it's important to note that this is not something new that has come into the system or something they just found. Remember, yesterday, they started searching this sorting facility in Florida. I has given authorities a lot of clues. They sent in bomb sniffing dogs. And it is during that time perhaps that maybe they uncovered this other suspicious package. So now we'll see. And there's, you know, obviously, this is now also in the hands of the FBI, the Miami FBI, the field office in Miami is investigating this package.

CAMEROTA: And this would fit the same pattern in terms of recipients of these packages, James, about people who have been at least rhetorical targets of right wing media and President Trump.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Alisyn, I can only say this, pride goeth before the fall. This is the number one thing that gets criminal caught is that hubris, that thought that I can do this without impunity, the brazenness of sending so many of these. Keep in mind, historically serial bombers have long periods of time of inactivity where they essentially went to ground. The fact that we have this number of devices right now, and there's nothing to suggest right now that we're not going to potentially find more.

The good news is, no casualties. The bad news is, we have somebody out there who is operating with impunity. And I suspect that they are going to make a misstep and law enforcement is going to catch them in short order.

[08:45:11] BERMAN: All right, stand by for a second, because in addition to news that there has been this package recovered in Florida addressed to Cory Booker, we're now learning of police activity, law enforcement activity here in Manhattan, Hell's Kitchen, 52nd and 8th Avenue around a postal facility. They have blocked that off. And they are looking at a suspicious package there.

Shimon, do you have any information on that?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, so I'm told -- so that's really six blocks south from where we are right now, so just so that our viewers understand.

I'm told that this is a sorting facility. That this is a suspicious package. It's a postal facility. A U.S. postal facility. And it's a sorting facility. And apparently we have another situation where police there, the NYPD there, is now investigating this suspicious package.

BERMAN: Any details on this --

PROKUPECZ: Not yet. The bomb squad en route. The emergency services unit, they're probably all there already.

I -- you know, remember yesterday this postal inspector said that they had searched every facility, and they had not found anything as of maybe 4:00 yesterday. So this clearly would be something new. Perhaps it could be another situation where this was sitting in the facility and maybe they were searching this morning where someone came across this. We don't yet know if this is something that just came in this morning.

But, again, this is another sorting facility just like the one we have been talking about this morning in Florida that the FBI's been searching. CAMEROTA: This is what happened yesterday when we were on the air,

James, when -- you know, I'm sure that police get the reports of suspicious packages all the time in this day and age. And so we don't know how seriously to take it until we saw that containment vehicle outside of Robert De Niro's office in Tribeca and then we realized what was happening.

So, you know, during this moment when there were copy cats, et cetera, we never know, you know, what a suspicious package is. But after yesterday's experience, I think that we -- everyone's taking this very serious.

GAGLIANO: And since we're in Manhattan, and one of the most populous places on the planet, and the fact that the U.S. Postal Service, two of their main sorting facilities, the Morgan postal facility and the Farley postal facility, are just within a few blocks from here. A lot of the mail that's going to get sent out to New York state or to people in this hub comes here to be sorted. So a device like this, where, again, it's not booby-trap detonated. It is -- it's got a timer set to it. We don't know how functional these things are. But the fact that there were explosives in these make them inherently unstable devices and dangerous for the folks handling them.

BERMAN: And one of the things that's happening now is we're trying to determine whether or not this is a new round of things that has been sent out. There isn't evidence of that yet. It appears that what people are doing is going back and looking through facilities, postal facilities, sorting facilities, because now they know what to look for. These packages are very, very distinctive. And it appears that's what happened in Florida where they found this new -- this 11th apparent package addressed to Cory Booker.

GAGLIANO: John, the person or the people that are responsible for this, they're not trying to change it up. It's almost like it's a taunt. I'm going to do these in a similar fashion. I'm either sending a message hoping or probably planning that they don't go off, or I want to be so brazen that I want this to be my premature -- my stamp of these things. You're going to see the same return address on it. You're going to see the same six Forever stamps. It's going to be in the same package. The good news is, in the media, we're pushing this out there so that people are aware and they know what to look for.

But you're right, John, there could be more in other facilities.

CAMEROTA: But, Shimon, do we know if it has all the same hallmarks of those other packages? We know that there's something happening in the Opa Locka sorting facility. Do you have anything about what the envelope looks like?

PROKUPECZ: The one in Opa Locka or the one -- the new one?

CAMEROTA: The new one for Cory Booker.

PROKUPECZ: OK, the new one. Yes, we're told that it's similar. So that would make it the eleventh one. So now the one in New York here, just six blocks away from us, I'm

told that a postal inspector found it today and alerted the FBI and then the FBI called the NYPD bomb squad.

CAMEROTA: Do you know who it was addressed to?

PROKUPECZ: We don't know who it was addressed to. Obviously a concern. I'm telling you this, that there is concern that this is going to be another one. We'll see. We haven't seen any of the photos yet. We don't have any information yet. NYPD is there. We're waiting to hear. But it all makes sense, another sorting facility. So this could potentially be the 12th one.

BERMAN: I'm listening to your language very closely here. Shimon, you're such a good reporter and you protect your sources very, very well. The idea that it was a postal inspector who spotted this, in other words, in someone trained to know what they're looking for is the one who spotted this.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BERMAN: Which, to me, indicates perhaps there is a reason to believe this is real.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's exactly right. And that person did, you know, just call the FBI. You know, as postal inspectors, this is their job. Maybe they were in there today searching. They got into an area perhaps maybe they had not searched until today. But clearly something on this. This isn't just a normal concern for a postal inspector.

I think you make a very good point, the fact that this postal inspector called -- directly called the FBI and the FBI now called the NYPD bomb squad.

[08:50:05] So we're going to see probably a very similar situation outside this post office to -- this sorting facility, to what we saw outside of CNN just days ago. A massive response. You can hear it there right now on our air. You're going to see the bomb squad coming in. You're going to -- we're going to see that truck again, that containment truck probably come in and remove whatever it is. And so there's a huge, massive response now by the NYPD and the FBI here.

CAMEROTA: What we're seeing on our screen right now is the evacuation that's going on underway. This is midtown Manhattan, 52nd Street and 8th. They -- as we know, there is a sort -- a postal sorting facility on this block. And so you're seeing -- we had video of it, but this is -- OK, here we go -- of people having to -- once again we know this all too well this week from what happened at our CNN headquarters, when you hear the sirens and you hear the announcement, you have to get out of the building. And so this is what's happening with all of these folks. They're being moved to a safe area. And you can hear the police trying to alert them right now, James.

GAGLIANO: Yes. And I'll tell you, with what we're looking at on the screen right here, that is blocks away from Times Square. So these devices, again, people look at it and say, well, it's only a six inch pipe bomb. Well, it was on encased in PVC piping or the shrapnel was just glass. Here's what people need to do. If you see something that looks in any way out of whack, any way uncommon, step away from it. Don't take a picture of it. Don't call others over to it. Call 911 or call the FBI. Call 911 first and then call the FBI tip line as soon as feasible.

BERMAN: There's nothing fake about those sirens. There's nothing fake about those police officers. There's nothing fake about those people being moved away, as there is new concern about another package of this mail facility about six blocks from where we are in Manhattan.

Also, nothing fake about this apparent package discovered in Opa Locka, Florida, this mail sorting facility, addressed to Cory Booker.

We just learned that the air space over this facility has been closed, which is interesting. And that could just be precautionary because they did find a device there. Maybe they're concerned about finding more.

Our Rosa Flores is standing by outside the facility where, again, an 11th apparent package, could be a bomb, this one addressed to Cory Booker, just discovered there.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, the -- what Shimon described really jives with what we saw on the ground here yesterday evening because all of a sudden the bomb squad arrived. There were K- 9s in the area. And so it really jives with the idea that a package would be found here.

Now, when we asked Miami-Dade Police about the activity here, they said that this was only precautionary, that they were helping their federal partners as a precautionary measure. Now, based on the information that Shimon is reporting, that's probably not the case because that was probably when that package was found.

But a few other points that really stand out to me from Shimon's reporting, not just here but in New York, from talking to the employees that work in this facility, I've talked to multiple of them yesterday, they told me that there's about 20 inspectors, postal inspectors, in this facility looking for suspicious packages. So, for example, when, John, you were talking about, you know, this postal inspector calling the FBI, calling 911 about a suspicious package, that's what employees described to me here yesterday. They said that they had what is called a service talk. In essence, it's a meeting letting all of the employees know, the employees that in those -- on those machines processing the packages, letting them know what the package looked like, what they should look for, making sure that their -- they were careful while they were trying to identify these packages.

And then the postal inspectors are right there. They're in the building. So these employees contact their manager. The manager contacts the postal inspector. And then the postal inspectors are trained to identify, to handle and to manage the situation. CAMEROTA: Yes.

FLORES: So that's a little background there.

And then the only other thing that I've got to add is, I just really think about the people that I met here yesterday, these employees that are working in this facility, who were telling me that they were just hoping to go home safely.

John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So, listen, once again we find ourselves, Rosa, in a split screen situation. So there is suspicious activity and an envelope addressed to Cory Booker happening in Florida. And now from Florida to the right side of your screen, this is New York City, where there was an unfolding situation where another building has had to be evacuated, just as we've seen this week several times. And this is where we find our Jason Carroll. He's at 52nd and 8th.

Tell us what's happening there on the ground, Jason.


At 52nd and 8th, it's a postal facility located just six blocks out of CNN headquarters in New York. That postal facility has been evacuated. The streets here have been blocked off. And we are told that the evacuation was triggered shortly after workers here discovered another package. The package having similar markings to the packages, of course, that we've seen delivered at -- earlier this week.

[08:55:14] So right now we've got a number of emergency crews who are here. The streets are blocked off. I can see the postal workers across the street were standing outside waiting for word, waiting for more information about specifically what is going on.

But, again, this postal facility located just six blocks south of CNN right here in New York. And so, once again, we're seeing a familiar scene that we've been seeing played out earlier this week where we've got now police dogs, we've got investigators coming in, more emergency vehicles coming in here as well as they try to determine, try to investigate what is being -- what is happening here.


BERMAN: All right, Jason, standby there if you will. I just want to read you a tweet from the FBI that came out moments ago confirming our reporting. It says the FBI has confirmed an 11th package has been recovered in Florida similar in appearance to the others. This one addressed to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat from New Jersey. That's Florida.

On your screen is New York, because this postal facility, this sorting facility here in New York, has been evacuated. You can hear the sirens there. There is concern about yet another package there, which would be the 12th. Shimon Prokupecz has been working his sources left, right and center.

He's here with us now.

Shimon, tell us what you've learned and also this key question, which is, this could be the 11th and 12th package we know. But we don't know whether they were sent at the same time as all the others or whether this is a new wave.

PROKUPECZ: That's the -- that's the important thing here is that this could be packages that were just sitting in the facility and they were just found. It sounds like the one in Florida, the 11th one that the FBI is now confirming in their tweet. You know, that sounds like something that had been there and they were searching and they found it. It doesn't sound like that just came in. But, we'll see.

This one is interesting because --

CAMEROTA: The one in New York City.

PROKUPECZ: The New York City one because the postal inspector said they were searching -- they had searched some of these sorting facilities yesterday and they had not found anything suspicious. So it could be maybe that they didn't fully search this one and they did actually find it just this morning.

I see you were pointing at me.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm -- just to be clear here, because we can report this now, this package found in New York City at the postal facility is similar --

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BERMAN: To the other packages.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, I am told -- yes, that is correct. That is why you're seeing this response. I'm told by a source that it is similar to what we've seen.


So, Jason, listen, we all remember here, at least at CNN, what happened when we had to be evacuated on Wednesday morning and the chaos that that caused in midtown Manhattan, around Columbus Circle. What -- set the scene for us of what's happening there now on 52nd Street.

CARROLL: Well, I just spoke to a postal worker just a short while ago, Alisyn, and I said, what happened? He said, look, we were just told a package was found and we were told to leave immediately. So, again, it's very much like what happened early this week to us at CNN where you had the postal workers filing out, moving out now across the street as they've been evacuated, as you have investigators moving in and cordoning off the scene and trying to complete their investigation. Again, we were told that the package found here at the facility at

52nd and 8th Avenue, which, again, is located, for folks unfamiliar with New York City, just six blocks south of (INAUDIBLE). So very close to where you are right now.

So what we have now in terms of the scene where you've got two main thoroughfares, 52nd and 8th Avenue, as investigators are coming in to try (INAUDIBLE) traffic, as you can imagine, as a number of people are trying to head to work, trying to figure out what's going on. And it's not just the postal facility because, you know, you've got a postal facility but also apartment buildings that are located on this street. So you've got folks who are still trying to figure out, can I get back to my apartment? Can I get in? Can I get out? So you've got a bit of organized chaos here as investigators move in and again try to get this package set aside. And, again, the package that we are told matches the same description of the packages that we've seen delivered earlier this week.

BERMAN: Jason -- Jason, stand by. Stand by.

CAMEROTA: It's just so loud there, I'm sure.

BERMAN: We're going to -- yes, I'm sorry, Jason can't hear us right now. I want to cut off Jason Carroll because we do have breaking news. We just got confirmation this, in fact, is a 12th bomb.

And, Shimon Prokupecz, who was this one addressed to?

PROKUPECZ: James Clapper. Obviously James Clapper, who is a contributor to CNN, former head of the DNI, and also a huge critic, obviously, of the president, of President Trump. He's been out there voicing his opinions, disagreeing with a lot of stuff.

So here we have another former official of -- with close ties obviously to the Democrats perhaps who was the intended target in this package. So it's James Clapper. This package, I'm told by sources, was addressed to James Clapper. We don't know -- now, I know James Clapper. He doesn't live in New York. So it's going to be interesting to see where it was going.

CAMEROTA: Where it was going.

[09:00:12] PROKUPECZ: Was it addressed to perhaps CNN.