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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  October 24, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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scary morning, at least five suspicious packages picked up, addressed to different politicians and to cnn. obviously, the intent was to scare. none went off. no one hurt. but a message was certainly sent as the investigation continues, so does our consideration of how to make this better. jake tapper picks up our coverage now. this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to "the lead," i'm jake tapper. we begin with breaking news in our national lead. the fbi and other law enforcement agencies are trying to figure out who sent at least six suspicious packages to a number of high-profile targets, including former president bill and hillary clinton in chappaqua, new york. former president barack and michelle obama in washington, d.c., former obama attorney general, eric holder, though it was sent to the wrong address, so it was sent back to the return address, which was oddly democratic congresswoman, debbie wasserman schultz in sunrise,
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florida. billionaire financier, george soros. democratic congresswoman, maxine waters on capitol hill. and, of course, this device sent to cnn's new york headquarters and addressed to former obama cia director, john brennan, care of cnn. minutes ago, the time warner center where cnn is located was finally cleared by law enforcement and reopened. it is early yet in this investigation. no doubt we will learn more details and perhaps assertions made by law enforcement at this hour will be ultimately updated. right now law enforcement is describing many of the packages as containing rudimentary but operative explosive devices. or bombs. meaning the intention appears to be mass murder. and though we do not know the name or motive of any suspect, investigators have no doubt taken note of the fact that all of the targets are people the that president trump has strongly publicly criticized. the white house said today that president trump is being
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constantly updated. minutes ago, without mentioning any names of the intended targets, the president addressed the situation publicly. >> the safety of the american people is my highest and absolute priority. the full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to just e justice. in these times, we have to unify. we have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the united states of america. >> we have a team of reporters and analysts covering every angle of the story. they're in new york and washington and florida, where the package to eric holder turned up. let's begin with cnn's miguel marquez outside time warner
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center. i think it's fair to say law enforcement has no idea how many bombs like these are out there. >> reporter: yeah, that's exactly it. that is the biggest concern right now. are there more bombs out there? and certainly a national hunt under way to figure out just who is responsible. this is the device sent to cnn's new york offices today, in an incident some are calling an act of terror. today packages containing explosive devices discovered in multiple locations around the country, many addressed to prominent democratic officials and politicians. >> this clearly is an act of terror. attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence. >> reporter: the scene played out in part on live television, shortly after 10:00 a.m., when a fire alarm could be heard going off. >> they were explosive devices, and to have projectiles -- that's a -- [ alarm sounding ]
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>> that sounds like a fire alarm. we'll keep you posted on that. tom fuentes, if you're still hearing us here -- they're connected now? >> reporter: a minute later, poppy harlow and jim sciutto were evacuating cnn's new york headquarters, along with hundreds of employees, tourists and new yorkers were neighboring buildings. >> there's a fire alarm here. >> you might have heard it in the background. we're going to find out what the latest is. >> we'll be right back. >> reporter: authorities responded quickly and en masse. >> responding officers identified a device that appeared to be a live explosive device. additionally, there was an envelope containing white powder that was discovered as part of that original packaging. >> reporter: the package addressed to former cia director, john brennan, who has appeared on cnn air, but is not a cnn contributor, just one of many targets. multiple other bombs were intercepted by authorities today. one bomb mailed to former president barack obama's office in d.c., where the secret service found it during a routine mail screening before it
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ma made it to their home. another bomb mailed to former president bill and hillary clinton's home, also intercepted by the secret service. a bomb send to former attorney general eric holder had the wrong address and was returned to debbie wasserman schultz's office in florida, because that was on the return label on the package. most recently, a suspicious package returned to trump critic congresswoman, maxine waters, was discovered at a congressional sorting facility in maryland. and on monday, wealthy democratic donor, george soros, also received a bomb. a law enforcement official tells cnn the initial examination of all the devices shows them to be constructed similarly. at least one of the devices appeared to contain projectiles, including shards of glass. the devices are rudimentary, but functional. now, there is no doubt that one person or persons are responsible for these. in part, because of the return addresses.
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the return addresses for the soros bomb, the obamas, the clintons, the one that came to brennan here at cnn, all of them had the same return address. that of debbie wasserman schultz, former dnc chair. officials looking at that. also the make-up of the bombs themselves to figure out and piece together who is responsible. jake? >> miguel marquez in new york, thank you so much. evan perez joins me now. evan, many of these suspicious packages had that return address of congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz, who obviously did not send these packages. why do law enforcement officials think the bomber likely did that? >> jake, i think part of what they're examining right now is that that is part of the message. now, as you said, they haven't identified this is terrorism. but one of the things they will be looking at is whether someone had a political motive. obviously, the thing we've noticed for the packages that for most of the packages so far have been democrats, people associated with the democratic
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party. or people who have been criticizing the president and his administration. so that's where they're beginning their investigation. and so that part of the package, the package, the label that says debbie wasserman schultz, is definitely one of the big clues that they're looking at, jake. >> and evan, sources telling cnn that the packages delivered to soros and to cnn did not go through the u.s. mail. what do we know about that? >> right. exactly. and this is potentially a huge clue for investigators. the fact that this was a -- these were packages, the one that was delivered to the soros address outside of new york city, was hand-delivered and put there in their mailbox. it was discovered by an employee of george soros. and that's the reason -- that's why this morning the new york police department was already going, fanning out in new york city, including to the cnn building, to show people what that package looked like. because they wanted to alert
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people what these packages might -- that might be arriving, what to look for, jake. they already were suspecting that there would be more of this. so that's the reason why i think investigators think that this could be a big clue, which is the idea that someone somewhere would have hand-delivered this, means perhaps that person was involved in this. >> and how sophisticated were these bombs? were these explosive devices? >> they're not very sophisticated. but even an unsophisticated device can kill people. the problem with this is that, you know, these devices could go off in the mail. and, you know, look, the person who is doing this, the people who are doing this, perhaps, are targeting these officials, these democrats, these critics of the president. but the people who are actually going to be hand-delivering or handling these packages are mail carriers. they're low-level employees in the mail room. so anyone could be hurt by one of these packages, jake. >> evan perez, thank you so much. let's discuss with this
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supervisory agent james gallano in the ground in new york. and also with me in studio is phil mudd, who spent years in the cia and fbi. james, what do you think the fbi agents assigned to this case are doing right now? >> first of all, jake, the big question is who has purview for this. back in 1998, president clinton be signed a presidential decision directive 62 that gives the fbi purview in potential acts of terror. and, again, from our perspective in law enforcement, we assume terrorism until proven otherwise. so i was here this morning. i saw the emergency services unit or the nypd, because they're the first responders and they're great. they took a device out of the cnn building. look, the part of trying to figure out who did this is secondary to making sure there are no other devices out there, there is no conspiracy afoot to mail more of these or deliver these, because crisis resolution, keeping people safe, the most important thing and of paramount concern to law enforcement. the secondary aspect then is then to go through and try to
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pick -- piece together what happened. every bomb-maker, just like a baker making a particular apple pie, has a particular signature. how they crimp their wires, the tool marks on the device. the taping they use or how they put the return address on. so investigators are going to be looking at these. the good news here, jake, is nobody has been hurt. and secondarily, the devices have not been exploded. unless there is a controlled debt nati detonation later, we now have that as a treasure trove of evidence going forward. >> and phil, what other agencies, other than the fbi and nypd do you think are involved here, and what are they doing right now? >> let me give a couple examples. the secret service and postal service. you look at the questions you would have in this case and the immediate question obviously is what is the device. are there fingerprints on the package. in the background, there are a lot of agencies involved. on the secret service side, one of the questions you have, have there been people in the past who have made threats that look like this threat, talked about these specific individuals, for example. those people might have been
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subjects of the secret service in the past. let's look through that vast amount of information. postal service. they are really good at tracking packages. how do you track these packages? did they go through the postal service? where did they originate? can we track it back to origination and figure out, for example, was there a postal clerk who saw the person? if the person went to an actual post office? so you think about the fbi or local police. there's a ton of people looking at this, jake. >> and james, i assume the presumption by the fbi and others right now is that all of these incidents are connected. >> jake, that's the important piece as we try to piece together who did this or whether or not there was a conspiracy. and what's important here is the link analysis. again, was there a team of people doing this or one individual in particular? look, the thing about bombs, bombs are designed to inflict terror. because you've got the piece where, yes, they can injure you. three things bombs do. the overpressure, which causes soft tissue damage.
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the potential shrapnel, if there was a pipe bomb or nails or any other type of metal shards that could impale you. and thirdly, the thermal effect. bombs when they explode typically set off fires and people can perish that way. once we establish the device is either inert or this was a crude device that the bomb-maker wasn't really skilled and it's not lethal, now their determination has got to be who did this, who is behind this or was this a false flag operation or was this somebody literally just trying to send these devices out to cause terror and panic? but before we can call it terrorism, that's got to come from law enforcement. so we've got to be very careful in what we call it until law enforcement says that definitively. >> james, let me follow up with what you said. you said one of the things of many they'll be looking into, law enforcement, whether or not this is a false flag operation. explain what you mean by that. >> reporter: certainly. so we know that some of the labels that were attached, the return address was debbie wasserman schultz. was this person sending these
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devices out hoping they weren't going to get through, there was not enough postage on them, they were going to be rejected ask sent back to that address? was this somebody trying to suggest or try to fool people into thinking that a democratic politician would be mailing these out? was this somebody on the other side of the political divide that was trying to stoke fear and make it look like this was coming from somebody on the left? the device, from every special agent bomb technician in the fbi i've spoken to today, and i've spoken to a number of them, has suggested this was rudimentary. this was so basic, it's almost like the person that mailed these out, jake, wanted to be caught. why do i say that? excessi excessive postage on all of the devices. too much tape or string. just the manner in which it was put together. and the device that was found at cnn itself, we still don't know if it had the four bomb components in it, meaning a power supply, an initiator, a switch, and then actual explosives themselves. but from the outside, it looks like a crude lie packaged pipe
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bomb, which could either be pvc piping or some type of cast iron, some device like that. it just doesn't look like the signature of an experienced bomb-maker, somebody that knew what they were doing. a lot of theories afoot. we've got to be careful. can't call it terrorism until law enforcement comes out and does some link analysis and suggests that somebody mailed these for political or social purpose. >> and phil, you know former cia director john brennan. the package was sent to him, care of cnn. of course, he doesn't work for c cnn. he works for a different channel. how do you think he's doing? have you managed to reach him? >> i have not talked -- i can think of a couple things he would be thinking about with some confidence. he's a tough bird. this is one of the toughest people i saw in 25 years in the business. i don't think he would look at this and say i'm scared. that said, he's been a prominent critic of the president. a lot of people are coming out today and saying despite what the white house said, the president is responsible for things like going out in the political rally and saying it's okay for a politician to body slam a reporter. that environment you create by saying things like that is not appropriate. i wouldn't be surprised if john
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comes out, because he is in the political sphere and says, you know, i'm not worried. i'm not scared. but we cannot have an environment where we suggest to people that it's okay to commit an act of violence against anybody, including a journalist. >> yeah. and, of course, we don't know who did this. we don't know their motive. we have no idea. but it does come at a time that there's a hostile environment, and there's a lot of political violence against democrats, against republicans. james gallano, given that these packages were sent all over the country, how are the various law enforcement agencies working together on this? i think you said that the fbi has a supervisory role? >> reporter: sure. the fbi is going to have purview. again, jake, we are assuming terrorism until proven otherwise. now, people are getting into the weeds. is this domestic terrorism? is this some violent extremist group? is it from overseas? we don't know yet. so what law enforcement is doing and i'm telling you right now, the fbi is working hand in glove
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right now with the new york police department, as well as phil pointed out the postal inspectors, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. they have unexploded devices right now. now, they're going to take those apart, they're going to disassemble those. if those need to be control-detonated, meaning we need to separate the initiator from the actual explosives themselves, if there are explosives, that will take place there in a secure environment. and then from there, as i said before, every bomb-maker has a signature. they're just like bakers. so we're going to go through there. is there something that fits the profile of a bomb-maker we're familiar with? was this something somebody took out of the anarchist's cookbook where they got information and decided to do something to make people fear? because remember, whether the device goes off or not, look at the panic that ensues. it shuts down a couple of city blocks here in manhattan right behind me and people are concerned. that's what a terrorist wants to do. before we can definitively state it's terrorism, we have to hear that from the fbi and the new
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york city police department. >> and phil, let me ask you. when you look at this bomb, one thing that some people asked me earlier today was, how much damage can something that small do? my impression were covering afghanistan and iraq, a pretty small improvised explosive device can do a lot of harm. what do you see when you look at that image? >> i see a couple of things. first, i remember back to when people started talking to me about things that weren't that sophisticated. timothy mcveigh. not a sophisticated human being. oklahoma city, going back to the '90s, incredibly devastating. i understand why we talk about the lack of sophistication. it suggests, for example, there's not a huge conspiracy. maybe that somebody didn't get training overseas. but the lethality of stuff like this can be tremendous. the other thing i think we haven't mentioned that i take away as an analyst, regardless of the sophistication of the devices, somebody indicated intent. they're willing to take action to murder or maim innocents. so there is somebody with a mind out there who might say, if i didn't succeed today and they don't get me, i'm going back
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tomorrow. intent is critical. >> james and phil, stick around. in the wake of this incident, president trump sticking to his planned schedule today, including a rally this evening in wisconsin. late this afternoon, the president held a previously planned opioid prevention event at the white house, where notably first lady melania trump first made remarks on the suspicious devices. president trump then spoke going off his prepared remarks, to say he's extremely angry and upset about what happened with these bombs. cnn's jeff zeleny is at the white house. and jeff, the president also said americans must unify in light of this. >> reporter: jake, he did. he said acts of political violence have no place in the u.s. but what he did not say is the fact that he is the very person often sowing these seeds of anger and distrust, going after the same people targeted today. >> this egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as americans. >> reporter: in the east room of the white house, president trump
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condemning the attempted act of violence today through explosive devices sent to cnn and high-ranking democratic leaders. >> the full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice. we will spare no resources or expense in this effort. >> reporter: the president issuing a rare call for civility. >> in these times, we have to unify. we have to come together. and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message. that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the united states of america. >> reporter: but not mentioning that he is often the one sowing division. those targeted, the clintons, obamas, former attorney general eric holder, congresswoman maxine waters, democratic, george soros and cnn, all favorite subjects of attack at campaign rallies. >> if you want the fake news to
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finally investigate hillary clinton, we'll just have -- [ cheers and applause ] man. >> don't worry, i don't like him either, okay? good old maxine. low iq individual. >> reporter: and the president is routinely accusing his rivals of sparking violence. >> the choice in november could not be more clear. democrats produce mobs. republicans produce jobs. right? >> reporter: after briefings by federal authorities, the president did not echo the words of new york city mayor, bill de blasio, who said that package bombs were a clear act of terrorism. the mayor urging the president and all officials to cool their heated rhetoric. >> all public officials of all partisan affiliations, don't encourage violence. don't encourage hatred.
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don't encourage attacks on media. this atmosphere of hatred is contributing to the choices people are making to turn to violence. >> reporter: republican senator jeff flake of arizona echoing the message from the democratic mayor. >> we've got to tone it down. we've got to see people as opponents, but not enemies. >> reporter: 13 days before the midterm elections, the attempted attacks carrying strong political overtones. speaking in florida today, hillary clinton, the recipient of one of the devices, praised law enforcement for stopping the package before it reached her chappaqua home. >> but it is a troubling time, isn't it? and it's a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together. >> reporter: so what the president did not say today in the east room was whether if he believes this is an act of domestic terrorism. we tried to ask him after that
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bill-signing event. he would not say. now, he has been receiving briefings throughout the day here at the white house, including from the director of the fbi. he'll be leaving the white house shortly. we'll see if he adds more on to this at all. jake, the central question, as he heads to a campaign rally tonight in wisconsin, is his tone going to be the same there? or is it going to be the call for civility that we heard in the east room today coming 13 days before the midterm election? jake? >> jeff zeleny, thanks so much. i want to bring in cnn national security analyst, lisa monaco, former assistant to president obama for homeland security and counterterrorism. good to see you, as always. you were homeland security adviser in 2013. when letters testing positive for ricin were sent to positive obama and congress, what's the process that the white house and authorities are likely going through right now? >> that's exactly right, jake. so what happened there was the standoff facility, so the facilities outside the white house, outside congress and at some distance, were able to fend
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off and see this and detect that envelope before it reached its intended targets. now, what happened in that instance is i was immediately on the phone with the head of the centers for disease control, with the director of the fbi, who was at that time bob mueller, and with a host of other officials in the government to figure out what did we know, what could we detect, was this a real source of attack in those envelopes? and all of that is going on right now. i think my sense would be that right now the fbi is standing up a command post inside what's called the siac, strategic information center, bring in information from where these packages were found or mailed. all of that information is going to be pooled. it's going to be shared back out with the white house, with the intelligence community, with the rest of the federal government
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national security team. so they are up to date on exactly what the investigators are finding. all of that is going to be pooled and is going to be reported almost as soon as it's gotten back out to the national security community. >> you've also had threats directed at you specifically during your time of public service. what kinds of precautions might the public officials here, the clintons, obamas, soros, maxine waters, debbie wasserman schultz, eric holder, what might they be taking right now? what kind of precautions? >> so, look, i've been -- i was very fortunate. i never had any suspicious package mailed to me. i did have harassing mail sent to my home. and i was the subject, as was my family, the subject of threats from individuals who were later arrested. thank you for the very good work by the secret service and federal, state and local partners on that. the secret service is exceptionally able. they, luckily, were able to intercept this with regard to
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the mailings to president obama and president clinton. obviously, that is not the case with regard to the mailings to former attorney general holder. he does not have secret service protection. but those secret service agents and those protective details have protocols, some of which i'm quite confident they activated last night and this morning to be able to protect their protectees. they are going to be sharing information back with the local law enforcement community in the areas where their protectees are in order to thwart any subsequent attempts, and, again, feeding into that information center. >> there are often scares when it comes to suspicious packages, but this device was described by a law enforcement official as, quote, rudimentary but functional. the nypd said it appeared to be live, the one sent to cnn headquarters. what do you make of that? >> so, that's very concerning, jake.
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i mean, rudimentary, but functional means rudimentary and potentially lethal. certainly, the people handling that, unbeknownst to them, folks in the mail room, civilians who came into contact with those packages before they reached their intended destination, all of those individuals were potentially at risk. so we're going to know a lot more as the investigation goes on, and as the commonality -- potential commonality between those devices is understood and the investigation proceeds. but what i understand from the reporting thus far is rudimentary but functional could mean rudimentary but deadly. >> the fact that there's a number of these packages, at least six, adoes that give you confidence that law enforcement will likely be able to figure out who is behind this with so many clues? >> look, i'm confident that the joint terrorism task force, which is going to be operating in each one of these locations and pooling information, which is, of course, fbi-led, but very
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importantly, jake, has representatives from state and local partners in all of these jurisdictions. they're going to pool their information, their intelligence. the common thread here seems to be this common return address. there will no doubt be leads developed about how these items may have been couriered. some of them, i understand, as the reporting is coming in thus far, they were not actually mailed but may have been couriered. all of those things are going to be potential leads and i'm very confident the fbi working with its state and local partners like the atf and other entities are going to be pooling those common data points and that's going to give them a lot to go on. >> if you were advising president trump right now, what would you tell him? >> jake, i've been in that room, advising former president -- advising president obama in the
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wake of the boston marathon bombing. in the wake of this ricin attack. in the wake of mass shootings. the important thing is always to try and bring the country together. to explain to the country, this is what we are doing to keep you safe. this is what we know, importantly, this is what we don't know. but very importantly, the job of the president in a crisis like this, in a situation like this, is to try and bring the country together, to appeal to the better angels of our nature. and that is the type of message that in the past i've been privileged to be a part of with the former president. >> lisa monaco, always good to have you on. thank you so much for your time and expertise. i want to bring in cnn law enforcement analyst and former supervisory agent, josh campbell. josh, what will help investigators determine a clear motive right now? >> so there are a lot of clues here, mike. my dear friend lisa monaco talked about the commonalities. there is another set of commonalities investigators will look at in order to dig into the mind set of the person who did
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this. and that is the target set. the people that were targeted, where devices were actually sent. i know some people will look at this through a political lens. law enforcement officers won't care about the politics of it. but we can't lose sight of the fact that all of the targets here have these commonalities. they're all democrats or in progressive circles or have been the subject of wrath from the president, from his allies and such. so that's going to be key, because, again, investigators are trying to determine who is responsible. so the motivation will all go back to why was the person actually targeting these people, and in order to do that, you have to develop that target set. i will tell you, jake, one thing that is really troubling here, we've talked about the device and this crude nature. we know that just because the device is unsophisticated doesn't mean it's not going to kill. but one of the larger i think threats here that is remaining that is still ongoing when you talk about the polarization, when you talk about the toxic climate good it, in fact, turns out and we don't know, but if it turns out this person was acting because of the heated rhetoric, because these officials who were targeted were also facing wrath from, you know, politicians, then what that means is that
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there is a segment of the population out there that's predisposed to act on these violent tendencies, based on what leaders and based on what they're saying and hearing and tweeting. so, again, that actually makes it more concerning for me as a former law enforcement officer. i'm not so much concerned whether this is a master bomb-maker. either way, this person can be deadly. if it turns out to be a mental issue or something of that nature, that still means you have people out there that are taking in this messaging, that are acting on it. it's very troubling. >> and obviously, just to clarify, you said they're all democrats or progressives. the cnn package, the package that went to cnn was addressed to john brennan, former cia director, care of cnn. we don't know, actually, brennan's political party. >> right. >> but he worked for a democrat and has been very critical of president trump. josh, let me ask you, how will investigators piece together clues from all of these devices? >> so we have multiple crime scenes that are now being unified. so obviously we have different sites where these packages were
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delivered. all of the forensic data is actually being taken to the fbi's laboratory, quantico, virginia. they have a terrorist explosive device analytical center. this is a conglomeration of bomb experts who work on these devices. if you think about from the wars in afghanistan and iraq, they were the ones onsite, processing devices, building this database, any type of explosive in the united states that they gather from partners over at atf go into this database where experts can go through a device, analyze it, determine are these signatures we have seen before. are these ingredients that we have seen before. and, you know, it doesn't take an expert to understand that different types of material, different types of ingredients, may be found only in certain places. so in going through these devices, again, depending on what the makeup is, depending on what the signature is, they can then work backwards and determine, okay, this is a type of material we can find in this part of the country or that part of the country. that will be part of that investigation and then the posting itself. we're looking at the package there. you know, the u.s. government has come a long way in the last decade at being able to track
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packages sent through the mail. i did so when i was in the fbi working backwards with u.s. postal inspection service in order to identify where certain devices would come. people think that, well, we just look at the return address or look at a label coding. it's a lot more sophisticated than that. i won't go into specifics, but i can tell you, the law enforcement officers are very good at what they do. and if these devices were indeed sent through the u.s. postal service, through some type of commercial delivery service, there is a level of sophistication there that i think in short order they'll be able to track this back. again, the question for all of us is, will they be able to get to this person or group of people before they continue to act again? we're not out of the woods yet. >> josh campbell, thanks so much. stick around. joining me now in new york city is new york city mayor, bill de blasio. of course, one of the explosive devices was received at cnn's bureau addressed to former cia director, john brennan. mr. mayor, thanks for joining us. you have described this as an act of terror. the national counterterrorism center has yet to do so. why the disagreement there?
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>> look, i feel this, and i know the nypd does, as well, jake. that here was an effort to intimidate, to use violence for political ends. that's terrorism. and we take it very, very seriously in this city. this city has experienced terrorism. we don't take it lightly. but i also have to say, as you can see around me here in new york city, i'm really proud of new yorkers today. they are going about their lives. they're showing the resiliency that makes this place great. people are not being cowed by this. but we have no doubt that this is an act of terror. >> the situation has been obviously continually evolving in terms of the number of devices we've heard about. last time i checked, it was six devices, including one sent to congresswoman maxine waters on capitol hill. has the situation been contained, or is this still ongoing and we don't know how many of these devices are out there? >> we have to assume it's ongoing. now, i want to be clear.
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from the perspective of new york city, there is no credible and specific threat at this point to any location in new york city. but that being said, clearly, there's a pattern here that we're taking very, very seriously. and the message i want to give to everyone in new york, but even beyond around the country is, if you see a suspicious package, take it seriously. don't dismiss it. call the authorities. call 911. treat it urgently. because something is going on here, and we need people to act out of an abundance of caution. obviously, what's happened here is directed for political purposes. and i want to say, jake, i really give everyone at cnn credit for showing the right professional attitude and continuing programming, continuing to stay focused, despite this threat. people at cnn should be very proud of that. but something is happening here. we have to take seriously. we should not assume it's only a one-day thing. there needs to be a sense of vigilance. and one of the things we have learned in new york city, as good as our first responders
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are, they get a lot better when they have the full participation of the public. so anyone who gets a package that arouses suspicion, they need to alert the authorities right away. >> law enforcement sources tell cnn, the package sent to cnn in new york city was delivered by courier. are there any leads there? does that give you more confidence that this will help authorities figure out who did it? >> look, there's a confidence that eventually our joint terrorism task force, all of our federal and state partners and the nypd are going to get to the bottom of this. the track record is really strong. i don't think it's going to be an overnight thing. these packages potentially came from a long way away and did not have an easy tracking to them. but historically, we've been able to ultimately put the pieces together. i think people should assume it's going to take at least days, if not longer. and that we're not out of the
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woods here until the perpetrators are found. again, that's why that attitude, if you see something, say something, i want everyone to take that to heart right now until this is solved. >> obviously, not only the device sent to john brennan, care of cnn in the building right near you, but devices sent to george soros and bill and hillary clinton in westchester county, right outside new york city. what specific precautions are you taking in new york right now in the wake of this? what are law enforcement officers doing, other than investigating the three packages sent in new york? to new york? >> yeah, we're taking a very proactive approach. look, obviously, media outlets have been a target. so we have our counterterrorism forces, very visibly in front of key media companies. also some prominent political figures have been targets. we have additional anti-terrorism forces in front
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of their offices, as well. there's going to be a very robust presence. and here's what i find that new yorkers find that reassuring. i think people all over this country find it reassuring. part of what we have to do in this moment, jake, is recognize, it's a bitter, negative moment in our nation's history. we've had these challenges before. they don't go on forever. they may feel painful and persistent, but we're going to get over this. we're going to get past this. ultimately, this is a very good and decent country full of people who try and do the right thing. these moments bring us down, but what i think is crucial for people to recognize is this is a moment in time. the way we answer this hatred is by being in solidarity with each other, looking out for each other, being vigilant, recognizing that the information you hear, something you might not be sure is important or not. but in the hands of law enforcement, may prove to be a crucial clue. and i think that sense of everyone helping each other out
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is what we need at this moment. >> president trump said earlier today, americans must unify in the wake of this incident. that's a message you shared earlier today, as well. but obviously, there are a lot of people who look at the list of targets and see that all of them are individuals that president trump has been very critical of, and sometimes it's gone, you know -- sometimes they have also been critical of president trump. and on the right, some of president trump's most prominent supporters, at least on -- in social media, are suggesting this is all just a liberal hoax. >> well, talk to the nypd and the fbi and they'll tell you it's not a hoax. this is a real thing. the bomb that was removed from the building right by here was a serious bomb, and that's why it's now at a secure facility of the nypd and ultimately be transferred to an fbi facility. this is the real thing. as to the atmosphere that's been created, look, it would be wrong
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in this moment to start pointing fingers and calling names. but it's right to say, creating a peaceful, respectful approach and a peaceful, respectful society starts at the top. and when you talk about the president or any other elected officials or prominent voices, people start -- need to start preaching peace right now. they need to start talking about treating each other with respect. especially the attacks on the media have been corrosive and unfair. look, if you can disagree with the media -- there's no place in this society for calling for violence against the people who report the news. and that -- you talk about a founding principle in this country. this is a country unlike probably any other in the world that believed a free press was necessary to a functioning democracy. this was foundational to the documents that built this nation. and i think it's something the president needs to take to heart. start sending a message of respect for people of different
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beliefs. if you want to disagree with someone, disagree with them politically. disagree at the ballot box. but never, ever threaten bodily harm. unfortunately, there are a lot of people keying off the president and keying off of other voices of hate. and there's results to that. there's a lot of impressionable people out there. there's a lot of people with mental challenges and other things that inspire them to act when they hear that kind of voice. you know, there's a more responsible way. and by the way, jake, for decades, you didn't see this kind of thing in this country, because leaders set a tone of respect and civility. we can get back to it. we have to get back to it. >> mr. mayor, one of the reasons being cited by the president's prominent social media supporters who say this is a liberal hoax, and obviously i do not believe this is a liberal hoax. but one of the pieces of evidence, as it were, even though it's not evidence, is that none of these bombs went off. but you're saying, and the nypd
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said earlier, that the device that was sent to cnn was a live explosive device. it was legitimate. it just didn't -- it just wasn't detonated. >> unquestionably legitimate advice. and thank god it didn't go off. and you'll remember a couple of years ago, there was an attempted terrorist attack here in new york city, and there was a pressure cooker bomb that a passer-by saw and alerted the nypd, and it was retrieved in time and taken to a secure facility. and thank god no one was hurt. unquestionably, that was an act of terror. unquestionably, that was a bomb placed to harm civilians and a live, active bomb. the fact that something does not go off is not the way to grade it. let law enforcement be the judge. we've got a joint terrorism task force. it's the fbi, the nypd, the folks who have done an extraordinary job of keeping us safe ever since 9/11. they saw with their own eyes.
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the nypd bomb squad saw with their own eyes a live bomb and got it out of here so no one could be hurt. >> new york mayor, bill de blasio, thank you so much for your time. i appreciate it. >> thank you, jake. we have reporters on the scene where suspicious devices were supposed to be delivered to the clintons, to the obamas and one sent to former attorney general, eric holder. but it was the wrong address. so it was sent back to the name on the return address. we have some breaking news. the person on that return address, congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz who obviously did not mail the bombs, just responded after the device ended up in her sunrise, florida, office and said, quote, we will not be intimidated by this appalling attack on our democracy. and i am deeply disturbed. my staff and i will hug each other and our loved ones tightly and tomorrow get back to work serving the people i was elected to represent, unquote. let's start with rosa flores, outside the congresswoman's office in sunrise, florida. and this ended up in her office
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because the person used it as the return address. >> reporter: you're absolutely right. and members of law enforcement here in florida, jake, dealing with two suspicious packages. and either they were addressed to the congresswoman, or, like you mentioned, it was the return address. so that's why we're here. but let me start with that first -- that first address that was sent to aventura that you mentioned in that statement from the congresswoman. i just got off the phone with miami-dade pd, and their bomb squad is headed to that office in response to that other suspicious package. now they do tell me the fbi will take over as soon as they arrive. now, where i'm standing at right here in sunrise, florida, you see a lot of flurry of activity behind me. this is where law enforcement and the fire department are set up. i want to show you, jake, exactly where this office is and how far law enforcement is staying away from her office. here is the latest that we have learned from local law enforcement.
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they told us just after 2:00 p.m. that perhaps we might hear a quote, unquote, noise, but we shouldn't be alarmed, because the fbi was diligently working inside this building to deem this package safe. now we, of course, followed up and asked if the fbi was going to detonate this package inside the building. they would not answer that question. but they did tell us that the fbi actively working in this building to, quote, deem that package safe. a few other notes they did mention. the fbi is the lead investigator, is the lead investigating agency. they are working to deem that package safe. and then that package will be transported over to the fbi office. and then one final note, jake. from what we understand, not only that office building has been evacuated, but all of the other office buildings around me have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, because of this potential package. and then finally, we know that the congresswoman was not inside the building when this
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suspicious package was found and when authorities responded to this area. jake? >> rosa flores in sunrise, florida, outside the office of congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz. thanks so much. let's go to jean casarez outside hillary clinton's house in chappaqua, new york. president clinton was home today when this went down, and hillary, of course, we >> reporter: that is exactly right. you know, it was late last night, and it was here in the c area. and they were doing a routine mail screening, and they found this package. the secret service is telling cnn they immediately believed it was an explosive device, so they immediately intercepted it. it never got here to the family's home. but it was the secret service that began a law enforcement criminal investigation on what this package was and who brought it to them. and we don't know exactly how it got in the hands of the secret
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service, because they were doing the mail screening. so we don't know if a courier brought it, if it was routine mail. but while the investigation was going on here, hillary clinton in florida gave public remarks at a political rally about the events of the day. >> it is a troubling time, isn't it? and it's a time of deep divisions. and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together. >> reporter: now, details of this device have not become public at all. but billionaire george soros, who lives relatively close to here in bedford, new york, on monday at 3:45, a package was put in his mailbox. he, we understand, was not home, but someone was. they called authorities, and here's what we know about that. it was a small device. it was in a padded envelope.
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there was pcp -- pvc piping, along with energetic material that could ignite. and jake, one more thing. this morning, brian stelter learned through his sources that the courier brought that package to cnn approximately a little after 9:00 in the morning. that is exactly when i was walking through our main lobby to come here to the clinton estate. and it was relatively free of people at that point. all of the hustle, bustle of the morning, people had gone their separate ways. so whoever came, that courier, which is so important to solve this mystery, at least the initial part, someone may have seen him or captured on video, because it was not a crowded area at the time. >> jean casarez in chappaqua, new york. thank you so much. cnn's suzanne malveaux is outside the home of the obamas. suzanne, do we know if either of the obamas are home? >> reporter: jake, we actually don't know whether or not they're home.
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they very well could be. i have been speaking with the obama family spokespersons throughout the day, and they want to respect their privacy and they also have not tweeted or released a statement. what they have been doing is telling us to refer back to secret service and as well as d.c. police. and that's what we have done here. i do want the camera to pan over just to get a sense of where we are here. it's beyond that second speed bump is where the fence is and that is where the residence is. and what we have learned today is that secret service say that at no point did this package get close to the obama family. that this was identified as a suspicious package, that it was intercepted at a d.c. postal processing center. that is where they realized and recognized that this device, this package,imilar in function and form to what was sent to george soros earlier in the week. so that at no time this got close to the obama family. that is the first thing that kind of launched this investigation here. should also note as well, jake,
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we're probably at one of the most secure places in the city here, because it's very, very public that the obamas live on this street. you've got 24/7 secret service that are set up out here on the street. there is a barricade, a concrete barricade perimeter that has been set up for at least a year. people have to produce their i.d.s. they have to tell you the address, where they're going. we have seen some fedex delivery within the last 20 minutes or so. but this is a very secure location. this is also where ivanka trump and jared kushner live, about a block south from the residence, as well as jeff bezos of amazon. so people are very used to the tight security here, and we have seen u.s. secret service actually do a security sweep of our bags, and our crews' bags, just to make sure there are no bad actors among us. but again, the obama family is safe and secure, jake. >> suzanne malveaux in washington, d.c., outside the
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home of barack and michelle obama. joining me on the phone is the former director of national intelligence under president obama, james clapper. general clapper, thanks for joining us. what kinds of questions do you think intelligence officials are asking behind the scenes right now? what are they looking for in this investigation? >> well, i think things like, you know, who else might be a potential target. is there any international implication here? i think, you know, the nature of the weapons and what they can derive from that, which will be a law enforcement function. so obviously just anything they can gather and ask about occasioned by the events of the day. >> a u.s. intelligence official tells cnn, it's too early to say whether there is a clear connection to terrorism. what do you make of that? the nypd and mayor de blasio,
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they don't have any such come punctuals. they say these devices were intended to terrorize. >> i would agree with the mayor. i personally don't think that there's an international implication here. that's obviously something that has to be run down. i think this is pretty clearly a domestic thing. unless there is a situation where it's, you know, possibly explained because of a mental illness or something like that. but to me, this is a domestic terrorism. >> individuals like john brennan, to whom the package that was mailed to cnn was addressed, oddly, because he does not work for us. but individuals like brennan and you, you don't get secret service protection, even though you're both high-profile. you had it when you worked as director of national intelligence. brennan had it when he was head of the cia. you're both outspoken.
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do events like this today make you concerned about your safety or the safety of your former colleagues, like brennan or lisa monaco? >> well, yeah. and, you know, it extends to, you know, kind of a small thing. my wife and i were traveling today, and i was, of course, compelled to call our next door neighbor, who regularly picks up our mail. and to be -- to caution our neighbors about picking up mail. that's kind of disconcerting. that's a small aspect of this. so, you know, the threat rings spread out beyond us. >> i know you reached out to john brennan today. your former colleague in the obama administration. you haven't heard back yet. it's my understanding. what did you want to tell him? >> well, i didn't -- you know, since we were on the road and my wife was driving and i just sent john a short e-mail, just to say we were thinking of him and to stay safe. and john is not only a colleague, he's a good friend, too. >> i know you spoke to the former head of your security
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detail today. what advice is he giving you? >> well, pretty much just to be first -- they called me early on to make sure i was aware of the news. since, you know, i was on the move. which i was. and to be very careful about mail. and i said i just hung the phone with our next door neighbor about being very cautious about picking up our mail. so i was very gratified. i certainly want to give him a shoutout for anything -- to call me. and i'm sure the same with john. even though we're -- we don't -- you know, we don't get protection any longer. >> obviously, we don't know who did this yet. and we don't know the motive of him or her or them. but it's also unmistakable that all of the people targeted from brennan to the obamas to the clintons to maxine waters, to george soros, to debbie
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wasserman schultz, to cnn, all have been the subject of the president's ire. again, and individuals responsible for his or her own actions. but as an investigative matter, as an intelligence matter, what -- how would that influence the investigation? would people assume this is somebody who is an ack lite of president, trying to get us to believe they're an acko lite? >> you're right, jake. the most obvious theory here is this is, you know, people the president has spoken very critically of. and i hope the president himself will abide by what he said today about promoting unity. i found it somewhat ironic in light of some of his incendiary
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rhetoric at his rallies. i think it would be very interesting to see if he says anything about this rally he's having tonight. what the mayor said is right. you know, we need to -- and what others have said. we need to really tone down the rhetoric here. and that starts at the top. >> the only thing i was going to say is there are a lot of prominent supporters of the presidents on social media, out there saying this is all just a liberal hoax. >> well, i think that's -- that's -- that too is a sign of the time here. the counter conspiracy. i -- as one who is a potential target, i don't think that's the case at all. >> all right. retired general james clapper, thank you so much for calling in. we appreciate it, sir. glad you're safe. want to bring in jonathan whack row and fbi official, phil mudd and former fbi supervisory agent, josh campbell. jonathan, i'll start with you. as a former secret service agent, what's the first concern that comes to mind when you hear
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about this explosive packages sent to two former presidents and other public officials? >> well, the first thing that comes to mind is the systematic methodology that the secret service deploys to direct former presidents, counter presidents and all work in this instance. mail screening, it's a critical part of the protective paradigm that's built around all of our protectees. in this instance, the device, both multiple devices were found seen and render safe protocols were deployed in chappaqua and washington, d.c. the secret service did a great job following all protocols. what's been referenced time and time again throughout the day, this was referred to as routine mail screening. there is nothing routine about the mail screening the secret service does. this is a systematic and critical process that is part of
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the model they deploy. >> yeah, and we should take a moment to honor that. this was an attempted act of mass murder, and it was stopped. and maybe it was stopped in the mail rooms and not in a cinematic type way, but it was prevented. and attitude owes to the secret service and other law enforcement agencies, as well as cnn security that helped stop that. josh, the fbi has sent out this tweet, asking for information. it includes a picture of one of the suspicious packages. in this message, if you have info about these packages, call or go online to please call 911 or contact your local enforcement immediately. you think that's significant. why? >> i do. any time there is an incident like this, there is a debate that goes on inside the command
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center, whichever agency has jurisdiction. which agency do we need to keep close to the vest and what information do we need to push out to the public? that's a discussion they have to have always opting on the side of ensuring public safety. we have the fbi releasing images, additional information, and doing two things. telling the public, look, this is what we found. if you were out there and you see a package that looks like this, you need to stop, you need to call law enforcement. that's important, because, again, that is that public safety rule the fbi is pushing out. the second thing, if there are people out there who have information that may help with the investigation, if they see something, you know, maybe the particular writing, maybe the style. maybe -- anything about this device that may key their interest, they want them to pick up the phone and call law enforcement. so, again, it seems like we've moved past the initial phase where they wanted to keep everything close to the vest. now they're pushing that out, really putting out the call to the public. >> they're crowdsourcing this,
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but that's not the case, necessarily. >> no way. what's the composition of the bomb? they might know that already. j i went home to my house today and looked at the mail to say is there anything in there that's suspicious? when i get off air, i'm going to look and tweet and say now i know what to look for. this person touched a lot of stuff, a lot of devices, a lot of locations. did anybody see anything? did this person ever talk to anybody about targets? so i don't think there is anything wrong, even if they have substantial information, for asking the public who is this person, especially since we don't know if there is anything else out there. >> go ahead, john. >> got it. >> jonathan, go ahead. >> yep. eric, just dove tailing off the comments josh and phil just said, we have a shared fate in the situation. this is more about a sense of heightened vigilance in the current state. we have bombs that are being sent through the mail that are
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being delivered to multiple locations throughout the united states. this is a shared fate that everybody has to come together. law enforcement, the community, has to, you know, solve for this problem. >> all right. jonathan and josh and phil mudd in studio, thank you so much. you can follow me on facebook and twitter at jake tapper or tweet the show at the lead on cnn. our coverage on cnn continues right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." we're following breaking news. the investigation into home made bombs sent to cnn, the clintons, the obamas and other political figures in what new york city's mayor is now calling an act of terror. none of the devices exploded, but there is fear, serious fear, that there may be more out there. president trump called