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Who is Bombing Suspect Ahmad Rahami?; Trump Defends Racial Profiling After NY/NJ Bombings; Clinton Stresses National Security Credentials; "Serious Blow" to Syrian Ceasefire. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 20, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:26] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Breaking overnight: we have new details on what led police to the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings. He now faces charges for trying to kill police. Could terror charges be on the way? This as officials try to figure out if he acted alone. We are on the scene this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is now 30 minutes past the hour.

Major new developments to tell you about overnight in that investigation into the man authorities say planted bombs in four locations in two states over two days. Twenty-eight-years-old accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami has been charged with attempted murder of police officers.

Officials tell CNN they believe Rahami is the main guy. They have to the determined if anyone else helped him.

Rahami is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He was born in Afghanistan. We know he traveled to that country several times and was questioned each time he returned to the States. Rahami was captured just hours after officials sent an alert with his mug shot to millions of cell phones in the region. It ended with police and Rahami in a dramatic shootout following a raid of the Rahami family home in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

That's where CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us right now. Jessica, bring us up to speed in the latest of the investigation.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, now, we are hearing that Rahami is actually not being cooperative so far with investigators who want to glean information from him and the interviews, not talking right now to police. But what we do know is that Rahami now faces a litany of state charges. He is facing five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement official also being held on $5.2 million bail.

Now, while the manhunt itself is complete, the investigation is now ramping up. Investigators want to know, was Rahami helped by anyone in this plot? And also, does he have any ties to foreign terror groups. We know that he spent a significant amount of time overseas in both Afghanistan where he was born and also Pakistan where he married a woman in 2011.

In fact, we know that he also spent significant time in a place Quetta, Afghanistan, about from April 2013 to March 2014. And we know that Quetta has a strong Taliban stronghold.

Now, interestingly, every time he came back to the United States, he underwent secondary screening in immigration, but he was never flagged. Of course, now, investigators want to know, was he ever radicalized. Rahami was taken down by police in the neighboring down of Linden. I'm in Elizabeth. Just in the next town at Linden, he was taken down in the gun battle.

And interestingly, he was actually spotted in the vestibule of a bar by a bar owner who saw his picture on CNN and called police. He describes how it went down.


HARINDER BAINS, BAR OWNER: The first cop closed in, he just looked at him. He's still sleeping and his hoodie was over his head. The second cop pulled up in and he just wake him up. And right away, he went to his left to pull I think I'm sure the gun and I couldn't hear the conversation because I was across street, in the door way, you know?

And right away, he pulled the gun and he shot twice. I was like shaking a little bit. When a cop pulled out his gun and at that point in time, I realized that, OK, this is the guy.


SCHNEIDER: Quite a tense scene there.

Also a tense scene in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where federal officials raided the Rahami home was raided. The Rahamis own a chicken restaurant right underneath where they live. That chicken restaurant, the point of contention in this neighborhood. Neighbors saying that at one point, it was open 24 hours a day and causing a nuisance. The Rahami family filed a lawsuit against the city and police saying they were being discriminated against and harassed because they were Muslim -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jessica for us in Elizabeth, New Jersey -- thank you so much for that.

All right. Another big development overnight, a law enforcement tells CNN that a handwritten note was found with an exploded bomb in Chelsea. This included reference to previous terrorists, including the Boston bombers. Investigators desperately want to know, did this guy have help? Was he part of an organized terror ring?

Officials say the suspect was not initially cooperative with police when they tried to question him. CNN's Ed Lavandera in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York with the

very latest -- Ed.


Well, one of the first things investigators did in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan was fan out across the area, searching for surveillance video that might provide any clues.

[04:35:04] They did find images of what they believe is Rahami walking down the street here on 23rd Street in Manhattan with two duffel bags. This is the scene where that explosion happened.

Twenty-third Street is now open this morning. Everything relatively back to normal. But you can see the destruction there behind me.

Now, investigators continue to work out, trying to piece together how Rahami put all these bombs together, what kind of know how he had, where he was trained, how he was trained and sort of thing. But it was the explosive devices found four blocks north of here that did not detonate that is providing the most clues. A fingerprint on one of those pressure cookers led investigators to identify him as the suspect. And that is what led to the alerts that went out Monday morning and to his quick capture in New Jersey.

But investigators are also telling CNN that they have been able to link the suspect here not only with the explosive devices in New York City, but also with a bag of pipe bombs in Elizabeth, New Jersey, as well as another explosion that took place over the weekend in Seaside, New Jersey.

And one other detail. There's vide or -- there's two men seen carrying a duffel bag away from the scene at 27th Street, four blocks north of where I am here. Investigators say they still want to track down those men. They don't believe they are connected to this, but they did walk away from the scene with that duffel bag. They are trying to track them down as well, John.

BERMAN: That's fascinating part of this. These two guys seen on video removing the device from the duffel bag. Did they know what they were done? And even if they did, did they inadvertently disable that device? Very, very compelling stuff there.

Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. A new report this morning says nearly 900 people who had been ordered deported or removed from the U.S. were able to get citizenship because of a flaw in the finger print system. The DHS inspector general says nearly 150,000 older fingerprints records were not digitized. That meant they could not be easily searched to detect someone who had been ordered deported, later applying for citizenship under another name.

A spokesperson says DHS is reviewing those citizenship decisions and working to digitize the old fingerprint records. BERMAN: Just four months left in his term, President Obama will the

make case for humanitarian aid to Syria today. He talks to the United Nations.

The president is set to announce new U.S. plans to help Syrian with similar commitments expected from other countries. On Monday, the president tried to calm nerves in the wake of the bombings in New York and New Jersey. He said, we all have a role to play in winning the global war on terror.

ROMANS: All right. The CEO of Wells Fargo is preparing for a grilling on Capitol Hill. John Stumpf will testify before the Senate Banking Committee at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. The hearing follows revelations that bank employees secretly created 2 million unauthorized accounts. Stumpf has apologized for the scandal, but critics say he needs to go along with those 5,300 workers who have already been fired.

Look for fireworks when Stumpf faces Senator Elizabeth Warren. She'll likely ask why the executive who headed the unit responsible for this bank accounts is retiring for the payday of $124 million. Stumpf, by the way, raked in rather more than $19 million in compensation last year.

Investors are suffering here. Wells Fargo stock is down 10 percent since the scandal broke. That wiped out $22 billion in market value and knocked Wells Fargo off the top spot as the most valuable U.S. bank. That title now belongs to JPMorgan Chase.

And this particular incident, I got to say, John, with nine years after the financial crisis, eight years after the financial crisis, this just is the greedy banker written all over it. I mean, the public is really angry about that.

BERMAN: Understandably.


BERMAN: All right. The presidential race now shifting focus to national security. This follows the bombings in New York and New Jersey. Donald Trump now calls for profiling. That's next.


[04:43:12] BERMAN: In the wake of the New York and New Jersey bombings, Donald Trump is repeating support for profiling. Trump says he believes it may be the only way to keep the homeland safe.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our local police, they know who they are. They are afraid to do anything about it because they don't want to be accused of profiling.

Do we have a choice? Look what's going on. Do we really have a choice? We're trying to be so politically correct in our country. And this is only going to get worse.


BERMAN: Both candidates are using the attacks to paint the other as unfit to handle the terror threat. With Trump campaigning in Florida, seeking to bolster his case for getting tough on undocumented immigrants.

Let's get more now from CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

Donald Trump took the stage here in front of the packed house in Florida and he immediately tied the latest string of attacks to immigration policy, saying that a strong immigration security is the same as national security and insisting that if he is elected president, he will bring an end to attacks like this on U.S. soil.

TRUMP: My highest duty as president is to protect our citizens and to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I will honor that duty to the fullest extent every single day and I will never waiver and I will tell you that I consider a sacred obligation -- sacred.

MURRAY: Now, Trump also made yet another call for an ideological test for any immigrant who wants to come to the U.S. That's something that has been controversial in the past. But he is betting on the notion that a muscular tone that a strong stance is what voters want heading into Election Day.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is betting that a steady and her experience as secretary of state will be able to carry her to the finish line.

[04:45:03] Now, we'll see the two of them on stage together in a less than a week for that first presidential debate.

But as for today, Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail, this time in the battle ground state of North Carolina.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Sara, thank you for that.

Hillary Clinton hitting back and hitting back hard against the attacks from Donald Trump in the wake of the New York and New Jersey bombings. Clinton is accusing Trump of being a recruiting sergeant for ISIS, also stressing she has the steady hand and experience to keep America safe.

We get more this morning from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, as Donald Trump has been blasting Hillary Clinton for being weak and part of the Obama administration's failure in his words in the war on terrorism, she is pushing back hard, saying Donald Trump's rhetoric has been a recruiting tool for ISIS. This is now front and center in the campaign with 49 days to go and now just six days before that debate.

Her words yesterday were unsparing.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We know that a lot of the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam.

ZELENY: By saying that Donald Trump has been a recruitment tool for ISIS, she is opening a new line of conversation, a new line of attack here in this campaign. Strength and security have long been a conversation but they have taken on an urgent tone. Now, they are front and center in the campaign.

A presidential campaign once seemed to be about the economy has now turned into a conversation about national security. Donald Trump going hard after Hillary Clinton on immigration. This is going to be a central discussion here over the course of the next week with the first debate next Monday night here in New York, key on national security.

The Clinton campaign believes there is strength and experience can be used here as an advantage. But Donald Trump's arguments for changes may muddle all of that -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: All right, Jeff.

The son of Donald Trump is raising a lot of questions over a new tweet. Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to Skittles. He tweeted a picture with a bowl of candy and text that read, "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful." The suggestion that the refugees could come at a cost even a few are radicalized.

Trump also tweeted, "This image says it all. Let's end the politically correct agenda that doesn't put America first."

The parent company of Skittles issued a response overnight, said, "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it is an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing."

ROMANS: And let's be clear. It's more than just a suggestion. It says that is our Syrian refugee problem. It is a clear analogy they are trying to draw. The company wants no part.

BERMAN: Yes, there are a lot of people say it is insensitive. And then there are others who say it's factually inaccurate as well when you're talking about the numbers of Syrian refugees coming in.

ROMANS: All right. There's another piece of news that has the political world talking this morning. Could a Bush back a Clinton? Former President George H.W. Bush, there's word that he's voting for Hillary Clinton. And that word comes from a Kennedy no less.

Robert Kennedy's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend posted this picture on Facebook of her with President George H.W. Bush saying the president told me he's voting for Hillary. It is no secret that many in the Bush family are no fans of Donald Trump. A spokesman for the former president is neither denying nor confirming that claim.

BERMAN: All right. The rain has ended in the Northeast and the first day of autumn is Thursday.

ROMANS: Autumn.

BERMAN: Autumn.

So, how long until we get relief from the heat and autumnal relief?

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest from the CNN Weather Center.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, these temperatures are running about seven to ten degrees above normal and for the last couple of days of summer, it's pretty impressive. New York City were going for the mid-80s when we should be in the mid-70s. Even places as far north as say Bangor, Maine, almost 80 degrees on the last day of summer, it should be 68 for this time of year, that far north. And notice, we do have some rain in store but generally, across parts of the Delmarva and Mid-Atlantic, down towards the Southeast, and beyond that, it should be dry across the region to the Northeast by this afternoon. That is a nice change as far as what happened there on Monday with a lot of rainfall.

But notice across the Atlantic. We have tropical storm Karl poised to become Hurricane Karl. Tropical depression 13 poised to become Tropical Storm Lisa. Both of these storms look like a mariner hazard. One of which, Karl could potentially impact Bermuda, that will be a little ways down the line and we're watching that over the next several days. But back towards the United States, we are watching the big changes in the weather department here.

Some cooler air filtering in late this weekend. And in places like Boston, say good-bye to the 80s. And not only that, you bring back the 60s. Look at the overnight temperatures in Boston, down to 49 degrees after being in the mid-60s over the next couple of nights, guys.


[04:50:07] ROMANS: All right. Pedram, thank you so much. All right. A new list out of colleges with the highest paid grads.

There's two in the top five you probably never heard of. We'll show you the six-figure incomes when we get an early start on your money, next.

BERMAN: I'm going to live with regrets.


BERMAN: This morning, the State Department expressing outrage over the bombing of United Nations aid convoys in Aleppo. At least a dozen people were killed in the air strike on Monday. Now, it's not clear if they were hit by Syrian or Russian planes.

This comes with the United States and Russia at odds over efforts to stem the violence in Syria. The Syrian military already declaring the week-long cease-fire over. The question now is, can it be revived as limited as it was?

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen following the developments for us.

[04:55:00] He is live in Damascus.

Fred, what can you tell us this morning?


Well, the U.S. is basically saying they don't care what the Syrians say. They say that their agreement is not with the Syrian government. It is with the Russians. And they now expect the Russians to use their influence on the Syrian government to try and get this cease- fire back on track. But certainly, from what we have been seeing over the past 18 hours or so, it really seems as though another opportunity to try to bring respite to the people here in Syria has been squandered. It really looks as the cease-fire is pretty much over.

Last night, there was some heavy fighting going on in the east of Aleppo, which is the rebel-held districts and fire being traded there. Also, some air strikes apparently took place there as well. Thirty people, at least, were killed in those and the rescue efforts to try and save those who were wounded in those strikes were ultimately hampered by the fact there is no electricity. It is pitch black, very difficult for the rescue crews to operate there.

And then you have the hitting of the U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy. It was inside rebel-held territory, but it had actually come from government territory and being unloaded. The U.N. is simply saying it was hit. The U.S. says it was hit by a plane, they say. There were no coalition airplanes in the area and therefore, it must have been hit either by the Russians or the Syrians.

We have no statements from either of those factions just yet. But certainly, a devastating incident because on the one hand, there were 12 people were killed as that convoy was hit, but there was also aid for 78,000 people in that convoy. And obviously, those people are now not going to get that aid. And another very tragic incident, as it seems as though the cease-fire that was supposed to really help the folks here on the ground is pretty much dead in the water at this point in time, even though the U.S. still trying to revive it saying they are clinging to that hope that it may work out, John.

BERMAN: Which means that thousands and thousands of people in Syria still not getting the help they need.

Frederik Pleitgen for us in Damascus -- thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. It's about three minutes to the top of the hour. Let's get an early start on your money this morning.

The Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting today. Investors are not worrying about a surprise interest hike. Dow futures higher right now.

Stock markets in Europe and Asia are mixed. Oil back below 43 bucks a barrel. Yesterday, investors really shrugged off terror concerns. The Dow finished slightly lower.

Tomorrow is an important day for U.S. users of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. You can finally get a replacement. Pick it up from Samsung, your wireless carrier or the store where you bought it. Regulators recalled the smart phone last week after dozens of people reported it caught fire while charging, the problem.

Hopefully, the exchange program goes smoother in the U.S. than it did in South Korea. In Seoul, few people showed up to get replacements yesterday and some that did had problems exchanging them.

Scoring a good paying job right out of college is great, but having a successful career can pay off big time. And the average grads at these colleges are proof of that. A new study by pay scale shows the top five schools ranked by graduate pay at least ten years after graduation.

Number one is Maritime College, a school in the State University of New York System. Grads there make $147,000. And many are maritime engineers.

Number two is this little school you've never heard of called Harvard. Very overrated.

Followed by MIT and Claremont McKenna College and then Princeton. Grads in all those schools making $135,000 or more years. The report ranked pay by degree, 15 of the top 20 highest paid degrees are focused on engineering. Check out more of the study on CNNMoney.

BERMAN: Where is happiness factoring to this, huh?

ROMANS: Money can buy you happiness.

BERMAN: What if I'm really, really happy?

ROMANS: Are you happy?

BERMAN: I'm just saying "what if". It's hypothetical.

EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight: new clues with the suspect to the series of bombings in New York and New Jersey. This man now facing attempted murder charges. Could they be upgraded as the investigation casts a wider net?

We are live on the scene in the streets of New York and New Jersey.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, September 20th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Major new developments overnight into the investigation into the man authorities say planted bombs in four locations and two states over two days. Twenty-eight-year-old accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami has been charged with attempted murder of police officers. Officials tell CNN they believe Rahami is the main guy. But they have not determined whether anyone else may have helped him.

He is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan. We know he traveled to that country several times and was questioned each time he returned to the States.

Rahami was captured hours after officials sent with an alert with his mug shot to millions of cell phones in the region. It ended with police and Rahami in a dramatic shootout following a raid of the Rahami family home in Elizabeth, New Jersey. And that's where we find CNN's Jessica Schneider right now.