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Trump Calls London Mayor "Pathetic" in New Tweet; British PM: Three London Attackers Identified; WH: "If" Comey Testifies, We'll be Watching. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired June 5, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news this morning. The City of London is dealing with the aftermath of a terror attack, the Mayor of London dealing with the aftermath of a terror attack and also now new criticism from the President of the United States. President Trump, for the second time since seven people were killed on the streets of London, has gone after the Mayor of London.
A new tweet just moments ago, the president wrote, "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. Mainstream media is working hard to sell it."
Now, over the weekend, really within the hours after this terror attack, the president wrote, "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"
That is not what the mayor actually said. The Mayor of London said there was no reason to be alarmed about the increased presence of police and law enforcement on the streets after a terror attack, but again, the President of the United States choosing to criticize the Mayor of London in the aftermath of this attack. Let's get right to the White House, senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is there. Joe, the president not backing down.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's either a mistake, intentionally misleading or failure to admit you're wrong and quite frankly, the President of the United States, sad to say, has been accused repeatedly of all three. What we do know is there is audio and video evidence of exactly what the Mayor of London said. He was referring to concerns about increased law enforcement patrols in the City of London in the aftermath of the latest terror attacks and the president has construed that to be a reference more or less to the terror attacks themselves. So, it's just one of a number of different situations where the president has been accused again and again of getting his facts wrong.
This goes along with some other tweets this morning, as you know, including from the beginning, earlier this morning, the president talking about his travel ban. "The lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a travel ban." That, of course, is despite intents by his staff to label the travel ban something else.
Then there was this, "The Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to the Supreme Court."
That's interesting, because number one, this all arises from an executive order that the President of the United States approved and signed. Nonetheless, it's also a reference to the first ban, which could be construed as pre-textual, could be construed as discriminatory toward a religion simply because the president on the campaign trail said he wanted to ban Muslims from the country until we figure out what's going on. John, back to you.
BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns at the White House, stand by. I want to bring in Frederik Pleitgen who is in London right now. You know, Fred, there is history between the Mayor of London and Donald Trump. The Mayor of London has said critical things of the president, but I don't think no matter what he said, when we are within 48 hours after a terror attack, when seven Londoners or seven people in London were killed, three terror attacks in England since March, I'm not sure this helps the Mayor of London deal with the situation on the ground there. What has been the response from the mayor?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know what, it certainly doesn't and that's one of the things the folks here in London and the mayor's office have been saying, they simply don't have time to deal with President Trump's tweets as they're in this major terror investigation and of course, also dealing with the aftermath of the terror attack. You see some of that behind me. There's still actually pretty good, a lot of forensic work going on and a lot of streets here in London still blocked off. So, the city still very much trying to come to terms with the aftermath and they're saying they simply don't want to deal with the president's tweets at this point in time.
Now, CNN has reached out to the mayor's office after this latest tweet from President Trump and they say at this point in time, they were not aware of it just yet. They are going to look at it. But it was really, as Joe Johns said before, the original statement by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, was one that referred to the broader situation of there being more law enforcement on the streets here in London after this most-recent attack. It's something that we've been seeing here as well. I want you to just listen really quickly, John, into what exactly Sadiq Khan said. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, LONDON: Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us need to do is make sure we're as safe as we possibly can be.
I'm reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world, but we always evolve and review ways to make sure that we remain as safe as we possibly can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So, one of the things that he's saying there is that they're trying to keep the city as safe as possible, all the while dealing, of course, with the situation that just happened and that's really one of the things that's happening here on the ground, John, is that we have seen the Londoners here be very vigilant, but also stay calm.
[10:05:12] I'm right where this attack took place and London Bridge is actually right behind me and once again, only two days after the attack, there are people who are going across that bridge, tourists as well as residents and they say they are doing what Britain has always done, which is keep calm and carry on.
So, of course, they understand that this city is a target. They understand that things like this might happen in the future, but at the same time, they're not going to allow that to derail their way of life and that certainly seems to have been what Mayor Khan was referring to when he put out the original tweet. He said, look, we're going to put more law enforcement on the streets in the aftermath of this, we need to be vigilant for a time, but just don't be too alarmed by that, John.
BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us in London this morning. Again, 7 people killed, 48 people injured, a country and a city trying to deal with the aftermath of this terror attack and now the mayor of that city under attack on Twitter from the President of the United States.
I'm joined now by CNN political commentator, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Angela Rye, CNN political analyst, senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," David Drucker is here.
David, I'm little bit at a loss in how to deal with this now, because the way that the president was quoting the London Mayor is fundamentally dishonest, I mean, period, full stop. The London Mayor flatly said, "Londoners will see an increased presence today and over the course of the next few days. There is no reason to be alarmed."
The president suggesting that, somehow, the London Mayor is saying there's no reason to be alarmed by terrorism. He's just saying it in the aftermath, the immediate aftermath of the terror attack in London, but he's you know, saying it again this morning. How does this help London deal with terrorism? How does this help keep Americans safer?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, I think the question to ask here, John, is how does this help America lead the west in a fight against ISIS and really help this special relationship that we have with Great Britain as much as they would like at a time like this? Look, it's understandable and when I first read the president's tweet yesterday, not first seeing the mayor's full statement -
DRUCKER: -- you know one could imagine that somebody is saying -- somebody is trying to downplay the threat from Islamic terrorism, as often does happen on the left at times. And obviously, the president and those on the right have been very bothered by the idea that you wouldn't call Islamic terrorism what it is and treat the threat seriously, but that's not at all what the mayor did.
He was talking about an increased police presence. And if you've been to Borough Market -- and I was there one week before this attack happened -- it is vast, it is surrounded by buildings and bridges overhead. It is during the day teeming with people at least it was on that Saturday. There are restaurants everywhere. And so, when you're going to have a police presence like this and you're trying to get the city back to normal, it is very understandable that the mayor might want to say, it doesn't mean that there's an ongoing threat in the immediate, but we're trying to keep everybody safe.
I don't -- this does not help the president's goal to lead the west in a fight against ISIS. It puts the focus on him and his statements and I think it probably makes it harder for him to work with allies overseas if behavior like this persists. Now, we don't know what he said privately to Prime Minister May and he could have said all of the right things, things that he said at the Ford Theater gala the night previous, but I'm with you in that this makes no sense.
BERMAN: On the phone with us right now is Jeffrey Lord, CNN political analyst, supporter of the president during the campaign and of course, since the beginning of his presidency. Jeffrey Lord, explain this to me. Why is this OK?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND CONTRIBUTING EDITOR "AMERICAN SPECTATOR" (via telephone): Well, you mean in terms of the tweet about the Mayor of London.
LORD: I think, John, the problem that the president sees based certainly on the things that he has said and is long on record, is that he thinks that there are plenty of people in the world who do not take this problem seriously. And that this is -- they're in some sort of a, if you will, my words, trance about this.
LORD: And that even when something happens in their backyard, they're still not taking it seriously.
BERMAN: So, Jeffrey -
LORD: I think that's where he's coming from. It's almost as if he feels these people need, you know, again, my phrase, electric shock therapy of some kind to adjust to the reality of this.
BERMAN: Well, look and we heard those arguments from him during the campaign, but in this case, the way he's making that argument, if that is, in fact, what he's doing, is fundamentally dishonest, Jeffrey. The London Mayor put out statements following this attack saying he was appalled by what happened. He called it a cowardly act of terror within minutes of this happening and the president has been putting out statements that are just dishonest, suggesting that the London Mayor's saying not to be alarmed about it when that is not what's happening here. [10:10:00] So again, I just ask you, this is London we're talking about here -
LORD: Well, did not the mayor use the phrase "not to be alarmed"? --
BERMAN: Let me read you --
LORD: Didn't he say that?
BERMAN: Yes, he did. But let me read you the full sentence, Jeffrey. "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us need to do is make sure we're as safe as we possibly can be."
He was saying don't be alarmed because we're putting extra cops and military on the street because there was a terrorist attack, because we're taking this seriously.
LORD: I mean, this is like, you know, Neville Chamberlain saying, don't be alarmed if the Nazi bombers appeared overhead in the battle -
BERMAN: No, no, no, because the Nazi bombers didn't work for the British government, Jeffrey. The police and the military that Sadiq Khan was talking about are working to fight terrorism. He was saying, they're coming out to keep you safe -
LORD: Yes, but the people who are stabbing for people on the streets of London are not working for the City of London. -- They are not.
BERMAN: No, exactly.
LORD: They are not working with the British government. They are working for --
BERMAN: Yes, correct. But the president wasn't talking about this.
LORD: (INAUDIBLE) if you will -- their business in life to kill westerners on their own streets in their own neighborhoods and they did it just again.
BERMAN: Jeffrey -
LORD: I mean, so to say not to be alarmed -- we should be alarmed. We should be vigilant. We should be out there getting these people.
BERMAN: Angela Rye, let's bring you in. Your take on what Jeffrey is saying here on what the president said.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: So, Jeffrey, first of all, he did not say don't be alarmed by the attack. He said do not be alarmed by the number of police officers, law enforcement on the street. So, I think before we can have an argument about Donald Trump's alleged good intentions. We should at least be speaking from the same set of facts.
What's very important right now and I think Congressman Kildee a couple of segments earlier said it best, this is not political at this point anymore. What Donald Trump continues to do is more than dangerous. It's causing a divide globally. It's not just here nationally anymore. We are in the middle of recovering from a terrorist attack with our ally, Jeffrey.
It's essential that we operate as such. It is problematic for Donald Trump to use this as a wedge, to use this as a distraction because of this James Comey hearing. He's using this to pump fear in people's hearts and minds about Muslim people. There's a woman that got beaten, her face entirely swollen because of the type of hate that he pushes out. His travel ban that he signed on to that now, he's blaming the Department of Justice for watering down, he signed it. He's using this attack in London to push this travel ban that is hateful and wrong.
LORD: Angela, so when Barack Obama was pushing concern about these same countries that President Trump is pushing, then President Obama was hateful.
BERMAN: All right, hang on one second.
RYE: What I'm saying -
BERMAN: Hang on a second. This is not during the Obama administration. We're talking about the Trump administration. We'll let David Drucker make one point here and then we'll continue. Go ahead, David.
DRUCKER: Look, to the extent that a lot of Americans feel that over the past couple of years, the past administration did not want to deal with the fact of radical jihadism. That is the view that many Americans held. Donald Trump as a candidate for president really spoke for them.
But in this case, what the Mayor of London was doing was not trying to put the idea that there was an attack by radical jihadists under the rug. He was simply speaking about an increased police presence. And I also I think it's important for the president to recognize that he's no longer just a candidate. So, when he speaks, even if justified, even if he has a lot of domestic support, he's speaking on behalf of the United States to our allies, to our adversaries and that's something that I think this administration needs to take into account.
BERMAN: People's lives are at stake here. And Jeffrey Lord, you know, you can be against terrorism, you can think that countries and city leaders haven't been saying enough in the past to fight terrorism. That doesn't justify being dishonest about what they're saying about terrorism now.
LORD: Well, I don't think he is, John. We just disagree.
RYE: No, that's -- no, you can't disagree on what's a fact, Jeffrey.
LORD: Yes, I can. RYE: No, you can't, because that's -- it's just not true! So, you can continue to push these theories. It's not true. His words are right there in plain English. There's no reason for Donald Trump to decide that he was saying something different. He used it as a wedge issue to push this crazy travel ban. That is what that is.
LORD: For what, Angela? He's not running for election.
RYE: No! And that was David's whole point, he's not! He's supposed to be the commander in chief. He's supposed to be the president. He's supposed to stand up with his allies, not against them, but he's using it as a wedge issue because of -- what is this man's last name? It's Khan. That's the main issue. That's the main issue.
LORD: Yesterday I took the day off and watched the whole history of World War II. And there, yet again, was the story of Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain with Neville Chamberlain saying in essence the kinds of things you are saying.
RYE: Jeffrey, why don't you understand that that's different?
BERMAN: We're going to stop. Once we went back to Neville Chamberlain, once we are back to 1939, I think it's time to stop this conversation, but I do appreciate it. Angela Rye, David Drucker, Jeffrey Lord, appreciate your input here.
[10:15:00] But again, let me read you the actual words from Sadiq Khan as we part here. "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us need to do is make sure we're as safe as we possibly can be." The police are there to fight terrorism. That is what he is saying.
All right, raids and arrests in the wake of the London terror attacks as we learn the identities of the attackers.
Plus, Democrats sending a warning to the president. Their message -- do not invoke executive privilege to block the testimony of James Comey. We're going to speak to one of those lawmakers coming up.
BERMAN: All right, possible new leads in the London Bridge attack that left seven people dead, more than 40 people injured. Authorities have now detained 11 people after a wave of anti-terror raids. This comes as the British Prime Minister has revealed the police have identified all three attackers. Also, a source confirms to CNN that one of the attackers had ties to Ireland.
[10:20:00] We are also getting new video of the attackers. Watch this closely. I'm seeing this for the first time as well. It shows some of them walking moments before the attack. We'll keep watching that for one second. I want to take another look at it, if we can. I see two people there. We know there were three attackers. Unclear to me whether this was after the van stopped and they were walking to the restaurant where they stabbed people or whether it was before they somehow got in the van. We don't know, but you can see that video. Again, British authorities say, they know the identities of the attackers. They have not released their names.
All right, let's discuss all of this with Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel.
Sajjan let me start with you, with the president's most recent statements, you know, in the wake of a terror attack in the city where you are right now. The president has now twice in the last 24 hours has decided to be very critical in a somewhat dishonest way, very dishonest way of the mayor -- of London's Sadiq Khan in statements that the mayor made saying that there was no reason to be alarmed about police on the streets. Your take on what the president has done and whether or not that helps the situation in the aftermath of this attack.
SAJJAN GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION AND TERRORIST EXPERT: Look, I mean, the most important thing right now is the investigation itself, to ascertain whether these individuals were part of a cell, whether this was assisted, directed or inspired by ISIS. I understand that tempers are frayed, not just in the UK, but perhaps across the pond as well.
It is very important that cool heads prevail. We all have to work together on this and we depend -- the UK especially depends on the United States for assistance and cooperation and many Americans have given a lot of support and sympathy to what's happened. I'm from London. It's my city. I was born and raised here. It's difficult sometimes when you experience a terrorist attack so close to home and it's just important that we all coordinate our efforts and resources together in fighting this threat.
BERMAN: That's a very reasoned, a calm response there in this time when just such response needed. Sajjan, before I get to Peter, let me just ask you. If the theme of what President Trump was saying was that somehow the Mayor of London or British officials hadn't been taking terrorism seriously, is that true?
GOHEL: The UK authorities have taken it very seriously. Look at, for example, how quickly the armed police responded to the incident in London, eight minutes on the scene. They may not have been able to preempt the plot because it's very hard to stop these types of -- acts of terrorism when they happen, but they certainly curtailed it. They prevented it from proliferating.
And since the Westminster attack a few months ago, there have been five plots that the authorities have disrupted, but it's like that all added that the authorities have to be lucky all the time, the terrorists need to be lucky just once.
BERMAN: Peter Bergen, the substance, if you can call it that, of what the president has been writing this morning has been about the travel ban. He did use the words travel ban that he wants to institute here in the United States. You have written about the idea of the travel ban and whether it would be an effective tool to battle terror. What's your opinion?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's not really my opinion, John. It's really, what are the facts of the matter. I mean, just take the case of Britain, the Manchester terrorist was born in Manchester. He's a British citizen. The attack that Mr. Gohel referred to on the Westminster Bridge three months ago was carried out by a British citizen who was born in the very English County of Kent. And then, let's just jump across the Atlantic to the United States. Every lethal terrorist attack since 9/11 has been carried out by an American citizen or legal, permanent resident. None of those attacks were carried out by any of the countries on the proposed travel ban list.
And John, one other thing that I think we should consider this morning is when the president says, you know, we should have gone back to the original travel ban. I think that's particularly problematic not only from a constitutional point of view but also, Iraq was on that travel ban and now Iraq, of course, it's Iraqis who are fighting and dying in their hundreds in cities like Mosul fighting ISIS. And of course, luckily, Iraq was taken off the list in the revised travel ban.
But the idea that we should go back to the first travel ban, which was problematic constitutionally, factually and also from a point of view of our allies, I think is not a smart idea. And so, you know, there's a constitutional objection to the travel ban. But I'm really focused on, in this case, on the efficacy of the travel ban, which is really a solution in search of a problem that doesn't really exist, particularly in the United States, but also, you know, in some other countries. We don't know who carried out the London attacks just 48 hours ago, but it will be very interesting to see if they're British citizens or not.
BERMAN: Right. The British authorities say they do know the identities of the three men. They have not released those identities. I think we can anticipate them coming out over the next several hours. Peter Bergen and Sajjan Gohel, thanks so much for being with us. I do appreciate your time.
GOHEL: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, the FBI director -- fired FBI director James Comey days away from testifying or is he?
[10:25:00] The White House, this morning, not ruling out the use of executive privilege to block that testimony. Stay with us.
BERMAN: 72 hours from now, the fired FBI director, James Comey, is set to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That happens if the Trump White House doesn't try to block him from doing so. Still no definitive answer from Kellyanne Conway over whether the president will try to invoke the executive privilege. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president will make that final decision, but if Mr. Comey does testify, we'll be watching with everyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The president will make that final decision, if James Comey testifies.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. You, among others, have written a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn saying don't even think about executive privilege. Why not?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Well, we wrote for two reasons, but there are really three reasons. We wrote, number one, because the president for all practical purposes has waived his executive privilege by talking about the subject matter under discussion incessantly, number one.