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Terror in Barcelona; Trump Failing to Show Presidential Leadership?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired August 17, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is cell phone video. I know it is horrible, bodies strewn along the sidewalk. Some of them are moving, and some of them are not.
As for the driver of the van, witnesses say they saw a person get out of the car and run. We know now that one person has been arrested. We don't know if that individual was the driver.
One person tells local media, though, that the van was just flying through this crowd. They were estimating something like 50 miles an hour. Another witness says they heard the sound of gunshots while they were hiding out in a nearby store.
Rylee Carlson is on this for us from London.
Rylee, what's the very latest you have?
RYLEE CARLSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, now that the death toll has risen to 13 and the number of injured at 50, there are still concerns that the death toll could go higher.
And, obviously, you showed that absolutely horrific video there and that shows you some of the reason why. Some of the injuries that we see from these attacks of this nature that have taken place across Europe are just absolutely horrific, very devastating injuries.
And so there is always the concern that some of the people who are injured could be so seriously injured that that death toll would rise. We also know now that police in Barcelona have activated a terrorism investigation.
They say that they believe this was a terrorist attack, although, at this point, they are not saying who or what the motive might have been. No one has since claimed responsibility, but that will be a big part of their ongoing investigation.
As you mentioned, one person has been arrested, but police are still remaining tight-lipped about what role, if any, that person might have played. We have seen in attacks like this across Europe in the past that sometimes these vehicles are either rented or, in the case of the Christmas market attack in Berlin, that vehicle was stolen.
So, police will be a little bit cautious about saying whether or not this person is actually associated with the attack, if, in fact, they do have something to do with the van. So, at this point, the death toll, up to 13 people in this attack in Barcelona on the Ramblas and 50 people at least injured in this one, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Rylee, thank you.
We know that people had been holed up in a lot of these bars and restaurants for hours and hours on end, as there's been this perimeter around the area.
Ali Shirazinia, was along the way, from what I understand, on a bike.
Ali, you're live on CNN. Can you hear me from Barcelona?
ALI SHIRAZINIA, SURVIVOR: Yes, hi, Brooke.
BALDWIN: First of all, how are you doing? Are you OK?
SHIRAZINIA: Well, I'm still a bit shocked after what I witnessed, but I can't imagine what, you know, the people that were directly affected are going through right now. So, you know, I'm thinking about them right now.
BALDWIN: We all are. We all are.
So, Ali, I know that you live in Washington. You're a musician. You tour internationally. You apparently had a gig tomorrow, and here you were on your bike at the wrong place at the wrong time. What did you see?
SHIRAZINIA: Well, it was close to 5:00.
And, you know, for a lot of people that don't know, the Ramblas is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. It's a wide promenade full of, like, street merchants and pedestrians and street performers.
And I was just reaching the very top of that road, and I heard everybody scream to my left. And I look over, and I'm kind of riding my bike long the narrow streets that the taxis are typically driving on, on either side of the promenade.
And I kind of see the -- you know, all the pedestrians kind of part in two, you know, some coming and running and screaming in my direction, the rest in the opposite direction, and then I heard, you know, a car that was obviously driving very, very fast.
It sounded like whoever was driving was flooring it and going as fast as they could in kind of a zigzag motion straight down the Ramblas, obviously targeting whatever was in its path. And I saw it plow into, you know, the merchants, the pedestrians. I
saw people flying over the vehicle, you know, just flying, you know, all around the vehicle. And it was just a really, really horrific scene of, you know, immediate carnage, really, really shocking, and I kind of ducked into a store.
A lot of us who were kind of on the sidelines ducked into the shops, and immediately you saw a heavy police presence, which, you know, I would see all the time this summer, not only on the airport -- at the airport, but along the route to the airport.
And the center of the city, you saw, you know, a lot of, you know, major, major police presence, I guess, as a show of force to say that they're -- you know, they're being alert, vigilant about any sort of, you know, terrorist -- potential terrorist activities.
So there was an immediate police response. There were tons of ambulances that I heard and saw immediately after, and it was just a very chaotic scene.
BALDWIN: My God. I just am still picturing what you just described with this van zigzagging.
So, was it your sense, Ali, that whoever was driving this van was aiming for people?
SHIRAZINIA: No doubt. yes. No doubt. No doubt in my mind. There's no reason to be driving down that road.
There's no reason to be driving down in a large van going as fast as you can and running into people. So, you know, we can deduct, you know, what it is from the information that we have.
BALDWIN: How crowded was it?
SHIRAZINIA: August, I mean, it's the busiest time of year here, and, you know, the Ramblas is always, always busy.
So, whoever targeted the Ramblas -- I mean, a lot of us -- a lot of my friend who live in Barcelona, me included, we aren't that surprised that this happened there, to be perfectly honest.
BALDWIN: Why? Why?
SHIRAZINIA: Just because of how busy it is and what -- you know, Barcelona is my favorite city in the world. It's a beautiful city. It's a major tourist attraction. So, it's not surprising that something like this occurred there.
And I -- you know, I wasn't surprised to see such a large police presence, both local police and I guess their equivalent of like the SWAT teams and stuff like that throughout the summer whenever I would come here.
BALDWIN: So, what did you do? As you see this van zigzagging and bodies flying, what did you to?
SHIRAZINIA: Well, you're sort of just trying to process what you're seeing, because it's not normal, everyday -- you know, a normal, everyday thing that you see.
And you're obviously concerned for your own safety. You're concerned about, you know, the safety of others around you. And I think the -- you know, the first instinct that everybody had was just to run out the way, because we weren't sure what was coming after that as well.
And a lot of us went into the shops. And when we felt like, you know, it was OK to move a bit, we kind of just tried to get out of the area, because they were quickly closing off the area. Very, very quickly they closed off the area.
BALDWIN: So you got out of there?
SHIRAZINIA: I got out of there, yes.
BALDWIN: And do you feel safe where you are now?
SHIRAZINIA: Yes. Yes. I mean, I'm -- I'm not going to let this affect how I live my life. And that's what these people want.
BALDWIN: Ali Shirazinia, thank you so much for calling in. I wish you well and I'm so glad you're OK. Thank you.
SHIRAZINIA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
As we are continuing to hear from eyewitnesses, we're also getting more information.
Evan Perez is our CNN justice correspondent. He's back with us.
Evan, what are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, you know the good news from the local police there in Catalunya is that they have been clearing some of those businesses where people were holed up for hours.
Luckily for the gentleman you just spoke to, he was able to get out pretty quickly, but, for others, including some who we have spoken to here on air with CNN, they were sitting there for hours, praying, trying to get information, not really aware of what was happening. There were rumors, there were reports in local media there in Barcelona that there might be a hostage situation at a business nearby, a restaurant nearby.
The police now say that is not so, but they are going door to door, trying to get people out, escorting them out of the scene as they try to pursue this investigation. As you mentioned earlier, there is one arrest. They have not identified that person. They don't say exactly what that person is associated with. We know from local media reports, including from the Spanish public
broadcaster, that they believe that this is a person who rented the van. We were on the Facebook page of that person who has been identified by local press, citing the police there.
And were looking at it. Some of the comments that the person had posted were anti-Israeli rants and so on. That page has now been taken down by Facebook, so it appears that it is obviously somebody who obviously has now taken -- gotten some attention at least from the authorities there.
So, now we're trying to figure out whether the police are going to identify this person, whether there's any leads of anybody else who might have been involved.
Obviously, in the aftermath of something like this, you had a lot of reports from witnesses that they found multiple people. We don't know whether that is so at this point. The police say that they've only arrested one person.
We know that they have fanned out and they're looking for any other possible suspects, and they have also asked anybody who was there to provide any information, anything else that they might have seen, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Yes, it's also very possible, in a moment of chaos, you know, eyewitnesses think they see multiple gunmen. It could be police with weapons. So that's where perhaps some of the misinformation or just the lack of clarity comes in.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly.
BALDWIN: You understand it. You understand it.
Evan, thank you so much.
We have got a couple more voices just to analyze all this information.
Steve Moore, you're up here, former FBI.
Who and what are investigators doing right now?
STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, right now, you have the national police and the locals working together as best they can, because, as you said, Brooke, it could be just one person and people could be seeing a lot of others, or it could be -- I mean, my take as an investigator is it's going to be hard for one person to pull this off with all the casing, the rentals.
And while you're renting the van, you have got to have people on site to make sure that your targets are still there and you can still have access. So I'm thinking that there's going to be a lot of people probably or at least relatively large group who are involved on the ancillary part of it, on the outskirts. So they are working this one suspect from every single angle they can. They are going to, by the end of the afternoon, be able to write his biography, and they're going to start writing biographies on all of his friends. So, that's -- it's very, very pressured right now, very hectic in the investigation.
BALDWIN: Good. We want them to get all the information they possibly can. Steve, stand by.
Karen Greenberg is joining us now, terror analyst.
You know, you have been listening to all of this. Good to see you.
KAREN GREENBERG, TERRORISM ANALYST: Good to see you.
BALDWIN: Your initial reaction.
GREENBERG: My initial reaction is, I think, like so many others, which is that we have seen this before.
BALDWIN: This being using vehicles as a weapon.
GREENBERG: Using vehicles, these small, local attacks.
And what it really gets to the heart of is what terrorism is. This form of terrorism is an attack on our way of life. So it's August. It's vacation season. It's tourist season. These are -- you know, if you have ever been to Las Ramblas, people are having a good time. They're eating. They're talking. It's a pedestrian thoroughfare.
So, we have seen it and so it's beyond this incident. It's the first -- the first thought is, where else? First, do I know anybody there? Second, where else is this going to happen? It's only the middle of August. And that's the intent.
And so that's the first thought, yes.
BALDWIN: Beyond that.
GREENBERG: Beyond that, you really have to wonder about, look, Spain has very strong anti-terrorism laws. They have had them since before 9/11, since before Islamic terrorism, when they had their own terrorist problems with ETA and the Basque separatists.
GREENBERG: They have gotten stronger and stronger throughout time. They have the surveillance laws. They have tight police restrictions.
So, what happened? How is it that this got through? And if this is ISIS-inspired, instead of ISIS-directed, do police and law enforcement and intelligence agencies have to really rethink their approach to terrorism?
For example, is it not just about collecting intelligence ahead of time, but making sure that there is no vehicular access to the kind... BALDWIN: Major thoroughfares.
GREENBERG: Major thoroughfares.
BALDWIN: Because you know this is the M.O. of these terrorists.
And so we have had a lot of intense focus in the al Qaeda years and afterwards on prevention. And the question is, what do you do? And on emergency response. Look how quickly they got there. Look how wonderfully they handled this and in such a coordinated fashion and their controlled information and their mastery of the situation.
But what about securing things when you're not hearing something on Twitter or you're not hearing chatter online? What about not just emergency response, but really thinking about -- and now we know some things. We know exits. We know that from Brussels, we know that from Manchester, looking at exits and looking at them not just in major cities.
Right? Now we know and we have known for a little while promenades. And there are going to be more things, but I really think this is going to raise a lot of questions about the prevention at the moment of an attack, yes.
BALDWIN: Putting up barriers.
I know you want to get to that, James, in just a second.
Let me just add in this piece of information that we just found out now. They don't have just one person in custody. They have arrested two suspects, two suspects in custody, in the wake of this terror attack. We will call it what it is, terror attack in Barcelona.
All right, Peter Neumann is with us, Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.
Peter, your thoughts.
PETER NEUMANN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALIZATION, KING'S COLLEGE: Well, my thoughts are that this, of course, completely fits the pattern that we have seen for the last 13 months.
I think this is probably the seventh vehicle attack after Berlin and Copenhagen and Stockholm and, of course, Nice about 13 months ago, and I'm also quite sure that this was a terror attack. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence. People have seen the driver driving at high speed, veering from left to right, trying to hit as many people as possible. So, tragically, this seems to be another one of these attacks.
BALDWIN: So, to Karen's point, to other guests' point -- I had a guest on a while ago saying this Las Ramblas, that everyone is sitting ducks, that these are soft targets. I don't want to stop walking along Broadway here in New York for fear of this kind of terror attack happening, so what do we do as a nation, as a -- you know, the intelligence communities, law enforcement, to protect us?
Because I don't want to stop living my life.
NEUMANN: Yes. There's a couple of things.
Of course, you don't want to get to the point where someone gets into a van with the intention of killing as many people as possible. That's why it's important to focus on the people, on the terrorist suspects and to prevent them from doing anything in the first place.
The second is to take preventative measures. We will have to see exactly how many people will turn out to have died, but I think, in Barcelona in particular, the police has taken preventive measures. They have erected these obstacles, these bollards, which basically make it impossible for a van to kill even more people.
In Nice last year, 86 people died. In this particular instance, it may turn out still to have been 13 or 14, but significantly less. You want to lessen the impact, but initially you want to try to prevent the people from doing this in the first place, because once people get into the van, it is very difficult to stop them.
BALDWIN: Peter, thank you.
In the midst of all of this, what's been unfolding in Barcelona, the president of United States took to Twitter. He first condemned the attack, said, we will do whatever we can to help you, and then this: "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more radical Islamic terror for 35 years."
So, now you have the commander in chief telling people to study a military incident that historians have debunked as a myth, a myth.
Tim Naftali, presidential historian, what was he thinking with this tweet?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Oh, I don't -- believe me, Brooke, don't ask me what the president's thinking when he's tweeting, except it's clear that at times he tweets out of anger.
You know, it's a little bit surprising, to put it mildly, that a president would want to praise the actions of an American leader in what was an American colony. America had this moment of...
BALDWIN: The Philippines.
NAFTALI: Yes, of imperialism which then America turned its back on, most famously by Franklin Roosevelt, who, with a reluctant Winston Churchill, pushed for something called the Atlantic Charter that put the United States on the side of anti-imperialism.
Why President Trump would want to associate with anything done by the United States in its colony is surprising, except that President Trump doesn't know a lot about history.
We saw this with the Confederate statues. This is a moment for empathy. I'm not asking people -- I'm a historian so, of course, I want people to read history, but this is a moment of empathy.
In Barcelona, we saw one manifestation of hate. In Charlottesville, we saw another manifestation of hate. Whatever the ideology or motivation behind it, hate is hate.
And this is a time for a president, rather than stoking the fires of hate, should be thoughtful about how you knit people together. This tweet about Pershing will be debunked, but what makes it important...
BALDWIN: Has been debunked.
NAFTALI: ... is that the president is provoking people, rather than saying to Americans, we must fight hate in all of its manifestations.
BALDWIN: Which has been the theme provoking, whether it was from Trump Tower, I hear you, or this tweet, not to mention, you study the history, but even present time, ISIS infiltrating the Philippines currently. So there's that.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, quickly. Tim, go ahead.
NAFTALI: I was just going to say that Islamists or neo-Nazi hate, it doesn't matter how you describe it. It's hate.
BALDWIN: Hate is hate.
NAFTALI: And it's something that, as human beings, we must unite against, and the president's tweet -- his tweet regarding Barcelona was helpful, but his tweet regarding Pershing wasn't at all.
BALDWIN: Tim, thank you, Tim Naftali.
BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, you're next on this.
Looking at your face, reacting to I know, this tweet. What did you think at first?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Tim Naftali has got the history piece of it obviously nailed down. And this is something that Trump has said before, has been debunked before by historians, by people in the moment when he said it before. But it's something he likes, because he likes this idea of past administrations have been too politically correct to be tough enough. Remember, Brooke, this is a president who as a candidate said water- boarding will be the least of what I will do as it relates to torture of people captured.
So, I mean, this is part of the tough guy image that he likes to promote. It's also -- I heard you guys...
BALDWIN: But hang on. Tough guy? According to the myth, I mean, basically, he's endorsing mass murder.
CILLIZZA: Yes. But he's saying -- I mean, I'm not disagreeing with you.
I'm just saying that this -- Donald Trump's belief is that these people deserve more and worse than they are getting when he speaks of ISIS, and that the reason that they continue to exist is because of not rough enough treatment.
Any number of times on the campaign trail, he talked about keeping people in cages and beheading people and their tactics. Now, what people will tell you, what people like John McCain, who actually have been tortured and in a prison camp will tell you is -- and I heard Tim saying this -- you know, torture -- hate does not beget love.
Torture does not beget, you know, anything other than more negativity. That is what people far smarter and more experienced in this than me will tell you when you talk about an eye for an eye in that regard. But that is his belief. That is something he has said time and time again, and I just -- one other thing. Sorry, Brooke.
CILLIZZA: You guys were talking about provocation and to provoke.
Time and again, I think it is -- I come back to this. Donald Trump, if there is a through-line through his life, a lot of people say, oh, he's a salesman, he's a marketer. Those things are true, but he's also a provocateur.
That's someone he's been his whole life, someone willing to sort of say and do things that are either not true or of questionable truth or he doesn't know if they're true or not to provoke reaction.
The idea that he would change as president, I think, was always a little bit of a fantasy that people had hoped, but has been proven out, whether it's Charlottesville, whether it's this Pershing tweet, whether it's 90 other things I could point to in the last two months, that he, at his root, he is a provocateur. That's what he does.
BALDWIN: You're saying acting presidential too high of a bar? CILLIZZA: Well, remember, this is the president who said he's --
quote -- "modern-day presidential."
Now, he never defined that. But what I think he means there is -- I don't know that Trump believes everything that he says on a daily basis. I think a lot of it is that he takes positions that are provocative, number one, and, number two, in opposition to things or people he doesn't agree with.
So, if Democrats say X, he will say Y. If the media says you didn't -- well, frankly, I'm not going to play into that. If the media, virtually every Republican elected official, generals, the military say your comments about Charlottesville were misleading, inappropriate at best, he then doubles down on it, not necessarily because I think he believes it, but because the people he doesn't like say he's wrong.
You just gave me the opening to ask you about Bob Corker. Right? This is the other headline involving the president.
BALDWIN: So, just in to CNN, as the president is, you know, defiant over his controversial remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, harsh, harsh words from this high-profile Republican senator. This is a man that we have seen the president with, who was on the short list for secretary of state. This is Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker.
So, this is what he has just told reporters. I'm going to quote him: "I do think there needs to be radical changes. The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to be successful."
He goes on: "Helping inspire divisions, because it generates support from your political base, is not a formula for causing our nation to advance, our nation to overcome the many issues we have to deal with right now. He also recently has not demonstrated he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great, what it is today, and he's got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that people have to understand.
"We should hope that he aspires, that he does some self-reflection, that he does what is necessary to demonstrate stability, to demonstrate competence, to demonstrate that he understands the character of our nation and works daily to bring out the best of the people in our nation."
If that is not powerful and damning of the president of the United States, I don't know what is.
CILLIZZA: Yes. Brooke, I would highlight a couple of things. BALDWIN: Speaking of being presidential.
I would highlight a couple of things. One, I do think it's important. You mentioned it, but it bears repeating. Bob Corker is someone that Donald Trump sought to bring in, right, someone that he sought his guidance and counsel, someone who was in the mix for secretary of state.
CILLIZZA: So this is not Lindsey Graham or John McCain, who have been never fans of Trump or never someone that Trump consulted with.
Number two, the use of competence twice in that you just read and stability, I do think there are concerns among Republican senators that this is -- that the worry that Donald Trump may not be looking out for them is kind of out the window. The worry that Donald Trump is unaware of the damage he is doing is now front and center.
Frankly, there should be more statements like the one from Bob Corker, from other senators, from other members of Congress.
BALDWIN: Why do you think there aren't, Chris?
CILLIZZA: Because there -- two things, one -- and they tie together.
One, because they are afraid of Donald Trump's political base. Two, because they don't want to wade into this, that they view it as a lose-lose situation politically. If they wade into it, they don't get any credit from the base and what do they gain on the upside?
What I would say is, what you gain on the upside is -- and Tim just spoke -- oh, I did a Q&A with Tim yesterday, where he was great on -- and I would urge people to read -- on talking about Trump's claims about the Confederacy and about the Lee statue and all that stuff.
What you earn is, this is about the country. This is not about a party. Where Bob Corker says he doesn't seem to understand that throwing -- you know, just telling people what they want to hear is not leadership.
Tim touched on that in my Q&A with him. That's it. Bob Corker's got it right.
BALDWIN: I want to hear Tim make that point.
Tim, go ahead. Make your point. That was the preview.
My point was that those statues represent the Jim Crow era. They represent a time when bitter-enders who were not even part of the Civil War generation wanted to send a signal to people of color that, regardless of the outcome of the Civil War, they would never be fully members of our community.
That was a time when people were trying to actually pull back rights from African-Americans. These symbols are not a product of the era that they are supposed to memorialize. They're symbols of what my colleagues in history call massive resistance, resistance to the 14th and 15th Amendments, and to then, later on in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act of '64 and the Voting Rights Act of '65.
That's why these symbols carry a significance far beyond our debate about what caused the Civil War. That's what the president doesn't understand. And presidents need to show empathy. Chris made this point, and I will make it again. There are times when our president needs to be or should be president of everybody, not simply president of the people who voted for him or might vote for him again in 2020.
When there's a crisis, when there's a tragedy, that's a test of presidential leadership. Look at how our presidents have dealt with these crimes and tragedies at home. Look at how Clinton dealt with it. Look at how George W. Bush dealt with it. Look at how President Obama dealt with it.
In each case, they sought to broaden understanding and share and give those who suffered the sense that America mourns for them. This president didn't do that. It was a horrifically missed opportunity, and then he doubled down, which shows that, inside him, there's no moral understanding of the nature of national leadership.
BALDWIN: What a week this has been. I wish I could continue it. We will read your piece.
Chris Cillizza, Tim Naftali, it's always a pleasure from both of you. Thank you.
But I do want to get everyone back now to the breaking news in Barcelona.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: If you are just joining us, we have been covering this breaking story out of Barcelona in Spain.
The latest numbers we have from the Spanish government, 13 people have been killed and they're saying more than 50 injured in this terror attack in Las Ramblas, this main drag, this beautiful pedestrian area on a summer evening when everyone's there and on vacation.
There was this massive van just plowed into a crowd, according to an eyewitness I just talked to, zigzagged, seemingly aiming for people.
According to police, two people have been arrested so far, but keep in mind, as we have all been discussing here, there have been several terror attacks involving vehicles since last summer.
Let me just run through just some of the most deadly. This was back just over a year ago, Bastille Day, France, July 2016. A man inspired by ISIS took a large truck, mowed down those crowds, families, children --