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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - Boston Bombing Investigation


Location: Washington, DC


BLITZER: Susan Candiotti in Boston with the latest, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little deeper into this investigation, the Republican congressman, Peter King, of New York is joining us. He sits on both the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. Based on everything you know right now -- and I know you're well briefed -- do you believe that there were other people directly involved in the planning of this terrorist attack?

REP. PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Wolf, I think it's fair to say that no one knows for certain, but it's very unlikely that they could have carried this out here in the United States without some assistance from someone. For instance, the fact that they put those bombs together and they all went off. You know, generally, bomb makers almost always have a missing finger.

And the reason I'm saying that it shows how difficult it is. So, they had to be tested somewhere, I would think. Someone had to assist them. Someone had to train them. Again, unless these two are absolute geniuses, it's impossible to believe that this was done, almost impossible to believe this was done without assistance here in the U.S.

It's also very unlikely that there was not some assistance or training overseas. And I think the general consensus of people working on the case is whether or not there's any rock-hard evidence right now. The operating belief is that there almost had to be some training overseas, some direction from overseas, and there's just too many parts here which add up to something larger than just two people being involved.

BLITZER: Who are some of the other people out there, maybe some of them aren't even suspects, that the FBI really wants to talk to?

KING: Wolf, I can't go into that, other than to say that obviously they have associates, people they've been dealing with, people in their world, which would be the same in any criminal investigation. But I think in this one , there are some who are felt to be closer than others. But I really can't go beyond that. It wouldn't be right to do it. But I mean, there's no doubt there are certain people that are being looked at very carefully, very closely.

BLITZER: As you know, the FBI went into Katherine Russell, Tsarnaev's house. She's the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev at Rhode Island. They went in there today to collect presumably some evidence. Is she fully cooperating with law enforcement?

KING: There's been some level of cooperation, but, again, I would just say, again, from my own instincts and talking to some people involved, it's -- to me, it certainly raises questions that the bomber has a wife, one child and a relatively small apartment and is able to put these explosives together, able to obtain all of these materials, able to move about without really having a job, to back to Russia and -- you know, go to Russia and come back without the wife having some knowledge of what he was up to.

But again, I don't have evidence for that. I can't tell you what she's been telling the FBI or whether it's -- what lawyer she has or anything like that, other than to say that I would certainly, if I were involved in the investigation and I'm not for her involvement, I would certainly, you know, question the wife as she is being questioned to find out, if nothing else, to find out who the husband was in contact with, about his comings and goings, who could have radicalized him.

But also, again, probably the larger issue, does she have any knowledge whatsoever of any of the explosives or explosive precursors or any of the weapons at all that we used by either of the brothers?

BLITZER: It's unclear to me and I wonder if it is to you if she's actually answered any questions posed by the FBI yet directly.

KING: Wolf, I really can't go into that. I mean, obviously, I've heard some things, but I cannot go into that other than to say that, obviously, the FBI, you know, is interested in what she has to say and what she knows.

BLITZER: There was a one box, at least one box, that was taken out of that house, her parents' house, in Rhode Island that said DNA -- I guess, it's a DNA evidence, if you will. do you know what that was all about?

KING: Again, no. As far as that particular -- no, I do know the FBI would certainly be checking the DNA to the extent they can of anyone involved, you know, with these brothers in any way, to see if there's any link between them and the explosives or any other weapons. But again, that's part of any investigation. It's a normal part of any investigation, certainly one as intense and vital as this one.

BLITZER: Do you know anything about this Canadian boxer, a Canadian boxer turned militant around the same time, apparently, as Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was a boxer himself? He returned to Dagestan. Do you know anything about this Canadian boxer?

KING: I think I only know what you do as far as the press reports, and I'd rather leave it at that, Wolf. I'm not trying to be talking (ph) your question. You know, this is a very, very sensitive investigation. I don't want to be indicating I know something or don't know something. Fact is that, you know, obviously, there have been questions about what happened to him, but I can't go any further than that. BLITZER: What about this so-called Misha, this Armenian who converted to Islam and some of the family members of the suspect say he brainwashed Tamerlan into becoming a radical. What can you tell us about Misha?

KING: Again, Wolf, I have to -- my understanding is they do know who he is. They are talking to him. I can't go beyond that as to whether or not he did have this Svengali-like influence over him as some of the family members are complaining or if he was just someone who was an associate who spoke with him. That's all part of the investigation that's going on now.

BLITZER: As you know, the Russians say they intercepted a phone conversation between the mother in Dagestan and presumably one of the sons in the United States in which they suppose, according to these reports, of jihad. What can you tell us about this?

KING: Well, there's no doubt that there was, which has become public, there was communication involving the mother where she made it clear that she thought her son was a confirmed jihadist or certainly a confirmed Islamist radical who would be willing to die or certainly who was willing to carry out whatever he was asked to do. That at least is the tone and the thrust of the communication.

Now, exactly what form of communication it is, I don't know if I'm really at liberty to say that. The fact is no doubt that the mother had -- made statement like this or had indicated this. The Russians are aware of it, and the Russians did not give it to the FBI back in 2011. If they had, I think it definitely would have changed the whole tone of the investigation and it well could have led to a very different result.

And all of us wish that the Russians had provided that information to the FBI when the FBI did ask for additional information and the Russians did not respond to them.

BLITZER: Are they cooperating better now, the Russians, with the U.S. in this investigation?

KING: My understanding is they are. The Russians also see this as an opportunity to have America realize the importance of the whole -- or the danger of the whole Chechen movement. And, so, I think it serves the Russians' purposes right now. However, there's always going to be a certain level of distrust between the U.S. and Russia, between our intelligence agencies and theirs. So, they will give us, I think, whatever helps them.

They will not give us anything which is going to reveal any of their sources and methods. But they're certainly being much more forthcoming. And I think both sides seen this as an opportunity now, both the United States and Russia, see this as an opportunity to make progress, certainly as far as this case is concerned and also as far as international terrorism is concerned.

BLITZER: OK. Have you been briefed on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition? He's in that prison hospital right now outside of Boston, about 40 miles or so outside of Boston. A maximum security facility there. Is he recuperating? Is he talking? What's going on?

KING: First of all, I have not received any recent briefings. What I learn is from just sources and people that I know that are involved in the intelligence community or the law enforcement community. There really has not been an official briefing since we left Washington on Friday. At least for me there hasn't been. So, what I'm getting is from sources that I have.

My understanding is that he is certainly out of danger. He certainly was able to communicate. He had an operation in the -- some kind of surgical procedure in the middle of his interrogation and he's doing -- you know, fortunately or unfortunately, he's doing fairly well.

BLITZER: Bottom line, then I'm going to let you go, bottom line, should we be bracing for more arrests anytime soon?

KING: I would just say the investigation is ongoing, and without giving any inside information, my belief is that there has to be others involved, one way or the other, whether they were knowing, unknowing, whether they were actual conspirators, whether they were facilitators, whether they knew something was wrong and were willing to help cover it up but didn't actually know the details of it or if they were actually definitely involved.

I think all of that will be coming out. But, again, it's just a sort of semi-educated guess on my part that I think we will be seeing others named one way or the other at some level or another.

BLITZER: Peter King is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, thanks very much for joining us.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.


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