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New York Gov. Cuomo On Pipe Bomb Investigations

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, the count just keeps going up. We now have at least 10 suspicious packages sent to prominent figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One was also sent to the home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The New York Police Department is now confirming that two suspicious packages addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden have been recovered and one to actor Robert De Niro. Earlier this morning, I spoke to New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Governor, good morning, and thank you for taking the time for us.

ANDREW CUOMO: Good morning. Thank you for having me, David.

GREENE: Can we talk about what's happening at this moment, this investigation into another package, it sounds like, in Tribeca? What do you know?

CUOMO: There is an investigation into a suspicious package in Tribeca, as you said correctly, at the business residence of Robert De Niro.

GREENE: The actor.

CUOMO: The actor who is a great - you know, a great actor. He's personal friend of mine. He's a great New Yorker. He also has a political voice. And he's also spoken out on his political opinions. So that ongoing literally as we speak.

GREENE: The other packages have been described as pipe bombs by officials. Do you know if this one is indeed that as well and if it's related to the others?

CUOMO: It is a similar-looking package. We don't know yet if it is the same as the packages that we've seen thus far.

GREENE: I want to ask you - yesterday afternoon, you said you were directing state law enforcement to double security at vital transportation assets across New York. Is there some reason to believe that transit systems in your state could be targeted as part of all this?

CUOMO: Well, in a situation like this - I've been governor of New York for seven years. I've faced many terrorism situations. And this works on multiple levels. The first level is do a full investigation. Let's find the person or people involved - video cameras, people. Many of these packages - or several of these packages were dropped off, fingerprints, etc.

Second, especially in New York, you want to retain the sense of control. You want people to know that you're acting and you're acting appropriately and they're safe. Fear is the intent, and we are trying to counter fear. So we've deployed National Guard. We've double the state police. You'll see more of a police presence in New York.

Your point is right. But what does that have to do with a suspicious package? But we have to be careful that, in this situation, it doesn't evolve into something else because we really don't know what we're dealing with. Right? And we have had different types of terrorist attacks in New York - bombs, people using trucks to kill people. So we want New Yorkers to know that we're taking every precaution. They should come to work. They should feel safe. Don't let the terrorists win. There's no reason to be afraid.

GREENE: But I could see a lot of New Yorkers - I mean, as they're going to work this morning and seeing a huge police presence - getting a message from you that there is something very tense and potentially something to fear here, that this might go beyond packages being mailed, you know, if they're seeing police all over the place. Are you worried that this is something much more serious?

CUOMO: We have no information that would make us worried. It is the normal protocol in response. We have had bombs found in subways. We've had trucks used to mow down people in a terrorist attack. And our response is always to increase police presence all across the board just as a matter of protection. We've found it doesn't alarm but it actually comforts. We have the best law enforcement agencies on the globe. We all work together. We have the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, state police. And that's what people will see. They're accustomed to seeing that also. And we have found, over the years, that it actually reassures.

GREENE: What are the next steps now in the investigation, Governor? What can you tell us about the investigation as of this morning?

CUOMO: The investigation will go on several levels. First, you have the actual police investigation. Who sent the packages - fingerprints on that tape, a postal inspection, inspecting the devices themselves? Then you have a second level of investigation. What is the motivation? Was the motivation to kill, which one would assume when you're sending a bomb? Was there a different motivation that these were bombs that were not intended to actually blow up but just to scare, to intimidate - because there's a heavy political overlay to this, right? I was the former attorney general, a former prosecutor. I don't want to jump to any conclusions. But if you...

GREENE: Sure. But let me ask you - I mean, when you talk about the political motivations, is political unity possible at this moment, as many are calling for?

CUOMO: Look. We haven't had a political unity since our Founding Fathers. But I have a Republican Senate in this state. I have passed very controversial legislation with them - marriage equality, which was controversial; minimum wage, etc. You can have political debate without political violence. And that's what we have to remember. We're not asking for political unity - civility, decorum and parameters on the debate. And it's never come to this level where there's violence, either as intimidation or violence to actually hurt people.

GREENE: All right. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Thanks so much for your time this morning, Governor.

CUOMO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.