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THE SITUATION ROOM
Militant Leader's Deadly Experience; Immigration Battle; Crisis in Iraq; Top General: U.S. Role in Iraq Could Grow; McDaniel Challenges Mississippi Senate Runoff
Aired July 4, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You are listening live to President Obama's 4th of July message to military families. Here it is.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (Inaudible) -- have to practice a little bit, before that happens.
This is a gorgeous day, we want you to enjoy yourselves, so I'm going to keep my remarks brief.
But it is important to remember why we are here. Two hndred and thirty-eight years ago our founders came together and declared a new nation and a revolutionary idea -- the belief that we are all created equal, that we're free to govern ourselves, that each of us is entitled to life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And in the generations that have followed, through war and peace, through depression and prosperity, these truths have guided us as we have built the greatest democratic, economic, and military force the world has ever known.
So, today, immigrants from around the world dream of coming to our shores. Young people aspire to study at our universities. Other nations look to us for support and leadership in times of disaster and conflict and uncertainty. And when the world looks to America, so often they look to all of you, the men and women of our armed forces.
Every day, at home and abroad, you're working to uphold those ideals first declared in that Philadelphia hall more than two centuries ago. Every day, you give meaning to that basic notion that, as Americans, we take care of each other.
And so today we honor all of you, and we salute some of the folks who are here with us on this balcony.
We salute our soldiers like Chief Warrant Officer Tommy Arujo (ph), who has served this nation in uniform for 27 years, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two summers ago, Tom was at the beach, saw a young girl and her father who had been swept out to sea, and jumped into dangerous riptide, and pulled them back to safety. That's the kind of service we expect from our outstanding soldiers.
Please give it up for Tom. Thank you.
OBAMA: We salute our sailors, like Seaman Reverly Thomas (ph), who came to America 21 years ago from Trinidad. She served a tour in the Persian Gulf for the Navy. Just a few hours ago here at the White House, I was proud to welcome Seaman Thomas and 24 other service members and military spouses as our newest American citizens.
Thank you, Reverly. Congratulations.
OBAMA: We salute our airmen, like Technical Sergeant Cheryl Ulakie (ph), who manages the Fisher House at Dover Air Force base, ensuring the families of our fallen are always provided comfort and care worthy of their profound sacrifice.
We're so grateful to you, Cheryl, for your great work.
OBAMA: We salute our Marines, like Sergeant Isaac Gallegos (ph), who was severely wounded after an IED explosion in Iraq eight years ago, suffered burns on almost every inch of his face, was pronounced dead three separate times, undergone 161 surgeries. But he is here standing with us pursuing a master's degree, working full time for the Navy.
OBAMA: That's what we're talking about when we talk about Marines. Give it up for Isaac.
OBAMA: We salute our Coasties, like Lieutenant Commander Sean Plankie (ph), who helped lead a cyber-team in Afghanistan that supported our troops during firefights and help prevent the detonation of remote- controlled IEDs, saving countless of lives.
So thank you, Sean.
OBAMA: And we salute our military families, the spouses who put their careers on hold for their loved ones, the children who pick up extra chores while mom or dad is deployed, and the siblings, parents and extended family members who serve the country every single day.
And you're the reason Michelle and Jill Biden started the Joining Forces Initiative, to make sure America is supporting you too, and today we honor your service here today.
(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: So, as we pause on this Fourth of July to celebrate what makes us American, we salute all of you whose service and sacrifice renews that promise of America every single day.
On behalf of the entire country, Michelle and I simply want to say thank you to all of you for your courage and your strength and your unending service to this nation.
Happy Fourth of July, everybody. Have a great party. Have a hot dog. Have a hamburger. We want to see you dancing.
God bless you all. Got bless the United States of America. Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Thank you.
KEILAR: President Obama's Fourth of July message there to military families at the White House celebrating Independence Day, also his daughter's 16th birthday, but he has a full plate right now.
He's also dealing with an immigration crisis, thousands of children streaming across the border, and perhaps unexpectedly the epicenter for this battle, this protest, protests over this, are now taking place in a Southern California city.
That's where we find our Kyung Lah.
Kyung, tell us about where you are. There's a lot going on behind you.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the entrance to the Border Patrol station here in Murrieta. It's a small town. It's a relatively small town for Southern California.
The reason that all of these people have come out here -- and I want to say, Brianna, it actually does look like the crowd is thinning out. We have people who are pro and against the immigrants who are scheduled to come here.
They were anticipated to come here, but so far we haven't seen them. These are immigrants, undocumented immigrants that have come from Central America, and they have been held at different centers in Texas. Well, because those centers in Texas are full, the government is moving them to places like this, but so far those buses have not arrived.
Both sides are extremely passionate today on this Fourth of July. Here's what one woman told us. She supports the migrants. Here's what she says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARA GLANZER, PRO-MIGRANT PROTESTER: Europeans came here in droves in the 1800s up to the 1900s. And now when we (INAUDIBLE) and they're trying to come through the border, suddenly, it's different, because we have these divisions based on race, based on language, and based on tokenism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: So she is on the counterprotest side.
The people who live here in Murrieta, overwhelmingly, what we have heard, Brianna, is that they simply do not want them. But where they are, where that 140 who were expected to arrive today, we just don't know. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Brianna, has said that they don't want to say where they're being taken due to safety concerns.
KEILAR: Yes, understandable. Kyung Lah in Murrieta, thank you so much for that report.
And actually the mayor of Murrieta, Alan Long, joining us now on the phone.
Mayor, you urged your citizens to protest the movement of immigrants Murrieta. Explain that.
ALAN LONG, MAYOR OF MURRIETA, CALIFORNIA: Well, actually, if you go and view the press conference, that's not what I did.
In fact, the protest was being talked about well before the city's involvement. In fact, a lot of information came from those who were involved in the protest, and the press conference had the intent of squelching rumors and putting facts out there, and letting everyone know that Murrieta was going to maintain its safety.
I did encourage those who wanted to funnel their energy to do two things. One, write their U.S. representative and voice their concerns there, and, two, come to a town hall meeting so we can constructively come up with some solutions.
KEILAR: Well, explain your opinion on the fact that there is -- it's essential an overflow of undocumented immigrants who are being moved to your city. Explain the city's involvement in terms of contact with the federal government in this decision being made and where you stand on it.
LONG: Well, it started two weeks ago. We were told we would receive 500 every 72 hours, and we opposed that, because the local Border Patrol office did not have that capacity.
Then they said 300, and we still opposed it. Then last Friday, they said 140 coming Tuesday every 72. And that was within the capacity. That was the message we sent to the community, that this is within the capacity, we have a plan in place, Murrieta will remain safe. On a much larger issue, contact your U.S. representative.
The concern we have is the sustainability of 140 every 72 hours. While this has all been going on, we have been researching, finding out, why is this happening now? And in that research we're looking at the numbers, and we don't see this stopping any time soon.
And right now, we're only able to sustain 140 every 72, because we have shifted our resources to focus on that one operation alone. You know, operationally, we cannot keep the same footprint we had before, because everyone's mission has changed. So the officers that have been patrolling the streets, watching neighborhoods now are focused on this one event.
KEILAR: Where would you suggest that these immigrants are brought to instead?
LONG: Well, it's not where really they're brought to instead. Again, during all of this research, we found out that, you know, it's another thing about making sure there's the appropriate facility, making sure that they have had appropriate health care.
One of the first things we identified when we were talking with Border Patrol that this so-called screening process was not effective nor efficient, and so we offered up the resources. We offered up a mobile health clinic staffed with doctors and nurses to give a thorough health cleaning, give free inoculations, and we were told they could not accept that, because the approval process would take too long.
And that's the unfortunate part. The world really hasn't been able to see how compassionate our community is, because we have never gotten there. We have nonprofit groups, faith organizations lined up to help, willing to help, but we never got to that point because it took a turn of unfortunate events on Tuesday, which were not endorsed by the city.
Some of the actions during that protest were deplorable. And it's unfortunate that it's now reflecting on the community.
KEILAR: So, you don't feel that the protesters are reflecting on that compassion that you're talking about in your community? So you don't endorse what you're seeing there at the transfer station?
LONG: Not what I saw -- a portion of what I saw Tuesday. What I have always said and maintained to this date is that we will protect everyone's constitutional rights.
If you're protesting peacefully, we are going to ensure your safety. And that goes for both sides of the protests. What I saw last night was very encouraging. I saw the two sides working together, talking about solutions, and the common ground they have. Everyone wants the same thing. They want a legal, effective, efficient process for these immigrants to come to the U.S.
And we just feel that the inability at the Texas border is circumventing that process, and we're sending people in inhumane conditions and dispersing them across the nation. And, fundamentally, we can't agree with that.
KEILAR: Do you feel that ICE officials are not properly securing the facilities that they're using and that they want to use?
LONG: Well, we don't know. That's another problem.
We have had no information from Department of Homeland Security, and Border Patrol at the local level has been very good explaining to us the process. When you get to the ICE agencies, that's where it's a bit sketchy.
We don't get a whole lot of answers, because everything depends on something of and there's a lot of moving parts. And they don't know until they get here. And what we did uncover is, one of the rumors was ICE agents takes these buses and they just go dump them off.
Well, what we found out at the town hall meeting, that is in fact true. It's a past practice, but it was true. So those are all the questions and concerns our community had when they heard these immigrants were coming. And, again, they had people in the Border Patrol agency feeding them this information.
So, going back to that first press conference, the intent was to squelch rumors, let people know that you're going to be safe, and if you wanted to make a difference, contact the representatives, because it will be done at the federal level. And I did send a letter to the president of the United States yesterday outlining all of this, and offering solutions, and hopefully he will take that to heart, and he and key members of Congress will sit down and we can meet to discuss solutions.
KEILAR: All right, Mayor Alan Long, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, the mayor of Murrieta, California, where those protests continue against undocumented immigrants who are being transferred to that city.
Another story that we are following, storm watches and warnings, they are up from Cape Cod all the way to Canada, as Hurricane Arthur is continuing this dangerous push north. The storm is still packing some pretty damaging winds. The flooding, that is really a concern here. It's a possibility with up to half-a-foot of rain forecast in some areas. Six inches of rain, that is a lot.
And residents of the Northeast are hoping that they will be as lucky as the people in North Carolina who were spared widespread destruction.
Our correspondents are on the ground there and in the CNN Hurricane Center.
We are going to begin with Rene Marsh. She is in Beaufort, North Carolina.
Looks pretty sunny there, Rene. Tell us the scene.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, you remember just 24 hours ago yesterday, we were talking and there was rain coming down. The winds, they were pretty strong. Same thing last night. The wind was pretty strong.
And fast forward to today, and it is absolutely picture-perfect for this Fourth of July. Still, though, now that Hurricane Arthur has blown through coastal North Carolina, there are some folks who are still cleaning up.
MARSH (voice-over): Trees down, power out, and streets flooded. The Category 2 struck North Carolina with winds topping 100 miles per hour, making landfall between Cape Lookout and Beaufort, rattling homes and for some rattling nerves.
VANIA WOODS, NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: Oh, it was really scary. I heard a noise, a strong noise. And I said, something happened.
MARSH: That strong noise was this tree crashing onto the home she was in.
WOODS: We put the mattress against the glass in the bedroom and we stayed there.
MARSH: Arthur tossed sailboats, and its storm surge was nearly five feet in some areas.
GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We're seeing some beach erosion. There are shingles off some houses. We have some dock debris.
MARSH: But for this seasoned coastal community, no stranger to hurricanes, Arthur had more bark than bite.
ANNETTE BOULIN, NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: We practically slept right through it.
MARSH: The Coast Guard scanning from above for damage, most of it minimal, Arthur's impact more of a nuisance, knocking out power for about 44,000 people and disrupting July 4 celebrations.
Now it heads north as a Category 1 storm, tracking parallel to New England, bringing rain to the Northeast. But, in North Carolina, where the skies are blue and the sun is shining, Arthur is old news.
WOODS: Today's Fourth of July. Let's celebrate.
MARSH: All right, and talk about Arthur being a nuisance here.
Not only are Fourth of July celebrations put on hold mainly here in Beaufort, North Carolina. They're actually going to do their fireworks tomorrow. A great day like this, you can't help but want to cool off at the beam, but we still have this threat of rip currents. So, they are warning people still it's not safety to go into the water. So, that is that.
As far as the repairs go, there's still a couple roads, as well as one bridge by the name of Bonner Bridge, which is shut down because essentially the overwash left a pile of sand there, so it's really impassable. You have downed power lines, dangerous situation. So, as they address that, people are trying to forget about Hurricane Arthur in the meantime and, as you heard that woman there say, celebrate the Fourth of July -- Brianna.
KEILAR: That's right, Rene. The sun is out, but there's still cleanup to be done. All right, thank you so much.
The danger also may be out of the way there, but it's not over entirely yet.
KEILAR: Still ahead, blunt talk about the U.S. commitment to Iraq by the president's top military adviser. How far is the U.S. willing to go to keep militants from seizing Baghdad?
Plus, it is -- let's be honest, it is a beautiful, but it is a tough song, right, notoriously difficult. We will be meeting the man who teaches the stars how not to butcher the national anthem.
KEILAR: A pretty blunt assessment of the crisis in Iraq by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who says the U.S. role there could grow beyond the hundreds of military advisers President Obama has committed.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on this.
Barbara, tell us exactly what General Martin Dempsey said here.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it was an extraordinary press conference here at the Pentagon. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made it crystal-clear, brutally clear that if U.S. interests are threatened in Iraq, U.S. military force could be called into action.
STARR (voice-over): Iraqi forces launch a rocket attack, trying to push militants out. It comes as General Martin Dempsey, the president's top military adviser, is leaving the door open to possible deeper U.S. military involvement in Iraq against Sunni militants.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: We may get to that point if our national interests drive us there, if ISIL becomes such a threat to the homeland that the president of the United States with our advice decides that we have to take direct action. I'm just suggesting to you we're not there yet.
STARR: U.S. ground combat forces have been ruled out, according to senior Pentagon officials.
But intelligence-gathering continues for potential U.S. airstrikes, Dempsey adamant that the U.S. is only assessing Iraqi forces for now. DEMPSEY: If the assessment comes back and reveals that it would be
beneficial to this effort and to our national security interests to put the advisers in a different role, we will provide that option, and we will move ahead.
STARR: The preliminary U.S. assessment? Iraqi units will defend Baghdad. But is it too late for Iraqi forces to recapture lost ground in Northern Iraq?
DEMPSEY: Will the Iraqis at some point be able to go back on the offensive to recapture the part of Iraq that they have lost? Probably not by themselves.
STARR: Dempsey sober on the prospect of Iraq closing the divide between Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.
Now the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani, wants a referendum on independence from Baghdad. Photos distributed by militants in the north show destruction of Shia and Sunni holy sites, the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's senior Shia cleric, who called for Iraqis to take up arms to oust the Sunni militants jabbed by Dempsey.
DEMPSEY: When Sistani made that proclamation, he talked about an Iraq for all Iraqis. I hope so. We will see.
STARR: If Iraq doesn't end the sectarian crisis:
DEMPSEY: Everything we're talking about makes no difference.
STARR: And Dempsey went on even further.
He said, if the sectarian divide is not solved, the future is bleak, in his words. General Dempsey, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is a guy who likes to keep his options open, and that's exactly what he's doing -- Brianna.
KEILAR: That's right. He's saying we're not there yet, but it certainly does raise questions here.
Barbara, join this conversation.
We're going to CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, and CNN military Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
First, I want to go to you, General Hertling.
We heard Dempsey there say, we're not there yet, but he said if ISIL -- or ISIS, as many of us know it -- is a threat to the homeland, that that mission could change. We have been talking a lo the about mission creep. That certainly I think perks up a lot of ears when we hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs say that.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think, Brianna, General Dempsey is very precise in his language. Hi job is to provide options to the president, to his commander in chief. That's what he's doing.
You know, the forces that are there now have three main goals. They're there to protect American citizens that are in Baghdad and in Iraq, they're there to assess the situation, and then they're there to determine what to do next.
They're doing all those things very well under General Pittard's guidance in Iraq. And I think once General Dempsey gets the assessment -- we have got to remember these advisers have only been there less than two weeks.
As soon as he gets those kinds of input, he will make some more options presented to the president. I think that's his job.
KEILAR: And, sir, you're very familiar with General Dempsey. You were, I believe, his deputy, right, in Iraq in to 2003 and 2004?
HERTLING: I was. I was his deputy and we're very good friends.
KEILAR: OK, so you have a -- you're very familiar when you say that he's precise with his language.
I just really kind of want to drill into that. Is this just him keeping his options open? Is this in case for some reason American forces need to use force? Is he talking about something that could be more protracted and involved? How do we read into that?
HERTLING: He's keeping his options open, what he has to present to the president. That's General Dempsey's job. And he's doing that very well.
And I heard his conference the other day as he was testifying. And that's what he was doing. He was being asked some very hard questions, and he doesn't want to rule out anything, because the situation could change, the assessment could be different than what we think it is now, and the government of Iraq could start broadening their inclusion of other groups like the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurdish tribes.
So I think General Dempsey is really doing a fine job walking that rope, and saying, hey, we have got to provide some options to the president, but we need information first.
KEILAR: And, overall, Phil, on this, we heard in Barbara's piece there this is about finding a way to get over that sectarian divide. Is there anyone in Iraq -- it seems so many are casting doubt on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Is there anyone, an Iraqi who can help bridge that divide?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm not certain there is now.
And that's because I think in America we don't understand that there's a transition between revolution and democracy. We're seeing problems in that transition in Egypt. We're seeing problems in Libya. We have seen problems in Lebanon decades ago. We're seeing a problem in Iraq. And the reason is quite simple. When a majority is oppressed --
remember, Saddam Hussein was a Sunni. He oppressed Shia. When the majority is oppressed and they take power -- now we have the Shia in control in Baghdad -- they start to say we own the turf and we get to decide the rules.
So, I think what we're seeing is the Shia represented by Nouri al- Maliki saying, we now own Baghdad and we are going to rule as we see fit.
KEILAR: And yet, look, there's certainly a stalemate there as well that I want about, that Nouri al-Maliki not withdrawing his name from consideration.
But I really have to drill into what Dempsey said, Barbara, with you here. He's keeping his options open, but that scares a lot of people who are very war-weary. And, really, they don't want that to be an option at all.
STARR: Well, you know, it's interesting. Behind the scenes, when that press conference ended yesterday, you had a lot of senior Pentagon aides, you know, the strap hangers, moving around the hallways, very concerned that reporters would take too seriously what General Dempsey said, trying to maybe suggest that he -- you know, his words were being misinterpreted.
I agree with General Hertling: General Dempsey's words were not misinterpreted. This is a guy who says exactly what he means.
And one of the most interesting things I thought he said -- and I want to ask Phil about this -- is he said, "Look, we are going to be dealing with this kind of militancy in this country for one or two generations, possibly, to come. ISIS is not going to go away" and that there is no U.S. military solution. This is not Iraq 2003.
So, you know, even if -- if the Iraqis can get some territory back, if they can get a government going, it seems like we're dealing once again with a major turn into how this militant movement is in the Middle East.
MUDD: Look, I think that's correct. Focus -- I thought the general was very precise in his language. And remember, he talked -- let's go inside the Beltway, inside baseball for a moment. He talked about threat to the homeland. He didn't talk about threat to Baghdad.
When you're seeing the Islamist insurgencies we've seen for 20 years -- in North Africa, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Afghanistan -- a sliver of these Islamist insurgencies tends to focus on what they view as the head of the snake. That head of the snake is New York and Washington.
As long as you see this version of Islamist insurgency in Iraq, you have to worry that some of the leaders in Iraq are going to start to say, "When we get comfortable in Mosul, when we get comfortable in Anbar province, we have to start thinking about attacking New York."
So I think if you're looking at the representation of U.S. forces in Iraq now, what they're doing is not just collecting for tomorrow. They're collecting intelligence because of concerns that someday the insurgency is going to start thinking in 2015, in 2016, about attacks in western Europe and the United States.
KEILAR: And that may be what he's talking about when he's obviously having concern for the homeland and that he's looking very much into the future.
Really important comments to dissect here. Really appreciate it, all of you. General Hertling, Phil, Barbara Starr, thanks to all of you.
And just ahead, the race is over, but not the battle. Details of post-election ugliness in a very closely watched vote.
And he's the unlikely public face of the militant group seizing broad regions of Iraq. Now we are learning details of his deadly background.
KEILAR: Returning now to the political climate in Mississippi, which is anything but calm. In fact, the loser in the recently Republican Senate runoff is not going away quietly.
And CNN's Tom Foreman joining me now with a post-primary challenge.
And this, quite frankly, Tom, is just getting very, very ugly.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is something we don't see that much, even in the atmosphere of politics we have today. The simple trust is the Republican primary has turned into an all-out brawl right now. It's filled with cheap shots and shady actions, and what looks like a desperate last stand by a Tea Party candidate.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Accusations of race baiting, a suspected plot to exploit a suffering woman, reward money for witnesses, and even death. The Mississippi Republican primary is as bitter as politics can be, and it has infuriated Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel, who told CNN's "NEW DAY"...
CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI STATE SENATOR: We believe the people of the state want to see the truth. They want to understand what happened that night. And that's exactly what we plan to show them.
FOREMAN: The truth, according to McDaniel, is that longtime incumbent Senator Thad Cochran was shocked when he finished the primary behind McDaniel, so Cochran reached out to traditionally Democratic black voters, asking them to vote in the Republican runoff to help him defeat his Tea Party challenger.
MCDANIEL: They called me a racist. They race baited.
FOREMAN: Nonetheless, Cochran won by 7,000 votes. Then things got weird. In a conference call with reporters, an unknown caller lit into Cochran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black people are harvesting cotton. Why do you think it's OK to harvest their votes?
FOREMAN: The McDaniel camp says it has no idea who the mystery caller was, and it condemned the racial tone, but his supporters were accused of strange behavior earlier in this race.
Tea Party leader Mark Mayfield, for example, was suspected in a plot to break into a nursing home and photograph Cochran's wife, who suffers from dementia. Police arrested Mayfield and he died, an apparent suicide. And now comes the latest twist.
McDaniel is offering a $1,000 bounty to anyone who can prove that some people illegally voted in the Democratic primary and the Republican runoff. He believes there are thousands of examples.
MCDANIEL: What this is about is the integrity of the election.
FOREMAN: Cochran's response: "Chris McDaniel doesn't care anything about the integrity of the process. Chris McDaniel cares about staying in the spotlight."
Maybe, maybe not, but McDaniel is doing all he can to stay in this very peculiar race, which he appears to have already lost.
FOREMAN: McDaniel is suggesting he may even file a court case on this. That could come as early as Monday, when the Republican Party certifies the results of this election.
But the bigger question for the Republican Party, Brianna, is how much does this keep alive this destructive rift between the mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party? Probably not enough to give the Democrats some long-shot win in Mississippi in the fall. In the general election, that's probably not going to happen, but even if the rift stays alive, you know how much that resonates across this country and scares the GOP heading into the midterm.
KEILAR: It does not look good for them. Tom Foreman, thank you so much on that.
And joining me to talk about all of this, we have CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, who's the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." We're also joined by Todd Zwillich, Washington correspondent for Public Radio International's "The Takeaway."
I guess the point is Tom sort of laid out here what he's trying to do moving forward. Does McDaniel have a case, you think?
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": So far he's made a lot of pretty serious allegations and talked about all this evidence that he has, but he hasn't shown anything, right?
KEILAR: He hasn't been able to prove anything. It's hard to prove. LIZZA: He says he's got -- that the election was stole, and that he's
positive that liberal Democrats voted both in their own primary and then in the Republican runoff. You're not allowed to do that. You can't vote in both.
KEILAR: Yes. You can't vote early and often, right? Or often.
LIZZA: He's offered absolutely -- this is real important, because there's been a lot of crazy allegations out there. He's offered absolutely no evidence of that happening. Not a single voter has come forward.
TODD ZWILLICH, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL'S "THE TAKEAWAY": There's also the general term of irregularity. McDaniel's camp says they have thousands of examples of irregularities. That is a legally meaningless term, what an irregularity is, if it would even disqualify someone from voting. So you have to know about that.
And there's another part of the McDaniels [SIC] charge, which is outright vote buying, which is a criminal offense. Now, there hasn't been any evidence of that, either, but you saw in Tom Foreman's piece there that the McDaniels [SIC] campaign not only is offering $1,000 a head for any arrest or conviction, where they can prove vote buying.
If you go on McDaniel's website, he's also raising money from his supporters, saying, "Cochran Democrats were paid $15 to vote for my opponent. Give me $15 a head, and we'll go after them." So that it's a fund-raising effort, as well.
KEILAR: So is it all rumor? Is it all rumor, the idea that there may have been vote buying?
LIZZA: Look, he shouldn't be fund-raising off of this, with that kind of gimmick.
KEILAR: It's unseemly.
LIZZA: If there's serious allegations that there's wrongdoing, he should show what the evidence is, but then as Tom and I were just talking about before his piece, even if he prove that, you know, voter John Smith voted in both the Republican primary -- which is the Democrat primary and the Republican runoff, that's not going to make him the Senate candidate. Right? We don't know how that person voted.
KEILAR: Right. It's a private ballot.
LIZZA: It's private. So if he can find examples of Cochran buying votes, he can find examples of wrongdoing, I don't see how he gets to the point that it overturns the results.
We don't rerun elections. There's no mechanism for him to rerun the election. KEILAR: It speaks to the bigger issue here that Tom was talking
about, the divide between the establishment Republicans and the Tea Party Republicans. How does this play -- like bigger picture how does it play?
ZWILLICH: Well, I think a lot of the allegations, you know, we don't know yet if there's solid evidence for some of McDaniel's allegations, but they do play into a broader narrative of conservative grievance against conservative Republicans. They definitely do. You are the ossified party in power. You exert undue influence. You buy votes. You know, this story -- a lot of them are general accusations, maybe with merit, maybe without. But it...
KEILAR: And may truly -- you know, McDaniel may truly believe this, and it reflects that sort of narrative.
ZWILLICH: I think it defines a broader narrative. Also, you know, in terms of the divide between conservatives and party Republicans here in Washington, it's taken on a circus atmosphere that there are operatives on both sides now doing opo research on one another, on the Internet. Some of it's gotten extremely ugly, with individuals going after each other on Twitter. So it's really -- it's really exposed -- I think it's widened a lot of wounds that already exist.
KEILAR: Is it like Republican kind of cannibals in a way? Is it really going to have -- and is it going to have any real effect?
LIZZA: I think so. Look, this Tea Party versus establishment thing, this is not a media, imaginary debate. This is very, very real, and we're seeing it play out over several cycles now.
And this -- I think a lot of Tea Party members will believe that this election, no matter how this ends, they will believe that McDaniel had this election stolen from him. And they will wave this election as a bloody shirt going forward. So it's, you know -- it's going to continue to drive a wedge between these two factions.
ZWILLICH: Chris McDaniel, win or lose, has made a name for himself. He will be a cause celebre for conservatives, even if this election is never overturned and he never gets a revote to defeat the incumbent, Thad Cochran. He will have been a cause celebre. He will have been talked about on TV and the Internet a lot, and he will have raised plenty of money.
KEILAR: For years to come, we will refer to this race. This is one for the records.
LIZZA: It's absolutely wild.
KEILAR: It is wild. Thank you so much, Todd and Ryan. Really appreciate you breaking all of this down for us. Happy Fourth to both of you. Thank you for coming in on the holiday.
LIZZA: Of course.
KEILAR: Now coming up, the fighter who is now the public face of ISIS, how this Chechen veteran rose to the top of the militant group.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We're learning more about the fighter who has become the public face of ISIS, the terrorist group that seized broad swaths of Syria and Iraq.
CNN's international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has details.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ISIS has endless publicity videos but its leaders prefer to hide. The spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani here reveals the plan to resolve Syria and Iraq's borders but not his face.
To his left is a different story, Omar, a Chechen.
Distinctive, speak Russian, the closest thing that ISIS has to a public leader. And his long assent among global jihadists echoing the complex patchwork of brutality behind the group's rise.
A former soldier in the Georgian army he was briefly jailed on firearms offenses in 2010. Jail, he reportedly said, turned him to jihad and he arrived in Syria two years later, where he was quoted an extremism newspaper, expressing his shock at how liberal rebels allowed "people smoking, shavings instead of letting beards grow. They listened to songs, he said. I wondered where had I landed. It all seemed discouraging."
But soon, his military experience earned respect shown here in a regime base that foreign jihadists helped lackluster rebels overrun.
RAFFAELLO PENTUCCI, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, RUSI: Chechens in particular held in a very high veneration. On top of that, he has a lot of experience in his past as a former soldier. All of these things combine likely into sort of ego on his behalf sort of meant that he has turn into a substantial figure within the group.
WALSH: In a movement that court staff (ph) in battle, he grew as a figure through surviving. Chechens and other foreign radicals bickered yet he led some from this group on Muhajarin al-Ansar (ph) to join ISIS, reportedly attracted to their plans for a caliphate.
USAMA HASAN, SENIOR RESEARCHER, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: They've been many people like him who've actually adopted the puritan values of good al Qaeda and ISIS, and they are happy to accept that official simple message which ISIS has, as long as they're given an opportunity to fight, to be on the battlefield.
WALSH: He's so flaunts his Chechen past, here mourning the death of their militant leader, Dokka Umarov. (INAUDIBLE) said to have limited reach, which helped his rise to ISIS's failed commander, perhaps now in Iraq too.
ISIS spreads fast, Thursday, activists saying they controlled an area of northeastern Syria five times the size of Lebanon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police station --
WALSH: A rise as jarring as how a former Georgian soldier became the only public face of this earthquake of religious extremism the world is struggling to respond to.
Nick Walsh, CNN, Beirut.
KEILAR: And just ahead, it is the Fourth of July in the U.S.
Boston actually got a jump on the fireworks a day early, thanks to the weather and when we come back, we will head to the National Mall.
But first, this, "Impact Your World."
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Looking at these kids, it's hard not to smile.
MIA FARROW, UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: You can't look at children's faces and continue to feel hopeless. What you see in every shining face is all the potential of the human spirit.
CUOMO: Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow knows many of these children have seen or experienced unthinkable violence in the Central African Republic, where Christian and Muslim militias have been battling for control since last year.
FARROW: It has been said that the seeds or ingredients are present for a massive genocide where one side completely slaughters another. The people are fleeing. Some have fled deep into the bush.
CUOMO: Around 300,000 children are thought to have been displaced, and most schools are closed according to UNICEF.
FARROW: They have dreams, strong dreams. If only they had opportunity, safety, nutrition, clean water, and education, there would be no stopping these kids.
CUOMO: To give those kids a fighting chance, Farrow hopes to bring awareness to the situation in their homeland.
FARROW: I don't like the term "give people a voice," because people have voices, but sometimes they need amplification.
KEILAR: Well, here in Washington, a couple hundred thousand people are expected for the concert and fireworks on the National Mall, and surely, a stirring rendition of the "Spar-Spangled Banner." And as we all know, when it is sung well, it is sung so well. But when it's sung poorly, ouch-ouch our ears, right?
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, one man is on a personal mission as a music teacher to stop those cringe-worthy moments when the singing the national anthem.
SERFATY (voice-over): It's a song that can soar. Or sink.
Enter Michael Dean -- on a mission to save singer's egos and our ears.
MICHAEL DEAN, MUSIC DEPARTMENT CHAIR, UCLA: The worst part is those performances are bad for everyone. They are bad for the singer and they are horrendous for the listeners.
SERFATY: Call it the how not to butcher the national anthem class. Scores of pop stars a list so exclusive it's kept secret have come to him to prep, and avoid the humiliation by not only learning the technique but its meaning. The song has its hazards, a sprawling vocal range of an octave and a half, setting up this crucial moment that well -- usually crashes and burns, and the tricky lyrics written not in normal speech patterns but in poetry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, say can you see by the star shining bright --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the rockets red -- red glare --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the ramparts we watched.
SERFATY: Dean says so many people forget the words because they don't understand them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So gallantly streaming.
DEAN: If it's just a lot of nonsense words, then the audience is going to receive it as a lot of nonsense words. So, studying why this piece was originally written is very important for the singer to do.
SERFATY: Sadly it seems these days the anticipation of a bad anthem is now the norm.
DEAN: A lot of people have told me when they listen to the national anthem and it goes reasonable well, the only feeling they feel is relief. They don't actually feel moved or changed or inspired. They're just relieved it wasn't awful.
SERFATY: Cringe-worthy moments one note at a time to avoid.
KEILAR: And very wonderful Fourth of July to you, Sunlen. That was a great piece. Really enjoyed it. It is a tricky song, for sure.
SERFATY: It absolutely is.
KEILAR: Happy Fourth to all of you watching as well.
I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you so much for being here with us on this Independence Day.
Next up, we have "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN". It begins right now.