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Massive Blast Kills 30 In Turkish Capital; Sanders Pushes For "Sensible" Gun Control; Weekend Family Meeting May Decide Biden Candidacy; Confusion In The Race For House Speaker; More Rain Expected For Hard-Hit South Carolina; Explosion Rocks Ankara During Peace Rally; Dangerous Skies over Syria; Video Shows Student Kicked, Tased Before Death; "Washington Post" Reporter. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 10, 2015 - 08:00   ET


PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (via telephone): -- protest the war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish separatists. So that's the context, and I basically completely agree with Phil what the universal suspects with both the intent and the capability to do this are the Kurdish separatists and ISIS.

That said, you know, tens of thousands of people have died in the war between the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists. This is a much longer fight that's been going on for decades. Turkey's conflict with ISIS is much more recent, since July that Turkey has allowed airstrikes from its bases into the ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.

So of the two, historically there is much more violence directed at the Turkish state by the Kurds than by ISIS, but those are the two principal groups that we would be looking at for this attack.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Phil, as Peter said, Turkey had been reluctant to get fully into this fight against ISIS for some time. Any indication that this will shake their resolve, considering they're fairly new to this fight in the way they are fighting at this point?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think their resolve has been shaky all along. We've been able to use their air base for airstrikes. They went into this saying they are participating in the coalition against ISIS.

If you look at the strikes that they have taken since they started saying they would participate in the coalition, most of those strikes have not been against ISIS, they've been against Kurdish targets.

So I think they were reluctant to get into the fight and they're going to continue to look at this fight on their border as something that's a NATO fight, but that they don't want the frontline participation just because of what we've seen today.

They know the implications of a weak border. They can't control that border and if they get too heavily involved in this, I think they'll see more ISIS attacks.

BLACKWELL: Again, Peter, do you, no claim of responsibility, the two suspects that have been outlined here, ISIS and the PKK. Does this have the signature of either group one more than the other?

BERGEN: I don't think so, Victor. I think from what we know, it has been a suicide bomber. Both groups have deployed these in the past. I would say that when we've seen ISIS attacks, they've tended to be in the border region along the Turkish-Syrian border.

This is, of course, in the capital of Ankara in the middle of the country so that's something to think about and again go back to the context as well. This is a rally to protest the war by the Turkish state and the Kurdish separatists, so that's the context.

BLACKWELL: All right, Peter Bergen, Phil Mudd, thank you both. We'll continue to follow this breaking news throughout the morning.

All right, now the latest in the race for the White House, just three days away now from the first Democratic presidential debate here on CNN. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders going off script in Arizona, making a fierce pitch for sensible gun control, as he calls it.

A huge rally last night, 13,000 supporters there showed up. Earlier in the day the state was shaken by another incident of gunfire, a freshman at Northern Arizona University shot four students, killing one.

Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from Boulder, Colorado where Bernie Sanders is set to hold a rally later today and it looks like he's going to hone in on this message of gun control and analysts say Hillary Clinton was moving to the left.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Victor, and especially in the wake of this most recent shootings, this is a big area of vulnerability for Bernie Sanders. It's clear that the campaign understands it.

As you said, Hillary Clinton one of the very few areas where she really runs to the left of him, he's much more moderate. We've seen Hillary Clinton really emphasize her gun control plan this week, really pushing that message more towards the debate.

Clear that she is going to make this line of distinction with Sanders at the debate stage. Sanders, interestingly enough, last night in Tucson, he deviated from his speech specifically talking about the recent shootings, calling for an expansion of background checks, closing of the gun show loophole.

But certainly his past record, past votes will be much more scrutinized on that debate stage because he has not always been in line with this position. But here's how he offered up his explanation last night in Tucson.


BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There will be disagreements on how we go forward in terms of gun safety. I think the vast majority of the American people want us to move forward in sensible ways, which keeps guns out of the hands of people who should not have that.


SERFATY: And certainly those differences between Sanders and Clinton and the other candidates up there on the stage will be really on those small differences that are very important in the Democratic primary.

[08:05:08] Now for this weekend, though, heading into the debate, for Bernie Sanders it is all about momentum. In addition to that big rally in Tucson, he will have a big rally here later today in Boulder, Colorado. He will lay out his endorsement. Secretary Clinton has more than 100 endorsements already.

BLACKWELL: And will pick up another one soon we hear. Sunlen Serfaty for us there in Boulder. Thank you so much.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Meantime, all eyes are on Delaware this morning where Vice President Joe Biden is huddling with his family and we may soon finally get an answer over whether he's going to make a run for president.

This comes after a new clue emerged on Friday and that's where we learned Biden's aides met with officials at the Democratic National Committee. They discussed important aspects of state filing deadlines and other things crucial to a presidential bid.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent, Chris Frates. Good morning to you. So what do you think? How soon do you think he's going to decide one way or another?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison. Joe Biden is slated to sit down with his family this weekend to talk about whether he should run for president and it's a decision the vice president and his advisers have been waiting for months now.


FRATES (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden spent the last week proving just how popular he is with key Democratic groups, a status that could come in handy should he run for president. He was the keynote speaker at the dinner for the nation's largest gay rights organization, The Human Rights Campaign.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are still those shrill voices in the national political arena trying to undo what's finally been done, but they're not going to succeed. Don't worry about it.

FRATES: He slammed Republicans for their immigration positions in an appearance before a Latinos political action committee.

BIDEN: The American people are so much better. They are so far beyond, they are so, so, so much different than knees guys who are appealing to everything from homophobia to this notion of -- you know, the know nothing party. FRATES: Sources say privately Biden is leaving the impression with some allies that he's leaning toward a run. They say he'll announce his decision within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the candidate to beat, former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, continues to attack left on key issues, including the Keystone pipeline, Washington reform, and the Pacific trade deal.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I know about it as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.

FRATES: Clinton is both trying to blunt the rise of rival Bernie Sanders filled by the parties progressively and draw distinctions between herself and President Obama. If Biden runs, he would likely do the opposite.

BIDEN: When the president and I took office, we knew we had to make some tough and incredibly unpopular decisions.


FRATES: So Biden's scene took another step towards prepping a presidential run this week when they met with Democratic National Committee officials to talk about what a campaign would entail.

And as Biden continues to make noise on the sidelines, Clinton is having to deal with his effects on the field. While she leads the polls nationally, a Quinnipiac survey this week showed Biden doing better against several Republican rivals than Clinton in several key battleground states -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, and the wait continues to see what Biden is going to do. Chris Frates, thank you so much for that.

A reminder, you can catch the first Democratic presidential debate this Tuesday. That's October 13th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: All right, so we talked about the White House, let's talk about Congress because there is some action there, will Paul Ryan be the next speaker of the House? He said several times he doesn't want the job, but he's being courted by some of the GOP's biggest names. There is competition, though. We'll break down the competition and Paul Ryan in a moment.

Plus dangerous skies, Russian and coalition forces on the attack in Syria. Now it's forcing the U.S. and Russia to talk as early as today.

Also a 21-year-old dies in police custody. Now this video, new video, dramatic, it could shed light on exactly what happened.




KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: There's something to be said for us to unite. We probably need a fresh face, but the one thing I've found when talking to everybody, if we're going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that.


BLACKWELL: All right, so Kevin McCarthy says a fresh face is needed, who is the fresh face to replace Speaker Boehner now that McCarthy has dropped out? Right now, there are three main frontrunners. There are a lot of names being tossed around, but the most popular man in the race now is Paul Ryan.

He serves as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, but he's most memorable as the 2012 vice presidential nominee with Mitt Romney first elected to the House in 1998.

Up next you got Jason Chaffetz. He is the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He also is responsible for launching the high profile investigations of the Secret Service, Planned Parenthood, that was just a few days ago actually. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, a fourth term in the House of Representatives.

Next up, Daniel Webster of Florida, he's a third term member of the House and a member of the House Transportation Committee, served as the speaker for the Florida House of Representatives, a favorite here of the freedom caucus.

So who is the best person for the job? Remember, these are just three of many names that are being tossed around. Let's bring in CNN political commentator, Ben Ferguson, and a former Reagan White House political director, Jeffrey Lord.

Ben, I want to start with you. The Freedom Caucus here is holding a lot of weight, maybe 30 members or so.


BLACKWELL: Are they going to require -- is there a litmus test that they're going to require the next speaker to meet?

FERGUSON: I don't know if it's a litmus test as much as it is are you going to actually stand up for members that have come more recently to the House of Representatives and not pay attention to us?

One of the things that got McCarthy and also Boehner in big trouble was when new people came in, they pretty much said sit in the back of the room, shut up and learn how we do things and we'll tell you when you can have an opinion.

And that's what got them in trouble, because people when they're elected, they go to Washington with a set of ideas that got them there, that people responded to, and I think that's why you see this infighting. I actually think this is a very good thing for the party. Some have tried to overplay it saying this is terrible and dysfunctional for the GOP. This is the old guard going out and the new guard coming in.

So I don't think it's a litmus test as much as it is, we don't want to sit around in the back of the room for another four years or six years or eight years like you guys have been treating us so far.

[08:15:03] BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, I'm going to come to you on Paul Ryan. Ryan has said several times he doesn't want the job, but he's spending the weekend thinking about this. What's the appeal to him beyond for the good of the party, for the institution? This is a young man who has political aspirations beyond the House.

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I'm not sure that taking the speakership is the place for him to go if he someday wants to be president of the United States, which is certainly an obvious thought here.

Look, I think one of the candidates, and I know people will resist this, is the obvious, Newt Gingrich. You don't have to be member of the House to be speaker of the House. He has been speaker of the House. He was a successful speaker.

As I said in a column for "Conservative Review," he has the strategy chops that are better than sudden sue. He really knows his business, he knows the House, he knows strategy. He's very good at it.

What you have to have in this job is someone that appeals to the kind of folks that Ben is talking about here, who is willing to actually do something, to take a loss on occasion if that need be, and to put principle out there, which is what Ronald Reagan used to do.

That's the question here. Whether Paul Ryan fits the bill, I don't know whether he wants to fit the bill and run around the country raising money for candidates --

BLACKWELL: But quickly, I want to respond to this possibility of Newt Gingrich, which has been tossed around before, it's not the first time he was introduced, but also is there anyone with broad enough shoulders, enough weight in the House or the party to wrangle everyone to support someone if it isn't Paul Ryan?

FERGUSON: I'm not sure that it's going to be -- well, and I don't think it's going to be Newt Gingrich. It has nothing to do with him personally. I just can't imagine that scenario becoming reality.

I think what you're going to see at some point is the Republican guys in the House will realize they have to make a decision, they have to pick somebody. So you're going to see somebody who gets this job, and I don't think it will be ugly.

I think Paul Ryan has the inside track. What he said was I don't want it, and I can understand why. Rarely can the speaker of the House run for the presidency, which is obviously on his mind. You are the core of what people hate in politics, Congress, and you're the man in charge of Congress.

For him if he's willing to give that up, I think he did a great job as speaker, and I think he'll get the votes needed to do it. The question is, are you willing to tailor the dream of the White House to become the speaker of the House in many ways become the most hated man in politics?

BLACKWELL: Do you think Paul Ryan will take the job if he'll run? Jeffrey, first to you.

LORD: Yes, I think he might, but you know, if memory serves, the last time a speaker of the House went on to become president was 1844 with James K. Polk. Not exactly a record there.

BLACKWELL: Ben, do you think he'll run? Do you think he'll take it?

FERGUSON: I do, and I think the big key was him saying putting that letter out early saying, absolutely not, I don't want this job, I want to stay in Ways and Means, and I want to work on budget. He's a budget guy.

Then all of a sudden he says, OK, hold on, wait a second, I'm going to think about it over the weekend. You don't change that quickly unless there is a very good chance you, in fact, are going to run, and I think he'll have the support.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's a crucial time for Paul Ryan and for the House. Ben Ferguson, Jeffrey Lord, thank you both -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK, defending North Korea, Kim Jong-Un makes a strong statement against the U.S. That's coming up.

Plus airstrikes over Syria now bringing the United States and Russia to the negotiating table, possibly today. What's behind this next step for safety in the skies? That's coming up.



KOSIK: It's a big day for North Korea as it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Ruling Workers Party. The country is holding one of its biggest celebrations ever in a carefully choreographed military parade to show its strength and grandeur.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un says the nation is prepared to, quote, "fight any kind of war waged by the U.S." He's the third generation of the Kim family to rule North Korea. We'll have this story from Pyongyang throughout the morning.

BLACKWELL: Actor, Shia LaBeouf was arrested for public intoxication in Texas last night. "The Transformers" star has had various run-ins with the law recently. Last year, he agreed to get alcohol abuse treatment as part of a settlement related to a Broadway meltdown.

KOSIK: South Carolina just can't catch a break at the moment. It's getting hammered again with more rain. The area is still trying to recover from record flooding last week. Now there are flood watches across the state and flood warnings for the hardest hit areas.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar with two l's, not one, tracking the rain in the area, but I want to know how much more rain and flooding can this area expect?

ALLISON CHINCAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, that's the thing. The overall numbers aren't that impressive, it's just the fact that they're getting it on top of what they already had.

So right now, you can see, we still have a lot of these flood watches and warnings out for much of the area. Here's a look at the current radar.

It's already raining pretty heavily in Southern South Carolina, rumbles of thunder as well. Once we look at the amounts expected again, they don't look that impressive on paper.

One, two inches in most areas, but there will be pockets of three to four inches on top of that. The issue is that they had 10, 15, 20 inches last weekend, so this one to two inches, unfortunately, just delays a lot of the cleanup.

Take a look beneath me. You'll see a lot of the rivers they have over in this area. One thing to note is that some of them, especially a few in particular, have finally just begun to crest in the last couple of days.

So you factor in that one or two extra inches of rain, especially along the Santee River where it still is not likely to begin to come down from that crest until Monday.

So, again, Alison, even adding just a simple one or two inches on the top of these rivers and creeks allows that healing process much slower. So, again, we don't expect those rivers to improve until at least Monday.

KOSIK: Yes, more rain is the last thing South Carolina needs. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much for that.

BLACKWELL: New talks could start as early as today between the U.S. and Russia. This time we're talking about dangerous skies over Syria. Could this lead to some greater breakthrough?

[08:25:10] Also an altercation led to the death of an inmate, attorneys say, now this new dramatic video is showing the fight between the restrained man. Both sides have been waiting to analyze this. We'll do it in a moment.

KOSIK: But first a former real estate executive loses his money at the start of the recession in 2007 and uses the experience to lead him to his true passion, creating industrial art. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JP MCCHESNEY, OWNER, DANGEROUS COLOR: My name is JP McChesney. I'm an artist here in Atlanta, owner of Dangerous Color. Before the art world I was in the real estate business and did well, but ultimately not overly satisfying.

Then the market disappeared, as did the money. In 2007 as the market was starting to crash, I moved on, but it was a real point in time to change. I've wanted to be an artist my whole life, so I decided to take a run at it.

Most of what we do is furniture, but I do have a separate line of wall pieces, sculptural, old vintage pieces. This particular piece is from the doobie brothers "Long Train Running." It says, if there weren't love, where would you be now?

When I started this, I was in a small garage. I was doing all this stuff with materials from a junkyard. Now we're a 30,000-square-foot facility, shipping this all over the world. If that's living the dream, I'm there. I'm happy.



[08:30:38] BLACKWELL: More on the breaking news now that we've been following this morning: horror unfolding right now in Turkey's capital city. Two bombs now -- two bombs ripped through a peaceful rally outside Ankara's busiest train station.

Turkey's interior ministry says at least 30 people have died. More than 130 have been injured. Witnesses say the blast was so powerful, it shook high-rises nearby.

Joining us now on the phone freelance journalist Andrew Finkel. Andrew -- what are you hearing there? We know you're in Turkey.

ANDREW FINKEL, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Yes, that's right. This is -- obviously the bomb was designed to do maximum damage and maximum harm. People were gathering for a rally to call attention to a deteriorating security situation in the southeast. There's been fighting going on, people from all over the country were gathering for a march where they could give peace a chance, but of course peace wasn't given a chance.

There were two bombs. These were covered bombs, ball bearings, designed to cause maximum death and damage. They went off one after another, causing the death and injuries which you described.

BLACKWELL: So no claim of responsibility yet. But has the government responded in any significant way?

FINKEL: The government apart from (inaudible) none has claimed responsibility though one of the opposition leaders in Turkey had blamed the Islamic forces, the IS -- the people active over the border in Syria for having done this. There was a similar incident not that long ago in Turkey. This is just the run-up to a major election in Turkey. There is going

to be rallies throughout the country in the next month. So this is clearly a blast to interfere with the government (inaudible) and of course, the government is very concerned there having obviously to come out of the direction (ph) ahead -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Andrew Finkel there for us in Turkey getting us the latest on those twin bombings this morning.

Phil Mudd, CNN's counterterrorism analyst joins us now for more. I want you to -- you know, when we last spoke, we talked about ISIS and the PKK. But the element of the elections that are coming up -- that could play a significant role in the timing and the location.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think you're right. I wouldn't bet right now -- I'm not sure whether it was IS or the Kurds. I'd have to stick with the Kurds if I were going to have to be forced to make a decision for the reason you raised. There's been peace talks for some time, relative peace after years of fighting between the PKK and the Turkish government.

These are very sensitive times, and it looks like those peace talks and the relative calm is being reversed, especially with the elections coming up. I'm not sure who did this, but the location, the fact that there are peace marches going on, the upcoming elections -- if you had to side with somebody you would say these are Kurdish separatists who are back on the war path after it looked we're on a fairly sort of peaceful path for a while. Things are getting tense in Turkey.

BLACKWELL: Well, you know, in the discussion of ISIS we had an expert on here on CNN who said after Turkey entered this fight against ISIS in a substantial way, this person said, as soon as Turkey is really hurting IS, you will see these attacks. Is this an indication that Turkey is having some impact, possibly, against ISIS?

MUDD: If this is an ISIS attack, certainly that's the result of the Turks getting involved in a fight against ISIS going back to midsummer. The Turks were really reluctant to start locking and loading on ISIS targets. And obviously they're geographically right there.

The U.S. forces and others had been pressing them to say, look, you guys are on the front lines. We need your help not only on the border but also to let us stage airstrikes from your air bases and to get involved yourselves.

So back in the summertime, the Turks said, ok, we're going to get in this game. Everybody, including me, were saying as soon as the Turks get in, ISIS is going to start to say if you guys are going to hit us, we're right across the border. We're going to show up in Turkey and start staging suicide bombs.

That's why it's so difficult to determine today whether this was ISIS people who are riled after the Turks' engagement in Syria or whether it's the PKK who were starting to say -- the Kurds who were starting to say we're going to start fighting the government again. BLACKWELL: All right. Phil Mudd, CNN's counterterrorism analyst.

Phil -- thank you so much for your insight.

MUDD: Thank you.

[08:35:04] ALISON KOSIK, CNN HOST: Still ahead, dangerous skies -- Russian and coalition forces on the attack in Syria. Now it's forcing the U.S. and Russia to talk as early as today.


KOSIK: In the last 24 hours, Russia has carried out 64 missions in Syria. That's according to the ministry of defense who said the strikes hit 55 ISIS targets, taking out some of the terror group's biggest logistics centers and ammunition depots.

Also new this morning Russia has agreed to resume talks with the U.S. over air safety during bombing campaigns possibly as soon as this weekend. There have been growing concerns of an accidental jet collision as the two countries both pursue bombing campaigns over Syria.

Let's bring in CNN's Ian Lee live from Cairo with the latest. You know, we're seeing just how messy this conflict is getting because this just comes days after the U.S. military reported they were forced to divert two aircraft over Syria because of a Russian fighter jet -- Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alison, and you have about a 20-mile leeway there. The United States not wanting any of their aircraft within 20 miles of a Russian aircraft. When that does happen, they abort the mission, they pull back. Really, they don't want to have a mishap over Syria, especially one where a U.S. pilot would have to parachute out over Syria down below where ISIS is operating.

[08:39:54] Russia has been very aggressive over the skies as well. There have been incursions into Turkey and this is not only concerning to the United States and Turkey but also NATO as Turkey is a NATO member but we've also had had U.S. drones being followed by Russian aircraft.

So this meeting is going to be crucial to set up some rules for the skies to make sure that no U.S. pilots come in harm's way or are engaged in any activity that could put them in any jeopardy -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Ian Lee, we will continue to follow this very -- this breaking story as it develops. Ian Lee -- thanks so much.

Let's go to Naveed Jamali, he's a former double agent for the FBI who pretended to work for the Russians and he's the author of "How to Catch a Russian Spy". Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

NAVEED JAMALI, AUTHOR: Hey, Alison. Thanks for having me.

KOSIK: So what do you think? What, if anything, do you expect these talks to accomplish? I mean you look at Vladimir Putin, he seems to be running the show. And you look at President Obama who seems to be losing influence and leverage in this as Putin seems to be redefining the rules of engagement here.

JAMALI: Yes certainly, Alison. I watch this and I feel like Putin is out-Reaganing us. I mean it's this sort of bizarre world where we're in a position where we're frankly just reacting to the Russians. It is Putin calling the shots. They're in a position of strength going into these negotiations.

KOSIK: So with Putin calling the shots, who would enforce any agreement at this point?

JAMALI: So let's talk about what they mean when they say de- conflicting air space. I mean really what it means to me is that the Russians are going to take their crayons. They're going to draw a circle around a piece of Syrian air space and say, we're flying here, you're not. And so essentially what that means is that bound the United States in a position which we have to sort of alter our plans.

In 14 years, we have never had limitations of freedom of movement. And this is a fairly big game changer.

KOSIK: You know, there were allegations that Russian missiles crash- landed in Iran over the past week. Why is it that Russia is refuting these claims that their missiles crashed, and obviously, so is Iran?

JAMALI: Well, because the Russians are excellent at information warfare. I mean this is -- for them this is a pure -- I mean besides the tactical advantage of propping Assad up what they're doing is making us look pretty bad. So they're not going to want to admit any failure on their part.

And look, again I go back to what they've accomplished. I mean they have 30 jets. They fired a few cruise missiles. We fired probably more cruise missiles in the first few hours of Gulf War I than they've done combined.

So from a tactical and military perspective, it's not really all that impressive. What is impressive is the political gains they've done with such limited resources, which is to basically limit our freedom of movement and force our hand to cut off supplying the FSA.

KOSIK: What can the U.S. do at this point Naveed, to make itself less passive in this and really take control of what's going on?

JAMALI: Well, you know, the Russians since the dawn of the Soviet Union, nothing has changed in regards of how they view us and they view us as their main enemy. That's just how they're trained. That's how their military is trained, that's how Putin who is a scholar of the Cold War -- this is how they think of us.

And frankly we have to reposition ourselves. You've heard President Obama speak of his pivot to the Pacific. Look, China and Russia are our main adversaries now. Terrorism is, of course, always a major threat, but as we're seeing with ISIL, it's regional. ISIL doesn't have planes, they certainly, thank God, don't have nuclear weapons.

The Russians and the Chinese can position themselves anywhere in the world they want to and can test us. We have to start to thinking in that framework.

KOSIK: Do you think that Russia is even trying to take down ISIS forces in Syrias at this point?

JAMALI: I think probably not. I think it's more showmanship. They've gotten what they want, which is to protect Assad from our airstrikes and to sever us supporting anti-Assad movement. That's primarily what they care about.

ISIL -- look, they've got -- must have some agreement with the Iranians who's working with Hezbollah to actually take on the groundwork. As long as the coastal region remains under Assad's control, I'm sure the Russians are more than happy.

KOSIK: All right. We shall see what happens with the talks between the U.S. and Russia if they happen as early as this weekend. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of those.

Naveed Jamali -- thanks so much for your analysis.

JAMALI: Thanks -- Alison.

BLACKWELL: Jailhouse death. A restrained student dies after an altercation with officers. And now there's new video and new details that are coming out about what happened. We'll talk about those.

Plus 445 days. That's how long a "Washington Post" reporter has been jailed in Iran -- longer than any other American held in Iran. Is there any hope for his release soon? We'll talk about that as well.

Stay with us.


KOSIK: New video this morning -- you're looking at it right there -- police fighting with a suspect just a short time before he was found dead in a jail cell.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is the new video of Matthew Ajibade (ph) fighting with police. They're shown here -- it was shown in court earlier this week. And it's shedding light on the final hours of this 21-year-old student. He died in police custody earlier this year.

Nick Valencia has been following this story not just this morning but for months now.

Nick the family, Ajibade's family has been waiting for some time, fighting to get this video.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For months, and they say this is their first glimmer of hope at any information. It's this video that jurors will use to decide the fate of three Georgia authorities who are charged with the death -- in the death, I should say of 21-year- old Matthew Ajibade who died while in police custody.

Let's just get straight to this video. It's from January 1, after Ajibade is arrested for a domestic disturbance call. His girlfriend called police on him because of a bipolar medical episode.

Now this video shows Ajibade resisting with police appearing agitated. You could see them engaged in a scuffle with him. At one point, an officer approaches Ajibade with a taser to try to restrain Ajibade. Ajibade is able to wrestle that taser away from the officer and that's when things escalate.

That's what you just saw there, the officer coming in to try to put him back into custody. He is hog-tied and dragged off.

Now, the family attorney says that this video proves that officers went too far, but during court testimony this week, the supervisor who was on staff during the time of the incident who was coincidentally forced to retire -- she says that this video stands in the officers' favor.


DEBORAH JOHNSON, FORMER CHATHAM COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: He was using force continuum, and it appeared that he punched the subject because he had a weapon in his hand at that time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Force justified.

JOHNSON: Force is assumed to be justified, yes, sir.


VALENCIA: Nine deputies were forced to retire, be fired or resign as a result of this incident. Two deputies, I should mention, are now charged with involuntary manslaughter. A nurse is also accused of not checking in on his well-being.

Was it excessive force? Was it justified? That's the question that jurors will attempt to answer at a trial that's just getting started.

[08:50:04] KOSIK: Could you tell if there is any real reaction to watching this video for the first time?

VALENCIA: Well, I think the interesting point in all this Alison is that both sides feel that this proves their point.

BLACKWELL: This vindicates them.

VALENCIA: That this vindicates them. You have Mark O'Mara, the family attorney saying this shows that officers went too far. You have the police and the defense attorneys who I reached out to say this proves that the officers were over charged.

We did reach out, I should mention, to all three attorneys for those defendants. Only one got back to us and did say that he believes his client was a scapegoat and has been over charged in this. He's saying that there was even other supervisors that could have the chance to have checked on Ajibade after he was restrained and put into that jail cell, that it wasn't incumbent on his client that all deputies should bear some burden in that.

BLACKWELL: Did they check on him because at the center of this, there is also a medical condition and medication that was provided, right?

VALENCIA: And that's what Mark O'Mara was talking about yesterday during my interview that he says this speaks to the lack of awareness that police have when dealing with somebody who is suffering from a medical emergency.

He was diagnosed according to his family as bipolar and that's what initially got the cops involved. His girlfriend, they were in an argument outside a gas station, a public argument outside, and that's when police officers were called. Now jurors are going to have to decide whether or not authorities were justified or whether they used excessive force while he was in police custody.

KOSIK: And we know you are following this trial and you'll stay on top of it.

VALENCIA: Absolutely.

KOSIK: Nick Valencia -- thanks so much.

VALENCIA: You got it. Thanks -- Alison.

BLACKWELL: Thank you Nick.

KOSIK: All right. It's a new milestone for Jason Rezaian. He's the "Washington Post" reporter who's spent more time in an Iranian prison than the diplomats and U.S. citizens held hostage after the Iranian revolution. Does he have any hope of being released?

Donald Trump holding strong against his GOP rivals and he's branching out away from New Hampshire and Iowa -- where he's headed to today -- coming up in our 10:00 Eastern hour.


KOSIK: New this morning. Today is the 446th day that "Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian is spending in an Iranian prison. That's more time than the Americans held during the Iranian hostage crisis back in the 70s.

Rezaian is one of three Americans being held prisoner in Iran.

BLACKWELL: Yes. He was charged with espionage but no verdict was reached even after a closed door trial.

Let's bring Martin Baron, executive editor of the "Washington Post". First -- good to have you.

I just want to start generally with, you know, this marker, 445 days your colleague having -- being held longer than those back in the Carter administration. No American has been held in Iran longer.

MARTIN BARON, "WASHINGTON POST": That's correct. This is a really sad and tragic milestone. It just shows the extent of the injustice by the Iranian government to have held an innocent person for this long.

KOSIK: Martin, let's go ahead and listen to what Rezaian had to say about the fear of being detained just before he was taken captive. Let's go to what he said and then I'll come back to you with a question.


JASON REZAIAN, IMPRISONED IN IRAN: I wasn't so much fearful about being detained, but I was told last Wednesday that I have to stop working. They revoked my press pass a couple days before and said it's expired.


KOSIK: Sounding very brave there. What is next for him? Will the U.S. find a solution on getting him released?

BARON: Well, we're very concerned for his situation because there does not seem to be a lot of progress in discussions between the U.S. government and the Iranian government. These discussions have been taking place all alongside the nuclear talks, but they were separate from the nuclear talks.

And the U.S. government has assured us that those talks continue now with the Iranians, but we've seen no progress. It appears that the Iranians are looking for some sort of prisoner exchange, an exchange for perhaps three Americans who were held prisoner in Iran, including Jason, for perhaps as many as 19 Iranians who are held prisoner either in the United States or overseas at the behest of the United States. And there doesn't seem to be a lot of progress.

BLACKWELL: You know, Rezaian's brother was on with Jake Tapper yesterday on the 444th day. How is his family coping? How are they holding up?

BARON: Well, I think everybody is very concerned for his physical condition. As you can imagine, he's being held in the worst prison in Iran. He's been there for such a long period of time. And you can imagine also the psychological suffering that he's experiencing as a result of that.

Recall that for the first several months he was held in solitary confinement. So it's a terrible situation. They're still hopeful, of course, still pushing very hard for his release but very concerned for his condition.

KOSIK: You touched on this, but one needs to know how frustrating it is that the U.S. has been able to come to this agreement with Iran on its nuclear program in hopes of better relations. Is it the thinking that Tehran should release all American prisoners now that those relations seem to be a little bit better?

BARON: Well, that's certainly my view, that all Americans should be released. As far as I know, all of the Americans who are being held in Iran are innocent. Certainly our correspondent, Jason Rezaian, is innocent. He's done absolutely nothing wrong. And the Iranians have had all this period of time to produce evidence publicly to show that he engaged in any wrongdoing, and they've been unable to do so. In fact, the entire trial was held in secret.

BLACKWELL: You're the executive editor, and maybe this is a question best for Brian Stelter, but I wonder the sensitivity of covering this when you're so close to Jason Rezaian and striking that balance.

BARON: Well, that's always tricky, of course. We try to cover subjects subjectively, and we believe that we've done so in this instance as well. I think our coverage is pretty much reflective of the kind of coverage that's been in other media as well.

But obviously this is one of our own -- Jason is one of our own, and we're very concerned for his condition, and we know that he's done absolutely nothing wrong.

BLACKWELL: All right. Martin Baron of the "Washington Post" -- thank you so much for being with us.

BARON: Thank you.

[09:00:01] BLACKWELL: That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of "NEWSROOM".

KOSIK: Don't go away. "SMERCONISH" starts now.