Return to Transcripts main page


Tensions Grow in Israel; Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Trump vs Bush; Israeli Arab Kills Soldier at Bus Station; Interview with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; CNN Poll: Clinton Won Debate, Doesn't Get Big Bounce. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 19, 2015 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Jeb Bush and Donald Trump locked in a fierce and uncomfortable debate about 9/11.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, just a few minutes ago, Donald Trump launching yet another rhetorical salvo, seeming to question this time whether George W. Bush missed the warning signs of the worst terrorist attack in American history. Jeb Bush this weekend saying all of this makes him seriously wonder if Trump can be trusted with nuclear weapons. It's a fight that keeps getting nastier.

The national lead: Did the U.S. spy chief just get hacked and spied upon by a teenager? The FBI and U.S. Secret Service are now investigating whether a high school student compromised CIA Director John Brennan's AOL account.

Plus, our buried lead, he never saw combat while in uniform, but he wanted to take the fight to the terrorists in Syria, so he Googled how to do it -- our interview with a Rhode Island Army vet rant who went rogue to fight ISIS.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead starts us off. Donald Trump is now taking on George W. Bush on the subject of 9/11 in a manner more aggressive than John Kerry or almost any major Democrat ever attempted. Trump fired the first shots on Friday when he said this to Bloomberg Television:

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.

QUESTION: Hold on. That -- you can't blame George Bush for that.


TRUMP: He was president, OK? What -- don't -- blame him or don't blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.


TAPPER: George W. Bush's brother Jeb took issue, joined me for an interview over the weekend to respond to Trump. And the back and forth has not stopped.

Let's bring in CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, Trump critics are saying that this fight illustrates that Jeb has a brother-shaped albatross around his neck.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, in many areas, that is true, but Bush aides insist to me this is one they see more as a badge of honor than an albatross, because this is one of the few areas where conservatives seems to be on Jeb Bush's side and not so much on Donald Trump's.

And it's something that is rare this election year and welcome inside the Bush campaign.


BASH (voice-over): A political duel about America's catastrophe on 9/11, 2001, playing out in a very 2016 way, on Twitter.

Donald Trump tweeting today of Jeb Bush: "I'm fighting to make sure it doesn't happen again. Jeb is too soft."

That after Bush had tweeted: "Donald Trump talks about foreign policy as though he's still on 'The Apprentice.'"

At issue, Trump's suggestions that Jeb's brother George W. Bush could have done more as president to prevent the September 11 terror attacks.

TRUMP: Don't -- blame him or don't blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.

BASH: It's a delayed response to one of Jeb Bush's most passionate moments at CNN's debate last month.

TRUMP: Your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

I don't know if you remember...


BASH: Trump is now even suggesting he could have stopped the 9/11 hijackers from getting into the U.S. in the first place.

TRUMP: I'm extremely tough on people coming into this country. I doubt that those people would have been in the country. BASH: For the record, the 9/11 Commission said only two of the 19

hijackers overstayed their visas. But others gamed the immigration system.

The commissioner also said the attack was a shock, but should not have come as a surprise.

Still, Jeb Bush's campaign thinks Trump's latest rant handed them a winning issue, seizing on Trump's comments, even asking for campaign donations with this e-mail, saying, "If you believe, as I do, that my brother kept this country safe and strong after those horrific attacks, then I need you to donate $5 and fight back against Donald Trump."

While Jeb Bush's campaign aides knew his brother's legacy over the Iraq War would be a challenge...


BASH: ... 9/11 was something team Bush never dreamed would be an issue. And they're happy to relitigate.

J. BUSH: Next week, Mr. Trump is probably going to say that FDR was around when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. It's what you do after that matters. And that's the sign of leadership.

BASH: Trump is not backing down.

TRUMP: I'm not blaming George Bush, but I don't want Jeb Bush to say "My brother kept us safe," because September 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country.


BASH: This afternoon, Trump tweeted a link to a three-year-old "New York Times" story about the infamous classified presidential daily brief that George W. Bush got about a month before 9/11.

The headline there, of course, as we all remember, was, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." Of course, it happened. Now, Trump, of course, as you can see by that tweet and others even since then, he's not letting up on this. But Bush is ready to counterpunch. He made that clear in your interview yesterday.


TAPPER: Very interesting. Dana Bash, thank you very much.

Jeb Bush told me on "STATE OF THE UNION" that he has no idea why Donald Trump keeps raising this issue and that his willingness to turn a national tragedy into a political talking point -- quote -- "calls into question Mr. Trump's credibility as commander in chief."

Take a listen.


J. BUSH: my brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do.

He united the country. He organized our country, and he kept us safe.

TAPPER: Obviously, al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attack of 9/11.

J. BUSH: Yes.

TAPPER: But how do you respond to critics who ask, if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?

J. BUSH: Well, I -- it's -- the question on then Benghazi, which is -- hopefully we'll now finally get the truth to, is, was that -- was the -- was the place secure? They had a responsibility, the Department of State, to have proper security.

There were calls for security. It looks like they didn't get it. And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack? Was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That's what the investigation is about. It's not a political issue. It's not about the broad policy issue, is, were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates, and during the period, those hours after the attacks started, could they have been saved?

TAPPER: Well, that's -- that's kind of proving the point of the critics I was just asking about, because -- you don't want to have your brother bear responsibility for 9/11.

And I understand that argument and al Qaeda is responsible. But why are the terrorists not the ones who are responsible for these attacks in Libya?

J. BUSH: They are. Of course they are. But -- of course they are.

But if the ambassador was asking for additional security and didn't get it, that's a proper point. And if it's proven that the security was adequate compared to other embassies, fine. We'll move on.

TAPPER: Now, you're making some very strong statements about Donald Trump in this interview this morning.

You just put out a new Web ad, in fact, attacking Trump, saying he's not serious.

Let's play a clip from that.



(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, the ad goes on to highlight, or lowlight, depending on your point of view, of -- Trump's moments in which I'm sure you would argue he's not being serious.

In light of this new ad, let me re-ask you what I asked at the last debate: Do you feel comfortable with Donald Trump's hand on the nation's nuclear codes? Your ad seems to be stating very clearly that you do not. You invoke the number of nuclear weapons the United States has.

J. BUSH: I -- I have grave doubts, to be honest with you.

And it's only because of the things he says. It looks as though he doesn't -- he's not taking the responsibility, the possibility of being president of the United States really seriously. For him, it looks as though it's -- he's an actor playing a role of the candidate for president, not boning up on the issues, not having a broad sense of the responsibilities of what it is to be a president.

In his own words, it gives me great concern, for sure. And a lot of other people will as well.


TAPPER: Let's talk about this feud dominating the race for the Republican nomination, as well as much, much more, with Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.


TAPPER: Now, I have to say, when it comes to George W. Bush and when it comes to Donald Trump, I don't know who you disagree with more. Where do you come down on this debate?

PAUL: You know, I think that, obviously, we have to start with terrorists are always primarily responsible for attacks.


PAUL: And once we get beyond that, there are some parallels, of course.

I mean, going in to 9/11, the biggest failure of the Bush administration, but really of the FBI, was that we caught the 20th hijacker a month in advance.

TAPPER: Zacarias Moussaoui.

PAUL: Yes.

He wrote 70 -- the FBI agent that caught him wrote 70 letters to FBI headquarters, saying, we should look at this guy's computer, we should get a warrant. And we never did. That was a huge failure. And I never quite understood why someone wasn't fired over 9/11. I

still ask that question. Over 9/11, no one was ever fired. And there were some mistakes. I mean, we also had a report coming out of Arizona of people trying to fly planes, but not learn how to land them. So there obviously were some mistakes. Those are the parallels.

The differences are Itt do agree with what Jeb Bush said. Hillary Clinton was specifically asked for security, specifically, and denied. I asked her in person, did you read the cables? And she kind of acted like she was kind of too busy and way too far below her.

But the secretary of state is responsible for providing the defense for the embassies. And the fact that they specifically requested not once, but dozens of times for more security does lead me to believe she does have culpability for what happened in Benghazi.


TAPPER: Well, it would seem your answer is at least consistent. You're holding both administrations accountable for what happened.

Let me ask you, though, is this below the belt for Donald Trump to bring this up? He's saying, look, Jeb Bush said, "My brother kept us safe," and that's not true.

PAUL: I think Donald Trump's a bit of a loose cannon, to say the least.

And I do agree with Jeb Bush -- and I was smiling when the ad came on, because I do think that I worry about Donald Trump being in charge of the nuclear arsenal, because I worry about him being in charge of our diplomacy. I think the level of maturity and the level of sort of vulgarity with his interactions with other candidates is something, it is not really -- doesn't really rise to the level of someone I would want representing us internationally.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about legislation that you're introducing about a big issue before the Congress right now, the debt ceiling and whether or not the nation should raise the debt ceiling to pay off the dates.

It's called cut, cap and balance. It would introduce $207 billion in cuts, while preserving spending for Medicare, Social Security, military pay and veterans benefits. Where does the $207 billion in cuts come from?

PAUL: Well, I previously introduced cuts of over $500 billion. And I have three different budgets where we do cuts.

Some of the cuts would be eliminating corporate welfare, Department of Commerce, $30 billion or $40 billion there that, if the was gone, you wouldn't know it was gone. There are several ways we could take these back to the states, such as Department of Education, nearly $90 billion, $100 billion, Department of Energy, many things I don't think you would notice if they were gone. But the main point here is -- and this is what I hear from the

grassroots Republicans across the country -- they're frustrated with official Republicans in Washington because we control the House, we control the Senate, and we're doing nothing to control the spending.

So we should use the leverage of trying to hold up on raising the debt ceiling and insist on spending reforms.

TAPPER: All right.

Stay right there. We want to talk about foreign policy in our next block. And I want to get your views on that as well. Senator Rand Paul, thanks so much.

In our world lead, a growing sense of fear after a new wave of attacks between Israelis and Palestinians, a gunman's rampage leaving one person dead and another 10 hurt, a bystander beaten when the crowd thought that he was a potential second terrorist. Can the U.S. do anything to calm the anxiety, stop the violence? That story next.


[16:16:38] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The world lead today: the surging violence between Israel and Palestinians showing no sign of letting up. Yesterday, an Arab gunman opened fire at a bus station in Beersheba, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding 10 other people. Amidst the chaos, an innocent bystander, a migrant from Africa was mistaken for a second terrorist and shot by an Israeli security guard. Graphic cell phone video captured what happened next, an angry mob of presumably Israeli bystanders kicking the 29-year-old innocent man who was lying in a pool of his own blood. He died later at the hospital.

This is just the latest incident in the escalating unrest that has folks on both sides on edge.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem.

Oren, how afraid are people there that this is basically becoming the third Palestinian uprising or intifada?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, there's definitely a sense of fear here, not necessarily of another intifada, and I'll get to that in a second, but you can feel that fear on the streets. The streets are empty. The old city is largely empty.

I walked through one of the main markets in Jerusalem earlier today. There aren't people that are out. Some of the shopkeepers I spoke with say that Israelis will come out, buy quickly and get out of there because of the fear on the streets, because of what they see as these uncontrollable, unpredictable attacks that can come from anywhere. Meanwhile, Palestinians say they're afraid because they say Israeli forces are more quick to pull the trigger. So there's fear on both sides here. But I think Israel views these attacks as uncoordinated, unconnected,

largely unpredictable. Not necessarily an intifada, an organized uprising the fear, could it turn into that?

Jake, worth noting, it's 11:20 at night here in Israeli, we're 40 minutes away from this being the first day without an attack in what seems like a long time here.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem -- Oren, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Back with us is Republican presidential candidate, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Senator, thanks for staying with us.

The violence in Israel only seems to be getting worse. If you were president right now, how would you respond and try to de-escalate tensions?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it makes me sad when I see the violence and it seems to be sort of never ending violence. I traveled over to Israel a couple years ago and I went with high hopes that I would discover what everyone else had missed over there that I was so smart that I could figure out the Middle Eastern problems and tell them how to make it better. And I came home maybe a little disappointed.

You know, I'm a physician. I always want to believe that there's an answer or diagnosis and answer. The only thing I came home I think maybe understanding is maybe there isn't an easy answer, that there's not going to be a grand sort of bargain and all of the violence goes away.

But I do think that part of the answer is maybe incremental change. And I think Israel holds a lot of the cards. Now, I don't fault Israel at all for how they defend themselves or what they do, they have to do what they have to do. But I think if you want to look for incremental change over there, it's not going to be a grand peace process. It's going to be incremental change where maybe there's more trade, the West Bank is allowed a little more autonomy with trade, maybe a little more control over the fees that go in and out of the West Bank. Little things like that, maybe eventually allowing Gaza to have a port maybe under the joint authority of Israel and others.

But it has to be incremental things. But it's not like tomorrow someone's going to end the violence. But I think incremental improvement and the wellbeing of all those who live in the confines over there is going to be part of the answer. But it won't ever be a complete, you know, sharp demarcation that this is the final solution.

[16:20:02] TAPPER: Israeli leaders blaming Palestinian leaders for inciting violence. Palestinian leaders say, look, all these young people stabbing Israelis stabbing Jews is a result of decades and decades of no hope and people living under occupation. What do you think? PAUL: I don't think there is an easy answer. And it's hard for me to

actually know the truth of everything. We can see on the news and there's probably both sides to things, but I think it's not my role or the role if I were president or as a U.S. senator to say to Israel or to say to those who live in the West Bank that I know what's best for them and I'm going to tell you how to behave.

Ultimately, peace has to come from those who live there. I think we can encourage both sides to talk, but I don't think we can ultimately -- it's always been said America is going to be part of the getting the peace plan. Really ultimately it's going to be those who live there who have to come together for peace.

TAPPER: Let's turn to an even worse situation in the neighborhood. In Syria, Barbara Starr our Pentagon correspondent, reporting that U.S. officials now estimating there are about 2,000 Iranians now fighting against ISIS alongside Russia and Assad.

You've talked about a no-fly zone. How would that work? And how aggressively should the U.S. implement it if there's a Russian fighter in the air?

PAUL: I think a no-fly zone is actually the dumbest idea I've heard of all the candidates. And you have Hillary Clinton on one side promoting it and you have five or six Republicans promoting a no-fly zone.

This would be a no-fly zone in an air space where Russia's already flying. It would be a recipe for disaster, probably a recipe for World War III. And I think it's such a bad idea that it probably won't happen. But we also have to look at where we are.

You mentioned Iran is in Iraq. Russia is in Iraq, or flying over Iraq and flying over Syria. And think about it, are we better off or worse off with Saddam Hussein gone? Did the Iraq war help us?

I think we're worse off in every way. This is the important question that Jeb Bush was asked initially and didn't quite know how to answer was knowing now what you know now would you invade Iraq again? And the answer should be absolutely not.

But the answer should also be should we go back to Iraq to another war now? Absolutely not.

TAPPER: So, your opposition to a no-fly zone in Syria, do you think those who are proposing it who include not only Republican candidates but Hillary Clinton --

PAUL: Right.

TAPPER: -- do you think they don't know what they're talking about? Are they just trying to sound tough? What's the reason behind it?

PAUL: I think they're mistaken. But I think it's the most important foreign policy question of our time, of this part of the year, this part of the debate, it should be asked of every candidate. Are you for a no-fly zone?

Because if you are for a no-fly zone, I think you're naive because I think it's a recipe for confrontation with Russia. I think many on our side, on the Republican side, who say, well, I'm going to be the next Ronald Reagan, I'm going to be the next incarnation of Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan would never do a no-fly zone. He would also never cut off communications with Putin. He kept communications through the Cold War with Gorbachev., and because he did and some Democrats as well, we kept the lines of communication open, eventually we ended up having the Cold War peacefully resolve as opposed to a war.

Those who were saying like Carly Fiorina, for example, she won't talk to Putin. She wants a no-fly zone. I'm not so sure why she has to be so bellicose, but it's really, really naive. And we should have a debate over that about who we want leading our country.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, thank you so much.

This programming note: Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will be a guest on "NEW DAY" tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern, here on CNN.

Coming up next, the first Democratic poll since their first debate. Hillary Clinton may be the front runner but a closer look at brand new CNN poll numbers is giving us new incites into this race.

And did a high school kid spy on the head spy of this country? The government's response to a teenager's claim, next.


[16:28:14] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Staying with our politics lead. The CNN/ORC score card is in and the winner of the Las Vegas debate is Hillary Clinton, at least according to our brand new survey. But that rating of her debate performance barely made a dent in our new polls pound for pound ranking.

CNN chief national correspondent John King is over at the magic wall.

John, walk us through this wall. What are Democratic voters saying?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with the question you raised, who won the debate? And the Clinton campaign, Jake, has to be very happy with this number. This is Democrats who watched. Among Democrats who watched the debate more than six in ten, 62 percent say the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the debate. Little more than a third, 35 percent, say Senator Sanders won the debate.

Part of Clinton's campaign rationale is I'm the strongest candidate to debate a Republican next year. So, the Clinton campaign will be very happy with this number.

But the overall horse race, Clinton versus Sanders, we throw Joe Biden in, didn't change all that much. If you look before the debate, Hillary Clinton was at 42 percent. This is a national poll of Democrats. After the debate, edge to 45 percent.

Senator Sanders a bit more of a boost to him, 24 percent before the debate, 29 percent after. If you dig deep into this number, Jake, it does get interesting. Bernie Sanders introducing himself. Remember more unfamiliar to many Democrats. Democrats who watched the debate liked Senator Sanders. So, his campaign says that's OK. We'll grow here.

Vice President Biden down just a bit. He was not at the debate of course fell from 22 percent to 18 percent.

One other way to look at the horse race, Clinton still with a commanding lead nationally this is with the vice president running 45 percent to 29 percent to 18 percent to the lesser knowns Martin O'Malley dropping to an asterisk.

And I'll end with this. If the vice president does not run, Hillary Clinton's lead is more commanding. Again, this is nationally. She goes up 11 points. If Biden does not run, Senator Sanders only goes up by about four points, as we wait for the vice president's decision, Jake, very clear. Hillary Clinton came out of this debate a bit strengthened in the national polls. Not a lot but a little bit.

If Biden doesn't run, she's still in a commanding place as we wait, as we wait and we wait for that decision.