Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Washington Congressman Adam Smith; Blaming Ferguson Protesters?; Trump vs. Carson; Poll: Carson Leading trump by Double Digits in Iowa; FBI Chief Links 'Ferguson Effect' to Crime Spike; Interview with Ray Kelly; Reports: Officer Violently Pulls Student from Desk. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 26, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: high seas stakes. CNN learns that Pentagon is now sending a Navy destroyer to pass within miles of China's controversial manmade islands. It's a direct challenge to China's territorial claims and it's expected to happen within hours. How will China's military respond?
Underwater spying? Russian ships and submarines are reportedly lurking near a vital undersea communications cables linking the U.S. with its allies and carrying much of the world's Internet data. Is Vladimir Putin starting a new Cold War game?
Trump's new target. Donald Trump ramps up attacks on rival Ben Carson as a new poll shows the retired neurosurgeon with a significant lead in a critical early voting state. Is Trump's campaign starting to lose some steam?
And blaming the protesters? The FBI director sparks some controversy as he links the aftermath of the Ferguson protest to a potential spark in crime. Is the intense scrutiny police are now facing having a chilling effect on law enforcement?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, a bold move by the Pentagon challenging China territorial claims.
A defense official confirms to CNN that a Navy destroyer will pass within 12 miles of controversial manmade islands in the South China Sea believed to have been built for China's military. We're told it could happen within hours and that China's military has not been officially informed.
We're also following controversial remarks by the FBI director, James Comey, about the spike in violent crime across the United States. Comey says it may, repeat, may be the result of heightened scrutiny of police that's followed the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, last year and that officers may feel restrained. He also says the Black Lives Matter movements and countermovements
that have sprung up in response may be pushing apart police and the communities they serve.
We're covering all of this, much more this hour with our guests, including the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington. Our correspondents and experts, they are also standing by for complete analysis and the latest information.
Let's begin with the breaking news.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working the story for us.
Jim, you saw China's manmade islands firsthand not that long ago.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Some people call them unsinkable aircraft carriers. We're told this mission could happen at any hour now. The U.S. taking this step to make clear it does not view these manufactured islands as territory and therefore considers the waters around them international. This is the second message the Obama administration has delivered to China this year over these islands.
In May, we flew on a U.S. surveillance aircraft, a P-8 Poseidon, over these same islands, a message from the U.S. it does not recognize the airspace over them as Chinese either. We received multiple warnings like this one from Chinese navy on the ground.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Foreign military aircraft, this is Chinese navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Navy destroyer is expected to hear similar warnings on the bridge. Now, the U.S. says it is acting to keep shipping lanes open in international waters, but the U.S. has also accused China of militarizing these islands, building landing strips on them, ports for Chinese navy ships, even placing artillery on some of them.
To be clear, China not the only country making claims in this area. Others have reclaimed land, but China has manufactured some 2,000 acres of land in the South China Sea over the last few years. That is, Wolf, by far more than any other claimant in the South China Sea.
BLITZER: We will see what happens in the next few hours. Very disturbing development indeed.
There is also some dramatic new video, Jim, of the raid to free ISIS hostages in Iraq and you're also learning U.S. forces may be involved in yet more of that potential combat activity? SCIUTTO: That's right. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter seem to telegraph that on Friday. I asked him this question and said it looks very much like U.S. forces were in combat here. He said that similar raids like this will take place in the future.
And this video gives us a rare look inside a dangerous opposition, this one including elements of the elite Delta Force partnering with Kurdish commandos. You can see prisoners coming out. They were held in this compound, a combination of Iraqi security forces, Iraqi civilians, as well as ISIS fighters that have been accused of spying.
First, they were freed from their cells. And then in this portion, you see them coming out to the pop, pop, pop of gunfire. This was under gunfire, very dangerous operation. It was before these pictures here were taken that Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was killed. He was mortally wounded, the first U.S. combat death in Iraq in four years.
And we're told when this happened, that he was meant, like the other Delta Force commandos, to be in the background, to be in support of these Kurdish commandos, but when they came under overwhelming fire inside this walled compound, Master Sergeant Wheeler, he went inside to come to the aid of the Kurdish commandos and was inside this compound and he was mortally wounded.
But, again, Wolf, under the strictures of advise and assist, U.S. forces are meant to be in the back. They're meant to be behind the last concealed position. The commander on the ground, including Command Sergeant Wheeler, made the decision to go and come to the aid of those partners. Unfortunately, he lost his life for that.
BLITZER: Yes, our deepest condolences to his wife and four kids, a very, very sad development, indeed.
Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
We're also following the report of Russian ships and submarines lurking near undersea cables that carry almost all of the world's Internet communications. "The New York Times" reporting that U.S. military and intelligence officials are growing increasingly concerned.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now.
Brian, these cables are extremely vital. What are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are vital, Wolf. We all use them.
Vladimir Putin and his military, as we know, are constantly going on the offensive, confronting, provoking, antagonizing their rivals in Crimea, Syria and elsewhere. But ,tonight, a new report says Putin may have reached a new low, challenging a vital piece of U.S. infrastructure miles under the Atlantic. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): It's one of the most enduring images of Vladimir Putin, flexing military might inside a Russian navy submersible. But, tonight, some are questioning if Putin is now doing more than just putting on a show under the sea.
A new report from "The New York Times" cites more than a dozen unnamed U.S. officials raising concerns Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively patrolling near important undersea cables, massive fiber- optic lines spanning from continent to continent, carrying the bulk of the world's Internet communications.
STEPHEN BLANK, AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL: Their goals are to humiliate the United States and show that it can't defend itself and to project naval power into the Atlantic, thus showing the United States and Europe, we're here, you have to deal with us and take us seriously and we can propose a threat to your most vital interests.
TODD: According to "The Times," officials are worried that if a larger conflict between Russia and the West broke out, a Russian ship could locate an Internet cable on the seafloor, lower a submersible down to it, and either attach a wiretap to eavesdrop on it, or, worse, sever the able, cutting off a crucial data pipeline.
JONATHAN HJEMBO, TELEGEOGRAPHY: They're extremely vital. They're the core of our communications infrastructure. So, we hear a lot of talk about the cloud, for example, and we think of it as something nebulous, something in the sky. Well, the cloud is really under the ocean.
TODD: Jonathan Hjembo works with a company which monitors telecom infrastructure. He says there are hundreds of these cables stretching across the ocean floors, enough, he says, to span the global at the equator 15 times. Hjembo says if multiple undersea cables were cut at once, it could harm American business and government interests and could have even more catastrophic effects on Europe.
Tonight, the Pentagon won't confirm the concerns raised in "The New York Times." One U.S. official says while the Russians could tamper with the cables, the U.S. hasn't seen a significant increase in Russian activity where the cables are located. There has also been no evidence of any actual cable-cutting.
But newspaper reports say the Russian ship the Yantar, which is equipped with submersibles capable of cutting undersea cables, has been spotted cruising in the Atlantic on its way to Cuba, not far from where at least one cable is located.
TODD: No U.S. agency will speak on the record on the concerns raised the "New York Times" report. A Pentagon spokesman says it would be a concern if any country was tampering with Internet cables.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says -- quote -- "The media has been constantly whipping up hysteria lately trying to make Russia look like the aggressor." She says all those reports are not based on facts, but on assumptions -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I know, Brian, Russia is pushing back on all of this, but they have become, the Russians, more aggressive in their naval maneuvers recently, isn't that right?
TODD: They certainly have, Wolf. U.S. officials have spoken openly about this. Admiral Mark Ferguson, commander of American naval forces in Europe, says the "operational tempo" of Vladimir Putin's submarine force has really been increasing.
Admiral Ferguson says Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the past year. As we know, there was an incident off Sweden last year when the Swedish navy was looking for a vessel which reported a distress signal in Russian language. The Russians denied it was one of their subs, but most reports indicate there was a very strong possibility a Russian sub was maneuvering right off the coast of Sweden. That was just one example, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.
I want to talk about all of this and more with the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's first of all clear up what is going on in the South China Sea right now. I assume you have been briefed on this U.S. Navy destroyer that is now heading to these manmade islands that the Chinese have apparently built for military purposes.
Potentially, there could be some controversy or at least some exchange if it goes badly.
SMITH: Well, potentially, but I don't think it will rise to that.
We're merely trying to establish that these are international waters and anyone can travel in them, and to stop China from asserting a right to those waters that blocks others from having access to it. These are waters that have typically been, like I said, international, and we're going to establish that they still are.
Certainly, it's important for us to be able to travel freely in those areas, but it's even more important for the other countries in that region. So, we want to make sure it remains international waters.
BLITZER: Because the Chinese say these are their territorial waters and if you get too close to those islands, you're entering China.
SMITH: Right. Yes, and that is not the case. Under international law, they -- that's not part of China.
Now, that's a dispute, as you know. There is a number of different islands in that area. And South Korea and Vietnam and the Philippines and China and other countries dispute who owns what. But there are means for resolving that, short of simply asserting the authority by building islands and saying it's ours.
That's not the way international law works.
BLITZER: So, basically, what you're saying is the U.S. wants to make a point right now by sending this destroyer there and telling the Chinese that these are international waters, hoping the Chinese accept what the U.S. is saying.
SMITH: Yes. We want to resolve these disputes diplomatically, not through confrontation and not through just, we're bigger and stronger than you are, so we're just going to take them.
BLITZER: What do you make of these Russian moves now under the sea, potentially -- as you just heard Brian Todd report, and "The New York Times" reporting potentially could threaten these Internet cables, fiber-optics, if you will, that control so much of the world's communications, financial distribution as well?
SMITH: Well, I think the bigger threat -- I don't know what Russia's interest would be in sort of severing those communications.
The bigger threat is that they would tap them and that they would start getting intel and stealing phone calls or data that goes across those cables.
BLITZER: Can they do that? Do they have the capability of doing that?
SMITH: I don't know if Russia has that capability or not.
It's certainly something that is possible. It's something that we want to monitor. And it's another way, in our information age, to data-mine. It's another sort of cyber-threat to a certain extent that we will need to monitor and make sure that Russia isn't getting access to information that we don't want them to get access to.
BLITZER: But as far as you know, and I assume you're well-briefed, as the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, they have not tampered, certainly not destroyed any of those cables?
SMITH: Yes, as far as we know. They certainly haven't destroyed them.
It might be a little bit more difficult to figure out if they have tapped them, but, as of right now, I'm not aware of any information that says that they have.
BLITZER: Congressman Smith, stand by. We have more to discuss, including what is going on in Iraq now, Russia's latest moves and discussions potentially in the works bringing Iran into the negotiations to deal with the future of Syria as well.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're back with the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State.
We're going to be talking about the chaos unfolding right now in Iraq, in Syria. The situation clearly has deteriorated. It's a subject, the subject of Iraq, of a Fareed Zakaria special report that airs tonight. It's called "Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq."
In that documentary, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is among those interviewed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: When people look at the rise of ISIS, many people point to the invasion of Iraq as the principal cause. What do you say to that?
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think there are elements of truth in that, but I think we have again got to be extremely careful. Otherwise, we will misunderstand what is going on in Iraq and I Syria today.
Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam Hussein in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015. But it's important also to realize, one, that the Arab Spring, which began in 2011, would also have had its impact on Iraq today, and, two, ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria and not in Iraq.
And that leads me to the broader point, which I think is so essential when we're looking at policy today, which is we have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We have tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya.
And we have tried no intervention at all, but demanding regime change in Syria. It's not clear to me that, even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You can see Fareed's report later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, "Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq."
Let's bring back Democratic Congressman Smith, who is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.
He says ISIS was formed in Syria. It was really formed in Iraq. There was al Qaeda in Iraq, which eventually became ISIS, which, of course, has caused this disaster. It now controls Mosul, the second largest city, and so many other chunks of Iraq right now. It's a real disaster, what's going on.
And the problem is much broader than that. The problem is all of these different violent extremist groups, al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. The problem is a broad ideology that has many, many different tentacles.
And it's defeating that overall ideology, working with our Muslim partners, the moderate Muslims, to find an alternative to these groups, which unfortunately are spreading.
BLITZER: You agree with Donald Trump, who says -- he told our Jake Tapper...
SMITH: I find it hard to believe that the answer to this question to is going to be yes, but go ahead.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you if you agree with him, because he said yesterday on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" the region, the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi was still in power in Libya.
SMITH: Yes, I think he's probably wrong about that, because I think, as Former Prime Minister Tony Blair pointed out, the Arab Spring in 2011 would have touched both of those places.
And I don't know that -- Moammar Gadhafi would be in the midst of a civil war. Assad is still in power in Syria. Is Syria better off than Iraq or Libya?
BLITZER: Should the U.S. bring Iran into these negotiations try to find some solution in Syria right now, Iran very close to the Bashar al-Assad regime, which has been so brutal over these past four years?
SMITH: I would have to hear the argument and I would have to hear exactly where those negotiations were going.
But I will be honest. My instinct is yes. Iran is a major player in that region. They have been, you know, the closest ally Assad had for years. They are obviously close with Hezbollah, who is fighting in Syria. You know, I don't know how you reach any sort of solution that Iran is on the outside of.
BLITZER: You bring Iran in, you bring Russia in. The Saudis will get nervous about Iran coming in, as you well know.
SMITH: Yes, no, I understand that. But the Saudis should also be nervous about the rise of ISIS and the rise of extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.
BLITZER: Congressman Smith, thanks very much for coming in. SMITH: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Adam Smith is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.
Just ahead, Donald Trump sets his sights on Ben Carson, as a new poll shows the retired neurosurgeon taking a commanding lead over Trump in a key state.
Plus, Trump mocks Jeb Bush as the Florida governor reaches a critical point in his campaign. What is going on with Jeb Bush? What's he doing next?
Stay with us.
BLITZER: There are new signs tonight that Donald Trump, his juggernaut may be losing a bit of steam, at least in one critical state, where the retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, now has a double-digit lead.
And the billionaire businessman is responding in classic Trump style with some veiled, no-so-veiled attacks on his rival.
Our political reporter Sara Murray is joining us now with the latest on the Republican race for the White House.
Sara, these are some troubling new numbers for Donald Trump in Iowa.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump finds himself in a new position tonight, trailing in Iowa. And now he's lashing out at Ben Carson as he tries to regain his lead, even challenging Carson's religion.
MURRAY (voice-over): With less than 100 days until the Iowa caucuses, the jostling in the GOP ranks is taking on a sharper edge.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Carson is lower-energy than Bush. I don't get it.
MURRAY: A new Monmouth University poll gives Dr. Ben Carson a double- digit lead in Iowa, drawing 32 percent support compared to 18 percent for Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I'm just going to have to work a little bit harder. And I was very surprised to see the numbers.
MURRAY: Carson, the newly minted Iowa front-runner, revealing his rougher edges, saying, when he was a teenager:
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would go after people with rocks and bricks and baseball bats and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. And, you know, fortunately, you know, my life has been changed. And I'm a very different person now.
MURRAY: But it's the softer Carson that's winning over evangelicals. Now Trump is taking aim at Carson's religion.
TRUMP: I'm Presbyterian. Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about.
MURRAY: Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, who just cut payroll costs by 40 percent across the board...
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Blah, blah, blah, blah.
QUESTION: Well, sir, you know what they're saying out there.
BUSH: That's my answer, blah, blah, blah. Watch it.
MURRAY: No longer able to hide his frustration with the state of the race.
BUSH: I got lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around being miserable listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.
MURRAY: Today, Bush is rallying donors at a Texas retreat as he tries to reassure them the race will soon break his way.
But Trump continues to hammer him, mocking Bush for turning to his family members for help.
TRUMP: So, he's meeting now with mom and dad.
TRUMP: No, it's true. He needs counsel. And he was very angry over the week. He said, you know, if this is going to be this nasty, let them have Trump as their president.
It's going to be nasty. Hey, Putin is a nastier guy than me.
MURRAY: As the billionaire businessman downplays how his own family helped him get ahead.
TRUMP: It has not been easy for me. And, you know, I -- I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back and I had to pay him back with interest.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now, donors at Jeb's Houston retreat tell me they still believe his moment will come. Today he got a little backup from his brother, George W. Bush. He spoke to the group and told them Republicans need to choose a nominee that can win the Latino vote. He says Jeb is that guy.
BLITZER: Jeb does speak Spanish fluently.
MURRAY: He does.
BLITZER: Sara, stand by with us. I want to bring in the executive editor of CNN politics, Mark Preston; and the Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker" magazine, our CNN political commentator, Ryan Lizza; also joining us, our contributing editor from Atlantic Media, CNN political commentator Peter Beinart. Guys, thanks very much.
So Ryan, Ben Carson, third poll in a row in recent days in Iowa. He's at 32 percent. Trump is only at 18 percent. What is pushing Carson to this significant advantage?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Two things, one in Iowa obviously being someone who's very religious, appeals to Evangelical voters. That's a big deal in Iowa. Very dominant group in caucuses.
And two, he's got what Republicans seem to want this cycle, which is he's not a politician. I do think he also -- he's not well-known. We haven't -- he hasn't gone through the sort of scrutiny phase yet. The media hasn't treated him like a frontrunner, and when you start to be treated like a frontrunner, you get a little bit more negative coverage.
So I think this is a testing period for Carson now. He's going to get more coverage and with them is going to come a lot more scrutiny, and we're going to see if he's ready for that.
But I think this is a major danger sign for Donald Trump, because these early state polls are a sort of early indicator. Right? The national polls are sometimes lagging indicator, and it's a sequential process. Iowa votes first, and if Trump gets beat in Iowa, it could be all over.
BLITZER: We know Iowa is a caucus state, so the key is getting those people to show up at a caucus and stay there for a while, not simply going into a polling booth and voting and going home. So the ground game is critical. How good of a ground game does Carson have in Iowa?
MARK PRESTON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Well, right now, he's not very sophisticated. You know, he has a very small campaign operation in Iowa. In many ways, he's going to need the help of this super PAC that is supporting him to do most of his organizing.
Now, he does have a lot of money. He does have momentum, and I guess you can go back to 2011, 2012. Rick Santorum had very little money, and he ended up eventually winning the Iowa caucuses.
But you know, to Ryan's point, if Donald Trump doesn't win Iowa, it could be all over. If Ben Carson doesn't win Iowa, it could be all over, because his appeal, strong in Iowa, not necessarily in states like New Hampshire.
BLITZER: Sara, as you've reported, Christian Evangelicals among the Republican caucus goers really important. All of a sudden, Donald Trump is pointing out he's a Presbyterian and he mentions the fact Dr. Ben Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist, and he says, "I don't know much about Seventh Day Adventists." That does send a message of sorts.
MURRAY: Well, yes. I think it sends a message that Donald Trump is worried that Ben Carson is now beating him with Evangelicals. And look, this was never a fit that made a lot of sense, Evangelicals liking Donald Trump, very rich, very showy about it and, you know, talks about communion like it's the little cracker and the little wine.
And so I think when they see Ben Carson, they see someone who is a little bit more sincere in his religion. They see him as more sincere and sort of more in line with their values and, you know, more like the kind of guy that you would know next door, rather than the billionaire who shows up and draws crowds of thousands. And so I think that we might be entering this period where Iowa voters look at Ben Carson, and they just feel a little bit more comfortable with him.
BLITZER: Peter, we heard Jeb Bush say that voters want to hear people demonize each other, they should elect Trump. Can he make it, though, through these next couple months without, in effect, really going after Trump, in effect, demonizing Trump?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think demonizing Trump is going to help him at all. He's been fighting with Trump over the last month or so. It hasn't helped him at all, nor is pouring all this money into these biographical ads.
I think that -- you know, we're entering a potential death spiral for the Jeb Bush candidacy. The -- you know, he is the ultimate insider in an environment where Republicans really, really don't like their own party elite. And he's also just not a very good candidate on the stump. I don't really see how he gets around it.
BLITZER: How does he do that, because Mark, you've been spending a lot of time looking at his poll numbers. How much time does he have to get those poll numbers up nationally, as well as in the key early states?
PRESTON: I'm in the category right now as -- that I don't think that it's all over for Jeb Bush. I do think that there's a problem. I do think they're trying to correct it. I do think that he's a terrible candidate right now. And I don't think that you can necessarily put the blame on his campaign.
But if you were to look at the polls right now, and if you were to follow the idea that Donald Trump or Ben Carson cannot be the Republican nominee, then you look at the next set of candidates in these polls, and who are they? It's Jeb Bush. It's Marco Rubio, and it's Ted Cruz. And many people think that Ted Cruz, there's no way the establishment could back him, so then what are you down to? You're down to the two gentlemen from Florida.
[18:35:07] So Jeb Bush really needs to be a better candidate. I don't know if you can put that on his staff right now.
MURRAY: What I wonder is so they're making these campaign changes. They're cutting salaries. They're slimming down. Fine. But that feels like a Band-Aid. It doesn't fix the broader arc of the race; it doesn't make Donald Trump go away.
And so far, they're not showing any indication of how they deal with that. They're just kind of buying more time, it seems like.
LIZZA: Well, look, we just talked about these polls in Iowa. For the first time, we're actually seeing what the Jeb people have been arguing all along, right, that Trump is a passing phenomenon. You know, they said that one month on top, two months. Now, it's more than three months. But we are starting to see Carson replace Trump in Iowa.
And so the problem with the Jeb case is that they're not really masters of their own destiny. The whole theory of Jeb is he's got to wait for Trump to collapse, Carson to collapse, right, or at the very least, get into a one-on-one fight.
BLITZER: Peter, go ahead.
LIZZA: Yes. And the other problem is that the other person in his lane, Marco Rubio, is a far more talented politician than he is, who has a message which is far simpler to understand, which is that he represents the future and that Hillary represents the past. And Marco Rubio has a very powerful biographical story. It may be true that he's in the same lane with Rubio.
But what we've been seeing for a while now is Rubio going north while Jeb's going -- Jeb's going south. I don't think we're very far away from the moment when some of Jeb's donors start to move to Rubio, because they think he's the only one who really has a chance of stopping Trump or Carson.
BLITZER: All right. Let's continue this analysis, but we've got to take a quick break.
Just ahead, we're also following some dramatic video that we're just getting of a confrontation at a South Carolina high school today. Stand by. We'll tell you what we know.
[18:41:36] BLITZER: Cities across the United States are reeling from a dramatic spike in violent crime and some, including the FBI director, James Comey, say that's because of what is being called the Ferguson effect. Comey is suggesting that increased scrutiny of police tactics in the wake of the Ferguson unrest and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has police holding back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I spoke to officers privately in one big
city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phones held high, taunting them when they get out of their cars. They said to me, "We feel under siege, and we don't feel much like getting out of our cars."
And so the suggestion, question that's been asked of me is, are these kinds of things changing police behavior all over the country? And is that what explains the map and the calendar?
The honest answer is I don't know, and I don't know if that explains it entirely. But I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year, and that wind is surely changing behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is joining us now with more. Did the FBI director have a chance to clarify those remarks earlier today?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he made similar comments today at this convention, the International Association of Chiefs of Police here in Chicago.
But he also said that he simply was trying to start a conversation, because he is very concerned about the spike in murders and other violent crimes in some parts of the country. And he says he doesn't want to wait to see, perhaps to discuss this next year. He wants people to talk about it now.
BLITZER: He also spoke about the Black Lives Matter issue, as well, #BlackLivesMatter. What did he say?
PEREZ: Well, one of the things he says he's worried about, Wolf, is that they're simply -- people are not talking to each other. People on one side are tweeting Black Lives Matter. On the other side #PoliceLivesMatter is the hashtag.
And he says what he's concerned about is that people need to start talking to each other more to be able to solve some of the problems with policing and in -- especially in the minority communities. Here's how he described the issues as he sees it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: There's a line of law enforcement and there's a line of communities we serve, especially communities of color. And I actually feel those two lines arcing apart through the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and the hashtag #PoliceLivesMatter. Of course, each of those hashtags and what they represent adds a voice to an important conversation. But each time somebody interprets hashtag #BlackLivesMatter as anti-law enforcement, one line moves away, and each time someone interprets hashtag #PoliceLivesMatter as anti-black, the other line moves away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And Wolf, you know, one of the concerns that the FBI director is expressing here is that a lot of this rise in crime is being felt in minority neighborhoods in cities like Chicago, in cities like Washington and Baltimore.
And he says that police have to make sure that they're on their job, that they are getting out of their cars. They're initiating these stops that will help bring down those crime rates. And he says that his concern here is simply that people have to talk about these things. He doesn't want people to just sweep it under the rug, because it will be too late by the time we notice what's happening.
BLITZER: He makes a fair point, indeed. Evan, thanks very much.
Let's get some more now. Joining us the former New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly. He's the author of a brand-new book entitled "Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City."
[18:45:04] There's the book cover right there.
Commissioner, what do you think? Do you agree with the remarks of the FBI Director James Comey when he suggested that this rise in crime in parts of the country may be the result of the chill that has swept law enforcement since Ferguson?
RAY KELLY, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE COMISSIONER: Yes, I do. I commend James Comey for telling it like it is. I mean, if you talk to police officers in other jurisdictions, not only in New York where I am, they will tell you that. They are backing off.
A lot of police work is discretionary and they don't want to put their careers at risk. They don't want to put their family's wellbeing at risk, so they are hesitating somewhat. In some people's mind, I guess, that's a good thing. In my mind, it's not a good thing.
BLITZER: Comey also said today that we need to figure out what's happening with the spike in crime that we've seen in several parts of the country right now. What do you think is driving these increases?
KELLY: I think part of it is being driven by what Jim Comey says. The officers are not engaging in proactive policing, not engaging in a level they engaged in recent past. Actually, proactive policing in my judgment has reduced crime in this country for two decades. Smarter policing, better use of technology. Now, they are not taking the initiative you might say and that's what's causing in my judgment, not totally, but to a significant extent, an increase in violent crime in 30 major cities throughout the country.
BLITZER: Commissioner, I want to show you disturbing video, show the viewers the video as well of an encounter between a high school student and a school resource officer. This is in South Carolina, where the officer appears to rip the student from her desk. We don't know what happened before the video started but our affiliate says the student was allegedly disrupting class, refusing to listen to the officer. The student was apparently put in handcuffs.
Tonight, the sheriff's department and school system in South Carolina, they say they are investigating, but the video is pretty disturbing.
And I want to get your reaction, Commissioner. What do you think?
KELLY: You know, Wolf, this is exactly the problem with these videos. You don't see what initiated it. Whoever is taking this picture, whatever they decide to show you.
Let's assume for discussion that this arrest is legitimate, it should be made. Well, there is no easy way of making many arrests. There's no Marquess of Queensberry rules. If someone doesn't want to go along with you, it takes physical force and often not a pretty sight.
But again, these videos we see them, we don't know the beginning, we don't know the end. We see whatever the individual taking the picture wants to show us.
BLITZER: Well, in the video, we do see her sort of sitting there, not moving. We don't know what happened before. She doesn't seem to be resisting and then all of a sudden, her head is slammed like that. It's very disturbing.
KELLY: Well, again, we don't know what happened before and that's -- I think that's critical. Certainly critical for me to make a comment on it.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, hopefully, we'll learn more about this and get a better explanation of what happened. But as I said, that video is very, very disturbing.
Let's talk about your new book, your memoir, "Vigilance", you look back at 50 years of public service and you've done an amazing job over these 50 years, Commissioner. Have the relationships between police, minority communities across the country, have they made real progress or is there still decades of angst and anger out there?
KELLY: I think tremendous progress has been made, certainly since I first became a police officer. There are bumps in the road. It has to do with what we ask police officers to do, quite frankly.
It's not always a pleasant job. They're bearers of bad news. They use force, they use deadly tor force. They issue traffic tickets. So, there's always some tension.
But from my perspective of 43 years in the New York City Police Department, I think the relationships have improved greatly. Of course, the videos that we've seen, the horrendous actions in North Charleston, South Carolina, that's very, very disturbing. It was a murder.
But that is just, you know, one of the aberrations that in many ways I think had been blown out of proportion. Are they serious? Yes. But we see, you know, people who are doing untoward things in every profession, in my judgment from they say almost 50 years, police do heroic work, good work, really work that helps the community every day across America.
BLITZER: And thanks for your service, Commissioner. The book, once again, is entitled, "Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City." Thanks very much for all of that.
KELLY: Thank you, Wolf. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Up next, we'll have more on that dramatic new video in this violent confrontation in that South Carolina high school.
[18:54:30] BLITZER: We've got more now on that very disturbing video that surfaced showing the violent classroom arrest of a student by a school resource officer.
Our CNN anchor Don Lemon is joining us, along with former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and former assistant FBI director, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.
I want to caution everybody, Tom. We don't know what happened before this video emerged, WIS, our affiliate, and state newspaper in South Carolina, they're both reporting that this disturbing video shows what we see here -- an intense confrontation between a female high school student and one of the school's resource officers.
[18:55:08] And as we said with the former commissioner, Ray Kelly, the former commissioner, very disturbing.
Is there ever, though, an excuse for someone like this, a resource officer, slamming in young girl's head to the floor?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I don't know, Wolf, if there's an excuse for slamming. But what happens is that, you know, this officer -- I don't know if this resource officer is a fully trained police officer or basically a glorified security guard. But, you know, the person is supposed to be removed from the classroom and doesn't want to be removed and doesn't comply. We're assuming that's what leads up to the violence.
And at some point, if the police officer has to put his hands on that person, it's not going to go well. And that's just -- you know, the lack of compliance accelerates that situation. You know, again, having him throwing her around and trying to put her on the ground or put her on the floor of the room, it does look disturbing, you know. We do want to know more about that. But --
BLITZER: Once again, we don't know what happened before this video.
FUENTES: We just don't know the whole --
BLITZER: Let me get Don and Sunny to weigh in.
Don, first to you.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I sort of agree with what Tom said. I don't know. I mean, it does look disturbing.
The part that is most disturbing to me is seeing him throwing her around. As far as -- I've looked at it over and over again. As far as the desk going over, I don't know if the desk fell over because she didn't want to get up or he pushed it. I don't know. So, I think there's context to everything.
I'd like to see what happened before and afterwards. But I do agree with everyone, including the commissioner and including Tom. It does look horrible. It does look like there's no excuse for what he's doing to her. But again, we don't know.
As the commissioner said, this only shows a small slice in time of what happened. I'd lying to know more before passing judgment.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Are you guys kidding me?
LEMON: No, we're not kidding. We don't know what happened. You weren't sitting in the room, Sunny. You don't know if she wasn't standing up.
HOSTIN: I don't need to know more. Let me tell you this --
LEMON: You need to know more. As a prosecutor, you should want to know more.
HOSTIN: No, I don't.
LEMON: Yes, you should.
HOSTIN: The law provides the standard here is whether the officer has to use this type of force, whether it's reasonable or necessary.
LEMON: How do you know without all the information as a trained professional? How do you know without all the information, Sunny?
HOSTIN: The bottom line is, Don, this is a young girl. This is a girl in school.
LEMON: I agree with you on that. That's right.
HOSTIN: There is no justification for using that kind of --
LEMON: You don't know what precipitated it.
HOSTIN: We don't need to know.
LEMON: Yes, you do need to know.
BLITZER: Hold on, guys.
HOSTIN: Whether the force is justifiable is the issue. And the force is not justifiable.
BLITZER: Sunny, hold on.
HOSTIN: She is sitting there. She's not resisting. She is sitting there in a chair. That is --
LEMON: You don't know if she's resisting.
BLITZER: We've got some other video. Sunny, Don, Tom, I want -- this is from a different angle, some other video that has just come in. Let's show it to our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On your back. Give me your hands. Give me your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let me get Tom's reaction first.
FUENTES: No, I agree, Wolf, it looks bad. It looks like it's excessive force. But I would like to see more analysis about it, more of what led up to that, what this officer was saying as far as for her to comply, for her to leave the classroom. So, at some point, you know, I believe she causes the officer to have to put his hands on her. Now the fact that it's excessive, it certainly looks excessive.
BLITZER: Sunny, the school says this officer is employed by the district sheriff's office. Our affiliate WIS reports the sheriff's office is investigating the video. Should there, though, be some sort of independent investigation?
HOSTIN: I think so. I mean, oftentimes we ask police officers to investigate themselves. Well, guess what, Wolf? If you ask me to investigate myself, I'm going to get an "A," right? You want me to grade myself? I'm going to get an A.
So you need to have independent investigators when you're dealing with a situation like this. And again, what we have to recall is that this is a young girl. This is a child in school.
Is this what we want in our schools? Do we want our children policed like this? This is so outrageous, and really I think it is offensive that people are saying, we need context. Are our eyes deceiving us? Why can't we just admit that what we are seeing is the assault on a child by a person that is supposed to protect her?
LEMON: Sunny, before we run out of time. What we're seeing as everybody has said, it looks disturbing. But you want to know more because if this officer is indeed, if he does anything wrong, you don't want him to get away with anything because you did not get all the information. You want to see everything in context.
HOSTIN: What if she said something nasty to him?
BLITZER: Guys, we're out of time. We'll continue to study the video, guys. Thanks very much.
Don will have much more 10:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM."
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.