Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Intelligence on the Trail of Terrorists; Egypt's President: Don't Rush to 'Hasty Conclusions'; Trump: 'Beautiful Thing' to Watch Opponents Drop Out; & Cruz Seek Post-Debate Bounce; U.S. Concerned as Russia Extends Global Reach. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 11, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, ISIS threat. U.S. sources say intelligence is poring over cell-phone records and other intercepts trying to track any terrorists who may have been involved in the downing of that Russian airliner over Sinai. And we're now learning that before that plane exploded ISIS called for attacks on Russia.
Holding pattern. Egypt says it will let U.S. experts help with the airliner investigation, but how much will the American investigators be allowed to see? And what's behind the delay?
Stun gun suit. Surveillance video shows a man being Tased by police multiple times while in handcuffs. He later died in custody even though the incident happened at the doors of the emergency room. Now his family is about to get a day in court suing police for $25 million.
And a beautiful thing. Back on the campaign trail Donald Trump declares victory in the latest Republican debate and says watching other candidates drop out is a, quote, "beautiful thing to watch."
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
U.S. experts may now be able to examine at least some parts of the Russian airliner that exploded over Sinai. Egypt has granted permission for a U.S. team to aid in the investigation. And the NTSB may also be able to draw on the FBI for help.
Egypt's president visited Sharm el-Sheikh Airport today, insisting that the crash was an isolated incident and warning against what he calls "hasty conclusions." He says the investigation results will be announced with complete transparency and clarity.
We're also now learning that ISIS specifically called for attacks against Russia in the days before the airliner went down. U.S. officials are focusing in on ISIS or its Sinai affiliate, which has claimed responsibility. Officials are sketching out a scenario involving a bomb with a timer, perhaps planted aboard the plane with the help of an insider at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they'll have full coverage of the day's top stories. Let's begin with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, on the latest on this investigation.
Jim, what are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight U.S. intelligence and its allies poring through cell phone and other intercepts, trying to identify and track any terrorists who may have been involved in bringing that plane down. Those intercepts among their only clues without access to forensic evidence on the ground.
But increasingly, those briefed on the investigation say there is one terror group that is most capable of an attack like this.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): With Egyptian investigators still poring over the wreckage of Metrojet 9268 for clues, today Egyptian President Abdul el-Sisi visited Sharm el-Sheikh, seeking to calm fears.
ABDUL FATTAH EL-SISI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): This was an in isolated incident. We should not rush and come (ph) to hasty decisions.
SCIUTTO: Still, U.S. lawmakers briefed on the intelligence are already identifying ISIS as the likely suspect.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Everything that I've seen I am almost ready to conclude that it was ISIS, that it was either ISIS or an ISIS affiliate. And to me I think that is the general consensus.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: If ISIL within hours of an explosion like that takes credit, you've got to seriously look at what involvement they may or may not have had.
SCIUTTO: U.S. intelligence has not made a definitive conclusion as to what brought down the jet. However, ISIS's Sinai affiliate remains the only group that has claimed responsibility. And Britain's foreign secretary says that claim and other intelligence points to either ISIS itself, an ISIS affiliate or an ISIS-inspired lone wolf.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Typically, when you put (ph) a bomb on a plane, this is not the act of a lone wolf. It's usually organizations, go back to Pan Am 103 or attacks by the Chechens in Russia,. They were organized -- we have to organize the bombs, get it on the plane, there's somebody in charge.
SCIUTTO: ISIS in the Sinai has declared allegiance to ISIS central in Iraq and Syria, making the Egyptian branch, in effect, an integral part of ISIS as a whole. U.S. officials tell CNN if ISIS is determined to have planted a bomb on the plane, it would be, quote, "clear and concerning evidence" of its ambitions outside their home base.
SCIUTTO: Now, just in the last 24 hours, ISIS in Sinai has posted a new propaganda video threatening violence, but notably makes no mention of that downed passenger jet. In the video a masked man threatens to kill Egyptian soldiers and Jewish people.
And remember, Wolf, this is a group that has already carried out many attacks on Egyptian security forces and even on the border with Israel security forces, as well.
BLITZER: I assume that the Russians are going to get increasingly tough on what's going on. Egyptian security forces, which can be pretty tough, they're going to get into action, I assume, at some point, as well.
[17:05:11] SCIUTTO: No Question. And you have really regular clashes over the last several weeks between Egyptian security forces and ISIS in the Sinai. But when you speak to U.S. lawmakers on the Hill, they are expecting an aggressive response from Russia, as well.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, for that.
After some delay, Egypt now says it will let the United States play a role in the investigation. Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, has been digging through all of this for us.
So Rene, could U.S. experts, what could they be allowed to do?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, so far we know in this crash investigation, there are 58 participants in this crash investigation. And we know that the countries involved so far involve Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland and Russia.
And now tonight there's a possibility that U.S. aviation accident investigators could also become directly involved in this crash investigation.
MARSH (voice-over): U.S. investigators may finally have a chance to examine the wreckage of Metrojet 9268. Egyptian officials say they will allow experts from the National Transportation Safety Board to have direct involvement in the investigation. That means direct access to parts of the plane. Egypt's foreign minister broke the news on CNN Tuesday.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: My understanding is that there has been an American application to become part of the investigation, manufacturing of the engine, which we accepted and investigators encrypted immediately.
MARSH: The Russian passenger plane's Pratt and Whitney engines were made in the U.S. under international law that automatically allows the NTSB to assist. But with Egypt leading the investigation, the NTSB's access to the rest of the plane or crash site will likely be limited according to a U.S. official.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: If they're going to run it by the book, America, the United States, would have access to look at the engines, but the engines only. The Egyptians don't have to share other aspects of the investigation. MARSH: CNN is told a leading theory by U.S. government analysts is
that an insider at Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Airport planted a bomb onboard, but with no direct access to the plane or its black boxes, they cannot draw any conclusions. The NTSB would be the first U.S. officials with access to the plane.
GOELZ: In any investigation, it's a process of elimination. And in this case, you really do have to check the box on engines. Were they functioning at the time of the accident? Were there any anomalies?
But in terms of helping us determine whether it was a bomb, examining the engines simply eliminates them.
MARSH: Well, the NTSB is an accident investigation agency, not criminal. Their purpose is simply to determine what caused the crash. We should make clear the NTSB does not have its bags packed at this hour. They will not make a move unless they receive more information from the Egyptians. So now the ball is in Egypt's court, Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene Marsh, thanks very much.
Let's bring in the former NTSB managing director, our CNN aviation analyst, Peter Goelz; our CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank; and our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest.
Peter, what's the problem here? The NTSB -- used to work at the NTSB. Presumably, they want to go and take a look at whatever they can in Sinai, but their bags aren't packed. I'm confused.
GOELZ: Well, this is a little bit of a kabuki dance governed by international treaty through the ICAO. And the Egyptians and the Americans are not very close when it comes to accident investigations. They have different -- they have different profoundly on the last two joint investigations that they've carried out. And there are hard feelings, at least on the part of the Egyptians.
BLITZER: Because I would have thought not only NTSB officials but officials from Pratt and Whitney, the manufacture of those American engines on that Airbus, they would be allowed to go. And FBI experts, forensic experts would be allowed to go, as well. So far I've seen none of that.
GOELZ: That's right. It hasn't occurred yet. When the NTSB does go to inspect the engines, they will bring Pratt and Whitney technicians as advisers to them. They're the accredited representative. They'll be the ones on scene. But they'll use all the expertise they can get from Pratt and Whitney.
BLITZER: Richard, the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, he visited Sharm el-Sheikh Airport today. This was an, in his words, isolated incident. So what impact does this have on the overall investigation when the president of Egypt makes a statement like that?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fascinating part is an isolated incident about what? An isolated incident -- is he tacitly accepting, which I don't think he is, that this was a bomb and therefore it was an isolated incident of a security breach? Or is it something else?
[17:10:14] We are still in this very unusual but not surprisingly difficult middle ground, Wolf, where everybody from the security and intelligence agencies is saying it's a bomb. The investigators will not say they've found any evidence, and in fact, are leaking quite the opposite, that they haven't found any residue.
And so you still have to keep very much on the table the possibility of structural malfailure [SIC] -- structural malfunction and failure from that former repair or whatever else it might be.
It's a very -- Peter will know this better from the TWA days when, of course, it was bomb versus structural failure, and it took many months before one or other was finally ruled in and out.
BLITZER: Richard, and you know the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, he told me yesterday the U.S. is not, at least so far, sharing the relevant intelligence with them. Is that normal? Is that appropriate? Why not share the intelligence with the Egyptians?
QUEST: Because, Wolf, you do not know how reliable at the other end that intelligence is, in terms of where it's going to go. Oh, the first person you give the intelligence to might be trustworthy, honest and full of integrity. But until they are sure that there is a -- that they can be relied upon, not for that intelligence to go to other people, basically to the terrorists involved, if there were some.
And that was one of the problems originally with Russia. Could they be sure, could the U.S. and the British be sure that, by handing over intelligence, they weren't giving away too much?
In the end they had no choice. The Russians basically said it was shocking that they wouldn't share such information. I'm guessing there's a slightly higher barrier before they start handing over great swaths of intelligence to the Egyptians.
BLITZER: I suspect you're right.
Paul, ISIS senior leadership, they called for attacks against Russians, and Americans, for that matter, back in October before this plane clearly went down. Tell us about this message. Would it have been heard by ISIS affiliates, for example, in Sinai?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, this was a major address by the ISIS spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, a senior leader in the group. It was 40 minutes long. It was an audiotape which was issued on the 13th of October, and it was a clarion call for is affiliates and ISIS supporters around the world to launch attacks against Russia. And 18 days later, we see this Russian airliner coming down in the Sinai.
Certainly, the ISIS affiliate in the Sinai would have heard this message from the senior leadership of ISIS loud and clear. And it's certainly possible that they were responding to a call from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, essentially, to launch an attack.
BLITZER: The translation of that line from that tape says, "Oh, youths of Islam, all of you must come together from everywhere. All of you must come together to wage jihad on the Russians and the Americans." It is the war of the crusaders against the Muslims.
All right, guys, much more on this story coming up. We're going to take a quick break.
We're also following other news, the race for the White House. Donald Trump predicting more of his opponents will be dropping out of the race after last night's Republican debate. Something Trump calls a, quote, "beautiful thing." Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, standing by. There he is. We're going to talk about what's ahead in the race for the White House.
We're also following a story about a man who died in police custody after officers used a stun gun on him multiple times.
[17:18:36] BLITZER: It's been a very busy day in presidential politics. Now that their fourth debate is in the books, it will be five weeks until the Republicans' next debate. That will be here on CNN.
Donald Trump headed to New Hampshire today, proclaiming victory, predicting more of his opponents will drop out of the race, something Trump is calling a beautiful thing.
Before we speak with Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, you had a chance to catch up and speak with Donald Trump earlier this morning in Manchester, New Hampshire. What did he say?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I mean, he was very excited after the debate. He slept for one hour, he said. He was doing the New Hampshire tradition, attending the Politics and Eggs Breakfast. It's usually a small affair, but some 650 people were on hand for this.
And he started out his speech, I was struck, by saying, you know, "We started out at 17 or so. One by one all the candidates keep dropping out. It's a beautiful thing."
So afterward we caught up with him to ask him exactly what he meant by that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: You said it's a beautiful thing to watch these candidates drop out one by one.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you'll see quite a few people starting to drop out.
ZELENY: Who's next?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to predict. I think I know. But I don't want to predict. But there'll be a lot of people dropping out. I mean, they have to drop out. They're not resonating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Now, of course he's been saying this again and again that people will be dropping out. A few have, but what I'm struck when you talk to him he's so confident in the moment.
I'm not sure he necessarily won last night's debate, but he certainly didn't lose it either. He held firm. So he was enjoying himself this morning.
BLITZER: He looked like he was happy on this morning after that big debate last night.
[17:20:04] ZELENY: And he said that he was going to start taking a bit of a different tone. We saw him take a softer tone last night. But he said once he gets out there and starts campaigning again he's going to keep aggressively challenging his rivals.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny.
Let's get some more on Donald Trump's plans. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Corey, thanks very much for joining us. Give us your sense we just heard from Jeff what is going to be the tone of Donald Trump going forward in the next few weeks?
COREY LEWANDOWSKY, TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think -- thanks for having me, Wolf, No. 1.
I think what you'll see from Mr. Trump moving forward is to continue to outline his vision for America and what it means to make America great again.
You know, just yesterday Mr. Trump put out a plan as it relates to China and currency manipulation and a way to stop that from moving forward.
He's talked extensively about reforming the Veterans Affairs Administration so that veterans have the opportunity to go to any hospital and get the best health care they need. He's put out a detailed plan as it relates to immigration and Second Amendment and others. And he'll continue to do that so the American people can understand what his vision is for America.
BLITZER: One of the pundits are saying that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were the two standouts last night. What do you say about that?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think Mr. Trump had a great debate last night. He was the only person on that stage who's actually created jobs in the private sector. He's the only person on that stage who's had to meet his own payroll in the private sector. He understands what it means to have a strong economy, a weak dollar, what that means for trading partners, what it means for our ability to get money and to utilize the economy to the best of its ability.
So Mr. Trump had a great strong night last night. Every online poll showed that he was the clear and definitive winner last night. So we're very pleased with his performance.
BLITZER: Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, he seems to be rising in the polls, he and Marco Rubio for that matter three and four behind Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson. There is speculation that Cruz could end up being the, quote, "anti-establishment candidate" that voters end up going to at the polls. Does Donald Trump see Ted Cruz as a major threat?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think every candidate who's in the race is a potential threat. Obviously, they all want to be the nominee. There can only be one.
We're very happy with the position Mr. Trump is in. Every poll that's come out recently has him in first place. Morning Consult has him in first place. Just yesterday the Reuters tracking poll has him in first place. Not just nationally, but if you look at the recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, Mr. Trump continues to do very well in those places. Leading in all of those states. We're very pleased with where we are, let alone where anybody else may be.
BLITZER: He -- Donald Trump this morning said he would build what he called a deportation force to remove illegal immigrants from the United States, all 11 million or so, before some of them would be allowed to come back to the United States. How would that deportation force work?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think first and foremost you have to remember we have to have borders if we're going to be a country.
And first what we're going to do is build a wall. Mr. Trump has been the only candidate to come out and talk about this. All of a sudden, Hillary Clinton yesterday saying that she wants to build a fence on the southern border to finally understand how much of a problem illegal immigration ISIS.
But let's just remember when our veterans came back from World War II and there weren't many jobs. What did Dwight David Eisenhower do as the president? He rounded up illegal immigrants and moved them out of the country so that our veterans and the people who fought for our country have the ability to have those jobs.
It's time to put America first. And as Mr. Trump's administration has said, we will build a wall. There will be a path for legal immigration, but there will be no tolerance for illegal immigration any longer.
BLITZER: You heard John Kasich and Jeb Bush say it's really not possible to deport 11 million people. That's not happening, to which you say?
LEWANDOWSKI: Here's what I say. I say if that were the case, then Dwight Eisenhower wouldn't have done it in the past. And the bottom line is it is possible. We have unbelievable resources. There is nothing more important to our country than the sovereignty that we have. By allowing individuals to come into our country illegally, we're doing a disservice to our own residents.
And one of the primary functions of our government is to keep our country safe. By allowing illegals to come in and cause harm and, in many cases, death to our residents, we need to do something about that. We need to take the people out who are committed felons. We need to move everybody out who's been here illegally and give them an opportunity, if they're legal, to come back into the country.
BLITZER: So you're going to remove the 11 million, let's say, but what about the children, their children who were born here in the United States? What happens to them?
LEWANDOWSKI: I think the scholars on this have been very clear. The 16th amendment is very clear. We don't need to change the Constitution. These anchor babies, as they're so called, are happening every day. We see it not just from Mexico but around the world. Particularly now we see this as a huge influx from Asia, where women are coming over here in their third trimester. They're giving birth to U.S. citizens or what they think are U.S. citizens, by having their children here in the U.S. and then going back to their countries.
This is a major problem that we need to stop. And it is only -- it will only be done with the Trump administration.
BLITZER: I think you referred to the 14th Amendment, right?
LEWANDOWSKI: Excuse me, the 14th Amendment, my fault. Thank you.
BLITZER: The 14th Amendment, but so far the courts have said, if the children are born in the United States, they're U.S. citizens, at least so far, unless there's a change, a constitutional amendment.
[17:25:04] LEWANDOWSKI: And that hasn't been tested in a long time. And I think there are a number of scholars have said that the 14th Amendment doesn't need to be changed. This can be done through an act of Congress. And I think that's the path that we would pursue under the Trump administration.
BLITZER: Corey Lewandowski, thanks very much for joining us.
LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, new concerns over Vladimir Putin's latest aggressive moves, not just in Syria but in Europe and even North Korea. We're going to update you on what's going on.
And a man dies in police custody after officers use a stun gun on him multiple times. Now his family is suing. They're demanding millions of dollars.
BLITZER: We're following the aftershocks from the latest presidential candidates' debate. Recent polls show Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, they're running third and fourth among Republican voters nationwide. Tonight Senator Rubio is opening a new campaign headquarters in the first-in-the-south primary state of South Carolina.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is in Columbia for us with more on what's going on. What's the latest over there, Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are running around neck and neck in the third spot nationally, but they are both putting up big strong debate performances and posing threats to the current frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, which potentially sets the stage for a big Cruz versus Rubio battle ahead.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time to act is now.
SERFATY (voice-over): Marco Rubio hitting the campaign trail today in Iowa, fresh off another widely-praised debate performance.
RUBIO: This election is not simply a choice between Republicans and Democrats. This election is a generation choice.
SERFATY: Among the Florida senator's standout moments: squaring off with Rand Paul on foreign policy.
RUBIO: I know Rand that is a committed isolationist. I'm not. I believe the world is a stronger and a better place when the United States is the strongest military power in the world.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Marco, Marco, how is it conservative -- how is it conservative to add a trillion-dollar expenditure for the federal government that you're not paying for? How is it conservative?
RUBIO: Are you talking about the military -- we can't even have an economy if we're not safe.
I believe the world is a safer -- no, no, I don't believe, I know that the world is safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.
SERFATY: Rubio also scoring points with his rhetoric.
RUBIO: For the life of me I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers. SERFATY: That statement earning applause, but not from the fact
checkers who ruled the claim false. Rubio isn't the only senator to shine last night. Ted Cruz competing in the insurgent lane against Donald Trump and Ben Carson, wasting little time going after the Washington establishment.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington is fundamentally corrupt. There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible. And not a one of them is as good.
SERFATY: The conservative firebrand also slamming critics who say his immigration position is too harsh.
CRUZ: The Democrats are laughing. Because if Republicans join Democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose.
SERFATY: Cruz and Rubio eclipsing party frontrunners Trump and Carson, who took more of a "do no harm" approach last night.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have a wall. The wall will be built.
DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I do have a problem with is being lied about.
SERFATY: Could the GOP primary fight ultimately come down to Rubio and Cruz? The Texas senator recently told CNN's Jake Tapper it could happen.
CRUZ: Well, listen, I'm not sure it will come down to Marco and me. I like Marco. I respect him. He's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. There are a lot of political observers that are saying that. And I think that's certainly a plausible outcome.
SERFATY: And Ted Cruz also giving some hints last night that he could potentially be looking forward to that specific matchup, giving a preview of some of the lines of attack that he's already lining up against Marco Rubio if and when the rest of the field winnows down, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty in South Carolina. Thanks very much.
Let's get some more insight on how much the debate may potentially change the dynamic of the Republican presidential race.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; our political commentator, S.E. Cupp. Also joining us, Eric Fehrnstrom. He's a former senior advisor to then- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Gloria, so Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, are they emerging, really, as the anti-establishment, the establishment challengers to Trump and Carson?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: They're kind of hanging out there, waiting to inherit the votes of other people, whom they're thinking and hoping are going to fall flat on their faces, right?
So you have Marco Rubio hoping to inherit George Bush's -- I mean, Jeb, excuse me, Jeb Bush's support, which is small. But the establishment wing of the party.
And you have Cruz out there saying, "OK, if Carson and/or Trump fails, then I'm there. I'm going to get the evangelical vote that Carson has and the anti-establishment vote that -- that Trump has." This is their hope.
I think they both did very well last night for themselves. And so, while -- you know, while Cruz said to Jake, "Well, I'm not so sure. Some pundits are saying that," this is the hope of their camp.
BLITZER: You think, Eric, that some of Rubio's financial problems -- he's not a rich guy to begin with, but he had some issues going back over the years. Is that really a serious issue in this campaign?
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY: You know, I don't think so, Wolf. You know, I've studied the news stories about that. I've heard Senator Rubio's response. And I don't think it's much different than if CNN gave you a corporate credit card and you incurred personal expenses, and then you reimbursed your employer for the cost of those expenses. Seems to be much ado about nothing.
I think the bigger point to make about this debate is that nothing has happened, not last night and not in the prior three debates to change the trajectory of the race.
Did Rand Paul have a good debate? Yes, I think he did pretty well. He might have moved from eighth place to seventh place. We're so obsessed with what is happening to see who is going to be in third place in this contest that we forget what's happening at the very top.
And in all the national polling, in every state poll that I've seen, Carson and Trump are running one and two, which gets me to a larger point. These guys are not going to self-destruct. The successful nominee is going to be the person who can methodically disqualify his opponents while making a strong debate for his candidacy.
That's what Mitt Romney did so effectively in 2012. And sad to say, I don't think the establishment candidates as a whole have been able to do it thus far this year.
BLITZER: I think he makes an excellent point, S.E.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLITZER: It's not just been a week or two weeks or months, but for a long time, very consistently, Trump and Carson have been leading the pack.
CUPP: Yes. You know, you can -- you can talk about their voters, their supporters, who seem to kind of close their eyes, close their ears, and just stay the course, no matter what disqualifying thing they say. But when it comes to the moderators at these debates, when it comes to
the press, I mean, when it comes to the other candidates, who are listening right next to Ben Carson or Donald Trump as they say something either patently wrong or kind of absurd and ridiculous, when is someone going to turn to their left and say, "Mr. Trump or Mr. Carson, that makes no sense"?
BORGER: Well, they do that.
CUPP: But it seems like -- it seems like they're so afraid to take the fatal blow. They'll take a whiff. Jeb has taken a whiff, and he's not landed a punch. Kasich, I thought, took a whiff, didn't really land a punch.
BORGER: He said it's silly, right? Deporting 8 million people.
CUPP: Yes, it's not silly; it's crazy. It's not -- it's not just silly.
And someone needs to really hold Ben Carson's feet to the fire on policy, because he's been incredibly vague. And someone really needs to challenge Trump on some of his, you know, harebrained ideas.
BLITZER: Did Jeb Bush do last night what he needed to do, Gloria?
BORGER: Well, he challenged Trump. You know, when you're talking about foreign policy and Putin and Russia, he said...
CUPP: With some assists from Carly Fiorina and John Kasich and Marco.
BORGER: Right. He said this isn't a board game.
BORGER: But as you know, and as we've seen Jeb Bush is not great on the attack. It's not his natural position. So Jeb Bush kind of mostly went straight ahead.
He stopped the bleeding, I think, to a degree last night. And he was fine. I don't think this debate, per se, moved the needle at all. People who like Carson still like Carson. People who like Trump still like Trump. I don't think it changed anything.
BLITZER: Eric, did anyone really move the needle? I mean, obviously, we haven't seen any serious polls yet. In the coming days, we might see some major national polls, polls in the early states. But do you think anyone really moved that needle much last night?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think Jeb Bush helped himself. You know, not too long ago he was in a bit of a doom loop, Wolf, where bad news seemed to be feeding on itself. He needed to exceed expectations in order to keep the press content and his donors happy. I think he did that.
He did challenge Donald Trump. I'll give him credit for that. But I think he challenged on the wrong issues. You're not going to win a Republican primary by attacking Trump's position on illegal immigration.
Now, Trump is a target-rich environment for a Republican. He was in favor of partial birth abortion. He wants to raise tariffs. He's expressed support for socialized medicine. These are all issues that he can be challenged on forcefully. But it hasn't happened on a debate stage.
And these candidates cannot outsource entirely their attacks to a super PAC. It has to be done by the candidate himself across the board and on the debate stage.
BLITZER: Eric Fehrnstrom, we've got to leave it on that note. Thanks very much. S.E. Cupp, Gloria Borger, guys, thank to you, as well.
Coming up, aggressive new military moves by Russia's President Vladimir Putin. What's his goal, the goal of meddling in Syria? And what about Europe and North Korea? What are the Russians up to there?
Also, surveillance police video of a man who died after officers used a stun gun on him multiple times. It's now provoked a major lawsuit.
[17:44:21] BLITZER: Russia's military intervention in Syria's bearing fruit for now, relieving pressure on the hard-pressed regime in Damascus. President Vladimir Putin is also looking to step up his involvement in other world trouble spots.
Our Brian Todd is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM. Brian, U.S. can't be all that happy about Putin's latest moves. What are you hearing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are not happy. Wolf, U.S. officials telling us tonight they believe Vladimir Putin is getting in way too deep, especially in Syria.
But he's also being very aggressive in Europe and extending his reach into North Korea tonight. We're told of growing concern that the Russian president may be overextending.
TODD (voice-over): Vladimir Putin ratchets up his aggression and again teams up with America's enemies, drawing new concerns from U.S. officials tonight. The Russian president extending his reach and ambitions from Syria to Europe to North Korea.
In recent days, according to Russian officials, Putin's forces have turned up the heat in Syria. Russian air power helping Bashar al- Assad's army recapture a military airport near Aleppo.
A U.S. official tells CNN tonight it's troubling that Putin's boosting the strength of Assad's military. Human rights observers say Russian warplanes killed dozens including more than 20 civilians when they bombed the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. That was just days after the downing of the Russian passenger plane, which U.S. intelligence believes might have been bombed by ISIS in Sinai.
STEPHEN BLANK, AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL: It's quite plausible that this was a retaliation against ISIS for the bombing of the plane. It makes a lot of sense to see it that way.
TODD: Other analysts say Putin's stepped up campaign in Syria is more of a direct challenge to America.
MASHA GESSEN, AUTHOR, "THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE": Every single bombing is a demonstration of Russian military might and it's also a message to the United States you have to talk to me, I'm going to blackmail you until you start dealing with me as an equal party in Syria.
TODD: U.S. officials say if Putin continues to hit ISIS and works toward a political solution, they could actually embrace his campaign in Syria.
ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's possible, just possible, we'll see, Russia may play a constructive role in resolving the civil war.
TODD: But Putin's not stopping in Syria. His anger has been building over the U.S.-led missile shield in Europe. And now he's saying he'll construct a missile that can pierce that shield.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): We will work on assault systems able to counter any antimissile systems.
TODD: And tonight Putin's military advisers are inside North Korea for a secretive meeting with Kim Jong-Un's top generals.
Could all of Putin's aggressive military moves backfire at home?
GESSEN: There isn't a danger for of losing public support at home because public support isn't an issue for a leader who controls the public, who controls the media. That affords him the possibility of fighting a dead end war or a losing war for a decade like the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan.
TODD: U.S. officials are telling us tonight Putin may already be in that dead end war. One U.S. official tells CNN Putin has improvised his way into a quagmire in Syria. A U.S. military official says Russia is making itself a target for violent extremists, is isolating itself and is making a huge strategic mistake in Syria.
And tonight, Wolf, a Russian official pushes back to us saying, you can't call this a quagmire when we haven't lost any troops in Syria yet. And he says the U.S. is trying to demonize the Russian government with all this.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brian Todd, thanks very much. We'll follow that story.
Coming up, there's surveillance video now that shows a man being tased by police multiple times while in handcuffs. He later died in custody even though the incident happened in the doors of the hospital emergency room. And now his family is about to get a day in court suing police for $25 million.
[17:52:25] BLITZER: Now to a surveillance video showing a man being tased by police multiple times while in handcuffs. He later died in custody even though the incident happened in the doors of the hospital emergency room and now his family is about to get a day in court suing police for $25 million.
Let's go to our justice correspondent Pamela Brown to explain what happened to this man.
Explain what is going on.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we obtained this video, Wolf, from the lawyer involved in this lawsuit showing this man dying while in police custody. The video from the police dashcam begins with the officers picking 46-year-old Linwood Lambert up at a hotel early one morning in 2013 after several 911 calls about noise. Police say they decided to take him to the hospital for a mental health evaluation based on the way he was acting. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not locking you up. What we're doing here is we're going to take you to the emergency room and get you looked at and make sure you good to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The situation quickly escalated from there. Once at the hospital police say Lambert began acting erratic and tried to kick out the window of the patrol car before running away straight into the hospital doors as we see in this video. This is video from the hospital. And eventually Lambert is seen lying on the ground handcuffed as these three South Boston, Virginia, officers threatened to tase him if he didn't roll onto his stomach. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll over. Get on your belly. Roll over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on your stomach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on your belly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on your stomach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on your stomach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The victim's family's attorney says that he was tased multiple times but CNN could not independently verify the number of times he was tased. One thing is for certain, though, instead of taking Lambert inside that hospital, police decided to arrest him and take him back to the police department instead and once they arrived there, he appears unconscious in the backseat as we see right here. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The medical examiner's report says he died from acute cocaine intoxication. Lambert admitted to police in the video he had done cocaine but in the death -- wrongful death lawsuit, the family puts the blame squarely on police saying, quote, "The officers' callous disregard for Linwood Lambert in tasering him multiple times and depriving him of the desperate medical care he needed violated his constitutional rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment." Wolf.
BLITZER: So how are police responding to all of these?
BROWN: Well, the South Boston Police Department is denying these allegation and did release a statement saying that, "We are vigorously defending the case. Our position is affirmed by the reports of two independent, well-qualified experts in the field, pointing to the medical examiner's findings there."
[17:55:07] And the police also say Linwood's erratic behavior justified the use of the tasers. We reached out to the police department to find out how many times he was tased but have not heard back, though the medical examiner's report did say Lambert had punctures suggested of taser barb sites. The question remains, Wolf, why Linwood wasn't taken inside that hospital the first they were there in that video.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Pamela, for that report.
Coming up, U.S. sources say intelligence is now pouring over cell phone records of other intercepts, trying to track any terrorists who may have been involved in the downing of that Russian airliner over Sinai.