Return to Transcripts main page
Russia Threatens Turkey With Economic Measures; Obama: ISIL Must Be Destroyed; NYT: Trump Mocking Disability is "Outrageous". Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 26, 2015 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, they want to, yes, they've talked about it, yes, they're on social media, but when are they going to actually make the conversion and go operational to carry out an attack?
[13:30:07] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: As you look at the holiday season that we're in here, Tom, what do you think the biggest threat is facing Americans and what can be done about it if anything?
FUENTES: Well, I think everything that's being done is being done at the moment. That's to step up security at places terrorists normally want to strike, which is aviation.
You know, keep them off an airplane. Keep them out of the airplane if possible. You know, be able to deal with them if they get on trains or buses or other conveyances. So, that part's being done.
As I said, if one or two people suddenly decide and they have the weapons to do it, that they're going to go out and do something, that's almost impossible to stop. It's going to remain impossible for the long run.
KEILAR: All right. Tom, Rene, thank you, guys, so much, for joining us on this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.
FUENTES: Happy Thanksgiving.
KEILAR: Now, coming up, we'll be taking a closer look at the anger in Russia over that plane shootout and why Russia is going to such lengths to punish Turkey.
[13:35:29] KEILAR: French President Francois Hollande is meeting right now with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. We're expecting them to hold a joint news conference any minute now that we will bring to you.
This is all part of a diplomatic marathon by President Hollande in his effort to drum up support for an anti-ISIS coalition. The Russians have said they want the Syrian president to remain in power. And this is really an area of contention, especially for the United States. The French president is doing this following the terror attacks two weeks ago in Paris that killed 130 people.
Meantime, the rhetoric between Russia and Turkey is really ramping up. Turkey's president says his country will not apologize for the downing of a Russian warplane that he says violated Turkey's airspace. Russian President Putin also accused Turkey of bringing the relationship between the two countries to a standstill.
And in an exclusive interview, CNN's Becky Anderson asked President Erdogan to respond to this accusation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): There is no deliberate effort from our side to bring the relationship to a standstill. I think these are emotional attitudes to the issue. I don't think it's the right thing to say. We have never had this kind of an intention to bring the relationship to this kind of a point.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do keep coming. Putin has accused you of effectively stabbing him in the back I think is the line he used and as being -- Turkey as being an accomplice of terror. This is pretty fiery stuff, isn't it?
ERDOGAN: If Mr. Putin is saying that we are cooperating with Daesh, that we are accomplices, I think that will be a huge mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, Russia is reporting successes in its air campaign in Syria. In his daily briefing, the spokesman for Russia's defense ministry announced the military action resulted in killing all terrorists acting in the area where the Russian fighter jet pilot was rescued.
Jill Dougherty now joining us from Moscow where she has served many years as CNN's bureau chief. She's now a researcher for the International Center of Defense and Security.
Jill, thanks so much for being with us on this holiday.
And I want to begin with this latest news about Russia's air campaign. Is there any way to verify what Russia's defense officials are saying?
JILL DOUGHERTY, INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF DEFENSE AND SECURITY: Well, a lot of what they're saying, let's say in the technical sense, probably is correct. I mean, they're looking at the ground, et cetera. But I think where you get the difficulty is who exactly are they hitting, and that's where Russia would maintain they're hitting ISIS, and the Western countries would say that they're hitting opposition, moderate opposition, as they say.
And never the twain shall meet, because Russia continues to say, look, the moderate opposition is the people who you saw dancing next to the dead body of a Russian aviator. That is almost exactly a quote that I heard at the foreign ministry today. They're saying show us your moderate opposition. These are the guys, you know, that we think are shooting people who are helicoptering to -- I'm sorry, taking a parachute to the ground.
So, there's a complete lack of agreement on who these people are that they are hitting.
KEILAR: Yes, and when you hear that, that description, and you think of how Russians are responding to this, perhaps it's no surprise that people are very angry there, Jill. But tell us, how pervasive is the anger over this?
DOUGHERTY: You know, I think it's really shock and anger because just back up a week or two, Turkey and Russia had a very important relationship, especially the economic relationship. It's a huge relationship, $44 billion in trade and services that Turkey, between the two countries.
You can go out to a food store any place around here, you'll find Turkish food, Turkish buildings. There's a lot of construction. The Russians are building atomic reactors in Turkey. So it's a very big relationship. And when they shot down that plane, Russia immediately, in shock and anger, decided they were going to do whatever they could.
So, the prime minister, Medvedev, has been putting together a list, and they have two days to come up with the final list of how they can retaliate.
[13:40:01] It will not be having a military fight, although they have stop military cooperation with Turkey. But it will certainly be economic and it will be certainly diplomatic.
KEILAR: OK. So more economic measures, diplomatic measures, the military. But I wonder about this -- Russia has been saying the U.S. should have known in advance that Turkey was going to do this. And, obviously, this makes you wonder if this is going to create even more tension between Russia and the U.S.
What's your read on this from where you are there in Moscow?
DOUGHERTY: You know, I actually asked the question, Brianna, over at the briefing at the foreign ministry. What Russia is saying the United States is the head of this coalition that is taking military action in Syria against ISIS.
And Turkey, as part of that coalition, should be, let's say, following directions and orders and informing the United States of what it is doing. And so, if they decided, Turkey decided, to shoot down a plane, then the United States should have known about it.
Now, did the United States know in advance? So far, we don't have any indication of that. But that is what Russia is doing.
So, you can say yes, they're making indirect accusations against the United States, but they're also scoring points, you could say, against NATO and the coalition. And saying, look, if one party is doing something and the other party doesn't known, then your coalition is in trouble or maybe you're incompetent or maybe you actually want to drive us out of Syria. And that is what some of the officials are saying.
The answer Russia is saying to that is -- we're not leaving, we're going to follow through on this mission, and we're going to go after the terrorists. So, that's where we stand. It's a very tense situation between -- I would have to say between Turkey and Russia right now.
KEILAR: Yes, certainly is.
Jill Dougherty, thanks so much as always for your insight. Always great to see you.
And coming up, President Obama and the war against ISIS. We'll look at the more emotional tone that he took this week.
KEILAR: In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, President Obama was forced to defend his strategy against ISIS again and again. That was really what a lot of people observed, that he was often defensive in his tone.
And then on Tuesday, in a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, something pretty different. This was a more emotional President Obama.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This barbaric terrorist group, ISIL or Daesh and its murderous ideology, pose a serious threat to all of us. It cannot be tolerated. It must be destroyed. And we must do it together.
We love the French. Sometimes, we Americans are too shy to say so, but we're not feeling shy today.
This was not only a strike against one of the world's great cities. It was an attack against the world itself. It's the same madness that has slaughtered the innocent from Nigeria to the Sinai, from Lebanon to Iraq. It is a scourge that threatens all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to bring in Margaret Talev. She's a White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News".
And this was something, Margaret, that struck so many people -- the difference in tone between right after the attacks and then what we saw in this press conference. You know, as you look at this -- you follow the president every day. Do you see an adjustment here? Should we read a lot into this?
MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, at the very least, it's a recognition by President Obama that other people aren't seeing whatever emotion or strength of force that he's feeling internally. He -- so much of his political personality has always been about keeping it cool under pressure and, you know, not showing flashes of anger.
But when something like this happens, the American people want to see flashes of anger, surges of power, determination to do something, recognition of people's emotional pain. He doesn't wear that on his sleeve. It's not comfortable for him to do that publicly. But he understands that he needs to.
And we begin to see those public demonstrations on Tuesday and then the day before thanksgiving, him come out with the sort of special appearance after meeting with his national security officials just to let people know -- I know you're worried about travel on the holiday. Everything's OK. There's no imminent threat.
You know, this is a real recognition from him that people not only want to hear his emotion but want him to say, "I understand you're scared, and I'm taking it seriously."
KEILAR: So, how much pressure is the White House under to have this change of rhetoric and even a change in strategy?
TALEV: Right, it really is two different things. He's made pretty clear privately and to some degree publicly that he's not planning on changing his strategy right now.
He still doesn't want to commit U.S. ground troops as many of the Republican presidential candidates have been recommending. He still is in favor of no-fly zone. He still wants to have this kind of dual strategy where he's calling for the Syrian president, Assad, to go, even as he's fighting ISIS.
So, he doesn't want to change any of those. It is more of a rhetorical shift. I think he's hoping by making that rhetorical shifts, he can show people that the plan that he has put forward and is implementing is actually doing something. Whereas his critics are saying, you know, your plan is not doing anything. It's not doing enough.
And up until now, he's been saying things like it's a slow and steady thing. It's going to take sometime. Nothing happens overnight. He understands now he needs to talk about it in a different way and to say, this is what we're doing.
[13:50:04] And when you use words like "barbaric" and "destroy", hope that it conveys what his policy is doing.
KEILAR: This is a president, Margaret, as you covered him over the years, he was elected really on getting out of Iraq --
TALEV: That's right.
KEILAR: -- trying to wind down these wars that his predecessor had started. And now, he's facing this threat from ISIS in the Middle East. And he's under some pressure to perhaps do more.
You said the strategy may not change, but certainly the president is feeling that pressure. Is there -- and I know probably publicly, the White House doesn't talk about this. But how much of a concern is there that this could affect his legacy, or is this also an issue of, this could affect 2016 in a way that swings things for a Republican candidate which ultimately could dismantle his legacy?
TALEV: Yes. I mean, sort of the literary aspects of politics it's impossible to miss the irony. This young senator with very little national security experience got elected, promising to get the U.S. out of Iraq. That's what helped him to win the primary against Hillary Clinton and then to win the election against George W. Bush's legacy.
And now, here we are, he's being dragged, you know, sort of back into the arena, being blamed for moving out of Iraq too quickly, as having sort of helped to gain momentum to the rise of ISIS. It's tremendously frustrating for him.
As long as Hillary Clinton continues on the path that she is, she is showing no indication that she's going to kind of get all dovish on this. It's a fairly hawkish perspective for the Democratic Party.
Republicans are certainly hoping that they can make national security an issue again.
But for President Obama, this is very much legacy, not just in terms of what people say of him, but was he able to change the dynamic of foreign policy as he wanted to do?
KEILAR: Margaret Talev for us, thank you so much. Great story this week. Thanks for chatting with us on Thanksgiving.
TALEV: Happy Thanksgiving.
KEILAR: I hope you and your family have a good one.
TALEV: Thank you.
KEILAR: All right. Thanks, Margaret.
Still ahead, "The New York Times" is fighting back now at Donald Trump for mocking one of its reporters. What Trump said that has so many people upset. Does this really matter to his supporters? We'll have that next.
[13:56:38] KEILAR: "The New York Times" is calling out Donald Trump for mocking a reporter's physical disability, calling it outrageous. The GOP front-runner was campaigning in South Carolina when he took aim at Serge Kovaleski.
Kovaleski had written an article after 9/11 about law enforcement authority's questioning people in Jersey City for allegedly celebrating the attacks. And later, Kovaleski said he could not recall talking to anyone in or around Jersey City who witnessed thousands or even hundreds of people celebrating.
Here is what Trump said imitating Kovaleski's disability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Written by a nice reporter. Now the poor guy -- you've got to see this guy. I don't know what I said. I don't remember. He's going, like, I don't remember. Maybe that's what I said.
This is 14 years ago. He still -- they didn't do a retraction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Well, "The New York Times" was obviously flabbergasted by this. A spokesman telling CNN, "We find it outrageous he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters".
And not known for backing down, Trump has been firing back through his Twitter account.
Let's get more now from CNN's Athena Jones.
So, what is going on here and what is Donald Trump saying, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, as you mentioned, Trump is not backing down. He's not been known to apologize.
What he is really doing is doubling down. He's attacking now "The New York Times" for defending that reporter. I'll read you just a couple of tweets we've seen him post.
Here is one, "So since the people at 'The New York Times' had made all bad decisions over the last decade, why do people care what they write? Incompetent!"
Here is another, "The failing 'New York Times' should be focused on good reporting and the paper's financial survival and not with constant hits on Donald Trump!"
But look, the bottom line here, Brianna, almost every day, every speech he makes, Trump says something or does something that raises people's eyebrows. But this, in many ways, takes the cake. It's very unusual to see a politician take to a stage and mock a reporter who has a disability. This reporter has a condition that causes his limbs to contort. You can see in the video Trump sort of acting that out.
But as you know, we have been calling him the Teflon Don. Nothing he says or does seems to hurt him in the polls. It's very unclear if this is going to hurt him. I've seen a series of tweets from his supporters, to me, all day saying that what he did wasn't inappropriate and that we're taking it too far -- Brianna.
KEILAR: It's interesting. Some people would say if another candidate did this. It would be disqualifying, right? But it seems almost like he's sort of held to a different standard, perhaps, by his supporters.
JONES: He's certainly not following the usual politicians' playbook. He has created a whole new playbook, forged a whole new path of his own and ordinary rules don't seem to apply to him. He is, after all, not been a politician. He is now that he's running for office. And he hasn't been a politician.
And the way he speaks his mind, that's one of the things that his supporters say they like about him. We'll see if it changes, but it doesn't look like it's changing so far -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, it really doesn't. I think that's a good assessment.
Athena Jones, thanks so much. That is it for me. I'll be right back here at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
For our international viewers, "AMANPOUR" is next.
For our viewers in North America, a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
And "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.