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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; Trump Under Fire; Mass Shooting Investigation. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired December 8, 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 ANCHOR: We have new information about when the San Bernardino attackers embraced the ideology of terrorists and surprising new details about their Facebook post pledging allegiance to ISIS.
The money trail. Who might have helped finance America's deadliest terror attack since 9/11? Investigators are on the hunt for clues in California and overseas right now.
And hunt-and-kill mission. U.S. special operation forces are getting ready to move into Iraq and Syria to go after top ISIS terrorists and kill them. Are Arab nations willing to put more of their troops on the front lines?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking tonight, the FBI zeroing in on a critical question about the San Bernardino terror attacks. Did the killers have help planning and carrying out their massacre?
We're told investigators are focusing in on the finances of the married shooters and their families, looking for any unusual deposits. There is also new evidence that Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page on behalf of her husband, Syed Farook, as well as herself.
Another focus tonight, investigators are studying surveillance video from the gun range where Farook honed his shooting skills. A source tells CNN Farook appears to have visited the range twice in the days before he opened fire on his work colleagues.
Also breaking tonight, Donald Trump defending his call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, despite a tidal wave of condemnation, including from top members of his Republican Party.
I will ask Republican Congressman Peter King about all the new developments. He's a leading member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by to cover all the news that's breaking now.
Up first, let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, there are several new reports tonight that in the weeks before the attack, $28,000 was deposited in Farook's bank account. Apparently, from what we're learning about that Pamela, especially since his base salary was less than $60,000, this potentially could be a significant lead.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, my colleague Evan Perez and I have been speaking to sources. And they have been looking at the loans and money transfers Syed Farook has received recently, but we are told at this stage in the investigation, there is no indication that a terrorist group or any outside source provided financing for the two to carry out the attack, though that part of the investigation still very active, as well as putting together a timeline of when the two were radicalized.
BROWN (voice-over): The path to radicalization for this California couple began long before they committed mass murder in San Bernardino, according to the FBI.
In fact, two U.S. officials tell CNN there are indications their transformation into jihadis began even before ISIS emerged on to the world stage in June 2014, making it difficult to determine exactly who inspired them and who might have helped them.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Had this couple carried out this attack let's say two years ago or a year ago, they might have glommed onto another organization. But it happened to be that ISIS is the biggest, baddest organization on the block. And so they carried out in their name. Whether they actually were part of that is unclear.
BROWN: A law enforcement official tells CNN Syed Farook at one point had explored reaching out to al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra and Al- Shabaab.
A Facebook post on an account associated with Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, pledged allegiance to ISIS and used the word we, indicating the message represented both attackers. Just days before they killed 14 people, Farook went to this firing range in Riverside, California.
A firearms instructor there tells CNN Farook brought his own AR- 15 assault weapon to practice.
JOHN GALLETTA, RIVERSIDE MAGNUM GUN RANGE: You can't tell who comes to the range. He presented a valid or what appeared to be a valid I.D., came in and acted the way he normally does, the way normal people act. They just come in and use the range.
BROWN: The FBI is now reviewing surveillance video from the gun range and also looking into this man, Enrique Marquez, Farook's friend and former neighbor. Investigators say the two assault rifles the couple used in the attack traced back to Marquez. He has not been charged with any crime. JOHN D'ANGELO, ATF ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Right now,
our major concern, FBI, ATF, and the JTTF, is determining how those firearms, the rifles in particular, got from Marquez to Farook and Malik.
BROWN: Two U.S. officials say Malik seemed proficient with the AR-15 she used during the massacre and believe she received some level of training.
The couple's family maintains they had no idea Farook and Malik had become jihadis, even though Farook's mother lived with them in the house investigators have called a virtual bomb-making lab.
DAVID S. CHESLEY, ATTORNEY FOR FAROOK'S FAMILY: Syed and Tashfeen, they were very isolated and, honestly, the family was completely surprised and devastated. But no one had any knowledge. If anybody would have, they definitely would have done something to stop it.
BROWN: Tonight, sources telling us that the FBI is still very interested in the friend, Enrique Marquez.
Meantime, Wolf, we're learning about the Facebook post just before the attacks. Sources say there were a lot of misspellings and errors in that post, that Tashfeen Malik apparently misspelled al- Baghdadi's name.
And I think it's throwing investigators off. But this was the last message they sent before launching the attack. And the fact that it wasn't accompanied by a manifesto or a video of any sort, it makes it seem like this may have been more hasty than previously thought -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thank you.
Now to the fight against ISIS out there on the battlefield. U.S. special operations forces are set to start a dangerous new mission to go after top terrorist leaders and kill them.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, we're hearing new claims of success against ISIS. What are you learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: There are some new claims that in fact ISIS may be about to lose some significant territory in Iraq, but whether that really happens remains to be seen.
Tomorrow morning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Capitol Hill to defend U.S. military strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STARR (voice-over): Iraqi security forces today claimed they
have liberate 60 percent of Ramadi from ISIS seven months after they ran away in the face of a brutal ISIS onslaught.
Another sign of progress, up to 1,000 Turkish forces are now near Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. The U.S. believes they are ready to help Kurdish forces try to retake that city in the coming weeks, all of this as U.S. special operations forces are getting ready to move into Northern Iraq and Syria, a lynchpin of the new Pentagon effort to increase the firepower against ISIS.
PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We hope to have these forces in a position to carry out their work as quickly as possible. And, again, their job, their mission will be to put even more pressure on ISIL and particularly ISIL leadership.
STARR: But it could be weeks before they are there.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Wednesday faces a skeptical Congress again to defend the military strategy.
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), TEXAS: If we're going to be serious about ISIS, the president needs to assign the military a clear mission and then allow the military to carry it out.
STARR: The Russians already stepping up their strikes, warning the U.S. in advance their warships, submarines and bomber aircraft were attacking an ISIS stronghold in Eastern Syria. In the skies, it's now U.S. aircraft doing most of the coalition bombing.
DEBORAH LEE JAMES, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: We have been striking in earnest all sorts of targets, from the high-value human targets to command-and-control centers to training sites. You name it, we have been striking it.
STARR: Some Middle East partners like the Saudis are reducing their participation in the coalition, now only conducting an airstrike every few weeks, according to a U.S. official, keeping Arab participation now crucial.
PERITZ: What happens the day after? Once ISIS is pushed out and there's another political government put in, who is going to run it? And if it's not Arabs, then it's nobody. Then it's going to be ISIS again or the son of ISIS.
STARR: Now, the U.S. and Russia are picking up the pace of military activities in the skies. Don't look, however, for the most fundamental U.S. change. No indication the Pentagon plans to send large numbers of ground troops -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.
Tonight, Donald Trump's response to the terror in San Bernardino is the target of widespread anger and condemnation. But the Republican presidential front-runner is standing behind his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is here with us.
Jeff, many top Republicans are joining Democrats in slamming Trump. What's the latest?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right.
Here in Washington, the White House calls it disqualifying. Republicans are shaking their heads. But it's a far different story among some of their party's primary voters, who are cheering Trump on.
ZELENY (voice-over): Defiance today from Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need intelligence in this country. We need a certain toughness in this country. Or we're going to end up like a lot of other places and we're not going to have a country left.
ZELENY: In the face of political backlash, Trump defended his proposal on CNN's "NEW DAY," seeking to block Muslims from coming to the United States.
TRUMP: Because you are going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don't solve it, many, many more, and probably beyond.
ZELENY: An overheated campaign season suddenly even hotter, with Republicans rushing to join Democrats in condemning Trump.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it's not what this country stands for.
ZELENY: Trump said his ban on Muslims would be temporary. He called it a modern-day version of FDR's actions towards the Japanese in World War II.
He announced his proposal last night to loud cheers on the deck of the USS Yorktown, battleship from that war.
TRUMP: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ZELENY: His comments drew instant fire from GOP rivals.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a race- baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party. He doesn't represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we shouldn't do is to just say all Muslims aren't coming into our country. It's not about the blowhards out there just saying stuff. That's not a program. That's not a plan. This is serious business.
ZELENY: And across the world was the talk on the streets, like here in India.
MEDIHA JAVED, STUDENT: I don't think that intolerant people should become president. They don't deserve to become president.
ZELENY: British Prime Minister David Cameron denounced the comments as divisive and unhelpful. The White House called Trump's proposal misguided and dangerous.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact is that what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president.
ZELENY: Trump brushed aside the criticism during a round of interviews today, saying his supporters are tired of political correctness.
TRUMP: And got standing ovations as soon as this was mentioned.
ZELENY: Now, there were standing ovations last night in South Carolina.
I was in the crowd and talked to many voters. Some said they didn't know the full extent of Trump's proposal and they bristled at his ideas. But others said something must be done. And they supported his plan.
They are frightened, they're angry and they believe the current administration is not doing enough.
Now, the condemnations are still coming in tonight, but there's little reason to believe this will hurt Trump in the Republican primary. So far, nothing he has said has -- Wolf.
BLITZER: None of his controversial comments have hurt and they may have actually helped.
All right, thanks very much for that, Jeff Zeleny reporting.
Joining us now, a key member of the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you.
BLITZER: Were you stunned, were you shocked by Donald Trump's comments?
KING: No, not now.
He's made so many remarks over the last six months, whether it's about Mexicans, whether it's about the female moderators at debates, whether it's about John McCain. So, no, I wasn't surprised.
I guess he carried it to another limit. And this is the problem with Trump. There is a point to what he's saying, in that I think that people coming, immigrants coming from countries where there are large terrorist organizations, where there's a danger, they should get extra scrutiny.
And you should ask if they belong to certain mosques, whatever. That's all legitimate. But you can't ban people because of their religion. He takes what could be a somewhat legitimate point and he carries it to an extreme that goes against all our ideals.
BLITZER: Do you agree with the White House that this should disqualify him as president?
KING: That's up to the American people.
And I wouldn't say disqualify him. I think he's going to have to clarify it as he goes along. But I wouldn't say disqualify. That's a strong word to use. We're in a democracy. And right now, I would say his numbers may go up after this, at least briefly.
BLITZER: Yes. That's what a lot of people suspect.
Back in August, when we spoke about Donald Trump, this is after you announced you were not going to run for the Republican presidential nomination. You told me, you said, as a New Yorker, "He may be a billionaire from the East Side of Manhattan, but he talks like the guys I grew up with in Queens or Brooklyn. He talks like a real person."
You were complimenting him.
KING: I was complimenting him. He still has a way of appealing to real people, but he carries it too far.
That is appealing to people's worst instincts. If he wants to say that there's too much political correctness and that we have to have greater scrutiny of people coming from terrorist countries, and many of them will be Muslims, that should be said in a way that shows you are not targeting a religion, but you're talking about where the source could be coming from, the source of terrorism.
But then he carries it to these extremes. Again, it does appeal to certain people in the street. But as we get closer to voting, I think people are going to start to back away. BLITZER: What does it say about your party when he actually goes
up in the polls despite all -- or maybe because of these controversial comments?
Our brand-new CNN/WMUR poll that just came out last hour, he's way ahead in New Hampshire.
KING: I think people, right now, are not voting, but they're expressing their real opposition to President Obama.
Here you have -- last week, you had these mass killings of Americans, you have people being killed overseas, you have Paris, and the president gives a major address from the Oval Office and he talks about being worried about Islamophobia, and he talks about being about how basically he's going to keep doing the same policy.
And that just builds up in people outrage and then Donald Trump comes along and takes advantage of that. But I think, as you get closer to actually casting your vote, people are going to realize, that's not the way to go and it's going to cause -- it's going to be harmful to the party and to the country.
BLITZER: Because only eight weeks to the Iowa caucuses, as you know. That is not very long right now.
Here is a hypothetical. If you want to answer it, you can. If you don't, you don't have to. If it were Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?
KING: I would have to decide that at the time. Again, it depends on how -he - if he keeps up with this, it will be hard to support him.
BLITZER: It would be hard to support him, but could you actually see yourself voting for Hillary Clinton?
KING: Probably not. I don't know what I would -- maybe I would write myself in, come back in as a candidate.
BLITZER: And if he ran, and he is often back and forth threatened to run as a third-party independent candidate, what would happen?
KING: If he stays strong and he doesn't get the nomination, then I would say that could be a factor. If he fades out early, then it would probably not be much of a factor.
But if he's still running strong in March, April and May, but doesn't get the nomination in July, I guess, when the convention is done, yes, he could be a real factor as a third party.
BLITZER: That would guarantee, let's say, Hillary Clinton's election.
KING: It would make it easier for Hillary. She's very vulnerable this year, so we shouldn't pass up this opportunity.
BLITZER: Stand by. We have a lot more to talk about, including the latest ISIS-inspired terror attacks out in California.
You're fully briefed.
Much more with Congressman Peter King when we come back.
BLITZER: We are back with Congressman Peter King.
We are following the breaking news on the investigation into the terror attack in San Bernardino, California. Officials tell CNN that both of the killers pledged allegiance to ISIS, with Tashfeen Malik posting the pledge on her Facebook on behalf of her husband, Syed Farook, as well as herself.
Let's talk a little bit about these killers. The notion is, she had been radicalized long before she even came to the United States from Pakistan. She had lived briefly, a few years, in Saudi Arabia as well. Do you know that for sure, that she came here as a radical now, looking back?
KING: I'm hearing that secondhand from people who are talking to the FBI.
I will be getting an official briefing tomorrow. But that is, I believe, what the FBI is telling people, that they believe that she was radicalized when she was in Saudi Arabia. And I think, again, that is something that goes to the point of when people are coming from those countries, we have to do a much deeper job of vetting.
I think, if we had known that she had gone to that school over there, a very radical type school, shouldn't that have slowed down the immigration process?
BLITZER: Yes, because her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, born in Chicago, a U.S. citizen, he met her online, some sort of marriage Web site, if you will.
Do you believe, as some of your colleagues believe, that she used that fiancee visa to come to the United States to kill?
KING: They may have used each other. To me, it's more than just a coincidence he went over there and found her, and she found him, or they connected.
I think he may have gone over there looking for someone like her.
BLITZER: You think he was radicalized, too?
KING: I think he was leaning in that direction. I don't know. I'm just surmising. Even in his application to her, he said he likes to shoot. Is
that a signal? I don't know. But, certainly, I think much more is going to be coming out. But she, I think, clearly was radicalized. It didn't take too much to radicalize him, if he wasn't already radicalized.
But all of that, I think so much the FBI has to look at here, so many sources, so many people they have to go to.
BLITZER: Have you been briefed on what they suspect about the mother, for example, who lived with them in that townhouse, others who may have been involved in this plot?
KING: I just know the FBI is looking at her carefully, the fact that she was there. And you had all these bombs and all this heavy- duty artillery there. The fact that $10,000 reportedly was put in her account.
It's hard to believe you could be living with someone in the house and have somebody who is your son or your daughter and with all of that artillery, all those guns, all those bullets, all those pipes. So, I would say that they are very, very curious about her.
BLITZER: The other individual who actually gave him those guns, who is being questioned apparently right now as well, what can you tell us about him?
KING: Again, he is not yet a suspect, I understand. But he is being questioned.
And you wonder why he did he, again, purchase two guns, give them to the murderer? Is this all a coincidence? There's too many coincidences here. And at least some of these people who have been touched, I believe, are going to shown to have been involved.
BLITZER: Was this an ISIS-inspired plot or was this an ISIS- directed plot?
KING: We don't know yet. I would say it's at least ISIS- inspired, even though, from some of the reports, whether it was ISIS or al Qaeda or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, they were probably leaning in that direction anyway.
Right now, terrorist-wise, ISIS is the flavor of the day. They are the ones that are out there most prominent.
BLITZER: Obviously, the use of firearms, they were well-trained. They had practiced in these firing ranges. And they were building -- they had equipment there for 19 pipe bombs.
Is it your suspicion that this attack that wound up killing 14 people at this county facility was the first of several that they were planning?
KING: I think all that ammo they had, all the supplies and just to carry out this one attack, they planned -- they had a series of attacks planned. Or whatever happened that morning, if there was an argument that spurred this, they may have just say, hey, we are going to do it now and get it over with, and then they were caught before they could do anything more than that.
BLITZER: Following the president's address from the Oval Office the other night, you tweeted: "The speech was a total failure of leadership in defense of a failed policy. No substance, no change of policy."
Those were your words. What is your plan? What are your ideas about destroying ISIS?
KING: First of all, overseas, we should do much more as far as the bombing. We have to have troops on the ground at least as far as special forces in greater numbers than the president.
We have to have spotters. We have to take away the restrictions that are on the pilots right now. Two-thirds of the pilots returned without their bombs being dropped because of all the restrictions that are put on them.
BLITZER: They don't want to kill innocent civilians.
KING: Wolf, there's always going to be some civilians killed in every war. That's a reality. And we have to accept that.
And as far as back here, this shows we need much more surveillance in the Muslim community. And I know it's politically incorrect to say it. It's what the NYPD was doing in New York. The only way you're going to find out about these people in advance is having people on the ground, having sources, having informants.
BLITZER: How many troops would you put in Syria, U.S. troops?
KING: I would say we probably need at least 10,000.
BLITZER: You would be ready to deploy 10,000 U.S. troops there?
KING: Ten thousand in Syria and Iraq.
BLITZER: Well, there's 3,500 now in Iraq and there's 50 supposedly going to Syria.
KING: That's not enough.
BLITZER: Another 200 maybe could go back and forth between Syria and Iraq. How many in Syria?
KING: Again, I would rely on the generals for that, but I would say 10,000 is a good number for Iraq and Syria. BLITZER: Iraq and Syria.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader of ISIS. There are now reports he's moving around. Can you confirm these reports that he's moved from Raqqa, that's the so-called caliphate's headquarters, capital in Syria, back to Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq right now? Is he moving back and forth?
KING: I can't confirm that.
But these guys usually, once they realize they are being targeted, they do move. But I can't confirm that.
BLITZER: But he's obviously being targeted right now. But do you know if he feels comfortable enough to move around?
KING: I would say, if he is moving, it's because he is not comfortable to stay in one place.
BLITZER: The other issue that the president keeps talking about is this nearly 100-kilometer chunk of the Syrian-Turkish border that is still open to movement back and forth, about 60 miles or so.
Most of that Syrian-Turkish border is sealed, but not that. And yesterday, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, says ISIS is selling oil across that border through Turkey right now. What can you tell us about that?
KING: I can't go into any detail, other than to say I think Turkey can be doing more than it has been doing.
BLITZER: Why aren't they? They are a NATO ally.
KING: There is a jihadist -- certainly an Islamist element in Turkey. They have been playing it both ways now for really the last several years, going back to back in 1998, when -- I'm sorry -- not 1998 -- going back several years ago when they had been facilitating.
And Joe Biden blurted out the truth last year when he said that Turkey was looking the other way on a lot of the foreign fighters going through Europe, through Turkey, into Syria and then back up again.
BLITZER: Yes. It's a serious problem right now.
Congressman Peter King, thanks for coming in.
KING: OK. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're working our sources to get more information about the attack in San Bernardino and the possibility that that others were involved.
Also, we will hear more from Donald Trump. He's shouting down his critics, defending his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. He stood firmly during a rather tough exchange right here on CNN.
BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump's Republican rivals are getting more aggressive in taking on the presidential front-runner, slamming his new plan to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Just a little while ago, Dr. Ben Carson told CNN that Trump's plan is unconstitutional. Trump isn't budging. Listen to the way he explained his proposal to his supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:33:21] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wrote something that I think is very, very salient, very important and probably not politically correct, but I don't care.
So, what's happened is we are out of control. We have no idea who's coming into our country. We have no idea if they love us or if they hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us. We have no idea what's going on.
By the way, I have friends that are Muslims. They're great people. They know we have a problem. They know we have a real problem. Because something is going on, and we can't put up with it, folks. We can't put up with it. We have to figure it out. We can't live like this. It's going to get worse and worse. You're going to have more World Trade Centers. It's going to get worse and worse, folks.
We can be politically correct or we can be stupid, but it's going to get worse and worse. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it proposes, our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad. These are people, only believe in jihad. They don't want our system. They don't want our system. And have no sense of reason or respect for human life. They have no respect for human life.
When we see violations, you have to report those violations and quickly. You -- don't worry about profiling. I promise, I will defend you from profiling, I promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:35:08] BLITZER: Just hours after Trump unveiled his stunning new plan, he faced some tough questioning right here on CNN. Listen to some of his conversation with NEW DAY anchor, Chris Cuomo.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your proposition is plain: ban all Muslims until we can figure out what's going on. People are asking you how you would do that. I say let's put that to the side. It's irrelevant. It's about the concept.
You have leaders from your own party in the key states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, you have galvanized political rivals, all saying it is un-American, and extreme and that it makes you a fascist. How do you respond?
TRUMP (via phone): Well, I totally disagree. You take a look -- you take a look, Chris, at what's going on; and it is disgraceful.
First of all, you know, people quickly forget World Trade Center One, World Trade Center No. 2. And you take a look at all of the things that are happening, having to do with the problems.
Now you have the problem in California where, and miraculously $28,000 just found in this guy's -- just put into this guy's account, this horrible, you know, person, this killer, this maniac, into his account.
I have no doubt that we have no choice but to do exactly what I said until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. Because we have a problem in this country.
You look at Paris. You look at the carnage that took place in Paris.
TRUMP: But look at Paris beyond that. Paris is no longer the beautiful, gorgeous city with all -- Paris has a tremendous lot of problems. And they have areas in Paris that have been radicalized where the police refuse to go in and look at it.
CUOMO: We are -- we are well aware.
TRUMP: They refuse to take part in it. You look at London; you look at other places.
CUOMO: We are well aware. We are well aware. But Mr. Trump, here's the point.
TRUMP: Wait a minute, Chris. You're well aware. You say that so routinely. You're well aware.
CUOMO: Well, because I've been on the ground. I've been in those communities.
TRUMP: You look at parts of Paris. Nobody's going to go there, including the police.
CUOMO: I've talked to the French authorities.
TRUMP: Totally out of control. It's so dangerous.
CUOMO: That's what you say. The police are all over that country right now, and they're doing a lot of policing.
But more importantly, to your point, I would say it's the opposite reality. You see the French being more embracing of people around them. You see them living their lives. You see them refusing to accept fear as a basis for behavior. Whereas here, what you're doing, in the country that is known as
a symbol of freedom, is saying, "We're too afraid to be inclusive. We're going to reject the promise of America and ban an entire religion," even though we need to do things on a case-by-case basis.
And it seems as though you're acting out of fear, not making us look strong, and rejecting what America is all about. U.K. is not doing this. France isn't doing this.
TRUMP: No. I'm making us look strong, Chris. And don't tell me about Paris. Paris is under tremendous siege. They are absolutely in fear in Paris. Don't tell me Paris is not.
CUOMO: They are -- they have heightened awareness. They do not have fear, and they're not acting out of it. That's why they're letting refugees...
TRUMP: Come on. They don't have fear? Of course they have fear. Of course they have fear.
CUOMO: It's how you behave in that environment.
TRUMP: I have friends living in Paris. They want to leave; they're petrified.
CUOMO: But what are they doing? Are they banning all Muslims?
TRUMP: Well, let's see. Maybe they're going to have to. Maybe they're going to have to do something.
CUOMO: That's not even on the table.
TRUMP: I'm talking about a temporary situation until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on, Chris.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about all of this, the back and forth over Trump's latest statements with our CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny; and our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Dana, every other Republican candidate either disagreed or distanced himself/herself from Trump on this particular issue. Republicans out there, there's a significant chunk of that Republican base that actually likes what they hear.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't have polling since Donald Trump has given this proposal. But just based on the polling that we talked about last hour that CNN now has out from New Hampshire, yesterday in Iowa, the national poll Friday, just more broadly on how Donald Trump would fare as a commander in chief, fighting ISIS, foreign policy, across the board. He is winning, not just by a little bit, but by a lot. So it's hard to see that his numbers would change and go down based on this, even though he's getting condemned widely by party leaders from the national level to the state level.
BLITZER: Yes. And Gloria, you've got a new column on CNN.com. Among other things, you write this: "Trump flouts the conventions and plays to fears. But for now, at least, it doesn't matter. In a large field of GOP candidates, Trump's solid core of support among one-third of Republicans, a minority, is enough to keep him on top. And any Republican running would like to have his numbers." And then you write that he may actually get a bump out of all of this controversy.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think -- I think he -- We don't know his data points now. But I think he could get a bump out of this with his supporters.
[18:40:05] I mean, this is -- Trump is no fool. He's an opportunist, Wolf. He understands the leadership vacuum that his Republican base believes exists in this country. They're disaffected from government, disaffected from institutions. They like what he says, because they believe he's honest and he's different and he flouts convention.
And so, among his supporters, I think he could -- he could gain as a result of this, because they believe that he is speaking truth to power. And that he doesn't care what the ramifications are that -- and they agree with him. And for now, at least, that's working for him. And all these other Republican candidates are like punching JELL-O. The more they attack him, it doesn't work.
BLITZER: You were with him yesterday in South Carolina. You spoke to a lot of his supporters there at that huge rally he had. What did you hear?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the thing you hear again, they like his strength. They like the fact that, you know, he will stand up, and he will say it like it is. He'll protect them.
And I was struck by how many people were willing to say, "Look, we don't like everything he says." You know, a couple times I thought I was not going to be able to support him. But when they look at the field, they believe that he is the strongest one.
But it's important to remember. Someone who attends a Donald Trump rally. Someone who stands in line three hours and goes through this exercise, that is part of his probably 30 percent. Because as Gloria smartly writes: that is all that he needs in this large Republican field.
The only thing that will change this momentum in this race is if there's consolidation on the -- in the Republican field with all of these other candidates. And as of now, that hasn't happened yet. But the thing you hear again and again, people like his strength.
BORGER: You know, the RC has tried to control this race to a certain degree, control the debates, et cetera, et cetera. Now, I think their task is to try and get some candidates out of this race, Wolf. Because if they can get candidates out of this race, then maybe that 30 percent isn't winning the way it is right now.
ZELENY: Unlikely to happen, though, before Iowa.
BORGER: I agree. I totally agree.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens. There's one week from today, there's a Republican debate out in Las Vegas. We'll talk about that a little bit, as well. Much more when we come back.
[18:46:54] BLITZER: Breaking news we are following, Donald Trump staying defiant about his call to ban Muslim immigration into the United States. But moments ago, in an on-camera interview with ABC News, Trump emphasized the ban could be very short.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM ABC NEWS)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It could be very quickly if our country could get their act together. We don't know what's happening. We have a president that doesn't have a clue. We don't know what's happening. We need toughness and smartness and we have to do it quickly.
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: There are many, even in your own party, who think ISIS is going to like your rhetoric, that your words are putting us in greater danger.
TRUMP: And the worst thing that's ever happened to ISIS. The people in my party fully understand that. They are running against me. For the most part, they have no poll numbers. I'm leading by a lot.
They get it. They are trying to get publicity for themselves.
You know, when I came out against illegal immigration, everybody said the same thing. Two weeks later, everybody was on my side, including the members of my own party.
WALTERS: Are you a bigot?
TRUMP: Not at all. Probably the least of anybody you've ever met?
TRUMP: Because I'm not. I'm a person that has common sense. I'm a smart person. I know how to run things. I know how to make America great again. This is about making America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Gloria, what do you think? The latest comments of Donald Trump's interview with Barbara Walters? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: There's nothing
surprising in it. It's what he's been saying to people like our Chris Cuomo.
He does say he's not a bigot. I think that there are a lot of people in this country, having heard his proposal on Muslims would say something else. But I think that's a question he's legitimately going to be asked. He defended himself and said, no, absolutely not.
BLITZER: But he's emphasizing this could be a temporary ban until they figure out what's going on.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Sure, he has said that. He said that in the beginning it could be a temporary ban. But the point is, I mean, even executing this seems impossible to do. You have a patrol agent, border patrol agent asking people what their faith is, what their religion is. It just doesn't really make sense.
He may not be a bigot, but that's difference situation than is he inflaming some type of rhetoric that will spark other, you know, potential bigots out there if there are? So, he may not be, I mean, we certainly take him at his word there. But he is inflaming this rhetoric out there that is very dangerous I think on both sides.
You see, anytime you see Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton both renouncing something, I think they are probably on to something.
BORGER: Look, there are constitutional questions, obviously, about this proposal.
BORGER: But, what Trump is smart about is that he understands where the American public is right now, 68 percent, according to our polls and the American public, believe that we're not handling the question of what to do about ISIS and terrorism properly. Eighty-one percent of the public in this country believes that right now, there are ISIS terrorists living in the United States ready to strike.
And the president has not communicated his strategy well. Democrats will tell you that. Republicans certainly will tell you that.
[18:50:00] And what Donald Trump is saying is, I can fix that. I get that. I understand that. There is a leadership vacuum that he is jumping right into.
BLITZER: And in our brand new CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire, the first primary in the nation, he got 32 percent for Donald Trump. Now, this is taken before the latest comments. But still, it's more than double Marco Rubio in second place 14 percent, everybody else in single digits in New Hampshire. Similarly, whether in Iowa or nationally for that matter, certainly in South Carolina, as well.
ZELENY: And these state polls are so much more important than the national polls. This New Hampshire poll cannot be discounted at all. He is consolidating at least 1/3 of his Republican base and it's all you need to win.
If you ask yourself why he's leading across the board on terrorism, on the economy -- because he is so far overall, he is dwarfing everyone else. So, of course, he is going to be leading in those individual categories because he is head and shoulders above everyone. The question is, will the sort of other Republicans consolidate? Will he be able to expand sort of into the 40 percent range, 50 percent range? If so, he's off to the races. I'm not sure he will but --
BLITZER: If he wins in Iowa, Gloria, in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and then to Florida, he is going to lock it up.
BORGER: Look, I think there isn't one Republican who wouldn't want to switch places with him right now in terms of this polling. The question is, how solidified are these votes? If you look at the polling, what is it, more than 50 percent people in New Hampshire say they are not quite decided. Trump supporters are decided.
BORGER: The rest of the field, not so much.
ZELENY: You talk to voters out there, they are still watching this race unfold. It's such a dynamic race.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Important note to our viewers, one week from tonight, the final Republican presidential debate of the year. I'll be the moderator when the GOP candidates face off in Las Vegas next Tuesday, December 15th. If you have any questions for the candidates, submit your questions by going to facebook.com/CNN and commenting on the top post.
Much more breaking news right after this.
[18:56:29] BLITZER: Thirty-five years ago tonight, a music legend was murdered. The former Beatle John Lennon gunned down in front of his apartment building by a crazed fan.
Kyra Phillips hosts a CNN special report tonight called "Killing John Lennon." Kyra is joining us now.
Kyra, you got exclusive access to jailhouse recordings of Lennon's killer, Mark Chapman. Tell us about that.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We sure did. I mean, you're talking about more than 100 hours of Mark David Chapman talking about little people in his head, wanting to be famous, and, of course, orchestrating this murder to kill John Lennon.
If I had to use one word to describe these tapes, Wolf -- chilling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK DAVID CHAPMAN: This morning, I left the hotel room, I knew what was going to happen that day. I just knew it.
KIM HOGREFE, FORMER MANHATTAN ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Before he left, he put a display in the hotel. It had his passport. It had photographs from when he worked at the YMCA. It had other mementos of his life.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): A display that would make it easy to identify him as Lennon's killer.
HOGREFE: It was like his way of saying, look at me, I'm important.
PHILLIPS: Once the scene was set, Chapman left to stake out the Dakota again. He first saw Sean Lennon and his nanny.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chapman came from behind her. Reached around to shake Sean's hand and then he commented to her, "He's a beautiful little boy, isn't he?"
PHILLIPS: While Sean was outside the Dakota, inside his father was getting ready for his last interview ever.
LAURIE KAYE, PRODUCER: He was so real. He was so incredibly real. He wasn't a rock star.
PHILLIPS: Laurie Kaye produced the six-hour interview.
(on camera): So, you arrive at the Dakota. What was your first impression?
KAYE: Where did he sit but right on the love seat next to me. The next couple of hours, it's like, that's John Lennon. He's sitting next to me and he's looking at me through his John Lennon glasses.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Then came the moment Kaye says she will never forget.
KAYE: When we were talking about him and Yoko and he said, I hope to God that I die before Yoko because I don't know what I would do if she left before I did. In other words, he couldn't continue without her. And --
PHILLIPS: And, Wolf, you see the emotion there from Laurie Kaye.
Every individual with whom I interviewed -- the police officer that arrived at the scene and saw John Lennon lying there in a pool of blood. He ran over, knew the ambulance wasn't going to make it in time so he threw Lennon over his shoulder, got him in the police car hoping to get him to the hospital in time. You know, he broke down crying. The doctor that had to tell Yoko Ono her husband was dead. He
pronounced the exact time Lennon died. You know, he cried in the interview.
It just goes to show 35 years later, the kind of impact that John Lennon had on people, and that still exists today.
BLITZER: It certainly does. The word chilling is absolutely appropriate. Kyra, thanks so much for doing this.
And to our viewers, you can join Kyra her special report, "Killing John Lennon" airs tonight, 9:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.
Thanks very much for watching. Remember, you can always tweet me @wolfblitzer.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.