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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Texas Congressman Will Hurd; Republican Party Chaos?; Mass Shooting Investigation. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired December 11, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news bombshell: The childhood friend and neighbor of one of the San Bernardino terrorists now telling investigators they had previously built pipe bombs together.
Does he have information about possible terror sleeper cells and will divers find a missing computer hard drive in this nearby lake?
ISIS passports, growing concern that the self-proclaimed Islamic State may now be able to make counterfeit Syrian passports which would allow terrorists near unrestricted travel around the globe to launch new attacks. Why would these fake documents be so hard to detect?
Republican renegades, first Donald Trump and now Dr. Ben Carson threatening to run as third-party candidates if party officials try to rig the convention in favor of an establishment candidate.
Just days before the CNN Republican presidential debate, is the GOP campaign descending into chaos?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We are following breaking news in the San Bernardino terror attack.
There are sources telling CNN that Enrique Marquez -- that's the childhood friend and neighbor of terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook -- that he's now telling investigators he and Farook built pipe bombs in the past as a hobby for fun. Marquez denies building any of the explosive devices used in the attack.
And we're also following growing concern that ISIS is now making counterfeit Syrian passports using seized government materials that would make them nearly impossible to detect. The fake documents possibly allowing terrorists easy access to Western countries targeted for attack.
We're covering that and more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Will Hurd of the House Homeland Security Committee. And our correspondents and our expert analysts are also standing by.
I want to begin now with CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.
Pamela, I know you have been getting information from your sources.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.
We know the FBI continues to question Farook's friend, Enrique Marquez. He's not been charged, but he has told investigators that the two made pipe bombs together, though he says he had nothing to do with the San Bernardino plot. Today, investigators are still trying to figure out what all those extra bombs in the killers' home were intended for.
BROWN (voice-over): An FBI team now in its second day of searching this lake near the San Bernardino shooting scene, hoping to find crucial evidence, including the hard drive missing from the couple's computer.
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We did have a lead that indicated that the subjects came into this area and we're seeking evidence of anything that had to do with this particular crime.
BROWN: Investigators are now trying to figure out who the couple might have planned to attack next, given the stockpile of explosives and ammunition found at the couple's home following the attack.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: What happened in the four hours between the attack and the time these people were killed? something -- they did something during that period. Second big question is, who else were that in touch with? They destroyed their cell phones.
We don't have any evidence that they were in touch with a cell or other terrorists around the country or the world, but why did they destroy their cell phones and their computer hard drives?
BROWN: Investigators say Farook became radicalized at least four years ago, but it was only after the San Bernardino attack that the FBI discovered Farook had ties to a radicalized group arrested in 2012 in nearby Riverside, California. The group planned to kill members of the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Farook's friend Enrique Marquez told investigators that the arrest of that group is what caused him and Farook to abandon their plans to launch their own attack that same year.
Tonight, CNN has learned the FBI is moving away from the idea a workplace dispute that day is what caused the couple to target Farook's office when they did.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It certainly is very possible that they had other targets in mind, either that day or in the future. So what set them off that particular day, I don't think we know. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BROWN: So, the role the workplace played in all of this is still perplexing to investigators more than a week after the attack. And it's still early in this investigation.
As the FBI assistant director said, this investigation -- investigation, rather, could last a year or more -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Wow, that is some time. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.
We're also following the unfolding search at a lake near the scene of the attack. FBI divers have been combing the water for possible clues that may include a missing computer hard drive.
CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah is there for us.
This is the second day of this underwater search and this could go on for sometime, Kyung.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This could go on for some time, the FBI saying they could be here for days.
What we're seeing right now, Brianna, are two divers still in the water. You can see just over my left shoulder there is that foot bridge and then you can see the neon green tank of one of the divers.
Two of the divers have been spending most of the day combing the area right underneath that bridge. They have been going back and forth. The water is quite deep in that area, and about 25 to 30 feet deep is how deep this lake is, according to one of the residents.
They haven't really found anything significant that we at least have seen, and they are still searching. It has been a tough day. It has been cold. It has been rainy. There has been that FBI report that there was an eyewitness who saw the two killers here at this park on the day of the massacre.
What we don't know, if it was before or after the massacre. There are some items that are missing from the apartment, and what they are looking for specifically and very interested in, Brianna, is this missing hard drive. We anticipate they will be here until night falls. We're expecting that in the next hour, hour-and-a-half or so and, again, expecting them to be here for sometime -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Is this -- excuse me if this is sort of an elementary question, Kyung, but is there any possibility if these divers don't find anything, don't turn anything up, that they could maybe drain the lake? Is that something that is in the realm of possibility?
LAH: This lake has been drained before. That resident who told us that this lake is 25 to 30 feet deep, the only reason he knew that is because this lake was drained about three years ago. We don't know if that's in the plan.
The FBI would not get specific with us on that, but that is an option, perhaps, but, right now, that does not look like something that they are considering because these divers are continuing to comb back and forth underneath that foot bridge.
KEILAR: We will be watching to see if they come up with anything, along with you, Kyung. Thank you so much.
Also breaking this hour, a new terror concern, ISIS possibly making fake passports that allow terrorists to move freely around the globe.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been working this story for us.
These are counterfeit passports, right, but they would look very much like any regular passport coming out of Syria and it would be hard for officials to detect.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very hard to detect. Brianna, and it comes at an extremely dangerous time, as ISIS is expanding around the world.
STARR (voice-over): ISIS may now be able to make fake passports using seized Syrian printing equipment and blank passport books, according to a U.S. intelligence report.
Combine that with fingerprint and biographical data on Syrian citizens, it all adds up to phony Syrian passports difficult to detect and worry someone might have tried to enter the U.S. Almost a month ago, ISIS supporters using fake passports in the Paris attacks.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The intelligence community is concerned that they have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting.
STARR: It's just the latest alarm bell for the Obama administration, watching as ISIS bursts through its traditional borders in Iraq and Syria, inspiring fighters and attacks around the globe.
President Obama will make a trip to the Pentagon next week for what is being officially called an update. But CNN has learned top administration, military, counterterrorism and homeland security officials hope to offer the president options for more aggressive action.
ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is absolutely necessary to defeat ISIL and its parent tumor in Syria and Iraq and also to take necessary action wherever else in the world this evil organization metastasizes.
STARR: Carter, Jeh Johnson, the homeland security secretary, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and top CIA officials privately met this week to discuss what to do next.
CARTER: That's the reality, linking together American counterterrorism and military nodes in the reason and around the, world so that they can focus on this network wherever it is.
STARR: And in Libya, the U.S. may step up airstrikes, officials say. The U.S. recently killed Abu Nabil, ISIS' top operative in Libya. Carter says it's not enough.
CARTER: We're going to have to do more in Libya.
STARR: Up to 800 Libyans recently returned from fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to a U.N. report. With little government control since Gadhafi fell from power, ISIS has moved in, now controlling Sirte, a major coastal city, even setting up training camps and new terror networks.
STARR: And Carter is talking now about even challenging ISIS in the cyber-domain, where it is the strongest. He's saying it's going to have to be more than just airstrikes -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
And we want to talk now about all of this with Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He's a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
And, certainly, you have been following this very closely. You have been briefed here.
I do want to talk to you about Barbara's reporting here on the spread of ISIS, but, first, is there anything you can tell us about the San Bernardino attack that maybe you're learning? Have officials been able to rule out that there was anyone else perhaps involved in the planning or even the execution of the attack?
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: This is priority number one for our men and women in law enforcement.
And they are making sure to see if there are any other connections that they can possibly stop. Right now, the evidence suggests that there isn't. But there's still a lot of unanswered questions. Why were they building 19 pipe bombs? Why did they have thousands of ammunition? Was there something else that they were trying to do?
But, as of right now, it looks like our law enforcement officials don't see a connection to other groups.
KEILAR: Earlier, I interviewed Senator Angus King of Maine. And he said something that stuck out to me. He said there is this big question about what happened between the attack and -- this four-hour gap between the attack and then when this couple got into this altercation with law enforcement and they were killed.
Are there any other huge outstanding questions to you that you think are really paramount or priority here?
HURD: Well, I think, also, how did these two individuals become radicalized? When did it start?
We know general timelines. What was that initial contact point? How did that happen? There are still a lot of questions that if we learn the answers, it is going to help us be able to stop these kinds of things in the future in how can we tweak our posture on the ground in places around the country.
KEILAR: I know right now the indication seems to be that they didn't have this outside help, but I think people look at this lake that they are essentially dredging, looking for this missing hard drive.
There were cell phones that were, you know, smashed and were thrown away nearby. It begs the question, why would they be getting rid of that unless perhaps they are trying to hide from authorities maybe people that they were in contact with?
HURD: Yes, or were they trying to escape? Did they think that they were going to be able to go somewhere and live their life?
You know, what were they going to do? Were they going back to pick up their child that they left off with the grandmother? Did they have a plan of escape? Because you don't drive around for four hours if you don't think you are going to be able to get away or do something else.
KEILAR: Do you have a sense that officials have any threads that they are pulling on that would connect this husband-wife team of killers to other radicalized individuals in the U.S.?
HURD: Well, this is the dragnet that law enforcement is looking to try to uncover.
The information now is who are all these people, this Marquez character? Who is outstanding? And they are trying to do everything they can to see if there is any connection to anybody that's operating right now in the United States.
KEILAR: I have many more questions for you, if you can just stick with me.
KEILAR: I want to talk to you about the radicalization of this group and sort of the implications of that.
We will have more with Congressman Will Hurd after a quick break.
KEILAR: Breaking news in the San Bernardino terror attack investigation. CNN has learned that Enrique Marquez, a childhood friend and a neighbor of terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, is now telling the FBI that he and Farook built pipe bombs in the past as a hobby.
Marquez, as you see here, denies building any of the explosive devices found in the home of Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, as well as any of the pipe bombs that were used in the attack.
We're back now with Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He's a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
And I was talking to some experts in the last hour. It was really interesting. They said, if you look in retrospect at this couple, you might say, oh, perhaps there were red flags. There was this interaction with other radicalized individuals in 2012 and the husband. But then they say, you know what? You look back and say that, but maybe there really weren't any red flags.
What do you think?
HURD: Well, I think this is part of what the investigation into their lives is going to try to tell us, to see, were there potential red flags that we could have seen?
All the information I think that's been collected to date doesn't say that anything slipped through the cracks, but, you know, this scenario, this lone wolf scenario is probably one of the hardest things to defend against, because if you have never come across the radar of intelligence services, of law enforcement, how do we know that you're a bad person?
And this is one area where I think working closely with local law enforcement, private security companies on the ground where we can tighten up that kind of information sharing that could lead to some of these types of -- preventing some of these types of attacks.
KEILAR: And hearing you say that, obviously, this is still the big concern, lone wolf attacks, people who are self-radicalized.
I think a lot of people are really worried right now that this could happen in their community. Is there a sleeper cell in my neighborhood? Is that unfounded or do you think that is a justified fear?
HURD: It's a justified fear.
But know this. The men and women in law enforcement, the intelligence agencies, in our diplomatic corpse, in our military are working hard to protect us every single day. I spent nine years as an undercover officer in the CIA. I was the guy in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning.
[18:20:05] And I was in the CIA when 9/11 happened. And if you would have
told me it would have been 14 years before another major attack on our homeland, I would have said you were crazy. But there hasn't been because of the hard work of these men and women.
We learn from these situations. We get better. And we got to make sure that we get the right information in the right hands so we can keep terrorists on the run and off our shores.
KEILAR: What about the screening process for people who are coming into the U.S.?
Tashfeen Malik, for instance, had been discussing jihad, martyrdom before she even made it to the U.S. She did go through an interview process, but, obviously, a lot of that is self-reporting. Are there changes that could be made to weed people out who may have that inclination?
HURD: For someone who is committed to try to get -- you know, to try to catch them in an interview that, you know, 10, 15 minutes' long, you can ask questions like, do you believe in jihad, but if someone is committed, they are going to, of course, lie.
So, how you pick that out, it's about collecting intelligence on the life of an individual, understanding these networks, making sure we're getting all the information we can from all of our partners around the world.
One of the things that we did this week in Congress was made updates to the visa waiver program. It's a bill that passed the House, partly because a lot of our European allies weren't sharing information with suspected terrorists to us. And, again, if we get the right information and build our networks, then we can -- our dragnet gets a lot bigger.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about the cyber-aspect of this, because there are certainly a lot of recruiters on ISIS or people who may be heading to Syria to fight. And they are talking to each other undeterred on the dark Web.
They're using encrypted messages. It's very difficult or impossible at this point for the U.S. to crack that code. And I wonder where you think the U.S. is in the process and how far the U.S. has to go in order to delve in there and stop ISIS from using that avenue unimpeded.
HURD: Well, one of the things is we got to counter ISIS' use of social media, their narrative.
They're getting their message out to hundreds of thousands of people a day. And we got to do a better job of countering that ideology. We also got to be -- we can work a little bit more closely with our private sector colleagues on stopping these kinds of attacks, because if we know that two people are communicating, there is a lot more information that we can find out about them to try to stop them. And the fact that ISIS is using these tools, that increases the
surface area of attack that we can take advantage of. Back when I was chasing al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they were doing things called night letters. They were writing a letter and leaving it on people's doorstep.
And you can hit a couple hundred people a night that way. But the way ISIS is leveraging social media, they are hitting tens of thousands of people. And it's an avenue for us to infiltrate them and to stop them overseas in Syria and Iraq.
KEILAR: Yes. It is really -- it is quite something that they are exploiting very much.
Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much. We really appreciate your time and giving us your insight on this.
HURD: The breaking news will be continuing next with new information about the terror investigation at San Bernardino. There will also be new details coming from one of the killer's childhood friends.
And now that he's rising in the polls, is Ted Cruz ready to attack Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump? We have a leaked recording of Cruz that may reveal the answer.
KEILAR: We're following breaking news in the San Bernardino terror attack.
Sources are telling CNN that Enrique Marquez -- he is the childhood friend and neighbor of terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook -- that he is revealing some new information, telling investigators that he and Farook previously built pipe bombs together as a hobby.
And we do want to dig deeper now with CNN justice reporter Evan Perez. We also have retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, our CNN military analyst, and we have former CIA operative and CNN security and intelligence analyst Bob Baer.
So, first to you, Evan. What are you learning here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Marquez is really a key character now in this investigation.
Obviously, he knows Farook a lot, going back years. And he was involved allegedly in this plot that the two of them had cooked up back in 2012. And this information that he's providing, which is that he and Farook together built these pipe bombs or had experience building pipe bombs, and he's describing it as some kind of like a hobby and experimenting with explosives, and sort of minimizing the importance of it. And he certainly is not taking any responsibility for the pipe
bombs that were found at the house or the ones that failed to go off at the Inland Regional Center. But he's sort of portraying this as some kind of a hobby that they all -- that they worked together on.
Now, this is key information, because it does give a sense of Farook, where -- how long ago that he was working on this, because it was something that the FBI wanted to know. Like, did he get any training in explosives? When did he learn to make these things?
KEILAR: How well-thought-out was this? Yes.
PEREZ: How well-thought-out was this? How much planning went into this?
And so that does answer some of these questions. Again, the really FBI wants to find a way to corroborate some of this information, because he's been cooperating for days and days.
KEILAR: Well, yes. Can -- but can they trust him? Do they have a sense that they can take what he says to the bank?
PEREZ: They don't know.
PEREZ: I mean, he obviously checked himself into a mental health institution right after these attacks, so that's one thing that they're weighing and the fact that he is singing. He's been there for days and days with the FBI. He's not exactly free to go. He's not been arrested.
But they certainly wanted to keep him talking for as many days as possible to try to get as much information as they can, Brianna, especially because they have yet to recover this hard drive. They don't know where it is. They don't know where -- still have not been able to get into information from the two cell phones that were smashed right afterwards.
KEILAR: Bob, from what we know so far, and this is -- it seems like officials are saying they don't think that anyone helped this couple, but it seems like they can't completely rule that out. Where do you think that -- that's headed, that sort of element of this?
BAER: Well, Marquez not knowing about the attack, that's possible. You know, it's simple trade craft, need to know. If these people decide to pull the trigger on this deal, they would do it by themselves. There would be no reason to tell them.
But I don't buy the story of, you know, hobby-making pipe bombs. It's nuts. I've never heard of that.
And you also have the question, the smashed cell phones, what was on those? I mean, they smashed those phones for no other reason than they wanted to hide their communications. And I would imagine the same is with the hard drive. They had contacts, and they also went to the mosque.
And I have never seen a pair of people not discuss their beliefs within religious circles. So they may have been looking for some sort of affirmation at the mosque or individuals in Southern California and contact with a sheik that could issue a fatwah, and they would need a fatwah to carry out this attack.
So I come down on it's a wider network, and I think the FBI, they're putting a lot of resources into this, by the way. Is they're looking for that wider network and try to make some arrests as quickly as they can.
KEILAR: What do you think about the possibility, General Hertling, of this wider network and also, Marquez, whether he's someone who can really be trusted to give officials some information about a wider network?
HERTLING: Well, I agree with Bob, Brianna. I mean, people don't make pipe bombs as a hobby.
You know, in military intelligence, we look at a couple things. We look at capabilities and what we can see. And we look at communications in what we pick up, either on the network or through messages.
You can't judge intentions unless you really have a very good feel for human beings. The human domain.
You know, this guy making pipe bombs as a hobby just seems very bizarre and would certainly open up the opportunity to look elsewhere for connections to other people and trying to pull back those threads of either capability or communication.
KEILAR: Bob, I want to ask you about the methods that this couple may have used to communicate. Some people have said it could have been encryption. If that were the case, how would that help -- what would that have looked like?
BAER: Well, what they do, Brianna -- and I've been told by law enforcement in Southern California is they have apps for encryption. And what they can do is actually hide these apps in a cell phone. So if there's a random stop and the police goes through their cell phone, they won't see anything. They'd need to know where the app is. And they've done this intentionally to defeat the FBI and police, and it works.
I mean, the encryption on this is end-to-end encryption. This can't be broken. And there is so much of it now. And on gaming and the rest of it, National Security Agency is essentially blind.
I mean, General Hertling was saying there's a lot more to this case than just two people that decided to pick up weapons and hit that target. A lot more to it.
KEILAR: Is that that's what it is, General Hertling, that there's not a chance to even break this encryption? Is the U.S. so far behind on this? Is there a way to get a team of brilliant people together and work on this so that there's a tool to defeat ISIS?
HERTLING: Yes, and what I'd tell you, Brianna, is yes, there is, to answer your question. And yes, they are doing that.
The key thing is this is a continual adaptation methodology. You know, we've been at this war for over 15 years now in a war against those who use terrorist tactics. They have learned. We have learned about them, and it's a continual adaptation to try and outfox the other.
So yes, there may seem to be indicators that they have the upper hand, but I guarantee you, because I know this to be the fact, there are a lot of people working to break these encryptions, to break these devices, as Bob knows, and various governmental agencies.
But as Bob also said, you know, we sometimes hinder ourselves by handcuffing our ability to gather this information, to garner this information. You know, various acts that are part of our law and then taken away.
So this is a different kind of war, but yet, we're still playing it the way we play conventional wars. We've got to do some other things to counter these kind of communications and devices.
[18:35:13] KEILAR: General Mark Hertling, thank you.
Bob Baer, thank you so much.
Evan Perez, as well. Appreciate you being here with this report.
We do have more breaking news ahead. This includes the underwater search for clues in the San Bernardino terror attack and new information about pipe bombs.
Plus, first Donald Trump and Ben Carson threatening to launch third-party campaigns? What might trigger them to leave the Republican race for independent White House bids?
[18:40:20] KEILAR: A leaked recording may foreshadow the next battle in the Republican race for the White House. Ted Cruz versus frontrunner Donald Trump, perhaps, who's so far unassailable lead in the polls is edging the Republican campaign closer to chaos.
CNN Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has been following Trump in Iowa for us tonight. And Jeff, Cruz really wouldn't be the first candidate to try to take on Trump, but the question is will he do it? Will he risk that?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, he certainly wouldn't be the first. In fact, he is almost the last. But for Cruz being nice is good politics. But now we're getting to look into those behind-the-scenes maneuverings of Ted Cruz to be ready, in case Donald Trump supporters are looking for Plan B.
ZELENY (voice-over): Trump, still comfortably on top of the Republican field, has a new rival nipping at his heels. For the first time, Ted Cruz signaled his plan in a closed-door fundraiser to take on Trump and Ben Carson.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe gravity will bring both of those campaigns down, and I think the lion's share of their supporters come to us.
ZELENY: A recording of Cruz given to "The New York Times" offers a behind-the-scenes look at his strategy to try what's eluded other Republicans, taking down Trump.
CRUZ: People are looking for what is prepared to be a commander in chief. Now, that's a question of strength, but it's also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.
ZELENY: Cruz has been one of the few Republicans unwilling to tangle with the billionaire frontrunner. As Cruz tried to contain the furor after his private words went public, he tweeted, "The establishment's only hope: Trump and me in a cage match. Sorry to disappoint; Donald Trump is terrific."
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much.
ZELENY: Trump, appearing tonight in Iowa, said he'll return fire. "Looks like Ted Cruz is getting ready to attack. I am leading by so much, he must. I hope so. He will fall like all others. Will be easy." It's a moment Trump has been waiting for.
TRUMP: And he's been so supportive, but at some point he's going to have to hit me, right? It will be a sad day, but we will hit back, I promise.
ZELENY: The latest skirmish comes as Republicans worry whether they can stop Trump. Party leaders discussed preparing for a contested contention at a private meeting this week in Washington.
Ben Carson said any back-room deals could push him and Trump from the party, saying, "If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party."
The Republican National Committee said there was no reason for worry.
SEAN SPICER, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Republican voters will choose the delegates that will go to the convention in Cleveland next July. Those people will decide the nominee. That's it. Bottom line, plain and simple.
ZELENY: The party is trying to bring order to the chaotic race as other candidates hope to gain traction. Supporters of Ohio Governor John Kasich launched a new online effort to put a stake in Trump.
TRUMP: Trump Steaks are, by far, the best-tasting, most flavorful beef you've ever had.
ZELENY: Mocking one of the mogul's old businesses, Trump Steaks.
Yet, Trump remains squarely on top. A new poll in New Hampshire shows Trump is at 27 percent, followed by Chris Christie at 12 and Marco Rubio at 11.
ZELENY: Now Trump's plan to block Muslims from entering the country remains deeply controversial. A new poll shows 6 in 10 Americans disagree with that.
Now Trump and this national security policy will be front and center at the last Republican debate of the year next Tuesday in Las Vegas, when all of these candidates get a final shot to try and take on Trump -- Brianna.
KEILAR: We'll see if they do, Jeff Zeleny in Iowa. Thank you.
And I want to get more now with CNN chief national correspondent and the anchor of "Inside Politics," John King; as well as CNN political commentator and "New Yorker" Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza; and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. He's the editorial director of "The National Journal."
So, John, there's all this talk now about whether Republicans could have a brokered or a contested convention. How likely do you really think that is?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Should we bet a Trump Steak on whether it's yes or no?
KEILAR: Stakes are high.
KING: There's a reason this hasn't happened in more than 60 years, and it's unlikely to happen now. However, Republican leaders are smart to think about it. They're smart to think, if it happens because they look now and they think, OK, Cruz or Trump is going to win Iowa, maybe Trump wins New Hampshire. What happens in South Carolina. They've changed the rules a little bit.
So is it possible? Yes, it's possible. If you call the people who do this for a living and have done six, eight, ten campaigns, they think, a ten, a 20, maybe a 30 percent chance of that happening. So they're smart to think about it.
But normally, Bri, you know how this works. You know, somebody starts winning early. They get big mo. Other people run out of dough, and the snowball goes down the hill, and somebody wins. My first -- you like that, Ron? My first campaign -- my first campaign, in 1988, the Democrats talked about this. Dukakis, Jesse Jackson and Dick Gephardt were all sort of competing for a while. Then Dukakis won.
In 2007, the Democrats are talking about this, when they thought the Clinton/Obama race might go on and the president -- you know, now, President Obama ultimately won. Somebody most likely will ultimately win, but this year is a mess, it's chaotic, and so you'd be smart to plan for it.
KEILAR: How would that change the dynamic of this?
LIZZA: There was actually a brokered or --
KEILAR: Is this like a disaster catastrophic for Republicans --
LIZZA: Well, look, the last time there was a brokered contention was TV which was not what it is today. So imagine most conventions now are pep rallies for the nominee who decided way before. So, imagine the sort of chaotic atmosphere of all of the media and the bloggers and all the rest in TV on that floor as the delegates try and sort this out. Nobody in the Republican Party and nobody in either party has experience dealing with this.
One thing to say is, it's not really a broker convention in the old fashion sense of, you have party bosses coming from the states and wheeling and dealing in a back room. As Sean Spicer pointed out in Jeff's piece, if the delegates are moving on in the floor and it will be up, they'll have multiple ballots, right?
And so, you'll have horse trading, but the delegates themselves will decide it. You don't have brokers anymore. They don't exist in party.
KEILAR: What do you think, Ron?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think the reason why this is under discussion is because the Republicans are faced with a prospect of something next year that they really have not had in the modern primary era, since 1976 when the modern primary era began. The Republican race and Democratic race have reduced to two candidates very quickly.
This year, many people I think see the possibility of three candidates sustaining viable campaigns well into the season, maybe all the way through, because you have Donald Trump with a very district base of support, dominating among blue collar Republicans, you have Ted Cruz emerging and passing Ben Carson as the favorite among evangelical Christians and then you had this kind of cattle call audition for the candidate of the more white collar, center right, non-evangelical part of the party that Marco Rubio had taken a led on with Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie also competing.
It is -- those polls of support are distinct enough and the states where they are resident are distinct enough that it is plausible to imagine each of them sustaining campaigns all the way through, and if that happens, that would increase the odds that no one gets to the magic number for a first hour nomination, and you would have a contested convention. KEILAR: John, Donald Trump has threatened -- Ben Carson is
threatening perhaps a third party run. Do you put a lot of stake in that?
KEILAR: I couldn't. I couldn't. Do you think that they really would?
KEILAR: You don't? OK.
KING: No, I don't. I think it's a possibility. It depends how mad they make Trump. Look, he keeps saying if they are fair. The voters in Iowa start in 50 days. Then we'll move on to New Hampshire and South Carolina. People actually start voting. Those people elect delegates when they vote. And we'll see how the process plays out.
Trump is mad because you have people like the state chairwoman of New Hampshire saying you can't stand by him because of his reprehensible comments. So, he thinks people with power in the elite establishment are against him. The voters are going to have a process soon.
If Donald Trump would run as an independent, a couple of things: number one, there is no data available today that suggests he could win as a third party candidate. Number two, he would most likely help the Democrats win. Number three, to run as an independent and to get on the ballot as Ross Perot, you have to spend a boatload of your own money.
And Donald Trump has not shown any indication at the moment he's willing to reach into his bank accounts and spend that much of his own money. I just don't see it but -- I'll keep adding the "but" this year. This has been one of those years where the rules don't apply. So, he's using it as leverage. He knows what he's doing.
LIZZA: Look --
KEILAR: You're not ruling it out, though.
LIZZA: One thing we know is he holds a grudge, right, and he likes to get revenge. If he felt the Republican establishment pushed him out of the race or did something that was unfair in his words, I think he would do it, I think would spend half a billion or a billion dollars to get on the ballot and ensure Hillary Clinton's election because that's the kind of person he is.
BROWN: You know, Brianna, the other thing he's got, if he did do it and I agree. You can never predict what Donald Trump is going to do. One thing I can pretend, he's going to threaten to do it for a very long time, every day until he wins the nomination -- unless and until he wins the nomination, this is going to be out there as a possibility.
But if he did decide to do it, he does have one thing and I think John would agree. He has an identifiable constituency, I mean, particularly among blue collar whites, but to some extent older and even white collar whites who are deeply alienated from almost everything that's happening in American society, I mean, from cultural and demographic change, from the role of government, now from the terrorism threat.
I mean, there is an audience he can appeal to. It is tough to win states with that audience that aren't that many that you could get within range of but it is certainly possible to imagine him coming in somewhere around Ross Perot's 19 percent of the popular vote if you run as a general election candidate, but in a way that will be very, very damaging to Republicans because all voters are counting on in the general election.
KEILAR: Ron, Ryan, John, thank you so much. Great insights from all of you. And John will be right back with his program "INSIDE POLITICS" this Sunday morning at 8:30 Eastern. That is followed by "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" at 9:00 and noon Eastern. And among Jake's guests, you guessed it, Donald Trump.
[18:50:03] The final Republican presidential debate of the year is just four days away. Our very own Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator when the GOP candidates face off in Las Vegas this coming Tuesday, December 15th.
Maybe you have questions for the candidates. Go ahead and send them to us. Just check out facebook.com/CNN and you can comment on the top posts. We'll be reading those.
Just ahead, CNN's Jim Sciutto gets exclusive access to a stockpile of weapons that terrorists are desperate to get their hands on and discovers how big the threat really is.
[18:55:02] KEILAR: Now, a CNN exclusive. It's a rare look at some of the weapons terrorist groups, including ISIS, are desperate to get their hands on -- a prospect that has U.S. intelligence deeply concerned.
CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto here with an exclusive report.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the U.S. military concerned not just about state actors getting missiles, the North Koreas, Chinas, Russias advancing, but non-state actors, terror groups including ISIS. And that's what we learned on our exclusive trip.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): A passenger plane headed from the Netherlands to Malaysia suddenly falls from the sky. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 brought down near the Ukraine/Russia border by Russian-backed rebels, using this surface-to-air missile system known as the BUK.
The ramification of the strike far reaching and incredibly alarming, because of who may be trying to maintain similar missiles now.
(on camera): Is there any concern today that terrorist groups would have their hands on something like this?
MARK CLARK, DIRECTOR, DIA MISSILE & SPACE INTELLIGENCE CENTER: I think it's probably safe to assume that at some level, there are efforts under way.
SCIUTTO: Folks back home immediately can say, "My God, look at that missile, can a group like ISIS get their hands on it?"
CLARK: It would not be possible but certainly say that there's going to need to be some training involved.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Mark Clark is the director of the Missile and Space Intelligence Center, a branch of the military's own intelligence operation, the Defense Intelligence Agency or DIA, located far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan in Huntsville, Alabama, the home of America's own rocket program.
Filling the agency's grounds are a rogue's gallery of a dangerous foreign weapons, some captured, some purchased, some acquired by means the DIA won't reveal.
(on camera): So, to help train pilots and other war fighters who might come in to contact with a weapons system like this in a combat situation, they keep these systems operational. This is still a fully functioning Scud missile.
(voice-over): Proliferation of missile technology preoccupies analysts here more than any other threat.
CLARK: We have greater concern about the smaller missile threats and likelihood of the proliferation of those.
SCIUTTO: Small only in size but not in capability.
(on camera): OK. So, SA-7, one the most common shoulder-fired missiles you'll see out in the world today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, there's been well over a million MANPADS produced, not only of this one but other kinds and still hundreds and thousands of them out there.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): To date, shoulder-fired missiles have targeted some 60 civilian aircraft. And you can buy them on the black market for just a few thousand dollars.
(on camera): One of the main dangers of a missile like this is both speed but also ease. That someone like me with no experience can put it together and acquire a target in less than a minute. Sights go up, power goes on, you find your target into the air. And you fire the missile. It's incredible.
(voice-over): Often the agency here comes into action after rather than before an attack. This is the first time a reporter has been allowed inside the center's technical analysis room.
(on camera): So, it's a CSI --
RANDY JONES, CHIEF SCIENTISTS, DIA MISSILE & SPACE INTELLIGENCE CENTER: It's a CSI forensic sort of capability, similar to a crime scene investigation. A little bit of DNA here, and a finger print there, begins to piece together, a pretty compelling story.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Within minutes of MH-17's crash, analysts here sprung into action, desperate to as quickly to determine the cause of the crash. As luck would have it, they had visitors that day who could help.
JONES: (INAUDIBLE) representatives from across intelligence community who do just this kind of analysis, we had them here in the building.
SCIUTTO (on camera): So, all those experts happened to be here on that day?
JONES: It just happened timing-wise, it worked out that way.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): As the outside world debated the cause, the DIA already had a very likely suspect.
JONES: Within an hour and a half, we were confident it was a missile that shot it down, a surface-to-air missile that shot it down. We had a fair idea which one, although we still had some homework to do.
SCIUTTO: Homework done at lightning speed. Within hours, they were confident they had pinpointed the murder weapon and the perpetrators, telling President Obama that Russian-backed separatists had fired a Russian-made missile that sent nearly 300 people plunging to their deaths.
SCIUTTO: Within 90 minutes, the likely suspect and within hours they knew who fired the missile and from where and what kind of missile, they were able to tell that with high confidence, something they don't do lightly, Brianna, to the president.
KEILAR: Great report, Jim. Thank you so much.
And remember that, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom. Please be sure to join us Monday in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And thank you so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar. And, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.