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Hung Jury in Freddie Gray Case; Republican Debate Reaction. Aired 18-19:00p ET

Aired December 16, 2015 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: Mistrial. A hung jury brings an abrupt end to the trial of the first Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray. The family and city officials appealing for calm. What happens tonight? I will talk to the Gray family attorney and the head of the NAACP.

GOP fidelity. Donald Trump pledging total commitment to the Republican Party, ruling out a possible independent White House bid just days after he hinted at one. With Trump far out in front of the GOP field, is the party establishment ready to rally around him?

Questionable answers. Senator Ted Cruz raises eyebrows in the CNN presidential debate, one minute calling for carpet-bombing ISIS, the next calling for directed strikes. Other candidates also appearing stumped at times. Is their command of national security up for debate?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM .

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Baltimore, appeals for calm tonight, the city on edge with a mistrial declared in the case of a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, the young man who suffered a broken neck in police custody.

William Porter is one of six police officers charged and the first to be tried, but his jury wound up deadlocked.

We're also following major shifts in the race for the White House, the candidates back on the campaign trail, fresh from the CNN Republican presidential debate.

And there's bitter fighting tonight on the newest battlefront. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, they're locked in a fierce war of words. And Donald Trump rising above the fray, taking a self-declared victory lap in Arizona, unfazed by Jeb Bush's sharp and repeated attacks during the debate.

We're covering that, much more this hour with our correspondents, our expert analysts, and our guests. They're all standing by.

Let's go to Baltimore first.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is on the scene for us

Miguel, the reaction so far to the mistrial, what's it like?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I want to show you what's happening here. We're just passing sort of the corner where the police station is, the police headquarters.

This street down here is where police headquarters is. You can see that they are heavily protected here. And then there's a small group of protesters here that have been walking around from the city hall, around to the courthouse where the hung jury was announced today, and then back around to police headquarters here, boisterous, peaceful so far.

There's been a couple of arrests and not a huge crowd. But there is certainly anger and uncertainty in this city. It is something that the mayor addressed today during a press conference.


STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: I also want to be very, very clear about any potential disturbances in our city. We are prepared to respond. We will protect our residents. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses, and we will protect the safety of our first-responders.

We will not and cannot be defined by the unrest of last spring.


MARQUEZ: Now, police in Baltimore have been staging in different areas around the city. They have been preparing for this. Now the protesters have taken it right down Fayette Street. This is going to the front of police headquarters.

When they tried to move into the street over by the courthouse a short time ago, the police moved in, in a very big way, and stopped them from moving on to the streets there, but now you can see that they have moved into traffic, in front of police headquarters. They want to take this message not to city hall, where they often do, but straight to police headquarters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Miguel Marquez, we will get back to you.

But I want to go to Brian Todd right now. He's also in Baltimore for us.

Brian, where exactly are you and what are you seeing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're not far from city hall, moving with the protesters as they move towards police headquarters.

We're not sure if they're actually going to stop there or not. We thought they might pile into the War Memorial Plaza, right in front of city hall, but they made a turn here down Fayette Street. And we're not exactly sure where they're going.

I would number them as several dozen protesters. This is a critical moment for the city of Baltimore, Wolf. As everybody knows, for weeks now, city leaders have been saying that if you want to protest, that's fine, but we are determined to protect our businesses, protect our neighborhoods.

The mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, just a short time ago said, look, we are not going to be defined by what happened in April. So they're determined that if these marchers are going to do what they're doing now, that they just had better heed the police calls, go where there is room for them to go, and not anywhere else.


As Miguel mentioned, we were just up with this group a few blocks away. They tried to go in one direction. The police blocked them, a bit of a yelling confrontation at that point, and then they turned. We are not exactly sure where they're going now, and we're just going to keep following them, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, but so far, everything's peaceful, right?

TODD: Absolutely, Wolf. It's very peaceful. They're angry, they're passionate, but so far, no signs of trouble in this group. We were told that a couple of protesters got into scuffles with sheriff's deputies a couple of hours ago, but those were minor. Those people were arrested and taken away, so far, no sign of any trouble here.

And we will pan over here, Wolf. You have got a police phalanx over here, and noteworthy that they -- noteworthy is that they are not in riot gear. They have vests on with, but they're not in riot gear. They are blocking the protesters are going on to this main street over here.

And we will just let the sound take it from here with the protesters confronting them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must love and support one another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have nothing to lose but our chains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have nothing to lose but our chains.

TODD: Protesters coming face to face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must love and support one another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must love and support one another.

TODD: All right, protesters now, Wolf, turning in another direction, and we will follow them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want freedom, freedom. BLITZER: Brian, stand by over there.

Miguel Marquez is also on the streets of Baltimore in a different location.

Miguel, everything so far you have seen has been peaceful as well, right?

MARQUEZ: They have been. This is the same location.

But you can see the police moved in very quickly, a very large number of police officers. And they're moving down to try to keep the crowd moving in the direction that they want, the protesters now moving directly in front of police headquarters. It is a small group. It is mainly peaceful. It's very boisterous and angry, but mainly peaceful.

There have been a couple of arrests, particularly one -- one in particular. Kwame Rose was arrested earlier. He had a bullhorn out in front of the court system. They said, you can't have a bullhorn out here, because it's disrupting the rest of the court cases.

So they arrested him. The protesters now moving on to a very major thoroughfare here in Baltimore. And it looks like police will try to control them as well. You can see the police line here, as protesters try to move here into Fayette and 83. The police formed a line here to try to keep the protesters back and keep them moving down this way.

For most of the evening so far, protesters have stayed on the street and tried to obey the traffic rules, but now it seems to be -- they seem to be amping it up a little bit and police responding in kind, some of them in tactical gear, but, for the most part, they are just taking a heavy hand in blocking off streets and keeping them from moving into traffic.

BLITZER: All right.

MARQUEZ: You can see, actually, up here, they're starting to move into traffic in this -- on this major thoroughfare here. This is President Street here in Baltimore.

BLITZER: All right, Miguel, stand by.

I want to bring in Billy Murphy. He's the attorney representing the family of Freddie Gray.

Is the Gray family disappointed, Billy, by this mistrial today?

BILLY MURPHY, ATTORNEY FOR GRAY FAMILY: They're disappointed that there wasn't a verdict, but they're not upset. And they're calm and they're waiting for the next trial.

And they're urging everybody in Baltimore to be as calm about it as they are. They have a vital stake in this. It was their son, after all. (CROSSTALK)


MURPHY: And they are familiar with the Baltimore City police brutality problem and the national police brutality problem.

And, nonetheless, they are advising everybody to remain calm and patient.

BLITZER: Were you personally surprised that there was a mistrial?


About 5 percent of the criminal cases tried in America result in a mistrial. Of the ones that are retried, about 70 percent result in a conviction and 20-some percent result in an acquittal. So, this is just a bump in the road on the way to justice.

BLITZER: What about the five other Baltimore police officers? They have upcoming trials. What do you think is going to happen there?

MURPHY: Well, because this one was a wash, I don't think it's going to have any impact on those cases.

And I think there will be a very careful jury selection process by this judge, and we will be able to pick juries in the rest of these cases with no problem.


BLITZER: From the perspective of the Freddie Gray family -- and you're the attorney representing them -- what would bring justice to them?

MURPHY: Well, as you know, Wolf, I represent them in the civil trial, in the civil case, which is over. And my representation of them is only in the aftermath of that and not involved in the criminal cases.

BLITZER: One more question, Billy, before I let you go. I know you have got to go.

The stepfather, Gray's stepfather, issued a statement earlier today thanking the jury, asking the public to remain calm. How worried is the family, though, that protests could turn violent?

MURPHY: The family doesn't want violence. The family wants peace. The family doesn't want anybody to substitute their emotions for this family's emotions.

This family wants calm. This family wants intelligent reaction and the family wants them to know that there will be a second trial in this case. And so they should not be upset. BLITZER: Billy Murphy, thanks very much for joining us.

MURPHY: Thank you, Wolf. Nice to see you.

BLITZER: I want to go right back to Brian Todd on the streets of Baltimore.

Brian, what's happening there where you are?

TODD: Well, Wolf, for the first time tonight, protesters have actually blocked an intersection.

We're at the intersection of North President Street and East Baltimore Street. The protesters have blocked this intersection. And a police commander has come and asked them to get off the street. This is the first time they have actually blocked an intersection tonight, we believe, and the police have asked them to move off the street and onto the sidewalk.

They are on the move right now, Wolf. We're not exactly sure where they're going. I asked the protest leader where they're going. He said: "We don't know. We're just going."

So we're going to see if they heed the police's call to get out of the intersections, Wolf. That may prove to be kind of a critical moment tonight as the protest remains fluid.

BLITZER: And when we hear them shouting, what are they really saying? Give us a little sense.

TODD: It's -- usually, it's the same chant, Wolf. It's "Justice for Freddie Gray, all night, all day. We will fight for Freddie Gray." That's a chant that we heard very often back in April.

"No justice, no peace" is one of the chants. Now they're calling on people to get to the sidewalks. These protesters do seem to want to comply, at least for now, with what the police are asking, Wolf.

So we are going to see if they actually stay on the sidewalks or if some of them try to venture out of there. Again, the police have kind of followed us for several blocks as we have moved with the protesters, Wolf, very respectively kind of keeping their distance.

But when they blocked this intersection, the police commander did say, please get off the street. There's another one asking people to go onto the sidewalk. And we are going to comply with that.

You know, the police presence, Wolf, we have reported on it for weeks. The police presence has really ramped up in Baltimore. Several jurisdictions of police from neighboring counties, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, have showed up in riot gear.

The Baltimore police have tried to tamp down that presence a little bit, saying they want the assisting jurisdictions to be kind of out of sight, out of mind for some of these protesters. They don't want to give the image of such a heavily armed police presence here. But we have a protester complaining about that, as you can see.

What they do, though, Wolf, what they have done is shown up without helmets and other riot gear. They do have vests on.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, be careful over here. We will get back to you.

I want to bring in the former federal prosecutor, our legal analyst Sunny Hostin, also our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Sunny, these six police officers, one of whom is already being tried -- a mistrial today, five to go, can they really get fair trials in Baltimore, or should they have moved these trials to a different location in Maryland?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's the question. You know, the defense moved many, many times for a change of venue, which means they wanted it tried outside of Baltimore City, because they argue, because of the speed that this trial was brought, and because of what happened, all of the unrest in Baltimore, they couldn't get an impartial jury, a jury that could make this decision that they had to make, a very difficult decision, and not be swayed at perhaps the public reaction and not be swayed by what we're watching right now.

And so I suspect that that is a motion, if the prosecution chooses to charge again William Porter -- my understanding is that they have declared that they will -- you know, I think we're going to see defense attorneys again ask for a change of venue here.

I don't want to second-guess Judge Barry Williams. I do know Judge Williams. But I suspect that this is an issue that's going to come up, because how can you get a jury, not an impartial jury? Because I think you can seat an impartial jury, but how can you get a jury that won't even consider the effect of their verdict on the city in which they live? I think that's tough.


BLITZER: What do you think, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I thought this was a case that should have been moved out of Baltimore. I think when you have the whole city convulsed, as it was, after the initial Freddie Gray events, the effect on the city as a whole was simply too great.

I do think that Judge Williams, having decided not to change venue the first time, will say, look, we saw that we had a jury in this case that considered the evidence. Some thought the case was proved, some thought the case wasn't proved. That shows that they were capable of evaluating the evidence.

So, I think, having gone through one trial with a jury that, I think it's safe to say, did look at the evidence, even if they couldn't come to a unanimous verdict, I would be very surprised that now, after having gone through that, more or less successfully, if not with a final result, the judge will change his mind and say, well, I'm going to move this case to say, Annapolis or Prince George's County.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, stand by. Sunny, stand by as well.

Cornell William Brooks, the president and CEO of the NAACP, he's now with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. They have just issued a major statement on what's going on in Baltimore, where the NAACP is headquartered. We will discuss with Cornell when we come back.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news.

A jury has declared a mistrial in the case of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Protesters, they are marching through the streets of Baltimore right now. Officials are calling for calm.

Brian Todd is in Baltimore for us.

Brian, what exactly are you seeing right now?

TODD: Wolf, the protesters, after marching for several blocks, have stopped now in front of city hall. Just kind of impromptu chants and other things that they're saying in front of city hall.

There are not any speeches going on right now, but they are calling for justice for Freddie Gray. They are calling an end to some of...

BLITZER: All right, it looks like we lost that connection with Brian Todd. And we will get back to him once we clear that up.

Cornell William Brooks is with us, the president and CEO of the NAACP.

This is a development that hits home for the NAACP, which is the headquarters -- Baltimore is the headquarters of the NAACP. What's been the official reaction? I know you put out a lengthy statement reacting to the decision, the mistrial.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Well, the NAACP, as you lifted up, is headquartered in Baltimore.

It is our hometown. Much of my staff lives in Baltimore. So, this tragedy hits home. Our official statement is simply this, that the mistrial represents a opportunity, if you will, for a justice do- over. The fact that we are headed toward a retrial is a positive development in the wake of a senseless tragedy.

The fact of the matter is, Freddie Gray died in the back of a police van after requesting for a medic in a city with a long, sordid history of these rough rides. And so this is not an individual incident. This is not an aberration. This is a part of a long, tragic tradition. And so, as a consequence, people are angry. But we are hoping

that they are angry and righteously indignant, but nonviolent, and give the system an opportunity to work and to deliver justice.

BLITZER: Hold on for a minute, Cornell, because Sunny Hostin, our legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, is getting some new information.

Sunny, what are you learning?

HOSTIN: You know, what I'm learning is that officer Goodson's trial is set for January 4. Officer Alicia White's trial is set for January 25.

I'm also learning that Goodson did not give a statement. And so prosecutors need Porter to say to the jury or explain to the jury what he told officer Goodson, in order for the prosecution to prove its case. And my understanding is that perhaps the team, the defense team for Porter isn't available until May or June.

If that is the case, this is extremely problematic for the prosecution, which has announced that they want to bring charges again, re-charge this defendant, defendant Porter, tomorrow. That -- I don't know what that does to the timing of these other cases and the frustration that we are seeing In the community, because I think this community felt that officer Porter's case was sort of paving the way for this new accountability for police officers.

Given the fact that there is a hung jury and that they need, the prosecution needs Porter's testimony in a trial that's going to start January 4 and another trial that's going to start January 25, I'm just not certain what -- how the community is going to react to that.

BLITZER: Let me ask Cornell William Brooks.

You're not only the president and CEO of the NAACP. You're also an attorney. So, you know the legal system. All of these police officers charged, they're due a fair trial. They're due their day in court.

BROOKS: Absolutely due a fair trial.

This represents a set of legal dominoes. And we await how they are going to fall, how these trials are going to align, and how the prosecution will bring forward its case. But the fact of the matter is, we have to rely on the system to deliver up justice. And that means that we can intensify our protests. We can continue to lift up this tragedy in the context of what has happened in Baltimore over the course of many years.


But we have to await an outcome. And we have to have faith that we can get justice, that we can secure justice, but it is a complicated legal narrative.

BLITZER: Do you still have confidence in the mayor?

BROOKS: I have confidence that the citizens of Baltimore will continue to press for justice until they secure it.

BLITZER: That doesn't sound like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore, is getting a ringing endorsement from the president of the NAACP.

BROOKS: The NAACP is not in the business of endorsing politicians, candidates.

We're in the business of endorsing policies that deliver justice for real people. And the fact of the matter is, this problem is a lot larger and of longer duration than any particular mayor or any particular police chief.

BLITZER: Cornell, thanks very much for coming in.

BROOKS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Cornell William Brooks of the NAACP.

Much more coming up. There are other developments on the political campaign. We will update you on that when we come back.


BLITZER: The Republican presidential candidates, they're back on the campaign trail today after last night's CNN debate on national security and foreign policy. Some of the candidates' answers to the questions about national security are raising eyebrows and concerns about their understanding of the fight against terror.

Let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Jim, this really put a spotlight on the candidates' strengths and weaknesses when it comes to national security.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No questions. There were some very specific questions about issues: for instance, what is the definition of a targeted airstrike that came up in there.

But also, regarding what you can describe as maximalist positions from several of the candidates in response to national security challenges. Everything from suggesting carpet bombing of ISIS- controlled areas to shutting down parts of the Internet, that from Donald Trump, to help get in the way of a group like ISIS's ability to use the Internet to its ends.

One thing for certain that the candidates seem to agree on is that Americans are fearful right now, and they spoke a lot to those fears.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have people across this country who are scared to death.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): In the wake of the largest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, the Republican presidential candidates delivered tough talk on national security.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president hasn't kept us safe.

SCIUTTO: Still, their command of some of the defense topics was, well, up for debate.

Senator Ted Cruz has said he would launch an indiscriminate bombing campaign against ISIS, a tactic known as carpet bombing, as opposed to the surgical strikes the U.S. currently uses.

BLITZER: Would you carpet bomb, Raqqah, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians? Yes or no?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed, and you have embedded Special Forces to direct the air power.

SCIUTTO: But directed strikes, as he calls them, are the opposite of carpet bombing.

CRUZ: We need a president...

SCIUTTO: The senator also blamed the Obama administration for not identifying social media posts made by San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik before being granted a visa to the U.S.

CRUZ: We didn't monitor the Facebook posting of the female San Bernardino terrorist, because the Obama DHS thought it would be inappropriate. She made a public call to jihad, and they didn't target it.

SCIUTTO: While it's true that Malik's social media trail was not reviewed during the visa process, her views on jihad would not have been found without a warrant, because they were expressed in private direct messages, not in public social media postings.

CNN's Jake Tapper pressed Cruz on the issue.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's my understanding, is that the message that she wrote was, first of all, in Urdu; second of all, under a pseudonym; and third of all, in a private message that she was saying back and forth with some friends.

CRUZ: Listen, if we're not capable of understanding Urdu, then we shouldn't be approving visa applications.

TAPPER: But we don't have access to the Facebook private messages of people. This wasn't posted on her page; it was a private message.

CRUZ: We should be directing our attention to focusing on radical Islamic terrorism.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should be able to penetrate the Internet...

SCIUTTO: Donald Trump advocates shutting down parts of the Internet to cut off ISIS's access to the Web.

BLITZER: Are you open to closing parts of the Internet?

TRUMP: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.

BLITZER: Trump seemed stumped on a question about the nation's nuclear triad, the capability to launch nuclear bombs from the air, land and sea.

HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW": The three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that.

TRUMP: To me, nuclear is just, the power, the devastation is very important to me.

HEWITT: Senator Rubio, do you have a response?

RUBIO: I do. First, let's just explain to people at home what the triad is. Maybe a lot of people haven't heard that terminology before.


SCIUTTO: There was another sensitive moment during the debate when Senator Rubio there seemed to imply that Senator Cruz had revealed classified details about U.S. surveillance of phone calls.

We learned today that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, he announcing along with the vice chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Wolf, that they will not be investigating any of the statements made during that Republican debate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us, Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, along with presidential candidate Marco Rubio, whom Risch has endorsed.

Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: On this whole issue of whether or not Senator -- whether Marco Rubio had made the suggestion that maybe there was classified information that was coming out, have you looked into that, whether or not Ted Cruz may inadvertently have released any classified information?

RISCH: You know, all of us that give these kind of interviews and speak publicly about classified issues have to be very, very careful about what they say. We hear so much. A lot of times you can't remember whether it was in a classified setting or not. One has to be cautious.

Over the years, I've seen some pretty bad blunders, really, where people have stumbled and given out classified information. And it can be dangerous, although there's a lot of classified stuff.

BLITZER: Was any classified information released last night?

RISCH: You know, Wolf, I'm going to let the committee make that decision. I really don't want to wade into that. But, you know, there was a discussion on certain numbers. And when you get down to that specific on numbers involving a program or a system, you've got to be really careful, because most of that information is classified.

BLITZER: I'm going to play the clip. I'm going to play the clip of what Senator Ted Cruz said and then what Senator Rubio had said, and then we'll discuss. Listen to this.

RISCH: Sure.


CRUZ: What he knows is that the old program covered 20 to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists. The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that's the case.

RUBIO: Dana, may I...


RUBIO: Let me be very careful in answering this. Because I don't think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information.


BLITZER: Do you want to button up this little exchange for us? Because you're privy to all of those intelligence.

RISCH: I am. And the only place I've heard those numbers discussed is in classified settings. So, I think Marco was on solid ground saying, "I'm not going to confirm or deny the numbers that have just been laid out." I think that was appropriate.

BLITZER: It's a sensitive -- it's a sensitive subject. Even though the chairman, Richard Burr, and the ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, say there's no investigation.

RISCH: They don't want to get involved in this.

BLITZER: Maybe someone else will get involved?

RISCH: They don't want to get involved.

BLITZER: But just to be precise, what Senator Cruz said, was that information classified?

RISCH: I have never heard those types of numbers discussed. And I'll never confirm or deny the numbers that he's laid out. I've never heard them discussed, other than in a classified setting. My understanding is the numbers were classified.

BLITZER: Were classified, all right.

Let's talk a little bit about Donald Trump. He says he wants to shut down parts of the Internet, saying he'd be open to closing areas -- these are his words -- where we are at war with somebody. Is that even feasible?

RISCH: Probably from a technological standpoint, it may be feasible on a very narrow, targeted basis. I thought the discussion was kind of loose. I thought it was very broad. If they took specific instances and talked about it, I think it would have been more helpful to the American people as to what they stood for.

There's been instances where when in wartime, where the Internet has been used and has been shut down. The best example of that is when Russia invaded Georgia. They shut down the entire Internet in Georgia. I suspect when you get into a heated war, you're going to see more of that. Where it's a cold war, you may start seeing some very pointed disruptions or taking down of certain things that happen on the Internet.

BLITZER: How vulnerable is Senator Rubio, the man you support now for the Republican nomination, on his issue of immigration, that he was a co-sponsor of legislation a couple of years ago, that would have brought a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?

RISCH: Well, I don't know how vulnerable he is on that. I thought he handled the explanation of it quite well last night. I think he's right that in 2013, that bill that was put together really depended upon people's belief that the federal government would do what needed to be done under that bill. I think that his statement, his view is different today as far as the government's ability to live up to its promises. And so I thought he handled the question well.

BLITZER: Because in Republican primaries and caucuses, this is a big issue.

RISCH: Huge issue.

BLITZER: What they call amnesty.

RISCH: Right.

BLITZER: And you heard Senator Cruz make the point that, you know, he doesn't support what Senator Rubio supports. RISCH: Yes. I think that there is legitimate differences when

you get down to the exact details of it. I, myself, didn't vote for the bill, for some reasons that I think in representing my constituents in Idaho. They have a different view as to the end game on handling the people that are here.

BLITZER: Can you clarify for us, the two terrorists in San Bernardino, Syed Rizwan Farook, Tashfeen Malik, how did they communicate with each other before she even came here to the United States? Before they actually, physically met?

RISCH: You know, Wolf, I can't at this point. I may be able to at some point, but due to the nature of it, I can't sit here today and do that for you.

BLITZER: Senator, as usual, thanks very much for coming in.

RISCH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Risch of Idaho.

We have much more on the debate coming up. Our political experts are standing by. We'll be right back.


[18:44:04] BLITZER: It was one of the most watched in history, and the CNN presidential debate ignited a new battle that's playing out tonight on the campaign trail, and this time Donald Trump is not -- repeat, not --involved.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has details.

Sunlen, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, they really went at it last night. What's the latest?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today is no exception. They both have been going after each other today, and I asked earlier today, Senator Cruz, this sort of laser focus that he suddenly has on Marco Rubio. It's a sign that maybe he's getting nervous by the challenge Rubio poses. And he says, no, he thinks that Rubio is the one that is nervous right now.

This battle between the two senators has certainly been brewing quietly for quite some time, but tonight it's boiling over.


SERFATY (voice-over): The GOP field leaving Las Vegas with new battle lines drawn.

RUBIO: Everyone on that stage talks tough. It's easy. I like to stand here tonight and say we're -- or this morning and say we're going to utterly destroy ISIS. We're going to blow them up. We're going to make the sand glow. That's easy to say. What are you going to do it with? SERFATY: The sparring between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz...

CRUZ: ... Marco has suggested...

SERFATY: ... moving from the debate stage to the campaign trail today.

CRUZ: I think Senator Rubio's campaign understands that if conservatives continue to unite, they don't have a path to victory. So, their only hope is to try to launch false attacks.

SERFATY: The rivalry between the two first-term senators revealing divisions within the Republican Party on government surveillance.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that tool we lost, the metadata program was a valuable tool we no longer have at our disposal.


CRUZ: Well, I would note that Marco knows what he's saying isn't true.

SERFATY: Cruz trying to draw a contrast on one of Rubio's potential vulnerabilities with the Republican base -- his work on a comprehensive immigration bill that included a path to citizenship.

CRUZ: There was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio, to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.

RUBIO: As far as Ted's record, I'm always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support people in this country illegally.

CRUZ: For Marco to suggest our records are the same, it is like suggesting the fireman and arsonist have the same record because they're both at the scene of the fire.

SERFATY: Rubio pressing Cruz to define his immigration stance.

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people in this country illegal now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: I have never supported legalization.

RUBIO: Do you rule it out?

CRUZ: I have never supported legalization. And I do not intend to support legalization.

SERFATY: That tit-for-tat largely shadowing the focus on the front-runner. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I went in this saying,

boy, this is going to be a tough evening, because I heard all of them were going to come at me, right? Fourteen 14 of them were going to be coming at me. I was prepared.

SERFATY: Who tried to stay above the fray on the candidate stage.

JEB Bush (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But he's a chaos candidate. And he'd be a chaos president.

SERFATY: Even while Jeb Bush had him in his sights.

TRUMP: I think Jeb is a very nice person. He's a very nice person, but we need tough people.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN MODERATOR: Please, one at a time.

TRUMP: Build up your energy, Jeb, but it's not working very well.

See, I'm at 42 and you're at 3. So far I'm doing better.

BUSH: Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter.

SERFATY: In a big shift from just days ago, Trump backing off his charge that Cruz doesn't have the right temperament to be president.

TRUMP: I've gotten to know him over the last three or four days. He has a wonderful temperament. He's just fine. Don't worry about it.


SERFATY: And this new front that has opened up between Cruz and Rubio has a very clear determination that both of them understand and realize the threat the other one poises to their path forward. So, Wolf, this will continue to dominate in the days ahead -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Sunlen, very much.

Let's get some more with our chief national correspondent, John King. He's with us, along with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza. He's the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker Magazine."

Gloria, this deep dive on foreign policy, did it expose some holes, for example, in some of these candidates' positions?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for example, with Ted Cruz, how can you carpet bomb in Syria while executing a pinpoint strategy? It's a little bit difficult to do both of those. But what it exposed to me, most of all, was the fight going on

inside the Republican Party about how they look at foreign policy. You have the interventionists and the isolationists. You have different opinions on national security, how to conduct surveillance, defense spending, immigration, on every single issue, this is a debate the Republican Party is having with itself, and I think, actually, it's quite healthy.

In fact, they're acting like a bunch of Democrats debating among themselves, and the Democrats don't have this kind of a healthy debate going on in their own --

BLITZER: Senator Rubio was widely praised for his knowledge of how to deal with the nuclear issues, but not necessarily on the immigration issues.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORERSPODNENT: And look, to Gloria's point, there is a big fight in the Republican Party about who are we? Where do we stand? You have to settle those issues as you're picking, who will lead us?

And to your credit and to the credit of the panel last night, we had the most substantive debate of the campaign. And there are significant differences.

This is one issue where Ted Cruz is in the middle. You don't see Ted Cruz in the middle that often. But he says, I'm not an isolationist as Rand Paul. And I'm not as hawkish as Marco Rubio. Some place, a middle ground.

Senator Rubio does have command of the facts and he was very persuasive. It was pretty clear. I think it's self-evident, Donald Trump didn't either hear the question right or he didn't know what the nuclear triad is and Marco Rubio took some pleasure in correcting him, in saying, well, let me explain it to those at home who does not know what it is.

On the immigration issue, this is the quicksand of Republican politics. It has been a quick sand for Republican politics for six, eight years now. John McCain had to change his position. Marco Rubio saying, I changed my position because the American people aren't ready for a path to citizenship, and now let's try to do some kind of long- term to legal status. And he tried to say, Senator Cruz has been with me on this.

Rubio scored a lot of points with the people who like him last night. But the immigration, trust me, you're going to see him, if he's in the race still, or will he go south, you're going to see him standing next to Chuck Schumer in a TV ad.

BLITZER: Ryan, another candidate who had some tough words for Vladimir Putin was the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie.

[18:50:00] Listen to this.


Putin a lot and I'd say to them, listen, Mr. President, there's no fly zone in Syria, you fly in, it applies to you. And, yes, we would shoot the planes of Russian pilots if, in fact, they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.


BLITZER: Ryan, you've done a lot of reporting on Governor Christie. Did he do a good job presenting this so-called tough guy image as an alternative to Washington insiders?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. I mean, look, he made a lot of comments criticizing the senators, talking about, you know, this sounded something like coming out of a subcommittee. You know, on the policy front, I'm not sure that threatening to shoot down Russian airplanes is where we want to be in the Middle East the. But politically, I think Christie equated himself well and separating himself from the Washington insiders.

Just one thing on the Cruz/Rubio battle, look, the way I would score these two issues, immigration and whether to intervene in the Middle East, is which of these guys are closer to Barack Obama's position? And on those two issues, this is why Cruz has the upper hand, because Cruz can come back and say, Marco Rubio, you were close to Obama on immigration reform and you were close to Obama on the Libyan intervention.

And I think on these two very important issues, Wolf, you did an excellent job of drawing them out. Cruz is in the driver's seat because he has Rubio's back against the wall in arguing that he was closer to Obama and that's the one thing you don't want to be in the Republican primary.

BLITZER: Or caucus for that matter either.

All right. Guys, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss, including Donald Trump's now pledge to say a Republican no matter what.

We'll be right back.


[18:56:15] BLITZER: Jeb Bush put in arguably his best showing in the CNN Republican debate and launched sharp and repeated attacks against the front-runner Donald Trump.

Gloria, let me play a little clip about an aggressive exchange that we saw last night.


TRUMP: I have great respect for the people I've met through this process. I've never done this process before. I've never been a politician. For the last six months, I've been a politician. But I will tell you, I'm totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel very honored to be the front-runner.


BLITZER: That was not the exchange -- the sharp exchange between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Maybe we have that exchange. Do we have it? Let's play it.


BUSH: If you think this is tough you're not being treated fairly --

TRUMP: This isn't tough and easy. I wish it --

BUSH: -- imagine what it's going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with President Xi.

TRUMP: I wish it was always this easy as you, Jeb.

BUSH: Or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists.

TRUMP: Oh, yes.

BUSH: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: Oh, I know. You're a tough guy, Jeb. I know.

BUSH: And it's -- and we need --


-- to have a leader that is --


TRUMP: You're tough.

BUSH: You're never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: Well, let's see. I'm at 42, and you're at 3. So, so far, I'm doing better.

BUSH: Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter.


BORGER: That was "Saturday Night Live", by the way.

BLITZER: Should Jeb Bush have come out like this earlier in this campaign?

BORGER: I think he's tried, right, to come out last this earlier. But he's just not comfortable doing it and he finally understood that his entire campaign was at risk if he didn't show a little strength in these debates and a little more energy in these debates. So he did it.

So, I think it gives him a little more oxygen. And I think he probably felt good about it afterwards, right?

KING: I think that was for his donors and his campaign team more than anybody, because most of the centrist in the race, the Kasichs, Christies, even Rubio who didn't go after Trump last night and Bush have pretty much come to the conclusion you're not going to beat Donald Trump in the debate. You have to beat him on the ground. But Jeb Bush needs to reassure his donors and so that's why he --

BORGER: It's risky, though.

KING: Yes.

BORGER: It's risky because everybody who has attacked Trump that way has failed.

BLITZER: He hits you right back big time.

Ryan, you just attended a Donald Trump rally. Do you think these kinds of attacks are enough to rattle the Republican front-runner?

LIZZA: He didn't see rattled today. I can tell you that. He had a big crowd in Mesa, at a hangar.

You know, his big obsession today, frankly, was on the media. He went after five FOX News personalities and did his traditional thing where he points to folks in the press and calls them sleaze bags. Otherwise, he had plenty of putdowns from Bush.

Actually, at one point said he didn't want Jeb Bush's endorsement later in the race. I think he was playing off this "Politico" story that suggests that Jeb Bush is pondering whether he might say he will refuse to endorse Donald Trump if he's the nominee. Trump was hinting at that reporting saying that he doesn't want Jeb Bush's endorsement if he's the nominee. But he certainly didn't seem riled by what happened last night.

BLITZER: Very quickly, John, were you surprised? He shut the door, Trump, to an independent run.

KING: No. He shut the door for now. He knows his best hope is in the Republican Party. Right now, he has a path. It will be tough but he has a path to the nomination. We'll see what happens as we go forward.

BLITZER: Gloria?

BORGER: No, I was not surprised because I don't think he wants to spend the $50 million or $100 million it would take for him to mount an independent bid.

BLITZER: But he's a billionaire. BORGER: Right. But as he pointed out today in that rally that

Ryan went to, he has spent just over $200,000.

KING: Go back and look at how much money Ross Perot spent to get on those ballots. It's a lot of money and a lot of work.

BLITZER: How did that work out for Ross Perot?

KING: Got 20 percent, he made a big statement, but he didn't win. And Donald Trump, I think, if you listen to him, I think he's about winning -- Ryan, is that what he's about?

BORGER: I heard that.

BLITZER: Hold your thought, Ryan. We'll continue this conversation.

Remember, you can always follow me on Twitter. Tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.