Return to Transcripts main page
Bush Takes on Trump in Debate; Update in San Bernardino Shooting Investigation; Porter Jury Continues Deliberations after Deadlock; GOP Candidates Debated National Security, Vladimir Putin, ISIS. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired December 16, 2015 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:31:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The former Florida Governor Jeb Bush brought the A-game to the last night's Republican presidential debate and took on rival, Donald Trump, in a way we have not seen before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: If you think that this is tough and you are not being treated fairly --
BUSH: -- imagine what is it like to deal with Putin --
BUSH: -- or dealing with President Xi or dealing the Islamic terrorism that exists.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Oh, yeah.
BUSH: This is a tough business to run for president.
TRUMP: I know. You're a tough guy, Jeb. I know.
BUSH: It is.
BUSH: And we need to have a leader that is --
TRUMP: You're tough. You're real tough.
BUSH: You're never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.
TRUMP: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring back our panel, Rick Wiley, former campaign manager for Scott Walker's campaign, manager; Angela Rye, political strategist, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Kristen Soltis Anderson, political strategist and pollster.
And, Kristen, this is a moment that Jeb Bush needed to take on Donald Trump, and right from the very beginnings, you could see that he was more anxious to do so.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, POLITICAL STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: And he is wanting to bring the fight to Trump. So many of the folks have tried to take it to Trump, and it has not worked. And when Jeb has taken hits to him, it is apologize to my wife or he is too extreme. And now he is going after Donald Trump's ability to be commander in chief, and ability to govern, and that is riper, and he was getting more energized than usual when he deployed it.
BLITZER: He was on "New Day" earlier today. Listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: It is not really a debate, but it is a performance, and you have to have to take the moment to be able to say what you want to say rather than answer the question. I was brought up in a family, if you are asked a question, you have to answer it, and be respectful of the question, but get to the point that you want to make. And in the case of Donald Trump, he is a bully. Look, I mean, you guys interview him all of the time. He has his way. And to push up, and you know, push up against him and pushback, you will get a sense of, you know, he is not quite all in command.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Taking on Trump for Jeb Bush, right now, Angela, a good strategy?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It is the only strategy he has left, Wolf. I was looking at the poll yesterday that has Trump at 38 percent and Jeb Bush at 5 percent contrary to what he said on the debate stage last night by Donald Trump. But he has nothing to lose. And $50 million along with other ad money spent, and he has to do everything to be recognized and as you said earlier, it is too a little too late, but he does not have anything else to lose at this point.
BLITZER: And Jeb Bush, in the polls, he does not do well in Iowa, but better in New Hampshire, and he has to do a lot better in New Hampshire if the campaign is going to survive, right? RICK WILEY, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR SCOTT WALKER'S CAMPAIGN:
Well, last night you saw a different Jeb Bush on the stage, and he took the fight to Trump and had a great line, Saturday morning or Sunday morning where he gets his information, and he couldn't tell. And frankly, Trump has been attacking him for months so, and it was good to see the gloves come off for a little bit.
BLITZER: Is this good strategy for the other candidates to avoid criticizing Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz did in a private fund-raiser, but he walked away from it a little bit and last night Marco Rubio did not criticize him, and is that smart?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Well, looking at the people in the race who have tried to make a frontal assault, it has not worked out well. Rick Perry, out of the race. Bobby Jindal, and he is out of the race. And so a Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz may not see the advantage of taking him on frontal, but they may want to wait to see how Iowa and New Hampshire shake out before they switch the strategy.
RYE: And one thing is that is interesting is that it is not an all- out attack, but in the debate, they did not say Mr. Trump, but they said Donald or Donald Trump, and that was a way of bringing down the respectability factor a little bit. You are done with the respectability factor. We'll make sure you understand you are our peer.
BLITZER: Did you notice that?
WILEY: I did. Also, you have -- Donald Trump is larger than life, and he has brought something to the race that nobody ever thought would come to the race. So you have to pick the opportunities to go after him. At some point, you know, when he continues to lead by double-digits in the early states, you have the take him on and you are running out of time.
[13:35:28] BLITZER: And can any of the Republicans catch up to him?
WILEY: I'm sorry?
BLITZER: Can any of these Republicans catch up to him?
WILEY: Well, anything is possible at this point, because we have a long ways to go. People have been talking about Donald Trump's demise since the John McCain segment in July in Iowa and we are in the middle of December, and so anything is possible.
BLITZER: And the national numbers are going up and not down, so we will see. Only 47 days, but who is counting, until the Iowa caucuses.
Guys, thank you very much.
And in a few minutes, we are expecting to hear from the Federal Reserve about the interest rates, and how that is affecting the markets and how it can affect you. Plus, the jury is about to continue deliberating in the trial of a
Baltimore police officer charged in connection with Freddie Gray's death. Right before lunch, the judge had a question for the judge. We're live in Baltimore. And we will update you on what is going on.
[13:39:33] BLITZER: In 20 minutes from now, we are expecting to hear an important announcement from the Federal Reserve in Washington. It is believed they will be raising interest rates for the first time since 2006. The move has been expected for months and that is one reason that the strong market is staying strong right now. And we will have much more on the developing story at the top of the hour. Stay tuned for that.
Moments ago, the White House announced that the president is headed to San Bernardino, and he will be out there Friday to meet privately with some of the victims of the shooting there. 14 people were killed in that terror attack. And the president is making the stop on the way to a family holiday vacation in Hawaii.
Just ahead, we'll hear from the director of the FBI who now says that the shooting at a military facility in Tennessee months ago was a terror-inspired attack. And also, new details on how the terror attackers in San Bernardino communicated online.
BLITZER: Today, director of the FBI revealed new and disturbing information about two terror attacks here in the United States.
And joining us now is CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez.
Evan, you were there inside with the FBI when Director James Comey made the announcement about the San Bernardino shooters. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We concede that in late 2014, before there is a physical meeting of the two people and resulting in their engagement, and the journey to the United States, they are communicating online, showing signs in the communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom. Those communications are direct private messages. So far in the investigation, we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period of time and thereafter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, Evan, what else did the FBI director say about the shootings in San Bernardino?
[13:45:07] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he says that so far there's been no evidence that has been uncovered yet by t the FBI, that indicates that these two killers were in district communication with foreign terrorist organizations, which is something that is obviously very much at the top of the list to figure out whether it was directed by ISIS or some other terrorist group, but really by putting a finer point on those communications, the FBI is really trying to bring home the point that really there was nothing that they could have done to try to discover what Tashfeen Malik was up to when she applied for the U.S. fiance visa or her husband for that matter when he sponsored the visa for her to come to the United States, and then a year later after her immigration into the country carrying out this devastating terrorist attack. They say that communications were something that really they were able to get after the fact, after the terrorist attack, and after they were able to get a warrant from a court in order to get the content of the messages of those messages. In other words, there was nothing publicly available -- Wolf?
BLITZER: And he provided new details about the shooting earlier in the year at the naval reserve facility in Tennessee. What did we learn?
PEREZ: That is right. Mohammad Abdulaziz carried out the attack killing five people at a military recruitment center where he attacked, and one of the things that the FBI has been working on is what drove him to do this. We know from talking to the source, Wolf, he was inspired partly by Anwar al Awlaki, the Yemeni cleric who was killed in a drone strike a few years ago, but the FBI director says that now they have concluded that he was definitely acting inspired by a foreign terrorist propaganda, and so he did not describe fully what that inspiration was, but one of the other things that is really interesting about that investigation as well as some others is that he says that there are indications that someone should have seen something, because there were changes in his behavior if someone had noticed something and called the FBI, perhaps the tragedy would have been averted -- Wolf?
BLITZER: And it is similar to the tragedy of Nadal Hassan, who killed all of those people at Fort Hood, was inspired by Anwar al Awlaki, as well.
Thank you, Evan.
And meanwhile, there is day three of deliberations in the trial of William Porter in Baltimore. The jury said they were deadlocked, but the judge told them to continue deliberating.
Let's go the Baltimore to CNN's Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, the jury had a question for the judge today. What did they want to know?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They wanted testimony, written testimony from one of the witnesses or some of the witnesses who testified over several days. The judge said no, saying only the evidence entered into evidence came be given to the jury. The transcripts that we're not, so the judge denied that request from the jury. They have just gone back into the deliberations after an hour- long deliberation, and so we are into hour 14 or so. I saw them going back out to lunch and not as stony faced an unhappy as they were yesterday when they came out to say they were deadlocked, but they weren't exactly looking relieved either. So it is not clear that we are any closer to a verdict than we were before.
The one big question is whether we don't know if they were deadlocked on one, two, three, or all four of the charges that Officer Porter faces -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Miguel, we'll stay in close touch with you. Thank you, Miguel.
And now, last night, the Republican presidential candidates sparred on the national security issues as well as Vladimir Putin and the strategies of defeating ISIS. We will ask our panelists who is going to have a plan that would work, and whose plan is falling short? The White House is weighing in, as well.
[13:52:42] BLITZER: Let's get back to fallout from last night's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the debate during the White House briefing a few moments ago. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no denying in the context of the debate that we heard a lot of bluster, but not a lot of good ideas to keep the country safe. And, look, in the context of a presidential election, you would anticipate that there would be a robust and vigorous debate about our priorities, even when it come to comes to our foreign policy and national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Last night's Republican debate featured a wide variety of questions and answers on national security, terrorism.
And with us are our senior law enforcement analyst, and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; and also, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who served as secretary of state for political military affairs under President George W. Bush.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as clearly been a thorn in the side of the U.S. for a while as Russian troops have moved into Syria exacerbating the Syria refugee problem, at least according to the critics. The candidates had widely different views of how the handle Putin, as well as establishing a no-fly zone to protect civilians there. Let's listen.
CARLY FIORINA, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER CEO, HEWLETT- PACKARD: For the president of the United States now is not the time to talk with him. Reagan walked away at Reykjavik (ph). There is a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for talk and there is a time and place for action.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. I would say, listen, Mr. President, there is a no-fly zone in Syria. You fly in, and it applies to you and, yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if they were stupid enough to think this president is the same feckless weakling as the current president we have in the Oval Office right now.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R-KY) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're in favor of World War III, you have your candidate. If we announce a no-fly zone -- and others have said this, Hillary Clinton is also for it -- it is a recipe for disaster. This it's a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don't need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: General Kimmitt, should the U.S. talk leader to leader with Putin at this critical moment?
[13:55:09] BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY, RETIRED & SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL MILITARY AFFAIRS UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think because it's a critical moment, we need to be talking to them. We're inside of Syria. They're inside of Syria. We need to be working together, make it a common area. We should be talking.
BLITZER: Should the U.S. impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria?
KIMMITT: I think we have a moral responsibility. Look at what we did in Iraq after the First Gulf War. Operation Northern Watch protects the Kurds. Operation Southern Watch protects the Shia. There's no reason why we can't protect the thousands and thousands of refugees that need to be protected on a daily basis from the barrel bombing and the degradations of President al Assad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What did you make, Tom, of the exchange between Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz over surveillance, wiretapping, eavesdropping, if you will, on conversations? Rand Paul was very much involved as well. Where do you come down on this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I come down, on the metadata issue, Rand Paul doesn't know what he's talking about. Marco Rubio seems to be much more reasonable. It's not eavesdropping or listening to conversations. It's not looking at the content of e-mails and texts. It's merely warehousing the phone bills from all the phone companies in the United States and creating a one-stop shopping for the government to issue a subpoena to NSA and say, tell us on this number all the other numbers, give us the bills, all the other numbers that that phone called or received calls from, or text messages back and forth. That's all it is.
BLITZER: General Kimmitt, you've worked in intelligence your whole career. What do you think?
KIMMITT: I think that that's right. I think we need enough information to provide for the security of this country but not so much information we're invading the privacy of the individual citizen.
BLITZER: Is there any progression in Iraq right now? I know you were recently there. There's a lot of concern that the Iraqi military is simply failing to show up, take the offensive, retake Mosul, the second-largest city this the country, from ISIS. Any progress at all over there?
KIMMITT: They are making progress. Clearly what's happening in Ramadi, one of the specific iconic battlefields that lost so many lives, we are seeing them take the fight to the enemy. It will be some time before they can go up to Mosul and take over that city. They're seeing success in Ramadi, which means they'll see success in Fallujah. Then they can start focusing north of Mosul.
BLITZER: Do you think the Iraqi Shia and Sunni can work together? There's been this bitter battle, as you know.
KIMMITT: There are still too many Shia militias operating inside the Sunni provinces. That's not helpful. They are beyond the control of the military. But at this point there don't seem to be fights breaking out between the two organizations so I can only hope that they continue to work together, especially as they retake Ramadi and then head to Mosul.
BLITZER: I listened to James Comey's speech today, the director of the FBI. He says the war against ISIS represents a whole new threat to the United States as opposed to the old war against al Qaeda because of the encrypted communications that ISIS is now using to go ahead and inspire potential terrorists out there as we've seen in recent weeks. You saw his analysis. How concerned are you?
FUENTES: Very concerned. What he's saying is only the tip of the iceberg, the encryption issue. Al Qaeda did not put out 40,000 tweets a day telling the whole world, if you believe in us and believe in having a caliphate, go kill. You don't even have to come here. Drive your car, run somebody over, make a bomb, buy a gun, whatever it might be, a hatchet, a knife, just go kill. We didn't have that with al Qaeda. He also talked about, which is true, many terrorist philosophies over the years, Hezbollah, Hamas were death by a thousand cuts. Al Qaeda always wanted the big bang. After they did 9/11 and killed 3,000-plus people, they couldn't duplicate it. By that time, many of the methods that they used to put that together were taken from them by U.S. and the operations that we conducted. So they never adopted that, well, let's just do something. But ISIS is happen happy to do anything, kill anybody.
BLITZER: He's a pretty sober guy, James Comey, the FBI director. It was pretty alarming if you listen to his speech today. I know if you didn't listen to it, it's worth listening to what he has to say because he paints a very, very dire scenario out there right now.
Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us.
FUENTES: Thank you.
BLITZER: That's it for me. I'll be back later today, 5:00 p.m. eastern, in "The Situation Room."
Up next, a major announcement in Washington. The Federal Reserve will have that announcement, could have a huge impact here in the United States, indeed, around the world. Stand by for CNN's live coverage.
For international viewers, a special edition of "Quest Means Business" is next.
For our viewers in North America, NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.
[14:00:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.