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Donald Trump Leads Latest Poll in South Carolina; GOP Candidates Clash Ahead of South Carolina Primary; Apple Fights Order to Unlock Shooter's iPhone; Battle Over Late Justice's Replacement Intensifies; Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired February 17, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:01] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Will that get Senate Republicans to work with him?
Next up the GOP frontrunner.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president.
COSTELLO: Trump launching his own attacks.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama hasn't done a damn thing.
COSTELLO: And tonight will Trump take even more hits at CNN's town hall?
Plus the FBI says it needs Apple's help hacking a San Bernardino shooter's phone.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We still have one of those killer's phones that we have not been able to open.
COSTELLO: Why Apple is calling the judge's orders dangerous.
Let's talk. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. Just a few hours from now, GOP candidates on one stage for CNN's town hall. Over the course of two nights, all of the Republicans answering questions from voters in South Carolina.
These town halls will happen tonight and tomorrow night starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Donald Trump, by the way, holding a big lead in South Carolina, 16 points, just a few days before the primary and the frontrunner is sure to be fired up after this dismissal from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It's not hosting a talk show or a reality show. It's not promotion. It's not marketing. It's hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right.
I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is, because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognize that being president is a serious job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta live in Bluffton, South Carolina, for this hour's Trump event. And Mark Preston is in Greenville looking ahead to CNN's town hall meetings.
Jim, I want to start with you. Good morning.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Good morning, Carol. I have to tell you, covering President Obama, that is quite something to hear the word Trump coming out of his mouth and it seems to be at this point a gift that keeps on giving for Donald Trump because Donald Trump has been on a tear talking about these comments from President Obama yesterday. He's going to be pretty revved up, I imagine, here in just a few moments when he takes the stage here in South Carolina just three days before the South Carolina primary.
And, Carol, his fight with Jeb Bush, his fight with Ted Cruz, that is so 24 hours ago. The comments for President Obama seems to have fired up the GOP frontrunner. He was sending out some tweets about this earlier today and then earlier this morning on the one of the morning talk shows, he talked about President Obama as a community organizer in a not complementary way. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's not being the community organizer, which is what he was. That was about it. Let me tell you, I built a great company, one of the great companies, some of the great assets in the world, very little debt, tremendous cash flow. It's the thinking our country needs. We need a different thinking than guys like we have right now. He's going to go down as one of the worst -- perhaps the worst presidents in the history of the United States and he certainly wouldn't like to see me.
And you know it's interesting, when they make those statements, that means that, in a way, it's a badge of honor because that's the one that they're looking at. Hillary, the same thing. The last person Hillary wants to run is me and, as you see, I'm beating her in the polls. So I think we're going to do just fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now when you're following Donald Trump on the campaign trail, you have to follow the tweets. So let's throw this one up from earlier this morning talking about President Obama's comments. He says, "Interesting how President Obama so haltingly said I would never be president. This from perhaps the worst president in U.S. history." Carol, I have to tell you, this is a actually gift to Donald Trump,
what President Obama had to say. You know, when you go to these events, you know, Donald Trump likes to talk about his fighting with the Bush family, his fighting with Ted Cruz. That may be something that not every Republican in the audience will agree with but going after President Obama is just about something everybody here will agree with and my sense is that these comments, President Obama will continue to help Donald Trump for the coming days.
And we'll be listening here in the next few moments to see what he has to say about it. My guess is, he'll have to say an awful lot -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right. We'll check back. Jim Acosta, thank you.
On to you, Mark Preston, big town hall happens tonight and tomorrow night. What can we expect?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, you know, Carol, this is going to be an interesting moment in the campaign. We've seen these candidates on the stage debating one another, fighting one another. But tonight, you know, the beginning of a two-night event where we're going to have the three candidates today. We'll Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz talking a little bit more about themselves. We'll hear their policy positions, we'll hear them talk beyond the 60-second sound bites. We're also going to hear a little about themselves personally.
And I think that's something that the voters haven't necessarily heard so far in this campaign. It has been very biting. It has been very nasty, very visceral.
[10:05:02] But I think tonight will be an opportunity for the likes of Carson and Rubio and Ted Cruz to talk to voters about how they make decisions. In some ways, it's kind of a peek inside their soul, so to speak. Again, not something that we would normally see in a debate which can tend to a little bit get nasty but tonight I think tonight's atmosphere will be a little bit more relaxed and we saw this in the Democratic town halls in Iowa and New Hampshire. Both candidates came out of that in a very interesting way and I do think that the voters got a little something different than what we've seen so far, Carol.
COSTELLO: I think you're absolutely right about that, Mark Preston, reporting live for us. Thank you.
A pro-Jeb Bush super PAC has released a radio ad in South Carolina blasting Donald Trump for using profanity to sell his message. South Carolina is conservative, evangelical. It isn't prone to cursing. Perhaps that's why Trump agreed to a swear jar. Here he is on the Stephen Colbert show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": let's talk about what experts are calling you potty mouth. I can think of off the top of my heads, three things that you have said on air that this is true, CBS will not let me repeat or they would have to bleep them. How are you going to stop?
TRUMP: Well, it's easy, I have decided to stop -- I mean, I do that for emphasis and I do that sometimes nonpolitically. And when I -- once I decided to run for office I sort of said, well, we're going to have to stop.
COLBERT: But you didn't stop.
TRUMP: We'll lose the crowd.
COLBERT: You didn't stop running for office. You didn't stop.
TRUMP: No. But these are very minor words. And in many cases, I actually bleep them out myself. I never said the word and then they'll bleep it and people will think I said the word, which is a little deceptive, but that's OK.
COLBERT: I've got a suggestion. Why don't you have a swear jar, every time you say a bad word, you put $1 billion in it.
TRUMP: Yes. I think that's a good idea. I want to do that. I like that.
COLBERT: You're down in South Carolina. I'm from South Carolina. I want to help you out here. Let's hear you say, "Please vote for me, y'all".
TRUMP: Well, I can say that. Please vote for me, y'all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: All right. With me now is Jason Roe, he's a senior campaign adviser for Senator Marco Rubio. I'm also joined by South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan.
Welcome to both of you.
REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. OK. So let's get serious about this.
Congressman Duncan, you're from South Carolina. You're a Cruz supporter. Do voters there care that Donald Trump uses profanity?
DUNCAN: Yes, you know, I thought that was a funny clip. We do say y'all in South Carolina. Donald Trump is doing well in South Carolina but, I'll tell you, Ted Cruz is actually the one that is I think the frontrunner. He's got a tremendous ground game and I think that'll be proven on Saturday. I'm excited about primary season here in South Carolina. I welcome you guys to Greenville County.
COSTELLO: Well, thank you. We'll be there very soon.
Well, Congressman, I want to just get back to the profanity thing because Ted Cruz has released ads also criticizing Donald Trump for using profanity.
DUNCAN: Ask me that again. I'm sorry.
COSTELLO: The profanity issue, I know Ted -- Senator Ted Cruz released ads against Donald Trump using profanity. So I'll ask you again. Do voters in South Carolina care that Donald Trump uses profanity?
DUNCAN: Well, you know, Ted Cruz has said a lot of things that have been proven over and over about Donald Trump's record and Ted Cruz has really run a positive campaign. He's talking about the issues. He laid out a military plan, how to rebuild our military yesterday. He's laid out a great tax plan. It's time for these other candidates to really stop attacking Ted Cruz and each other and start showing America what they stand for and I think that's what Ted Cruz has done.
COSTELLO: All right. So, Jason, according to the latest CNN poll, Mr. Trump is riding high in South Carolina and in Nevada. I know that you support Marco Rubio. But if Trump wins in South Carolina, is there any room for an establishment candidate going forward?
JASON ROE, SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER FOR SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Well, I disabuse the establishment label. I think Marco Rubio, who was one of the original Tea Party voices in the Republican resurgence in 2010, if you remember. He was running against the establishment candidate, Charlie Crist, as an outsider and defeated him and has a 98 percent conservative record from the American Conservative Union as a senator. So I would say he's at the tip of the spear of the conservative movement in Washington.
Listen, Donald Trump is channeling a lot of anger and frustration amongst Republicans and Americans about what's happening in Washington and so I think everyone recognizes that, Marco Rubio recognizes that. It's just that rather than giving voice to anger, he's trying to offer a vision of where he'd take this country as the president of the United States.
You know, yes, does Donald Trump have a lead in the polls right now in South Carolina? Yes. But 62 percent of the Republican voters aren't supporting Donald Trump. So I think there will be a coalescing of supporters from the also ran single-digit candidates behind Marco Rubio and this will be a two-person race.
When South Carolina is done, that will only be 4 percent of the delegates nationally that will have been awarded. So we've got a long way to go yet.
[10:10:08] COSTELLO: Do you wish, Jason, though, that the other candidates that aren't doing so well would just drop out like, you know, Jeb Bush and John Kasich?
ROE: I have a feeling -- I have a feeling Sunday a couple of them will go to church and after they get home will decide that maybe God has a different path for them.
COSTELLO: And just another question for you, Congressman Duncan, Donald Trump is calling Mr. Cruz a liar. So was Rubio. Cruz is trailing in a state heavy on evangelicals like South Carolina. Are these negative ads -- these negative comments calling Ted Cruz a liar hurting him?
DUNCAN: I don't think it is. I think Ted Cruz has come back and proven everything he is saying is verified by video evidence or past statements. I don't think it's hurting him. I think Ted Cruz is the guy that has a bullet in this race. He's actually moving up the charts and will be the winner on Saturday. I think Jason hit on one key point. There is a lot of anger and angst across America about what has gone on in Washington.
Ted Cruz has been somebody that not just voted right but he's actually fought in Washington as a clear, consistent conservative fighting for the things that Republicans tell the voters they're going to fight for when on the campaign trail. Ted has actually lived up to that and I think that is really the difference in this race.
COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there. Congressman Duncan and Jeff Roe, thanks to both of you.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, an empty seat on the Supreme Court. A political site teaming with high stakes and high drama. A look at the battle taking shape in Washington.
Also, we'll take a look at another battle taking shape between Apple and the FBI over a mass shooter's iPhone.
[10:15:42] COSTELLO: A judge is ordering Apple to help the FBI break into a cell phone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters. A move Apple CEO calls unprecedented and a threat to the security of customers. Last December, you remember, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife killed 14 people in a San Bernardino terror attack. Authorities recovered Farook's iPhone but the FBI couldn't access it because it didn't know his password.
Well, Apple CEO is calling the FBI's order or the judge's order, rather, an overreach by the government.
CNN's Evan Perez and Laurie Segall joins us now with more.
Evan, to you, first on the investigation. Good morning.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. And what we're talking about is a feature on the iPhone which prevents or erases data if you try to guess the password and you guess incorrectly 10 times. And so the FBI is asking Apple to install some kind of software that allows them to use their own technology to be able to essentially guess the password of Syed Farook's iPhone. And keep in mind this is an iPhone that was actually owned by the San Bernardino County Health Department. That's the employer of Syed Farook.
And the FBI says it has the permission of the San Bernardino County Health Department. It has a court order from a judge to be able to retrieve data from the phone. All they need is Apple's help. The judge in California now has ruled and says that Apple must provide reasonable technical assistance to the FBI to help bypass this iPhone pass code and essentially undue the auto erase feature that is built into these iPhones.
This is a fight, Carol, that has been long time incoming. The technology companies have been resisting the pressure from the Obama administration to sort of build ways for them to comply with these court orders. They say, you know, you should pass legislation to get this thing done. The FBI knows that it wouldn't win that fight. There's no way legislation would pass right now. So they have picked this case, with 14 people dead, to test what this is, which is a fight over privacy versus national security -- Carol.
COSTELLO: So, Laurie, what is Apple's objection?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Apple, essentially Tim Cook, he's such -- he's the Silicon Valley figure that's only kind of have been at the forefront of trying to protect user data and privacy. And you talk to any security official and they say this is a very dangerous case for Apple when it comes to their users' protection and privacy. You know, Tim Cook has always been very outspoken about encryption and building a backdoor to allow access for law enforcement saying that it could also let the bad guys in. He actually spoke about it recently. Listen to what he said, Carol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: There have been people that suggest that we should have a backdoor. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor is for everybody. For good guys and bad guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me understand how you get to the government's dilemma.
COOK: I don't believe that the tradeoff here is privacy versus national security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Versus security.
COOK: I think that's an overly simplistic view. We are America. We should have both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: Carol, I want to read to you what Tim Cook said in a statement that he put out following this case. He said, "The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers, including tens and millions of American citizens from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals." So you're really seeing this debate come up again and play out in the
public and I think it's important we talk about this idea of the backdoor. We spoke about it a little bit earlier. But think of it as a key. Right? You put a key under the mat to help law enforcement get in, in case of emergency. But what happens if a robber gets in? What happens if cybercriminals get in? And that's what Tim Cook was saying with building out this technology and that's where we begin to get into this debate -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right. Laurie Segall, Evan Perez, thanks to both of you.
President Obama says he will push ahead on the partisan showdown over the Supreme Court vacancy. In his first news conference since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the president acknowledge the high stakes and the bitter fight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The court is now divided on many issues. This would be a deciding vote and there are a lot of Republican senators who are going to be under a lot of pressure from various special interests and various constituencies and many of their voters to not let any nominee go through. No matter who I nominate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:20:19] CNN's Chris Frates has more on this. The president is throwing down the gauntlet and Manu Raju looks at the fight ahead.
Chris, let's start with you. Good morning.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Carol. So yes, you're hearing the president coming out swinging there yesterday, making the case that no matter who he nominates to replace Justice Scalia, they will be qualified. In fact, you know, he made the point that this is a tough Republican year and while Senate Republicans and Democrats are fighting, he expects everybody to do their job. He says he'll do his job. He'll put forth a nomination and he expects the Senate will do their job and hold a vote. Here's what he had to say about it, Carol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I intend to nominate somebody to present them to the American people, to present them to the Senate. I expect them to hold hearings. I expect there to be a vote.
I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRATES: So there you have it. The president making the case that this is the Senate's job. He went on to say that the job doesn't end until you are voted out of office, until your term ends. And he's trying to put some pressure here on Republicans to at least move this forward. It's all part of the Democrats' strategy to show Republicans as obstructionists and so far we haven't heard from top Republicans on the Hill about whether or not they are going to hold a confirmation hearing for the eventual nominee and a vote.
Chuck Grassley, he is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, hasn't said whether or not he will have confirmation hearings, whether they will allow a vote. But Democrats and President Obama kind of leading the way here for when Democrats return next week to really force Republicans into a tough spot being able to say, if they don't hold a vote, they're obstructionists and they should be thrown out of the Senate control because they're not doing the people's work -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right. Chris Frates, thank you.
Now to Manu Raju. So Chuck Grassley, he -- he sort of back peddled like maybe a centimeter on holding hearings?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, Carol, actually if you look at what Chuck Grassley said on Friday, he didn't actually explicitly rule out having hearings. He just said we'll wait for the next president. We want the next president to actually choose a nominee. Similarly, Mitch McConnell actually has steadfastly avoided that question. Does he think the Judiciary Committee should have a hearing? He has not officially weighed in on that even though he wants the next president to weigh in on that as well.
We'll hear more from them next week when they return to the Senate. But yesterday, Chuck Grassley did speak to reporters in Iowa about the prospects of holding a Judiciary Committee hearing. Here's a little bit more about what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: There is no doubt that by following what Mitch McConnell, our leader, Republican leader, has said we're not going to bring this nominee up this year, he's doing exactly what Harry Reid would do if he were in the majority at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, again, McConnell has not said explicitly that he would not bring that nomination forward. That is, he has sort of avoided that topic. But even so, even if it did move forward, the chances of a nominee getting confirmed in this environment, in this Republican- controlled Senate, would be very difficult. You would need at least two Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to flip their votes and back a committee nominee and send him or her to the floor and then you would need at least 14 Republican senators to break a very likely filibuster.
So even so, even if they do hold votes, it's going to be tough sledding for the president's nominee going forward -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right. Manu Raju, reporting live.
I want to take our viewers now to Bluffton, South Carolina, to the Donald Trump rally. He's already talked about Ted Cruz being a liar, building a wall in Mexico. Now I believe he's on to infrastructure. Let's listen.
TRUMP: The other thing, I'm self-funding my campaign. So I'm not controlled by the special interests, the pharmaceutical companies, and the -- all of the different interests, whether it's the electrical companies, the utilities. They have hundreds of them. They control the politicians because they contribute. I don't take the money. So I'm self-funding. I don't know if I get any credit for that, to be honest with you. I'm not sure but I'm self-funding. Costing a lot of money. Costs a lot of money.
But you know, the nice thing is they can't come to me and say, well, we gave you money. You know, Ford or General Motors or somebody. We gave you a lot of money, we need this, we need that. I'm going to do what's right for you, folks, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just for full disclosure, my wife sent you a check for 25 bucks. OK.
[10:25:03] Look, one of the questions that I think everybody in here wants to know is why is the media in general afraid of a Trump presidency?
TRUMP: Oh, I get treated so badly. I mean, I was watching FOX this morning. They treat me so badly. FOX treats me like worse than anybody. But I get treated very badly by the media. I don't even know -- I don't really understand why. They have pundits on that are just one after another negative, negative, negative.
It started where actually nobody -- you know, they all thought I wasn't going to run and they said, he will never run, he will never run, you run, and then they look bad and then they just don't stop. And some of them have become much better but I think FOX in particular treats me so badly, it's incredible.
But it doesn't matter, I guess. Look, we're leading in the polls by a lot. We won New Hampshire in a landslide. It was a landslide victory. We won every single group. We won highly educated, not educated, we won women, we won men, we won young, we won old, we won virtually every group, I think. Every group. And it was an amazing victory and something really special.
But, you know, I'm finding out all I can do is tell the truth. You know, I tell the truth about Iraq. I say the war was a disaster. We spent $2 trillion, $3 trillion. Lost thousands of lives, thousands of lives. We have wounded warriors all over the place. I love the -- I mean, these guys have more courage than all of us put together, I have to tell you. All of us. (APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: And, you know, I say we should have never been there and you know, if Bush is insulted, I don't care if he's insulted. What difference? It was a horrible mistake, we should have never been there. Somebody says, that's not good to criticize. I said, criticize? It's one of the worst decisions in the history of our country. To go in. We've totally destabilized the Middle East which I predicted. I should credit for vision because I predicted that was going to happen because when you knocked out the one power, the other power just took it over.
Now Iran is taking over Iraq just as sure as you're sitting there. We don't even have anything to do with Iraq anymore. We're gone. But think of it. We spent $2 trillion, $3 trillion. We're going to rebuild our country. We could have done so much with that money and instead we're worse in the Middle East than we were 15 years ago. I mean, right now it's a disaster.
Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? Bad guy. But you know what he was good at? Killing terrorists. We didn't have -- he was killing terrorists. Now Iraq is harbored for terrorists. If you want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It's harbored. And what -- what did we do? You know, we spent all this money, lost all these lives, have all these wounded warriors. What do we get? And Iran is taking on -- not only do they get the $150 billion and this stupid deal that we've made, one of the dumbest deals I've ever seen ever, but now they're taking over Iraq that we've handed them.
They have been fighting for years to try and take each other over. Well, we decapitate the one country, they're now taking over, and people don't realize Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. So we took it and we just handed it to them on a silver platter. How could we have been so stupid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very good.
TRUMP: Very sad. I mean, honestly, to me it's a sad subject to talk about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. On the way in, in the back, I saw a gentleman with a Bernie T-shirt on, and I said, what are you doing here to Trump -- at a Trump rally? And he said, well, the tickets are free. So how --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your answer to Hillary and Bernie when they are grabbing so many of the young people with freebies? What's --
TRUMP: Who is the Bernie guy? Who is he? Is --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the rest of these folks ran them out? TRUMP: I guess he got thrown out, I guess. I don't know. I don't
see him. No. Look, you know, this is -- and the main thing is, you have to go on and vote, and all that. But if you don't vote me, don't go and vote. You know, I like to -- it's a nice thing to say. You have to go vote. You ever hear these politicians? Doesn't matter who you're voting for but you must go out and vote. I don't feel that way. But just go and vote if you're going to vote for me.
But it is so important. On Saturday you have to. And it is true, we have such an unbelievable turnout. This was great and I -- did I promise you I'd come back and take care of the people? Other people forget that. Now we have so many people that wanted to come, we said, you can't come. This is a group of people where they get stuck outside and there were a lot more than this but they invited 500, exactly 500 people, and I just felt I had an obligation to do it.
I was thinking about canceling this morning because I had something else and I said there's no way I have the courage to do that. Right? Would I have been in trouble? Would I have been in trouble? And you know --
COSTELLO: All right. We're going to break away from this Donald Trump rally. We'll keep you posted if he says anything else of heightened interest.
Still to come in the NEWSROOM, she's one of the most popular Republicans in South Carolina but so far no 2016 endorsements from Governor Nikki Haley. But we know who she won't back. I think you just saw him. I'll be right back.