Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Being Pressured on Foreign Policy; Sanders Gaining Momentum Against Clinton; Friends Talk About Abdeslam Brothers. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 28, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] MARY KATHERINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump doesn't often have specific policies. He has feelings and he has tweets. And those things will change today. We see it happen all the time in real time from his Twitter feed.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But we've also, guys -- and, Doug, you were alluding to it.

And, Mary, you take this. It's that it hasn't changed --

HAM: No.

BOLDUAN: It doesn't move the numbers. I do wonder, and you have to wonder what will move the numbers for those of you who do not support Donald Trump. Because in this latest feud between Cruz and Donald Trump involving their wives, a lot of folks are saying this has to be THE camel's back. This has to impact his numbers. Do you project it will move the numbers ahead of Wisconsin?

HAM: I think it probably won't. I think it's a shame that people don't care about the fact that he doesn't actually know policies, but here's the part where it does make a difference. When you see something in Louisiana where Cruz has people on the ground who know the system and know what they're doing and put in the work, they actually end up taking delegates to the convention that Trump does not get, because he doesn't know the things that a campaign has to do. He knows his feelings and he knows his Twitter feed. That's it.


HAM: And I don't think it'll make a difference.

BOLDUAN: What is happening in Louisiana, and Trump threatening the lawsuit, I find it fascinating. Yes, it does get into the weeds of state delegates. But it is, as we well know, it is very important when it comes to getting the number you need, 1,237, when you get to Cleveland.

Kayleigh, do you think he's really going to file a lawsuit?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a threat. I'm not sure. He'll probably look into if there's something he can do. I think the larger point beyond the lawsuit is --


BOLDUAN: -- there isn't? If Ted Cruz is better at organization in terms of state delegates, isn't that the beginning and the end of it?

MCENANY: No. I think the end of it is that it's severely un- democratic. When you look at the fact that we have uncommitted RNC delegates who at their whim can choose to support any candidate they like, regardless of what the voters say, that's a problem.


MCENANY: No, no. Because it should be the will of the American people. The American people are supporting Donald Trump. That is -- at the end of the day that's what matters, not the whim of what some RNC delegates decide to do against the American people.

BOLDUAN: Doug, you were formerly the communications director for the RNC. How will the RNC answer to this, is this happens?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's something Donald Trump could have done. He could have known the rules and acted accordingly. He doesn't know the rules. This isn't a full-time campaign that does the full-time work of campaigns.

To your question about the Heidi Cruz attacks and whether these matter, they matter. If you look to the New York primary, Donald Trump is poised to do well, but women throughout the state say they won't support Donald Trump if he's the nominee. Only Donald Trump could hurt us further with Republican women and women throughout the country, whether they're Independent or Democrats. Women throughout America don't want to vote for Donald Trump because he doesn't have their issues at heart, because he doesn't know how to talk to them, and because whether it's Heidi Cruz or Megyn Kelly or Carly Fiorina, all Donald Trump has had is misogynistic views. I experienced it yesterday. I was on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper when a senior Trump advisor said we're going to get women by talking about domestic female mutilation. That's not an issue that women throughout the country have been talking about. It came out of nowhere and suggests the campaign is disconnected. If that's what you're campaigning on, it shows a disconnection.

BOLDUAN: But when you look at the numbers --


BOLDUAN: Kayleigh, I'll let you jump in. When you look at the polling, overall, meaning when you include independents and women who vote in the Democratic unfavorables are high, but not when you look among Republican women.


HEYE: He does well with a sliver of the Republican electorate.


BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

MCENANY: He does well with republican women generally. He does well with Republican women generally. He's beating Ted Cruz by 14 points with women with the RNC.

But here's the thing, Doug. Here's where I disagree with you. I agree he needs to not attack Heidi Cruz. He needs to step back from that. But you said he's against women policies. That's wrong. He's the only candidate acknowledging that Planned Parenthood does good things for women. Their pre-cancer screenings save women's lives. We don't want to get rid of that aspect of Planned Parenthood or that aspect of it at least. That's something that's pro women. No one else on the stage is saying that Donald Trump is.

HAM: And no one is arguing you should get rid of Planned Parenthood. They're arguing taxpayers shouldn't be funding Planned Parenthood. Trump doesn't address that because he doesn't know the argument and what it's about.


HAM: He just doesn't know what the argument is about.

BOLDUAN: Kayleigh, Doug --


MCENANY: He does, and he continuously addresses them.

BOLDUAN: Kayleigh, Doug, Mary Katherine, thank you so all of you. As we can see right here, a lot more to discuss ahead of Wisconsin.

HEYE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks guys. I really appreciate it.

And there is a lot more to discuss.

An important programming note. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich will take questions from voters tomorrow night in a special town hall. Anderson Cooper will be moderating the event. It comes days ahead of the important Wisconsin primary. Tomorrow night, 8:00, only on CNN.

[11:35:13] Still ahead for us, Bernie Sanders is putting new pressure on Hillary Clinton, really trouncing the Democratic front runner in three big contests over the weekend. Folks are calling it Western Saturday. Some folks suggesting it should be called Sanders Saturday. Can this new momentum be exactly what Bernie Sanders needs when Hillary Clinton still has that very big delegate lead? We're live with a top Clinton strategist on that?

Also, months before they launched one of the worst terrorist attacks on the West, they were smoking marijuana, playing poker, partying at clubs. CNN's exclusive video of the Paris attackers before they went on an ISIS suicide mission.

We'll be right back.



[11:40:11] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't let anybody tell you we can't win the nomination or win the general election. We're going to do both of those things.



BOLDUAN: Both of those things. That is Bernie Sanders when he was coming off a very big three-state weekend sweep with decisive victories in Washington State, Alaska and Hawaii. The Democratic presidential candidate insisting the math is not impossible for him and he's on a path for the nomination. Someone we didn't hear from after the votes, Hillary Clinton. This, as Sanders is now challenging and calling for another debate in New York, Hillary Clinton's home state.

Let's bring in Joel Benenson, chief strategist for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Joel, it's great to see you.


BOLDUAN: I'm sitting there with a big panel of folks on Saturday, and as we're watching the numbers come in, we called it Western Saturday. Someone suggested we should be calling it Sanders Saturday. How would you describe what happened Saturday?

BENENSON: Look, he's had a track record of doing well in caucus states. We said those were three caucus states he was going to do well. We don't have the final total on how many delegates he netted. For example, with those big wins, he netted fewer delegates than we did with one win in the Florida primary. We don't know the final numbers yet.


BOLDUAN: Your description is "nothing to see here"?


BENENSON: Listen, I've said, if he nets delegates, it's a good night for him. And he did do that that night. On the other hand, we're heading into a stretch of primary states with diverse population. We have about six primaries and they add up to 630 delegates, including New York and pennsylvania, which are big and diverse, and he hasn't, other than Michigan where he eked out a victory, didn't net more than two or three delegates. That hasn't been a strength for him. We're going to keep competing on those states. I think the math looks bleak for him. I think that's the reality. We have a bigger net delegate lead than Barack Obama had at any time in his entire campaign in 2008. That's a big mountain to climb, and I think -- I know his enthusiasm on Saturday night and exuberance was genuine for his supporters. But the math actually creates an uphill climb for him.

BOLDUAN: He said on Sunday, the math will start looking more in my favor if the super delegates start coming my way. He thinks, because of the momentum, he thinks it can.

For our viewers, listen to this.


SANDERS: I think the momentum is with us. A lot of the super delegates may rethink their position with Secretary Clinton. A lot of them have not yet declared. Then you have super delegates who are in states where we win by 40 or 50 points. I think their own constituents are going to say to them, hey, why don't you support the people of our state. Vote for Sanders.


BOLDUAN: Are you concerned super delegates are going to start leaving you?

BENENSON: A lot of super delegates have declared. In fact, if you add in the super delegates, Hillary Clinton is about 500 --


BOLDUAN: But they can change.

BENENSON: Of course, they can.


BENENSON: But he's saying they're going to follow their constituents. We've won 2.5 million more than him. We've put together a more diverse coalition. He's done well and energized a lot of young voters who we have to keep in the party. If you look at the states we've typically won, the voters over 30, we have won voters over the age of 30 in big margins in most primary state we've been in. I think if you look at the totality of who has put together the coalition of what it takes to win in the states we have to win in November, it's been Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about New York. You mentioned New York.


BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders won --


BENENSON: My home state.

BOLDUAN: Your home state. Bernie Sanders wants a debate here before the April primary. Are you going to agree to it?

BENENSON: I think what was notable this weekend wasn't so much that, but in my mind "The Washington Post" story with his own campaign talking about how they're poll testing more negative attacks on Hillary Clinton. They're talking about running harsher negatives. We saw them run negatives ads --


BOLDUAN: Don't distract here.


BOLDUAN: Why wouldn't you debate?

BENENSON: Because I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Sanders going to run going forward. He pumped $4 million in the weekend before March 15th, and he lost all five states on March 15th. They spent about $4 million on negative ads.


BOLDUAN: That doesn't have anything to do with the debates though.

BENENSON: Let's see --


BOLDUAN: Why not debate?

BENENSON: This is a man who said he'd never run a negative ad, ever. He's running them. They're planning to run more. Let's see the tone of the campaign before we get to other questions.

BOLDUAN: Back in January, when there was a back and forth about debates, the Clinton campaign was open to more debates after the Flint debate was agreed to. Why not debate in New York?

BENENSON: Because we agreed to debates up to a certain point. We're now out campaigning in the states.

BOLDUAN: What's the risk?

BENENSON: There's no risk. She's done well in the debates. But Senator Sanders doesn't get to decide when we debate, particularly when he's running a negative campaign. Let's see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we'll talk about debates. But we're not going to talk about --


[11:45:16] BOLDUAN: So no chance of a New York debate? BENENSON: I didn't say that. I said we'll talk about it. We'll see

what kind of tone he sets. If his campaign wants to run the kind of negative campaign and run negative ads like they did in North Carolina and Illinois all over the country on March 15th, that's going to be disappointing to a lot of Democrats who feel we have to start focusing on Republicans, whether it's Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and about our differences so we win in November. That's what Democrats ought to be doing. That's what she's doing.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, because, as always, we're out of time, there was an interview that Bernie Sanders did last week, and it came out when he said I planned on winning, but if I don't, these are the demands I would have in order to support Hillary Clinton. And he laid out basically his own entire platform, single payer, free tuition, everything. Would you agree to conditions to get his support?

BENENSON: I think when candidates come in second or third, they ought to wait on putting out a list of demands. I think when voters choose someone who wins as the nominee of their party, those discussions take place at that point about what role the people who lost --


BOLDUAN: Do you think demands are ridiculous? Are they reasonable?

BENENSON: I don't think losing candidates generally make demands. You have discussions with the winner. You respect the fact that a person won and was chosen by the voters in that party, and you show respect for the voters for the fact that they candidate won. I think you have a conversation. I don't think you start putting demands on the table. You have a reasonable conversation. And if Senator Sanders is amenable to a reasonable conversation at some point, if he's not the nominee, I'm sure we'll have that with him.

BOLDUAN: I'm always open to having that reasonable conversation here on the show.

Joel, great to see you. Thank you very much.

BENENSON: Great to see you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

Coming up, one day they were partying and chasing girls and smoking marijuana. Eight months later, they were launching brutal terrorist attacks in the same of ISIS. CNN exclusive video of the ISIS terror attackers months before they carried out their deadly rampage.

We'll be right back.


[11:51:03] BOLDUAN: CNN has exclusive new information on two of the suspected attackers in the Paris terrorist attack, Salah Abdeslam, who was captured March 18th, and his brother, Brahim, who killed himself. He was one of the suicide bombers in the cafe blast in Paris. Members of their inner circle tell CNN that the brothers smoked marijuana, went clubbing, and behaved nothing like the devout Muslims that they promised that they were just months before their deadly attacks.

CNN's Nina dos Santos spoke exclusively to friends who partied with the brothers. Watch this.



NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was life before ISIS. Salah Abdeslam and his brother, Brahim, partying at a high-end nightclub in Brussels. It's February the 8th, 2015.

Just eight months later, Brahim would blow himself up at a Paris cafe. Salah becomes Europe's most-wanted man.

Two of their friends shot the video in the club. They talked to CNN on the condition we hide their identities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Salah took care of himself. He was very neat, someone who was funny, who you could have a laugh with. A bit of a ladies 'man. It wasn't unusual for him to have a drink or two, but he didn't go out and get drunk. Brahim was a lot more intelligent. He was also better behaved.

DOS SANTOS: These men, speaking under assumed names, say they first began hanging out with the brothers in 2011 when they took on the lease to this bar, which is now shut following a police raid. They say they came here to drink, to play cards, to smoke marijuana, and also to watch the brothers' favorite football team, Real Madrid, play on the TV.

(voice-over): Things could get boisterous.


DOS SANTOS: Here, Brahim cheers on some drunken antics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I used to go there after work to have a drink, have a laugh with friends, play cards, anything that involves betting with money really. Basically you felt at home, among family.

DOS SANTOS: Also among that family, these two, seen in these photos. They were detained after driving Salah back from Paris following the attacks and remain in custody. The friends say they were duped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I was with Brahim, and around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m., he received a phone call from Salah asking him to come and pick him up in France because his car had broken down.

DOS SANTOS: Not long after this party, they stopped drinking and became more religious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): We prayed more at the mosque, mainly Fridays. Otherwise, it was praying at home.


(voice-over): Praying and plotting. No one, even their closest friends, knows why the Abdeslam brothers changed so much, so quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Brahim got on with everyone. He did have any problems with black or white, from whatever race or religion.

DOS SANTOS: He didn't until this.



BOLDUAN: Joining me now from Brussels is Nina dos Santos.

Nina, getting this amazing look in the inner circle and their lives, it makes you wonder, these guys know these terrorists better than pretty much anyone. Did the police speak to them?

DOS SANTOS: Yes. That's a good question, Kate. We have put that question to the police. It seems they haven't commented at the moment. We put the question to the two individuals and no, despite one intent several months in jail and the other arrested on suspicion of robbery and released. They're known by police but they have not been questioned them on their ties to these brothers.

I just want to point out, these two didn't just know the Salah Abdeslam brothers. They knew six of the terrorist attackers, three who are currently in custody. One is still on the run. Two of these individuals were suicide bombers. Police haven't yet spoken to them. That gives you an idea of the job the police and counterterrorism officials have to face in Belgium if they are to understand how people go from party boys one minute, to eight or nine months, killers in Paris. They have to understand how the mindset works, and to do so, they have to speak to their inner circle.

[11:55:20] BOLDUAN: And help understand this web that we see reaching further throughout Europe. You would think they could offer insight into that as well.

Nina, thank you so much. Great reporting.

Coming up next, a breaking development in Georgia where Hollywood studios, the NFL, and a long list of major corporations have threatened to boycott the state over its so-called Religious Liberty Bill. The governor just revealed his decision. What he's going to do about the bill? That's ahead.


[12:00:12] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow, in today for Ashleigh Banfield.