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Is the GOP Ready to Unite?; Inside the Iraq War; Veterans Returning Home. Aired 8:30-9a ET.

Aired May 24, 2016 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You may know him.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I've heard of him.

CUOMO: What does - what does he make of the taxes and what does he make of what we just heard from the Trump campaign about the state of play now and going forward?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: A critical question facing Republicans is whether Donald Trump can get the party's most conservative members behind him and unite the GOP, as this campaign season takes an ugly turn.

Let's talk about all of this with the founder of "TheBlaze" and nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck.

Good morning, Glenn.

GLENN BECK, FOUNDER, THEBLAZE: Good morning. How are you, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. Always nice to see you.

You had, obviously, supported Ted Cruz. You had campaigned for him on the campaign trail. You had called Donald Trump a pathological narcissistic sociopath and I'm wondering where you are today now that he is the GOP's presumptive nominee.

BECK: I guess unlike some politicians, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. So I'm not suddenly in love with Donald Trump, nor a supporter of Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: So where does that leave you, Glenn, I mean, and other conservatives? Where does that leave you? Obviously, while - I don't want to speak for you. There's probably Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. So what does that mean for you in November?

[08:35:08] BECK: Yes. I don't know. I am a never Hillary, never Donald. I - I am not for progressive politician, and I also find it very difficult to stand behind somebody who doesn't hold the same principles. I can vote for somebody who doesn't necessarily have the same policies, but the same principles are really important to me. But I have - I'm not endorsing anybody. Ted Cruz was the first person ever I've endorsed. So I'm not going to endorse anybody. My vote is my vote. And everybody else can make their own decision. They've - they've done that already. So that's - that's the great thing about America.

CAMEROTA: Well, you say that Donald Trump doesn't hold the same principles. You know, he says that he is a conservative and that he believes in conservative principles. And here are the people who have come around on him, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Governor Bobby Jindal, I mean both past opponents of his, Senator Orrin Hatch, the key donor Sheldon Adelson, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Tennessee senator, whom he met with yesterday, Bob Corker. The list goes on. What do they see that you don't?

BECK: I don't know, you'd have to ask them. But here's - here's what I see. I see a guy that I don't believe is a - is trustworthy. I don't believe that he is humble. I don't believe that he actually - I have to be really careful on this because I think at times, when he says things, I believe he actually believes what he's saying at the time. But he is, for instance, yesterday we were talking about his stance on guns. He said, and I'm quoting, I absolutely am not advocating for guns in the classroom, but there are cases where I think there should be guns in the classroom. Well, which is it? I don't know. I think he believes both of those. But that again is for the individual to decide. I don't hold it against anybody who, especially the progressives, who believe in big government, who believe in an all serving state. I don't hold it against them for having a different point of view. I also don't hold it against anybody who just wants to win. I - my principles are different.

CAMEROTA: But - but have you been surprised, Glenn -

BECK: Pardon me.

CAMEROTA: Have you been surprised by how quickly the Republican Party or even conservative leaders have seemed to sort of coalesced or at least say that they support Donald Trump now?

BECK: Oh, I think if anybody said on - and if from - on any angle from any side that they weren't surprised by everything that they have seen in this election, I think they'd be lying to you. I am surprised daily.

Yesterday we were just saying, in a joking fashion because the first thing - this is going to be a highly entertaining race. The first ad that comes out he calls Bill Clinton a rapist. And we were joking on the air yesterday, how long before he gets to the list of the - the people that the Clintons have killed. Well, yesterday, he started with - with Vince Foster. So I have no idea what either side is going to do.

I will tell you this. The secret behind Donald Trump, because I have been wrong about Donald Trump every step of the way. I just didn't think that this would work. I just didn't think people would take him seriously. I thought people would have a problem with some of the things that he said. But they haven't. And when you see that the Bernie Sanders people are now saying a quarter of them in some polls are saying that they will come over to Donald Trump - CAMEROTA: Yes.

BECK: It's not about Marxism, it's not about capitalism, it's not about policies, it's about destroying the system that has been lying to us on both sides for as long as I've lived. The parties are completely out of control and completely out of touch. And Hillary Clinton doesn't realize that the game has entirely changed. She is playing the old main line politician that will say whatever they have to say to get elected. Donald Trump, I think also says whatever he has to say to get elected, but in a completely different way.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BECK: It's not about what he's saying, as much as it is how he's saying it.

CAMEROTA: And just to be clear, Vince Foster committed suicide. There are conspiracy theories -

BECK: I'm not -

CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, I know you were using a shorthand there.

BECK: I - I'm not - yes, I'm not - we were joking about how long it would get - we've talked about that list of, I don't even know what it is, 40 people that they've killed, in a joking fashion.

CAMEROTA: That's the conspiracy theory.

BECK: How long would it take?

CAMEROTA: Sure. Sure. I get it.

BECK: Right.

CAMEROTA: Glenn, should Donald Trump release his taxes?

BECK: Yes, I think he should, but I don't think he will. And it's not for anything nefarious. I think it is exactly the same thing that happened with his - with the, you know, fundraiser for the veterans. He said he raised $6 million. $2.5 million of fundraiser for veterans is great. Somehow or another, I don't think he felt that that was big enough for Donald Trump, so he said that it was $6 million. Then they strangely lied about it for months until they released and said, oh, well, we didn't raise the $6 million.

[08:40:22] It's only because he inflates numbers to make himself look bigger. And I think the same thing with taxes. It's not anything nefarious I don't think going on in his tax. It's all about he's not as rich as everybody - that he wants everybody to believe he is. Let's say he doesn't have $10 billion. I don't know, he's still successful with $250 million, but not to him.

CAMEROTA: Glenn Beck, always great to get your perspective. Thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

BECK: Thank you very much. You bet.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to Chris.

CUOMO: The top U.S. commander in the Middle East opens up about the state of Iraqi forces as they launch a major offensive to retake Fallujah from ISIS. This is a CNN exclusive and it matters. Please join us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We have exclusive CNN reporting to share with you now. The top U.S. commander leading the charge against ISIS takes us inside the battle for Iraq, just as Iraqi soldiers, trained by the U.S., launch a major offensive to reclaim Fallujah. CNN's Barbara Starr is live in Amman, Jordan, with this CNN exclusive.

[08:45:18] Share your reporting with us, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

We traveled with General Votel through Iraq as he met with both Iraqi and U.S. commanders, trying to get a sense of the security situation to see what else is needed in the war there. But right now, Fallujah and Baghdad, front and center. Fallujah, on the road to Baghdad, the security of both cities, vital now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice over): Protesters invade Baghdad's green zone for the second time. Violent rising as opposition to the Iraqi government grows. The top U.S. commander running the war against ISIS is watching carefully for the stress mounting on the Iraqi military even now as it tries to recapture the key city of Fallujah.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, CENTCOM COMMANDER: They're having to make decisions in terms of where their forces are going, where their priorities are.

STARR: But in Baghdad, with the U.S. embassy and military headquarters inside the heavily fortified green zone, does the U.S. have enough security on hand?

VOTEL: Yes, I do think we have the right security forces on ground - on the ground from a U.S. perspective to take care of ourselves there.

STARR: CNN was the only network with General Joseph Votel, the U.S. commander in charge of the war against ISIS, as he traveled in Iraq, getting the latest assessments on security, and the readiness of Iraqi forces.

STARR (on camera): This base, about one hour north of Baghdad, is one of the frontlines in the effort to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces. But they have at least temporarily seen some Iraqi forces being called back to Baghdad for a few weeks to deal with the security situation there in the wake of the rising attacks by ISIS.

STARR (voice over): Votel is trying to convince Iraqi's military to make certain to station enough troops around the country and not to flood Baghdad with security forces as the government tries to confront the latest violence in the capital.

VOTEL: They are attempting to create chaos in the capital. They're attempting to divert attention away from other areas where they are - where the coalition forces the Iraqis are having success.

STARR: This military warehouse just to the south in Kuwait, brimming with more than 25,000 weapons for those Iraqi forces, all are being shipped out as more Iraqis show up for U.S.-led training.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Even if Fallujah and Baghdad could be completely secured, there is still Mosul that lies ahead, Iraq's second largest city. Much of the train and equip effort now aimed at getting the Iraqis ready to try in the coming months to retake that city as well.

Chris.

CUOMO: Barbara, thank you for making the effort. I know I've been saying it all morning, but it bears repeating, thank you for taking the risk and the effort with your team to go there and show us all something we need to see. Appreciate it. Please get home safe, my friend.

All right, so America's sons and daughters coming home from war, just like you were just seeing in Barbara Starr's piece, what happens when they come home? How much do we really support the troops? How difficult is it for them? Journalist, filmmaker, best-selling author, Sebastian Junger is here. He's taking on PTSD and the loss of community in what we call a society in his new book, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:51:34] CUOMO: The number of American veterans living with posttraumatic stress disorder is staggering. In fact, it's really hard to calculate because there's so many who aren't even aware they have a problem. There's so many others who don't get treatment for the problem. But you have so many veterans, literally tens and tens of thousands, coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and we haven't figured out how to help them reintegrate into society. And who's to blame? We are.

Journalist, filmmaker and best-selling author Sebastian Junger tackles this issue in his new book. It's called "Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging."

It's great to have you here.

I'm going to do something I've never done before with you, I'm going to criticize you. This should be three books. There's so much in here that we need to understand the way you do, from your experience out in the field, of (INAUODIBLE) close contact time with these men and women. And yet, then there are these overlays. How do we function as a society? What works for us and what doesn't and why. What do you want people to take way from this book?

SEBASTAIN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "TRIDE: ON HOMECOMING AND BELONGING": Well, the last section is about veterans, about PTSD, but more broadly, what really interested me was the idea that we're drawn to close cohesive tribal society. We have a phase, going native, right? There's no equivalent phrase for going civilized, right? There's - the people are drawn to communal existence that's close with other people. So one thing I was fascinated by was the blitz in London. The authorities were prepared for mass psychiatric casualties. The London society contracted people who were living soldier to soldier in the tube station, really living communally. And what happened was admissions to psychiatric wards went down. They improved during the bombing.

CUOMO: Because?

JUNGER: Because people were cohesive. They had to come together. So what you have with soldiers, with American soldiers, that I talk about at the end of the book, they live a very cohesive, close existence in combat, basically reproduces our evolutionary past. They're living in platoons of 30, 40, 50 people, very close quarters, inter-reliant on each other. That's what we evolve to live for. And then they come back to a modern society, if you come back after combat to a tribal society, people get over their trauma quite quickly. When you come back to a modern society, it's almost impossible to because you are coming back to a society which is so individualistic that you don't have the buffering effect, the comfort of those communal bonds.

CUOMO: So culturally they're at a disadvantage, but then there are other endemic or systemic built in problems that come along with their injuries unseen. And what do you see? What do you identify as the root causes of why we haven't been able to help these men and women enough?

JUNGER: Well, humans evolve to deal with trauma and stress, and almost everyone has short-term PTSD if they've suffered a trauma. Only about 20 percent of people wind up with long-term, chronic PTSD. So when soldiers come back from combat, most of them weren't actually in combat. Only 10 percent of the military actually fires their weapons, right. So the vast majority, the significant majority of veterans who come home and have psychological issues actually weren't traumatized, they're experiencing something else, and which - and that is the transition to an alienating society.

I think it's hard for a society to help them with the transition because we ourselves, as a society, are struggling. As wealth goes up in a society, the suicide rate goes up, the depression rate goes up. After 9/11, conversely, when you collapse society, when there's a problem, things, ironically, psychologically, things improve. The suicide rate went down after 9/11 in New York City. The murder rate went down.

[08:55:11] CUOMO: So what do you see that as a reflection of raw extensional, like, you know, what life and death is, what matters, what doesn't. That if you have money, you get caught up in the eternal quest for more, you're never satisfied, but when you strip it down to what you need in the here and now, you're happier? JUNGER: Those - I mean I'm not, you know, arguing for poverty, obviously, I mean we're very blessed to live in a wealthy society, as we do. But we have to understand the consequences of it. And the consequences are psychological and they effect vulnerable populations, like veterans, enormously. And so we have to identify the fact that back - in the beginning of our country, in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to a friend saying, thousands - thousands of colonists have run off to join the Indians, and not one Indian has run off to join us. What is it they're looking for? And what they're looking for, I think, is that kind of communalism that soldiers experience overseas.

CUOMO: And it's true and, you know, and it's interesting. He also wound up being such a fan of the native populations that he adapted their councils to what the Constitution is about. So there's a lot in here.

Sebastian, thank you so much -

JUNGER: Thank you.

CUOMO: For writing about what matters once again. The book is "Tribe."

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, "Newsroom" with Pamela Brown, in for Carol Costello, is going to pick up with the news of the day. Stay with us.

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