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Muslim Father of Slain Soldier Urges Unity; Downed Russian Helicopter; Humanitarian Crisis in Aleppo; Olympic Games to open in Rio; First Ever Refugee Olympic Team. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 15:00:00   ET



[15:00:37] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight in the face of controversy, he's urging unity. A Muslim father whose soldier son died in Iraq extends

an olive branch of sorts to Donald Trump. But the Republican presidential candidate comes back swinging. We'll have the latest details.

Plus a downed Russian helicopter, a desperate rebel offensive and a humanitarian crisis. We'll tell you why the Syrian city of Aleppo is

engulfed in a critical battle. And the Olympic Games open in Rio de Janeiro in just a few days, but some basic security issues remain


Hello, everyone, I'm Hala Gorani. We're live at CNN London. Thanks for being with us this hour. We have a busy 60 minutes ahead. This is THE


Well, condemnation is flying at Donald Trump from all sides and he is hitting right back. The Republican presidential candidate is in a full-

blown feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim American soldier. Even top Republicans are saying the Khan family should be off-limits in a political

fight. But Trump is not backing down, in fact quite the contrary. Phil Mattingly begins our coverage.


KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF FALLEN MUSLIM U.S. SOLDIER: You solve the problems with empathy.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning, Khizr and Ghazala Khan talking directly to Donald Trump, imploring empathy as a path to peace.

KHAN: There are bad people among us but there are good people among us as well. You gather good people to get rid of bad people. But you do not

malign the whole religion, the whole culture. We are the solution to dealing with terrorism in the United States.

MATTINGLY: Trump, live tweeting during the interview with "New Day," saying "Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the

stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same. Nice." Khan directly responding to the tweet.

KHAN: I really want to maintain mine and my family's dignity. I spoke what was appropriate. And if he is watching, just imagine, there was no

need to comment the way he commented. That initiated this conversation.

MATTINGLY: The Muslim mother and father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq now center stage in the presidential election after their scathing speech

at the Democratic National Convention.

KHAN: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

MATTINGLY: Trump criticizing Ghazala for remaining silent at the convention.

DONALD TRUMP: I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was

standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say, you tell me.

MATTINGLY: And this morning, she is speaking out in response.

GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF FALLEN MUSLIM U.S. SOLDIER: My religion or my family or my culture never stopped me saying whatever I want to say. And

my husband is very supportive of me in these things that I have all the rights as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, I have done very well saying

my mind out. But that time was different.

MATTINGLY: Telling "New Day" that they are grateful for America.

KHAN: I'm very glad that I have been in this country and I got all the happiness that comes for Humayun. Yeah, somebody has to pay the price for

this freedom that we have. We feel very protected. We feel very happy. And our future, our children are in a safe place.

MATTINGLY: Mr. Khan insisting that Republican leadership stand up to Trump.

[15:05:11] KHAN: Every decent Republican has rebuked his behavior. Yet nobody had stood up and said, enough, stop it, you will not be our

candidate. In private, they have done this. I, again and again, ask his advisors to get him in a room, close the door, and set him right.


GORANI: Well, there you have it. And by the way, we're expecting Donald Trump to make an ppearance in Columbus, Ohio at a rally there. There you

see the live images coming to us from Columbus, Ohio, a very important state. It's where the Republican National Convention took place. It's a

battleground swing state and an important one for any candidate to win.

Let's go to our CNN Political Director David Chalian. He joins me now live from our Washington bureau. Let's talk a little bit more about this Khan

family feud between these parents, these Muslim parents of a fallen soldier during the Iraq war and Donald Trump. What is Donald Trump trying to do

here exactly?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Donald Trump is trying to push through yet another controversy that has caused a rift within his own

party of Republicans who are supportive of his candidacy, now having to issue statements telling him that, you know, there's nothing to be said

about gold star families except honor their sacrifice and the sacrifice made by their family member.

But listen, what Donald Trump is trying to do is push through this from a position of strength. He is not one to back down. And he is trying to

turn the conversation to one against radical Islamic terrorism. He's trying to turn the conversation into one of strength versus weakness. What

he has stopped doing is engaging the Khan family as much. He last tweeted this morning saying that he was being viciously attacked from Captain

Khan's father.


CHALIAN: But since then, we haven't seen him continue down that path.

GORANI: But I mean, I wonder if this is really one bridge too far in the United States. I mean, attacking the family of a fallen soldier is usually

extremely off-limits. Is this going to be politically damaging? I know we ask that question after every Trump controversy. But in this case, could

it be true?

CHALIAN: Yeah. I don't know that it can be. You know, Donald Trump himself said back in January he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue

and shoot people and his supporters would still be with him. I do think his supporters are loyal. And I can't see him really losing votes over

this from his core supporters. But that -- his core supporters in a general election context, which is now what we're in after the conventions,

it's not enough to get him elected. So Donald Trump needs to be in the business, as does Hillary Clinton quite frankly, of adding votes to his

coalition and there's nothing in this controversy that's going to attract new voters to him.

GORANI: And David Chalian, speaking of new voters, I wanted to discuss the latest CBS News poll after the Democratic National Convention. Hillary

Clinton did get what's called a post-convention bounce but it was only four percentage points. She went from 42 percent before the DNC and after the

RNC to 46 percent. Donald Trump lost three percentage points to 39 percent. So there's a seven-point spread between the two of them. Should

she be disappointed?

CHALIAN: No, I think a four-point bounce is sort of within the margin of error of what might be expected. You know, she clearly did get a bounce.

We'll see some more polling coming out in the days ahead. In fact, we at CNN, we'll have our own poll a couple of hours from now ...


CHALIAN: ... taking a look at that. So, I think it's hard to say she should be disappointed because she did indeed get a bounce. I think the

bigger question now is, is that bounce going to be sustained? It wasn't sustained in that CBS poll for Donald Trump after his convention. Are we

going to see Hillary Clinton able to sustain her bounce?

GORANI: Right. Well, by the way, while researching this, we found that the post -- in the same poll, post -- Al Gore, 2000, post-convention bounce

was 10 points, and we all know what happened in 2000. David Chalian, thanks very much for joining us in Washington.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

GORANI: My next guest brings us a unique perspective. Mohammed Shaker is a U.S. Army veteran and a Republican. He's actually the chairman of the

Republican Liberty Caucus but he does not support Donald Trump. He joins us now from Tampa, Florida.

Mohammed Shaker, you were a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division and you served in Iraq. One of the things you told Buzzfeed News was you

imagined your own parents on that stage of the Democratic National Convention when the parents of Captain Khan were speaking. What was going

through your mind when you listened to that speech?

MOHAMMED SHAKER, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: Well, when I was listening to that speech, it was obviously quite emotional. I remember my mother told me

that when I first left for the United States Army, when I went to basic training, she told me that for weeks on out, she cried and the fact that I

had left like that and, you know, my life was possibly in danger.

[15:10:17] So the fact that he attacked her like that, you know, I was like, that could have been my mother or really anybody else's mother.

GORANI: Yeah, and so what did you make then of this feud? I mean, the fact that Donald Trump, others, his supporters are saying that this family

was used as a pawn, that they were -- the death of their son has been politicized. We're hearing a lot in the way -- that type of message coming

from the Trump camp. How do you react to that?

SHAKER: Well, unlike others in the Democratic or the Republican Party, I think the feud should not even be going on. I'm not even sure why he

attacked that family specifically. It's a gold star family. And, you know, they lost their son. So whether you agree with Hillary Clinton or

not, maybe Donald Trump should have talked about Hillary Clinton and her policies that led to a lot of the interventions in the Middle East and the

Iraq war instead of going after a silent grieving mother.

GORANI: Yeah, what would you say to Donald Trump, to his supporters, to all Americans in fact about Muslims serving in the American military?

SHAKER: Well, I would say that, you know, like every other American, Muslims are everywhere in the fabric of American society. I myself am a

student here at St. Petersburg College. I'm a Republican. But there are many other types of Muslims in the country. My parents happen to be

Democrat. There are Libertarian Muslims.

So you can't just blanket, you know, say that all Muslims are dangerous or Islam is a danger such as Donald Trump does. He needs to focus more on the

issues and what could actually lead to the blow-back that happens from our interventions in the Middle East.

GORANI: You're a Republican. I mean, you're in fact actively involved in politics in Florida and yet you say you're not going to vote for Donald

Trump. Why not?

SHAKER: I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump because he doesn't really stand for the issues that I believe in. Philosophically, I'm libertarian.

The closest candidates to my views were Senator Ron Paul from Kentucky and Governor Gary Johnson.

Right now, I'm definitely leaning more towards Gary Johnson. Gary Johnson has a very strong record on his governance. He's definitely the most anti-

war. And he's going to do the most to reduce the actual size of government rather than just the rhetoric of, you know, get rid of the taxes and all of

that. You know, it's just talk. I want somebody that's actually going to do what they say.

GORANI: What -- I mean, what motivated you to join the U.S. military?

SHAKER: I would say a lot of it stems from, when I was younger, we came back -- I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and then we moved to Egypt

and Saudi Arabia. We came back in 2000 and that was my sixth grade. A year later, September 11th happened. And I was bullied a lot by my

schoolmate schoolmates, not everybody, but I was bullied. And it was just always something .

GORANI: Bullied why? For being Muslim or being an Arab or?

SHAKER: Yes, well, really both, because, you know, the kids would make comments, you know, whether I was Saddam's son or Osama's son, at the same

time. You know, they asked that RAKs or RPGs for my birthday. This is really, really childish things that I've heard. So that coupled with my

uncle that's a retired colonel on the Egyptian military. I'd always looked up to military servicemen and I thought they're really respected so you

could say maybe I wanted to prove something by, you know, being an Egyptian Muslim that served in the United States Army. And in fact I did, I

deployed to Iraq. I was a translator and a combat medic, mainly as a combat medic but I translated a lot between the United States military and

the Iraqi army.

GORANI: And last question, I want -- whenever, over the last several days, since the Khan family spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Donald

Trump was asked what would you say to the parents of Captain Khan and he would say, this is about radical Islam. What do you say -- what would you

say to Donald Trump whose explanation for his response to the Khans is, people need to focus on radical Islam?

SHAKER: I think he's really just grasping for straws with that answer. The Pakistani-American family here in the United States has really nothing

to do with radical Islam.

[15:15:00] Now, nobody is saying that radical Islam is not an issue, it most definitely is. And there needs to be a proper way to deal with

radical Islam and the threats facing our country and the Middle East. But to kind of put them in the same bag as radical Islam is really not fair at


Well, he can come to visit us at our mosque here in Florida. We recently, over the last couple of months, we've had interfaith dialogues with

different churches and our mosque. He can come and visit us and see that we're very normal people.

GORANI: Mohammed Shaker, thanks very much for joining us from Florida with your reaction to this controversy that really has now grown into a big

national conversation. So, thanks very much for your time, we appreciate it.

SHAKER: Thank you, ma'am.

GORANI: All right, we'll get a response to this from a Trump supporter, Carl Higbie is a spokesperson for the Great America PAC for Donald Trump.

He'll join in about 20 minutes so just stay tuned for that.

To Syria now and the siege in Aleppo that the United Nation said is a potential humanitarian catastrophe. Russia says one of its helicopters was

shot down killing five crew members. It says the crew was returning from delivering humanitarian aids at Aleppo, it happened in Idlib province.

These are some of the images of the aftermath.

The Russian Defense Ministry says it was shot down in an area controlled by the recently renamed Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham Malaysia. The shoot down comes

as anti-government rebels attempt to break a Syrian military siege of Aleppo. The U.N. is now estimating 300,000 people are trapped.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance joins me live with more on what the objective is. Excuse us but this could be a determining

battle in the sense that those rebel-controlled areas are quite encircled now and regime forces and their allies want to make sure it stays that way.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, of course, Aleppo is one of the most important cities in Syria as you well

know. And for several months now, there's been a concerted campaign under way by the Syrian government backed by ferocious Russian airpower to try

and wrestle control of the areas of Aleppo that are under rebel command or control back into the arms of the government, as it were.

And that's one of the reasons why this humanitarian operation is under way as well. This helicopter that was shot down with the death of five

Russians, the biggest single loss of life for Russia since it started its military intervention in Syria back in September. But it was engaged,

according to the Russian Defense Ministry, in a humanitarian operation to deliver food and supplies and medical equipment to the many, many civilians

who are both trapped inside Aleppo and are refusing to leave, and the civilians, hundreds of them according to the Russian Defense Ministry, who

are taking advantage of the seven humanitarian corridors that have been opened by Russia and their Syrian allies to allow civilians out of that

conflict zone.

324 people including 76 children, those are the figures coming to us from the Russian Defense Ministry in terms of how many people so far have left

Aleppo in these humanitarian convoys. And it's all part of this broader strategy by the Russians and by the Syrians to, again, take control of this

city, this key city of Aleppo, Hala.

GORANI: And so, let's talk about these humanitarian corridors, because the regime in Russia are saying one thing but rebel groups are saying another.

They're saying that these humanitarian corridors are not nearly active enough to allow for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people on

the ground. So you have two very different versions of events here.

CHANCE: Yes, so you've got the logistics side of it, whether or not these corridors are sufficient to allow such large numbers of people out. But I

think there's another really important aspect as well which is the trust aspect. I mean, you got to remember that the people inside Aleppo have

been living with government bombardments and Russian-backed bombardments as well. Now actually Russian bombardments, the many, many months now really

since they -- particularly since the Russians started their intervention back in September of 2015.

For them to now take that leap of faith and to take the option of leaving their homes and basically going back into the arms of the government, it's

a huge risk, particularly when everybody on the ground there will have heard the horror stories of what has happened to men who have done this in

the past, they've been separated from their families, this is the allegation, this is the fear, and never seen again. And so, that's why I

think we're only seeing a couple of hundred people take advantage of these corridors, not the tens of thousands who really need humanitarian


GORANI: All right, Matthew Chance, our senior correspondent reporting live from Moscow, thanks very much.

[15:20:00] Still to come, tonight we'll have much more on the deteriorating situation in the city of Aleppo as rebels attempt to break a siege there

one last desperate move to try to fight the Syrian military's offensive.

Also ahead, a sudden overhaul in Olympic security, just days before the opening ceremonies. We'll explain why the Brazilian military is having to

step in. We're live in Rio after the break.


GORANI: Donald Trump has -- is making an appearance at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. We'll monitor what Donald Trump is saying there. We'll

bring you any newsworthy lines. Of course, Ohio, as we were mentioning earlier, a very important swing state, Ohio, where the Republicans held

their convention just a couple of weeks ago.

And this is the first big event, of course since the Captain Khan controversy. Donald Trump attacked the parents of Humayun Khan who

appeared at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. They themselves criticized Donald Trump for his proposal to ban Muslims from the

United States and other policies regarding American Muslims.

We are now just four days away from the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Still undecided is which Russian athletes will

be allowed to compete. The deadline for those decisions is Friday when the games officially begin. You can imagine there are some nervous Russian

sportsmen and women. But Russia's sports minister says he expects the athletes to get the final rulings by Tuesday. So, we'll be able to bring

you that before the Olympic Games officially open.

For visitors, the Brazilian military will now handle security screening at the various venues. The private company hired to run the x-ray machines

was abruptly terminated because it didn't hire enough screeners.

Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Rio de Janeiro with the very latest. So, it's a little bit late, isn't it, to fire the

company that was in charge of security just to bring the Brazilian military in? Is this a chaotic situation at this stage?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's generous, frankly. I mean, you have to think of this as probably one of

the most fundamental tasks organizers have to sort out to make sure that people getting into the Olympic venues are properly screened for their own


And of course, sadly in this day and age, to reduce the global risk really to an event of this size of a terrorist attack. But while security here is

everywhere, that fundamental thing appears to have been addressed very late. You couldn't really get anymore obvious when it comes to Rio trying

to make you feel safe.

In Copacabana and almost everywhere you look here and in the venue of the opening ceremony, there's someone smiling with a gun. But they seem to

have missed something quite important. Probably, it's one of the biggest challenges for organizers, the security screening for the huge crowds of

wanting to get into the venues. But the basic task of working out who's going to manning the x-ray machines at the end of these lines has been left

to the last minute.

[15:25:04] Just one month ago, they hired a contractor to man these machines. On Friday, it was announced the military police would take over

as the contractor wasn't ready. But still, some employees of the contractor, not shown here, were being asked to come to work this weekend.

One agreed to talk to us anonymously. He wasn't asked to provide a police criminal background check, he says, and only had to do a quick online

training course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people who turn up for the job without any real training for the kind of work we're being asked to do. Our job is to

look after people's security. And some of the people doing the work in my view aren't up to that. The training course was very quick. There should

have been more to it.

WALSH: It's not clear, with just days you can count on one hand to go whether he's needed again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, I was meant to do a six-hour shift but did eight hours. At the end, the supervisor came and said they didn't know when we

had to come back to work again.

WALSH: We tried to reach the contractor for comments. Olympic Chief Thomas Bach says he has total confidence in the security of the games. The

government says they're drafting in thousands of retired police and firefighters to help. But away from the bright lights, some are asking

what else has been missed.

Now, consider this, despite the very public effective firing of that entire contractor to handle security, the man you saw in that video there still

went into work this morning, along with other colleagues.

They were still, it seems, trying to work alongside the x-ray machines there, alongside the military police who've been drafted in. So yes, there

is some degree of confusion if not chaos there. And of course, we're now three full days away from those important security screens being entirely

operational. Some say I think that may be some organizational hiccup. Others say maybe it portrays a bigger organizational failure. We'll have

to sadly wait and see and hope these games pass peacefully, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Nick Paton Walsh in Rio. Thanks very much.

Obviously, lots of concerns ahead of the games but there are also inspiring stories to share. Athletes with no national affiliation will be

represented at the Olympics for the first time ever. Our David McKenzie takes us to a Kenyan village where refugees have become Olympians.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning training in the Ngong Hills and Mecca for Kenyan's Olympians. But these runners are refugees. They ran

from their homelands, from war and famine. They have no flag of their own.

JOHN ANZRAH, COACH: When they came here first, we went out training with the elite athlete at the stadium. And the people were laughing at the

athletes. These are not athletes. Coach, what are you doing with these people? That was very discouraging. At the beginning, as I coached, we

thought of, are we going to make it?

MCKENZIE: Coach John Anzrah is molding raw talent. Refugees selected from South Sudan, Somalia and the Congo training for a chance to make it to the

Rio Olympics. It's the first ever refugee team. And you've seen that at times, they improve a great deal.

ANZRAH: Oh, it does. When they started actually, it was not the way they're running now.

MCKENZIE: Rose Nathike has been running her whole life. When the war came to her village in South Sudan, she fled the killing on foot then in the

back of a truck.

ROSE NATHIKE, TEAM REFUGEE ATHLETE: People do undermine refugees as if they are not human beings like them. But now, I can see maybe refugees

also can discover their talents and make it maybe perfect like other people so that they cannot be undermined.

MCKENZIE: Rose says her tough training can't compare to the hardships she has already gone through, growing up in Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya's

outer fringes, the city of refugees who fled from South Sudan's old and new wars. Here, Rose took care of her brothers and sisters, volunteering for

an NGO, going to school and running.


MCKENZIE: So, they're very nervous today?

ANZRAH: Yeah. They are nervous. But we would not just let them sit in the camp.

MCKENZIE: Forty three athletes from around the world were selected for training. Only 10 will go to Rio overcoming a lifetime of trauma to

compete on the world's biggest stage.


MCKENZIE: Rose will run the 800 meters.


MCKENZIE: She'll be running for her family, for the refugees of Kakuma and for every one of the 21 million refugees around the world. Given the

chance, Rose says, they can achieve anything.

[15:30:02] David McKenzie, CNN, Ngong, Kenya.


GORANI: The Zika virus has been a big concern in Brazil ahead of the games.

Now, the U.S. state of Florida is calling for federal emergency help after an increase in confirmed Zika cases inside in the U.S. in Florida. In

fact, 10 new cases of the virus were announced today alone, and it brings the total number of people infected there to 14. Officials say they believe

the transmissions are confined to the Miami area for now. Florida's governor has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to

activate an emergency response team to help down in Florida -- try to contain this before it becomes a major, major problem. Hopefully it won't.

Coming up, we'll hear from a Trump supporter and a U.S. military veteran for his thoughts on the controversial statements and the Khan family.

That's coming up next. Also, up to 300,000 people trapped and warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe, yet another one, in Syria, we will analyze what

is happening in Aleppo after that.


GORANI: Welcome back. A look at our headlines, Russia says all five people aboard a transport helicopter we're killed when it was shut down

over Idlib province in Syria. These are images of the aftermath. Kremlin says the chopper was on a humanitarian mission on Aleppo. The United

Nations says the besieged city faces a potential humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands of people trapped inside the Syrian military siege.

Also among the top stories we're following, the U.S. has launched new air strikes against the ISIS targets in Sirte, Libya. The northern coastal

city is an ISIS stronghold. The Pentagon announced today that Libyan officials asked the United States for help in its fight against the

militants. President Barrack Obama personally signed off on these particular air strikes.

Turkey's foreign ministry is summoning a top German diplomat. Turkey is angry because President Erdogan was prevented from speaking via video link

at this massive anti-coup rally, Sunday in Cologne. These are he's supporters inside Germany. The court (ph) said they made that decision

because of security concerns. President Erdogan is unhappy about that.

To Rio now, 270 Russian athletes are in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games. More than a hundred of them don't know whether or not they'll even

be able to compete. They haven't been cleared.

Russian Sports Minister Vitality Mutto said he expects those decisions to be finalized by tomorrow, so they'll finally have some clarity on whether

or not.

[15:35:08] Here we go. Let us return now to our top story. Donald Trump is accusing the father of a slain Muslim-American soldier of viciously

attacking him.

Trump tweeted that even as Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan were doing an interview -- while they were live on television, he was tweeting on CNN.

Here is part of Khan's appeal to Trump during that CNN interview.


KHIZR KHAN: A good leader has one trait. Earlier I said empathy. I probably, right now, will misspell it, but it is basic character,

realizing, feeling the pains, the difficulties of the people that you wish to lead and that is missing. Donald Trump needs to sit with his advisers

and portray to this world that he is empathetic.


GORANI: Well some of Trump's fellow republicans are saying his comments during this feud are a step too far. Republican senator and former Vietnam

Prisoner of War, John McCain, said, "I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump's statement. I hope Americans understand that the

remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates."

Let's get reactions to this controversy surrounding Trump on the Khan family, a Trump supporter, Carl Higbie, joins me now from New York. He's

the Spokesman for the Great American PAC for Donald Trump and also a former U.S. Navy Seal. Thanks for joining us.


GORANI: So as a former member of the military, are you OK with what Donald Trump has said about the family of this fallen shoulder?

CARL HIGBIE, SPOKESMAN OF GREAT AMERICA PAC: So I think what this is, is a political rhetoric run amok and I think that, you know, what Khan did not -

- Mr. Khan did not understand is when you step on the stage and you stand on the death of your son and use it for political rhetoric. Just like the

republicans have been attacked for doing it, he's going to get attacked. And I think what he said was, you know, using - being used as a pawn by the

Democratic Party, which never really is caring much for the military ...

GORANI: But why would he use it as a pawn? He's allowed to speak of the death of his son and say he's offended by what Mr. Trump has said. It's

his right.

HIGBIE: It is absolutely his right.


GORANI: Why does that mean it's being used as a pawn?

HIGBIE: Well, I think at -- look the Clinton campaign found ...

GORANI: He's his own man.

HIGBIE: Yes, you're right. But the Clinton campaign found one of less than a dozen U.S. Muslim soldiers that have died in Iraq. Why didn't they

pull up one of the, I don't know, other 4000 dead families? Why it happened ...

GORANI: I guess the question is, "Why not use the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier?" What's the problem with that?

HIGBIE: Because they don't represent the majority of the fallen. And if they really cared about these troops rather than their own political

agenda, the pro-Muslim rhetoric that the Democratic Party had been pushing despite the fact that we are fighting radical Islamic terrorism, I think

that they would have brought someone other than a Muslim family out there.

GORANI: But I don't understand your logic. Only members of representing the majority of the parents of fallen soldiers should speak at political


HIGBIE: No, and I'm not saying that at all. But I'm saying that Mr. Khan was used as a political pawn. He was used ...

GORANI: Yes. But you're saying they don't represent the majority. That was your logical argument.

HIGBIE: There was less than 12 U.S. service members that were Muslim killed in this entire conflict and they found one of them to put on their

podium rather than using any one of the other 4000 families. I think what happened here ...

GORANI: Again, what's the problem with that?

HIGBIE: Well, I think its characteristic of a democratic party who is happy to use any type diversity to push their agenda at the expense of

anybody. Look, Mr. Khan's son died honorably. He served honorably. He saved people's lives according to the story what's going on here. But the

fact is we don't know if his son would agree with this and to stand on his son's back and use that to attack Donald Trump, I think is a little

disturbing in itself.

GORANI: But so what you're saying is if this was a Christian Gold Star Family, you'd be fine with it and they wouldn't have been used as pawns?

HIGBIE: The fact is, it wasn't.

GORANI: Yes, but if they were, because your whole argument is they're not representative of the majority, they're representative of a small minority.

HIGBIE: Well, I think this is a ...

GORANI: You're saying therefore they should not have been put up on that stage because they're Muslim.


GORANI: But I don't understand that argument.

HIGBY: I didn't say that at all. What the fact is, is like the Democratic Party teed this one up very nicely and Trump unfortunately kicked a field

goal with it. I think that what we should do here is we should reset to the fact that, look, Hillary Clinton has called the families of the

Benghazi victims liars and there's been no media outrage over that.

GORANI: Well, there's been plenty of coverage over that, we interviewed Patricia Smith on CNN, she was the mother of one of the Benghazi victims,

she was just on Brooke Baldwin's program on CNN USA. We're covering both sides of this but I was just asking you why you thought perhaps this family

shouldn't have been featured. But I'm not -- I want to put to you some of the other statements coming out. John McCain has said he couldn't disagree

more with this.

[15:39:55] The Veterans of Foreign Wars, in fact also issued a statement saying, "Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a

Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of free speech of expression." How do you react to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' statement?

HIGBIE: Well, I'll just, you know, that after, I address John McCain, the Former Democrat who had the worst V.A. scandal in history in his home

state, yet nobody got fired. Does John McCain look out for veterans? Not. I don't think so.

And as Veterans of Foreign Wars, I think -- you know what they should do is? They should attack. If they're going to attack, they need to attack

both sides and they'll be heavy on Hillary Clinton with her e-mails and then heavy of Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi thing. I see a

disproportionate amount of people come out against Donald Trump, especially in the media than they are against Hillary Clinton.

GORANI: But this is not the question that the disproportionate amount in your view, which by the way, is not reflected on our air. But the thing

that Donald Trump last summer said about John McCain also ruffled some feathers, saying he's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was

captured. I liked people who weren't captured. I mean, I guess this is, for those who criticize Donald Trump's statements on the military, they're

saying he only respects the military when those military members happen to agree with his politics.

HIGBIE: Well, let's look at the proportionality of who's given what to military clause. I mean, Donald Trump is the reason the military -- the

Veterans Day parade still exists in New York City. Donald Trump has been a friend of veterans. He has donated $6 million during the course of his

campaign for veterans. How much has Hillary Clinton really raised and done for veterans?

GORANI: Right. Well, that's not also -- again, that's not the question. I'm asking you to react to what Donald Trump said about John McCain. John

McCain again responding today to what Donald Trump said about the Khan family, not who donated how much to veterans clauses.

HIGBIE: Well, I'm a little confused then. You said if Donald Trump is not a friend of veterans. I don't believe that anybody is if that's the

criteria for it.

GORANI: Well, no, he's criticized the Khan family and he's also criticized John McCain who is a recognized war hero.

HIGBIE: Yeah. So the thing is, if someone takes a swing at Donald Trump, he's not been known ever to stand down. He always hits back. So if people

don't want to get hit back by Donald Trump, don't take a swing at him. Look, if you step on the political stage, I don't care what affiliation,

you're a republican or democrat. If you hit, expect to get hit back, especially by Donald Trump.

GORANI: So one of the things as well that Donald Trump kept repeating was this is about radical Islam. I guess my question is, "What does the Khan

family have to do with radical Islam?"

HIGBIE: Well, I think what happened is, the Khan family was brought onto that stage because of Donald Trump's comments regarding the Muslim ban.

And they said that, you know, their son would not have gotten to serve and you're right. If that ban had been in place 30 or 40 years ago then the

Khan family would not have been allowed or that the son of Mr. Khan would not have been allowed to serve. That is correct. But also, that's less

than a dozen people that wouldn't have been allowed to serve in the U.S. military that have died as Muslims.

So I think that the overall thing we.

GORANI: So you're OK with the 12 people not serving if it means putting a Muslim ban up? You think it's a good idea?

HIGBIE: If it means protecting the United States, absolutely. I would sacrifice letting 12 people serve during a conflict that's killed almost

4,000. Yeah. I would say that if we're going to -- and look, Donald Trump has since refined that. He's said, look, countries where Muslim extremism

is coming from to include France and Germany right now.

GORANI: You're OK with French and German immigration being limited into the United States, as well as immigration from all Muslim countries?

HIGBIE: It's heavily scrutinized. No, no, no, heavily scrutinized.

GORANI: And all countries that have served -- OK. All right. Well, thank you very much, Carl Higbie, a Trump Supporter for joining us from New York.

We really appreciate your time.

HIGBIE: Thank you.

GORANI: Thanks for being on CNN.

We'll have a lot more on this story and of course what's happening in Syria. Syrian rebel fighters are trying to break the government siege of

Aleppo, but it's a tall order. The U.N. is warning of a possible disaster for the hundreds of thousands of people trapped inside. We'll look at the

desperate situation and that in battled city, coming up next.


[15:45:46] GORANI: In the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, what the U.N. calls a potential humanitarian catastrophe, unfolding right before the

world's eyes. Activist says some neighborhoods have been bombed for 80 consecutive days. Eighty consecutive days. Nima Elbagir reports on the

dire situation.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle for Aleppo. The newly rebanded Jabhat Fateh al-Sham formally the Al Qaeda

affiliated Al Nusra front are the full front of the offensive (ph) to push back Russian and Syrian government forces from the east of the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm working to open a new route into Aleppo to break the siege on our families in the city.

ELBAGIR: The weeks-long siege has placed an even greater burden on the already suffering populace, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people. These

pictures obtained by CNN over a week ago through the Syrian-American medical society remain one of the few rare glimpses of life in this city

under siege. Men, women, and children are seeking refuge in hospitals already at the point of collapse.

Unimaginably, those we've spoken to inside Aleppo say it's gotten even worse. Over the weekend, Syrian government forces backed by Russian

soldiers claim to have opened humanitarian corridors, enabling civilians to flee the city. A claim Syrian activist has dispute. They say while a few

families may have fled, many are too scared of the government to take the risk. Preferring the refuge of what remains of their homes. As the fight

for the upper hand in Aleppo have rages on around them.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


GORANI: Fawaz Gerges is joining me now to discuss the prizes in Aleppo. He's the author of "ISIS: A history and the Chairman of Contemporary Middle

East". He studied at the London School of Economics. Good to see you. It's been awhile.


GORANI: We've got our attention on the conventions, on U.S. politics. But, during all of that times, Syria has once again, have still continued

to descend into this spiral of destruction and chaos and now Aleppo. What's going on there now?

GERGES: Well, finally the Syrian army and his allies have besieged Aleppo. There're 250,000 civilians in Aleppo. You have almost 10,000 rebels in

Aleppo. It's a major victory for the Assad regime and major harder blow for the rebels and their regional allies. Plus, I mean, what has happened

in Aleppo deepens the humanitarian crisis. Now, you'll have -- I mean, Hala, more than a million civilians in Syria were just in areas that are



GERGES: And in Aleppo, they don't have the foods. They don't have the means. So it's a very, very serious situation.

GORANI: Let's look at the map and this is a close-up map of the Aleppo region. I mean, it goes a little farther out than the Aleppo region. But

I'm most interested in the national map because it will show you the regime areas of control. Where if they're able to encircle the rebel areas and

take control of the Aleppo, the largest city in the country, then effectively they have Damascus, they have homes, they have Aleppo. How far

are they then from achieving their immediate goals?

GERGES: Aleppo is a strategic prize.

GORANI: There's a national map by the way.

GERGES: Absolutely.


GERGES: It's the second largest city in Syria after Damascus. You're talking about 2 million people. But now, in the rebel's area you have

between 200,000 and 300,000. So it's a major, major victory for Assad. Damascus, Aleppo, Holmes, these are the nation's of urban areas.


GERGES: And whoever takes over Aleppo basically wins this particular war. And that's why now you have a counteroffensive on the part of the rebels.

And the reason why Assad has won in Aleppo so far, I mean, almost because you have Russia supporting Assad in Iran.

GORANI: Of course. Yeah.

GERGES: You have Balballa (ph) and what has been happening in Turkey for the last, I mean, two weeks or so. Turkey is trying to really put its

house in order, its institutions in order. It really does not pay as much attention to Aleppo as you choose to.

GORANI: So if Aleppo becomes entirely under regime control, can we say then that what? That the regime is on the verge of achieving what?

GERGES: Almost -- I mean, almost a victory.

[15:50:00] GORANI: But then what about ISIS? If you look at that, the gray areas are ISIS controlled. The yellow is still rebel controlled.

GERGES: Absolutely. This is not the end of the war. It means that Assad has gained the upper hand. The Americans and the Europeans are no longer

asking about Assad believed to be seen. It means any political settlement will basically favor Assad.

At the end of the day, what happens in Aleppo is important as much as it could be translated into political capital in Geneva.

GORANI: Right.

GERGES: Everyone wants to call for a third round of talks in Geneva. Well, if the Assad regime goes to, I mean, Geneva, who's going to say to

Assad, "Well, you know, we want you out of the scene?"

Even the Americans now, as you know, Hala, even the Americans are no longer saying that Assad must go now. They say we want to maintain the

institutions at the end of the political transition ...

GORANI: This is, I mean, the first you'll remember in 2011, when the Arab spring was unfolding across the region, people, and I include myself in

that thought, the Assad regime has got a few months left. Here we are, 5 1/2 years later.

GERGES: Assad has gained the upper hand. The rebels are shattered. Russia has, I mean, the most powerful organization inside Syria. It's

really calling the shots. The Americans are not invested at the Obama administration -- the rebels on their own. It does do great deal. Turkey

now is, again, nowhere to be seen in Syria.

GORANI: And the U.S. is in the middle of an election.

GERGES: Absolutely.

GORANI: Very briefly, Donald Trump wins, Hillary Clinton wins, what's the big difference with Syria do you think?

GERGES: I mean, Donald Trump said he's going to work with the Assad regime. He's going to work with the Assad regime to defeat ISIS. If

Hillary Clinton wins, as seems to be the case, you're going to see a more engaged American position in Syria. Clinton has always been in favor of a

militaristic option or case more (inaudible).

GORANI: She was certainly more hawkish than President Obama.

GERGES: And that's why the Russians really would like to have a settlement with Obama before he leaves the White House, even though it doesn't seem

likely in the next few months.

GORANI: All right. Fawaz Gerges, thanks very much. We really appreciate your time and expertise.

And don't forget, you can check out our interviews and analysis on our Facebook page, We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, now for something a little bit different. Let's venture for a moment into the secret world of a photographer looking back in time at

the salons of old Paris. Here is CNN's "The Invitation".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Imagine you're entering the secret world of a photographer. Like there was this very unique place in Paris. And it has

a lot of history for rich men would come and visit their mistresses in those rooms. You can just imagine all the scenes and the scenarios going


As a photographer, I always think of inspiring ideas for my pictures. I always try to recreate scenes. So when I come here, I just imagine all the

things which happen in the room. It's really wonderful.

[15:55:01] One very famous thing was that rich men would spoil their mistresses with jewelry. They were given diamonds and, you know, the best

way to prove it's a diamond, you scratch it on the mirror. And if it scratches, it means it's real, otherwise it's just glass. So, that's what

they did. And all the mirrors are scratched with names and hearts and all kinds of symbols on the mirrors.

I used to be a model. And my boyfriend was a photographer. He offered me a camera. He said, there's a plus, a circle, and a minus, when the circle

lights up, you shoot. I spent months and months and months in the darkroom where I developed the pictures and made prints and I have a tiny little

bedroom and I stock on the wall to dry.

What I tried to capture is a little piece of life, a sense of fun, a bit of naughtiness, a bit of mysterious. A good picture is just like this one

image, which is taunting and changing your life in a way. A good picture is something a bit magical too. It's not because you planned to do a good

picture, it's going to be a good picture. That's what I love about it, that you cannot really plan it.


GORANI: Speaking of Airborne Balloons, the total free fall was 7,600 meters in an astonishing leap that's never been done before. That is how

far skydiving daredevil Luke Aikins plummeted toward earth without a parachute. He landed at the terminal velocity of 193 kilometers an hour

near Simi Valley, California. Oh my goodness.

Are you serious? Precautions (ph), fall just in net, 30 meters by 30 meters. Aikins said, "If you're trained right, you can make anything


Let's look at it one more time. There he is in the green jumpsuit. Oh, my goodness. And this was broadcast live. I hope with a bit of a delay


This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.