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Trump Condemns Terrorist Attack in Berlin; Forensics Teams Search for Victims in Tultepec Market in Mexico; Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Hoping Trump Makes Good on Promise to Move Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired December 21, 2016 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump speaking just a short time ago calling the attack there in Berlin, "an attack on humanity," quote-unquote and saying its only prove that tightening of Muslim immigration is necessary.
CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in Berlin as the manhunt is on. Protesters are also there. They are calling for closing of the borders.
Erin, what can you tell us about the investigation?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities are being tight lipped in terms of not wanting to compromise this ongoing investigation. We know that they were conducting police raids in the cologne area of Germany earlier today. That is where a 24-year-old Tunisian suspect, Anis Amri, is registered to have lived. They also issued a warrant for his arrest offering award of around 100,000 euros or just over $100,000, describing him as being 5'8", 165 pounds, armed and dangerous.
We also know from authorities that he had been arrested back in August trying to cross illegally into Italy. But for some reason a judge took the decision to let him go. German intelligence authorities saying he was also on their radar, for at one point trying to get a gun. Now his asylum application had been rejected by German authorities but they were unable to deport him because they could not establish at the time his identity and now, of course, this attack, his identity papers were found inside the cab anyone of the truck. Authorities now saying that the polish citizen that was found dead, shot and killed inside the cabin, was not at the wheel, the gun used to kill him now missing. Authorities urging members of the public to be vigilant and on the lookout - Brooke.
BALDWIN: Erin, thank you so much in Berlin.
Let me bring in Paul Cruickshank, our CNN terrorism analyst.
And Paul, let's just begin with the fact that he was deemed unfit for refugee status. He was denied asylum seeker status. Deportation proceedings were underway. Why wasn't he watched more closely during that process?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, these are all questions which German security services are going to face over the next several days, weeks, and months. Also, the German government, there seems to have been a series of missed opportunities in this case. This was a known radical extremist, somebody considered dangerous who was part of an ISIS recruiting network in Germany that was funneling want-to-be Jihadis to go join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
And in the (INAUDIBLE) German security services moved to dismantle the leadership of this network in January. That they arrested five people including the head of the network, an Iraqi actually who claimed to be part of ISIS but operating on German soil and they charged them with terrorism offenses. But clearly they were still part of the network, still at large, including this individual and he was able to strike. But in terms of missed opportunities, he was on the radar screen from the police point of view because he was trying to get ahold of a weapon and also taken into detention in August on the way to Italy with some fake documentation.
Ultimately, the reason they weren't able to deport him from January is because they couldn't really figure out exactly who he was. And, of course, on German law you need to know who you're dealing with before you deport somebody.
BALDWIN: What about, Paul, the fact that law enforcement have put now as of just this afternoon, his face, his name, the fact that they are asking for the public's help. What sign is that to you?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's Boston all over again, isn't it? That they are using these pictures. They are crowd sourcing the investigation. It's a sign they are desperate to find him. They are really worried that he could strike again. And because he was linked to this recruiting network in Germany, he has got people there that could potentially hide him or smuggle him out of the country. And we saw after the Paris attacks, you recall, Brooke, --
BALDWIN: He went back to the neighborhood.
CRUICKSHANK: Exactly. And it was the ISIS logistical support network, they are renaming them as of the (INAUDIBLE) that hid him in that apartment in Brussels for months and months and months, could we see something like that materialize again in this case? We will have to see.
BALDWIN: What about, Paul, you also just knowing Germany, so unlike what we have seen, if an attack like this were to happen, heaven forbid, in New York or even other major metropolitan cities in Europe. There's no surveillance video of the attack itself. And everything I have read has told me that Germans just -- because of their attitudes towards surveillance.
CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's right. And some of that is historical specific because of Nazi Germany. And in fact, the German cabinet today agreed to move forward with some new legislation in terms of having more CCTV cameras that are being allowed in various parts of Germany and also some easing of sort of data protection laws to make it easier to do some of this surveillance wiretapping and that kind of thing. So there is a big debate going now in Germany. But, yes, not many cameras would have been in that area. Although apparently they were able to get a little bit of footage from at least some cameras in the area, but not necessarily showing the attack.
I think one thing we have to worry about is this guy may have filmed the attack in real-time and may, as he is still at large, try to post it on the internet. ISIS have called on their recruits to do exactly that, their sympathizers to do exactly that.
[15:05:06] BALDWIN: What more do you know just about ISIS and presence of jihadists in Germany? Because this was a first.
CRUICKSHANK: Yes, I mean, it was the first fatal Islamist terrorist attack. There have been plenty of plots since 9/11. But over the last several months really the threat has spiraled in Germany, officials talking about an unprecedented threat. More than 800 have gone to Syria, thought of him as comeback. Thousands of radical extremists on the radar screen of German security services. And this is a very large threat in the country. And the biggest game changer of all, though, is the arrival of these million or so refugees, many of whom have come in from Syria. And now, of course, the vast, vast majority of them are no security risk whatsoever, but they're worried that some of these young guys and some of these young women coming in might sort of be impressionable for some radicals already in Germany in terms of radicalization. And, of course, ISIS have tried to exploit these refugee flows coming into Europe to infiltrate operatives into the continent. That's how they basically carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks.
BALDWIN: You are so incredibly knowledgeable on all of this, Paul Cruickshank. Thank you so much for taking the time to walk us through what they are looking for in Berlin. Thank you.
Just into CNN, this emergency doctor who happened to witness the horrific aftermath of that attack, treating the victims who were hit by this truck, has just spoken to CNN's Max Foster.
MICHAEL SCHUETZ, EMERGENCY DOCTOR WHO OVERSAW BERLIN ATTACK RESPONDED: There was blood all over the scene. It was like a little war zone. You can't imagine.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is that what they're describing? It felt like a war zone?
SCHUETZ: Well, yes, as they describe it. I wanted to help but I couldn't help anymore. And so difficult. This is a very traumatic, very traumatic event for them. And even now it's only, you know, the only time will tell part of the story not the full story yet. They need strong support to overcome it.
Many of the staff who were informed by social media are already here so in this hospital we had about 250 of staff members coming in from their own parties, that I had breakout parties, Christmas parties. They were at home and so then their system was activated.
The injuries were really related to the mechanism of injury. On one side and you have to consider the scene. A truck drove into a crowd of people who had some drinks, its Christmas place, so there were serious series of tissue injuries, broken bones. And some of them were caught under the truck and some of the injuries that couldn't really survive if you can imagine a truck drives over your chest or abdomen this is a significant injury.
And then other patients were affected by those hut which is collapsed so there were wooden poles or whatever fell on them so they had clavicle fractures and other broken bones and this is probably the spectrum. Other ones were hit by, you know, minor things they only had contusions. And this is just the physical trauma. The one which is follow now -- and we're becoming much more aware about the psychological effect on them because they realize what actually happened to them, what kind of environment it all occurred.
BALDWIN: In total, 12 people were killed and 48 others injured in Berlin.
Forensics teams continue to search for victims in the disaster in Tultepec market in Mexico. This popular fireworks market filled with people preparing for Christmas and new years. It were erupted in a series of deadly explosions caught on camera.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
[15:10:01] BALDWIN: Unreal. Mexican officials say as a result of what you're looking at 32 people were killed, dozens more injured, many more unaccountable for. The blast sent huge plumes of smoke into the sky, rattled the ground even in neighboring towns. The disaster has shaken the community just north of Mexico City leaving some looking for missing loved ones and others wondering how they managed to get out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are looking for my niece's boyfriend. Here is the photo so anyone can identify him. We have been calling the hospitals and they haven't given us any information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): To tell you the truth, I do not know how I ran out of here. Everything was so horrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Sara Sidner is standing by there at the scene.
And Sara, before we get to how this could have happened, I want to ask you about the victims. I know some of them were airlifted to the U.S. for medical care. Do you have an update on them?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three children airlifted. And we have not heard their condition, but their conditions were bad enough that they had to be taken all the way to Galveston, Texas, from here in Tultepec. I do want to let you know that just a few moments ago a local official
came up and showed me some absolutely terrible video of the bodies that were lying side by side with little yellow numbers on each body telling you the number of people dead in that area. I counted seven, it was hard to look at. And he said from what he saw as he walked around this area there were more than 32 people that he saw himself dead. He is sure of that. We are still waiting to confirm that with authorities. But really hard to forget those images covered in dust lying there deceased.
I do want to show you the scene. And actually that photo was taken at one of the stalls just behind me. If you look just there, you will see one of the charred buildings and down below that is where those bodies lay, the pictures just absolutely horrific. Horrible.
The families are still, some of them, searching for loved ones. As you mentioned we talked to a gentleman just a half hour ago saying my 72-year-old mother has worked here for 22 years alongside his brothers. His brothers managed to get out. His mother they can't find. And those are just a few of the stories that we are hearing from people, people looking for their children.
We just talked to a grandfather whose young child they could not identify. They could not find. And unfortunately, just a few minutes ago, they were able to find that child. And unfortunately that child, three months old, was deceased. He was too distraught to speak to us any further but did say that they are going to have to figure out now funeral arrangements as opposed to celebrating Christmas with their family - Brooke.
BALDWIN: I am so sorry for them and all those families and especially those who still don't know where their loved ones are in Mexico.
Sara Sidner, thank you so much for what you are doing there.
Coming up next, president-elect Donald Trump has criticized and questioned Boeing's government contract to build the new air force one. Well, guess what? Moments ago, guess who arrived at Mar-a-Lago to meet with the president-elect? The CEO of Boeing. What's that about? We will take you live to Palm Beach coming up next.
And as Trump speaks publicly for the first time since the terror attack in Berlin and the American family of a couple being held captive by the Taliban responds to seeing a new video of their loved ones begging for help. Video with their children, we will share that with you in just a couple minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:17:14] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attack in Berlin being an attack against Christians?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who said that? When was that said? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I believe you said in the press release.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm wondering how this might affect relations with Muslims.
TRUMP: It's an attack on humanity. That's what it is. It's an attack on humanity. And it's got to be stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right. So those were the first public comments from president-elect Donald Trump as he is down in Palm Beach on vacation with his family since hearing from him since that deadly attack in Berlin.
So let's begin there. We have CNN senior political reporter Manu Raju who is with us from Washington, also CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny who is there in Palm Beach and Bob Cusack who is the editor-in-chief of "the Hill."
So great to see all of you.
And Jeff Zeleny, you're there. Let me begin with you. To me the piece that jumped out the most beyond calling Berlin an attack on humanity was the question about the Muslim registry or the ban on Muslim immigration. How did you interpret as a response?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He was asked, Brooke, if he still, you know, supports that ban on Muslims here which was really made about a year ago in early December back in 2015 during a speech in South Carolina. And of course, he went on during the course of the campaign to soften that a little bit. But he was asked that briefly and he says he does stand beside it. And he said, look, I was right, look what happened here. And didn't go on to fully explain what his current position is. So that remains a lingering question here.
As president, what will he try to do if anything? Will he do some type of executive order? Will he propose legislation? His aides say don't look for that immediately if at all. But look, this was about optics today, Brooke, having Michael Flynn down here to Mar-a-Lago, three other generals down here to Mar-a-Lago. He is being briefed, no doubt. But also making the case, sending the signal that he is on top of this heightened holiday terror alert.
BALDWIN: I want to bounce back to you on Boeing, but just Bob Cusack, what do you make of the fact that he did actually - I mean, there has been no news conference. Apparently there's a news conference happening in January but the fact that he stepped out his front door and said something?
BOB CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HILL: Yes. Because he hasn't done a press conference in a long time. And it's something he criticized Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for not doing press conferences, not many of them. So this is the strength of Donald Trump's, I think, campaign. And he wants to make it his presidency that any time there was a terrorist attack in 2015 and 2016, he would be out of the gate sometimes early and saying its terrorism before the investigation is complete.
But this is what his supporters like, is that his whole message is I'm strong, my opponent is weak and I'm going to be tougher than they are. And I think we will be seeing that today.
[15:20:06] BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny, back to you. We know, you know, he has had some visitors. We talked about Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who he apparently had for dinner last week. And now the appearance of the CEO of Boeing. To me, it's especially surprising given what he said about Boeing some weeks ago and how expensive air force one, the new one, would be. What's this about?
ZELENY: Brooke, the CEO of Boeing as well as Lockheed Martin. Of course, two companies that have very big contracts with the Pentagon, with the U.S. government. And it's simply a meeting that was not announced in advance. It was something, you know, they like the element of surprise here. They like the shot of these people walking into Mar-a-Lago. So Donald Trump obviously is making good on his plan, what he said earlier, to cut costs of that air force one contract.
Now, it's going to be fascinating to watch as this goes forward. Thirty days from today, of course, he becomes president. Will he continue to call individual CEOs to the White House and negotiate? It appears that indeed he might. So we have not yet gotten a read out of that meeting. In fact, it's just under way right now or about to be under way. So a bit of theatrics, but also a bit of following up on what he said he would do and that change a little about business done in Washington, Brooke.
BALDWIN: You have to be on your toes there seeing who is coming and going without any heads up.
Manu. OK, Manu, now to you. I wanted to ask you about -- Jeff said it 30 days until inauguration. I want to ask you about something that happens in 31. He is getting -- Trump is getting some criticism for this private fund-raiser that's supposed to be hosted by his adult children. The invitation offered a private reception and photo opportunity, this is day after inauguration, for a limited few with the newly inaugurated president plus an auction of multiday hunting, maybe fishing trip with the Trump sons. This is now not going to happen. But you, sir, dug up some documents, on this, Manu. What did you find?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it looks like that actually Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump both were involved, at least nominally, initially, in this fund-raiser saying that those two you could certainly -- if you were contributed to upwards of a million dollars that you could certainly go hunting with them or go fishing with them. But since the news broke on this event, the Trump team has distanced their sons from it saying that, look, they actually were not -- this is not formally official yet. They are still working on the details of this program and they are sort of walking away from it now.
Now this is the challenge coming in for the Trump team even if Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump do not take a formal role or even advisory role with the White House. Any perceptions of selling access to the children of Donald Trump will be seen as an effort -- will be criticized relentlessly.
Remember, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, both of them told their family members that they could not be involved in such a charitable function because of that concern that it could be perceived as something untoward. And especially as Donald Trump is relying on his sons for advice. Donald Trump Jr. we know was involved in the selection of the interior department secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, the congressman from Montana. So there is still some efforts that the Trump team needs to take to clear up any sort of conflicts of interest that may arise from their public and private lives.
BALDWIN: So is that sort of a blurred lines situation there, Bob Cusack? Somebody reminded me today that during the Bill Clinton administration, and I want you to fill in the blanks here, you know, some people were invited and I read the slate article and it listed however many hundred people during their time, you know, slept in the Lincoln bedroom. And some of those people donated to, you know, the Clintons, might have helped with Hillary Clinton, apparently even president Clinton personally endorsed the idea of the sleepovers.
CUSACK: Yes. And no, it's a problem for the incoming administration. Certainly, I mean, when we are talking about a scandal about the Clintons 20 years later, you know it is a problem. And it was a pay to play situation where friends of the White House who happened to be donors were allowed to stay overnight in the Lincoln bedroom. Also there were golf outings and other things to get access. And remember, you know, Donald Trump said I'm going to drain the swamp. Newt Gingrich indicating today --
BALDWIN: That's over with.
CUSACK: Yes. That that's not going to happen. But I think, you know, he has got to go back. And that was a big closing argument that he made in the last week, anti-Washington. He is going to have to at least try to drain the swamp. It's not easy. But when you have these types of stories come up, it hurts the effort.
BALDWIN: Yes. And people are jumping over his cabinet picks saying and you thought Hillary Clinton would have been establishment, right.
And speaking of cabinet or just picks in general, Jeff, before I let you go. We just heard a new name, Peter Navarro, Dr. Peter Navarro just named head of the White House trade council. What do you know about him?
[15:25:13] ZELENY: Brooke, this is just coming in right now. Now, this is not a cabinet position at all, but this is someone that will play a key and guiding road in the trade policy. And this is something that trade is going to be -- there is a cabinet position, subcabinet position for that, the U.S. trade rep. A lot of trade activities are going to be run out of the commerce
department. And, Brooke, so interesting, of course, this was an anthem of Donald Trump's message in, you know, to working class voters about changing trade, making it fair and things. So he is bringing Peter Navarro who is an academic in large respects on board to head the national trade council.
So this means he has two full cabinet positions yet to appoint and then his cabinet will be complete. And again, 30 days from today him takes office, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Thirty days from today, we all be in Washington.
To my gentlemen trifecta, thank you, Manu, Bob, and Jeff. Appreciate you.
Thirty days to go until he places his hand on the bible and Israel's ambassador to the U.S. is voicing hope that Mr. Trump makes good on his promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Ambassador Ron Dermer told guests at his annual Hanaka (ph) reception quote "Israel hopes that next year when the new American ambassador to Israel lights the menorah to his embassy, he will light in the same city where the Maccabees it will it 2200 years ago."
CNN correspondent Oren Lieberman is live in Jerusalem.
Oren, it is a controversial move. That is a break in what the U.S. has done.
OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is certainly would be. And this Dermer who is a very close associate, one of the closest confidantes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So this is a very high-level endorsement from one of Netanyahu's members of his inner circle hoping that Trump move this embassy. We have heard other hoe that the president-elect moves it. This, perhaps, is the closest person to Netanyahu endorsing him.
But as you mentioned, it would be a break with decades of U.S. foreign policy which is essentially left Jerusalem as an open-ended question, leaving the solution or the answer to that question to final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Jerusalem is perhaps the most sensitive and most complex issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So for president-elect Trump to say he is going to move the embassy, he is going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would slam the door on that issue. It would very much anger the Palestinians. But it's what Dermer, it is what the Israeli right wants to see. And that's why right after his election they came out and said that's one of the first things they want to see him do. Trump has said repeatedly during his campaign that he would do it and his pick for Israeli ambassador David Friedman aligned with Israel's right has called on him to do that.
So it's a very sensitive issue that's being handled or it would seem that it could be handled quickly here if Trump follows up on his campaign promise and moves the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - Brooke.
BALDWIN: In Jerusalem, Oren Lieberman, thank you.
Coming up next, a couple held hostage by the Taliban for nearly five years speaks out in this brand new video pleading for an end to their captivity while holding their two sons born in captivity. And now the man's parents are responding. We will talk about that next.