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German Manhunt Intensifies For Truck Driver; Merkel Visits Crash Site, Calls For Unity; Police Release Suspect Due To Lack Of Evidence; ISIS Claims It Inspired Berlin Truck Rampage; Blast At Fireworks Market Kills At Least 29; Turkey And Russia Vow Unity Against Provocation. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired December 21, 2016 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster live in Berlin, where it has just turned 7:00 on Wednesday morning.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles, and it's just gone 10:00, Tuesday night. Great to have you with us, everybody. We'll start in Germany, where they are mourning the victims of the Christmas market attack, as a huge manhunt is under way for the driver of the truck which plowed into the crowd. A suspect arrested Monday night was later released because of a lack of evidence. ISIS is claiming it inspired the attack, which killed 12 people and injured 48 others.
German chancellor Angela Merkel visited the crash site and called for unity. She's now facing increased criticism for her open-door refugee policy. Back now to Max in Berlin with more. Max, it really seems as if the German investigators are back to square one, possibly even worse. The driver of that truck has a 24-hour head start.
FOSTER: Well, that's the point, isn't it really? And where is the attacker in this case? Because they, very clearly thought they had the right man, and they had to release this Pakistani asylum seeker, because there's just wasn't any evidence on him, so, where is the real attacker? We just don't know. ISIS, claiming one of his - one of their soldiers but, you know, what evidence is there for that? And they're not giving any sort of information about him either, or whether or not more people are involved. And the security services being very quiet on anything right now, being very careful not to leak any information because of what happened with that - with that false start really that they had. But a huge amount of criticism starting to build on the security service, also on Chancellor Angela Merkel and her policy of allowing refugees into the country, perhaps making the country a more dangerous place, according to the right-wing politicians here.
Investigators combing over whatever detail they have and looking around Berlin, obviously, bringing in reinforcements, asking the public to provide any video or stills of the incident so they can comb over it and try to play catch-up here. Technology on board the truck providing information about the hours leading up to the market attack as well. Tom Foreman, has more on the timeline. TOM FOREMAN, CNN AMERICAN BROADCAST JOURNALIST: This is the truck that was used in the attack. It's owned by a Polish shipping company, it was on what should have been a routine run delivering steel from Italy up into Germany when authorities believe it was hijacked in the outskirts of Berlin between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. The driver killed, his body later found inside that cab. How do they know it was this period of time? The shipping company back in Poland says, this truck was outfitted with a sophisticated GPS system. They told the mirror newspaper that basically, they saw odd behavior in this period of time. Someone trying to start the truck twice and failing, and then when it got rolling again, erratic driving up toward Berlin, as if somebody else was behind the wheel, not the regular driver.
By 5:00, they say, nonetheless, it had reached the Christmas market up here near Berlin. They tried to call the driver numerous times, no answer. What happens next is also a mystery, for a few hours, it simply goes missing, as it gets darker here, the foot traffic gets bigger. And then, the truck reappears down in here - the holiday market is highlighted up here in red. And according to eyewitnesses, it begins accelerating up to about 40 miles an hour, jumping the curb. This is where all the stalls and all the people would have been, and plowing through people for about 250 feet before finally coming to a stop down there. Why did it stop? We don't know. It didn't hit any kind of major barrier, we don't think. The police don't seem to have challenged it or to have rammed it, and there are no witnesses saying that they saw somebody get out and runaway, as far as we know at this point. Only the murder victim found inside the cab, and an awful lot of questions for the investigators.
FOSTER: And behind me, the scene, as it is now, the truck has been taken away. A desperate attempt to get the market back up and running, actually, and try to get back to normal life here in defiance of what ISIS wants to do, which is disrupt normal life, attack western culture, and stop people going about what they would do normally at this time of year, which is come to markets like this.
Certainly, a huge amount of concern also in the city, though, that that there could be a very dangerous person or group of people on the loose. We'll bring you what information we can, John. But the big problem we've got at the moment is the security services, the police are being very careful about anything they say. Obviously, there are some operational reasons for that, but also because they got it so wrong at the start.
[01:04:54] FOSTER: Yes, Max, thank you. We'll be back to you in a moment. Max Foster in Berlin. Join me here in Los Angeles, CNN's Law enforcement contributor Steve Moore. Steve is a retired special agent with the FBI. We'll get to the manhunt in a moment, but just to Max's last point about trying to get the marketplace back to normal as soon as possible, get the truck out of there, trying to get this market up and running once more, how important is that?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: It's important because it fights against the actual goal of the terrorists. If they want everything to be completely disrupted, they want to cause panic, they want to cause terror and if you can get it up and running, it absolutely minimizes the effect.
VAUSE: OK. This manhunt is underway for this driver. He's got - what - 24-hour jump on them now, because they had the wrong guy initially. How do you reset this investigation now at this point?
MOORE: That's going to be hard. And, you know, I don't want to criticize the police too much because these things happen. You know, when you have somebody who is in the area, who is pointed out by witnesses, who has a sketchy background, you have to act. You can't just say we don't have enough to go yet, especially in this kind of situation. But, I don't think that this person is going to run very far because they think, number one, they got away with it; number two, they depend on their self, they depend on their associates to keep them - to keep them safe, to live. I mean, this person isn't going to be independently wealthy and they will likely go back to the area where they're from.
VAUSE: OK. So you're saying a cell -- ruling out a -- this is a lone wolf, some guy hijacked a truck, drove to it Berlin and killed a bunch of people?
MOORE: In my opinion, this is a cell. You had to do - when he picked up the truck first -- he or she, when they picked up the truck, first of all, that's not easy to do. It's not easy to overpower a driver and take his truck. They had to plan this, they had to figure out where a truck would be, and then they all - they had a target. They didn't just randomly look around the streets of Germany or Berlin, they had a target they went directly to, which means that they had already cased this. So, to me, this is - this is strong evidence of a cell.
VAUSE: They also picked a truck that was loaded with steel, which have, you know --
VAUSE: That carried a lot more weight, that's harder to stop. One of the clues -- one of the crucial pieces of evidence they have right now, CCTV footage, you know, there's a lot of cameras in Berlin, there's a lot of cameras in Germany, a lot of people have cell phone videos. They now have to go through this, and if we look at what's happened in the past, we know that the FBI and investigators used cell phone footage, crowd sourcing if you like in the case -
MOORE: Crowd sourcing is a good name.
VAUSE: Yes, and they basically went through this, you know, frame by frame by frame, there's hours and hours of this stuff. And eventually, they got an identification on the Tsarnaev brothers. This is time-consuming stuff.
MOORE: Immensely time consuming.
VAUSE: Is this their best? Or one of their best leads right now, this evidence?
MOORE: Yes, you're going to have to break it up into what we used to call tiger teams. Just go find some agents or whatever type of agent or officer they have, find them and get them looking at those films. Because you can't speed that up, it has to be painstaking examination by the minute. The other thing is you're going to have a team inside that truck, because something led the investigators to say this Pakistani guy we picked up is ruled out from driving the truck. That tells me that they have a criterion by which they can remove it. Which could be fingerprints, it could be blood on the windshield from the driver. So, there's something that they have to identify this driver.
VAUSE: It's interesting, he -- this guy has been released because of lack of evidence, hasn't been ruled out, though?
MOORE: No, there is not this big Mea Culpa, we made a mistake, we apologize to the Pakistani community, we jumped too early. They're saying we don't have enough evidence now.
VAUSE: OK, Steve. Thanks so much. And of course, all these questions, they need answers. So many people have been affected by this, let's go back now to Max Foster in Berlin. And Max, so many people have been impacted by this. Clearly, what they want to happen now is for this investigation to find the driver and whoever else was involved, and then they can move on. I guess, with the grieving process.
FOSTER: Yes, and you're talking there about this Pakistani asylum seeker. He was the initial suspect, and turned out not to be the case. But a lot of damage already done there because the right-wing really capitalized on the idea that asylum seekers are a threat to this country. So, they need to try to locate the actual suspect now, may or may not be an asylum seeker. Maybe someone completely different we just don't know how any information on that whatsoever at the moment because everything is so locked down, and ISIS not even giving any information either and their claim that he was a soldier. As you can imagine, very shocked Germans, still trying to make sense of what was a horrendously horrific attack on the scene behind me. Erin McLaughlin has more on that.
[01:09:57] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the scene of unimaginable horror, a 25-ton tool of terrorists slowly driven away, leaving behind unanswered questions and a country in shock. Nearby, a makeshift memorial grows by the hour. Young and old people of all faith gather to mourn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All over 2016 we heard of all the terrible attacks that happened all over the world and yesterday was a black day for human history, it's just depressing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and people go here to have a good evening, to have - they drink wine and eat something and stay here and with friends or family. And then, they're dead after five minutes. It's shocking. Yes, it is.
MCLAUGHLIN: What remains of the Christmas market is eerily quiet. Children's rides stand still and there's a heavy police presence. Normally, this Christmas market would be full of shoppers drinking spiced wine and looking for gifts. But as you can see, these kiosks are closed as authorities look for answers, and Berliners mourn their dead.
In the capital, a show of solidarity, at the memorial church people gathered to honor the dead, as officials prepare the country for the worst.
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): I know that it would be especially hard to bear for us, if it was to be confirmed that a person committed this act was given protection and asylum in Germany. This would be especially disgusting.
MCLAUGHLIN: German officials set free the asylum seeker they first arrested. No longer suspecting he perpetrated the attack. Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the church Tuesday, visibly shocked. It's Christmas week, and the country has been shaken and with it her political future. Erin McLaughlin, CNN Berlin.
FOSTER: Julian Reichelt is the Editor-in-Chief of the German news site, Bildgeschichten, joins me via Skype from his home here in Berlin. Thanks for joining us. So, what is your understanding about who they're looking for here?
JULIAN REICHELT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF BILDGESCHICHTEN: Well, that is terribly unclear right now. You know, authorities are saying they are confident that they will be able to find the perpetrator of these attacks quite soon, but there is a - not a lot on who that person may really be. Again, they arrested someone right after the attack. They had him in custody, for something like 35 hours, they questioned him, they had to release him because they just couldn't tie him to the attack now, couldn't tie him to being the driver and now they're looking for an entirely different person.
From what we hear, he may have shown a high level of professionalism in preparing this attack. He may have shown a high level of professionalism in scouting abroad to reconnaissance and all of that and plotting this attack. But so far, there's very little on background, there's not a description of that person. There are about 500 leads, from calls, text from the public. But the police has been very restrictive about releasing any of those -- or anything about the person they're looking for. There is no picture of the person they're looking for. Just nothing so far.
FOSTER: Is that because they feel they gave too much information around the initial suspect and assumed that they had their man and then they're not going to make the same mistake again?
REICHELT: It's probably like that, it's also probably because they just don't want that person they are after to know that they're after him. Another possibility is that there just isn't that much. Yet, it seems to us that they have lost an awful lot of time dealing with the person that then turned out not to be the perpetrator. It seemed that they didn't really go for a massive manhunt. There wasn't a massive search operation right after the attack, because they felt confident that they had the right guy and hold off any further - any further search action, because they are (INAUDIBLE) Only onwards, after they said, you know, it's all clear, situation is under control, told people there is nothing to fear. And now, it seems that, you know, there's an ISIS operative or someone claiming to be ISIS on the run, possibly armed. So, that didn't go very well.
FOSTER: Obviously not. Julian, thank you for joining us. Sorry about the communication problems there. There you have it, John, an ISIS operative on the run, in Berlin, says it all. It's actually a frightening situation.
VAUSE: Yes, and it will be, of course, until the driver and whoever was with him is caught. Thank you, Max. And tributes are being left around Berlin, to honor the victims of Monday's attack. The Brandenburg Gate, one of Berlin's iconic landmarks lit up with the colors of the German flag.
In one other vigil, dozens held hands to form a human chain. And in the scene of the attack, mourners left candles and flowers at makeshift memorials along with messages of support and condolence.
And we'll take a short break, but when we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., emergency crews are at the scene of a deadly explosion which ripped through a fireworks market in Mexico. You're watching CNN, live all around the world.
[01:15:00] DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Don Riddell, with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. The tennis star, Petra Kvitova, is recovering from a very serious knife attack at her home in the Czech Republic. According to a police spokesman, a man was masquerading as a maintenance man when the attack occurred and in trying to protect herself, the left-handed player suffered cuts to all five fingers on her left hand, also sustaining damage to nerves and tendons. Later on Tuesday night, Petra's management team released an update saying she's recovering from a 3-hour and 45-minute surgery as well as can be expected considering the damage.
In football news, strikingly Premiere League champions Leicester City will be without their striker Jamie Vardy for the next three games. That's after the Football Association upheld his red card against Stoke City. Vardy was prolific in Leicester title run last season and he was returning to form, but he will now miss the games against Everton, West Ham and Middlebrook.
In Germany, the mood is understandably tense after the terror attack in Berlin on Monday, which saw a truck crashed through a Christmas market, killing 12 people. This week's Bundesliga games have gone ahead as scheduled, moments of silence were held before all four games on Tuesday, and they will be held ahead at the top of the table clash between Bayern Munich and Leipzig on Wednesday. That is a quick look at your sports headlines, I'm Don Riddell.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Just gone 10:18 here on the west coast. A huge explosion has ripped through a crowded fireworks market north of Mexico City, shooting plumes of smoke in all directions and sending people running for their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Tuesday's blast killed at least 29 people and injured dozens in the town of Tultepec. One survivor says she is searching for family members who were also there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): To tell you the truth, I do not know how I ran out of here. Everything was so horrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (reporter): Do you have relatives here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, I'm looking for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (reporter): Who you looking for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The people I work with. They're my cousins.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (reporter): you sell merchandise here at the market?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Rafael Romo joins us now with more on this. So, Rafael, what is the latest as in terms of getting this fire under control? Because at one point they were just letting the fireworks explode.
[01:20:08] RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, that's right, John. And at this hour, firefighters continue to work in - at the scene and trying to put out some of the smoldering fires that still remain in the - at the scene. But again, we're talking about 29 dead people, 72 injured. Among them, according to the governor of the State of Mexico, where this happened, three minors who are being flown to Texas to a burn center to be treated there.
And it's very important, John, to understand the dimensions of the location where this happened. We're talking about a place about the size of a football stadium. And it's also very important to mention we're not talking about a single building here, we're talking about a market - essentially an open-air market that has about 300 stalls from which people were selling fireworks. This is the largest fireworks market in all of Mexico, and as you can imagine, this time of the year, especially just before Christmas, it was a very busy place, John.
VAUSE: You mentioned 72 people hurt, three children on their way across the border for treatment. What are medical services like, around this area, especially to treat people who are suffering severe burns?
ROMO: It is not too far from Mexico City where some of the best hospitals in the country are located. And you have -- some of the information that I was looking at before was talking about at least 50 paramedics at the scene and we're talking about a place that is 40 kilometers from Mexico City, about 25 miles. So, there is plenty of help there.
I'm assuming that these three minors, were the ones who suffered the most, the most serious burns, the most serious injuries, and authorities decided to transfer them to a specialty burn center in Texas. I was looking at a report, not too long ago, saying that about 20 people who were injured had been released from the hospital. We're talking about another 50 who are still hospitalized this morning, John.
VAUSE: OK, Rafael, thank you. Rafael Romo there with the very latest on the explosion at that fireworks market. Of course, it has happened there twice before in the last 10 years. But, back now to Max Foster in Berlin. Max?
FOSTER: OK. John, we are following the attack on the Christmas market. Behind me in Berlin, desperations get up and running again, they'll try to do it today I'm sure. But, we're also learning more about another attack, the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. Turkish state leaders are saying investigators searching the shooter's home found books about Al Qaeda and about the Gulen movement.
Now, Turkey blames that group for July's two attempts. And now, according to state-run media, Turkey says the Gulen group is behind the assassination of Ambassador Andrei Karlov. Cleric Fethullah Gulen, has condemned the attack. The assassination of the ambassador comes at a crucial point in diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey. Our Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward has more on that from Moscow.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Kremlin, is taking a very measured tone in dealing with the assassination of its Russian Ambassador. We've seen, really, what appears to be almost a coordinated response from the Turkish President Erdogan, also from Russia's President Putin. Both of them saying that this should be viewed solely, really, as a provocation an attempt to thwart the warming of relations between Russia and Turkey. Attempt to derail cooperation between the two countries on the subject of Syria. Both leaders making it clear that they do not view this as a protracted dispute, that they do not want to escalate the situation. The mood here in Moscow today, has been somber, it's one of mourning. People have been gathering outside the foreign ministry to light candles and pay their respects.
The body of the ambassador who was killed has been brought back to Moscow and those investigators from Russia, 16 of them, are now in - is in Ankara in Turkey. They, of course, will be looking very closely at whether or not the attacker had any kind of a larger network supporting him. Turkish state television is reporting that he had some type of Al Qaeda literature in his home. Whether or not that was just an inspiration to him or whether he may have been part of a larger Jihadist cell, that is something the Russian investigators will want to get to the bottom of. There are still a lot of questions as well, as to how he was able to gain access to this event? This event would have been frequented by all sorts of diplomatic elites in Ankara and yet you can see in that video, the attacker standing coolly behind the ambassador for some time before opening fire.
[01:25:02] The summit here in Moscow did go ahead as scheduled. The focus was Syria in attendance, of course, Turkey's foreign minister and the Iranian foreign minister and the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, saying the focus now must be united. It must be on dealing with Syria and viewing terrorism as the biggest obstacle to peace in Syria and not the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Moscow.
FOSTER: A couple kidnapped in 2012 by a Taliban Splinter group are begging for help to get released in a video that surfaced just this week. The Taliban has not confirmed to CNN they released the video. American Katelyn Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, appear with their two children who were born in captivity. The couple were abducted whilst backpacking in Afghanistan. Coleman criticizes the kidnappers and governments who have failed to free her family, stating, 'We understand both sides hate us." They're pleading with Barack Obama and Donald Trump to make a deal with their kidnappers. It's unclear if their statements were coerced. The couple appears distressed in the video, quite a difference from this photo taken shortly before the kidnapping.
Well, Donald Trump seems that he's staying informed about the attacks here in Germany and in Turkey. But they don't say if he's getting briefings from U.S. intelligence agencies. More on that, just ahead.
FOSTER: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster live in Berlin, covering the latest on the Christmas market terror attack.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles. It is just coming after 10:30 here. We'll check the headlines now. ISIS claims it inspired the deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market. Police are now searching for the driver who killed 12 people, wounded dozens more. A suspect was released Monday because of a lack of evidence. At least 29 people have been killed, dozens --
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: - - make the headlines now. ISIS claims it inspired the deadly truck attack of the Berlin Christmas market. Police are now searching for the driver who killed 12 people, wounded dozens more. A suspect was released Monday because of a lack of evidence.
At least 29 people have been killed, dozens injured in an explosion at a fireworks market north of Mexico City. Authorities are investigating whether the blast was deliberate. It's the third big explosion at the same market since 2005.
Russia says there will be no concessions to terrorists after its ambassador to Turkey was assassinated. A Turkish police officer shot Andrei Karlov at an art gallery in Ankara on Monday. The attacker was later killed. Karlov's body is now back in Moscow. Police questioning several people, including the shooter's parents.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump's advisors say he is following the attacks here in Europe and in Turkey. But they won't say for certain if he's receiving briefings in U.S. intelligence officials. Trump has been busy fighting a high profile twitter war though. Here's CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN ANCHOR: As brazen attacks unfold across the globe, the President-elect started off his day showing that he has no plans to move beyond his combative campaign mode. Vacationing in Florida, Trump fired off back to back tweets aimed at Bill Clinton. "Bill Clinton stated that I called him after the election. Wrong. He called me, with a very nice congratulations. He doesn't know much. Especially how to get people, even with an unlimited budget out to vote in the vital swing states." And more, "They focused on the wrong states."
The soon to be 45th President was reacting to what the 42nd President recently told a weekly newspaper in New York. With Clinton saying, Trump doesn't know much. The extraordinary back and forth continued as Clinton replied today with a tweet of his own. "Here's one thing Donald Trump and I can agree on. I called him after the election." Responding to the attacks in Germany, Trump went further than any U.S. or European official. Saying in a statement, "Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship, as part of their global jihad." At his Mar-a Largo Resort here in Palm Beach, Trump receiving briefings. Yet it was unclear whether it was directly from the intelligence officials or second hand through his transition team. Trump aides declined to say.
SEAN SPICER, TRANSITION SPOKESMAN FOR TRUMP: The President-elect through regular contact with his national security team with regard of the developing situation in Europe and Turkey - -
ZELENY: Transition spokesman Sean Spicer also vowing a quick response to such attacks during a Trump presidency.
SPICER: I think it's going to be swift and fierce. We've got to be able to call it what it is and root it out by it's very - - by - - by the bottom. We cannot be continue being politically correct.
ZELENY: All this as Trump is holding court in a series of private meetings at his resort, including a dinner with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. The same Carlos Slim that Trump eviscerated on the campaign trail for his financing of the New York Times. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: The largest shareholder in the Times
is Carlos Slim. Now Carlos Slim, as you know, comes from Mexico. We're going to let foreign corporations and their CEO's decide the outcomes of the, you just can't do this. We can't let this happen.
ZELENY: And those words against Carlos Slim are ancient history. Donald Trump confirming in a tweet that he did, in fact, meet Carlos Slim for dinner here last weekend at Mar-a-Largo. Then he tweeted that Carlos Slim is a great guy. Donald Trump trying to build a bridge to Mexican businessmen, particularly this billionaire. A sign that President-elect Donald Trump and President Donald Trump maybe different than candidate Trump. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VAUSE: Joining me here now in Los Angeles, Hernan Molina is a Democratic political analyst and Sean Steel, a member of the Californian Republican National Committee. Thanks for coming back. You know, let me talk about this issue with the presidential daily briefs. Because this seems to be an ongoing point of criticism of the President-elect that he's not reading these intelligence briefings, at least not every day. And this is what one of his supporters, Rick Santorum had to say. Listen to this.
RICK SANTORUM, ATTORNEY, FORMER SENATOR: I don't know why he's not. I didn't talk to him about it. I haven't talk to him about it. But, this is a very important part of being the President of the United States. And hopefully at some point, he'll begin to get into that routine and understand how important it is for him to understand all the - - all the threats that are confronting this country. And understand the nuances that come with a daily brief and to get the inside information as to what these organizations and individuals are doing around the world to threaten the United States.
VAUSE: Yes. Hernan, there is a lot everyday in these briefings. You know, if I remember correctly back in 2001, Bin Laden determined to strike the U.S. These are important documents.
HERNAN MOLINA, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANALYST: Absolutely. And I think Trump has a hard time leaving behind the campaign. He's now just wrapped up this thank you tour through several states. In changing from the mood of and the mode of campaigning to now transitioning to governing and becoming the future President on January 20, look what's happening. Two polls from Gallup, recently published. The first one shows that the transition approval is only 48 percent. The other one, shows that he's favorability is only 42 percent and favorable rating 55 percent. The other Presidents, incoming President Barak Obama was at 75 percent, George W. Bush, 65 percent and Bill Clinton at 67. So something is really not gelling with the rest of the electorate that it's going to have to live with this new president named Donald Trump.
VAUSE: I mean one of the issues though, we know about his favorability rating. He's the most unpopular president-elect I think since Eisenhower. Right? But he does keep - -
SEAN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Which by the way isn't too bad.
VAUSE: Well - -
STEEL: But that's a good analogy.
VAUSE: But he does keep tweeting. He does seem as if he's in potential campaign mode.
STEEL: He's - - there is a transition literally taking place. But keep in mind, he's not president. He's not making the big decisions. Obama's still President. Even though a lot of people, kind of forgotten that. Obama's been so ineffective that he sort of receded from the headlines. Forbes magazine has him as the 48th most powerful person on earth, Donald Trump's number two. So, in a sense, Trump is sort of like president, but he's - - you got to wait - - you got to wait 30 days. So whether or not he's taking a daily briefing and he's acting like the President, making a decision like the President. He's not ready for that. Let's see what happens when he's really president.
MOLINA: I think he's right. He's not ready for it. That's definitely clear.
VAUSE: Oddly enough Putin was number one on Forbes list.
STEEL: He was.
VAUSE: I just want to stick with the tweeting issue now. Because, one of the examples of tweeting first without fully knowing exactly what was going on. Happened over the weekend with the story about China seizing the underwater American drone. It all happened early, well actually it happened on Thursday. But Trump tweeted this out early Saturday morning. "China steals United States Navy research drone in national waters. Rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented, spelled wrong, act." We used that, he later corrected the spelling. I use this tweet because he said this at, sent this out at 7:30 in the morning. But this is hours after the Chinese actually came out and said, we're working to resolve the situation. So, you know, we know that his behavior won't change when he becomes president, but the responsibilities will.
STEEL: I thought he called it correctly. And what he's done with China is brilliant. He's letting the Chinese know there's a new sheriff in town. They're built up a huge vast military base in the South China Sea. That military, the drone that was stolen by the Chinese and Trump absolutely correctly identified it was 50 miles from the coast of the Philippines, way outside the Chinese territory. The Chinese are acting very ambitious, very aggressive, scaring everybody else in China. Obama hasn't made much of a reaction. And I think Trump is setting the right - - the right agenda. The call with Taiwan was excellent.
MOLINA: I agree with one thing. I think it's - - it's - - it's his style and he's entitled to - - to negotiate, to play a different game, to be unconventional. Like (inaudible) says, arranging a call, a very, supposedly a very casual call with the President of Taiwan. That's one thing. But the other thing is to go on Twitter and create almost a diplomatic conflict, when he's not even the president with China. Which is not a small country, and it's someone that we haven't completed relationship. And to make matters worse, and I agree with Sean, there is a very complicated situation in the China - - in the South China Sea. So, I, in a way, is almost irresponsible and perhaps very arrogant of him to continue to be in this campaign mode, when we think he needs to be focus is to get this intelligence briefings. To start really completing, wrapping up his transition team, which he has not done so, and then focusing on becoming the next president.
VAUSE: OK. And there's what, 31 days to go till the hand on the Bible.
STEEL: Not a whole lot of time. There'll be 31 surprises in the next 31 days.
VAUSE: Look forward to it. Sean and Hernan, thanks so much for being with us.
STEEL: Thank you.
VAUSE: (Inaudible) break next here on Newsroom L.A., ISIS may be losing territory but that does not mean it's deadly ideology is losing ground. The battle against ISIS on and off the battlefield is next.
FOSTER: German authorities are out in force searching for the driver of the truck which rounded (ph) a crowd at Christmas market here in Berlin. Police have arrested a man near the scene Monday night, but later released him for lack of evidence. ISIS now claims it inspired the attack which killed 12 people and injured 48. Guy Chazan is a Berlin correspondent for the Financial Times, he joins me via Skype. It's not unusual is it, for ISIS to claim these people are soldiers but we need to know, you know, whether or not he was inspired by them or whether he was directed them, and whether or not he's part of a bigger network.
GUY CHAZAN, BERLIN CORRESPONDENT FINANCIAL TIMES: Yes. That's very unclear at this stage. I mean, police are still trying to figure out who actually committed this crime. Obviously, they released the - - the - - the Pakistani suspect yesterday. He was arrested very shortly after the attack, for lack of evidence. Police officials that were interviewed yesterday on German TV, were actually saying that they're pretty confident that they'll be able to present a new suspect soon. They're making progress on the investigation. But, it - - it - - it is strange that ISIS, sort of, made this claim of responsibility when - - when so little is known about who actually carried out this attack. It could be just purely opportunistic. We don't know.
FOSTER: The risk of that, of course, is that this suspect comes out and completely distances himself from ISIS. Or you know, as is, been the case in the past, mental illness involved, something that ISIS doesn't necessarily want to be associated with. So they're taking a risk if they're not directly involved in this. CHAZAN: Exactly. Yes. And I - - I mean, it's interesting that - -
that the debate now is, in Germany, is - - is - - is actually developing in a very interesting way. I mean, some politicians were very quick to jump to conclusions yesterday. For example, Horst Seehofer, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, the leader of the CSU, he sort of immediately said that, you know, Germany must now completely redesign its security and immigration policies. Now, there's been a bit of a backlash against that, because people are saying, well, we don't even know who did this. So, why are you jumping to conclusions and saying that we now have to completely rethink our refugee policies?
So, I think, you know, people are saying, you know, it could be that this person who committed this crime was actually from a neighboring country, wasn't even from Germany, as we saw with some of the terrorist outrages in France. It could be that it's - - it's someone domestic. Someone, a German, who knows? It could be that they have absolutely nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. For example, you know, we saw this attack in Munich earlier this year. Everybody jumped to conclusions there and said it was Islamic terrorism. And then of course, it turned out to be just a mass shooter who was actually influenced by right-wing ideology. So, it's, police are just sort of saying and officials as well are saying, let's calm down, not jump to conclusions. And I think this sent a bit of a backlash against that at the moment.
FOSTER: And because they said so much early on about the suspect who turned out to be the wrong guy, of course. What about the criticism of the security services then they were interviewing this suspect? And perhaps not continuing a wider investigation and allowing the true suspect to get away?
CHAZAN: Yes. There has been some criticism of the police. But, it - - it was sort of a crazy situation I think. Some of the details that have emerged, it seems like certain members of the public were actually following a suspect as he left the cab of the truck. And were - - were actually, sort of, in contact with the police on mobile phone. So I - - explaining where he was and trying to give details about his location and so on. But they lost track of him. And that's why, there was this sort of period that, he was not under any kind of observation and then they arrested this - - this Pakistani man, who it seems now had nothing to do with it.
So, but - - but it does seem that they're pursuing leads and they have a lot of DNA evidence from the truck. So, that's very useful. There's also apparently a lot of GPS data from the truck, from its various movements between Poland and Germany. So there is some evidence to work on. And, as I say, the police seem pretty confident it will make some breakthroughs in this case very soon.
FOSTER: OK. Guy, thank you very much indeed for bringing this out. The police will be very tight lipped until they do have this latest suspect. Then we'll find out a bit more about the process of events and the timeline. And we'll bring that to you as we get it. Very much watching whether or not there will be any further arrests today and whether or not the market behind me opens. That's certainly the plan, to try to get Berlin back up and running and normal as soon as possible.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: This is CNN Weatherwatch, I'm meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Well the cold air is finally going to retreat for some folks in the U.S. It's going to begin to retreat. So areas of the northeast and the mid-Atlantic will actually finally start to get some temperatures back up a little bit compared to where they've been. Now, that system that moves through portions of southern Canada into the northern Plains of the U.S. and into the mid- west, not a big snow maker and it's already starting to finish most of its track and continue off to the east. But what we're really paying attention to is this next system that is likely to start to make way into the southwestern region of the United States, bringing some much needed rain to areas of southern California and also into Arizona.
Now here is the look at the forecast. Cloudy conditions from Los Angeles, high temperature right about 21, already starting to see those clouds building in from the next system. New York, high temperature of 6, mostly cloudy skies but as we talked about the warming trend, they maybe getting back to close to double digits by the time we approach the weekend. Dallas, a high of 19 degrees with mostly sunny skies, likely to maintain relatively nice weather, even into Thursday and Friday. Kingston looking at mostly sunny skies, high temperature right around 30 degrees. Mexico City nice, partly cloudy with a high temperature right into the low to mid 20's where it will remain through the week.
VAUSE: Well ISIS has been making headlines around the world in recent days. The terror group is also losing a lot of territory, especially in Iraq. But Iraqi lead forces are expected to retake Mosul, maybe within weeks. And the terror group's self declared capital Raqqa in Syria, is also expected to fall relatively soon. Despite that said, ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday's deadly attacks in Yemen and Jordan and said it inspired the truck attack in Berlin. CNN Military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona joins us now for more on this. So Colonel, is this what many people had predicted. Is this the beginnings of ISIS 2.0?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. I think it is. And - - and just as you said, they're losing their state. So they're going to be a group without territory. The handwriting's on the wall here, both in Iraq and in Syria. Mosul's going to fall. It's going to take the Iraqis a little bit longer than they thought. I think we'll still be talking about this, you know, come mid-January. And - - and we see the - - the different factions in Syria setting up for the attack on Raqqa, and that will be eventually be successful as well. This group has alienated so many people that everybody just wants to eradicate their territorial holdings.
But that's not going to eliminate them as a group. The ideology's going to continue. And, they somehow will survive. And they're going to survive by adapting to tactics. We've already seen it. And those attacks that you've just mentioned, along with going all the way back to San Bernadino attacks, and inspired attacks in the states, that's what we're going to see in the future. They're going to revert to be more of an insurgency, more of a terrorist group. I would call it more like, a revitalized Al-Qaida model, where they have affiliates in different countries. And we're seeing that, you know, Libya, all sorts of, North Africa, South Asia, even up into central Asia. So the group's not going away, but their territory is.
FOSTER: Colonel, explain to us the situation with Raqqa, U.S. intelligence believes ISIS is planning attacks on western targets from Raqqa. There's some urgency in the assault there on that city. Why is territory so important to plan these kind of attacks?
FRANCONA: Well they've got to have - - they've got to have an operational planning base. They've got to train people. They've got to acquire the assets. And a lot of these people are dispatched from there. They get their final training there. They make their bia- tapes, their suicide tapes. You know, it's just a place to operate from. We saw Afghanistan used to be that for Al-Qaida. We're seeing Raqqa, formally Mosul, that for ISIS. And - - and the U.S. commanding general of the operation Inherent Resolve has said that, this is critical, that the time is critical. And that's what's driving this operation, and that's what's going to put us kind of sideways with the Turks.
The Turks want to leave the free Syrian army into Raqqa. They want this to be a Sunni operation. Because they believe that if we let the American backed Syrian democratic force, which is primarily Kurds go in there, that the people of Raqqa that we're just trading one oppressor for the other. I don't believe that's true. But we've - - we have to make sure that we don't alienate the Turks to much in this. But if time is of the essence, the U.S. backed forces, the Syrian democratic (inaudible), they're only kilometers from Raqqa. The Turkish Free Syrian Army is 150 kilometers from Raqqa. So you can see that the time, distance thing just doesn't work out to wait. So we're going to see, I think, quicker action.
FOSTER: Very quickly, as a candidate Donald Trump laid out a pretty simple plan for defeating ISIS. This is what he said.
TRUMP: I would bomb the (expletive) out of them. I would just bomb those suckers. And that's right, I'd blow up the pipes. I'd blow up the refineries. I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left, and you know what - -
FOSTER: It's a great applause line, but by the time he's president chances are ISIS won't have any territory. So, who do you bomb?
FRANCONA: Well, that's the question. And of course, this all sounds good and it makes you feel good and you're right, those are applause lines. But, we are bombing targets that we can find. Right now, the rules of engagement are a little oppressive. They need to be loosened up a little bit. Give the operators in the cockpits and on the ground the opportunity to engage targets when they arise. But we are bombing them aggressively, let's be polite. And so, I think once - - once Mr. Trump starts to get his real intelligence briefings, he'll see that it's not as easy as just bombing them indiscriminately.
FOSTER: OK. Colonel, thanks so much for being with us as always. Colonel Rick Francona, appreciate it. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. Stay with us. I'll be back with Max Foster with the very latest from Berlin after this.