Return to Transcripts main page


Iran Says U.S. Bases "Soft Targets," U.S. Carriers, "Shooting Targets" for Iranian Missiles; U.S. General Appears with Assault Weapon in Afghanistan; Trump Responds to Chief Justice John Roberts; Trump Gets Political on Call to Military on Thanksgiving; Trump Gives OK to Lethal Force as Border but Mattis Contradicts; Girl Who Wrote Essay on Gun Violence Killed by Stray Bullet. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 22, 2018 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN HOST: Tough talk now from Iran's military, saying they have American troops in their crosshairs and they're calling U.S. bases near Iran, quote, "soft targets." An Iranian general referring to American bases in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He also classified U.S. aircraft carriers in the region as, quote, "shooting targets" for Iranian missiles.

Let's go to the Pentagon. We have Barbara Starr there for us.

What is the Pentagon saying about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Look, Brianna, they've heard this kind of rhetoric from Iran before and it is a concern that Iran has an inventory of missiles that can range any number of locations in the Middle East. Let's look at the map you showed for a minute. There are U.S. troops in bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, U.S. ships that go up and down the Persian Gulf waters all the time. Sure, Iran has missiles that could get potentially past U.S. defenses, potentially and cause a problem. But the question is always, with the military, two things, intentions and capability. They have the capability potentially. Do they have the intention? Right now, nobody sees that Iran has an intention to strike the U.S. They know their response would be massive. But this is one of the reasons the military is out there, keeping watch. They want to make sure Iran doesn't decide to get adventurous -- Brianna?

KEILAR: I want to ask you about this picture that we have seen of General Scott Miller, in Afghanistan, the commander of all troops there, U.S. and NATO troops. Tell us about this and why some folks have done a double take here.

STARR: Keep that picture up and take a close look at General Scott Miller's left hand in which he is holding an M-4 carbine assault rifle fully loaded. Very unusual to see a four-star, the most senior commander in the U.S. and NATO, in Afghanistan, feeling the need to carry an assault rifle. Let me explain where he was yesterday when this photo was taken. He was in an area south of Kabul that has seen a resurgence of the Taliban. It is far from under absolute secure control. General Miller very much sending a message, if you will, that he will go where he needs to go and he will not be held back because of potential security issues. Remember, just last month, he was in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan and he was essentially in the middle of a fire fight in a compound when there was an insider attack. He had to draw his small 9 mm. pistol at that time. This time, he has an assault rifle, and it appears that General Miller is very determined publicly to show himself, to show his support for the Afghan forces and to show himself not in fear of the Taliban -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara Starr, thank you so much. And Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

STARR: You, too.

KEILAR: Coming up, the public battle you never thought you would see playing out on Thanksgiving. The commander-in-chief versus the chief justice. And it only got more heated today.

Plus, speaking out. The widow of Senator John McCain opens up about the pain that she still feels over Trump once saying her husband was not a war hero.


[13:37:39] KEILAR: President Trump is spending his Thanksgiving holiday lecturing Chief Justice John Roberts about the court system. It all started when the president described a Ninth Circuit Court judge who ruled against his migrant asylum policy as a, quote, "Obama judge." Roberts responded with a stunning rebuke and declared, quote, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges."

Trump not only fought back on Twitter, he clearly had the dispute on his mind during a call with troops this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATTES: We get a lot of bad court decisions from the Ninth Circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side. You always lose and then you lose again and again, and then you hopefully win at the Supreme Court, which we have done. But it's a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services and tell you how to protect your border. It's a disgrace.


KEILAR: Joining me now, we have former Democratic congressman from North Carolina, Brad Miller, and former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent, with us.

Congressman Miller, it's worth noting that it will be widely said when you are talking about a judge's ruling that people say, oh, they were appointed by so and so. They kind of look to see the motivation or maybe that they went with a policy that doesn't represent whoever appointed them. Why is this different?

BRAD MILLER, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: They are both wrong, although Trump more wrong. His attack on the judiciary is just way over the top. Also I don't think it's the case, as Justice Roberts suggested, that judges just call balls and strikes and they are impartial guardians of eternal values and sacred values of democracy and the rule of law. Judges do get appointed to decides cases a certain way. And he needs to keep that in mind. I think Trump's attacks on the judiciary and on the independence of the judiciary, it's like the facts on the media, you know, I don't think people should watch CNN with open-mouth credulity or read the "New York Times" with open-mouth credulity, but that doesn't mean he should call them the enemy of the people. It really gets at an attack on all of the institutions that the democracy depends upon.

[13:40:02] KEILAR: What do you think, Congressman Dent?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I tend to agree with Brad. It's appropriate for Justice Robert to push back on the president. And the chief justice's job is to protect the integrity and the independence of the judiciary. Of course, judges come to these jobs with their own biases, but I believe most are there to weigh the cases based on the facts and the evidence and make a decision that is compliant with the law. I think the president ought to cease and desist. This is uncalled-for. Basically, trying to undermine the institution of the judiciary, which is unhelpful to this republic. As Brad said, too, we shouldn't be also attacking the media. These are -- an independent free media and a strong independent judiciary are essential components of any democratic society and we should work to strengthen these institutions and not weaken or undermine them.

KEILAR: I don't know if you are able to hear the call, but I'm sure you heard the call that the president placed to troops in various areas around the world. He addressed them. He thanked them but he also talked about the border afterwards. He said the troops can use lethal force if they have to. He hopes that doesn't happen, which is important to note, but if it's necessary. The U.S. military is not supposed to conduct law enforcement in the U.S. What do you think.

MILLER: I disagree with Trump politically and on policy, but beyond that, I think he just must have been raised by wolves. He seems to be unable to understand how human beings are supposed to act. To have that conversation with the troops, who just wanted to hear that, on behalf of a grateful nation, he appreciated they are wearing our nation's uniform and being in harm's way and separated from families, for it is sacrifice they were making and their families were making, and not go off on his own political tirade, as he just does on every occasion whether it's appropriate or not.

KEILAR: Do you worry about the authority of troops on the border to have that --


MILLER: There was an article in the paper this morning, in the "Washington Post" this morning that there was a battle royal in the White House over that. Yes, he was given the legal advice that he did not have that constitutional authority and he cares not a shred for the rule of law or for constitutional limitations as also displayed by the attacks on the judiciary. KEILAR: Congressman Dent, if he was given that advice, reportedly a

very good report, if he was given that advice and this is what he said this morning, do you have a concern?

DENT: Well, about the border?


KEILAR: No, giving the troops the authority to use lethal force, as he said, if they have to, which would be very unusual. This is a big step.

DENT: I had served in the Homeland Security Committee and it was clear to all of us that the National Guard or troops, if ever deployed to the border, their job was not to make apprehensions, but to provide an extra set of hands. The Border Patrol is responsible for apprehending people. They're trained to do this. This is not the role of the United States military and the National Guard at the border to make those types of arrests. I don't know why the president would say such a thing. I know the military is not down there to be making arrests. They are there to provide support to the Customs and Border Protection and the Border Patrol, as they should.

KEILAR: He's got a lot of generals, Congressman Dent, around him. They are advising him. He's hearing for them, presumably, when it comes to this issue of conducting law enforcement. He is hearing from them on how you talk to the troops in a phone call like he made today. Do you think he just doesn't care? Do you think he is disregarding their advice?

DENT: I suspect at times that the president just does not do propriety well. How hard is it to speak to the troops overseas? You thank them for their service and sacrifice and you bring greetings to them from the American people and then you listen to what the troops have to say. You ask them how they're doing. It's not about you, the president. It's about the troops on Thanksgiving. I don't know why he makes these things, why he makes inappropriate comments and raises messy political issues with our troops. Who are trained to be nonpolitical or apolitical. They are there to serve the country, they're not there to serve a political party or set of issues. They have a job to do. They are in an uncomfortable position when the commander-in-chief raises these types of difficult issues that they are not supposed to speak on --


KEILAR: What do you wish he would have said, Congressman Miller?

MILLER: Thank you for wearing our nation's uniforms. I thank you on behalf of myself and a grateful nation. Thank you for being in harm's way. And thank you for the sacrifice that you are making on this holiday that most people would rather be with their family. And thank you for your family's sacrifice as well. We love you and care about you and appreciate your being here.

[13:45:21] KEILAR: Congressman Miller and Congressman Dent, I appreciate both of you being here. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you. Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you.

DENT: Happy Thanksgiving.

MILLER: Happy Thanksgiving.

KEILAR: Coming up, this is a heartbreaking twist of fate as the young girl behind an award-winning essay on gun violence is killed by a stray bullet in Milwaukee. How she's being remembered today.

Plus, a dramatic rescue in Dallas as a mother desperate to save her baby daughter from a fire drops her from a third-story window to a bystander below.


[13:50:19] KEILAR: For too many families, there's an empty place at the Thanksgiving table today, a place where a loved one is supposed to be sitting, but instead they fell victim to gun violence. One of those tables is in Milwaukee where 13-year-old Sandra Parks should be sitting. She was killed in her own home this week by a stray bullet that ripped through her bedroom. We're left with heartbreak for her family and her last words, "Mama, I'm shot." We're also left with these words on the violence in Milwaukee: "Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. I sit back and have to escape from what I see and hear every day. When I do, I come to the same conclusion, we are in a state of chaos."

Those words coming from then-11-year-old Sandra Parks in an award- winning essay on gun violence.

CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam, joining me now.

This a heartbreaking story. This is hard to even read this intro, Stephanie. How is this family doing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Devastated, honestly, Brianna, when you think about the fact this is Thanksgiving week this happened. She was killed on Monday. She was sitting in her bedroom watching TV when this bullet came through the window and hit her, just one shot, hit her in the chest. Her older sister saying that their mother called her first to say that she'd been shot. Talking about the fact that when she was hit, Sandra managed to get up from her bed and make her way to her mom before she passed away.

Take a listen to what her mom -- first we'll hear from her sister and then her mom had to say.


TAMARA INGRAM, SISTER OF SANDRA PARKS: She just walked in the room and said, "Mama, I'm shot."

BERNICE PARKS, MOTHER OF SANDRA PARKS: I'm going to miss my baby. She was a star, not just in my eyes but everybody else eyes.


ELAM: Her sister described her as bright, beautiful and full of life. The fact that she wrote this essay two years ago and for this to be her demise, when she was sitting at home, minding her own business. It's still unclear at this point, Brianna, at what the alleged shooter was targeting. It's not clear. We know two men have been arrested and been charged, a 26-year-old man and a 27-year-old man. The alleged shooter is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and he was reportedly found hiding in a closet when police came to apprehend them.

KEILAR: Stephanie Elam, thank you for that report. Of course, we are thinking of that family. What a difficult day for them.

There's a mother in Dallas who is feeling very thankful this holiday after a dramatic rescue that involved a bystander catching the baby girl that she was forced to drop from a third-story window during a fire. Take a look here. Flames were shooting through the roof of the apartment building when a bystander raced over and told the mother to drop her daughter from the window. The mother told a local news station that she didn't want her daughter to die, so when the man said, "Just trust me," she did.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's only 1. So to know that she gets to live another day, words can't even describe.


KEILAR: Five other people, including the child's parents, jumped from the third story onto a mattress to cushion their fall. It took 50 firefighters to put out that fire.

And many survivors of the deadly California wildfires are being told to leave their makeshift shelters as the threat of mudslides and floods loom. We'll take you there live.

[13:53:41] Plus, as the stock market continues its rollercoaster ride, the president is gearing up to meet Chinse President Xi amid their trade war. Is a deal maybe on the horizon?


[13:58:46] KEILAR: You know there's plenty of football today, the traditional Thanksgiving Day games. But tomorrow, sports fans and others will have their eyes on Las Vegas for "The Match." It is a head-to-head battle more than 20 years in the making, Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson. Two of professional golf's biggest names and biggest personalities facing off in a winner-take-all match. So what is the "all" you ask? It's nine million bucks. It's 18 holes for $9 million, by far, the biggest payout in the history of golf. You can see them play for that tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern only on 'BLEACHER REPORT" live and on pay per view. That is it for me. A very happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CNN to

you and to our military families and their servicemembers who are separated on this holiday, including to my husband, Fernando, who is very far away, but thankfully able to watch CNN today. I do miss you very much.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

[14:00:01] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. Happy Thanksgiving to you. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me on this holiday afternoon.

Here we go, moments after the president's overseas phone call to show his support for U.S. troops, he once again discounted the work of another group of Americans --