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President Trump Could Tap Pompeo To Replace Bolton; ISIS Ideology Lives On In Sprawling Tent Camp In Syria; Triple Crown Winner Justify Failed Drug Test Before Winning Triple Crown. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- many jobs can you hold in one presidential administration at one time? Well, we may be about to find out. New reporting on what would be a historic selection to be the next National Security adviser.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, President Trump is reportedly considering having Secretary of State Mike Pompeo do another job, and that is replace National Security adviser John Bolton. Sources tell CNN that Pompeo is on the president's short list and he would perform both jobs if he is chosen.

So, Kylie Atwood is live in Washington with more. What have you learned, Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That's right. So we are learning that administration officials, just the day after President Trump let go of John Bolton, are considering double-tapping Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It means he would keep the job as Secretary of State. He would also potentially become the National Security adviser.


So this has happened one time in history. It was in the 1970s when President Nixon was in office and Henry Kissinger was both the Secretary of State and the National Security adviser.

It's unclear right now what the president thinks of this option. He was speaking with reporters at the White House yesterday and he said that there are five people that want the National Security adviser job. He said they're good and qualified people.

But he also shone some light on why he let go of John Bolton, citing some of their policy differences, particularly comments that John Bolton made on North Korea. But also saying that John Bolton simply didn't get along with some people that the president considers very important. And our reporting tells us that one of those people that John Bolton didn't get along with was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Clearly, if Pompeo takes over both of these jobs that will no longer be a problem.

BERMAN: All right, Kylie Atwood for us on this reporting. Thank you very much for that. We'll stay on top of that.

This morning, the political world is buzzing about a new report on the persistent strength of the Joe Biden campaign. This story has everything from a tax from team Biden on the media to an adviser to another campaign saying of Biden, quote, "The dude is just old."

Joining me now is the reporter behind the story, "Politico's" Ryan Lizza, also a CNN political analyst.

And, Ryan, I think the story is really important. You seek to answer what could be the most important question of the campaign so far. You call it the central paradox of Biden. Quote, "He's been amazingly durable but he gets no respect from the people who make conventional wisdom."

What does the Biden campaign say about this? They seem to be blaming the media.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, I think there is a -- they go back between sort of being bemused by the fact that there were so many predictions of his demise, both when he first entered the race -- that he would sort of fall on his face and it would all be over -- and through the summer when he got a lot of tough coverage about -- first, it was the chapter about Biden and personal space. Then there was the chapter about Biden and race relations. I mean, really tough -- really, really, really tough coverage and tough accusations about him.

And, you know, I wrote this piece because I was just kind of shocked that someone had taken -- a campaign had taken on so much water, so much criticism, so much tough coverage.

And basically, at the beginning of the year he was at 30 percent. He's at 30 percent right now. I know in the new CNN poll today -- out yesterday, he's gone down a little bit, so we'll have to see if that is the beginning of something.

But I set out to sort of figure out what is the source of this guy's resilience. And I do think one answer -- and this is something that the Biden campaign hits very hard in the piece -- is this mismatch between the press and especially, as the press is reflected on social media, and the actual base that makes up Biden's support, which tends to be more working-class, older, and more racially diverse.

And if you go on Twitter, you think Biden -- the Biden campaign is essentially over.

BERMAN: And, of course, if you look at the polls, all you see is he continues to lead -- this five-month persistent lead in the polls. One thing on the media. There's a quote from a Biden adviser here who says, "I don't know of anybody who has taken on as sustained and vitriolic a negative pounding as Biden and who has come through it with the strength he has."

Generally speaking, my experience in campaign coverage is you don't attack the media unless there's something wrong.

LIZZA: Yes, yes, that's such a good point. I know a lot of Hillary Clinton fans who are mocking that quote and saying well, you know, join the club.

I think that's right. There is a lot of sensitivity right now amongst Biden's senior advisers and a lot of -- just a lot of, frankly, some anger about how they've been covered. And it gets even more delicate than that because some of the quotes that people are really pointing to in this piece are about the age and sort of cultural affinities of the press corps as described by Biden people.

BERMAN: And let me get to -- there are two last points I want to make in our limited time.


BERMAN: Number one, you have blind quotes from people saying that Biden and some other campaigns, "The dude is just old." And then you have our friend Bakari Sellers --


BERMAN: -- who supports Kamala Harris, saying it out loud. Basically, that age is --


BERMAN: -- an issue here.

First and quickly, that is a subtext to some of these discussions, yes?

LIZZA: Yes, because it's sort of the -- towards -- the second half of the piece is about well, what can actually take Biden down, right?

And I sort of did a bunch of candidate interviews of Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Bennet and a few other people just to try and test like what are you guys going to do to actually crack that 30 percent? Nothing's worked so far.


And this very delicate issue of Biden's age comes up again and again in private conversations with non-Biden candidate advisers, but no one's quite figured out how to talk about it in a way that doesn't seem like a really stinging personal attack.

BERMAN: Yes. LIZZA: But it is something that's hanging out there that Democrats are going to have a conversation about --


LIZZA: -- and whether the gaffes are related to some kind of performance issue of someone who is well into his seventies. And I think that conversation, it's started and it's going to -- you know, it's something that voters definitely talk about.

BERMAN: And, Ryan, one last -- one last quote --


BERMAN: -- that I want to talk to you on the campaign because I think this is, again, very important --

LIZZA: Yes, just putting my earpiece in.

BERMAN: -- from the Biden perspective here.

You know, the argument that's made is Biden is just the most well- known. He's only leading in the polls because of name recognition. The Biden people bristle at this because they think that that's essentially saying that Biden supporters are quote, "Somehow, not smart enough to understand why they support him."

LIZZA: And I think that is a -- you know, I think it's a good point. It was an eye-opening point when I -- when I heard it because he does have the largest percentage of support from, say, the African-American community and from working-class Democrats.

Now, Bernie has a lot of working-class support, too. Bernie and Biden actually share a lot of voters in common -- or at least demographically.

But yes, there's this argument that hey, you're too stupid to know that you're supposed to be supporting Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg. When you are going to like wake up and realize it? And that's a big frustration of the Biden campaign.

And by the way, John, it's not true from the polling. Polling shows that the most politically-involved voters are -- the majority of them are supporting Biden.

BERMAN: Ryan Lizza, thanks so much for being with us. It is a fascinating piece this morning.

LIZZA: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: And as I said, it's the one that I've heard the most about over the last 24 hours. Thanks for being with us.

LIZZA: Hey, thanks, John. CAMEROTA: All right, coming up, we have another fascinating segment for you. The unseen fallout from the battle with ISIS. CNN's cameras go inside a refugee camp in Syria and hear about the fears of the next generation of ISIS fighters.



CAMEROTA: Now to some extraordinary CNN reporting. Our correspondent goes inside a refugee camp in Syria to meet the wives and children of ISIS members. The camp may become a terror incubator as radicalized women pass on ISIS' ideology to the next generation.

CNN's Arwa Damon went inside the camp. Here's what she heard.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called al-Hol, a camp that sprung from nowhere, now the size of a small town. The wind and sand mercilessly blow through the tents in the baking heat of the Syrian summer.

But it's the anger -- the seething hostility that strikes you. To step into this camp is to witness a strange mutation of the caliphate, kept alive by the widows and wives of ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are cells here, they are organized.

DAMON (voice-over): A spirit of vengeance seeps into the next generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I tell them your father was killed by the infidels.

DAMON (voice-over): Hatred and enmity is magnified by the wretched conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think it's a camp --

DAMON (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- but it's a prison.

DAMON (voice-over): It's a place in limbo, like no other refugee camp on earth, shunned by the international community.

Kurdish forces say this place is a ticking time bomb. An ISIS academy where its brutal ideology is incubated. They don't have the resources to keep control.

Many of the women here don't know where their husbands and teenage sons are. They tell us quite openly they're teaching their children to hate the infidels, who imprisoned and killed their fathers and brothers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If the prisoners aren't released, the hatred will go. The biggest ISIS cell will be the women. If the men aren't released, I will go crazy!

DAMON (voice-over): The camp's population swelled while ISIS was making its last stand not far from al-Hol. Many of the new arrivals have direct ties to ISIS. They were organized and quickly established their version of the moral police, terrorizing those who refused to wear the full veil.

Beneath the black uniformity, some women want nothing more than to leave. "I don't care if the Kurds or even the Americans who control my town," this woman pleads.

But there is no reintegration program. This is an open-air prison.

DAMON (on camera): What do you want?

GERMAN NATIONAL FEMALE, CAMP RESIDENT: I want to go home. Are you scared of -- from us?

DAMON (on camera): Should I be?

GERMAN NATIONAL FEMALE, CAMP RESIDENT: I'm just asking. A lot of people, that's why they're talking in our countries because they're scared to take us back.

DAMON (on camera): If they gave you an option, let's say, of creating another caliphate for you --


DAMON (on camera): No, you're done?

GERMAN NATIONAL FEMALE, CAMP RESIDENT: A lot of women, they think the same.

DAMON (voice-over): But few countries are repatriating their nationals.

The living conditions are horrendous. It's filthy. There's little access to medical care. Clean water is scarce, food is rationed.

A telegram chat group has turned this place into a cause for ISIS, referring to it as the al-Hol death camp, alleging atrocities by the pig enemies of Islam.

DAMON (on camera): There is a lot of propaganda here -- a lot of promoting of the ISIS ideology. But then, they're also using this platform to send messages.

DAMON (voice-over): It's where they posted this video -- the ISIS flag being raised inside the camp. That happened here in a part of the camp for Syrians.

[07:50:01] "It's the reaction to the psychological pressure on us," one woman says. "They should know that more can be done than the raising of a flag."

And more has been done. Foreign women here are no longer allowed to leave their annex and go to the market after two incidents when Kurdish guards were stabbed.

The more radicalized women threaten and terrorize those less devoted to ISIS. One woman says her tent was burnt down; another, that she's so afraid of being stabbed she barely sleeps at night.

Outside the camp, we get access to a prison -- a surreal scene. Former ISIS fighters painting and crafting paper-mache models.

This man says ISIS held his family hostage to coerce him to join. "ISIS gave me the bombs," he tells us, "and then showed me on WhatsApp how to plant them." He's serving 20 years, the maximum sentence.

In the crowded cell, some men say they never supported ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My cousin turned us in. He said we were ISIS. But he is an ISIS spy!

DAMON (voice-over): Others accept their fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I raised my hand. I said, "I am ISIS." I'm not scared. I'm here -- I will pay the price.

DAMON (voice-over): The Kurds are doing their best to separate the true believers from the rest.

In this rehabilitation center, there are scores of teenage boys. This 15-year-old was an ISIS fighter. His first mission, to plant explosives at a U.S. base.

He describes how they were given the bombs, weapons, and suicide vests. "We covered everything with the women's black niqab," he says, "so the jets in the sky would not target us."

The operation failed and he ended up in prison. "But even there, ISIS ruled," he says. "But at the rehab center, things are different."

"I've left ISIS behind," he tells us. "It was a mistake. I learned from it."

But the center barely reaches a fraction of the children indoctrinated. They're just aren't enough resources.

"If the situation stays like this and nations don't help, ISIS will come back," Musaab Khalaf, an administrator here, tells us. "We hear about it -- the sleeper cells. They take advantage of the children, trying to recruit them."

And the children are so vulnerable. They know nothing but conflict, destruction, and grief. Some have no parents, like this little boy. DAMON (on camera): He's just visiting his friends here -- his tent is

somewhere else. And he says that his mom was killed and his dad has been detained and it's just him and his siblings, the oldest of which is 16.

DAMON (voice-over): Children pay the price for the sins of their parents but, in turn, are preyed upon.

There's only so much Kurdish officials can do to contain the situation and there is shocking lack of international involvement here. The place is forgotten, the legacy of yesterday's war, and that makes it uniquely dangerous because if allowed to fester, this sprawling camp contains the seeds of the next war and ISIS' revenge generation.


DAMON: And there is no blueprint for the moral security or humanitarian challenge that al-Hol poses.

But one thing, John, was quite clear from our time there. The status quo cannot and should not be allowed to continue -- it's unsustainable. The children are running feral. There are no programs to try to begin to remove them from the ISIS ideology that is permeating every single facet of life in the camp.

And the longer people drag their feet -- nations try to continue to ignore what is happening there -- the more difficult it is going to become to even try to begin to reintegrate and rehabilitate the women and children of that camp.

BERMAN: It can't be ignored, Arwa. A combustible situation.

Thank you so much for going and seeing, yourself. As always, we appreciate your reporting.

All right. This morning, a new report is rocking the world of horse racing. Should last year's Triple Crown winner have been disqualified before even running his first race? That's next.



BERMAN: A brand-new story rocking the world of horse racing this morning. Justify won the Triple Crown last year, but should the horse have been disqualified before even running the Kentucky Derby for failing a drug test?

Andy Scholes with the latest in the "Bleacher Report." Andy, wow.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, wow, John is right. Good morning to you.

You know, I was at the Belmont Stakes when Justify won the Triple Crown. It was an awesome moment. But according to "The New York Times," Justify failed a drug test earlier that season that should have disqualified the horse from even competing for the Triple Crown.

Now, the "Times" reports that after winning the Santa Anita Derby and qualifying for the Kentucky Derby in the process, Justify tested positive for a banned substance. Now, that positive test should have resulted in a disqualification and removal from the Kentucky Derby.

But instead, the "Times" reports the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results after legendary trainer Bob Baffert asked for a second sample to be tested. By then, Justify had won the Kentucky Derby.

And according to the "Times," the board did not follow normal protocol. And then, in August, after Justify won the Triple Crown, decided in private to drop the.