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Kamala Harris Aide Resign in Scathing Letter About Campaign; Several Stabbed in Terror Incident at London Bridge; A Famous American Climber Has Died After a Tragic Accident. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 29, 2019 - 13:30   ET



ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Never really defining a clear plan for winning in those early states. The campaign kind of wreaked havoc on a lot of people's lives, people who picked up and moved to these states or turned down other jobs in order to work for a candidate that they believed in.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: All right. And we'll see where this goes. We don't know where it'll end up. Alex Burns, thank you so much. I do recommend everybody read your piece in The New York Times, there is so much more insight that we couldn't cover in that short conversation. Thanks, Alex.

Back to our breaking news out of London now. A man stabbing several people near London Bridge before being shot dead by police. Officials there calling it, terror related. Plus, the Taliban undermines President Trump's surprise revelation. That peace talks have restarted.



CABRERA: Let's return to our breaking news. Police are investigating a terrorist incident at London Bridge near the financial district where a number of people were stabbed. We want to warn you that the video you are about to see is graphic. You see a cluster of people on the bridge. They are surrounding a man assumed to be the suspect there on the ground. Police are yelling move, move to get the public out of the way from here, we'll let the video play out.


CABRERA: The suspect died at the scene. CNN Europe Editor Nina dos Santos is at the scene for us. Nina what is the situation where you are now?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, well we're 4.5 hours after this incident occurred here at London Bridge. I'm standing on the south side of the River Thames, which means that round about 200 meters behind me is the start of London Bridge and it was this end of the bridge where that man was shot dead. As you can see they've just reopened the security cordons in just the

last five minutes or so, people finally managing to make their way back closer towards the River Thames and also into the big thoroughfare that is London Bridge station which has many, many hundreds of thousands of commuters that pass through its doors every single day. That station has been under lockdown for round about four hours and is now finally reopened.

A lot of people in the office buildings here as well have witnessed things firsthand. Throughout the course of the afternoon, I've been speaking to various eyewitnesses who've been saying that the moment they realized that it was gunshots, there was just sheer panic and people being evacuated from these buildings coming right down the street that included mothers with young children who are out Christmas shopping, tourists and also, as I was saying before people who were just getting on with their day-to-day lives be it trying to do some Black Friday shopping or otherwise just on their lunch break here from work.

So, what's the latest that we know, the metropolitan police gave a statement about two hours ago saying that as you mentioned Ana, they're treating this as a terrorist related incident, they're keeping an open mind as to the motivation of this individual, but they say that he was essentially targeted and shot dead by two city of London specifically trained and armed police officers when they realized that he was wearing what appears to have been a hoax suicide vest in that video you saw two brave members of the public tackle this individual before.

A number of people have sustained potentially very serious knife wounds as a result of this this situation. And we don't know what condition they're in as yet. Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Still have a lot of questions especially the motive. And again, the condition of those victims. Thank you very much, Nina dos Santos. The Taliban today is undermining President Trump's surprise announcement that peace talks have been restarted that the White House now what they're saying about all this. Plus, Lindsey Graham once called Joe Biden the nicest guy in politics. Now he wants them investigated. What's behind the change of heart?



CABRERA: President Trump is just back from Afghanistan where he touted American progress against the Taliban and said that the group now badly wants to make a deal.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Taliban wants to make a deal. And we're meeting with them and we're saying it has to be a ceasefire. They didn't want to do a ceasefire, but now they do want to do a ceasefire. I believe it will probably work out that way.


CABRERA: The President saying there that the U.S. is meeting with the Taliban right now, but then this morning the Taliban responded to CNN saying, "Our policy regarding peace talks is same as it was. If America wants, talks would resume from the point where they stopped." Samantha Vinograd is here with me now.

Sam, the White House now trying to clarify things. They say there has been sporadic contact with the Taliban and that they're in the process of restarting talks here. Do you think the President just got ahead of himself or is there more to it?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER ON NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this wouldn't be the first time that President Trump was overly optimistic about getting a deal with the Taliban but on having worked on these negotiations oftentimes there are talks about restarting talks. And oftentimes both sides have unofficial discussions which we understand the Taliban and U.S. negotiators have had since last weekend to lay out the preconditions for launching official talks in official channel, which in this case would be led by Zalmay Khalilzad, Ambassador Khalilzad. If that official track restarts.

So, President Trump likely was expressing his optimism or an optimistic scenario about talks restarting, but he would benefit himself and our team by consulting with them about the state of these talks and not trying to get too far ahead of his skis.

CABRERA: And as far as troops on the ground there in the state of our American forces and the numbers left there, President has talked about bringing more home, but also says that that would not necessarily happen until there is a deal.


Made with the Taliban. Can the U.S. safely bring all U.S. troops home if there is a deal made with the Taliban?

VINOGRAD: Well, on a troop, there are Trump card in these negotiations. The Taliban wants to see a U.S. withdrawal and we are asking the Taliban to basically renounce terrorism as part of the agreement. There's an inconvenient truth though, the United States has already started drawing down our troop presence in Afghanistan just over the last year. We've been rotating troops out and not replacing them.

So, the Taliban does know that while we still have a significant troop presence, we have already started diminishing really our leverage in these negotiations. So, we are not in the same position as we were in September when we were looking at an agreement with the Taliban because we have less troops and also because the top Taliban knows that President Trump is heading into an election year. He campaigned on bringing these troops out. And so, from that perspective, I don't think we have the same balance of power in these negotiations as we did just a few months ago. CABRERA: The President will head to the NATO Summit this next week and it comes on the heels of this announcement that the U.S. is going to cut back on the funds and the money spent for NATO. What do you see as the impact going into these meetings? Will that complicate things?

VINOGRAD: Well, it certainly will. What will complicate it more is the notion or the idea which the Taliban knows, NATO knows, North Korea knows that President Trump is willing to cut and run from conflicts like in Syria or from commitments with NATO. It is worth noting that the commitment that we are diminishing with NATO is for really their operational budget. We give money directly to NATO for operational purposes and then we spend a certain percentage of our GDP on defense spending, which is our other way of contributing to NATO.

But overall Ana, I think any partner whether an ally or an enemy knows that President Trump makes these really spontaneous decisions often against the advice of his experts, his security professionals, his lead negotiators and that is a reality for any discussion that President Trump is going to enter into.

CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

CABRERA: Happy Friday.


CABRERA: Some sad news out of Mexico. A famous American climber has died after a tragic accident. We'll explain what happened. And a pattern develops of Trump officials saying, he is the chosen one sent by God. We'll discuss.



CABRERA: One of the world's most acclaimed rock climbers Brad Gobright has died. Officials say, Gobright fell nearly a thousand feet to his death while climbing a popular cliff in Northern Mexico. Rescuers retrieved his body Thursday and treated his climbing partner for injuries. A friend of the man, Gobright was climbing with says the climbers were doing a short repel when their rope got stuck causing them both to fall.

Gobright's partner crashed into a bush and survived, but Gobright fell past him and over a ledge. You'll recall Gobright appeared in the Oscar winning documentary Free Solo. Sad news.

What's not to like. How about the nicest man in politics? Those were the words Senator Lindsey Graham used to describe former Vice President Joe Biden at one time. But now, the Senate Judiciary Chairman is asking the State Department for documents related to Biden and his son and their dealings in Ukraine. It wasn't too long ago that Graham seemed to have a very different opinion.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person that's probably you've got a problem. You need to do some self- evaluation, what's not to like. Here's what I can tell you. That life can change just like that. Don't take it for granted. Don't take relationships for granted. I called him after Beau died. And he basically said, well, Beau was my soul. We've talked for a long time. He came to my ceremony and said some of the most incredibly heartfelt things that anybody could ever say to me. And he's the nicest person I think I've ever met in politics.


CABRERA: Joining us now is former Congressman Charlie Dent. Congressman, what's your reaction when you hear Graham's sentiment towards Biden then compared to what we're seeing now.

CHARLIE DENT, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think what's happened is Lindsey Graham is clearly very focused on his primary election in South Carolina. I think it's as simple as that. I don't think there's any other explanation. One can make an argument that you know Hunter Biden's relationship with Burisma was - it certainly doesn't pass the smell test. Nobody is suggesting it was illegal or criminal, but maybe they want to look at it. But I think it really does speak to Lindsey Graham's very desperate about the primary in South Carolina. There's no other explanation.

CABRERA: And it's interesting because at the time he was saying those words he was in another election campaign it was as he was hoping to be the 2016 Republican presidential candidate. I had a chance to interview that reporter that was with Graham that day. Here's what he said.


SCOTT CONROY, HUFFINGTON POST CORRESPONDENT: And so Lindsey Graham at the end of the day, I think decided well, I can either continue to do this kind of one man show that no one seems to be paying much attention to or I can be relevant and I think that was the word that he used in that profile in New York Times. The end of the day he decided that he wanted to be relevant and that was more important.


To him than saying what he actually believes.


CABRERA: So, I'm not sure if it's the same thing as what you've been saying. This idea of Graham trying to stay relevant or is it?

DENT: Well, certainly I think he does want to stay relevant, but it would be unfair to suggest that Lindsey Graham is the only Republican who had made very harsh statements about Donald Trump as a candidate. I mean Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry. I could go down a long list of people who have been somewhat supportive or very supportive or somewhat supportive of this President, who made extraordinarily harsh statements.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was another one. They've all spoken this way. The question is, did they mean what they said then or do they mean what they're saying now. I mean that's really what this is about and so Lindsey is just one and all of a long list of people.

CABRERA: Do you think he meant what he said then/

DENT: I think he did, and I think a lot of those other folks meant what they said too. But as you suggested earlier on, I think relevance does matter to many some want to be in the game. I have been critical of the President too when he was a candidate and frankly, I didn't say things nearly as harsh as they did. But I actually meant what I said, and I haven't changed my opinion. Others obviously have, because I think many people do like to be close to power and it's important to them.

CABRERA: And you decided you're no longer into the political realm at least at the moment, you decided to leave. I want you to listen to what Democratic 2020 candidate Michael Bloomberg's campaign manager said about impeachment.


KEVIN SHEEKAY, MICHAEL BLOOMBERG'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There about 31 congressional districts in this country that are swing districts. Mike Bloomberg spent an enormous amount of money and time and his own leadership to focus on 24 of those races last year, all Republican. We elected 18 Democrats, 15 of them are women.

But if you're in one of those districts today and you're a moderate member of Congress, almost all of them would tell you today, these impeachment hearings are threatening their re-election. Now if you think about that. Those are the districts to where we tilt the presidential election which by definition means, hey, listen, these impeachment proceedings are making the President's re-election more likely not less likely.


CABRERA: Do you think the impeachment proceedings are helping Trump in 2020?

DENT: Ana, I think the politics of impeachment are still a bit unclear. Nobody is quite sure how this will play. I think certainly those House Democrats in those swing seats are exposed to some real risk. It's not clear how much. Some more than others. You know that the congressman from South Carolina and Utah and Oklahoma for example, I'm sure are at much greater risk than some others or in marginal district.

By the same token, I would argue Senate Republicans from swing states think Maine Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona are also at great risk during this whole impeachment process. So, this cuts both ways.

CABRERA: Some Trump supporters we've heard call the President the chosen one sent by God including Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Listen.


RICK PERRY, ENERGY SECRETARY: I said Mr. President I know there are people that say you know you said you were the chosen one. And I said, you were.


CABRERA: Congressman do you think this is one reason many conservatives stand by Trump?

DENT: Well, I find it absolutely head slapping that people could be so swayed by demagoguery that they could actually almost worship this man as if he were some kind of a god. I mean whatever happened to a healthy skepticism about politicians. I mean this is just the most absurd thing I have ever heard, it's ridiculous. It's an insult to the actual chosen one whoever that may be that we would suggest that Donald Trump is the chosen one.

I mean this is where I think people have to really get about - get their senses back and be skeptical of politicians. I'm not saying being cynical just be somewhat skeptical. I mean this is it just absurd that people would say this.

CABRERA: Former Congressman Charlie Dent, great to have you. Two for two this week. I'm so grateful that you're willing to join us on this holiday week. Best to you. Happy Friday.

DENT: Oh, thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Thanks.

DENT: Thank you.

CABRERA: That's it for me for now. Newsroom with Ryan Nobles starts next. Thank you so much for being here.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: Good afternoon. I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Brooke Baldwin in a special edition of Newsroom. And we're following breaking news out of London. What police are calling a terrorist incident in the heart of the capital that unfolded in broad daylight.

Several people were injured when a man wearing a hoax explosive device strapped it to his body and went on a stabbing rampage near London Bridge in packed central London. Now, we do want to warn you the images you're about to see.