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INSIDE POLITICS

Stabbing Attack Survivor Describes Fighting Back; Community Shares Shock, Grief After Attack At Rabbi's Home; Lawmakers Condemn The Spread Of Anti-Semitism; Mayor Pete Buttigieg Renews Attack On Joe Biden's Support For Iraq War; Iran Warns Of "Consequences" After U.S. Airstrikes. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 30, 2019 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia- Malika Henderson. John King is off.

Political leaders are looking for answers after two community suffered tax on people a face. The Trump Administration umpping up its actions to Iran holding up progress with North Korea and as 2019 winds down, a prayer this morning on Capitol Hill, from a Rabbi marking the end of the year with a message of hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RABBI ARNOLD RESNICOFF, U.S. NAVY CHPALIN (RET.): With this decades' last House prayer, we give thanks for progress. Look ahead with hope but with eyes wide open to prejudice, hatred, terror that remain fueling violence like the Anti-Semitic Hanukkah party attack Saturday, the Texas Church attack Sunday. We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome someday. And let us say amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And we begin this hour with this weekend's violent attacks on two communities of faith in America on Sunday at a church in White Settlement, Texas, worshippers were finished taking Holy Communion when a man opened fire in the sanctuary. The church's live stream captured the moment it happened, and I want to warn you this video is very disturbing.

The gun then killed two people before volunteer members of the church's security team returned fire and ended the attack. Meanwhile on Saturday evening at a Rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, the Rabbi had just finished a Hanukkah Candle Lighting Ceremony when an attacker entered the home and began hitting people with a machete.

One man tells CNN he immediately started helping people escape out the back door. He was trying to help another man who was wounded and bleeding when the attacker spotted him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEF GLUCK, SURVIVING STABBING ATTACK IN RABBI'S HOME: I ran out of the house and I saw he had an old guy. I came in grabbed a coffee table that was on the floor, hit him in his face, and that's when he came back outside after me. He told me, hey, you, I've got you. And he started walking towards me, and I was running. I was going before him like a few feet, screaming, he's coming, he's coming, so everybody could run away. He went almost to the door of the synagogue. He reached for the door. It was locked. He went to the next door, it was locked, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Eye witnesses managed to get the man's license plate and police arrested him about an hour later. Authorities have arraigned the suspect on five counts of attempted murder and one count of first degree burglary and he has pleaded not guilty.

CNN Correspondent, Brynn Gingras joins me live from Monsey. Brynn what a terrible devastating attack during Hanukkah and tell me what you're hearing from the community there?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you Nia that last night they celebrated the eighth night of Hanukkah. They didn't let this act that happened in the house right here behind me deter them from moving forward and taking a stance. That's really what we're seeing.

Keep in mind that we're in Monsey and this is a town in Rockland County. This county has the largest Jewish population per capita in the entire United States. This is a community that is certainly alarmed by this, they are on edge. You heard the Governor talking about all of the incidents that have happened in just the last few weeks.

They're taking precautions but police are also taking precautions. They're having people patrol around synagogues, places of worship and also just this community wants to make sure that they stick together. I've got to tell you, I was out here, Nia, and just a few moments ago there was a woman and her husband and their young son that pulled up. They got out of the car and they had a bouquet of flowers in their hands.

They are a Muslim family and they traveled all the way here from a different part of the state to say that we stand with you. It was a very poignant moment for them to come together and sort of pray together through this tragedy. Take a listen to what she said and why she said she had to come out here this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reason I'm here is because I read the news yesterday, and it was so shocking for me to read that these people are praying in their homes, celebrating in their homes and someone comes knocking on the door and wants to hurt them and did hurt them? It's beyond - it's beyond insanity. How much can we sink? (END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: She says she wishes more people would bring out flowers because of how this has really struck her personally.

[12:05:00]

GINGRAS: Now, investigators really quickly, I want to tell you, they don't have a motive just yet, they're not releasing one. Although the suspect's family has released a statement saying that this suspect has a history of mental illness, although investigators still conducting that investigation about what happened here on Saturday night? Nia.

HENDERSON: Brynn thanks so much for that very moving and touching report. Here to share their insights and their insights Josh Dawsey with "The Washington Post" Rachael Bade also with "The Washington Post" Tarini Parti with "The Wall Street Journal" Heather Caygle with "POLITICO."

Welcome, everyone. I feel like we've been around this table many, many times talking violence in America, whether it's gun violence, a knife attack here with those people who were celebrating Hanukkah. Josh Dawsey talks about the ways in which political leaders we've heard from so far are reacting to this?

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, we saw the President come out yesterday with a tweet saying that he condemned the violence. You have 2020 candidates across the trail who were talking about how they condemned it, what they felt should happen next? But really, it kind of remains to be seen how long this will stay in the news cycle and how much of an issue this will be on the campaign trail?

Certainly yesterday you had Biden and Buttigieg and Trump and all the others come out and say various things about the attack and how they had to stand together. You had Bernie Sanders obviously with the Menorah, last night in Iowa and in New York you had Bill De Blasio out lighting the Menorah, and Brooklyn was kind of a symbol of New York standing against it and Governor Cuomo.

But you know it's kind of been everyone together comes out on this. But you did also see some sniping. You saw some folks going after Rudy Giuliani and vice versa last night over some comments that he made about George Soros. You've seen various parts of it. But it's mainly been everyone together in this moment.

HENDERSON: And Governor Cuomo, of course, the New York Governor responding in this way to his attack in his state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR, NEW YORK: A motive now can just be hate. Hate is the new currency in this country. There is hate in politics. Everything is hate and anger. And there is no tolerance. There is no inclusiveness. We feel differences, we demonize differences, and that is what we are seeing over this past year, two years, all across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Really, I think a horrible assessment right in terms of where America is right now? Some numbers, though, to map this up in terms of Anti-Semitic violence on the rise across America. 13, Governor Cuomo says, in New York since December 8 and the ALD. You see the numbers there, somewhat down from 2017, but overall, a 99 percent increase in Anti-Semitic incidents from 2015 to 2018, Rachael.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. You know, the country has always struggled with problems of racism, Anti- Semitism and Islamophobia. But it certainly seems like in recent years things have become more violent. Their language has really heated up. And I mean people on the left will blame President Trump.

President Trump will say I'm just sticking up for the working class and Americans and wanting to see certain changes that resonate with them. But you just have to take a moment, I guess, at these points in time and say, what are we going to do about this? Is it decreasing the rhetoric or bringing it back?

I know on Capitol Hill we've heard lawmakers talk about domestic terrorism for a long time, the past few years, but they haven't gotten anywhere beyond hearings, and even then, they haven't had many on them. Like Josh said, these moments happen and then within a couple days, the new cycle has moved on.

HENDERSON: Will move on right.

BADE: Again, what are we going to do as a country?

HENDERSON: Two lawmakers here addressing the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG COLLINGS, (R-GA): It's very disturbing, especially Anti- Semitic trend we're seeing. We're seeing it frankly all over our country. We're seeing it even to the halls of Congress, the BDS movement.

REP. GARY PETERS, (D-MI): We're taking this up in the Homeland Security Committee. We've held hearings on what we see as increased domestic terrorism. This is terrorism often related to the insidious ideology of White Supremacy. You're seeing an Anti-Semitic rhetoric continued retched up around the country. We have got to condemn that and condemn it as aggressively as we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: So, Heather, there he talks about having hearings and condemning this rhetoric as aggressively as we can.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Minority Leader in the Senate, he's called for a top to bottom federal investigation and not just this but the uptick in these types of crimes. I checked with some sources this morning. There is talk about doing some kind of resolution, condemning this on the floor in the next couple weeks.

But again, when Congress gets back next week, we're going to be right back into discussion of an impeachment trial, will Nancy Pelosi send over the articles?

[12:10:00]

CAYGLE: And I think as Josh and Rachael has already said everybody's attention will go elsewhere almost immediately.

TARINI PARTI, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Right. The country is so politically divided right now, even in their statements they're trying to present a unified front, but it's hard to actually come together and do something about this.

HENDERSON: More prayers only with those communities of both in New York and Texas. Before we go to break, we want to share words of hope and love from two members of the Jewish Community. Both have survived violent attacks on their communities, and they say good will win in the end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLUCK: I believe we're all in God's hands. Nothing we can do will change it besides prayers and doing good deeds. That's the only thing that's going to change anything from evil to good.

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, SURVIVED TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE ATTACK IN 2018: There are so many good, decent, caring people out there, we lose sight of who they are and the impact they have on our lives because of evil acts like this. In the end, this sort of evil will never win because that's not who we are as human beings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:15:00]

HENDERSON: Bernie Sanders and Former Vice President Joe Biden both on the campaign trail at these hours. Sanders is speaking now he is West Des Moines, Iowa and Biden he is expected soon in Exeter, New Hampshire. The two canvas treating zingers this weekend after Sanders reprise and attack on Biden's voting record. Sanders told "The Los Angeles Times" editorial board that as a result of Biden's votes, "Trump will eat his lunch".

Biden responded that Senators Sanders can come and I'll give him some desert at the White House. It's not the first time that the two front runners have spared and while there are other attacks one is direct the verbal jousting went on all weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Same old-same old is not going to work, in my view. So when you have candidates out there without naming them you know who they are who have voted for terrible trade agreements, you don't think Trump will be talking about that?

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The last thing a nominee should do in the Democratic Party is to offer something that, in fact, they're not being authentic about that they know can't get done because Trump will eat them alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: CNN's Arlette Saenz has been following the Biden campaign closely and she joins our conversation. Arlette, a lot of talk about eating somebody's lunch and eating somebody alive, talk to me about Biden's record and how much do you think it will matter to voters?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I think that still - it remains to be clear how much of an emphasis voters are going to be placing on those votes that he talk--

HENDERSON: NAFTA being one of them--

SAENZ: --with NAFTA and his support of the authorizing the use of force in Iraq that is something that Bernie Sanders has repeatedly brought up, Pete Buttigieg also over the weekend trying to stress that's an issue for Biden. Biden, though, on the foreign policy front, he's really leaning into that and saying that his decades of experience in that area his connections with the world leaders are going to help him.

Right now I think what Sanders is trying to do and Pete Buttigieg is trying to do is, they're trying to draw these contrasts with Biden who is at the top of the most national polls but also highlight those liabilities that he could have as electability has been such a central argument for Biden and something that Democratic voters find to be very important heading into this election.

HENDERSON: And you talk about the polls. We have got a recent one from NBC and "The Wall Street Journal" Biden 28 percent, Sanders 21 percent, Warrens is at 18 percent and the rest of the field Buttigieg is at 9 percent there. Tarini, in some ways this is a flash back to 2016, right? The matchup between Sanders and Hillary Clinton why does Sanders think it might work this time?

PARTI: It's also a flashback to--

HENDERSON: 2008 yes exactly.

PARTI: --2008 frankly where Former President Obama used Hillary Clinton's vote on the Iraq War against her. But he's trying to position himself as different from Vice President Joe Biden on foreign policy using their Iraq War vote in particular he's brought it up several times in debates. This is the thing he says sets him apart from the Vice President who, like Arlette said, has been using his foreign policy experience, essentially his electability argument against the other candidates. HENDERSON: And Buttigieg doing the same thing as you are both said, I

mean, here he is and I think this is probably his most direct attack at Biden on foreign policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, certainly I respect the Vice President but this is an example of why years in Washington is not always the same thing as judgment. He supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime, which was the decision to invade Iraq.

Well, I think that anybody is qualified to run if they meet the basic constitutional threshold, then the voters get to decide. Part of what they're going to decide on is based on our judgment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: We haven't seen Mayor Pete Buttigieg do this on the debate stage. There is a debate coming up at some point next month. What do you make of this turn in the race?

BADE: Yes, he's clearly trying to push out Joe Biden from that center lane they are both competing for this where you have Sanders and Warren sort of battling for the support from the more progressive group of Democratic voters.

Obviously Mayor Pete sees going after Biden right now in his benefit in terms of going up in the polls. We saw for the past few weeks he has been really pointed in going after Warren, talking about Medicare for all and how you can't promise something to voters without saying how you're going to pay for it? We can't afford something like this you're going to lose your doctors but now going after Biden who, in a lot of things, he agrees with Biden on a lot of policy issues. This is his way of potentially moving up in the polls.

[12:20:00]

HENDERSON: And say there is time for sort of a fresh prospective of course he's been making the age argument. A lot of people, we've seen a bit of a trend at some of these Biden events, protesters showing up. Here is one interaction recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE)

BIDEN: I released 21 years of my tax returns. Your guy hasn't released one, what's he hiding? Just let him go. He's an idiot. As my mother would say, would you hush up for just a while? Okay? Be polite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: So Biden says "Be polite" after he calls the guy an idiot - if voters didn't catch all of that. There's something a bit Trumpian, right, about the way that Biden is interacting with some of these protesters, but again, he's also doing a call for the restoration of America's soul.

DAWSEY: Well, I think he's remained pretty durable, actually, Biden has. He's at the top of the poll.

HENDERSON: Right 28 percent.

DAWSEY: He's had a number of gaps we made comments that seemed that they would hurt other candidates. He has come under an onslaught of attacks by the President and folks around the President. You see more and more Democrats obviously now unleashing to him on his votes, on his decades on age, on qualifications.

There are all sorts of things that have come after him and he's still at the top of the polls. It's actually interesting to see how much can he withhold or withstand? How much can he take, heat coming in? The protestors I know Trump's orbit certainly sees him as a candidate who is not necessarily going away any time soon, and I think they are preparing for him to be around for many months to come.

HENDERSON: And some voters see that, those exchanges that he has with those protesters, and say, this is the guy who can take it to Donald Trump.

SAENZ: And I think it's really interesting the fact that Biden engages with these protesters.

DAWSEY: Right.

SAENZ: And oftentimes he'll say, let them say their piece. Leave them at the microphone let them say what they need to say. I do think you have that interaction right there with Ukraine which really is not that big of a protest issue. It's usually immigration or climate change when it comes to Biden's events.

But you'll remember that interaction he had last month when he was on his Iowa bus tour. For some voters that was the feistiness that they wanted to see from Biden that they hadn't seen on the debate stages yet.

HENDERSON: I think that's exactly right. We'll see where this goes I'm sure there will be more protestors at any number of events. Next, the mini 2020 foreign policy test for President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:00]

HENDERSON: Weekend airstrikes ordered by the President dramatically up the stakes with Iran, Iran warning of consequences today after American F-15 strike eagles bombed five separate targets in Syria and Iraq all linked to a Militia group. U.S. officials blame for attacks against American service members.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in West Palm Beach, Florida. Kaitlan, we saw that the President's top three National Security officials were in Mar-a-Lag over the weekend, and what do we know about their trip? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Nia, that was really interesting because they came down yesterday. They were only on the ground for about three hours in which the White House said they had discussions with the President, and then they made a brief statement to reporters for about three minutes, took no questions and then left.

That's the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And they came here they were meeting with the President during his vacation here in Palm Beach. But that came after the President had already been briefed by defense officials on these strikes on Saturday and approved them, and he was on the golf course while these strikes were being carried out.

Now while Pompeo described these as successful and Esper said that they were successful but could warn further military action and now you're seeing that response from that Militia Group today with the Commander warning that they could have a very tough response in response to what the United States did with these military strikes on these Iranian linked proxies.

And the question is whether or not this is going to tamp down these tensions you've seen playing out for the last several months, or whether or not it's going to escalate it. That's something that people will be keeping their eyes on. It's certainly something that the White House is going to be watching, but there are still questions about why those three officials did come to Palm Beach to deliver that statement seemingly at the last minute and for such a quick trip and then they were off the ground in three hours and headed back to Washington?

And those are questions that we're still looking for answers for, Nia?

HENDERSON: Kaitlan thanks so much for that report. We have got CNN Pentagon Reporter Ryan Browne who is going to join our conversation. Ryan, we want to go to you on this. Why now for these attacks? You heard Kaitlan sort of talk about the risks here. Is this an escalation that we'll see moving forward, or will it tamp down on some of the incidents that we've seen so far?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: I think the U.S. is very much hoping that this tamps things down. There had been a series of rocket attacks that the U.S. had blamed these Iranian proxy groups for. They had attempted diplomatic efforts. They had called their Iraqi counterparts trying to pressure them to kind of stop these attacks and it hadn't worked.