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Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield

U.S. Sailors Released; Race for the White House; Cruz Citizenship; ISIS Trains Children. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 13, 2016 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, understandably. All right, Ryan Young, thanks so much.

And thank you all for joining us "AT THIS HOUR."

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: LEGAL VIEW Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

Breaking news and brand-new images from overseas where 10 United States sailors, one of them a woman, are now back in safe hands now, no longer on their ship. In fact, they are on shore. And, more importantly, they're no longer in Iran. These pictures appeared on Iranian state television showing the U.S. sailors' hands on their heads and on their knees, surrendering, being taken into custody by the Iranians. They were in custody for all of 16 hours, but it is all over now except for the politics of it. Nobody hurt, but still it's not clear what happened that caused Iran to insist that two U.S. Navy boats drifted into their territory.

A couple of things encouraging, in fact, from both the American and the Iranian governments. Listen to the words of the two country's top diplomats. Secretary of State John Kerry about an hour ago.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I also want to thank the Iranian authorities for their cooperation and quick response. These are always situations which, as everybody here knows, have an ability, if not properly guided, to get out of control. And I'm appreciative for the quick and appropriate response of the Iranian authorities.


BANFIELD: Kerry's counterpart in Iran has a similar attitude about this. Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister tweeted, quote, "happy to see dialogue and respect, not threats and impetuousness, swiftly resolved the sailors episode. Let's learn from this latest example."

I want to go directly now to the Pentagon where our Barbara Starr is standing by with more about what happened in a moment. But first, talk to me a little bit about the optics of the video that

we're seeing that played out on Iranian television. It's disconcerting to say the least.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Ashleigh. Look, I can tell you, around the Pentagon hallways, military personnel are looking at these pictures and are really dismayed. This is not what Americans, of course, you know, in any way want to see American military personnel on their knees, hands behind their head, disarmed at the behest of the Iranian military. But fully understanding that this is the most aggressive part of the Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, that took the sailor. And, you know, as difficult as it may be for some to understand, it's actually a fairly standard maritime procedure when you board a boat that is not your personnel and not one of your close allies, generally you put the crew on its knees, you take their weapons, you make sure they're not a threat. The U.S. Navy has done this repeated times when it's boarding, albeit pirate ships or potential smuggling ships in the Persian Gulf. Still, as you say, Ashleigh, the optics of seeing these pictures, very disconcerting for Americans to see. Not what they wanted to see.

But, you know, a big sigh of relief that the diplomatic side worked in this case and that these sailors were fairly quickly returned. All indications are they were given food, water, blankets. They were treated respectably. No mistreatment of them. But now the big question is, how did this happen? How did these two small Navy boats manage to, by all accounts, drift into Iranian territorial waters? What do the sailors know about this? They are being debriefed. There's an investigation going on trying to figure it all out.

BANFIELD: So that's a big mistake. And as they do that investigation and figure out the mechanics of it, what about just the diplomacy of it. It's odd to talk to someone at the Pentagon about the diplomacy of this, but it's critical. And there's a lot of talk in Iran about America apologizing, and yet Secretary of State John Kerry said he didn't apologize. Is it possible that the sailors themselves did so?

STARR: We - you know, it's fascinating that you asked that because I asked that very question. As you say, Secretary of State John Kerry said he didn't apologize. I believe Vice President Biden has come out on this point because their contention is, it was inadvertent, it was accidental. The Iranian government agrees to that. Nothing to apologize for.

What we do not know, however, is if one of these young sailors, you know, perhaps did say to one of the Iranian personnel, you know, sorry this happened, we apologize that, you know, we drifted into your space. We simply don't know that yet. But the actual facts are, in a maritime environment, when you have a ship disabled, if this boat was disabled, and when you have sailors, you know, go astray with their navigation, there's a very standard maritime procedure. You render aid and then you send them on the way.

[12:05:11] BANFIELD: Yes.

STARR: No apology should be required. It happens more frequently than many of us know.


STARR: It happens in the commercial maritime environment, you know, fairly often. So everybody understands this is the way it's supposed to work. It makes those pictures we saw even more disconcerting perhaps.

BANFIELD: And you just don't often get the pictures of that standard operating procedure, but I understand.

All right, Barbara, thank you for that. I do appreciate it. Barbara reporting live at the Pentagon.

There will be political fallout because politics is the - well, it's the order of the day. We're less than three weeks away until the Iowa caucuses now, folks, and Ted Cruz is now sitting atop a brand-new poll, but Donald Trump is hot on his heels. Signs now indicating that Trump's latest birther attacks against Cruz may actually be hitting their mark and hurting that Texas senator. "Des Moines Register"/Bloomberg poll showing Cruz with 25 percent support, which is a six point dip over last month's results.

In the meantime, Trump is in second place with 22 percent and he's now comfortably within that all-important margin of error. And one name that we have not mentioned with regard to this poll is Jeb Bush. That's because the former Florida governor is in sixth place. He addressed his numbers earlier today on CNN's "New Day."


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not deterred by polls at all. I'll let the voters decide this. And they always decide late. I saw a poll that - about "The Des Moines Register" poll, for example, that 57 percent of the people haven't decided yet. So there's a long way to go. And my case is that I have a proven record, a conservative record of reform. That if you want someone to fix the mess in Washington, D.C., I have the proven record to do it and detailed plans to lift us out of the mess that we're in.


BANFIELD: So, despite those comments, the hits just keep on coming for Bush. A new poll shows him at his lowest poll among Republicans, with less than half of them saying that they have a favorable impression of him.

I want to take you now to the Democratic side of the things in this race. We're seeing Senator Bernie Sanders starting to gain a narrow edge over Hillary Clinton in Iowa. That according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. The former secretary of state is now addressing these brand new numbers, while also continuing her attacks on Senator Sanders, especially when it comes to gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a loophole. My opponent voted for it, Senator Sanders, that at the end of three days, business days, you get that gun whether they have finished the background check or not. The killer in Charleston who bought that gun, if there had just been a little more time, it would have been discovered he should not have been able to buy the gun because he had a federal record. We have saved a lot of lives. I can't put an exact number on it. But because of the Brady Bill, which Senator Sanders voted against five times, more than 2 million people, the Brady campaign says 2.4 million purchasers have been stopped are from buying guns.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Let's talk about the tightening race between you and Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders was speaking to reporters on Monday night here in Iowa and he said your campaign is in, quote, "serious trouble." Is that how you feel?

CLINTON: Not at all. In fact, I have always known that if you're going to run to be president, particularly in the Democratic Party, it's a long, hard, challenging road. And so I've been in these elections before. They always tighten up as people begin to make up their mind, as they look at the candidates. Totally predictable.


BANFIELD: Our thanks to Alisyn Camerota, our CNN "New Day" anchor, for that exclusive interview.

In the meantime, Senator Sanders is talking and taking shots of his own. Here's what he has to say about Clinton's attacks on him and the issue of gun control.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I stand with the president on gun issues.

Secretary Clinton, obviously now, feels herself in trouble. We started this campaign at 2 percent in the polls. Some polls now have us winning in Iowa and New Hampshire. So I think, you know, that it's fine that she wants to pick on this issue. I'm going to - you know, as I said, we are going to - I said several months ago, we are going to work on changing that legislation. But, you know what, there are one or two other issues that impact the American people.


BANFIELD: Senator Sanders speaking with our Dana Bash live on Capitol Hill, the taped version of that you've seen for yourself.

I want to talk more about this 2016 race dynamic with CNN contributor and former South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers. Also joining us, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp.

Welcome to the both of you. Bakari, if I could start with you. I want to talk a little bit about Cruz and the slip that he has had. It looked like he was run away with Iowa. And now if these numbers are to show anything, not so fast. Is this because Donald Trump went after him on where he was born?

[12:10:05] BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean we see that throughout this campaign, throughout this race, whoever Donald Trump attacks, they fall down a little bit. And Ted Cruz is now the victim - I say victim loosely - of these birther attacks, and he hasn't come up with a good enough answer for the public and the voting public in Iowa. Ted Cruz has to win Iowa and the Republican Party needs somebody other than Donald Trump to win Iowa because we know when he starts in New Hampshire, where he's up, been up since June or July, when he comes to South Carolina, where he's been up since June or July, that Trump train or Trump-mentum (ph) will be (INAUDIBLE) his head and it looks like Donald trump is, you know, going to be the next nominee for the Republican Party.

BANFIELD: So how about this number, and I'm going to pop this up on the screen if I can. It's - it's about those who have made up their minds and have decided for sure what they're going to do. Fifty-six percent of likely GOP caucus goers say they haven't made up their minds, or that they may actually change it once they go into those caucuses on those - those cold nights in the dead of winter.

You know what, S.E., it would be great if you could jump in on this. We have seen numbers shift before. We have seen polls be completely wrong, especially in a place like Iowa and it's all about a debate. It's not about showing up and clicking a box.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And also in that poll is a total contradiction of what Bakari said. Eighty-three percent of caucus-goers, Republicans, said they are unbothered by the fact that Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American woman. So I don't really think we should give Donald Trump credit for, you know, taking on Ted Cruz's eligibility, which most people don't think is an issue.

He has tried to other-ize (ph) candidates in Iowa, like Ben Carson, Cruz again, and it really hasn't worked. I think he proves over and over again that while he's very good at counter punching against other candidate elsewhere in the country, he does really understand the way Iowa voters think. They are not afraid, for example, of Ben Carson's Seventh Day Adventism. They are not afraid that Ted Cruz is somehow a foreigner. Iowa caucus-goers take these elections and these caucuses very seriously and they won't be told by anyone who to vote for, whether that's Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. So I think, like Jeb says, these polls are a little tough to read this early out.

BANFIELD: Well, I'll tell you what, I'm glad you brought it up. A little later on in the program, S.E., we're actually going to have a constitutional scholar on who's come up with something very unique and very intriguing and it doesn't bode well, actually, for Ted Cruz. I sort of pshawed the whole thing thinking it was all settled affairs, but she has a great point to make. We're going to dig into it.

Before I do that, I want you both to comment real briefly, if you will, on Governor Nikki Haley and, you know, with her, you know, rebuttal to the State of the Union suggesting Republicans share some of the blame in the intense partisanship that's developed.

Bakari, I want to get your thoughts on that, whether it's going to backfire among those who are really - you know, they love Trump because he doesn't apologize for this stuff.

SELLERS: Well, definitely. I think Nikki Haley and Paul Ryan - I felt like Paul Ryan's fingertips were all over that Nikki Haley speech last night. What we're starting to see are two Republican Parties here. We're starting to see a new Republican Party of these Trump voters that are really angry and despondent, and then you see the establishment trying to get their party back in saying that the divisiveness is not going to win the day.

I've been the biggest Nikki Haley critic, but I have to say, last night, she did a great job in getting her message across. Doesn't necessarily match her record, but, yes, she did a great job last night. And, yes, I think that we're going to see this struggle.

BANFIELD: OK. S.E., can you weigh in briefly?

CUPP: Yes, I mean, the idea that all Republicans are perfect and all Democrats are jerks is just lunacy. And it, you know, it's amazing that today acknowledging that, you know, Republicans aren't perfect is courageous.


CUPP: That's really - I mean, that's shocking and very sad. But Nikki Haley did a great job in pointing out that there is a path between Obama's sort of fantasyland version of where the country is and Trump's dystopian, you know, barbarians at the gate version. There is a middle ground here and I think she speaks for a lot of Republicans when she pointed that out.

BANFIELD: All right, to the two of you, thank you so much. S.E. Cupp, always nice to see you.

SELLERS: Thank you.

CUPP: You too.

BANFIELD: And, Bakari Sellers, right back at you. I love having you guys on. Smart talk about tough topics.

Coming up next, another really tough topic. It's not as easy as you once thought, folks. Ted Cruz says his citizenship is a non-issue in the presidential campaign, and a lot of people agree. So why is he still being pounded day after day about being born in the neighbor to the north, Canada. Is there really a chance that he could be ruled ineligible for the presidency? There is a constitutional law professor who has written extensively about this and she says absolutely yes.

Coming up, also ahead, is there a chance that you could be a billionaire just 11 short hours from now? You bet there is. It is a teeny, teeny, tiny, tiny, itsy bitsy chance that every one of these people thinks it's still a chance. The odds are against you. We're going to give you tips on how to spend that jackpot and, maybe better, grow it if you win it.


[12:19:22] BANFIELD: With the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away, Donald Trump is doubling down over Senator Ted Cruz's citizenship. Clearly one of the first things on Trump's mind this morning as he tweeted out early, "sadly there is no way that Ted Cruz can continue running in the Republican primary unless he can erase doubt on eligibility. Dems will sue."

Well, Cruz is hanging on to his three-point lead over Trump in Iowa in a new "Des Moines Register"/Bloomberg Politics poll where 83 percent of likely caucus-goers also said that they're really just not bothered by all of this. Cruz, I will remind you, was born in Canada, but his mother is American. And while Cruz is a U.S. citizen, automatically in fact, the Constitution says you have to be a, quote, "natural-born citizen." And that natural-born is really the issue in order to be eligible for the office of the president.

[12:20:17] So what does that mean, natural-born? And does Cruz fit the definition? A lot of people say absolutely, and a lot of people say not so fast. One of them is Mary Brigid McManamon and she's a constitutional law professor at Widener University's Delaware Law School. She thinks this debate is actually going to be a legal issue for Cruz in the days and the months ahead.

Mary, thank you so much for being with us,

First and foremost, why is there such a discrepancy on what scholars, like yourself, believe to be the truth about the world "natural-born" and why it maybe doesn't attach to Ted Cruz?

MARY BRIGID MCMANAMON, LAW PROFESSOR, WIDENER LAW DELAWARE: Well, the term natural-born comes from the common law. And to dig that up and what it means takes a considerable amount of research going back to 1350. Unfortunately, most of the scholars who have written on this haven't felt like going back that far, and so they come up with very facile, inaccurate definitions of what the law is. The actual law says common - the common law says, natural-born citizens are those born in the territory of the United States.

BANFIELD: So I want to put up some of these statutory laws, because as you said it, there is a difference between common law and statutory law. And America's first United States naturalization statute, which was actually passed in 1790, says, "the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea or out of the limits of the United States shall be considered as natural-born citizens." But before we go too fast here, that was actually repeal and replaced in 1995 with the Naturalization Act -


BANFIELD: Oh, excuse me, in 1795, which has the same language but for the last clause. So let's read it. The children of the United States - "the children of citizens of the United States born out of the limits of the United States shall be considered as citizens of the United States," not natural-born. So if you look at the last line of both of those clauses, let's pop that up, you can see very clearly what happened between 1790 and 1795. They took out natural-born in front of the word citizens. Doesn't that tell you - by the way, that was Madison. So if you want to talk about the framers.

MCMANAMON: That's correct.

BANFIELD: And the originals, doesn't that tell you his intent was to absolutely wipe out natural-born as a possibility?

MCMANAMON: That's correct. He - first of all, when you look at the comments of the congressman on the 1790 statute, it's clear that they believed the children born in Europe or elsewhere to American parents were not citizens, and so they had to be provided for. Several commentators who have studied this believe that the natural-born in the 1790 statute was actually a drafting error. However you put it, 1795, Madison who drafted the Constitution, gets his hands on it, takes out the natural-born.

BANFIELD: It's all very chewy and very nerdy, but this is exactly the kind of stuff that people like to deal with, and it's certainly all the way up to the Supreme Court. So I'm fascinated by it and I appreciate your time and your smarts. Thank you so much. Mary Brigid McManamon, nice to have you.

MCMANAMON: My pleasure.

BANFIELD: Coming up next, convincing children to kill their parents. Who would do such a thing? Well, how about ISIS. This is happening every day. They are recruiting children and turning those children against their own families and turning them into terrorists. We're going to show you the mechanics of this, next.


[12:28:01] BANFIELD: Very little is shocking anymore about ISIS. The terror group's cruel tactics they use to intimidate and control people and territory is very well documented. But the savagery that is subhuman and sickening. And now we're seeing pretty solid evidence that they are using kids as soldiers and as suicide bombers. And we're talking kids who are kindergarten age. They're showing up now in ISIS propaganda videos. And CNN has had a chance to meet with one of them who was able to escape. Here's Nima Elbagir.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five-year-old Sarah was captured alongside her mother by ISIS. Now free, when her parents aren't looking, she runs to cover her face. It's what their ISIS captors taught her at gunpoint.

El Faro (ph) Institute in Raqqa, ISIS claims it is their main child soldier training facility. "To jihad, to jihad," they're chanting. In this propaganda video spread out on either side of an ISIS trailer, blank faced rows of children sit. One boy shakes visibly. Others, unable to raise their gaze. These are the so-called cubs of the caliphate, ISIS' army of child soldiers. "And by God's grace," he's saying, "in the coming days they will be at the front lines of the fight against the nonbelievers."

The Guera (ph) front line, south of the Kurdistan regional capital (INAUDIBLE), the Peshmerga commander tells us this is one of their most contested front lines.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Just the other side of that river there, that's where he says the ISIS positions are, just the other side of that broken bridge. And it's from there, he says, that desperate children are fleeing, making their way through that river, swimming through the river, undercover of dark, risking their lives to make it here to safety.

[12:30:10] ELBAGIR (voice-over): But not all manage to escape.