Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Belgium Terror Attacks; Inside Brussels Airport During Attacks; Ted Cruz Talks Trump & Terror Attacks. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 23, 2016 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: For president themselves say this is a wakeup call, that you people on the Democratic side of the ball won't even call this what it is. You know you play PC with this. You don't want to waterboard. You don't want to be tough. That's what Trump says. Ted Cruz says, you won't even call it radical Islam. And until we get straight with the threat, we will always be vulnerable, more vulnerable than we need to be. Fair criticism?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: No, I don't think so at all and, in fact, I think the comments of Cruz and Trump would essentially catalyze a movement in this country to create the kind of problem that they have in Europe. If you put the entire Muslim community under the glare of suspicion, if you insulate that community, if you make that community suspect, as those comments of Cruz and Trump I think would do, then you've got a situation where those communities become very insular. They don't cooperate with law enforcement. They do shelter people who are the subject of scrutiny and concern.

We have been very fortunate in this country to have a well-integrated Muslim population that has a good relationship by and large with law enforcement. They are part of the answer, not part of the problem in the United States. But those kind of stigmatizing comments, that kind of suspicion that Cruz and Trump want to place on an entire religion, is exactly, I think, the kind of problem that Europe has had and not something we ought to emulate here.

CUOMO: Congressman, thank you very much. Appreciate having you on NEW DAY, as always.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Mic.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: So what was it like to be at that Brussels airport at that very moment that terror struck? Up next, we're going to speak with an American couple that lived to tell about it.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Belgium's federal prosecutor came out with an update just moments ago that we brought you live on the terror attacks here in Brussels. He says one of the brothers whose blew himself up was actually the suicide bomber at the train station. The subway station. We hadn't gotten an update on that previously. The other, the prosecutor says, detonated himself at the airport.

[08:35:10] A new arrest was also made this morning in connection with the attacks, but we do not have any information on that person's identity. We have learned that these attackers have definitive links to the Paris attacker who was captured in Belgium last week.

Also, we wanted to update you on the death toll. It has risen to 31 people now dead, 271 injured. Many more, of course, scarred emotionally from what they saw. Two of the people who were at the airport while all of this happened are Denise and Andrew Brandt. They were originally - are originally from Arizona. They were on a layover inside the airport at the time of the attack and they join us now.

Thank you very much for being here.

You were traveling from Bangkok to Liberia.


CAMEROTA: And you had a layover and you were killing time in the duty free shop, as so many people do. And then, Denise, what did you hear?

D. BRANDT: We walked out of the store and we heard and felt a loud explosion. It kind of reverberated through our bodies. We knew immediately that it was an explosion.

CAMEROTA: How did you know? So many people have said, I didn't know if it was construction. Other people said they didn't know what had happened. How did you know immediately that it was an explosion?

D. BRANDT: I lived and worked in Afghanistan as the country director for Japigo (ph), an international NGO that works to save the lives of mothers and their families. And so having lived there for so long, I, unfortunately, had experienced explosions before.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, so, Andrew, what was the scene after that? After you knew it was an explosion, then describe the scene around you.

ANDREW BRANDT, WITNESSED BELGIUM AIRPORT ATTACKS: We had people trickling in towards us, away from the explosion, crying and on their cell phones. But the terminal we were in, people were just calm like any other airport.

CAMEROTA: And how do you explain their calmness?

A. BRANDT: I think they had no idea what was going on. Even after, you know, they made a first announcements of evacuate, they made that four times.

CAMEROTA: So you heard an evacuation announcement over the loud speaker and what language was it in?

A. BRANDT: It was in English.

CAMEROTA: It was in - D. BRANDT: But it took a while for that announcement. In fact, we had time to sit down and get on the Internet and send out a message that there was an explosion and we were safe. So it did take a while before that first announcement came through.

CAMEROTA: You two are obviously world travelers. You have lived in Afghanistan. You are traveling to and from Liberia, Bangkok. How do you - what do you tell yourself nowadays as you go through airports and you go to different countries?

A. BRANDT: It's anywhere and anytime.

CAMEROTA: You believed that this could happen anywhere at any time.

A. BRANDT: Anywhere, any time.

CAMEROTA: You don't think it was particular to Brussels?

A. BRANDT: No, not at all.

CAMEROTA: And, Andrew, you are a former police officer from the United States.

A. BRANDT: Right.

CAMEROTA: In Ohio and Arizona. And so how do you reconcile that? What do you do" How do you go on with your life and your job thinking it could happen anywhere at any time?

A. BRANDT: And my mindset is the same, more heightened, in the sense of, you know, being in a - in Europe or anywhere in the world, you know. And this experience has made me now think the United States, it's that - it hits close to home in that aspect.

CAMEROTA: Why - why do you think that this is just as likely in the United States?

A. BRANDT: They came into Brussels and they're threatening everybody. And, look, 9/11 and now here. It could happen anywhere.

D. BRANDT: Also I think that, you know, it's happened in Turkey. It's happened in places in Africa. (INAUDIBLE) recently. Attacks in Mali. I mean it - it is happening increasingly all around the world. So I don't think any place is immune. But at the same time, we can't live our lives in fear worrying about what might happen. You know you - you have to be extra vigilant and aware of your surroundings, but you have to live your life. And, unfortunately, it's the new norm.

CAMEROTA: It's the new normal. I mean that's what we hear people say. And that's what we feel here out in the public square. People are not inside. They have come back out.


CAMEROTA: A day later, people are going back to work. I've seen mothers pushing baby strollers out here. But, of course, the irony is that your work and you're trying to sort of help people in crisis around the world or in poverty and at the same time there is this wave of radicalization. How do you make sense of it?

D. BRANDT: I think we just have to continue fighting the good fight and hope that the good work that people do and the good intentions that people have will win.

CAMEROTA: Are you stuck in Brussels now?

D. BRANDT: We are. We're stuck here and, you know, it could be much worse, so I'm not going to complain. But it's a little chilly and we're just waiting - fortunately our headquarters, Japigo, has been really good about rapidly responding and helping us with flights and hotels.

CAMEROTA: But you're trying to get back home to Liberia, where you live?

D. BRANDT: Yes. Yes.

A. BRANDT: That's right.

CAMEROTA: But do you know when you'll be able to go home?

D. BRANDT: No, we're just kind of waiting to find out what happens with the airport and if it's going to be too many -

CAMEROTA: Because it's closed today again.

D. BRANDT: We expect it to be closed tomorrow. If it's going to be too much longer, we might have to drive to another city and find another way back. But there is this wonderful, direct flight to Monrovia out of Brussels. So I'm kind of holding out for that one if possible.

[08:40:13] CAMEROTA: Are you nervous as you stay here in Brussels?

D. BRANDT: About safety?





A. BRANDT: Not really.

CAMEROTA: You two are intrepid world travelers. Nothing scares you, I can see that. But I know, Andrew, you said that you are more aware of your surrounds. Even here, you're looking around.

A. BRANDT: Right. I mean - I mean you have to be. It's - you know, the thing with - with the terrorism and everything else, it's like I said before, it could happen any time and anywhere and you just have to be aware and - and that's all you can do. And like my wife said, that, you know, you can't live your life in fear and I'm not constantly looking over my shoulder, but I'm, you know, constantly looking. You know, you scan the area and make sure that everything is -

D. BRANDT: He's always had this crazy, keen attention to detail anyway, so -

CAMEROTA: That's good. I feel strangely safer with both of your here.

Andrew and Denise, thank you very much. Thanks for your inspirational words this morning.

D. BRANDT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you. Hope you get home soon.

D. BRANDT: Thank you.

A. BRANDT: A pleasure.

D. BRANDT: Thanks for having us.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's go back to Chris in New York.

CUOMO: Boy, Alisyn, it is not easy, but it's important to hear. And luckily they're there to tell you the story.

So, in the wake of the Brussels attacks, the 2016 presidential contenders are all positioning themselves as the best to handle something that terrible if it ever happened here. How will the attacks wind up changing the race? We spoke with Senator Ted Cruz about it. Here from him directly, next.


[08:45:30] CUOMO: A big night for Ted Cruz, winning the Utah caucuses and its 40 delegates. The Republican senator coming out strong against terror in the wake of the Belgium terror attacks. I spoke with the presidential candidate earlier on NEW DAY, began by asking him about Donald Trump, who made a threat on Twitter that he would, quote, "spill the beans," about Cruz's wife, Heidi.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Donald gets scared, when he gets angry, when he's threatened, he begins yelling, he begins screaming, he begins often cursing and he begins trying to be a bully. So last night, Donald threatened my wife. He went directly after my wife. And I've got to tell you, that number one, Heidi, my wife, she's the daughter of missionaries in Africa. She is my best friend in the world. And if Donald wants to get in a character fight, he's better off sticking with me because Heidi is way of out of his league.

But it is also -- it reveals a lot about character, reveals a lot about class that Donald's instinct is to try to attack my wife and sully her. And you know what? That -- that should be beneath Donald. But you know, Chris, the reason he's doing that is because he had a very bad night last night. He got clobbered in Utah. Remember, Donald campaigned in Utah. He tried to win Utah and he got blown out of the water.

And -- and he is seeing Republicans uniting behind our campaign. Donald recognizes 65 percent to 70 percent of Republicans know that if we nominate Donald, we lose to Hillary. And he is very dismayed so he wants to drag it into the gutter, he wants to drag it into personal attacks. And at the end of the day, I have no interest in that. I'm going to stay focused on solving the problems facing this country, bringing back jobs and economic growth, raising wages, securing the borders, protecting our rights and protecting this country from radical Islamic terrorists.

CUOMO: The point is, I'm only asking you about it because you responded. I know you get that. So let's move on to what matters more. You believe that Brussels is a metaphor. Most people who are around these situations do. What would you do that Donald Trump would not do? What would you do differently to keep America safe from something like Brussels happening here, God forbid?

CRUZ: Well, let me say first of all, that -- that our prayers are with the families of those who were murdered, those who were injured, especially the three Americans, the Mormon missionaries who were over there who were wounded in this -- in this terror attack.

The terror attack in Brussels, it was not an isolated event. It was not a lone wolf. It is part of a broader pattern, a war that is being waged by radical Islamic terrorism, that is being waged by ISIS against us. They have declared jihad. Their intention is to murder as many Europeans, as many Israelis, as many Americans as they can. And we have right now a president who refuses to acknowledge what is happening as a matter of political preference.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the entire Obama administration refuses even to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism. We need a commander-in-chief who will identify the enemy and do everything necessary to defeat it. And as president...

CUOMO: Their argument is you don't want to paint with too broad a brush and blame an entire faith for the acts of the worst among them, and that's why there's criticism about policing Muslim communities as if they were all an enemy.

CRUZ: Listen, nobody is blaming an entire faith, but radical Islamic terrorism, jihadism, is a very discreet -- it is a real threat and this administration's in denial. Following the Paris terror attacks, following San Bernardino, President Obama goes on national television, won't say radical Islamic terrorism, but lectures Americans on Islamophobia.

Enough is enough. Let's have a commander-in-chief who keeps us safe. And you know, Chris, a lot of folks in the media say, gosh, what difference does it make what you call it. It makes a lot of difference because when you identify the enemy, you then target your efforts to defeating it. And because Obama and Hillary refuse to identify the enemy, what happens is that they advocate policies.

For example, both Obama and Hillary advocate bringing tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America, despite the fact that ISIS has said they want to infiltrate those refugees, send jihadists here to murder Americans and despite the fact that the head of the FBI, James Comey, who was appointed by Barack Obama, has told Congress the FBI cannot vet those refugees to ensure that they're not terrorists.

We need a president whose first priority won't be political correctness, won't be satisfying partisan objectives, but rather, whose first priority will be, as commander-in-chief, keeping America safe. That's what I'll do as president.

[08:50:00 ] CUOMO: They say call it radical Islamism, then. Don't call it Islam...

CRUZ: But they don't...

CUOMO: Islamism is something different and it winds up painting, again, that faith with a brush, and that if you don't let in refugees, people who are desperate, you wind up feeding the problem and negating the perception of America as someone who's better than the norm.

CRUZ: Chris, you're exactly right that Islamism is different from Islam, and I'll give you another example of how political correctness is costing lives. The San Bernardino terrorist, the female terrorist, posted publicly on social media a call to jihad. The Obama administration refused to look at social media because they didn't think it would be politically correct to look at social media. We've got a threat...

CUOMO: There were some legal issues also. I'm sure you understand.

CRUZ: There are no legal barriers to monitoring public -- public social media displays, particularly overseas. Now, I would point out, she also, on her visa application, put a fake address in Pakistan. The vetting didn't notice it was a fake address, let her in, and Americans were murdered.


CUOMO: All right, we're going to have more on the Brussels terror investigation right after this break. Stay with us.


PEREIRA: All right, here were go with the Five Things to know for you NEW DAY. We begin with breaking news, an unidentified man arrested in connection with yesterday's attacks in Brussels.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Two brothers detonated themselves, one at the airport, one at the train station. Back here at home, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both winners on Western

Tuesday. Trump grabs the winner takes all delegates primary in Arizona, Cruz wins the GOP caucuses in Utah by a big enough margin to take all the delegates there.

[08:55:15] And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton winning the big prize in Arizona. Bernie Sanders winning the caucuses in both Utah and Idaho.

President Obama arriving in Argentina. He'll meet there with Argentina's president this morning in hopes of strengthening relations and exploring further trade opportunities.

An unidentified person arrested after hopping over a bike rack at the White House. The first family was overseas at the time of that incident.


PEREIRA (on camera): And for more on the Five Things, you can always visit

All right, 55 minutes after the hour, five minutes before the hour. We head back to Alisyn in Brussels.

CAMEROTA: Michaela, I have to say that the scene that you see behind me here in the public square, the Place de la Bourse as it's called here, is not what we were expecting when we flew through the night to get here to Brussels. We thought that we were going to find a city on lock down, a quiet

city, but that's not what we see here in Brussels. You see all sorts of people, just droves and droves of them who have turned out here to be together here in the public square. We also saw droves of men and women commuting to work this morning. We saw parents taking their children to school this morning. We saw mothers pushing baby carriages. People are out on the sidewalks. We see coffee shops filled with people on their laptops working, families inside.

This does not look like a city that was attacked yesterday. This looks like a city that will prevail. We are hearing lots of strength, lots of solidarity here. And we look forward to coming back here tomorrow and telling more stories here of people and how they are enduring what happened to them in Brussels this week.

The coverage from Brussels continues on CNN all day long. Carol Costello will be right after this short break, and I'll see you tomorrow.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.