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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Did ISIS Take Down Russian Passenger Plane; Jeb Bush Campaign Relaunch; , "Jeb Can Fix It"; NYPD Chief "Concerned" Over Obama's Inmate Release. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 2, 2015 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Shoppers can also scan products in stores with their phones to add to their wish lists. Now you know.

Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Did ISIS take down the Russian passenger jet? Minutes ago, the head of U.S. intelligence says he would not rule it out. This as the airline says it knows what did not happen in the moments right before the crash.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now Jeb Bush rebooting his campaign and warns voters about another, quote, "experiment in the White House." So, what's new with this relaunch?

BERMAN: The secret meeting to shake up the debates. Why the campaigns are taking a stand against everyone but FOX News.

BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

So did ISIS shoot that Russian airliner from the sky? Moments ago, the head of U.S. Intelligence said it was at least a possibility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does ISIS have the ability to shoot down an airliner?

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's unlikely, but I wouldn't rule it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: "I wouldn't rule it out." The Russian passenger jet broke apart over the Sinai Peninsula Saturday killing all 224 people on board. The Russian and Egyptian governments are dismissing ISIS claims of responsibility. But the company that flies the plane, MetroJet, says the only reasonable explanation is, quote, "an external influence."

BOLDUAN: But the airline also says it's too early to draw any conclusions about this being linked to terrorism.

Joining us now from Cairo is senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, who's been watching this all very closely.

Arwa, they recovered the flight data recorders. What's happening now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have, but we don't know when they're going to be able to extract the information from them. You were speaking there about the possibility as to whether or not ISIS could have shot down this plane. Well, one of the ISIS affiliates, AN Islamic militant group that pledged allegiance to them, did come out and claim responsibility for shooting down the aircraft, but that was very, very quickly dismissed by both Russian and Egyptian authorities for the mere simple fact that, according to an Egyptian military source we spoke to, the Islamic militants that operate in the Sinai only have the capability, they only have shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles in that area that could go up to 15,000, 16,000 feet, not the 31,000 feet cruising altitude that this aircraft was at when it all of a sudden disappeared from the radar.

Both Russian and Egyptian investigative teams have been on the ground. According to Russian state-owned news agency, they were quoting a source of theirs, a Russian source, who is part of the investigative team that said of the parts they have tested so far, none of them have tested positive for explosives. There's still a lot of questions, a lot of conflicting information coming out. Of course, all of this very difficult for the families who are not only having to say good- bye to their loved ones, but are still waiting for a reason as to why this even happened.

BERMAN: Our hearts go out to those families.

Arwa Damon, thank you so much.

Joining us for a closer look, senior military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling; CNN aviation analyst, Les Abend; and former pilot and aviation attorney, Justin Green.

General, let me start with you. You heard Arwa address it there. Just remind us, what would it take, what does it take to shoot down a passenger jet at 30,000 feet?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN SENIOR MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it takes a pretty good system, John. Not anything that's been reported by the insurgents, the terrorists in this particular area. But I would state, there has been an increasingly violent pro nation in this area, in the Sinai. This is an area where we have had forces, U.S. forces -- many Americans don't know that -- as part of the multinational force of observers along with Fiji and Colombia and many other countries. One of their base camps is close to where the wreckage is. They have reported over the last years, a group that has pledged its allegiance to ISIS, has increasingly used various types of missiles on the ground. Whether or not they have the capability to shoot an airplane out of the sky at greater than 25,000 feet is unknown. But there has been open source reporting that they do have SA-18 missiles, as Arwa reported, can shoot up to about 16,000, 17,000 feet.

BOLDUAN: So what do you think of this claim of responsibility so far that Russians were downplaying, and now clearly it seems to be out there as a possibility, even though no one is ready to draw a conclusion, for good reason?

HERTLING: I don't think -- you have to look at the investigation. It could be one of several things. I'm certainly not going to suggest it was terrorism, but you can't rule that out. The same thing I wouldn't rule out pilot error or any kind of mechanical malfunction until you get the results of an investigation. The aviation experts would know more about that. But with what Mr. Clapper said, I would agree, you can't rule out terrorism in this part of the world.

[11:05:08] BERMAN: Les, let's bring you in.

You fly big jet liners right now. This thing broke apart, apparently, in midair. What are the range of things that can cause a plane and, you know, an airbus to break apart?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: We don't know how and when it broke apart, that's the whole thing, John. I looked at the flight radar data, not that I'm hanging my hat on that information because we don't know how accurate it is, but that airplane attained an altitude of 33,500 feet. The last data I saw was at 28,000. So something was happening to that airplane with reference to speeds. It went from 400 knots down to 62 knots in a fairly short period of time. But one of the interesting things was it went to a vertical speed of, say, 7,000 feet a minute down and then it -- then it showed a vertical speed of 8,000 up. So did something internal/external happen? It's hard to say, as General Hertling said. Let's wait for the investigation to progress. But I'm seeing an aerodynamic stall possibly. Whether that was caused by some other force, it's hard to say at this point in time. But an aerodynamic stall will definitely put the airplane out of control. Now, it is capable or pilots are capable of --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Recovering.

ABEND: -- recovering from that stall. To me, if that airplane was coming down at such a force, it will break apart, whether it's, you know, an exPLOsion or not.

BOLDUAN: When you look at the range of possibility, the flight data recorders, they have them recovered, that's one of the keys to figuring out exactly what happened. There's an investigation into what the parts look like. They're already being tested. But the fact this airline has come out already saying that -- they're saying that -- they're excluding technical problems. They reject human error. They now say it is an external influence that created this. What do you think, Justin, simply of how the airline -- what the airline is already saying on this?

JUSTIN GREEN, AVIATION ATTORNEY & FORMER PILOT: That's a little bit of a softball because under the international law, the Egyptians are in charge of the investigation. And I think it's appropriate if the airline comes forward with -- can release information about the pilot's training, the pilot's background or the airplane's maintenance history, but what the airline shouldn't be doing and what necessity have done is starting to exclude factors. There's more of a P.R. campaign than a legitimate response to an accident.

BERMAN: It's a Russian plane in Egyptian air space -- or crashed in Egyptian territory. You say it's the Egyptians handling the investigation. What you have, though, is you have countries with vested interests and a certain bit of public relations. Egypt doesn't to want say we have ISIS militants shooting down airlines right now.

GREEN: You remember Egypt Air 990, the co-pilot took that plane down. Egypt never accepted that happened. Egypt has kind of a history of playing fast and loose with the facts and the conclusions of investigations. So you have the airline not wanting to say it's the pilot or maintenance history. You have Egypt wanting to downplay the idea that someone could shoot down the airplane, so you really have to listen to what's being said with kind of, you know, a little bit of a pessimistic ear.

BOLDUAN: A lot more to learn in just the coming days.

Justin, Les, General, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Jeb Bush can fix it, he swears. The Republican relaunching his campaign right now, and warning America in this relaunch, don't roll the dice on, quote, "personality." Hear what his message is now.

BERMAN: Plus, some of the Republican presidential candidates apparently want to be television producers now. They hold a secret meeting to plan future debates. What do they really want here? They want to be writing the questions?

And President Obama defends his decision to release more than 6,000 inmates, but the head of the NYPD says, watch out, we don't really know who might be walking free today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:13:20] BERMAN: Happening now, campaign reset. Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, just kicked off his "Jeb Can Fix It" tour. Of course, that might depend on what the definition of "it" is, the country or the campaign.

BOLDUAN: Is this Jeb 3.0, 4.0 maybe? The former Florida governor has just wrapped up a speech at a rally in Tampa. Here's a bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Lincoln were alive today, imagine the foolishness he would have to suffer.

(LAUGHTER) Think about it, advisers telling him to shave his beard --

(LAUGHTER)

-- cable pundits telling him to lose the top hat --

(LAUGHTER)

-- opposition researchers calling him a five-time loser before he was 50.

(LAUGHTER)

I've gotten a lot of advice lately myself.

(LAUGHTER)

More than enough, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: "More than enough, thank you very much."

Let's bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, for more on this.

So, what's the message here? I'm like Lincoln?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's kind of like a Popeye speech, "I am what I am." That's -- seems to be the tone throughout. Certainly he takes some partisan shots at the president and tries to frame what he's been talking about since he launched his campaign back in June, which is he has leadership skills, he did a lot in Florida that could be translated to Washington. But at the end of the day, this is trying to push back against critics about his debate performance last week and, more importantly, against his supporters who say, oh, my gosh, we've got to get this right and change course a little bit.

Listen to what he said on that note.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:15:05] BUSH: If you watched the debate, you probably came away thinking the election is about sound bites or fantasy football --

(SHOUTING)

BUSH: -- or which candidate can interrupt the loudest. I'm here to tell you it is not. This election is not about a set of personalities. It's about a set of principles.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So if you're looking for something new in this speech, I don't think you're going to find it in any specific line or policy proposal. It is, I think, just -- if you weave through the entire thing, it's the overall tone of this. The more I think about this and read the lines where, for example, Kate and John, he talks about all the things that he is and all the things he is not, he says he's not going to compromise his principles. He won't trade an optimistic outlook and put on the cloak of an angry agitator. Doesn't want to make people feel small so he can feel big. In a way, he's trying to kind of turn what has been a negative for him into a positive although a time when everyone is looking for that authentic candidate. That's who he says he is. He says he's not going to change his personality to kind of fit in the world of today's media or in the world of some of his competitors.

So, we'll see if this works for him. He's tried this kind of thing a couple of times. But the fact they're telegraphing this like this might be more effective.

BERMAN: A pivot to authenticity. There's some irony in and of itself right there.

(LAUGHTER)

Dana Bash, thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.

Joining us to talk about this, CNN political commentator, Hilary Rosen. She advised Democrats. Kristen Soltis Anderson is a Republican insider and author of the new book "The Selfie Vote Where Millennials Are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up."

Kristen, you're the Republican in this discussion right now. Let's go to you first. What is Jeb saying here? Is it fair -- when you listen to him talk, it essentially sounds like if you only saw me for how I see myself. If you only understood how great I was as governor, I might be winning now, but something's getting in the way.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER, & AUTHOR: It's clear this has not turned out to be the election Jeb Bush or many Republicans thought it would be. With Donald Trump and Ben Carson top the polls, this is a very different October, November now than I think a lot of can days thought it would be. Jeb Bush's strength was his record as governor of Florida was very strong. He was excited to run on that and demonstrate to voters that he had a conservative record, pushing back against the narrative that he was moderate, not in step with the party base is. His challenge is his record as governor is only the first step. Voters are hungry to hear, what are you going to do, not 10 years ago, but 10 years from now? Where will America be after a decade of your leadership? That's the pivot he's trying to make to catch up with those, like, say, Marco Rubio, who's been focused on that theme all along.

BOLDUAN: Then you have things like -- the comparisons he makes to Lincoln. If Lincoln were alive today, imagine the foolishness he would have to suffer. Hilary, the "I am what I am" message --

(CROSSTALK)

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The dignities of being a presidential candidate.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

ROSEN: I'm suffering and I want you to feel sorry for me because I'm Jeb Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Yes, you are a resident Democrat right now, but is this going to work with Republican voters?

ROSEN: You know, here's the problem, I think, with Jeb Bush is he is so stuck and mired in the process of running for president that he's not really telling anybody what he's for or what had they would be getting if he were president. You know, this -- just look at his week coming up. Today, it's Jeb Can Fix It. Well, everybody's looking at that slogan and think he's talking about his own campaign. What is he actually saying he can fix? What's he fixing?

The second piece is he's releasing an eBook this week about all of his e-mails from when he was governor of Florida, process, process, process. People are not interested in this. They don't want to hear his problems, that he has other, cooler things he could do. They want to know what the hell he would do as president. And he's stuck. He can't seem to pivot away from thinking about his own travails.

And really, when you're running for president, it's not really about you. It's supposed to be about the American people. My view is kind of the very thing he criticized Donald Trump for the most, which is his narcissism, he's exhibiting, only in kind of, you know, a softer, more, you know, gentile way but no less narcissistic.

BERMAN: Kristen, other candidates are using some of the things Jeb Bush is saying right now and taking advantage of them. Jeb Bush is saying, I have the experience to fix things. You know, you want someone who's been here before. Well, listen to how Marco Rubio addressed this over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know there are people running that have more experience than I do on the issues we faced 17 years ago, but on the issues before America today, that's what we should be debating.

[11:20:09] BERMAN: So, is Senator Rubio sort of outflanking Jeb Bush here, Kristen?

ANDERSON: I don't think that's necessarily a hit on Jeb Bush or anything like that. It's clear he's trying to position himself as the candidate of the future, which would put him in opposition to a handful of other folks in the field who are not known as being as fresh a face as, perhaps, Marco Rubio is. "The new American century" has been Rubio's campaign theme from the very beginning. So, this isn't really a change for him. This is his message all along.

BOLDUAN: He told -- Jeb Bush told reporters over the weekend, I'm going to get better. I ought to get better. I know I have to get better, especially when he's talking about his debate performance. If he comes out just swinging in the next debate, that is, what a week away now?

BERMAN: Next Tuesday night.

BOLDUAN: Could that really turn it around, Hilary?

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: Well, sure. You know, look, Iowa is still several months away and he can turn it around. People can rise and fall before then. There's just nothing he's exhibiting now that makes me think he will turn it around. Marco Rubio is an extremely talented politician, but what he's doing, and I think Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both focusing on, Hillary in particular, what is going to happen to America next year, the year after, the year after that. That's what Jeb Bush needs to be doing. That's what these Republicans need to be doing. They're so stuck in how to fend off each other and how to negotiate around the larger, you know, problems --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's just primary politics. Isn't that just the way it is?

ROSEN: It is the way it is, but the only way you can break out is to actually step out. And, you know, that's what Jeb Bush needs to do. Marco Rubio has done that in the last two days. You know, Jeb Bush kind of needs to do the same thing.

BERMAN: Kristen Soltis Anderson, Hilary Rosen, thank you so much.

One historical note on Abraham Lincoln. Jeb Bush brought up Abe Lincoln. That guy never had to debate. Oh, except for --

BOLDUAN: Except for the Lincoln --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- the most famous debates in history.

They have been behind bars for years, but today more than 6,000 inmates being released across this country under the orders of the president. Critics say this is a risky move. We'll discuss.

BOLDUAN: Plus, some of the Republican candidates are demanding changes to future debates. A couple of their rivals are saying, get over it, stop whining. But who's winning here? We'll speak live with the RNC about the campaign rising up against everybody else.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:26:52] BERMAN: We have breaking new on the crash of that Russian jetliner in the Sinai Peninsula. The company that flies the jet says it must have been some external influence that caused it to the break up. The Russian government, the Egyptian government are dismissing ISIS claims of responsibility, but what does U.S. Intelligence say?

Our Evan Perez has been working his sources and has new information for us -- Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Intelligence at this point has seen no evidence of terrorism or of some kind of missile or anything external to bring down this plane, John. One of the things they've been doing is reaching out to Egyptian and Russian officials over the last few days, and they've looked at everything from radar, satellite, photo images of the crash scene. They've looked at the passenger manifest and communications, signals intelligence, all of these things that usually give a clue if there's something that went awry, perhaps, terrorism-wise. They've seen absolutely nothing.

We heard this morning at a conference in Washington held by Defense One, Jim Clapper, the head of the -- director of National Intelligence, addressed this question. He said that he so far has seen no indication of this -- that ISIS was involved. He even said he's seen no indication that ISIS possesses the kind of missiles that could be used to bring a plane down like this.

I just interviewed Nick Rasmussen, head of National Counterterrorism Agency. This is the agency that would review the manifest and see if there's any indication in the intelligence that says terrorists might have brought this plane down. He told me there's absolutely no sign of that just yet -- John?

BERMAN: Evan Perez for us in Washington, working his sources. Thanks so much, Evan.

BOLDUAN: President Obama is heading to New Jersey today to push for prison reform and also efforts to help newly released convicts rejoin society. He's announcing new actions to help promote rehabilitation and reintegration, including jobs training programs. The president is calling -- also calling to ban the box. Some folks might know this, but this is the check box on federal job applications that require job seekers to state whether or not if they have been convicted of a crime.

BERMAN: Not everyone is on board with the president's plans, including New York's top police officer. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BRATTON, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: When people go to jail, oftentimes, they go to jail with negotiated charges, if you will. So somebody that is in jail that seems they're nonviolent drug offender may, in fact, have crimes of violence in their record. So we have to be very concerned about who we're leading out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us to talk about the president's new initiative, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan; and Robert Budsock, the president and CEO of Integrity House. This is the facility that President Obama will visit today.

Robert, let's start with you.

Explain to me why the police commissioner of New York, that his fears are not justified? He says, look, there are a lot of people in prison right now that had negotiated down their sentences. They may be more dangerous than we even realized and these are the people that might be released.

[11:30:00] ROBERT BUDSOCK, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTEGRITY HOUSE: Well, I could talk to you about our experience at Integrity House. We've been around since 1968 and we provide opportunities for individuals to reclaim their lives.