Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Supporters Remain Firm In Their Support. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired November 25, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST HOST: It will be interesting to see on Monday.

Athena Jones, thank you so much.

Let's talk about this with CNN political commentators Amanda Carpenter, who once worked for Ted Cruz, and Maria Cardona, who once worked for Hillary Clinton.

Amanda, I want to start with you here, because Henry Barbour, a Republican strategist, a great article in "The Boston Globe" today about Trump's support in New Hampshire. He said: "You can't peel voters off of him with a crowbar," essentially saying that the people who like Trump like him just no matter what.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's the kind of thing that amazes all of us in the media, that he can say things we don't know are totally true, and it comes down to the fact that he speaks to people's fears and aspirations.

It's like the thing where he says he predicted the terror attacks. Well, a lot of people probably could have seen that coming, but he makes himself into being the Amazing Kreskin, who can see all and predict the future.

Listen, if you, like people who go to a psychic, are inclined to believe that person who speaks in such vague generalities, you can find things to believe and support. And you're not going to waver away. How long that lasts, I'm not sure. But his vague way of speaking is certainly a gimmick. It's working on a lot of people. I don't think he will be able to survive the pressure of a campaign over the next year, but he's been at the top of the polls for the last five months.

BERMAN: So, Maria, Amanda said something there. She said he says things you can't prove are absolutely true. Occasionally, he says things that are false, that are just false. And he never, ever, ever apologizes for it.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

BERMAN: Have you ever seen a politician who can do this so deftly?

CARDONA: Never. And I think that's why we need to actually give him the title of the next superhero, because clearly he has not just a Spidey Sense, but he is a superhero in politics apparently, because no one else would be able to survive what he has survived, John.

And, you know, some of us think it's comical, we joke about it. But at the end of the day, me as a Latina, as a woman, as an American, it is actually scary what he is doing to our political rhetoric. What he says, the things that he says are actually speaking to the worst angels of people's nature.

And what a leader should be doing is trying to bring out the best of ourselves, not cater and promote the worst of ourselves. We have already seen two instances where -- and there are probably more that have not been reported -- where his rhetoric has actually led to violence, one not so long ago where he was actually goading his supporters to throw out a protester who was talking about Black Lives Matter.

Several months ago, we saw up in Boston Trump supporters attack a Hispanic, a homeless Hispanic man because of the rhetoric that he has had against undocumented immigrants and immigrants in general. This man was actually a documented person. He was here legally.

So it is insidious, it is pernicious for the Republican Party to have him as their front-runner. We will see what happens because there's a real possibility that this man could be the nominee.

BERMAN: Well, what he's doing right now among other things is winning, Amanda. And a guy that you work closely with, Ted Cruz, is running against him right now. Does Senator Cruz have a responsibility to stand up and say, hey, look, what Donald Trump is saying just isn't true?

CARPENTER: Well, listen, Senator Cruz is campaigning to make Senator Cruz President Cruz.

I don't think he has an obligation to do any of that. And, plus, if he's interested in advancing his campaign, you can look at the other candidates who have tried to make their candidacy about attacking Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So he's scared?

CARPENTER: Absolutely not. No, Senator Cruz isn't scared of anything. I can tell you that by working directly with him.

But I think if you do see them continue to be at a statistical tie in the polls, you will see some contrasts, John. I wouldn't be surprised if Trump goes after Cruz by kind of being an elected politician, which Trump is not, and Cruz will very happily point to the fact that he has a record, has a proven record of standing up for conservative values, and that's a great way to promote his own candidacy while not directly attacking Trump back, which I think is the path to go.

BERMAN: So maybe not fair to suggest, Amanda, that Cruz is scared, but there is a risk in alienating Trump voters, yes? CARPENTER: Well, any candidate should be interested in getting as

many voters as they can, whether they're supporting Trump, Carson, Bush, Rubio, whoever. I personally don't like the nasty aspect of politicking against other Republican candidates.

I think the best path is to show why you have the most positive attraction to get those voters and to be a happy warrior going through this election because, as Maria pointed out, we have had enough nastiness so far.

BERMAN: Right.

CARDONA: But I actually think there is an obligation to point out irresponsible rhetoric. I actually think that what Jeb Bush is saying is good. Unfortunately, he's at less than 5 percent in the polls right now.

BERMAN: All right. Maria Cardona, Amanda Carpenter, happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

CARPENTER: Thank you. You too, John.

[16:35:00]

BERMAN: In our national lead, a police officer charged with murder after shooting a teenager 16 times, this entire incident on video. Now the officer's attorney is saying why he fired the shots.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The national lead, the video of a black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer in Chicago, a warning, it is disturbing, graphic video. A police dash-cam shows squad cars surrounding 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Why did officer Jason Van Dyke feel compelled to fire his gun 16 times in just 15 seconds? That's one big question. Another question, why did it take more than a year for prosecutors to charge him with murder? Why did it take a year to release the video?

Let's go to CNN's Ryan Young live in Chicago near the scene of the shooting.

And, Ryan, Van Dyke's lawyer says the officer feared for his life. What are you learning about the events that led up to the shooting?

[16:40:02]

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, honestly, that -- the lawyer saying that has a lot of people in this community asking questions after they had a chance to watch the video for themselves. So we wanted to come here to kind of show everyone at home what this

area looks like. First of all, you see over here there's a strip mall that is just across from where this shooting happened. And back this way is a very busy intersection. This road was actually shut down during the shooting because police officers were making sure no traffic got in the way of them dealing with Laquan McDonald.

You look here, there's a memorial where so many people have been coming to gather and to pay their respects to this memorial and the area where Laquan McDonald died. A lot of people still having questions for why the young man had to be shot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice-over): The shocking police dash-cam video released Tuesday shows the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald is walking in the middle of the street when he heads towards some police cars, 16 shots fired all by one officer. The video's release sparked protests and outrage overnight.

GARRY MCCARTHY, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest.

YOUNG: Demonstrators chanting "16 shots," referring to the number of times McDonald was shot on October 20 of 2014.

ANITA ALVAREZ, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: We have charged Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder in the connection of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.

YOUNG: Thirty-seven-year-old Jason Van Dyke turned himself in to authorities Tuesday after being charged with first-degree murder, more than a year after the fatal shooting.

MCCARTHY: The officer in this case took a young man's life and he's going to have to account for his actions.

YOUNG: Investigators say Van Dyke was on the scene mere seconds, firing 16 rounds and reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire.

ALVAREZ: All evidence indicates that he began shooting approximately six seconds after getting out of his vehicle.

YOUNG: Van Dyke's attorney says this is not a murder case at all, that his client was justified in shooting McDonald, who was wielding a knife at the time of the shooting and had already slashed the tires of a police cruiser. An autopsy later found McDonald had PCP in his system.

DANIEL HERBERT, ATTORNEY FOR JASON VAN DYKE: And you have to look at what my client, Jason, was experiencing at the time in which he fired his weapon. When he jumped out of the car, the subject made a motion which put my client in fear that this individual was perhaps going to attack him with a knife. YOUNG: Chicago police never wanted the video released. Its release

came only after a Freedom of Information Act request and judge's ruling declaring it must be made public by today.

And prosecutors say it's not unusual to wait over a year for charges in cases like these, because police shootings are always complicated.

ALVAREZ: This investigation was tenacious. It was meticulous. We did everything to make sure that we were not going to jeopardize our case.

YOUNG: The city's mayor says now the healing process must begin and is calling for peaceful protests.

RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: Now we much work together to bring the peace and understanding and the bridges of understanding together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: John, you can see this memorial that's been left behind. I can tell you, we are expecting a crowd of people to come this direction. We're told protesters are supposed to be here within the hour.

They plan to march down this way from the jail. So many people have been standing and stopping and taking pictures here all afternoon. We're going to wait and see what happens next.

BERMAN: All right, Ryan Young for us in Chicago, thank you so much.

Joining me now, retired NYPD Detective and CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck. Also with us, former prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

Harry, I want to start with you. The attorney for Van Dyke said the officer felt threatened somehow. He had heard what had been transpiring beforehand, knew that this guy had a knife, Laquan McDonald had a knife, but when you look at the video, seeing the video now, was there any moment that Laquan McDonald was threatening the officer or threatening anyone else?

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I took a close look at that to see if maybe that Mr. McDonald came towards the officer, and he didn't.

He just kept on walking the same way he was going. And it even looked like he was going away a little bit at the time when the officer came out and fired those shots. Now, what is really interesting also is the fact that you could see a great job that Chicago P.D. is doing in keeping this man surrounded, you know, keeping traffic away, keeping people away from the incident.

And, you know, just listen to that last reporter talking about, you know, what the police exactly did, and being able to give me more of a view or focus on what has been happening or what happened that night here even tells me even more that this officer should not have been able to -- should not have fired at this man.

BERMAN: Does it even matter, then, what he was told about what happened beforehand?

HOUCK: You know, there's another incident. You know, there is this 21-foot rule, all right, that we learn as police officers, that you can be killed with somebody who's got a knife in their hand if you're within 21 feet of them.

All right? And police officers have been killed. But you can't come out and say, OK, the guy's 21 feet, let me shoot him. What you got to do is utilize your experience.

I've been in situations where I've had my weapon on people with knives and I'm closer than 21 feet, but I feel that I'm not in danger because I think I have some kind -- the situation in hand.

And I feel that maybe I can talk the knife -- and several instances that happened to me we were able to get the man to drop the knife or at one time I took my night stick and chucked it at the guy and hit him in the head, and he went down.

BERMAN: Point is other options.

HOUCK: Right, there are other options here.

BERMAN: Sunny, what about the timing here? This took more than a year to release the video. It took more than a year to release the charges. You think this isn't exactly transparency at work here.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It really isn't. And I think the timing is curious at best. You have a prosecutor -- or chief prosecutor in Cook County that's saying, listen, these police officer involved shootings are very difficult to investigate and they are unusual in and of themselves.

And I think that that is true. However, I do not think that it is true that when you have this kind of evidence, this kind of video evidence that it takes over a year to bring charges. I mean, I think what is very interesting is the video was released and the charges were brought only after a judge says, listen, you have to release this video by Wednesday November 25th.

Lo and behold November 24th all of a sudden, you know, the charges are brought. I think it really gives the public this view that there is a lack of transparency and that there's sort of this blue wall of silence. And that is a real issue in this case.

BERMAN: Without this video, Harry, do you think there would be ever be charges?

HOUCK: I think there's definitely a possibility there would have been charges. I mean, nobody can actually --

BERMAN: You are saying no. HOUCK: I know Sunny says no, but I don't think anybody can actually say that. The fact is, you know, I don't know what the statements of the other police officers made. Everybody's saying that the other officers lied and I'm reading on the internet. But the fact is we don't know what the other statements were made by police officers.

BERMAN: Let Harry finish.

HOUCK: And also see a man being shot there on the ground the way this man was shot on the ground. Even if you want to justify the first couple shots when he goes down, but to actually fire more bullets into this man while he's down on the ground, I mean, any police officer should have saw that and said don't do that. This is wrong.

HOSTIN: I think it's clear that no charges would have been brought because if you listen to what the FOP spokesperson said immediately after the shooting was these officers feared for their lives. This officer feared for his life.

But for the video I think that that narrative would have been accepted. And so, again, we talk often about body cameras. We talk often about dash cam cameras. In Chicago after this incident this program was supposed to sort of roll out.

Officers in Chicago still don't have those body cameras. This remains a problem.

BERMAN: Harry Houck, Sunny Hostin, it's great to have you here. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you.

HOUCK: You too and the viewers.

BERMAN: A global terror threat and travel warnings on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Next, the latest tests being taken at train stations, airports all over the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:52:16]

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. In our National Lead, a global terror alert hits close to home, not to mention those leaving home on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Americans warn tonight to be vigilant. You are looking at live pictures of people traveling. More travel expected this Thanksgiving holiday than any time since 2007. Right now, the roads seem to be working pretty well.

The airports you can see movement in and out at this hour. Let's turn now to Rene Marsh, CNN's aviation correspondent. Rene, what's the federal government saying about the security concerns tonight?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I can tell you, I know you're staying at home, but there are millions of Americans who will be hitting the road. As far as by car we know some 42 million will be traveling by car, 25 million by U.S. airlines, and on the rails more than 770,000.

So this afternoon right before Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson hopped on a train to New Jersey, we asked him, how can he be so certain there's no credible threat to the homeland?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: If there's certain communications that's encrypted, how can you be so certain that there's no credible threat?

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We in the U.S. government know of no specific credible threat of a terrorist plot to the homeland. What we are focused on and continue to be focused on as we have before Paris are potential copycat acts, similar to things that occur overseas. We're focused on the lone actor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Despite that there is a worldwide travel alert in effect. Police officers nationwide have been briefed on responding to active shooter situations in mass transit settings. Travelers will see a show of force at train and bus stations as well as airports, heavy weaponry, bomb sniffing dogs.

And the TSA will be doing random checks for explosives. The TSA also says it expects to screen 40 percent more passengers than usual -- John.

BERMAN: Rene, what's the travel situation look like right now?

MARSH: OK. Well, if we take a look at what's happening over the skies, this is the United States. And all of these white marks that you see there those are the aircraft flying in the air as we speak. So if we drill down just a little bit you see a lot of green. That is good.

That means that these flights are on time. However, places like New York City you see a little bit of orange there, Chicago, Atlanta. So there are some delays, but for the most part where you look at this picture it looks pretty good.

And if you are traveling by car, and many, many people are, these are going to be your trouble spots. Chicago's I-90, that's a bottleneck situation. Los Angeles has its problem areas. I know you know this section, John, I-95 Lincoln Tunnel in New York City, and the list goes on.

[16:55:06] BERMAN: Looks painful in some places. All right, Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

Now our Money Lead, these are not easy times in France. Now new word is that the French economy has taken a big hit following the terror attacks specifically when it comes to tourism, the number of tourists canceling their trips to Paris up 27 percent, cancellations up 21 percent.

Paris is seeing 13 percent fewer bookings for Christmas this year. The global travel warning could make things worse. Some countries like the United Kingdom are telling people not to visit Paris for now.

Coming up, Russia moving missile defense systems into Syria right near the Turkish border, what is Vladimir Putin planning? The ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee weighs in. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)