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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
New Details in San Bernardino Attack; DNC Suspends Sanders from Voter Database After Breach; Russia's Putin Praises Trump; Bush Stepping Up to be Anti-Trump Candidate; Feud Between Cruz, Rubio Picking Up Steam. Aired 11-11:30
Aired December 18, 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] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We'll leave you with that for the weekend.
Have a great weekend. Thank you for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan begins right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan.
Terrorism front and center today. Let's give you a live look at the White House as just a short time from now President Obama is set to hold a his year-end press conference. The conference will, no doubt, focus on terror fears and investigations facing the country and this president. Then President Obama will be traveling to California to meet with the families of the 14 people massacred in the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
BERMAN: This all comes amid major new developments in that case. A friend and former neighbor of the attacker, Syed Rezwan Farook, has been arrested on terrorism charges. This is a picture of him, Enrique Marquez. Officials say he and Farook planned tax two years ago, and they released stunning new details of these plots.
I want to bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez; CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier, a "Daily Beast" contributor.
Evan, first to you.
This affidavit, the details of the attacks planned years ago but not carried out, really chilling.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It really is. The fact they went right up to the edge of carrying in out and then apparently backed away and decided not to do it because they got spooked by an unrelated case. If you look at what the FBI describes here, they planned one attack, to attack the riverside community college where both of these guys were students. They were going to go to the library or cafeteria detonate pipe bombs and carry out a shooting to maximize causalities. The second attack would be to attack a state highway at rush hour, afternoon rush hour. They would make sure they pick a section where there were no sections so when Farook would attack it by pipe bombs to disable cars and walk along the highway shooting at people while Marquez would be on a hillside shooting at first responders, law enforcement, people trying to rescue people. It's remarkable the amount of detail in this plan.
BOLDUAN: It is remarkable the amount of detail. When you take that, Kim, in conjunction can the fact they started learning about radical Islam back in 2007. Then you have these two pretty planned out attacks they didn't go through in '11 and '12. And weeks before the San Bernardino attack, you had Enrique Marquez talking on Facebook, saying to a friend on Facebook that he was involved in terrorist plots and other things and he might go to prison for fraud. He said he was involved in terrorist plots. Was that enough? Should that have raised a red flag?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You have to look at it from the perspective of U.S. Intelligence and law enforcement. How much of that legally could they have seen? To say something provocative on Facebook, does that automatically trigger an investigation? No. That's simply an expression of your opinion, which is allowed under the U.S. Constitution. If we want the FBI trolling everyone's Facebook pages, we would have to change the laws. Apparently they used encryption. If you want private companies not to put encryption in their phones, again, we'd have to change the laws. And that brings you back as an American citizen, do I want to live in a free and open society or do I want to be as safe as humanly possible? There is a balance.
BERMAN: The bigger picture factors into the smaller picture we're seeing with this guy, Enrique Marquez, Evan. If they were making this plot in 2011, 2012 for a terrorist attack, and this is what investigators had to be looking at right now, it's strange to think he went from that five years ago to the attacks three weeks ago with no kind of electronic communication. No kind of any warning signs, just utter complete electronic and human intelligence silence. I have to believe investigators are pressing Marquez for that right now.
[11:04:44] PEREZ: They are. One of the things these guys appear to have done was to really try their best to cover their tracks. That's one of the things we're looking at. What the FBI is looking at is the sense that certainly when Farook was talking to his future wife, this is before she emigrated here, they were doing private messaging. Again, something not visible to the FBI without a warrant, without any probable cause to go looking for it. There's far too many of these people, John, which is what the FBI is dealing with. Far too many people have sympathies towards what ISIS is doing and even saying provocative things, but not enough, going across the line to the point where they can launch investigations.
BOLDUAN: To that point, real quick, Kim, what do you think that Marquez can offer authorities now, in terms of trying to learn more about the radicalization process within the United States? Because we're learning more about the extent that Farook went to try and radicalize Marquez. DOZIER: Insight into what first got Farook and him interested in
this. Was it an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula post? Did someone reach out online? Did they follow someone on Twitter? What pulled them down this violent path and made it so attractive to them? Farook is dead and tried to cover a lot of his electronic tracks. So Marquez is the key to that.
BOLDUAN: Very valuable.
BERMAN: Maybe all they have in terms of intelligence here.
Kimberly Dozier, Evan Perez, thank you so much.
New this morning, a staffer for Bernie Sanders might be feeling the burn in a not so good way. He was fired for breaching Hillary Clinton's campaign from a DNC database. The DNC suspended Sanders' campaign from accessing this voter database after a software error allowed a staffer to also view Hillary Clinton's data. That staffer was Sanders' national data director, Josh Uretsky. He said he wasn't trying to snoop on Clinton's files. He says, "We knew there was a security breach in the data and we were trying to understand it and what was happening. To the best of my knowledge, nobody took anything that would have given the Sanders campaign any benefit"
BOLDUAN: Now, a day ahead of the third Democratic debate and weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the Sanders team won't be allowed to use this critical voter database until it proves any accessed data has been discarded.
Let's discuss the impact of all this. Let's bring in CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; and Democratic strategist, Jamal Simmons.
Nia, after all this comes out and the campaign says, we didn't do it intentionally and we didn't even -- it wasn't nefarious, we didn't look at, it we don't even have it, how big of a deal is it?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's a bill big deal for the time being because the Sanders' campaign doesn't have access to this data the DNC provides. That's a problem. At some point, the campaign told CNN they will provide all the information to the DNC.
It also goes to, I think, Sanders' brand. Sanders is running kind of a different sort of campaign, above the kind of politics we've seen in the past as part of the argument of his campaign. So this, I think, in some way mars that a bit because it reminds people what they don't like about politics, this unfair edge, if, in fact, they were peeking at Clinton's data.
BERMAN: Jamal, you've advised presidential candidates before. We have a debate coming up Saturday night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Do you think it's worth Hillary Clinton bringing this up because you could make the case cyber data issues are complicated, for the former secretary of state?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She could make that case. Frankly, she's kind of starting to move ahead, if not in all the numbers, certainly in the psyche of a lot of people in the party. People are interested in Bernie Sanders, they like Bernie Sanders, they like some of the messages Sanders has. I'm not sure a lot of Democrats see him as being the next president of the United States. If you're Hillary Clinton, maybe what you don't want to do is get in the way of your opponent impaling himself. Let their campaign have their problems. Let the media focus on them and you focus on your message and get your message out.
BOLDUAN: Nia, I remember when we were in chilly Las Vegas and talking date after the Republican debate, we were talking about the blooming bromance between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Now he has a new blooming bromance --
BERMAN: Someone is moving in.
BOLDUAN: Someone's getting in on that relationship -- between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The back and forth over the past 24 hours has been quite remarkable. Putin complicating Donald Trump. Donald Trump saying he was honored to have someone who is so highly respected in his country and beyond.
He was asked about it again on "Morning Joe" this morning. Here's what Donald Trump said, Nia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:09:48] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (voice-over): You know, fine about Putin. He's a powerful leader, a strong leader. He's represented the country, the way the country is being represented. He's actually got popularity within his country. They respect him as a leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A lot of folks with a lot of issues with Donald Trump are saying, what is he doing here? Again, what is he doing here?
HENDERSON: I think it tells us what we know about Donald Trump, he can't resist a compliment. He can't resist this kind of flattery no matter who it comes from. We know Putin, obviously, not very well liked here. Certainly, not very well liked among Republicans. But they do have something in common, right? Not to say Donald Trump would ride a horse shirtless, but that kind of bravado --
BOLDUAN: Oh, the mental images, Nia.
HENDERSON: Yes, yes, so nice. But that kind of strength and masculinity and testosterone is something Trump is going after in his campaign, so game recognizes game in some way. BERMAN: Jamal, Putin supports al Assad, supports Iran. You can make
the case helps Hezbollah. And as people who point out, there have been journalists killed, some people linking it to the Putin regime. If you're running against Donald Trump, isn't there a way to use his sort of respect for Vladimir Putin against him?
SIMMONS: The thing about Donald Trump is the people who are for him are for him. It's hard to move those people off him. The question is, how do you limit his growth? I think if you're a rival campaign, your only hope is to try to keep people from moving toward him and consolidate some votes that are out there that aren't his. The thing about Trump, he's addicted to the adulations. One of the toughest things in politics is not to go after the cheap seats. It's so easy to go after the applause lines. It's so easy to get people to follow you based on some small nuggets. You have to try to get people's sights set bigger. That's the place where Trump gets to be a tougher candidate for people to swallow.
BERMAN: Vladimir Putin did not caucus in Davenport or Cedar Rapids.
BOLDUAN: No, he's a little busy.
Great to see you, guys.
BERMAN: Nia, Jamal, thank you so much.
SIMMONS: Take care.
BERMAN: Let's talk about another candidate, Jeb Bush on the comeback trail, or at least trying, a trail that runs over Donald Trump. What he told me about just how far he is willing to push his anti-Trump campaign.
BOLDUAN: Plus, the feud between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heating up with a new ad, and some old tape that suggests one of them may not be telling the whole truth.
And a homework assignment shutting down an entire school district today. Hear why parents are furious, saying a teacher was trying to convert their children to Islam.
[11:16:07] BERMAN: Jeb Bush stepping up to become the anti-Trump candidate. He says he is the only candidate willing to stand up to the front-runner. There are new ads, new tweets, new statements all targeting Trump. But just how bad does Bush think Trump is? Does he think that he would make a better president than, say, Hillary Clinton?
I asked him that and more on "A.C. 360." Watch.
BERMAN: I want to start with your reaction to the reporting from the Russian news agency. They quote Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, Donald Trump "is a bright and talented person without any doubt, and the absolute leader of the presidential race." Donald Trump has responded. He says it's, quote, "a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."
So, what do you make of all that?
JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I don't respect Vladimir Putin. He's the leader of an important country. Certainly, not a regional power, as Barack Obama called him. But to get praise from Vladimir Putin is not going to help Donald Trump. He's not a serious candidate. And he would bring chaos to the presidency just as he's done to this campaign. It's entertaining, but the simple fact is, we're -- we're at war right now with Islamic terrorism and he's not offered one compelling specific thing to do to keep us safe. It's all high volume, lots of talk, but nothing specific because he hasn't taken the time to learn the issues. And I think we need someone with a steady hand in the presidency. We're never going to beat Hillary Clinton with grandiosity, with big language, without something to back it up.
BERMAN: You say he's not a serious candidate. You say he's the candidate of chaos. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Your campaign, Tim Miller said, you're doing due diligence, looking to whether you can pull out of that pledge you signed to support the Republican nominee, whoever it is, including Donald Trump. Why? Why are you doing that due diligence?
BUSH: Because Donald Trump had threatened to go, once again, to become a third-party candidate. So, I didn't know they were doing this, but that's a smart thing to do in the campaign, is to determine exactly what the consequences are for making that kind of decision.
Look, my intention is to win the nomination. And I think as we get closer to the caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire, that Donald Trump will begin to fall because he's not a serious candidate.
BERMAN: You spent a lot of time on the campaign trail the last couple months saying you're sick about Donald Trump. Now your super PAC went up with an ad today praising you for going after Donald Trump. You seem much more willing on the debates and on the stump to talk about Donald Trump. Why is this now a good strategy for your campaign?
BUSH: Well, my strategy is to talk about my plans. And when you compare it to Donald Trump, it makes it more vivid that long before the attacks in Paris and the tragedy in San Bernardino, I laid out a specific proposal to be able to destroy is, which is exactly what we need to do. It requires America's leadership in the world. It requires building an army, Sunni-led, in Syria, and getting back in the game as it relates to Iraq. Without American leadership, this isn't going to happen. We can't do it alone. When you compare that to Donald Trump, who late September said that ISIS was not a threat and says let Russia take care of Syria, when their interest is to prop up one of the most brutal regimes in the world, it shows the lack of understanding of where we are in the world today.
BERMAN: Would he make a better president than Hillary Clinton?
BUSH: I don't think Hillary Clinton will be elected president of the United States. She's not trustworthy and her proposals aren't much better.
BERMAN: You didn't answer my question. Will he make a better president than Hillary Clinton?
BUSH: I've learned not to answer questions. That's one of the things you do in political discourse. You answer what you want to say.
[11:19:50] BERMAN: Wait. So you're just not going to answer outright? Don't Republican voters deserve to know? You're talking Donald Trump every day now, which is something you got into reluctantly.
BUSH: Yeah, I am.
BERMAN: So, do you think he would make a better president than --
BUSH: I don't think he's qualified to be -- oh, absolutely. I'd be a better president than Hillary Clinton. That's why I'm running for president
BERMAN: No, no, does Donald Trump --
BUSH: My point is -- my point is he's not qualified to be commander- in-chief of the United States of the greatest American force. He's had a chance to bone up. God willing he'll do it. It looks like it's all about him, not about creating strategies to keep us safe. And the world right now has been turned asunder, turned upside down because of the lack of American leadership. We don't need another version of that as the Republican nominee.
BOLDUAN: There you have it.
Another Republican rivalry, the feud between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz is also picking up steam with fresh attacks coming from both candidates, fueling the bad blood is a long-standing fight over immigration reform. Cruz accusing Rubio of supporting amnesty. Rubio accusing Cruz of supporting a path to legalization. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's going to have a hard time because he's not told the truth on his position in the past on legalization.
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I oppose amnesty. I oppose citizenship. I oppose legalization for illegal aliens. I always have and I always will. And I challenge every other Republican candidate to say the same thing or, if not, then to stop making silly assertions that their records and my records on immigration are the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And that's not over yet. That's for sure.
Joining us to discuss is influential Iowa Congressman and supporter of Ted Cruz, Congressman Steve King.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
REP. STEVE KING, (R), IOWA: Thank you for having me on.
BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.
As I said, this fight between Rubio and Cruz dates back for years. You've been there for this fight on immigration reform and where they stand. I want you to listen to this, though. This is from 2013. This is Ted Cruz talking. It sure sounds like he's saying he supports legalization. Not citizenship, but legalization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: I don't want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass. So, I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is to pass common-sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves illegal immigration, and that allows those here illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, Congressman, how do you explain it, then?
KING: Well, of course, I'm in this arena over here on the House side. I've been involved in this debate for a long time. People know exactly where I stand. I oppose amnesty. I appreciate exactly what Ted Cruz has said about being opposed to legalization, to amnesty.
But here's what I believe happened, and that is he offered an amendment that drew a bright line in blocking citizenship as being a component of the Gang of Eight bill. When he did that, what was left in the bill was legalization because you couldn't divide legalization from citizenship any other way. And his argument was a rhetorical argument to convince the other side to vote for his amendment. I've done that a number of times myself. Anybody in this arena knows that. Marco Rubio's got to know that.
Here's the deciding line. If you want to -- if you wonder what it really meant, Ted Cruz never said, I'll vote for the bill if my amendment passes. Had he said that, then he might be able to make this argument, but he did not. He was simply trying to get his amendment to pass because it was a poison bill in the bill.
BERMAN: It's complicated Washington speak, but he was supporting an amendment for legalization. Was he for legalization before he was against it?
KING: John, I would define it this way, though. He drafted an amendment and introduced it that locked citizenship out of the Gang of Eight's bill. All the rest of the component of the Gang of Eight bill remained within the bill. You could also argue the other component he was for. He wanted to draw that bright line to take citizenship out of the Gang of Eight bill to expose this really is about documenting undocumented Democrats. That's why Chuck Schumer and others support it. Marco Rubio's agenda is something he needs to answer to instead of Ted Cruz on this one.
BOLDUAN: The fact that Ted Cruz has been tripping up trying to answer this following the debate, is that because he's been -- he was disingenuous now or he's being disingenuous now? Because it doesn't seem to the layman you can be both.
KING: That sounds like a lawyer question. Is he disingenuous then or now? I think he can be genuine both times. But I heard him say most recently in the last few days is precisely accurate the way I understand Ted Cruz's immigration policy. It's very consistent with his 11-page immigration document he put out, that he has said many times, that Senator Jeff Sessions and I had input into that. I've parsed every word in that 11-page document. I trust and know Ted Cruz. If people don't trust him and know him well enough, I say, look at me, I've stood on this thing for 13 years, opposed every form of immigration, including amnesty, including legalization. Jeff Sessions has done the same thing. All of the people that you trust in the Senate on this issue voted with Ted Cruz on every amendment and voted against the Gang of Eight's bill. So this is a great big stretch to find one thing you can parse a phrase or be critical of Ted Cruz when you have Marco Rubio sitting there with the entire Gang of Eight bill he's embraced. That is perpetual amnesty, instantaneous amnesty, and even retroactive amnesty. It sends an invitation to people that have been deported, reapply and come back to America. I think that's where the accountability needs to be on this.
And if that bill had passed, America would be far less safe today. We would have open borders, people certified, legalized in the United States that could travel back and forth, especially into Mexico, at will. That makes us more and more vulnerable, not just to terrorists but also to drug smuggling and all kinds of crimes.
By the way, Ted Cruz understands -- the center is this, we have to restore the respected for the rule of law if we are going to be a first world not a third world country. That's a great big reason why I've endorsed Ted Cruz for president of the United States. BERMAN: Congressman Steve King, seems like the battle is on. I know
we'll be hearing about this from both candidates going forward.
Thank you, sir.
KING: Thank you.
BERMAN: An entire school district closed today, not because of a threat but because of a homework assignment. The parents say that assignment was aimed at converting their children.
BOLDUAN: Plus this, is Will Smith thinking about entering politics? The Hollywood mega star sits down with CNN and talks of a possible run. Also talks about the NFL and much, much more. You don't want to miss this.