Return to Transcripts main page


Philadelphia Officer Miraculously Survives Ambush; 2 Iraqi Refugees Arrested on Terrorist-Related Charges; Rubio, Cruz in Dueling Town Halls as Cruz Defends Citizenship; Maine Governor Paul LePage Defends Comments. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 8, 2016 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] JEANNE MOSS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



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

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.


The Philadelphia police commissioner says he doesn't know how the officer survived. The commissioner said a gunman walked up to the officer sitting in his cruiser, ambushing him, shooting the officer execution-style, so close that he was even -- he even ended up in the car.

BERMAN: The 911 call is simply harrowing.


OFC. JESSE HARTNETT, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Shots fired. I'm shot. I'm bleeding heavily.

9/11 OPERATOR: All cars stand by. We have an officer shot. 6- 0 and Spruce. Repeating in the 18th district assisting officer 6-0 and Spruce. We have an officer down.

HARTNETT: I'm bleeding.


BERMAN: Wow. Investigators say the attacker fired at least 13 times before he himself was shot and taken into custody. The officer, 33-year-old Jesse Hartnett, is expected to make a full recovery, thankfully.

Our Jason Carroll is following the story.

That is just chilling, that 911 call.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You listen to that dispatch call and it takes your breath away. The governor called the act horrifying.

To give you a few more details on what happened here, this all happened at about 11:40 last night in west Philadelphia. Officer Jesse Hartnett was out on patrol when this suspect flagged him down and opened fire, firing some 13 times, striking Officer Hartnett, we're told, at least three times in the arm.

Late last night, both the city's mayor and the police commissioner speaking out about this attack. When both of them spoke out they talked about that this had no place for this type of violence in the city of Philadelphia.

We should also point out some more details that came out about this. We are hearing that Officer Hartnett was able to fire back, striking the suspect three times.


CARROLL: He somehow had the state of mind to do this, which is incredible. More details will be coming out about this in terms of his injuries. We're told he has a broken arm, severe nerve damage as well but he's expected to make a full recovery.

And when you see and you hear about the details of this, of the shooting, it's just incredible that this officer survived.

BERMAN: A lot of questions here still about the motive, about the perpetrator.

BOLDUAN: Any suggestion they -- they knew each other, there was a history?

CARROLL: They're going to be looking at all possibilities. Of course, what this raises to mind is what we think of here in New York City in 2014 when you had two New York City police officers who were ambushed in Brooklyn. Their names, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. We all remember that story. In that case, it was a man from Baltimore who had an axe to grind with police. In this particular situation, they'll look at all options.

BERMAN: We expect to hear from Philadelphia officials some time soon.

Jason Carroll, thanks so much.

CARROLL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Also happening AT THIS HOUR, in Texas, a Houston man charged with providing material support to ISIS. He is set to appear in court. He's one of two Iraqi refugees who were arrested yesterday on terrorism-related charges. The other man is a Sacramento, California, resident. Law enforcement officials say the two allegedly communicated with each other about weapons training in Syria.

BERMAN: CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, following the story for us.

Pamela, what's the latest?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, these two men, 24-year-old Omar al Hardan, from Houston, and 24-year-old Mohammed al Jayab, from Sacramento, both from Iraq, living in the U.S. as refuse geese and they're accused of lying to immigration officials about their alleged ties to terrorist organizations. One of these men, al Jayab, allegedly traveled to Syria to fight along terrorists. The other, al Hardan is accused of providing material support to ISIS, according to the criminal complaint.

These two men were in communication with one another online. They allegedly discussed things like weapons training in Syria. In fact, al Jayab allegedly offered to teach al Hardan how to use guns in Syria, fighting alongside terrorists.

Al Hardan entered the U.S. in 2009. He was granted a legal permanent residence status in August 2011, according to the Justice Department. He's charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Al Jayab entered the U.S. as an Iraqi refugee in 2012.

This will certainly fuel this debate about whether refugee screening in the U.S. is sufficient. As we talked about before, there were two Iraqi refugees arrested a few years ago who killed American soldiers and they came to the U.S. And then biometrics revealed their fingerprints were on bombs used against U.S. soldiers. We know there's this huge debate right now about whether the screening for Syrian refugees is enough. Both of these men, Kate and John, are scheduled to appear in court today.

[11:05:55] BERMAN: Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

After learning about these terrorists late last night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Republican presidential candidate, argued these arrests are new evidence that the U.S. should not accept Syrian refugees.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These arrests underscore the need, number one, for President Obama to suspend this indefensible policy to put political correctness ahead of national security.

I commend the law enforcement for apprehending these two individuals but their apprehension raises the immediate question, who else is there? What are they planning next? And what can we do to prevent the next terrorist attack before yet more innocent life is taken?


BERMAN: Joining us now is Michael Wildes, U.S. immigration attorney and former federal prosecutor.

Michael, thank you for being with us.


BERMAN: This man accused was arrested, among other things, for lying on an application to become a U.S. citizen. He lied. He said he had no connection to terror organizations. He also said on the application he had never received weapons training. Now it is alleged that both were false. Simply put, when you ask someone that question, is that thorough enough screening?

WILDES: Right now the government will start rescission proceedings and eventually take away the green card and have these people put into removal proceedings after punished criminally.

To answer your question, it's never enough. Unless you have a note from your dictator or you have absolute intelligence of where the person traveled, this is an extraordinary snapshot of what we're facing here, the challenge of vetting individuals and maintaining the beacon of hope that America has been for the world over. Since World War II we have 60 million people refugees, mostly ill, mostly malnourished, and most of them looking to help find a new home throughout the world. What is America's challenge here is to commend these officers, as the good Senator suggested. But to remind ourselves the Senator is off key on this issue.

BOLDUAN: How so?

WILDES: We cannot forget that legacy we have for immigration. We have are a safe haven. Our founding fathers established this nation as a place of safety. If you look at immigration -- I'm a former federal prosecutor, I used to remove people, now I help the good eggs stay in America. If you look at it as an extraordinary opportunity and tool, these individuals, no matter what day they pray, no matter what faith they are, no matter how they look and what language they speak, will become Americans and will fight, and their children will become Marines and they will employ other Americans. We need them.

BOLDUAN: Michael, the suggestion, as you heard from Ted Cruz, you hear now from the Texas governor speaking out after this man was arrested in Houston, they say that you have to halt resettlement until the vetting process is fixed, is seen as actually being effective. It leads to the question, do you believe -- and you deal with these applications, you deal with these refugees -- with these people, with this process. Do you believe this vetting process can be fixed to the satisfaction of folks who are criticizing it?

WILDES: Absolutely. It has to be tweaked. It takes time. We have a case in our office right now, Mohammed Goulab (ph). Mohammed Goulab (ph) was a goat herder who saved Marcus Latrel (ph) the feature of the lone survivor movie of that Navy SEAL that was helped. He is a refugee. It took a year and a half to have him vetted. If we don't instinctively use our immigration tools to --


BOLDUAN: If it's easy to fix, then why haven't they fixed it?

WILDES: It's not easy to fix.


WILDES: If you don't want to bring in people -- if Germany will bring in a million people, they need more police officers like on New Year's so they don't have challenges. We have to commend our intelligence and military officials because they have to step up if our immigration tools --


BERMAN: You are on the inside of this process to a certain extent. What do you think is happening now? Now that they've uncovered these two guys, now that they've gone through the applications and seen perhaps where the lies were, how can you go back and look for more people who might have done similar things?

[11:10:03] WILDES: We have a new normal now, social media. We have greater intelligence and we have our intelligence services using greater intelligence. We represented the gentleman who was the shoe bomber. He was the hero who was in a dead sleep, woke up. We've been chasing shoe bombers and underwear bombings and the radicalization of women. At this stage, we're going to get one step ahead of them, and that is the challenge that our government has. Our founding fathers would want us to meet that challenge so we don't throw out the mantra of why we were established.

BERMAN: Michael Wildes, thank you for coming here and helping us out. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: It's complicated because it goes from the vetting process but quickly enters the political process.

WILDES: Republicans are scaring people and it's completely inappropriate.

BERMAN: This is part of the campaign right now. We've been hearing from both sides.

Michael, thank you so much.

WILDES: Thank you.

BERMAN: Just ahead, an ISIS terrorist executed his own mother in public. How she embarrassed him and why the terror group ordered this murder. BOLDUAN: Plus, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, going at each other on the

campaign trail. And right now they're holding simultaneous town halls. Ted Cruz says the establishment is panicking.

BERMAN: Dueling town halls.

BOLDUAN: Dueling town halls. They're yelling at each other right there.

And I would like to quote a United States governor, "Drug dealers named D. Money and Smoothy are coming here and impregnating white girls." He's now being called racist. The whole story ahead, and what that governor is saying today.


BERMAN: Breaking news. Run, do not walk to your local convenience store. The Powerball jackpot has now topped $800 million. That is an American all-time record high.

BOLDUAN: So, this is, what, the 18th jackpot that went unanswered, no one. That's why it's so high. That's why, everyone, I might not see on Monday when I win.

BERMAN: I have two sources telling me $800 million is, in fact, a lot of money.

BOLDUAN: You have two sources?

[11:15:11] BERMAN: Christine Romans --


BERMAN: You'll hear from Christine in a second. She tells me that your odds of winning are less than -- less than --


BOLDUAN: Our Money Debbie Downer.

BERMAN: The odds are less than getting struck by lightning while you are drowning. Think about that.

BOLDUAN: Has that ever happened?

BERMAN: Let that sink in for a minute.

BOLDUAN: Sinking.

BERMAN: There you go.


There is other financial news this morning that will actually affect you more directly. A blockbuster jobs report. We just learned the economy added nearly 300,000 jobs last month making 2015 one of the best years for job gains in more than a decade.

And that aforementioned CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, aka, Money Debbie Downer, is joining us with the latest -- Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I prefer money realist. I love how lottery number is back to back with the jobs number. Let's talk about these very good numbers we heard from the federal government. December job growth, 292,000 jobs. That's a solid performance for the American economy. All that worry earlier this week with China and whether that was a downer for the U.S. Economy and job growth, it wasn't for the end of the year. Let me show you the unemployment rate. Right down here at 5 percent. That's hanging down there at that eight-year low we've been seeing for some months. That's a good place to be. There are economists saying, if you keep seeing the job growth we see at end of last year, you're talking about full employment some time early this year. When you look at the black unemployment rate, that fell sharply. So, all of these indicators that been struggling to keep up with the general momentum in the labor market have started to look better. Let me show you the sectors, across the board except for energy. These jobs right here, business and information, require a college degree, many have benefits, retirement plan, pay better. Those are doing well. The construction jobs, the housing market still being robust. Health care, month after month, guys, we have seen the health care sector grow jobs from low paid, home health aides up to surgeons and people who run ambulatory care clinics. Lots of different jobs in health care.

BERMAN: Lot of good news heading into the new year with tail winds, which is nice to see.

BOLDUAN: I'm still buying a ticket, Christine.

BERMAN: You'll buy a lottery ticket?

BOLDUAN: Do you ever buy a lottery ticket?

ROMANS: Occasionally I do, for the office pool just for the camaraderie. I take two bucks just to feel like a part of the group.

BOLDUAN: We I win, are you not going to eat crow?


BERMAN: I digress. The only reason I buy lottery tickets is when I did live shots for morning shows. The anchor would say, he so, you bought your ticket yet? You feel like a jerk if you say no so I always bought one.


BOLDUAN: Did you ever --


BERMAN: I never won.


BERMAN: Christine Romans, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Christine.

BERMAN: Happening right now, actual important stuff going on. We have --


BOLDUAN: What? The lottery is important.

BERMAN: -- live dueling town hall events. The man on your right, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he is in New Hampshire. On your left, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, is about to begin a town hall event. They are happening at the very same time in two very important early states. The issues these men are talking about, very, very important. They've been going directly at each other on the trail now for several days.

BOLDUAN: What is additionally interesting here is Ted Cruz is taking a new tactic on this controversy that he's been facing about his citizenship. John McCain, he says, has been attacking him on the question of his citizenship because the establishment is panicking and he says John McCain really wants Marco Rubio to win the nomination. So, does Ted Cruz have a point? What is Ted Cruz trying to get at here?

Joining us to discuss, Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter and chief political correspondent for "USA Networks"; and Ron Bonjean, a long-time political operative in Congress.

Great to see you guys.

Ron, on this issue, first and foremost, Ted Cruz, not the week he was planning on, facing constant questions about his citizenship if it makes him ineligible to be president. With all of that in mind, and the fact the week may be lost for Ted Cruz, has Donald Trump already won this round?

RON BONJEAN, PARTNER, ROKK SOLUTIONS: Oh, definitely. Trump has Trumped Ted Cruz this week. He's taken him off message. He's taken the campaign off their plan and he's forced Ted Cruz to respond. That is the worst possible scenario you could have going into these Iowa caucuses. I tell you, Donald Trump is a master of this. And while Ted Cruz is an excellent campaigner, there's no way you could get out of it.

[11:20:01] BERMAN: Let me show you the flipside of this, Scottie, because Ted Cruz may not be suffering all that much. We have new favorable numbers out from Gallup. Among Republican candidates, among Republican voters, Ted Cruz has the highest net favorability, that means voters look on him more favorably than anybody else. I found this fascinating because so much we hear about Ted Cruz. Washington hates him. Look at all these Senators who hate him. You know who doesn't hate him? Actual Republican voters out there in America. What do you make of that?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, USA NETWORKS & TRUMP SUPPORTER: Obviously it's the voters. This has helped Ted Cruz for a variety of reasons. There's a lot of different theories. We know if the Washington establishment hates you, the Republicans, and the Democrats hate you, then guess what? The Republican electorate loves you. This has been a great week for Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa and it will be interesting to see if this story continues. And who continues next week.

BOLDUAN: That's a good question. We'll see who's on the Sunday shows. I think Donald Trump is on a couple of them and Ted Cruz as well.

Ron, what is your take on this, what is the disconnect between Washington and main street when it comes to Ted Cruz and is he a likeable guy?

BONJEAN: Look. Most people watching don't like Ted Cruz and Ted Cruz planned it that way. He lit the place on fire and then went out and started campaigning across the United States because people hate Washington. That's why Donald Trump is doing so well because he and Ted Cruz would like to take a wrecking ball.

BOLDUAN: You're saying this was all a long-term plan by --


BONJEAN: Can you believe it? It's kind of funny. But it's also funny that Ted Cruz is a United States Senator. He is actually part of the establishment and he is an elected official in Washington. That's why Trump has been doing so well because he is not. He has done such a good job, you know, trying to collect the disaffected people that are angry across this country. And Ted Cruz has put together a fantastic organization based upon fund-raising and grassroots and all that stuff that needs to happen to win in places like Iowa. Both are trying to get the anti-establishment vote. I just think it's interesting. Ted Cruz is part of Washington but he's done a good job pouring gasoline all over the place, lighting it on fire.


BERMAN: Scottie, I want to ask you about what may be the whiff of panic now coming from the Washington establishment, because just within the last 24 hours, we've heard from two establishment guys, Doug Hye, worked for the RNC, and Michael Gerson, a speech writer for George W. Bush. Let me read you what Doug writes. He writes, "Because of Trump's perversion of conservatism along with the devastating impact he would have if nominated, I cannot support Donald Trump if he becomes the nominee." Michael Gerson says, "The worst outcome for the party would be the nomination of Donald Trump." Doug Hye, Michael Gerson, two respected individuals from within the party. So, Scottie, Is the condemnation for Donald Trump the best news or the worst news for him or the best news ever?

HUGHES: I think it's the best news ever. For the last eight years, we've heard the rumor that a third party needed to be started by these conservatives within the GOP that were frustrated about the type of leadership we kept electing. It's bigger than names like Trump and Cruz. It's about the life and death of a movement. It is who is a conservative majority, really a majority of the GOP. The establishment wants nothing more than to see the death nail. They feel like if they can topple Trump and Cruz, guess what, you'll not hear any more from the troublemakers called the Tea Party or conservatives. However, if those two are elected, the establishment will have to rethink or they'll be the ones put in the ground.

BOLDUAN: Ron, I know Doug Heye is a good friend of yours and a good friend of the shows and we respect Michael Gerson as well. What if Donald Trump is the nominee? Can you really say I'm not with him, no matter what?

BONJEAN: That's the thing. The RNC says they'll back the nominee, no matter who it is. I think many Republicans that are called establishment or, frankly, conservatives are worried about Donald Trump being the nominee because Donald Trump is not a conservative. He supports universal health care. He --



BONJEAN: Yes, he does.


HUGHES: That is an establishment talking point.


BONJEAN: No. That is Donald Trump supporter spin talk. He's said a number of things that are not Republican, not conservative. Trump follows his own drum. That's fine. What he's done is collected people who are against -- who I have big problems with immigration, illegal immigration in this country and has been able to light that on fire and been able to increase the support. The fact of the matter is he really is not a conservative and there are conservative organizations that agree with that as well.


BERMAN: Hang on, Scottie, because we've got to run here.

But, Ron, I want to get a yes or no question as we sit here in the early January. Can Donald Trump win, yes or no?


BONJEAN: I would say, yes, he can. People have said he couldn't win all along and he's done so well that I'd have to say, yes, he can.

BERMAN: I think that's --


BONJEAN: I don't the presidency, but the --


BERMAN: You're starting to hear that.

[11:25:11] BOLDUAN: We heard that from Barry Bennett, the former campaign manager for Ben Carson.

BERMAN: Scottie Nell Hughes, Ron Bonjean, great to have you with us. We appreciate it. We'll have this argument again some time soon.

HUGHES: Thank you.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: You can bet on that. Maybe not the lottery, but that.

BERMAN: More politics now. Moments ago, the governor of Maine defended his remarks about "drug dealers impregnating white girls." Those were his actual words that are being called by some racist. You have to wait until you hear his, well, explanation.

BOLDUAN: And also new this morning, a big clue in the manhunt for the fugitive in the Paris attacks. Hear what authorities found inside an apartment that could lead them closer to his capture.


BOLDUAN: Just moments ago we heard from the outspoken governor of Maine, Paul LePage, who is facing a lot of criticism for these comments some are calling racially charged that he made a town hall regarding drug trafficking in his state. Listen.


PAUL LEPAGE, (R), GOVERNOR OF MAINE: These are people that take drugs. These are guys named D. Money, Smoothy, Shifty, these types of guys that come from Connecticut, New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.


BERMAN: Interesting. You know, you heard some Chuckles when he said Shifty and D. Money. You didn't hear any Chuckles when he said impregnated white girls.

This is how the governor defended those comments a few minutes ago.


LEPAGE: I was going impromptu and my brain didn't catch up to my mouth.