Return to Transcripts main page


Turkey Deported Terrorist to Netherlands with Warning; Lindsey Graham Questions Ted Cruz's Muslim Surveillance Plan; Can Cruz Get Anti Trump Super Pac to Stand Down on Candidate Wives; Polls; Clinton Beating Trump. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 24, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00:] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to Ibrahim el Bakraoui, in particular, this was not someone on any sort of list. He came into Turkey and spent some time in a holiday resort area, and then he moved to where we are, very close to the border with Syria. This is one of the main areas that is a launching point for those who are wanting to go into the battlefield and join up with ISIS.

The Turks flagged him while he was here, put him under surveillance, and then eventually brought him in. They firmly believe that his intent was to be a foreign fighter with is. They notified the Belgians of this, they say. The Belgians responded a few days later, all of this happening way back in July of last year.

The Belgian response was, while we know who this guy is, we know he has ties to criminal organizations, but we have no solid evidence of him having any ties to any terrorist organizations. Turkey when deported el Bakraoui back to Europe, and then what happened, what happened in Brussels. In the other instance, one of them, when Turkey notified officials about a suspected person, they were involved in the horrific massacre in Paris.

Turkey says it's doing the best it can when it receives intelligence from various different European and other authorities. It is deporting people. It has upwards of 38,000 individuals on a watch list. But Turkey is adamant it's Europe that needs to up its game when on intelligence that Turkey is providing.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Something needs to change and change very quickly, which is clear.

Arwa, thank you so much. It's great to see you.

I want to bring in right now Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a journalist, author, and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and also CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier, to talk more about this.

Kim, let's talk about what we heard from the interior minister who said we missed a chance here to stop at least one of the attackers. After Paris, how does this happen?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: In Brussels, over the weekend, at a conference focused on terrorism, and one of the things top Belgian initials said we know we need to change. We know we need better intelligence and we're working on it. We need help in more intelligence sharing. The question is how can they share that intelligence before they get their own house in order? They've got six different police departments throughout the city of Brussels. They've got a tiny security service only 12,000 or so strong. A couple of different intelligence agencies. And all of these things, they don't talk. When you think back to our own post 9/11 introspection, it took a long time to come up with a 9/11 report. We set up with National Director of Intelligence and we set up the National Counterterrorism Center. That took almost a decade, and they're still making changes. Brussels is just at the beginning of this, as is all of Europe.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and, Gayle, what Kim is saying, there's clearly a long-term problem, a long-term solutions needed and changes in Belgium and beyond. But they are facing a very real, very immediate threat right now. What can be changed?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, JOURNALIST & SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS & AUTHOR: Well, and this has always been the issue. You have a relatively small security apparatus with one of the largest problems of fighters returning. You have about 11 million people and about 500 foreign fighters. About 100 foreign fighters, we think, that people are monitoring. And a security apparatus of post 9/11 changed. There is not enough information sharing when you talk to people. There's not enough real understanding of what those communities are and what the threat is that they're facing. 10 years ago reporters were going undercover in neighborhoods saying this is something we have to pay take attention to. And 10 years later, people are talking about it and less done.

BOLDUAN: Kim, when you look at the number of foreign fighters, someone came out and said that European security agencies they there are about 5,000 suspects who were radicalized in Europe then traveling to Syria to fight and many of the 5,000 have now returned to Europe. I mean, there's growing concern that Belgium is just overwhelmed by the threat and by their foreign fighter problem. Is that kind of going without saying at this point?

DOZIER: Exactly. I've heard estimates as high as 1500 ISIS related fighters having returned to Europe. Some say this is on the high side. We're at least looking at several hundred. You have to mathematically extrapolate that. Some of people might have left the war zone because they didn't want to be part of ISIS anymore, but others, intelligence officials believe, have formed sleeper cells that may stage rolling attacks when they get hands on weapons and capability. They don't even need to be ISIS directed specifically. They just need to be ISIS-inspired.

[11:35:16] BOLDUAN: And, Gayle, it's one thing to say there's a long term problem of getting our house in order and dealing with a security issue in terms of Belgium but when the Turkish president comes out and says we flagged this guy before we deported him. What do you make of that he came out and said that and this suicide bomber still slipped through the cracks? TZEMACH LEMMON: He even talked about Brussels several days ago in

what is a horribly -- the statement saying they're dancing on a mine field and sometimes you step on a mine. It's awful. The thing is this isn't something that people didn't foresee. Right after Paris attacks, everyone was talking about Brussels, and one thing that's fascinating is you talk to administration officials. Back in 2013 they are saying our biggest fear is that this becomes sort of a club med Syria for foreign fighters who then take this fight back to Europe and god forbid to the United States. That was the fear in 2013. So the worst part is that we've seen this sort of slow rolling out of fears that have been held for years now.

BOLDUAN: Also, all the talk post-Paris attacks that the security services were doing a better job at coordinating and sharing information goes without saying. Much more needs to be done.


BOLDUAN: Gayle, Kim, thank you so much.

Still ahead, a high-profile Republican voice questioning Ted Cruz's proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods here in the United States in response to the attacks in Brussels. And this high-profile Republican voice also endorsed Ted Cruz. We'll be live with a top Cruz official next.


[11:41:43] BOLDUAN: New developments this morning over Senator Ted Cruz's proposal to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods here in the United States in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, former rival, but now someone who has endorsed Ted Cruz, had this to say this morning.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If it means we need to have a better policing relationship where we can gather intelligence from the Muslim community, that makes sense. If we're going to surveil them because they're Muslims, that doesn't make sense.


BOLDUAN: We are joined by Alice Stewart, a communications director for the Ted Cruz campaign.

Alice, great to see you. Thank you for coming in.



BOLDUAN: It's Kate. I know you know me very well.


BOLDUAN: No problem.

Let's start with Lindsey Graham, what he just said right there. This proposal, it's been out there for days, and it appears that folks still don't understand exactly what Ted Cruz wants to do. Even Lindsey Graham, a man who is supporting and fundraising for you guy, is questioning exactly what Ted Cruz wants to do. Which is it?

STEWART: Well, Kate, it's quite simple. He's talking about doing simple identifying problem spots and increasing the law enforcement presence there and taking root of the problem before it gets bigger in these neighborhoods. This is the same thing law enforcement does when it comes to fighting drugs and gang activity. If you see problems in a neighborhood, you increase the presence and have empowered law enforcement in there, and you identify the problem and root it out. Look, any person that's running for office and certainly any elected official that refuses to identify a problem such as radical Islamic terrorism and refuses to call it for what it is, is doing so at our own peril. Ted Cruz is trying to say this problem is growing. It's not going away despite the fact that President Obama likes to say that it is, and we need to call it for what it is. And we cannot have situations like we had in Brussels grow and get bigger and come over to our country.

BOLDUAN: So, Alice --


STEWART: This notion of identifying the problem at its root is exactly what needs to be done.

BOLDUAN: So, Alice, Ted Cruz spoke out against -- was against the ban on Muslims entering the country. How is this different than the Muslim ban? How is this not some sort of a religious test?

STEWART: What he is talking about, Kate, is radical Islamic terrorism, a radical elements of the --


BOLDUAN: He's talking about patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods. Those were his words.

STEWART: As this problem grows and every day we turn on the television and see more and more cases of ISIS growing, it's only smart for law enforcement on the local state and federal level to come up with new ways and creative ways to fight this.


BOLDUAN: So does he support the ban on Muslims entering the country now?

STEWART: We're talking -- I'm specifically talking about radical Islamic terrorism, radical elements of this group, and identifying it at the source, increasing the law enforcement presence, and having a visible presence. It works when we're talking about drug and gang activity. And it certainly will work in this case. Anyone who wants to put their head in the sand and act as though it's not happening is doing so at our national security peril.

[11:45:11] BOLDUAN: So does he support a ban on Muslims entering the country along those same lines now?

STEWART: In this case, we're talking about -- we're not talking about that. We're talking about increasing the law enforcement presence in neighborhoods when we see problem spots and making sure that this doesn't grow in neighborhoods. That's simply what he's talking about.

BOLDUAN: Do you know what neighborhoods you want to target?

STEWART: Look, we're talking big picture. We're talking about putting out solutions. Unlike Donald Trump who we don't even know what his foreign policy is. He hasn't provided any specifics with regard to his foreign policy. When he does, it's broad strokes from a pen. Ted Cruz is taking a strong stance when it comes to fighting terrorism and rooting out ISIS. When we had the terrible tragedy in Brussels, he came out with a forceful statement on the need to identify radical Islamic terrorism, on the need to wipe out and destroy is. Donald Trump has not done so. I think the key now is to identify ways we can take out is at the root and not have it grow. That's simply and exactly what Ted Cruz was referring to.

BOLDUAN: Alice, I have to get you to clarify something. On this show yesterday, the Trump campaign, an advisor to the Trump campaign, said yesterday, regarding this ridiculous feud between the spouses of Cruz and Trump, the Trump advisor said Cruz needs to apologize because he needs to apologize because it is Ted Cruz who needs to step up and get the super PAC behind this to stand down. Will you or have you told the super PAC to stand down?

STEWART: Well, first of all, I hate to inform Donald Trump, we're not in aversion of his reality TV show. We're running for president of the United States. His action and his behavior is conduct unbecoming of someone running for president.

This ad that was put out there was by someone we have absolutely nothing to do with. She does not do anything with us. We have plenty of super PACs. She is not one of them. And she is an anti-Trump PAC from, what we understand. And Donald Trump knows that. Yet, he still tied Ted Cruz in with this and has threatened Heidi Cruz. It's despicable. Ted Cruz denounced the ad. He said spouses and family members are off limits when it comes to the presidential race, and the discourse. And he has made that quite clear. Yet not only that, Donald Trump has done the original tweet on this, and he followed up with another disturbing tweet on this.

But this is a sad state of affairs when we have someone running for president who makes derogatory and insulting comments repeatedly against women. We had Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, and now Heidi Cruz. This is a pattern. Ted Cruz is out talking about the issues that the American people are

concerned with. He's talking about what to do to improve our economy, ways we can fight against ISIS and strengthen our national security. And that is why he's doing well. That's why he's in a statistical dead heat in the latest polls. He's going to be in Wisconsin there. The latest polls, he's leading there. The race is tightening up and it's because Ted is talking about the issues people are concerned with. And Donald Trump is instead resulting to insults and distracting from the issues. It's going to make a huge difference as we move further down this process and Ted gets the nomination.

BOLDUAN: As we say -- as we say with this whole unpredictable election, we'll see on what impacting this latest back and forth has on those numbers.

Alice, thank you very much for your time.

STEWART: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

So what does Team Trump have to say about all of this? We're live next with a senior Trump campaign advisor. Stay with us.



[11:53:12] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: One of the polls just came out, and a number of them have just come out. I'm beating Hillary Clinton quite easily. Thank you.

Polls show that I beat Hillary Clinton. Many polls show that I beat Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: Many polls have come out that I easily beat Hillary Clinton. The one person that Hillary doesn't want to run against, I will tell you this, is Donald Trump.


BOLDUAN: He says Hillary Clinton would be easy to beat. But a brand- new CNN/ORC poll out just this morning shows Donald Trump losing to Clinton by double digits in a general election match-up, 42-56. Clinton also tops Trump on a number of key qualities of the candidate, including who would be the better commander in chief, who is more in touch with the middle class, and who the voters agree with on the issues, and also who is more honest and trustworthy.

Let's talk with Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to Donald Trump and a top aide to Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Stephen, welcome back.

Let's start, though, where I just ended with the Ted Cruz campaign. Alice Stewart, his communications director, saying that this back and forth over the wives and the fight and the feud and the spilling the beans and now the retweets. Let's put up the retweets so our viewers can see it. That Donald Trump sent overnight. She calls that conduct unbecoming of the office he's trying to run for, and also points out that the ad -- the Ted Cruz campaign had absolutely nothing to do with this. And has nothing to do with that super PAC. Stephen?

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & TOP AIDE TO SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS: Thanks for having me back on. It was interesting. You asked Ms. Stewart about my comments and whether or not the Cruz campaign would call on the super PACs to stand down, and she wouldn't. She said something about a reality TV show, it was hard to follow. But she wouldn't call on the super PACs to stand down. This began with a super PAC trying to stop Trump and help Cruz. And to this day, as you just heard there, they won't go out and condemn and also ask to stand down and cease and desist this super PAC. That's what's going on here.

[11:55:13] BOLDUAN: So, Stephen, this could have ended yesterday, with our conversation, because this could have ended because the candidates could have ended it. But Donald Trump then sent out the retweet, "No need to spill the beans. The images are worth 1,000 words." Explain the retweet. Explain this coming from Donald Trump.

MILLER: I think the retweet speaks for itself. There was a vicious mean-spirited --


MILLER: -- uncalled-for attack on Mr. Trump's wife. And it was a personal attack about her image and appearance. And so he responded as any normal person would. So I don't really understand what the concern is. But I will say, again, that the Cruz campaign needs to tell the super PACs, and their donors, to stand down.

BOLDUAN: Stephen, Stephen, this retweet, coming from your guy, has nothing to do with the super PAC. It has nothing to do with donors. This is Trump continuing to want to talk about this fight, after both sides have had their say. I do wonder, why does Donald Trump want to continue to talk about this. Because as I look at this retweet, as a woman, it's demeaning to not only Ted Cruz's wife, it's demeaning to Melania Trump. Because she's got a lot more going for her than just her looks and you don't see that in this retweet.

MILLER: Well, I would not presume to speak as to what Mrs. Trump or Mr. Trump or anyone else in the family views the tweet. But I think the retweet speaks for itself. And I think that you and I are probably just going to have to agree to disagree on this, which is fine. Not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on things 100 percent of the time.


BOLDUAN: So you --


MILLER: But we don't agree --

BOLDUAN: You endorse the retweet then? You endorse the retweet?

MILLER: Of course I do. Of course I endorse the decision to retweet it. You and I are aren't going to see eye-to-eye on everything, and that's fine. That's what's great about America. We're not going to agree on everything 100 percent of the time. And that's OK. But I think what really matters, and I was trying to get to yesterday, and I don't want to -- I don't want to dominate the conversation, just keep talking. But I want to make this point real quickly, if you'll let me. Which is just to say, very straight forwardly, that the super PACs and the donors and the special interests united behind Ted Cruz in trying to stop Donald Trump are doing it for one reason only, which is to cling on to power in Washington, D.C., to continue sending our manufacturing jobs overseas, leaving our borders wide open to wage suppressing immigration, and to continue reckless foreign wars that are bankrupting the country and making us less safe and increasing the threat of terrorists across the world. That's what this is about. That's why you see these super PACs doing what they're doing. And everyday working people in this country who want to change in policies are going to vote for Mr. Trump by the millions, because they know, whether it's woman's issues or whether it's wage issues or economic issues, the real issues affecting families in this country is the destruction of our middle class.

BOLDUAN: I'll say this, though, Stephen, again, this retweet has nothing to do with the super PAC, because the super PAC had nothing to do with creating this retweet, or having your boss retweet it.

And, yes, we will agree on one thing. Put politics out of this. You and I are not going to agree on endorsing something that is demeaning to women, including Donald Trump's wife. I do --


MILLER: Women want safe communities. They want better jobs.

BOLDUAN: Women also want to be taken for more than what they look like.

MILLER: They want security. And I couldn't agree with that more. And the campaign -- we are going to be the best administration for women's issues in this country. And the most important thing to keep in mind is that women in America have been destroyed economically by misguided policies, on taxes, regulations, immigration and trade. And we are going to reverse that. And we are going to --


BOLDUAN: Stephen, how about this? Tell your boss to stop perpetuating this conversation and you and I can talk about important things, like maybe -- MILLER: You and I --


BOLDUAN: -- how he would handle the threat of terrorism. He continues to just want to retweet this kind of feud with Ted Cruz.

MILLER: We are the only campaign who is going to protect our communities from terrorism.

BOLDUAN: Stephen Miller.

We'll be back in a moment.

Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you.