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Istanbul Airport Attack: At Least 36 Dead, 147 Wounded; Who Do Americans Trust on Terror? Aired 11-12a ET
Aired June 28, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:27] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT ANCHOR: Our breaking news on CNN, the deadly terror attack on one of the world's busiest airports. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Here's what we know right now.
Turkey's Prime Minister says at least 36 people are dead, 147 others reported wounded in a terror attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport.
No claim of responsibility yet, but U.S. officials suspect ISIS.
Three suicide bombers are dead. The Prime Minister says they arrived at the report in a taxi, opened fire and then blow themselves up. Panic as the terrified, some wounded desperately try to flee the carnage.
And meanwhile, here at home, the Americans having second thoughts about 4th of July travel plans. And which presidential candidate do they believe will keep us safe?
CNN's reporters are covering every angle of our breaking news tonight. Joe Duran is in Istanbul. Ivan Watson is in Paris. Elise Labott will join us from Washington, D.C.
We're going to start with Joe on the scene. Joe, describe the scene here for us now.
JOE DURAN, CNN JOURNALIST: Well, Don, it's -- the street has now opened, traffic is flowing. The airport, I believe, is about to open.
We have not heard any flights going out except one an hour ago, and I'm not sure that was a commercial flight. It might have been an official flight. There is less chaos, obviously, but it was different a few hours ago when we first arrived on the scene. There was chaos. There were a lot of passengers just making their way out of the airport, walking down the road, in the middle of the road with their bags and ambulances going in and out, many ambulances in and out of the airport, Don.
LEMON: And you said that right now, they are keeping you obviously a distance away. Explain to us where you are, and if you're seeing any activity at the airports, planes taking off or what. DURAN: We are about 200 meters from the entrance to the airport. The
blue sign that you see behind me is the entrance to the airport where you have security policemen there 24 hours a day with machine guns, and beyond that is the terminal where the explosions happened. It is another 300 meters.
We -- as I said, the traffic has opened, police are now allowing traffic to flow. We don't know the situation at the airport. We're not close enough. The police are not allowing us to go any further than where we are now.
LEMON: And, Joe, you spoke to people who were injured in the attack when you arrived on the scene, what did they say?
DURAN: Well, I was speaking to some of the passengers who were coming out of the -- walking down the street. There were thousands of them. And we spoke to some of them. They were in shock. Many of them did not want to speak. They just wanted to get out. And you also had people going and trying to get to the airport, family members who were obviously very worried, some of them crying, trying to get to the airport, but they were not being allowed in.
We did speak to one ambulance driver who told us he had already made two trips inside. He had blood stains on his shirt. He was waiting to go in and attend to more of the injured.
LEMON: All right, Joe, stand by. I want to bring in Ivan Watson now.
Ivan, you know this airport well, you traveled through it many times. You know officials there. Walk us through what happened.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to eyewitnesses, there seemed to have been a succession of blasts. Three of them, eyewitnesses, are saying, and that seems to match the account that's come from the Turkish government that has described at least three attackers, not only armed with what were possibly suicide belts, explosives, but also with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The Turkish Prime Minister saying that they opened fire first before detonating their explosives, and that caused an increase in the casualties.
Judging by the footage that has come out from the security cameras, from social media, it looks like there was damage on two levels of the international terminal. You've got the departures hall on the second floor and there's clearly damage inside that building as a result of some kind of a blast.
And then on the arrivals hall, there was damage certainly outside the building where the taxi lines would be, and that something took place there.
[23:05:01] And then, the Turkish government says that a third attacker carried out some kind of explosion, some kind of blast out in the parking lot. All of these attacks, of course, adding up to a deadly mass casualty attack. LEMON: So if it is suspected that this is ISIS, and that's just what
they believe right now, Ivan, why doesn't ISIS claim responsibility for the attack?
WATSON: We don't know. We simply don't know. But, if it was ISIS, as the Turkish government has already suggested, it would have been the third attack this year, Don, in Istanbul believed to have been carried out by ISIS. And the previous two attacks in January and in March were both suicide bomb attacks that targeted foreign tourists walking around Istanbul, looking at its quite spectacular tourist attractions.
But this, a much more coordinated attack. It looks like a wave of bombers, and that is perhaps how at least one of the attackers might have gotten into the airport itself past some of the security guards that stand at the entrances to the airports, past some of the metal detectors and x-ray machines that people have to go through to get into the building itself.
LEMON: Ivan, I know you've been in this airport countless times. And, as we were listening to Joe Duran, he talked about, you know, the security checkpoint and then what you have to do in order to get into this airport.
Explain to us a procedure, describe for us what it is like when you go to this airport.
WATSON: First, when you're driving in, there's a gate that Joe's standing in front of that has police with submachine guns and they can stop cars, they can check identities and search the cars, though most of the traffic is waved through.
And then, you drive up to the entrances of the arrivals or departures halls and there, you get out of your car and walk up and then immediately you -- at the entrance, there are doors that open up and that's where there are police and security guards and metal detectors and x-ray machines that you have to take your belt off and do the whole kind of nine yards just to get into the building.
Beyond the passport control and the check-in procedures, then you have another ring of the similar guards to get to the departure gate. So, there are a lot of rings of security here.
Despite that, you had what appeared to have been suicide attackers determined to cause as much mayhem, as much loss of life as possible in attack on the most important gateway to Turkey, to its largest city, to a member of the NATO military alliance and this is coming at a time when Turkey's tourism industry, which used to be booming, is really on its knees right now because Turkey is dealing with two terrorist groups simultaneously, ISIS and Kurdish militants who are also carrying in attacks mostly on the security forces.
It adds up to a very grim picture. And, I got to tell you, my Turkish friends, my foreign friends in Istanbul, have been living with dread, Don, for months as a result of these attacks and also the political polarization in the country. Just last weekend, you had riot police tear gassing activists trying to come out into the streets of Istanbul for an LGBT pride parade that the government canceled. All of this combining with the economic growths to a very grim picture in a country that was promoted as a kind of model to the Muslim world, a model democracy just four or five years ago.
LEMON: Ivan, standby. I want to bring Elise Labott in now. Elise, so you heard Ivan talking about what Turkish are officials saying, what are U.S. officials saying tonight?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, clearly, as Ivan said, no claim of responsibility than it's early days, but the feeling of U.S. officials is that these attacks bear the hallmarks of ISIS because of the coordination of the suicide bombers, the three suicide bombers and using these sophisticated assault rifles and then the suicide bombs, this bears the hallmark of ISIS.
It also does not bear the M.O. (ph) of these Kurdish separatists, PKK. We've been talking about the fact that they mostly typically target military installations, security-type targets. And they don't -- you know, they are -- there are Kurdish groups that are partners with the United States and other western nations, and other Arab nations in the conflict in Syria.
And so they aren't seen as -- the PKK is not seen as a group that would want to really target international civilians, Don.
LEMON: So, Elise, there was a travel warning in place for Americans in Turkey. Tell us about the timing of that.
LABOTT: There's been a longstanding travel advisory for U.S. citizens in the whole country of Turkey, warning them as a potential for terrorist attacks.
[23:10:03] But, just yesterday, the State Department issued a new warning or telling American citizens, "Do not travel to Southeastern Turkey on the border with Syria, a lot of concerns about that border area." So much so that they've restricted in recent months the travel of U.S. diplomats in the area, they've sent the families of U.S diplomats out of that area so a lot of concern about that southeast border area.
Tonight, they are warning Americans throughout Istanbul and Turkey to really be alert, be on alert for your surroundings and tighten your security, Don.
LEMON: All right, Elise Labott and Ivan Watson, thank you very much.
I want to bring in now a witness to the attack, his name is Thomas Kemper, he was -- is on the General Board of Global Ministries and was en route to a mission trip in Japan. And he joins us now by phone.
Considering what happened, of course, many thanks for joining us this evening. We're glad you're safe. You were in the Turkish airlines lounge. So tell the viewers what you saw and heard.
THOMAS KEMPER, WITNESS TO ISTANBUL ATTACK: Yes, thank you, Don. I was in the lounge taking a nap and (inaudible) slides when I heard the bomb and it had to be something bigger because it was really loud and very close and then gun shoot. And then people started running in all directions. And, I just run with them, but then there was another being apparently as people were coming into our direction. So it was total chaos, tripping over each other and everybody was trying to find a place to hide, which was really scary because people were really desperate to find a place that it could not be found.
LEMON: Was there any guidance from the airport personnel or police at this time, or was it simply chaos?
KEMPER: No, that was simply chaos. That was simply chaos. I ran into the kitchen of the lounge and found a little bathroom in the kitchen and tried to hide there with somebody from China, I think, we couldn't talk. We didn't have any joint language but we were trying to hide there and the children were just crying and screaming. It was really a terrifying time. And at least for half an hour, 40 minutes, we had no idea, I'm German myself so I met some German tourists there, they look like talking them in German but they had -- they also didn't know anything. They said we know as much as you know.
LEMON: I understand, did you finally leave the airport through the arrivals area?
KEMPER: Yeah, yeah, we were there but many hours later, we were then all go together and we were guided and we just walked and walked and then arrived through the arrivals hall and saw the blast and the ceiling, all of that was destroyed but they had tried to cover it up a little bit but that was probably the only way out because we were right in the international terminal.
LEMON: I understand that people were so frightened and so confused, it was so chaotic, they were trying to break windows in order to get out of the airport?
KEMPER: Yeah. The people -- we had some people, they were so scared, they started to try to get out of the windows from the Turkish airlines lounge, but of course, the glass was too heavy and they didn't succeed and they didn't want to draw much attention.
But, it was just sort of desperation in that moment. I have never experienced such a panic in so many people from so many different nations. And, I was -- it was very terrifying.
LEMON: Were there any procedures after that, because, you know, you're traveling internationally, this is an international airport, in terms of leaving, did you finally -- did you need a passport or you just went out the arrivals area and kept going?
KEMPER: No, they were very strict. They were very strict with the passbook. That's why it took so many hours to get everybody out. You had to really show your passport. And I was sitting next to a young woman who was in a hijab and veil and she cried so much and I just started talking to her and she spoke some broken English and she said she was from Istanbul and was at the airport to see off a friend, and then the bomb exploded and she just started running and she hadn't brought her passport to the airport, so they were not letting her out and she was just so desperate and she was Turkish, she had come from the City of Istanbul.
Without passport, you couldn't go anywhere.
LEMON: What are you -- what's going through your head at this moment?
KEMPER: You know, I was so -- I met this young Muslim woman here from Turkey. I was on the bus, there was a crowded bus. I was sitting -- more or less, we're sitting on each other's laps and with the luggage and everything with a family from Somalia, who lives in Holland and was going to visit their relatives in Mogadishu and then get stuck in something like this here.
And I really felt strongly about our shared humanity. And, most of the people who were really victims of this are Muslims, and they are suffering as much as anybody else, that if we find a way -- if we can only find a way to reach out to those Muslims and create a common culture of peace and understanding, I still believe it.
And, being in that room in the lounge with all these people, so different people and they all have the same, yeah, wish for life and happiness for their families.
[23:15:09] I think we need to get better in reaching out and being one family.
LEMON: Thomas Kemper was at the airport when it happened. Thank you. Glad you're safe.
KEMPER: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
When we come right back, much more on our breaking news tonight, the deadly terror attack at Istanbul's airport.
LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, three suicide bombers attack one of the world's busiest airports in Istanbul, Turkey killing at least 36 people and wounding 147.
I want to bring in now Juliette Kayyem, CNN National Security Analyst, the author of Security Mom. Michael Weiss is a co-author of ISIS, Inside the Army of Terror. Buck Sexton, a former CIA agent. And CNN Military Analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, former U.S. military attache in Syrie.
Rick, you first, Turkey's have been rocked by a string of terror attacks by ISIS and Kurdish separatists over the past year. How will this impact their involvement in the war on chair (ph)?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, if it does anything, it's going to actually make them a little more cooperative with the NATO alliance and with the United States, the U.S. AD (ph) Coalition.
I think that ISIS, if that's what it turns out to be, going after Istanbul airport was a big mistake for them because, although it might give them a tap to a victory, I think it might be a strategic problem for them because this is the main conduit for many of their fighters to get to the front.
[23:20:04] They come into Istanbul and then they get down to the Syrian border.
So, by drawing attention to that route, I think they may have stepped on it here. I'm sure it's ISIS, given the methodology here. But, I just question their selection of target.
LEMON: Michael, this attack is clearly coordinate, if this was ISIS, does it reveal anything about their strength around the world and their ability to inflict this type of damage?
MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they have a huge network in Turkey and they had done for the past year, 18 months, there are about half a dozen attacks in 2015 that I counted, put it in the book.
And the interesting thing about them is that most of them, bar one actually, all of them bar one, were against PKK-aligned targets inside Turkey. Now, why is ISIS striking the PKK in Turkey?
Two reasons, number one, PKK is really handing it to ISIS on the ground in Northern Syria backed by U.S. airpower and special forces on the ground. But, number two, ISIS is geopolitically savvy. They understand that Turkey is the most vulnerable country in the coalition for reasons having to do with President Erdogan's policy, which was essentially designed to overthrow the Assad regime more so than combat terrorism of Turkey across the security establishment from sect to an Islamist, they all prioritize the fight against the PKK, against the fights against -- or above the first against ISIS.
But number two, hitting PKK-aligned Kurdish targets in Turkey will lead to what? Not an uprise in antipathy by the Kurds against ISIS, which they already have got, but an uprise in antipathy by the Kurds against the Erdogan's government. They are looking to drive a wedge in the Turkish political establishment. And they did.
You remember the elections in Turkey in the last year. There was a very near thing that AKP, the ruling party, came back into power. And it was made of HDP, a PKK-aligned Kurdish party, did quite well in regional elections.
So, ISIS is trying to essentially tear Turkish society apart.
LEMON: Drive a wedge.
LEMON: And cause chaos.
WEISS: Yeah. LEMON: Juliette, this is a latest attack against a major airport, the
last one being the Brussels airport.
Do you think that we're going to see changes in airport security after all of these attacks, because this airport, when we talked to officials after what happened in Brussels, they said, "Well, there should be a layer of security outside." I remember Mary Schiavo was saying that very clearly.
Many places have security layers on the outside, where you have to check your luggage on the outside, you get screened before you actually go into the airport.
Do you think we're going to start seeing changes after this attack?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, after all, any of these airports have to always see changes, in fact, the -- this airport made changes after Brussels in terms of the security before you enter. We -- people have been -- some of your eyewitnesses have been talking about that today.
But here is the challenge, right? It's just -- and it's just a simple truth of the way people move in this day and age, which is even if you create more security, say, at this point rather than that point, the next place is going to be soft. You know, whether it's the parking lot or it's the street, it's the area down the street. You're always going to have a chokehold because people are going to be moving in and out of these multi-national, huge airports that service millions of people a year.
And so, you know, this idea that we can get airport security perfect is just a fiction. It's the nature of travel today that it's always going to be a soft target. That's not fatalistic, it is just simply -- you know, if you put too much of a security apparatus on, you're not going to have the movement of people that makes Istanbul such an amazing place. That's the tragedy of today. It was an -- Turkey is an experiment, not perfect certainly by any stretch of the imagination, but this idea of a country that sort of merged Europe and the Middle East, starting with Ataturk, and clearly ISIS, if it is ISIS, wanted to make a statement about that experiment.
LEMON: And of course, concern here in the U.S., the 4th of July weekend, is there going to be a assurgent (ph) security.
Buck, I want to ask ...
LEMON: ... you, is it so unclear -- it is still unclear that any Americans were killed or injured in this attack.
If we find out that Americans were harmed, will that affect the U.S. involvement in this investigation?
BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It will affect it, I think that we should also keep in mind that we're really just one very bad day, one major terrorist attack from the American changing their minds very dramatically about the level of U.S. involvement in the region, I mean, military involvement.
Right now, we've been seeing a steady stream of these attacks, mass casualty attacks happening to allies and some ISIS inspired happening here at home.
If we have a mass casualty attack on U.S. soil that is in any way planned by or perpetrated by ISIS affiliates or using ISIS as a launchpad, I think you will see the next administration face with a reality of a U.S. military intervention in Syria. I think that's going to -- it's already started to happen. There are small numbers of U.S. troops there but also the presence in Iraq will get much larger. And so that's what I think this is all heading.
And in the meantime, there's only so much that we can really do, we live in a free society.
[23:25:04] The Turk is going to do much to guard their airports. It's really just a question of taking the steps that you can to make it harder for the terrorists to be able to pull off an attack with mass casualties. You're trying to limit casualties. Once they get to a point like this when they're armed and have explosives, they're going to kill large numbers of people, even if you have good security procedures in place and are as prepared from as you can be.
LEMON: Thank you, Buck. Thank you, Juliette, Rick and Michael Weiss.
Up next in our breaking news coverage, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both reacting to the Istanbul attack tonight. Their statements couldn't be more different.
LEMON: 6:29 in the morning, Ataturk airport, Istanbul airport -- Istanbul, Turkey, I should say, and that's where that deadly terror attack took place earlier today. No claim of responsibility so far for that terror attack at the airport.
But U.S. officials say it bears all of the hallmarks of ISIS.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both reacting tonight. So let's discuss with Philip Bump, political reporter, for the Washington Post. Republican Strategist Kevin Madden, Democratic Strategist Maria Cardona, a Clinton supporter, Carl Higbie, co-chair and spokesman for the Great America PAC, which supports Donald Trump.
[23:30:05] Did I get everyone in there.
So, Donald Trump spoke out earlier tonight. I want you to listen how he addressed this terror attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We can't do waterboarding, but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cage, they can do whatever they want to do. You know, you have to fight fire with fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Carl, Donald Trump would have talked about radical Islam in the past. He never mentioned the word Muslim in his speech. Are you surprised by that?
CARL HIGBIE, CO-CHAIR, SPOKESMAN FOR PRO-TRUMP GREAT AMERICA PAC: Not surprised because, I mean, we talked about it last week, where they got rid of Corey Lewandowski, they've changed directions now. This is presidential Donald Trump ready to take on Hillary Clinton in the political boxing ring, not in the sort of a street fighting ring.
LEMON: Anybody else surprised by this, or are you all in agreement with what Carl said?
PHILIP BUMP, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: I'm sort of surprised by the fact that, I mean, we saw the immediate aftermath of this -- of his response of the terror attack was the new Donald Trump, it was very controlled, he had a couple of very constrained tweets. What we just heard from him there was the classic Donald Trump ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
BUMP: ... saying that we should all be on the same page as what the Islam State is doing, I think is what they're trying to move away from a little bit.
LEMON: OK, so let's talk about -- this is Hillary Clinton. She -- Hillary Clinton released a statement saying the attack only strengthens our resolve to defeat forces of radical jihadism around the world and it reminds us that the United States cannot retreat.
She's been talking a lot about a united front for fighting terrorism. Is that what voters are looking for, Maria?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think that it really gives a huge contrast to what Donald Trump is talking about. I think what voters want is somebody who is thoughtful, somebody who is knowledgeable, somebody who understands the nuances of our place in this global world where we cannot retreat. We are 5 percent of the world's population. And in order to fight terrorism, we have to engage our allies and partners overseas and around the world to help us do that.
And I think voters understand that. And you also saw in Hillary Clinton's statement today, other things that were in huge contrast to what Donald Trump said or didn't say. She talked about NATO. She talked about how this attack was on Turkey, one of our closest NATO allies. She talked about, again, having to understand that we have to bring in our allies and our partners in the Middle East closer so that we can work hand in hand with them.
These are things that Donald Trump never talks about. And that's why you have Hillary Clinton now really rising in terms of who people trust on the issue of terrorism. LEMON: Go ahead, Carl.
HIGBIE: Well, it's -- Donald Trump doesn't talk about that because it doesn't work. Engaging our allies, look, Jordan went on a campaign when they burned their pilot and it did virtually nothing. They used almost all their munitions.
We just can't rely on our allies, because we have to step up and do it. And Hillary Clinton, I don't believe, is going to recruit the assets domestically for us to do that.
LEMON: You're saying it doesn't work, but let's put up this poll, and I'm going to ask you about this, Kevin. This is a ABC, Washington Post poll.
Because there was a point where people believed that Donald Trump was better on terror than Hillary Clinton that is not happening right now, 50 percent to 39 percent, in favor of Clinton. The gap has widened since the Orlando terror attack.
LEMON: So how can Trump convince voters he's a better candidate on this topic?
Carl says it doesn't work ...
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah.
LEMON: ... but maybe voters are thinking it does, Kevin.
MADDEN: Well, look, I think Trump can't really appeal to a lot of voters on resume or experience, I mean, quite frankly, he doesn't have any.
His main appeal here is the sense of clarity and by extension a sense of strength that he offers his voters. I think that was part and parcel of what he did today with his response immediately, which is very quickly defining it as terrorism that offer people a blanket promise of how he's going to confront that terrorism.
And again, you eluded to this earlier, Don, too. I mean, it is a perfect study in contrast between the two candidates. Because Hillary Clinton, I think her -- she's calculating that her appeal is going to be on this idea of having a stronger temperament and being more levelheaded. Her response also replied or also referred to the need for cooperation amongst allies. So then, that is speaking to her resume as a secretary of state.
But I do think that that is one of the problems that Hillary Clinton continues to face is, this idea that she's being calculating or very cautious at a time where the American people are frightened or have a heightened sense of awareness about terrorism, Donald Trump's, you know, appeal here and the way he's going to be able to, I think, you know, seize this issue to his advantage is that clarity and strength at a time where people are really worried. BUMP: I'm interested ...
LEMON: Go ahead, Philip.
BUMP: I was just going to say, it's worth noting in that Post-ABC poll that was mentioned earlier though, we did find also that people were more aware, more -- were more concerned ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
BUMP: ... about terrorism and yet still preferred Hillary Clinton by about 11 points on that ...
CARDONA: That's right.
LEMON: All right.
Everybody, stay with me. When we come back -- when we come right back, much more on our breaking news tonight, the deadly terror attack at Istanbul airport.
[23:38:41] LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, at least 36 people dead in the terror attack on one of the world's busiest airports. You're looking at live pictures now.
Back with me, Philip Bump, Kevin Madden, Maria Cardona, and Carl Higbie.
I want to play a clip of Donald Trump's response of the terror attack. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Folks, there's something going on that's really, really bad. All right, it's bad. And we better get smart and we better get tough, or we're not going to have much of a country left, OK? It's bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Based on what you've heard, Philip, what would a Donald Trump do as a president?
BUMP: I mean, it's hard to say. I mean, Donald Trump, you know, he takes positions and changes -- or switches his positions with some regularity. So it's hard to say.
I mean, I think the argument he's trying to make is, "I'm going to be tough, I'm going to go in, I'm going to fight", right? You know, I mean, there are obviously all sorts of stipulations that applied to a president's ability to be able to do that.
But clearly, the case he's trying to make is, all these other guys are sitting back and doing nothing, I'm going to go in and knock heads together. I think that there are valid concerns over whether or not that can be done, whether or not that should be done. And I'm sure we'll hear from the other people on the panel whether or not that makes sense.
BUMP: Absolutely. But that's clearly his valid purpose.
LEMON: But do you think that's reflected in the poll numbers? So does everyone, unless -- you know, unless the poll numbers are in your favor, everyone says, no, they're tainted, they're bad numbers.
[23:40:00] But, you know, if these poll numbers were in Donald Trump's favor, his supporter would -- supporters would not be saying that, you know, this is a terrible poll.
HIGBIE: Right. I mean, but Donald Trump has continuously defied every single polls ...
HIGBIE: ... since the beginning of the primary elections. So ...
BUMP: That's sort of true. Except he was leading in all the polls before the primary ...
BUMP: ... winning. I mean, I think ...
HIGBIE: Well, you know, but he started off at the very bottom and everybody say he wasn't going to win.
Look, I think these polls -- and you talk about these polls where it says Hillary Clinton is more trusted to handle terrorism, I know as a soldier, I want to know how many of those people they interviewed actually have seen combat.
Because as a soldier, I don't want Hillary Clinton coming ...
LEMON: Listen, I respect you for your service, and I thank you. But, it's not just combat soldiers that are voting.
LEMON: These are voters.
HIGBIE: You're absolutely right.
Maria, you said that he doesn't understand, meaning Donald Trump, the nuances of fighting terror. What do you mean?
CARDONA: That's right. So, here's what I think Donald Trump's biggest challenge is. And what Kevin was saying earlier is absolutely right. He is speaking to the strain of Republican voters who want to see somebody who is tough, is strong, who is not going to take it anymore. He is playing the role of a mass (ph) macho, and it has worked for him so far.
But I think that has run its course. Why? Here comes the issue about nuance. Voters have now seen the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, for example, in the wake of the Orlando massacre. They give her much higher marks in terms of how she responded to that, the way that she responded versus Donald Trump to Brexit, the way that they are both responding to what is happening right now.
What her issue is now is that she is able to offer a calm, steady, nuance but very specific plan on how she's going to handle terrorism ...
LEMON: Let me interject here.
CARDONA: ... and when it comes to the temperament for being a commander in chief ...
LEMON: OK, let's talk about that, because that was the question ...
CARDONA: ... heads and shoulders above the rest.
LEMON: ... a lot today with the Benghazi report about her temperament as commander, being, you know, the secretary of state when this went on.
Do you think that that's going to affect -- you know, because this poll was taken before that, would that have any effect on people thinking whether she has a temperament to be the commander?
CARDONA: The Benghazi report, I don't think, will because it absolutely says nothing different than what the dozens of other investigations and reports that have come out have said, which is that they have found absolutely no wrongdoing, zero cover-up, yes, there were failures which she has responded to, she has taken responsibility for and she has implemented the 29 recommendations from her own accountability review board that was done by outsiders and experts in this field and that is baked in already, Don ...
LEMON: I want to hear real quickly -- Kevin, before you get in, I want to hear from the Trump supporter. And Kevin, I promise you I'll let you get in.
But, you know, watching that report today, this is before the terror attack, that was going to be the lead story on the news, and what we're going to discuss.
HIGBIE: Well, I think ...
LEMON: What do you have to say to what she says? Is that -- is that -- do you think it's going to affect her at all?
HIGBIE: You know what, I think the Benghazi report is like what we're talking about a little bit earlier. I think it was, you know, the Republicans dug really deep into it, we got a few things out of it, it's time to move on. She didn't do anything criminal as profound by this. But the fact is the talking point that comes out of that entire Benghazi investigation is America, who do you want looking over your back if you're out there outside of American shores?
LEMON: Kevin, you heard it from a Donald Trump supporter. It's not a ...
LEMON: ... consumer (ph) Republican.
MADDEN: I'm actually -- yeah, I'm actually surprised ...
LEMON: It's time to move on. Yeah.
MADDEN: I'm surprised by that answer.
I think what the Benghazi report does is it undermines the arguments that Hillary Clinton has made about judgment. It also underscores some of the problems that people have about her being trustworthy and honest.
If you look at one of the main findings of that report is, what Hillary Clinton, the White House and others were saying publicly did not square with some of the concerns they had privately in about, what they knew to be some of the intelligence that they were getting back about the fact that it was a terrorist attack.
So I think in that case, it actually hurts.
I think -- so, one of the things about Donald Trump on this is that, you know, his appeal on some of these national security foreign policy issues is not about policy for them. For the people that care most about Donald Trump and what he's offering on this, what they care about is that muscular rhetoric and the sense of clarity.
The question is, whether or not the people in the middle, the persuadable voters, are going to take a look at resume and experience that Hillary Clinton is touting, and clarity and which way they're going to go.
CARDONA: And I'm going to bet they're going to take a look at the latter.
BUMP: Right. Yeah, no, I think that's exactly right. I'd also just say on Benghazi, Maria is absolutely right. All of the attitudes about the Benghazi report are baked in in October when ...
BUMP: ... Hillary Clinton went to testify before them. I don't think anything is going to change.
LEMON: But are you surprised that he says move on? BUMP: Him?
LEMON: Carl, yeah.
BUMP: Yeah, sure.
I mean, if you look at it, 50 percent of Trump supporters in a poll last month said they believe Hillary Clinton intentionally let this happen in Benghazi, that's 50 percent of Trump supporters said that, so yes, I'm surprised with it.
HIGBIE: I think -- I don't think she intentionally let it happen, I just think she didn't a lift finger to go save them.
But again, I think it's interesting. He said it's time to move on. And ...
LEMON: ... Kevin, I think you might disagree with that a bit, but fascinating conversation.
CARDONA: Let's look what the American voters are saying. And right now, they're trusting her more on terrorism and who they want to be commander in chief, or who they trust to become ...
[23:45:03] LEMON: Kevin, you get the last word. Kevin Madden.
MADDEN: Well, I just say, there's a lot of conservatives, grassroots conservative Republicans who don't want it and they believe it should be a central part of any national security of foreign policy debate.
LEMON: All right. Thank you everyone.
When we come right back, much more on our breaking news, the deadly attack tonight, and what the next commander in chief will have to do to fight terror.
LEMON: We're back in live pictures of the airport where the deadly terror attack took place, our breaking news tonight, at least 36 people dead in that attack at the Istanbul airport.
Back with me now, Buck Sexton, CNN Political Commentator and a former CIA analyst. And Michael Weiss, a co-author of ISIS, Inside the Army of Terror.
So, Michael, the attack in Istanbul tonight a reminder to Americans about terror groups constant threat here. Donald Trump is saying he's calling for a ban on travel to countries with terror links. Hillary Clinton is wanting closer ties with allies.
We've been debating and discussing which one works better. WEISS: Yeah.
LEMON: Which -- do any of them work better?
WEISS: Well, you mean a travel to countries with terror ties or stopping immigration from countries with suspension terrorism?
LEMON: He is saying travel from countries, meaning immigration with terror ties.
WEISS: Yeah. Well, look, I mean, that encompasses not just -- I mean, he's obviously referring to Islamic jihadism, but encompasses other countries such as the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Germany, France.
[23:50:08] I mean, all of our western European allies, where there's been acts of terror, not necessarily done by Al-Qaeda or by ISIS, separatist parties and so on, the IRA and Ireland, obviously.
Look, I have a piece coming out in The Daily Beast in a few minutes that has actually counted up the umber of FBI cases that have been investigated on U.S. soil of jihadist-aspirational ISIS members or people who pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi looking to strike at the American homeland.
And with the exception of one person in this date of set, every single one was born in this country. They are first generation, Muslim American, their parents came over, or in some cases, and quite a few actually, they're white people who converted to Islam. Nothing that Donald Trump has suggested is going to stop that.
I met with FBI agents today, in fact, Federal Plaza here in New York, and that three special agents and I asked them, is a ban on immigration from countries with a history of Islamic terrorism going to make your jobs easier. They all shook their heads and said no.
LEMON: No. Buck.
SEXTON: What do I think about the idea?
LEMON: Do you think -- do you agree with that, I mean, as a former CIA analyst?
SEXTON: I mean, look, there are distinctions made all the time between the ...
LEMON: Because Turkey is one of our NATO allies.
SEXTON: Yeah ...
LEMON: Which means you have to ban people from Turkey as well.
SEXTON: There are distinctions made all the time about countries, who can come here, who is on -- who's from a Visa Waiver country, how people -- what kind of processes people have to go through. And there are also distinctions made in immigration law and have been for a long time, by the way, specifically about ideology. There was a time period where you had -- or still to this day, by the
way, you have to pledge fealty to the U.S. Constitution and -- so, ideological tests have existed for a long time, continue to exist. We just don't often talk about them.
And, some countries are treated differently than others in the immigration process, whether it's for visas or for permanent immigration status.
And the Trump campaign, I think this keeps changing, so it's kind of a moving target we're talking about. I don't think they're suggesting that this is going to stop all terrorist attacks. To Michael's point, there's homegrown radicalism. There are people who convert, jihadism is an ideology, it's not a race or an ethnicity as we know.
So, that's not going to stop them all, but to sort of borrow from the Democrat side of this, from Hillary, if you can stop one attack, I think that's the -- at least that's the way that they're trying to approach this, to say that we need to do something about this and this is not going to stop all of it, but if it stops one, are we willing to tighten up a little bit on this issue. That's not necessarily ...
LEMON: So let me jump in. Let me jump in. Because we've been talking a lot about when we were talking about gun control, right, about due process or what have you, because to Michael's point and your point, a lot of this is homegrown terror. He is suggesting that we bring back waterboarding.
Are we going to waterboard American citizens in this country?
SEXTON: I would borrow from some former senior colleagues of mine in the CIA who will tell you, I think now, that if the next president wants anybody to be waterboarded, they're going to have to do it -- the president is going to have to do it himself or herself. There's no way that anyone is going to put themselves out there and take the heat on that. And right now, I think the American people wouldn't stand behind it.
LEMON: Yeah. Go ahead, Michael.
WEISS: Leaving aside the morality of having this blanket prescription on one group of people or one of the practitioners of one faith being disallowed to come to the United States, from a pragmatic point of view, there's two problems. Just -- if you're interested in the utilitarian aspects of counterterrorism.
This plays directly into the ISIS narrative, right? There is the land of disbelief and there is the land of Islam, America, western democracy, secular, a PAS state regimes, Muslims have no place there. And the only place they have there is to conduct terror operations, such as Paris, such as Brussels, such as Orlando.
The second point of view of this is look, I want people from the Middle East who want to come to this country. I want to recruit them as spies. I mean, we're -- you're CIA. You know, these are the people you need to collect human intelligence whether it's in our own communities here or if we're going to send them back to Syria or Iraq to gather information on not just ISIS and Al-Qaeda but the next ...
LEMON: That sounds like the Hillary Clinton approach.
WEISS: Yeah, well, broadly speaking, I tend to agree more with her than with Mr. Trump, sure. And this, by the way, such as the Hillary Clinton approach. It's the David Petraeus approach, it's the John Brennan approach.
You know, there's a consensus -- probably a consensus within the security establishment that we need to rely on Arabs and Muslims to at least help us collect the information and intelligence that will make America safer.
SEXTON: Saying that we need to strengthen relationships with allies is a platitude that really doesn't get us anywhere because actually the consensus is so strong that anybody who spends five minutes on the issue at any level of government already knows. Yeah, of course, we have to work with allies and, of course, we should be recruiting people from inside of these communities.
The question then just becomes one of a number's game, where are a majority of major terrorist attacks coming from. You know, we talked about some that are homegrown, some of them are coming from people that come from certain countries. Those countries might need additional scrutiny in the immigration process.
I've already said, there is -- right now, there are some countries who you can come to the U.S., you can stay for 90 days. No questions asked. Others, you have to go through a more onerous process.
[23:55:00] So, if he's trying to fit in into that, and I'm probably giving the Trump campaign more credit on this issue than they deserve or at least more thoughtfulness than they deserve. But the Clinton camp is essentially just telling us what we've been hearing for decades really now. Certainly, the entirety of the post-9/11 world and the reality is, it's not stopping mass casualty attacks once a month for the last eight months you can stay in our allies, as we talked about earlier.
And, it's not enough and we are one very bad day away from the collaborative Clintonian approach on this stuff not being the case anymore.
LEMON: Go ahead.
WEISS: Homegrown radicalization is not just a problem for the United States, it's a problem as we have seen in France, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, other countries.
What's going to stop people who were born in those countries from coming to the United States under this blanket prescription if we're only borrowing people from Syria or Turkey, or Algeria, or Iraq, or Jordan. You know, this is the thing. The Mohammed Emwazi, Jihadi John was a native son of Britain.
Could he come over under this plan? Why not? He's not -- Britain, we don't consider to be a country that's racked by Islamic terrorism, or any other form of terrorism right now.
LEMON: Thank you.
We'll be right back.
LEMON: We appreciate you joining us for CNN Tonight. That's it for us. I'll see you right back here tomorrow night.
CNN's live coverage of the terror attack in Istanbul continues now with John Vause in London and Amara Walker in Los Angeles.