Return to Transcripts main page


Retracing Chattanooga Killer's Rampage; Donald Trump On The Record With Anderson Cooper Tonight; Polls: Swing State Voters Dislike Trump; Sharknado Stars Tara Reid, Ian Ziering Interviewed. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired July 22, 2015 - 16:30   ET


[16:30:00] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And Secretary Kerry says he brings up the Americans' cases in every meeting he has with the Iranians, even in the final minutes before the deal was announced.

Now Ali Rezaian says he hopes the increased attention to Jason's case as a result of this deal will make it more costly for the Iranians to continue to hold his brother and that they will let him go, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Elise Labott, thank you so much.

The national lead: retracing a killer's rampage, the FBI now explaining how the gunman, the terrorist in Chattanooga attacked two military facilities, and how five service members lost their lives.

Plus, Donald Trump on the record, what he has to say about the name- calling, government out Lindsey Graham's phone number and his drop in a brand-new poll. He just talked to CNN's Anderson Cooper -- that conversation coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Also in our national lead today, we're learning more about the timeline in last week's horrific terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that led to the deaths of five U.S. service members.

Officials today said they have more than 400 leads in their investigation, as a Marine major general praised the bravery and courage of the service members who willingly ran back into the fight, as well as the courage of the local police. The FBI credits an officer with fatally shooting the terrorist.


CNN's Alina Machado has all the latest from Chattanooga.


ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shortly before 11:00 a.m., Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez pulled up to a Chattanooga military recruiting center and opened fire from inside his car before fleeing to a nearby Naval training center.

He exited armed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and magazines of ammunition. Abdulazeez exchanged gunfire with a service member stationed inside. He continued shooting as he entered the building, killing one and spraying bullets at anyone he encountered.

He killed four more after exiting out back, before being shot down by Chattanooga police. The attack there, investigators say, lasted up to five minutes.

MAJ. GEN. PAUL BRIER, 4TH MARINE DIVISION COMMANDING GENERAL: Our Marines reacted the way you would expect. Rapidly going from room to room, they got their fellow Marines to safety. Once they had gotten to safety, some willingly ran back into the fight.

MACHADO: The FBI says at least one service member shot back at Abdulazeez with a personal weapon.

ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: At least one of the weapons was discharged at the subject. And whether he was struck by those individuals is unclear at this time.

MACHADO: Text messages obtained exclusively by CNN reveal shock and disbelief when the shooter's close friends learned of the attack.

"It can't be our Abdulazeez," wrote James Petty, who considered the 24-year-old a devout Muslim and his spiritual mentor.

Another wrote: "#Chattanooga on Twitter, it can't not be him."

The question of motive remains. Writings by Abdulazeez dating back to 2013 show he agreed with the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who has inspired a series of terror attacks in the West.

On the day before the attack, data from Abdulazeez's smartphone showed searches about becoming a martyr, according to an official briefed on the investigation. The FBI believes Abdulazeez acted alone on the day of the attack, but investigators are still searching for individuals he may have been in contact with leading up to Thursday's shooting.

REINHOLD: The FBI will explore every possibility and every relative and associate that he has, no matter where they are located.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Alina Machado for that report.

In the politics lead today: A new poll shows Hillary Clinton lagging behind three top Republicans in hypothetical election matchups. Potential voters are also changing their opinion of the Democratic front-runner, and she's not alone. Voters also weighed in on Donald Trump.

The bombastic Republican contender just sat down with our own Anderson Cooper. What did he tell CNN? We will have that for you next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Our politics lead today: Hillary Clinton's campaign insists it was going to never would be easy. And new swing state polls prove just how difficult her run to the White House could be. The former secretary of state now finds herself looking up at Republicans in hypothetical square-offs for the Oval Office in Iowa, in Colorado and in Virginia, all pivotal backgrounds where the White House can be won or lost.

New Quinnipiac polls show Clinton lagging behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, losing to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and tasting theoretical defeat at the hands of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In one of those matchups, she is within the margin of error. And, significantly, voters in all three states, of course, view Clinton unfavorably.

This is part of her problem. The only person they say they like less than the former first lady is Donald Trump, which is the other big news from these polls. After his rally in South Carolina yesterday, in which he gave out the private cell phone number of one of his rivals, Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump had a relatively quiet campaign today, though he plans to visit the Texas/Mexico border tomorrow.

But even a quiet day in Trump land is seldom quiet, his financial disclosure forms released, and he sat down with the host of "A.C. 360," Anderson Cooper, who joins me now.

Anderson, you sat down with Mr. Trump just a few skyscrapers away. And you asked him about these polls.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I did. I started off asking him about -- I wanted to start off by asking about the -- or mentioning the "Washington Post"/ABC poll.

TAPPER: Yes, butter him up a little bit.

A. COOPER: Exactly.


COOPER: To not feel I was being too negative.

He did not like the fact that I raised the Quinnipiac poll, though, he later told me. But, yes, I talked to him about it. Obviously, we had to do it. Here's what he had to say.


COOPER: In the general election voters, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, you have the worst favorability ratings of anyone, Republican or Democrat, negative favorability ratings of almost 2-1. Hillary Clinton also did bad. What do you say?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't seen it. I really don't know. I haven't seen it. I have only...


COOPER: ... favorability ratings worry you?

TRUMP: I don't think so.

I mean, I have turned a lot of them around. And, as you know, in North Carolina, it was negative. And now it's like tremendously positive.

And when people hear what I say about the vets and how strong my commitment is to the vets, they have been treated so badly, and to the border, which is just horrible, I mean, every time people listen to me, all of a sudden, it becomes very favorable.

COOPER: So, you think you can turn around -- because a lot of people say, look, those kind of unfavorability ratings, that does not bode well. You think you can turn that around?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, who knows? I'm doing this for the good of the country. Somebody has to do it. Politicians are never going to turn this country around. Our country is a mess.

The politicians are going to destroy this country. They're weak and they're ineffective.


COOPER: It was a very wide-ranging interview.

I really tried, as you did in your interview with him, to really pin him down on specific policy issues...

TAPPER: Right.

COOPER: ... because, as you know, he's big on broad-brushed stuff. When you actually narrow down -- so we talked a lot about his criticism of John McCain on the veterans, specifically on his veterans record.

I tried to do pin him down on specific bills that McCain has passed and what Trump thinks about that. So, it's interesting to hear his perspective on that.

But I also asked him about releasing Lindsey Graham's phone number and whether his whole tone is presidential enough and whether he would change that tone. Here's some of what he said.


[16:30:00] TRUMP: I get called all these horrible names by Lindsey Graham, who I don't even know, I didn't start it with Lindsey Graham. I couldn't care less. He's registered at I think zero in the polls.

By Rick Perry from Texas, who was up in my office a few years ago, I just posted a picture of him shaking my hand looking for money and looking for support. I call it hypocrite, but they're saying horrible things, I don't even know these people.

Am I supposed to, you know, say it's OK for them to say -- one guy, I guess, it was Lindsey Graham called me a jackass. Am I supposed to say it's OK? You have to fight back.


TAPPER: It's interesting, Anderson, because you point out Trump gave out the phone number after Lindsey Graham suggested he was becoming a jackass. We do have new tape in a video with IJ Review. Graham reacted to this because obviously his cell phone is being bombarded, "How to destroy your cell phone with Lindsey Graham."

It's kind of not unlike that scene in the film "Office Space." Here's Lindsey Graham destroying his multiple flip phones because obviously they're no good anymore although, on the other hand, he could just change the number.

COOPER: But for the argument that Donald Trump has changed the GOP race, I mean, Lindsey Graham, would not have made a commercial like this. I don't think ever. Lindsey Graham would not have called anybody a jackass. So in a way Donald Trump has gotten a lot of these candidates off their regular messages, and made them perhaps more well-rounded appearing or at least -- I don't know.

TAPPER: You're always looking for the positive, Anderson.

COOPER: But it was interesting, Trump, in the interview today, I asked him, you know, is what you're doing presidential, and would you change as president? He said he would change.

As president, this is what he does in a race, but as president, he would -- I asked him if he was a uniter or divider, to use George Bush's term, he said he would be a uniter and he went on to explain why.

TAPPER: I know that a lot of the Republican candidates are upset not just because he's getting so much attention, but he is drowning out their message. Jeb Bush earlier today talking about a major address, cutting the signs of Washington or expanding the amount of time between working the government and becoming a lobbyist, and he got overshadowed.

COOPER: And every day look, I mean, Donald Trump is an amazing marketer. He's going to the border tomorrow. You know that is going to get a huge amount of coverage more so than if some another candidate did.

TAPPER: Yes, Anderson Cooper, looking forward to the entire interview this evening. Be sure to be in front of your TV sets or have CNN Go fired up, 8 p.m. Eastern so you can catch the full one-on-one sit-down with Donald Trump tonight on "AC360."

Let's go now to CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, you heard Mr. Trump says he can turn around these numbers in this latest Quinnipiac poll. It's going to be an uphill climb.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, no doubt about it. Definitely an uphill climb because this new poll show, as you've said, Trump has the worst favorability rating of any candidate in the field, Democrat or Republican.

But if he wasn't doing so well, his rivals might not be piling on so much. The sharpest response came today from Rick Perry, to coin the phrase, "trumpism." He urged Republicans not to fall under its spell.


ZELENY (voice-over): Donald Trump is heading to the border. He is trying to stay on top of the Republican field by doubling down on immigration. During a Thursday tour in Laredo, Texas, with border patrol agents.

TRUMP: With the border and border security, lack of border security, and illegal immigrants, it's a huge problem.

ZELENY: But tonight a new poll shows fresh vulnerabilities for Trump, not in the GOP primary, but if he would ever become the party's nominee.

TRUMP: We have to make America great again.

ZELENY: In three key general election battle grounds -- Colorado, Iowa and Virginia -- nearly six in 10 voters hold unfavorable views of Trump. For now he's resonating with some primary voters looking for a tough candidate, but party leaders say he's talking too tough specifically about fellow Republicans.

TRUMP: Rick Perry, he put glasses so people will think he's smart. You have this guy, Lindsey Graham, a total lightweight. We have people that are stupid.

ZELENY: It was Rick Perry's turn today to be singled out on social media. Trump released this picture and tweeted Perry was once begging for my support and money, hypocrite. The former Texas governor fired back, urging conservatives to dump Trump.

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism, a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense. Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

[16:50:10] ZELENY: While the GOP free for all has Democrats smiling, the new Quinnipiac poll shows trouble for Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to keep going. I believe it's so important for all of us. ZELENY: In those same three general election swing states, majorities of voters had an unfavorable view of her. The survey also shows Clinton trailing Republicans Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker in hypothetical matchups in those three states.


ZELENY: And this is why Trump worried Republican leaders. They believe several candidates, Bush, Rubio, and Walker among them have a real chance of defeating Hillary Clinton next year, or whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, but they believe Trump could damage the brand of the entire Republican Party -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny in Washington, thanks so much.

Coming up, a little lighter fare in our Pop Culture Lead, the night all of Twitter has been waiting for. "Sharknado 3," now with mower sharks and more natives. The most amazingly trashy film of the year, the stars will be here to answer your questions.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. You know, we had a lot of serious news on the show today so let's cleanse our palate with the Pop Culture Lead. We can all rattle off the classic trilogies, "Star Wars", "Lord of the Rings," "Godfather" and now another classic has achieved this level of cinematic immortality.


TAPPER: Yes, "Sharknado 3," it's called "Sharknado 3, Oh Hell No" and it premieres tonight on Sci-Fi. And joining me now the stars of "Sharknado" I mean, besides the sharks, of course, Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. Thanks so much for being here.

So since this franchise is such a social media phenomenon, I asked Twitter to help me out, what should we ask you? So here it goes. Number one, Alex Gibson asked why are you on a news program? That's probably more of a question for me than for you so never mind. I'll handle that one later.

Number two, here's a real one -- what is it like being part of a movie series that would be a cult classic compared to a TV show classic, I guess, for you, Ian or for Tara being in a film classic? Is it odd to be celebrated now for something that is kind of purposely bad?

IAN ZIERING, "SHARKNADO3": I've always considered myself a journeyman actor. Along that path was stepping stones. This is just another one of those stones. It happens to be one that resonates around the world. I'm pretty grateful for that. Never know what the next gig will be.

TAPPER: What do you think? TARA REID, "SHARKNADO3": I think it's amazing. Being part of "The Big Lobaski" was great. "American Pie" was another big franchise, and now we have "Sharknado."

TAPPER: In "Sharknado," you lose an arm or a hand.

REID: Yes, I do.

TAPPER: Probably have to ask about Trump since Ian was on "The Apprentice." What do you make of the outrageous comments your former boss, Mr. Trump is making?

ZIERING: Trump really impressed me when I got a chance to know him. Whether you agree with what he says, you know, that's up to you. You know, he's very capable. I'm just going to have to wait until I hear from all --

TAPPER: Very diplomatic, perhaps an ambassadorship in your future in the Trump administration.

ZIERING: He's definitely capable.

TAPPER: Which guest star was the most fun to work with? Also Geraldo is pretty upset that he's not in the film.

REID: That's funny. My favorite is Bo Derek. She plays my mother in this one.

TAPPER: Nice. Is Hasselhoff your dad?

ZIERING: Hasselhoff is my dad. Mark Cuban is the president. They came on the set ready to make magic. They were very serious and did a great job.

TAPPER: From Spongeworthy 2, in case of "Sharknados," what should we use to clean bits of shark from clothing and hair respectively?

ZIERING: A fine-toothed comb and I prefer Tide really works on getting the smell out.

TAPPER: Have you prepared for your Oscars speech?

REID: Absolutely. I've been preparing it for my whole life. I didn't know it was "Sharknado" that would get me there.

TAPPER: How many more of these are you willing to do?

ZIERING: You know, ask Tom Cruise how many "Mission Impossibles" he will do?

TAPPER: That's exactly right.

ZIERING: How many people have played James Bond? This movie has legs for years. As long as it continues and I'm able to do it and I'm invited back, I would be thrilled.

TAPPER: Some see "Sharknado" films and say why, you see them and say, why not?

ZIERING: Absolutely.

TAPPER: Thank you so much Tara Reid, Ian Ziering. I appreciate it.

ZIERING: Thanks so much, everybody.

TAPPER: That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Brianna Keilar, she's in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."