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Signals Biden May Jump into White House Race; Republicans Leverage CNBC on Debate; Deadly Traffic Stop Caught on Tape; Top Clinton Aide Testifies Before Benghazi Committee. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 16, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: If you are a close friend of Joe Biden, you might have received an e-mail overnight with big news about a presidential run. Countdown to decision day, it's on.

Happening now, parts of Bethlehem up in flames. Young Palestinians facing off with Israeli troops. The violence claiming dozens of lives in the past week.

And a routine traffic stop turns deadly. Stunning video that raises new questions about both players involved.

Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. Kate Bolduan is off.

Big campaign news this morning. Phone calls and e-mails and flares, oh, my. Phone calls and e-mails and flares, oh, my. Flaming signals from Biden world that have the political world on edge this morning. Is he about to jump into the race? He's calling people himself, talking about campaign jobs. A key adviser sending out an e- mail laying out a possible campaign platform. Now CNN has learned that Joe Biden could announce his decision on a presidential run as soon as this weekend.

CNN senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with us.

Jim, to quote myself from a few seconds ago, "Oh, my."

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my, is right. We'll have to wait and see if it pans out, John. We've been here before and it has not actually happened in terms of a decision from Joe Biden. But this e-mail from Joe Biden's former Senate chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, the vice president of the political network yesterday, this is the clearest indication that a decision is coming, and it could be coming soon. The message appears to be designed to address concerns among Democrats that Biden's window is closing, saying to supporters, he's aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon. But it goes on to add what a Biden campaign would be about.

Let's go ahead and put this up on screen. It says, "If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead and whether we can form a political consensus in America to get this done."

And in this election of voters flocking to candidates like Donald Trump, who shoot from the hip, Kaufman's message also promises Biden would be Biden, as unscripted as the public sees Joe Biden, should he decide to run. Biden has been downright cagey about his intentions. Consider how he answered the question yesterday. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you made your decision yet?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you made your decision yet?

Is there still an opening for you in the race, sir?

BIDEN: I'm here to greet president. We'll talk to you about that later.


ACOSTA: A top Democratic source tells me the indication fro Biden's inner circle is that a decision will likely come within the next three days. But keep in mind, John, we've also heard a final answer was supposed to come at the end of the summer and then the first week of October. So, we've been through this before. Biden supporters are very excited about this message from ted Kaufman. I spoke with one key Biden backer in South Carolina earlier this morning who noted the vice president would make a huge contrast with Hillary Clinton, who had a good debate earlier this week. But as the supporter was saying plenty of candidates have had good debates over the years, but they still sometimes go on to lose elections, and that Vice President Biden would change the conversation immediately should he jump into the race -- John?

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, perhaps we'll know more within the next three days.

Want to discuss this a little further now. Joined by CNN political commentators, Errol Louis and Hilary Rosen. Errol is a political anchor at New York One News. Hilary is a Democratic strategist. Also with us, republican strategist, Doug Heye. He was communications director at the RNC.

Hilary Rosen, let me start with you.

Because after the big debate right here on CNN the other night, where a lot of people thought Hillary Clinton did very well, there were these whispers. There's no avenue left for Joe Biden. This debate performance by Hillary Clinton precludes the notion of a Biden run. You think that these whispers may have ticked Joe Biden off.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I think there's no question the pundit analysis that said there's no path for the vice president encouraged Ted to get out there yesterday and upset the Biden team because, you know, he has consistently said he wants to make this decision on his own. I think this process of deciding is actually genuine and that he recognizes that just being sort of the anti-Hillary candidate is not a good enough reason to jump in. So, I think, you know, they still want people to take his -- what he brings to the race seriously. That he brings, you know, a history of accomplishment and vision for the future and a set of core values and something he could actually run on. So, there's no question that they felt the pressure over the last 24 hours and felt the need to get out there.

BERMAN: Errol, you've covered campaigns across the city. When you see a leak like this from an e-mail from perhaps his closest political adviser to supporters saying, this is why he would run, if he runs, when you hear Joe Biden making phone calls to potential staffers saying, hey, I might need you, if I run, and then when you hear a time frame, within the next three days, it adds up to something.

[11:05:25] ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It adds up to the plane is on the tarmac, it's being fueled up, the gang plank is down, somebody's going to get in and fly off. But it might not happen. I think it is important to sort of put this question of, do you need someone to rescue the party or rescue the White House for the Democratic Party because Hillary's doing so bad. That's a rational analysis and that just hasn't proven to be the case. So, now what is Joe Biden want to do? Is this supposed to be a third Obama term where it's hope and change minus the change? Or is there some uncompleted mission the administration wants to accomplish? Or does Joe Biden have some differences with this administration we've never known about and wants to take the country in a different direction? Those are big, open questions. Until those are answered, that's more important than do I have the strategist, do I have the money, do I have time to put together an organization. He's very good at politics. He can do all of that.

BERMAN: Doug, from the outside looking in as a Republican, you are on the outside of this discussion, you know, is Hillary Clinton better off with a Joe Biden in the race, seen by many as a more serious candidate than Bernie Sanders, or will it make her life miserable?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it would make her life miserable if Joe gets in and can get in hard. One of the things Hillary said earlier about Joe Biden being genuine, there's no doubt about Joe Biden being genuine, wearing his heart on the sleeve. It's one of the most compelling things about him. It's a real contrast to Hillary Clinton talking about -- her campaign talking about their plan, spontaneity. But you paraphrased the "Wizard of Oz" earlier. I'll quote Elvis, "It's now or never." Logically, the Biden campaign, if there is a Biden campaign, is going to start hitting some logistical walls on ballot access and things like that that are a whole different issue than being able to raise the money or hire staffers. If he's going to do it, it has to be now.

BERMAN: "Wizard of Oz" and Elvis Presley, never in the same show at the same time. (LAUGHTER)

Just making history here.

Hilary Rosen, we'll talk more about Hillary Clinton, her aide, Huma Abedin, testifying before the Benghazi Committee right now. We'll talk about that a little later.

I want to talk about the Republicans right now, Hilary, and the Republican debate coming up on CNBC. Donald Trump just led an angry insurgency against CNBC and the people organizing this debate, essentially saying, we will not debate if this is longer than two hours. We will not debate if there are not opening statements. Donald Trump, Ben Carson and the Republicans on that stage, they won.

ROSEN: Yeah, you know, people forget actually these leading candidates have a lot of leverage in these debate negotiations. We all at the networks depend on the candidates' cooperation. Particularly when you're in the lead, you do have some leverage. Donald Trump, exerting that leverage. Smart of him, particularly because we saw in the last debate, he was fading by the third hour. He was not full of vim and vigor the entire time. This is not a format he's particularly used to. When you're in his position, you want to be in the format that works best for you. The longer the debate went on, the more substantive it became, also not his strength. You know, he doesn't like to be going deep on the issues. He likes his more rhetorical flourishes, and let's leave it there, folks. You know, the other Republican candidates, I think, benefit when it goes deeper. We saw the Democratic contrast, which was a substantive, thoughtful debate on issues, that contrast with the Republicans full of insults and rhetoric. You know, they can't afford another one of those.

BERMAN: There weren't a lot of other candidates up there fighting against Trump and his people when Trump and Ben Carson made this stand.

Errol, it makes me remember my favorite quote, "The strong do as they will and the weak suffer as they must." Right now, in the Republican race, Donald Trump is the strong. He is driving the interest. He is leading in the polls in the key states and the other candidates just have to go along.

LOUIS: They are the strong -- he and Ben Carson, they did have more leverage. Hilary Rosen is exactly right. On the other hand, they were substantively right. Two hours, three hours, OK, you could argue that either way, especially if there are commercial breaks. But I thought trying to prohibit them from giving opening and closing statements was really unforgivable. The notion is supposed to be that the media people, we, who are supposed to be the interlocutors, we are not really the main show. People want to hear from the candidates. Nobody can represent the candidate better than themselves. To deny them even 60 seconds to say who they are and why they want to be the leader of the free world seems a little bit silly. Substantively, Trump and Carson had it exactly right. [11:10:02] BERMAN: They were sticking up for the other guys there,

Doug, because the reason -- one of the reasons all the other candidates want the opening statements is because they want to get their thoughts on that stage in a controlled way because they're not guaranteed any substantive air time. They want to get their statement out.

HEYE: Yeah, absolutely. If you're Donald Trump or even Ben Carson, I don't think you feel threatened by Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee having an extra 60 seconds, but also working for a candidate, takes 60 seconds away from you, less likely to say something bombastic, insulting, and less likely to deal with real substance and real policy.

BERMAN: Hilary Rosen, Errol Louis, Doug Heye, thank you for being with us. Really appreciate it.


BERMAN: Coming up, money. We have a sense of where the campaign stands in terms of who is raising what. The fund-raising numbers are in for the third quarter. Let's roll them up on the screen so you get a sense. Hillary Clinton raised nearly $29 million. Bernie Sanders not far behind with $26 million. Sanders got a lot of his money from much lower contribution levels. That is significant. Broader fund- raising base there. For the Republicans, Ben Carson raised nearly $21 million, outpacing everyone. Jeb Bush had $13.4 million. Ted Cruz just over $12 million. This is money raised by the campaigns only. Doesn't include Super PACs.

One interesting note here, Donald Trump raised about $4 million, even though he doesn't go out of his way to ask for much money. I think on his website, though, there is a donate tab. It's not by accident when money shows up in his coffers.

Coming up, a lot more news for you. A deadly traffic stop caught on tape.



DEVEN GUILFORD, KILLED BY POLICE OFFICER: Officer, what are you doing?

FROST: Get your hands behind your back. You're under --


GUILFORD: Officer! Ow!


BERMAN: You'll see what led up to this confrontation and why the officer was not charged in the shooting. Lamar Odom, so many questions about how he ended up where he is

right now, clinging to life. But it is a life that has been full of difficulties and, yes, triumphs. There's a lot about this man you simply don't know.


[11:16:22] BERMAN: New this morning, the family of a Michigan teenager has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit over a traffic stop that began with the teen flashing his brights and ended with the young man shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy. The deputy involved has been cleared of wrongdoing by a local prosecutor who says he was acting in self-defense.

Now, for the first time, we are seeing video of the fatal traffic stop.

CNN's Jean Casarez lays it out for us.



FROST: I pulled you over because you flashed me.

GUILFORD: I didn't even have my brights on.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watch this police body camera video. 17-year-old Deven Guilford, on his way to his girlfriend's House in February. Sergeant Jonathan Frost pulling him over for flashing his brights.


FROST: Driver's license, register, proof of insurance, please.

I did not have them on.


FROST: Driver's license, register, proof of insurance, please.

GUILFORD: I don't even know you're an officer.


CASAREZ: Sergeant Frost asks several times for Guilford license. He refuses, questioning why he was stopped.


GUILFORD: Am I being detained?

FROST: Yes, you are. GUILFORD: For what crime?

FROST: You flashed me with your high beams.

FROST: You had your brights on, sir.

CASAREZ: Guilford begins recording their interaction on his cell phone.

FROST: You can comply with this traffic stop or you'll be taken to jail.

CASAREZ: The officer calls for backup as the situation escalates.

FROST: You do not have your driver's license on your person, correct?

GUILFORD: Yes, I do.

FROST: Where is it?

GUILFORD: You do not have to see it. I cannot see --


FROST: You had your brights on, sir. I'm not lying to you. I was doing nothing but being polite. I didn't want you to flash someone and have someone go off the road and crash. You know?

FROST: Do you realize if you had complied with this traffic stop it would have gone a whole different way for you?


CASAREZ: The officer sees Guilford try to make a phone call and orders him out of the car.


FROST: Out of the car or you're going to get tased. Everything's being recorded, son. I've got no problem with that. Get out of the car. Get down on the ground now. Down on the ground now!

GUILFORD: Oh, my gosh. Stop yelling at me.

FROST: Down on the ground! Right here, facing me! Down on the ground now!

GUILFORD: What do you mean?

FROST: Get on your belly right now.

GUILFORD: This is what American --

(CROSSTALK) FROST: Put your phone down and put your arms out to your side


CASAREZ: Sergeant Frost kicks Guilford's cell phone away.

GUILFORD: Are you -- I don't have a weapon.

Hey, get your --

You can't do that.

FROST: Get your hands behind your back. You're under arrest.


CASAREZ: Just about 90 seconds before backup arrives, Sergeant Frost tases Guilford, but he's too close for it to work properly. Roughly 14 seconds later, you hear gunshots.





CASAREZ: Sergeant Frost says Guilford attacked him, hitting him repeatedly with his fist.

Take a look at this slow-mo, frame by frame. You can make the scuffle out just a little more clearly.


FROST: I shot one. Priority backup. Send EMS. I'm bleeding.


CASAREZ: This body cam video captures Sergeant Frost at the scene, transported to the hospital with these injuries.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Jean Casarez for that.

Just this morning, the attorneys for Deven's family spoke out on CNN. They shared why they think the traffic stop went from routine to deadly.


HUGH DAVIS, GUILFORD FAMILY ATTORNEY: Deven was never discourteous but he made the mistake of questioning an officer, and the development of the militarization of the police in this country is such that you can't do that. It is worth violence and arrest to question a police officer.


[11:20:01] BERMAN: Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, defense attorney. He's also worked as a prosecutor before.

Paul, Jean Casarez laid out the video. It's a stunning look at a confrontation between a kid and an officer. When you see it, what do you see?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I see, first of all, a tragedy. Obviously, the death of a 17-year-old kid starts out with a minor traffic stop and he winds up dead of seven gunshot wounds. What could be more tragic?

But if you break it down, I think I can understand why prosecutors did not bring criminal charges here. First, the officer had the right to make the stop. There's an ordinance that says --


BERMAN: People say, Paul, the kid -- if the worst thing he did was flash his brights, he pulled someone over for that?

CALLAN: There's an ordinance in this particular county that if the vehicle you flash is within 500 feet, it's a crime -- it's not a crime, it's a traffic offense. So, he had the right to make the stop, the officer. Once he makes the stop, he asks for license and registration. He doesn't produce the license and registration. Turns out, he didn't have his license with him. The officer then, under a case called Pennsylvania versus Mims, has the right to tell him to get out of the vehicle. When he gets out of the vehicle and the officer tells him to get down on the ground --


BERMAN: Up until this point, everyone is calm. The officer's voice, you hear his voice very matter of fact, very calm, no shouting. Nothing that --


CALLAN: Polite. I find the officer to be actually polite. And he almost sounds a little astonished that this young man is giving him lip and not complying with simple demands, like give me your license. I think the officer's astonished. And then he takes it. He's by the book, this sergeant. He makes him get out of the car. And then he makes him get down on the ground because the officer now feels threatened in some way because he's got the phone in his hand and there's no backup. The officer's already called for backup. Here's the thing. Nothing would justify the use of deadly physical force up until this point in time. Everything changes, though, in the part that we don't see on tape. And the officer apparently has said that the young man got up, started punching him, knocked him to the ground. What people don't understand, I think, is that even if the young man wasn't armed himself, he -- the officer would have said that he was afraid his gun might have been taken from him and he could have --


BERMAN: There are two questions here. Number one, did the young man attack him. Can that be proven? Number two, even if he did attack him, was he such a threat that the officer had to use lethal force?

CALLAN: You know, it almost reminds me of the facts of the Zimmerman case. In Zimmerman, the Florida case, the claim was that Zimmerman had to take his weapon because he was afraid he was being assaulted. This is often a defense that's used by police officers. Zimmerman, of course, was a private vigilante-type person, I guess you could say. But in this case, the officer -- if a gun is taken away from an officer in a struggle and the officer gets shot, who could say his life's not in danger?

BERMAN: Those are the questions that will be answered, I imagine in the wrongful death suit. No charges filed in terms of criminal charges against this sheriff's deputy.

CALLAN: A civil case, though.

BERMAN: Paul Callan, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it. CALLAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: A top aide to Hillary Clinton facing the House Benghazi Committee right now. She is behind closed doors, answering questions. We will take you there live, next.

New violence this morning in the West Bank. Running battle on the streets of Bethlehem. Israeli forces, you can see there. In the background, Palestinians throwing rocks. A very tense situation. We'll go there live.


[11:27:41] BERMAN: Happening right now, behind closed doors, Hillary Clinton's closest adviser answering questions to the Benghazi Committee. Huma Abedin talking to the committee in private right now, just days before Hillary Clinton faces questions, very much in public. This investigation began trying to answer questions about how four Americans were killed at a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya. Now, is it going beyond that?

CNN's senior political reporter, Manu Raju, joins us live from Capitol Hill.

Manu, why Huma Abedin? Why today?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, she's been a loyal Clinton aide for 15 years. And she's the 54th member -- 54th person to be interviewed by the Benghazi Committee in the year and a half since this committee was created by the House last year. We're going on about 2.5 hours now on her testimony. What's happening behind closed doors is that investigators on both side of the aisle are given an hour each to ask their questions of Ms. Abedin, to ask her what she knew about the Benghazi attacks and the government's response to that attack. We're expected those questions to stay focused largely on that issue about Benghazi and the response, and not about other controversies that Ms. Abedin has been involved in, including the dual role she had, in addition to advising private corporate clients.

But, John, this is all a prelude to next week, where Hillary Clinton will be testifying before the Benghazi Committee and talking about the government's response, in addition to that private e-mail server and whether she was communicating and transmitting any classified information, particularly in regard to Benghazi over that private e-mail server. So, this is all part of the committee's mission to try to figure out what happened here.

But, of course, as we've seen in the last couple of weeks, Democrats have seized on suggestions that this is not a committee designed to go after the facts. And the Clinton campaign today actually criticizing the fact that the committee is focusing on Ms. Abedin before the committee. We'll see how she reacts afterwards. Other Clinton aides who have come out, who have talked to the committee, have come out and said the committee has treated them professionally. We'll see what Ms. Abedin has to say. This is probably going to be a full-day event -- John?

BERMAN: In fact, the Clinton campaign put out a statement, a paper statement earlier today, Manu, essentially saying, Huma Abedin, she doesn't know anything about Benghazi, why is she even talking to this committee. That statement also read from Nick Merrill, a Clinton campaign spokesperson. The Republicans focus on Abedin --