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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Is Jeb Bush Campaign on Life Support; Obama Sending U.S. Special Operations Forces to Syria; Video of Twin Peaks Biker Shootout in Waco. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired October 30, 2015 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Jeb Bush's campaign seems to want to help that along and suggest what some of those issues should be.
Brad, now that Bush campaign is digging up dirt that Rubio point that liberals normally dig this up, what is coming at him, especially from other candidates.
BRAD WOODHOUSE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Bush is in desperation mode. I think his campaign is in a death spiral. It may not be quite that bad. He has a super PAC chockfull of money that could keep him on life support --
BOLDUAN: What about Rubio, Brad?
WOODHOUSE: I think the problem Rubio has is the problem the party has. That is about 50 percent of the volt right now is going to Trump and to Carson. There's an out and out rejections of the establishment of the Republican party of normal elected politicians, people that have been part of Washington or part of the Bush clan. And I think there's a bigger issue here is, are they going to be able to live with a Carson as the nominee of the Republican Party, or a Trump as a nominee of the Republican Party? I'm not saying that's going to happen but there's a long way for Rubio to go over Bush, to go over Carson, to go over Trump and get into the lead.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Doug, but Marco Rubio today canceled an event in Iowa to go to a vote, go to a Senate vote. He had just been criticized for skipping Senate votes. Are we perhaps seeing the reaction against some of the criticism against him? Remember, the Bush campaign has this Power Point memo with the headline, "Marco is a risky bet." We're looking at that right now.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: He also went back for what was a very important vote, the budget vote, that Ted Cruz was at that, that Rand Paul filibustered for a whole 18 minutes. Obviously he's going to respond to concerns but this is one thing that was so critical of the debate we just saw. If you're going to punch somebody, which Bush did, you have to not only connect, you have to be prepared for the counter-punch, which is what Rubio did so well. He's obviously going gang busters on the campaign right now. That's one thing his campaign needs to be prepared for. I saw Brad holding a shovel as well. There are a lot of problems that can come up throughout the campaign. Marco is doing really strong right now. He's somebody that, whether you talk about establishment or people who just want to win in November, can look at.
BOLDUAN: Three months to Iowa. Wonder how much more can change till then.
BERMAN: I wonder how much can change in the next two weeks.
BERMAN: No, Jeb Bush would say, I hope a lot.
Great to see you guys. Thank you so much.
Ron, great to see you. Thank you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: If you like politics, you'll love this CNN report, "Bush versus Gore, the Endless Election." Gloria Borger bringing you a special report, airing Monday night at 9:00 right here on CNN.
BERMAN: Much more of our breaking news coverage out of Washington. President Obama getting ready to send Special Forces for the first time into Syria. This is a major development, a major change in the battle against ISIS. We have breaking news coverage right after this.
[11:37:23] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news AT THIS HOUR. A big announcement coming from the White House. A significant shift in the U.S. fight against ISIS. U.S. Special Operations forces going into Syria to help rebels take on the terror group.
BERMAN: President Obama has authorized the deployment of these troops. We are told fewer than 50 right now, along with military aircraft. We're talking A-10s as well as F-15s, going to an air base in Turkey.
Want to bring in Bob Baer, CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA official. He joins us now.
Bob, this is a part of the world where you have spent a lot of time. The ground in Syria right now, the battle on the ground there is somewhere where the United States has had poor intelligence up until now. Can this make a difference?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's a Hail Mary pass. Syria is a mess. On the other hand, these Special Forces are going to the Kurdish area to support the so-called YPG party, makeshift militia. A very dangerous area. You run the risk that it looks like we're supporting a Kurdish state in Iraq. There are no good solutions but the best fighters are the Kurds and that's what we're left with.
BOLDUAN: We want to read you a little bit that we are just getting in. We're just getting an e-mail. Spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish fighting force, they welcome -- "They welcome assistance from the United States decision to deploy Special Operations troops to the Kurdish territory in Northern Syria." They also say they "need more assistance, including more adequate weapons to fight ISIS."
So they welcome the inclusion of U.S. Special Forces in Syria, but they say -- essentially saying that's not enough. They need more, Bob.
BAER: Exactly. That's what Special Forces are going to do, find out what they need. They'll send them weapons, ammunition, provide air support. Again, I go back to the political problems and the YPG is not exactly a welcome party. In fact, the Turks last week were bombing them. Whose side are we on in this whole conflict? It's difficult for me to follow even though I lived for years and years in that part of the world.
BERMAN: The issue, Bob, is there are more than two sides right now in Syria. There's the Assad regime backed by the Russians, backed by Iran, backed by Hezbollah. Can the United States be certain right now that the assistance the United States is giving are going to groups fighting ISIS and not fighting Assad?
[11:40:07] BAER: Not at all. Once you send weapons to Syria, they end up in the Islamic State. It's a mess there. Weapons measure chants, sides change from day to day. We don't understand the Syrian opposition, the Syrian fighters at all. We certainly don't understand the Kurdish forces. We can't even understand what battle is up in the north. We'll be a lot better off in terms of intelligence having forces there. But on the other hand, it's extremely dangerous. And the question is, are we getting drawn into the Syrian quagmire?
BOLDUAN: What do you think of the timing of this announcement, coming at the same time diplomatic talks are happening in Vienna about what to do about the crisis in Syria?
BAER: Well, I think this goes along with the meetings in Vienna, with Iran and Russia, in that we're supporting, in effect, Bashar al Assad regime because it's also fighting the Islamic State. Whether this is what the Russians want or not, I don't know. Again, this is our only option in that part of the world, the Kurds. They are a good fighting force and they need weapons. But for a long-term solution, it won't work.
BOLDUAN: Bob Baer, it's great to have you. Thank you so much.
We'll continue covering and following this breaking news coming out of Washington and coming out of Syria.
Also ahead for us, murder at Twin Peaks. Dramatic new video showing the shootout between biker clubs in Waco, Texas. See when the first shots ring out and what happened once the police showed up.
[11:46:10] BERMAN: We have exclusive video, dramatic video of the shootout between rival biker clubs in Waco, Texas. This a shootout that left nine people dead.
BOLDUAN: The gun fight between the Bandidos and the Cossacks, the biker groups, happened back in the spring, but we are just now seeing really how this chaos unfolded. After it was all over, new police reports obtained by CNN as well. They paint a truly gruesome scene.
Ed Lavandera has the exclusive details.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The showdown was like the gun fight at the O.K. Corral. That's how a witness describes the massacre to investigators.
You don't have to hear the eruption of gunfire to feel the chaos the moment biker clubs unleash the melee. These videos take you inside the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco, Texas, where nine bikers were killed and the parking lot was turned into a raging war zone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. This is crazy.
LAVANDERA: CNN has obtained more than 2,000 pages of documents, crime scene photos, many too graphic to show, and surveillance video, giving us the most detailed accounts of what unfolded last May, some of the very evidence a Texas grand jury is using to possibly indict the 177 bikers arrested and charged with organized criminal activity.
Restaurant surveillance cameras show the patio area filled with members of the Cossacks club, waiting for an early afternoon biker meeting to start. They had already been there for more than an hour. The Bandido crew rolls in as police and SWAT teams, anticipating violence, are watching from a distance.
John Wilson is president of the Cossacks biker club in Waco. He was sitting on the patio when the Bandidos arrive.
JOHN WILSON, PRESIDENT, COSSACKS MOTORCYCLE CLUB: The lead guy on that -- you know, I looked out, I was watching. He deliberately steered into one of our prospects and hit him. You know, I mean, he wasn't going real fast but he deliberately ran into him with a motorcycle, enough to knock him down.
LAVANDERA: The man Wilson is talking about is Clifford Pierce. He refused our interview request and has not been charged. In a police report, an investigator wrote, "Pierce said he did not get his foot run over but may not have gotten out of the way fast enough. It didn't matter." The Cossacks believed the Bandido ran into one of their guys and the fight was on.
(on camera): Who fired first isn't clear. One witness told police a Bandido fired first into the ground. Another witness says a Cossack fired first. And, in dozens of police interviews, the rival biker clubs point the finger at each other, or claim they didn't see anything.
(voice-over): Clifford Pierce says he hit the dirt and was shot. A bullet hits his spine, leaving Pierce paralyzed from the waist down.
WILSON: At that time it was -- it was pretty horrific. There were guys getting hit and falling and I realized that I need to get away from where I was. I looked to the guy to my right -- my left, a good friend of mine, and I told him, I said, we have to get off the sidewalk or we're going to die here, you know.
LAVANDERA: Mayhem ensues. A biker running across the patio fires a gunshot, caught on camera, toward the fight scene in the parking lot. He then stashes the gun. A number of Cossacks bikers take cover. Some slide handguns across the ground to each other.
Restaurant patrons and Twin Peak waitresses are stunned and trapped. The scene plays out in gory detail. You can see a group of bikers pummeling one man outside the patio area. Crime scene photos show a biker's body left dead in that exact spot.
This biker runs toward the camera with a bloody face. Another group pulls a wounded man into the patio and they appear to try to be reviving him. He's then carried away.
Several defense attorneys tell CNN the videos show most of the bikers there that day were innocent bystanders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Y'all going to put us in jail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, everybody's going to jail.
[11:50:09] UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: The way they handled it with the mass incarceration of people, with million dollar bonds, flies in the face of justice and flies in the face of fairness. It's ridiculous.
LAVANDERA: And when it was over, the scene was chaos. Dozens of bikers had run inside of the restaurant to hide in the bathroom and the Twin Peaks kitchen, and the police SWAT teams rounded up the crowd, and they are escorted with their hands up. Weapons litter the crime scene, knives, brass knuckles, and more than 150 firearms everywhere, some hidden in toilets.
(on camera): It has been more than five months since the Twin Peaks' brawl and all of the bikers are out of jail, out on bond. They were all charged with engaging in organized activity, but not one of them has been indicted by a grand jury yet, and no one has been charged with murder. In fact, it is not clear who killed whom.
(voice-over): One police report says that three officers fired into the crowd, and one officer wrote that he heard "suppressed fire from what I believe to be SWAT officers with suppressed rifles."
But the attorneys say that some bikers were hit by police bullets. But as far as we know, ballistics reports have not been completed to determine that conclusively.
Police and prosecutors have refused to answer questions about the investigation, citing a gag order, but Waco police have defended their actions since the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED WACO POLICE OFFICER: This is a criminal element that came in here yesterday to kill people. They are not here not to drink beer and eat barbeque. They came with violence in mind and were ready for it.
LAVANDERA: These images of the Twin Peaks brawl tell the story of unbridled pandemonium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these bikers started to the shoot, and they put us in a freezer.
LAVANDERA: It was a Wild West shootout in broad daylight.
Ed Lavandera, in Waco, Texas.
BOLDUAN: Ed, thank you so much.
For more on this, we are joined by Billy Queen, and he is a retired ATF agent, and he spent many years undercover with a biker club.
Billy, thank you so much for joining us.
We were told when this happened that it was a chaotic scene, just how many people were arrested and how many people were there. But when you see this video, it is really, really startling. What surprised you?
BILLY QUEEN, FORMER ATF AGENT: Well, I don't know that anything really surprised me. It was quite obviously that all of the bikers that showed up there knew what was going to happen or at least what the possibilities were. They showed up with that armament. They knew there was going to be violence that was possible and that was going to occur. And so, it is no big surprise to me. I mean, I lived that life for more than two years, and it is just a life of violence. Just came down to that day to everybody seeing it in the country.
BERMAN: Interesting. They were there looking for the fight, you think. No arrests and no charges have been charged in this. Nobody charged with murder and nine people dead. Why is that? Do you think it is going to be difficult or impossible to get anyone to talk here, and drop the dime on anyone else?
QUEEN: Well, I -- there's a lot of video there, and there is more video that is out there, too, and so I don't think that just pause it is going to be necessary for individuals to talk to make charges in the case, but they will have their program together when they do make the charges. It is like somebody already mentioned, they are waiting for the ballistics tests to come in, and other laboratory tests to come in, and the police are going to have themselves together when they make those charges. And it is going to take a while longer.
BOLDUAN: And you spent time with this gang, if not fallout with police, and what do you think that the fallout is going to be or has been within these biker clubs?
QUEEN: Well, there is a possibility that there may be fallout within the biker's club. As far as fallout with the police, I doubt it is going to occur at all.
BERMAN: You saw guns in the toilets, and you saw the knives there. Surprised at all by the level of the arsenal that they showed up with?
QUEEN: No, absolutely not. Not at all. When I rode with the Mongrels, and we thought that we were going to have problems with another club, we showed up armed to the gills. Not surprising at all. And besides the firearms, the hammers and the knives and everything that you would bring to a melee like that you're going to show up with.
BOLDUAN: Billy Queen --
BOLDUAN: Billy Queen, appreciate your insight on this, and watching the dramatic video here of what happened in Waco.
And we will continue our breaking coverage out of Washington. And for the first time, President Obama is going to be sending in Special Forces officially into Syria in the fight against ISIS.
We will be back in a moment.
[11:59:22] BERMAN: One of CNN's top-10 heroes, Maggie Doyne, left her house the go backpacking and the experience changed her life. She planned to return to help one child in need, but today, she is the legal guardian of almost 50 kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE DOYNE, CNN HERO: I always thought I would stop after 25. Then the cap became 30, then it became 40 and then kid comes in that you cannot say no to, that it is life or death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Wow. And that is just part of Maggie's story. And you can watch all of her story at CNNheros.com, as well as all of the other heroes. And vote for your hero of the year. And you can vote once a day everyday.
Thanks so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR, everybody.
[12:00:11] BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.