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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

FBI: Investigating Crime As "Act Of Terrorism"; FBI Found Tactical Gear, Remote Control Cars In Home; CNN Poll: Trump Way Ahead Of GOP Pack; San Bernardino Victims Remembered. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired December 4, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you have any information on how these two may have been radicalized? Was it abroad in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? Or could it have been here in the United States in front of their laptop computer?

[16:30:03] REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I know the FBI is exploring that intensely right now. But the big concern is that ISIS no longer has to simply order attacks. They have become so influential that their success is inspiring attacks and that is the big fear in every community in America today.

TAPPER: Before this horrific terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the intelligence community said and President Obama repeated that there was no credible terrorist threat to the United States homeland, and then these two killed 14, wounded 21.

As a member of the House Intelligence Community, are you worried that the intelligence community is just simply not capable of tracking every one of these threats?

SWALWELL: I'm worried that ISIS is growing stronger and stronger and their influence is expanding across the globe. And until we can first have a coordinated effort among western and Muslim countries that can eliminate ISIS where they operate, which is Syria and Iraq, they're going to continue to be influential across the globe. And we'll see further displays of radicalization and then efforts to kill innocent Americans.

TAPPER: A few hours after the shootings in San Bernardino, President Obama was interviewed by CBS News and he had this to say about the threat posed by ISIS. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our homeland has never been more protected by more effective more intelligence and law enforcement professionals at every level than they are now, but the dangers are still there.

And so we just have to keep things in perspective. The American people should feel confident that, you know, we're going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday season, and go about our lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Our homeland's never been more protected, we have to keep things in perspective, Americans should have a good holiday season. Do you ever worry that there is a disconnect between what President Obama says about terrorism and the actual threat? Not to mention the fears that I'm sure you hear about from your constituents.

SWALWELL: The president understands the threat, but the concern here at home and where I may differ from the president is that ISIS has become so successful abroad that they are inspiring attacks that we don't even know about among people that were not even contemplating to be threats.

Now, I will say we can do more as to eliminating the weapons that these folks have access to. Right now, we have done very little in the Congress to make sure that the most dangerous people do not have access to the most dangerous weapons.

And until they can no longer have access to assault weapons, until we stop people on the terror watch list from being able to get weapons, these terrorists if they're in our country they can do and reap great harm.

TAPPER: These two individuals, of course, these two terrorists were not on any sort of watch lists at all. It wouldn't have stopped this attack in the slightest.

SWALWELL: But they did use assault weapons and those weapons are deadly. The bullets fly so fast. The energy is two to three times more than from a typical handgun and leaving no chance for anyone who's in their path.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. We are just now getting some new information from the FBI including what they found inside the apartment of these terrorists. We'll be back live in San Bernardino right after this quick break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:40]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We do have some breaking news on the San Bernardino massacre. A Facebook official is telling CNN that a post that could be connected to the female terrorist went up at around 11:00 a.m. The day of the terrorist attack and it violated the company's standards.

Facebook has standards that prohibit posting items celebrating terrorism and that it was taken down. Also in the last few minutes we're learning what the FBI found inside the home of the terrorists.

Let's go back to CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, who is in San Bernardino, California. Pamela, this is a huge list of inventoried items. What stuck out to you? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So in this list, which is somewhat difficult to read so let me tell you what stood out from what we can see here. There's a plethora of gun parts in this list including parts from an AR-15, a bolt for an M-4 style rifle, gun tube, lots of accessories that are listed here in tactical pouches as well.

Also, Jake, some potential bomb parts. We know from officials and sources we've been speaking to that the couple apparently had this ad hoc bomb lab in their home. And that includes a solid brass torch as well as a pin punch set and some other items on this list.

And electronics also seized from the home. This is interesting. It says PlayStation and control. The reason I point this out is because we've learned from officials that a way terrorists sometimes communicate is through PlayStation.

We do not know if that is the case here, but certainly that is something investigators are going to want to look at. Also on this list a Nokia cell phone missing the sim card. We know from officials that the couple tried to destroy their digital footprint.

That is key the sim card was missing. A laptop was also taken, a laptop Toshiba taken as well as a thumb drive, those were sent to the FBI lab in Virginia to be looked at.

And hopefully they will be able to retrieve more information to shed light on a motive. So some key evidence taken from the home here, Jake, that the FBI is looking at as we speak.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks so much. The FBI says that it is treating the massacre in San Bernardino as a terrorism investigation. If you ask the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, the FBI should have gotten to that conclusion a lot sooner.

[16:40:09]And if you ask voters as we did in our CNN/ORC poll, Republicans think Trump is the best equipped to tackle the problem of terrorism.

CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is here to run down the numbers. Dana, Trump way out in the GOP field, I mean, many, many points ahead of the person who's next in line. And they also think Republican voters that he's the best equipped to handle this problem.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This problem and pretty much everything else across the board. When you talk to the voters as we did in this poll, on the key issues, the ones that Republican voters say are most important to determining which candidate they will support, for a while it had been tied with Ben Carson for the top spot, but now not anymore. Donald Trump owns it and it's not even close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My life has been about winning. BASH (voice-over): Donald Trump is winning, big time, 20 points ahead of the rest of the GOP pack according to CNN/ORC's new national poll. And he leads by massive on margins on how he'd handled issues on the board, most trusted by Republican primary voters on the economy, ISIS, ahead on handling immigration, the budget, and foreign policy.

TRUMP: Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your -- I'd approve it.

BASH: CNN/ORC's poll was conducted before Wednesday's mass shooting in California, an event Trump predicted would pump his popularity even more.

TRUMP: Every time there's a tragedy, everything goes up, my numbers go way up because we have no strength in this country. We have weakness. We have weak, sad politicians.

BASH: In the last month alone, Trump's lead increased by nine points, jumping from 27 to 36 percent, a month of controversial remarks that could have crushed any traditional candidate. Re-tweeting racist and wrong data about black crime, insisting thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were cheering on 9/11, seeming to imitate a disabled reporter.

TRUMP: I don't know what I said. I don't remember.

BASH: Perplexed competitors are hoping to learn from Trump's appeal while trying to knock him down.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because being president isn't just about seeing what's in front of you. It's about understanding what will happen next if you don't do what needs to be done.

BASH: Marco Rubio himself is coming under fresh fire from other GOP candidates. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie saying of the first- term Florida senator, there's not a lot of depth there.

RUBIO: He's running for president and I'm one of the other candidates. He's not going to say nice things about me.

BASH: Rubio is now part of a three-candidate race for second place along with Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, all registering in the mid-teens. As for Carson, he continues to struggle with foreign policy like repeatedly mispronouncing Hamas when talking to the Republican Jewish coalition.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hamas rules the Gaza strip.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: As for Jeb Bush, the man who came into this race this summer as the frontrunner in our national poll, he was the favorite among the establishment Republicans, Jake, he's now at 3 percent.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much. Let's talk about 2016 and terrorism with CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp, and Democratic strategist, Stephanie Cutter. Thanks to both of you for being here.

S.E., let me start with you. After the Paris attacks there was this feeling among the Republican establishment, now the voters are going to get serious. But it didn't work out that way.

And if you look at our poll on the issues of ISIS, immigration, foreign policy, Donald Trump is considered by a plurality of Republican voters to be the one that can best handle this. This attack in San Bernardino could continue to bolster Trump.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I expect that it will. I think there's a sense certainly among his supporters and among other Republican voters that the ISIS strategy out of this administration has been terribly flawed.

And I think a lot of people are suspicious that more establishment Republican candidates will sort of carry on an Obama light version or an Obama hawk version and not really shake things up the way Trump talks about shaking things up.

No one seems to mind of course that what Trump proposes we do is both unconstitutional and against the Geneva Convention.

TAPPER: In terms of killing terrorist families.

CUPP: Killing ISIS' families, creating a Muslim-American database. I mean, a lot of promises he makes to his supporters he will never be able to keep. But he is certainly talking the most hawkish talk and that's obviously appealing.

TAPPER: Stephanie, there is conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party that this all bolster's Hillary Clinton. Certainly I can see that argument within the Democratic primary fold, but is it not a risk to her that she as the former secretary of state will be blamed along with President Obama for the rise of ISIS? Could this not be horrible news for her in the general even if it's good for her hawkish credentials in the primary?

[16:45:03] STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that knowing what the Republican race is at this point, Hillary's going to stand out amongst that field in terms of not only having the knowledge to talk about her national security credentials or national security vision.

But in terms of being trusted, in terms of leadership in being a strong leader and strong on national security she already has that support not just amongst Democrats but amongst independents.

TAPPER: Well, let's take a look because, Stephanie, we have some new numbers from our poll that are breaking this hour. Hillary Clinton is statistically tied when matched up against top Republican contenders.

You see there she's basically within the margin of error of Carson, Rubio, Bush, Trump and Cruz. Among independents however she loses across the board. There you see she's getting walloped with independents. So I don't know how that fits in with the argument you were just making, or maybe you consider this poll to be an outlier, I don't know. But independents don't seem to be buying to what she's selling.

CUTTER: First of all, I do think that that poll is an outlier. And when you -- when we get to a general election and there are two people at the top of the ticket, the choice is going to be that much more clear. And when you have a Hillary Clinton versus a Carson or a Donald Trump, I think that choice is going to be pretty clear to people in terms of even understanding how to address our enemies.

I mean, S.E. was talking about Donald Trump's policies, whether it's a national database of Muslims, killing terrorist families, shutting down mosques, deporting 11 million Americans, those are the types of things are going to hurt Republicans in a general election. Otherwise you wouldn't be hearing all this talk.

TAPPER: That certainly what many people in the Republican establishment think and in fact you saw -- you've seen that in the last week or so, S.E., Republicans worried that Donald Trump might hurt them in terms of Kelly Ayotte, the senator in New Hampshire running for re-election.

Rob Portman running for re-election in Ohio that he could be a drag because independents might ultimately vote for Hillary that poll aside.

CUPP: Yes. I think it's amazing to me when you look at maybe a real clear politics average or these CNN polls that she is statistically tied with everyone at the top of her ticket, that includes Carson, that includes Donald Trump.

So, yes, you know it's hard to envision a hypothetical six months down the road. But Republicans are still -- or voters are still deciding that the Republican front runners are a pretty good matchup against Hillary Clinton.

So, I mean, it's hard to imagine what Trump can do between now and then to really lose the confidence of the voters, the support he's already gotten.

TAPPER: Nothing seems to have worked yet. S.E. Cupp, Stephanie, Cutter, thanks so much. The final countdown to Iowa is on, but before that voting starts Republicans will get one more chance to make their cases in 2015.

The next GOP debate is happening right here on CNN. That's December 15th. That's a Tuesday night starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Do not miss it.

Coming up, they leave behind a total of 18 children, the victims of the San Bernardino massacre. Who were they? How their lives have changed -- the families' lives have changed forever.

Plus just a few days ago it was filled with ammo and a bomb factory of sorts. Today the media got their first look inside the killer couple's home after the FBI wrapped up its investigation. More on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:52:37]

TAPPER: Welcome back. Instead of making plans for the holidays, 14 families in California are now making funeral arrangements to say goodbye to the men and women killed in the terrorist attack this week in San Bernardino, California.

Nine men, five women, mostly colleagues at the county's Department of Public Health. Now they are few hours away from work have turned into a horrible unspeakable tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): They were cherished family members, best friends, parents, 14 people between the ages of 26 and 60 who spent their final day celebrating together, kissing their loved ones goodbye in the morning. Never believing they wouldn't come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thought that was running through my mind was just like, no, no, no, this isn't true.

TAPPER: Ryan Reyes drove his boyfriend, Daniel Kaufman, to the regional center Wednesday as he did most mornings. Kaufman ran a coffee shop there where he trained disabled employees. Kaufman was taking a break on a bench outside when he was killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the world to me. He meant the absolute world to me. Yes, sorry.

TAPPER: Many of the victims were parents leaving behind at least 18 children whose worlds are now changed forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overall she was like an amazing person, like she was so nice. Like she always like supported me in everything I did.

TAPPER: Benneta (inaudible) had three children, her family and friends say she came to America from Iran at age 18 to escape religious extremism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just find it just sadly ironic and horrible that a woman that came to the country under these circumstances would find herself gunned down by religious extremists.

TAPPER: Michael Wetzel leaves behind six children and his wife, Renee. A friend speaking for the family told CNN how Renee learned of his murder.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: They told her if he wasn't in there then he was gone.

TAPPER: Robert Adams always wanted to be a dad. He and his wife welcomed a little girl just 20 months ago. A fund raising page set up for his family a friend posted, quote, "He was 100 percent in daddy land." His family says he cherished every moment with his daughter.

[16:55:01]The 27-year-old Sierra Clayborn and Yvette Alaska (ph) were cherished daughters. Yvette was an intelligent, motivated, and beautiful young woman her family said in a statement.

On Facebook Sierra's sister wrote, quote, "My heart is broken. I am completely devastated." The family of the youngest victim is 2. Aurora Godoy was just 26. She leaves behind a husband and a 2-year- old son.

This community and the families of all the victims will need tremendous strength to move forward, a trait many learned from their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm doing OK because what else can I do? I have to stay strong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: We are collecting a list of resources to help the survivors, the victims and the family members of those killed and wounded in the San Bernardino massacre. You can go to CNN.com/impact to try to make a difference.

Up next, a critical turn in the shooting investigation, the attack now is being investigated as an act of terrorism. New details on a possible link to ISIS next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)