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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
What Did Rahm Emanuel Know?; Donald Trump Calls for Ban of All Muslims to U.S.; San Bernardino Suspect Tried to Contact Overseas Terror Groups; Interview with Sen. Tom Cotton; Carter Credits "Breakthrough" Cancer Drug. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired December 7, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Van, you just heard from two former police officers, Eugene and Redditt, Eugene mentioning it's possible the police involved could think they might get away it, right? And you have Reddit talking about history of planting weapons, mentioning that it's possible the police involved could think they might get away with it, right, or -- and you have talking about history of planting weapons.
I mean, these are remarkable things to be laid out there by former cops.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. That's right.
SCIUTTO: You know, not as facts, but as reasonable charges.
I mean, you know that Rahm Emanuel, he fired his police superintendent after the release of the Laquan McDonald video. What -- is that enough? Is his job in danger?
JONES: I think he's in trouble.
First of all, he had to have seen these videos. The question has to go through your mind, how can you see these videos and not demand immediate action?
Now, listen, in a healthy police department, as soon as the police officer stopped firing, he would have been arrested. Why are you in a situation where not only is the officer not arrested? There's a report that's clearly false that's put in and then it takes a year -- it takes legal action to get the video popped out.
Then, when the video comes out, oh, now suddenly the charges are filed. Suddenly, the chief of police is fired. What did Rahm know and when did he know it? Because if you are in a situation where the mayor of this city saw that video and took no action for a year, that itself is horrifying for people in Chicago.
SCIUTTO: Do you think he should be -- do you think he should lose his job?
JONES: Listen, I think he needs to be a part of the investigation.
I was in Chicago last week. People are shocked. In a town where it is very hard to shock people, people are shocked to see this level coming -- again, what did Rahm know and when did he know it? He still has not explained to the public what he knew.
EUGENE O'DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: It is important to add the political class has its own code of silence. And the root of this often is bad politics and a failure of political people to do their job.
This has been something that's ongoing. And if you're going to do radical reform at this point, I think this is an agency that might need something like a Knapp Commission, because the city needs simultaneously to root out wrongdoing.
But the good cops on the street that are out there right now, they need to be supported. And we need to create a level of public safety. Chicago dearly needs a level of public safety, six people being shot, 12,000 people shot in this town in the last five years, 12,000 people shot in this town in the last five years.
HUDSON: Eugene, they would be more supported if the public ever saw them challenge the kind of horrific and egregious misconduct that was captured on that tape and that's been running rampant in Chicago for years.
If they ever saw those -- quote -- "good officers" stand for something when that kind of thing goes down, you would see the public rally to them, because most people understand we need police, just not the ones who...
SCIUTTO: We're going to have to leave it there, but great conversation.
Van Jones, as well, thanks for joining us.
In our national lead, a new look at the San Bernardino killers when the wife first entered the U.S. and we just have learned she received a fiancee visa despite not showing up for her visa interview. How is that possible? We will look at that next.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. And this just in to CNN. Donald Trump in a new statement just
released is calling for, let me be clear about this, the barring of all Muslims from entering the United States.
I want to bring in CNN's Dana Bash.
Dana, what did he say in this statement, and how significant is this?
BASH: Well, it's pretty significant. And it's pretty extraordinary.
First of all, he says that there should be "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He then goes onto cite a Pew Research Center poll which he says shows that 25 percent of those polled agreed that violence against Americans in the U.S. was justified when it comes to a global jihad.
And then he goes onto say this. He goes onto say: "It is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad."
SCIUTTO: This, as you say, you put the word on it, it's an extraordinary statement. CNN will be doing further reporting on this because the polling saying that one in four Muslims supports against the U.S. certainly questionable.
Thanks, Dana, for giving us the first read on this.
Of course, Trump's statement is a reaction to last week's terror attack in San Bernardino, the deadliest in the United States since 9/11. Today, we have new details about the killer couple who slaughtered those 14 people.
CNN has learned that Syed Rizwan Farook had recently tried to contact overseas terrorist organizations, including al-Nusra in Syria and Al- Shabaab in Somalia, in Africa. Rizwan Farook's father telling an Italian newspaper this weekend that his son supported the ISIS goal of creating a caliphate and was fixated on his hate for Israel.
This comes as security forces in Pakistan raided a home that Rizwan Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, once lived in, searching for any clues about how she became radicalized before her arrival in the U.S. last year.
Let's get right to CNN's justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, who is tracking the latest.
Pamela, the FBI said that the couple had been radicalized for some time today.
Do we have any idea, does the FBI have any idea of how long exactly?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of Tashfeen Malik, investigators believe she was radicalized before she received her fiancee visa to come to the U.S., which is raising questions about the process.
And as for Syed Farook, they're looking into how long he may have been radicalized. His dad says he was a follower of the ISIS leader al- Baghdadi. And we're also learning that the two had been preparing, had been training and even visited the firing range within days of the event.
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time.
BROWN (voice-over): For the first time, a picture has emerged of the attackers together. The photo was snapped as the married couple passed through customs at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in July 2014.
U.S. officials believe Farook's wife, Tashfeen Malik, had been radicalized before stepping foot in the U.S., raising alarm bells about the fiancee visa she came in on. The State Department says Malik would have had to have an in-person interview before receiving her visa, but a State Department document obtained by CNN in her immigration file shows she failed to show up for the interview.
It's unclear if she ever rescheduled.
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The background checks aren't as extensive as you would get on a regular type of visa or green card or employment situation over here in the States.
BROWN: Malik was born in Pakistan and spent some of her life in Saudi Arabia, where her father lives. She earned a degree in pharmacy from a women's-only Pakistani university. A professor there told reporters she was quiet and reserved.
BABAR KHAGAN, PROFESSOR: There was nothing specially to be noted by the teachers. She was an average student. She came, always came on time.
BROWN: CNN has learned Syed Farook not only interacted with FBI terrorism subjects, but also looked into contacting terrorist groups overseas, like al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra and Al-Shabaab.
Farook's father told an Italian newspaper his son -- quote -- "shared the ideology of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi" to create an Islamic state and he was fixated on Israel. Farook lived with his mother in this home in Redlands, California, where investigators found a cache of ammunition and bomb-making materials.
The attorney general told NBC News investigators are interested in what she may have known about her son and daughter-in-law's activities. LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Obviously, it's something that
we're looking at very, very closely.
BROWN: It's unclear what started this husband and wife on the path to radicalization, or who may have known about it in advance of the deadly attacks.
BOWDICH: We have found evidence of pre-planning. And we want to find out everyone who has -- who participated in the pre-planning, if there was anyone else. We don't know everything yet. We want to find out everyone who profited from it, financed it, and I'm not saying there is anything like that, but we will leave no stone unturned.
BROWN: And I have been in touch with the State Department, Jim, with this question, were all the proper procedures followed before Tashfeen Malik came to the U.S.? And the State Department says, yes, everything was followed and she did have an in-face interview with the consular affairs officer.
But the question still remains, Jim, what is the process, how rigorous is it? If she was radicalized before, how was she able to come to the U.S. and become a permanent legal resident?
SCIUTTO: Yes, how many questions do they actually ask in those interviews? Are they pretty straightforward? How deep do they get into your background, your political beliefs? All questions that I'm sure they're looking into right now.
BROWN: Right. Yes.
SCIUTTO: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
How was it that these two shooters were never on law enforcement's radar? One senator thinks that intelligence agencies here in the U.S. do not have the power to do all they need to do. He will explain right after this.
[16:45:30] SCIUTTO: And welcome back to THE LEAD. Continuing with our National Lead, with the nation on edge in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks, President Obama and Congress are at odds over how to confront ISIS abroad and addressing fears about home grown terror.
Joining me now is Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, a fierce opponent of the president on foreign policy, also an Iraq veteran. Senator Cotton, can we get your response to the president's address?
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, the president seems to be a wartime president who doesn't realize it. While we've got 14 dead Americans at the hands of Islamic state adherence, the president wanted to lecture us about ineffective gun control measures and on political correctness. What we heard last night was just the president's going to continue with more of the same failed strategy that hasn't been working to date. And doubling down on that strategy is not going to do anything now. And I worry that more Americans are going to die if we don't take the fight to the Islamic State.
SCIUTTO: So, Senator Cotton, I want to share with you what the leading Republican GOP -- 2016 contender has just said in a statement. Donald Trump just called for halting all Muslim immigration into the United States until Congress acts. He's leading the presidential race, would you support such a step?
COTTON: No, Jim. And I haven't seen the statement. But I will say we should take a much closer look at the way we admit persons into this country. For instance, the woman in San Bernardino who's responsible for 14 of these murders was let into the country on a so- called fiancee visa.
We need to study that more carefully. We also allow countries -- or people from dozens of countries around the world to come here without a visa, even though some of those countries have been the source of terrorist attackers in Europe and in the Middle East.
We also need to take a serious look at the Syrian refugee program as well. President Obama has been very stubborn on all of these programs.
He's not been willing to negotiate with Congress over common sense measures that will give the American people the confidence that we're not letting the Islamic State or al Qaeda sleepers into this country to attack Americans. And I think that's very regrettable.
SCIUTTO: I do want to ask you outright, and to be fair you haven't seen the statement, but I am reading directly from it. Would you call the Trump's call for banning all Muslims from entering the country, would you call that outright bigotry, or at least fear mongering?
COTTON: Well, I would say I don't support the policy, Jim. But I also think that the president needs to focus more on defeating the Islamic State than on a wave of supposed backlash against Muslim- Americans.
The president devoted a disproportionate amount of his time on his speech last night to that. I would say where's the evidence for that? I don't see any evidence for it. In fact, in 2014 Jewish-Americans were four times more likely to be targeted by hate crime in this country than were Muslim-Americans.
Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, just said last week her greatest fear is not another terror attack but rather anti-Muslim backlash. Of course, we should all respect each other, but at the same time we can't let political correctness hamstring our fight in the war against radical Islamic terror.
[16:50:09] SCIUTTO: I want to talk about NSA surveillance because a change to the NSA surveillance program took effect just last week, which means the agency cannot automatically access as much information on Americans' domestic phone calls as before.
And of course, we remember the debate two years ago as this was revealed in part through the revelations of Edward Snowden. You're now working to overturn those changes. In your view would keeping that program going have made a difference in San Bernardino?
COTTON: Jim, it's unclear, but I also don't think that's the right question to ask. There's no intelligence program that's a silver bullet. They all work in harmony together, the NSA's telephone metadata program and human intelligence and satellite intelligence and so forth.
It's kind of like a football team. You can't win with just a good quarterback. You have to have offensive line, running back, defense, special teams, that's the way intelligence works.
Even if this program would not have stopped this particular attack, it sure would have been nice to have the immediate access to that data in the minutes and hours after this attack if there had been planned followed attacks since there were 19 pipe bombs discovered in their apartment.
And in the future if we don't have this program in place will guarantee that it's not capable of stopping terrorist attacks. The program was legal. It was constitutional. It was fully briefed to Congress and it was highly effective.
I don't think we should be changing horses in the middle of the stream on such a program when we face such a heightened terrorist attack threat.
SCIUTTO: Senator Tom Cotton, thanks for joining us this afternoon.
COTTON: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: When he first announced his cancer diagnosis, President Jimmy Carter spoke of his life as if he didn't have much time left. Now only four months later he says he's cancer free. How? Our Sanjay Gupta explains right after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Also in national news today, former President Jimmy Carter says that he is now cancer free. It was just four months ago when he said that his melanoma skin cancer had spread to his brain.
This is an astonishing announcement given melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Also, don't forget that the 39th president is in his 90s. Is this a medical miracle or just science?
Joining me now is chief medical correspondent for CNN, Sanjay Gupta. President Carter announced the good news today in his Sunday school class. Here's what the president had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: The first time I went for an MRI of my brain, the four places were still there, but they were responding to the treatment. And when I went this week they didn't find any cancer at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So, Sanjay, when we heard the news, it was sad news, that President Carter had brain cancer. This is less than four months ago. Many people, myself included, may have thought that it was likely the end. So how is it possible now in such a short period of time especially given his age that he's cancer free?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it certainly is good news and it's probably a mix of things, Jim. Just a little bit of background. When he was first diagnosed he had a two- centimeter area in his liver and he had those four very small areas in his brain as you mentioned.
He had the little lesion in his liver removed and he got radiation therapy to his brain. Those are both pretty effective therapies by themselves. And, you know, he got it done at a time when it didn't look like the melanoma had really spread any further than those areas.
What is interesting, Jim, he's also received another medication, a relatively new medication. Think of this medication as something that sort of turns on your immune system. Your body's immune system can be turned on or bolstered in some way to better fight the cancer.
This is a new drug just approved last year. There's not a lot of data on it, but in his case it may be what's keeping his melanoma at bay. He's 91 years old and he looks great. He's tolerating this really well.
SCIUTTO: It's incredible to see. Just to be clear and I think a lot of us who've had family members with cancer, I mean, we know that the MRI doesn't show cancer. But that doesn't necessarily mean that cancer is gone. So what are the chances of actual remission here?
GUPTA: Well, you make a good point. There's a certain limitation to the studies that we have. They can find things only of a certain size. The MRI doesn't see it. It doesn't mean that there aren't smaller patches still there.
Again, this is good news. I think the chances of remission are a little bit hard to tell. Metastatic melanoma is one of these cancers that can grow very quickly even within weeks. Gone four or five months where he hasn't had significant growth.
So if he's able to maintain this therapy which he is and continues to work, his chances are it might be pretty good. We are sort of in a new era, Jim, of how we treat these cancers. It's not just chemo, surgery, radiation. It's using these medications that harness our own body's natural immune system to fight cancer. It's been happening for some time, but now we're getting some real proof that it could potentially work. We'll have to wait and see.
Doctors say that a lot, patients don't love to hear it, but it's probably the right answer here. We've got to wait and see.
SCIUTTO: So For folks back home who might themselves have someone they know or love going through something like this, do you see a hopeful sign in someone his age getting such good news at this stage?
GUPTA: Absolutely. At 91 years old, he's been a good patient. He's obviously a very robust 91-year-old person. But I think, again, this idea that we've had these standard therapies for some time, they've worked intermittently.
But now with these new types of therapies that probably do something that the body could have done all along just helping the body along I think is really important.
I think that not just for melanoma, but other types of cancers as well. Cancer comes in sometimes and disables the immune system, this sort of turns it back on.
SCIUTTO: Good cancer news, always good for everybody. Thanks very much to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That is it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in today for Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to the capable hands of Wolf Blitzer. He is as always in "THE SITUATION ROOM".