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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

New Move in War on Terror; Trump Warns of Independent Run; Cruz Has Mild Reaction to Trump; William Porter Takes Stand in Trial; Breaking News in San Bernardino Case. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 9, 2015 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But guys, I'm going to step out of this hallway and just wanted to give you this quick update as we get ready for city council to start again.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Ryan Young, thank you so much.

And thank you for being with me today. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

(HEADLINES)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman.

This morning, a new move in the war on terror. Just moments ago, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that, for the first time, the U.S. is ready to deploy advisers and Apache gunships in the battle to retake the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The reality is we are at war. That's how our troops feel about it because they're taking the fight to ISIL every day, applying the might of the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

We want this expeditionary targeting force to make ISIL and its leaders wonder when they go to bed at night, who's going to be coming in the window.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But the defense secretary also acknowledged and said in this hearing that ISIS is not contained. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: -- General Dunford, we have not contained ISIL. Mr. Secretary, do you agree with General Dunford?

CARTER: I agree with what General Dunford said, yes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, following this.

Jim, Ash Carter said quite a bit in this hearing. He says we are at war with ISIS. He also agreed with John McCain and General Dunford there that ISIS is not contained. Is he in contradiction, then, with President Obama?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is. President Obama said in as many words that ISIS is contained on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. That's how his advisers qualified it. Because you'll remember that he made that statement in an interview with ABC the very morning of those attacks in Paris, when ISIS certainly showed it was not contained in terms of its ability to carry out terror attacks around the global. But they said, listen, that's just on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

But when you hear from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, last week on the hill, ISIS is not contained, and now the defense secretary, clearly that's a diametrically opposed appraisal.

And, listen, as you watch the situation on the ground there, it's pretty clear that's the case. For instance, you talk about Ramadi, which they're going to be deploying these forces to help take back, you know, Ramadi's been on the radar for that take-back for months now with no real progress. You know, it's hard to deny the hard facts on the ground.

BOLDUAN: All right, Jim, thanks so much.

A lot more coming from Capitol Hill. We're going to be talking a lot more about that. FBI Director James Comey making news as well. Jim, thank you.

Now to Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from overseas from coming into the United States. Criticism, condemnation of that idea is coming from both parties and several continents. But Donald Trump and his supporters, they do not seem to care, saying it is not bigotry. They say it's about national security.

BERMAN: And just a short time ago, a warning shot from Trump to the GOP establishment, if they don't like what he says, if they don't want him, he doesn't need them.

With Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, he raised the possibility of a third-party run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENT CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The people, the Republican Party, has been -- the people have been phenomenal. The party, I'll let you know about that. And if I don't get treated fairly, I would certainly consider that. In fact, they did a poll in one of the -- I think it was "USA Today" where they said 68 percent of the people that were Republicans --

KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST, LIVE! WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL: Right.

TRUMP: -- would follow Trump if he went Independent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Indeed, that is what the poll said.

Let's talk about this with CNN's Dana Bash.

Dana, you know, you've been working your sources on the inside. By the way, these insiders that Donald Trump loves to needle, what are they saying this morning?

[11:04:43] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, they feel plenty needled. I think there's a combination of panic, worry and paralysis. And I think it's the last part that is most concerning to these Republicans because, look, you know, these are political operatives who see a potential problem and generally know how to deal with this. There's no solution that they can come up with that is part of the traditional political strategy that they think would actually work. For example, you know, find a billionaire to fund a super PAC and put up an ad and say things about Donald Trump that could hurt him. Won't work, you know, in the recent history, it's only helped Donald Trump. Anything that the opponents do, obviously, it's not working.

And there's no real party poobah, if you will, that will break through to Donald Trump's supporters because if you don't have someone like Dick Cheney, who is revered among conservatives as somebody who post- 9/11 did whatever it took to keep America safe, if they don't listen to him, who are they going to listen to? In fact, they understand that it's actually having the opposite effect because at its core, it's anger. It's anger at the establishment, anger at Washington, anger at anybody who is in any position of power. And so the more those people hit Donald Trump, the more angry they get. So it's a very difficult situation for a lot of Republicans and the quote, unquote, "establishment" I'm talking to.

BOLDUAN: And you talk about -- you kind of talk about paralysis. It's a pretty important word, I think, Dana, in this conversation. Is it paralysis -- are you hearing because there are hints at all that this is the reality that they have to face? Nothing knocks Trump off of the top. Nothing he does knocks him from the top spot.

BASH: This is a pretty graphic analogy, but somebody said this to me this morning. It's almost as if the patient has cancer, the patient in this case being the Republican Party. And the only way to cure it is with an experimental treatment, but no doctor wants to be the first one to do that experiment. So that's where they are right now in the establishment. You know, and on this -- even on this question that you just played from Donald Trump about an Independent bid, I've talked to somebody this morning who said let's just play this out.

Let's say that he doesn't launch a full-on Independent bid if he does not get the Republican nomination. If he just gets on the ballot in Virginia or New Hampshire or another potential swing state, that's all he would need to do to throw the elections from the Republican perspective towards the Democrats. So that's why there's so many -- they understand that there's so many problems, but not a big solution. And, look, at the end of the day, if the Republican Party poobahs need to understand the polls. The polls show that about one-third of people who say they're going to vote in the caucuses and key early states and our new poll say they're going for Donald Trump. That is a significant part of their own party and something that they're grappling with.

BOLDUAN: The polls have been speaking very loudly in this primary race so far.

BASH: It has.

BOLDUAN: Dana, thank you so much.

BASH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So some of the sharpest criticism of Donald Trump's proposal is coming from his own side and his Republican presidential rivals. "Unhinged, dangerous, xenophobic," just some of what they've said, but from Senator Ted Cruz, a much milder reaction.

BERMAN: Cruz's national spokesman, Rick Tyler, joins us now.

Rick, let me read you a quote from Senator Lindsey Graham who's also running for president. He says, "Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level. It is time for Ted Cruz to quit hiding in the weeds and speak out against Donald Trump's xenophobia and racial bigotry."

So, Rick, does Ted Cruz think that Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, does he think that constitutes xenophobia and racial bigotry?

RICK TYLER, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, TED CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT: Well, you'll notice the author of that statement right there, Lindsey Graham, is about 1 percent in the polls. So he was successful in getting a little media attention. But, no, Senator Cruz doesn't need to join the chorus of critics. We're not worried that much about Trump. We're worried about --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- bigotry and xenophobia. The question is do you think that the proposal constitutes a xenophobic or bigoted proposal?

TYLER: I think what the American people are concerned about and the reason there is one-third of support for Donald Trump is because what Dana Bash said very well, and that is the American people are angry with Washington, and they're trying to send them a message. Now, I don't know in the end if those people come out in Iowa and caucus on February 1st. What I do know is that we've built an army of conservatives in Iowa that we're sure that we've identified that we're sure will come out and caucus. And so we hope to do very, very well in Iowa. Then we're looking toward -- we are competing in New Hampshire, we'll do very well in South Carolina. That's how it's going to play out. It's going to play out state by state. Again, we don't worry about what Trump is doing. Everybody else seems to worry about what Trump is doing.

By the way, you just noted that 30 percent of the people of the Republican Party is supporting Trump. But what you didn't say is 30 percent of the people are on the other side of the Democratic Party are supporting a devout Socialist. Now, Socialism has not proven itself to do very good things in all of human history, in fact, very terrible things. In fact, the world has moved it to history. Yet, you have a devout Socialist getting one-third of the Democratic Party, and I don't see any coverage about that.

[11:10:12] BOLDUAN: Well, you can take that on when you get to the general, but first you've got to get to the primary before you take that on, Rick.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But let me ask you this.

(CROSSTALK)

TYLER: I watch CNN all day long, and I see Donald Trump on all the networks and --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Because he's a Republican front-runner, Rick.

Let me ask you this.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: A lot of folks reacting to Ted Cruz's response to Donald Trump have said this is about strategy for Ted Cruz. Said this is about him wanting, needing to win over Donald Trump's supporters in the long run. He's playing the long game. But let's be honest. All of the other candidates who are running on the Republican side, they would love to win over Donald Trump's supporters as well in order to boost their numbers. But they have felt strongly to speak out about what Donald Trump says. Why not from Ted Cruz, then?

TYLER: Well, if you notice, Ted Cruz hasn't said anything controversial or does not confront any of the other candidates either. He disagrees on policies. We disagree with Rubio on immigration policy. We've disagreed with Donald Trump about this proposal to ban Muslims from coming to the United States. We've disagreed with any candidate on any number of issues. What we don't do is attack them personally and critically. It's not exclusive to Trump. It's been across the board.

BERMAN: I want to throw up some polls just to remind America of what Cruz is doing right now because he's closing in, in some polls in Iowa. Our Iowa poll, CNN/ORC poll, shows Trump at 33 percent, Cruz at 20 percent. A Monmouth poll has your boss, Cruz, out in front, 24 percent to 19 percent. So things are looking good for you in Iowa. I just wanted to get that out there as I ask you this next question.

TYLER: Sure.

BERMAN: Senator Cruz has said I'm convinced that 2016 is going to be the religious liberty election. That's something he has said. Is that religious liberty for all religions? Does that include, do you think, Muslims?

TYLER: We have a secular government, but what Ted Cruz is pointing out there is that there are somewhere upward close to 100 million evangelicals, and we have a government right now, not just in the federal but in the state level that is persecuting Christians, that the people in Iowa lost their business because they were challenged by a same-sex couple. People who have lost their bakeries, their T-shirt printing shops have all been brought to court because they didn't want to provide business for same-sex -- or they didn't want to be part of same-sex marriage and the government is basically compelling them to do that. And that's protected in line one of the first amendment of the Constitution, and yet this government doesn't seem to understand what the first line of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights says. And that is it doesn't -- it doesn't require the establishment --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: So it does apply across the religious spectrum, then? You're focusing --

(CROSSTALK)

TYLER: But what he's pointing out as something worth covering is that Christians are being persecuted in this country by their own government. And so I think that's right to point out.

BOLDUAN: And so it would apply across all religious faiths, Muslims included, yes?

TYLER: Of course. Of course. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Rick Tyler, it's great to see you.

TYLER: Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: We'll see much more about Trump and Cruz, how they behave together when they get on stage together. The last Republican presidential debate of the year on CNN Tuesday, December 15th. Do not miss it.

Plus, after issuing a new threat to run as an Independent, Donald Trump will sit down with Don Lemon tonight at 10:00 eastern time.

We have breaking news. The Baltimore police officer on trial in the death of Freddie Gray just took the stand. We will take you there live.

BOLDUAN: And also, some more breaking news involving the San Bernardino terrorists. The FBI is now saying it's a game changer if the terrorist organization arranged the couple's marriage. They are looking into that.

And the detective who told frightened people during the rampage that he'd take a bullet before they do, well, he's now speaking out about what happened inside that building.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:14:16] UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Thank you. Thank you. Try to relax. Everyone try to relax. I'll take a bullet before you do, that's for damn sure. Just be cool, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Breaking news out of Baltimore. Officer William Porter taking the stand in his own defense. Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial for the death of Freddie Gray.

BOLDUAN: Freddie Gray's death earlier this year came after a ride in a police van, and that sparked protests and riots throughout the city.

Jean Casarez is joining us live outside the trial right now in Baltimore.

So, Jean, what are you hearing? What are we hearing from William Porter?

[11:48:16] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: William Porter is testifying right now for the defense. The jury is listening to him.

First of all, very important questions as how the direct examination began. First of all, did you know Freddie Gray? And the defendant, William Porter, said, "I knew him very well. I would always see him because I was a patrol officer for the Western district. I saw him every day." "Why didn't you call medical attention for him?" "Because he couldn't give me a reason why. I kept asking him what's wrong. He couldn't tell me why. And so I knew it took at least 10 minutes to get there." Also he was asked, "Why didn't you seat belt him in?" The answer is as you've heard in prior testimony, "It's very cramped in that police van. And when I go in, if I'm going to seat belt somebody, my gun is directly where they are able to reach for it. And because of officer safety, it's not done."

He said during his police academy field training that the focus was arrest and putting in police van. Never once did he say during that field training of the police academy did they ever seat somebody in the police van. He went on to say that the reason he became a police officer was when he was young and he was raised right here in Baltimore City, that his parents didn't have enough money to send him to summer camp, so there was a police summer camp that he went to. And that's when he realized he wanted to be a police officer.

And in 2012, when he went to the training academy, he said what really tipped it for him was that there were cases out there where people didn't believe in police officers anymore, and he wanted to change that. He said, "I wanted to become one that people could respect, that people could know that the police officer is there to help you." He said that in his two years as an officer, he never used any use of force, never used his baton, never used mace or any other mechanism. He said he did it with talking to people. He also said that he had never discharged his weapon in the two years.

Let me tell you about his demeanor on the stand. He's very down to earth, very relatable, very humble. Now he's beginning to be questioned about the morning of April 12th. And he said that he heard over the radio from one of his supervisors there was a foot pursuit, so he immediately got in his patrol car and went to the area. And that's basically where we are now. And he was trying to find another suspect because they believed another suspect was on the run somewhere.

BERMAN: All right. Jean Casarez for us in Baltimore.

Officer William Porter on the stand right now.

Jean, we'll let you get back in the courtroom to hear more of that testimony. Thank you so much.

More breaking news. FBI Director James Comey says the San Bernardino terrorists were radicalized before they met online and were inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. This, as investigators say that one of them, Syed Rezwan Farook, was planning an attack on a different location with a different partner back in 2012 but apparently, obviously, did not go through with it.

BOLDUAN: Police at the same time, they are now talking to Farook's neighbor, Enrique Marquez. Marquez bought the two long rifles that were used in the shooting. Law enforcement officials say he is cooperating with their investigation, and he is sure in the spotlight right now.

Let's bring in CNN's justice reporter, Evan Perez, for much more on this.

Evan, talk more, first, about what we're learning, this new stuff we're learning from the FBI director this morning in the hearing about their path to radicalization.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is actually very, very important new information that the FBI director just announced at this Senate hearing this morning in which he says that as we have been reporting, that this radicalization with both of these killers began much, much earlier than they first thought. And in fact, it goes back to 2013 when these two, even before they started dating. So here's what he had to say at the Senate hearing this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Our investigation to date, which I can only say so much about at this point, indicates that they were actually radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online. And online, as late as -- as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and then married and then lived together in the United States. We also believe they were inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. We're working very hard to understand exactly their association and the source of their inspiration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREZ: And, Kate, one of the important parts of that testimony today is that, you know, one of the things they're trying to do is trying to figure out what other plans these two might have had because obviously, this radicalization began as far back as 2013, again, when they're chatting online and talking about jihad, what else did they have up their sleeves? And that's one of the things that the FBI is trying to unravel in this investigation.

BERMAN: Senator Lindsey Graham asked a fascinating question during this, Evan. He asked, was this sort of an arranged marriage by some kind of terrorist organization? And if that happened, would it be a game changer? What did the FBI director say about that?

PEREZ: Well, yeah, he did say it would be a dramatic game changer. He said that that is something that they're very much interested in finding out. And in reference to that 2012 perhaps plot, that Farook was planning with someone, that is something that, again, marries together with all of this information because the issue here is was Farook trying to find a jihadi bride, perhaps? Was he looking online, looking for an arranged marriage with someone who could be a partner in carrying this out?

That is one of the top questions on the minds of investigators because we know that when Farook was thinking about this plot or this idea of carrying out an attack in 2012, he bagged it. He didn't do it. He didn't go through with it because he got spooked is what the FBI believes at this point by a rollup of arrests of a group of people who were trying to go fight overseas that were arrested in southern California right nearby. So it looks like he was thinking about things, and then he goes online, looks for a bride, and then he found the perfect one who would carry out this jihad attack in San Bernardino.

[11:25:34] BOLDUAN: All of them are details coming out, painting a more and more complicated picture about these two people.

Evan, thank you very much. The investigation continues.

Ahead for us, not backing down. Donald Trump triggers a political earthquake with his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In the face of widespread condemnation, he's renewing the threat of possibly an Independent run if the party doesn't play nice. Have Republicans decided the time for nice has passed? BERMAN: Breaking news from Chicago on the video the Chicago Police

Department doesn't want you to see. Moments ago, a judge made a big decision about the release of the video which shows a teenager shot and killed by police.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)