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FBI Divers Search Lake for Clues about Terror Attack; U.S. Warning: ISIS Able to Create Fake Passports; ISIS Terrorist May Be #1 Target of U.S. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 11, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] BOB MANKOFF, CARTOON EDITOR, THE NEWYORKER: I printed it on the back of cartoons that I showed David Remnick to pick for the magazine, he wasn't aware what that mean. He said, "What the heck is this?" I told him about it and we printed one in the magazine.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Bob Mankoff, thanks very much. It's great to have you on. That HBO documentary film very, "Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Perched Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonist" will debut December 14 on HBO. HBO is part of Time Warner, which is our parent company.
This weekend on "The State of the Union", Jake sits down with Republican front runner Donald Trump that is Sunday at 9:00 a.m. end at noon.
That is it for the "Lead" today. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Jake Tapper today.
I turn you over to the very capable hands of Brianna Keilar who is in for Wolf Blitzer today in "The Situation Room".
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Happening now diving for clues as FBI searchers painstakingly go through a lake near the scene of the San Bernardino massacre. Other investigators are focusing on the killers friend who bought the rifles used in massacre and may know more about terror plots and even possible sniper cells.
ISIS most wanted. New information about the man who may have been the inspiration for the terror attacks on Paris and San Bernardino. He is so dangerous. His name is shot to the top of the U.S. kill list.
And Trump vs. Cruz with just four days to go until the CNN Republican Presidential Debate, a newly leaked recording reveals Ted Cruz's strategy against the man that he refuses to attack in public. What's he saying behind closed doors.
Wolf Blitzer's on assignment. I am Brianna Keilar, you're in "The Situation Room".
UNIDENTIFED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.
KEILAR: We're watching important new developments in the San Bernardino terror investigation. FBI divers are back in the water today at a lake in a park near the scene of the mass shooting. Agents say they've gotten tips that the killers were in the park on the day of the attack. Were they perhaps trying to hide important clues about their plot?
And investigators also were getting frightening new hints from one of the killers' friends, the man who bought them their rifles. Officials say, he has told investigators while he and one of the killers built pipe bombs in the past, he knows nothing about the devices found in the killers home.
Also a law enforcement official tells CNN a new intelligence report contains a warning that ISIS terrorists have their hands on a Syrian passport printing machine giving them the ability to create fake passports to slip potential killers across international boarders.
The former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Retired General Wesley Clark is standing by to take our questions about the terror threat and our correspondents, analysts, and guests have full coverage of all of the day's top stories.
I want to begin now with CNN National Correspondent, Kyung Lah. She is at the search site there in San Bernardino.
Kyung, tell us if they've been able to find anything significant yet.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing that we've seen and the divers have been out here for most of the day. They have as you said, Brianna, been painstakingly looking through this. Like, they've been concentrating primarily right underneath that footbridge. It's a bridge where there are still two divers underneath still slowly going through this water, it has been a challenging day, rainy, cold, still trying to find evidence to understand this very difficult and complicated case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Tonight for a second straight day FBI dive teams are combing the bottom of the San Bernardino lake searching for clues.
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE: We did have a lead that indicated that the subjects came into this area. We're seeking evidence of anything that had to do with this particular crime.
LAH: The killers tried to hide and destroy evidence including smashing two cell phones found in the garbage can near their home. Other electronics are missing including a computer hard drive. That missing hard drive could be the reason for the underwater search. Its discovery could help investigators still trying to find any information to terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik may have left behind, something to help explain how closely Farook was connected to four men who lived nearby convicted in 2012 of trying to join Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
BODWICH: It would be irresponsible not to investigate it. When we had a case that was taken down three years ago right in the same general area. There may be connections at a multiple degrees of separation. We gotta find that out. LAH: This, as investigators continue to dive into the past of one of the couples friends Enrique Marquez seen in this local T.V. station feature story from earlier this year.
ENRIQUE MARQUEZ, FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR OF SYED FAROOK: I'm sore now. I'm really, really sore.
LAH: And his connection to the deadly terror plot. His mother tells CNN her son was a good boy and friends say the seemingly upbeat Marquez revealed no clues about any violence. Marquez who is currently not facing any charges bought the semi automatic weapons used in the attack told investigators he helped Farook plan an attack in 2012, but abandoned those plans after getting scared.
[17:05:06] So far, no indication he is connected to the current plot.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Right now we have one down outside the car, one down inside the car.
LAH: Investigators are hoping some other answers lay at the murky waters of this lake.
BODWICH: We will leave no stone unturned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: The two divers remain in the water. We anticipate that they will be here just like yesterday until night falls. The FBI, Brianna, have said that they are going to be here for days. Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Kyung Lah for us in San Bernardino. Thank you.
Now, what investigators are learning from the man who bought the killers rifles and he's also answering some questions on other plots that he seems to know about. We have CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez who's here with me in "The Situation Room".
What is Enrique Marquez telling investigators? Is it a lot?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Enrique Marquez has been talking, Brianna, for days and days now with - cooperatively with the FBI. They say that he is telling them a whole lot about what he knows about Farook over the last few, few years now.
Now, among the things he is told them is that he and Farook spent time making bombs, say he portrays them as sort of hobbyists who are just experimenting with explosives. He said that he did not have anything to do with the pipe bombs there. If you remember, there were 19 or 12 pipe bombs and then another seven or so the worn out pieces of pipe bombs were found in the home of the couple that carried out the shootings at nothing to do with those devices or the devices them strung together in and rigged to explode at the Inland Regional Center, the scene of the office gathering which were with the first shooting took place.
He had nothing to do with any of those but he says that if - and he boasted even to the FBI that if he had not had anything to do with those bombs, they would certainly have gone off. Again, this is all part of a great deal of information that he is provided to the FBI. A lot of it, they are still working to corroborate including this 2012 plot that he says he informed Farook had cooked up. I never followed through on.
KEILAR: He hasn't been charged at this point?
PEREZ: He is not been charged.
KEILAR: Could he be though?
PEREZ: Yes. He is in a lot of legal risk himself right now. He's admitted to a lot of things, including the fact that he bought the two firearms, which were used to carry out the shooting. So there is multiple things at the FBI could charge him with. That's part of why he is cooperating right now with the FBI.
KEILAR: Had they been able to say anything that sort of squares what you're telling me about Marquez vs. this happy kind of go luck guy we've seen in those video.
PEREZ: You know what, he is a puzzle like a lot of this case, you know, partly because, you know, they know that they believe that he might have been rather radicalized back maybe 2011, 2012 when they were thinking of this plot and certainly seems to fallen away from it. He checked himself into a mental health institution. Right after learning of this event, he says he had nothing to do with this.
So there is this great deal that they are still trying to figure out, again, trying to corroborate what he is telling them is a big part of this.
KEILAR: All right, Evan, thank you so much for that report.
And with us now in "The Situation Room" we have the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Retired General Wesley Clark. He is certainly been following the events and the new information that's coming out of this attack in San Bernardino, California.
General Clark, when you look at what's really a terror plot happening in our own backyard, do you think that Enrique Marquez really holds the keys to what inspired these two killers?
RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: I'd be surprised if he does, but I do think it is important to follow every lead in this case, and I particularly liked define the hard drives in the lake because there are numerous electronic leads that are available off this.
I continue to talk to people in the private sector in cyber security who told me that they have technologies that the federal government has always expressed interest in but does not follow up on and on. And I am sure that we can do more if we work the metadata and also all of the internet connections that would be available if we can come up with that hard drive. KEILAR: That's certainly one of the goals when they want to pull the thread and essentially see who else they were talking to really how wide this stands in terms of other people, but Syed Rizwan Farrok and Tashfeen Malik have been radicalized for years. They really weren't on anyone's radar. How do we - how is that?
CLARK: Well, I think they could have been on the radars if we're really looking at the internet, looking at who is downloading, looking who is participating in these sites. We simply have to go back and see who else is downloaded the data, who has got the same documents on their hard drives. And actually all of that information is available electronically. It may require search warrants.
[17:10:00] It may require some special work through the FISA courts. But, that information is available. We should be putting together a network of these people as best we can off of the current watchlist.
I think when you look at this what it says is that there were indicators that were out there that for one reason or another the just weren't quite followed up on and it is no different than what we have really found in France with the Paris attacks is there's lots of information that comes in to law enforcement. It's overwhelming in quantity.
It's very difficult to sift through it with the best intention in the world and good budgets. It's still hard. So you have to learn from each one of these how to sharpen your focus on the information that's coming in.
KEILAR: All right. General Clark, stay with me. I many more questions for you, including about this passport machine that ISIS in Syria has managed to get its hands on.
We'll be back with that, in just a moment.
[17:15:44] We're following new developments in the war with ISIS. We have the former NATO Commander Wesley Clark standing by to talk about that.
But first, let's talk about some alarming new details about some alarming new details about terrorist ability to sneak potential killers across international borders and possibly into the U.S. by creating fake passports.
CNN Correspondent Rene Marsh. Rene, tell us how they're doing this.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this new intelligence report warns ISIS may have access to a Syrian government passport printing machine along with boxes of blank passports.
Now the reports also say someone with the fake document may have entered the United States but there's no hard evidence of that at this point. But what's concerning for Homeland Security Officials is this phony passports allowed terrorists to hide their overseas travels allowing foreign fighters to come and go undetected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: The new U.S. Intelligence Report warns ISIS and Syria may have the capability to create fake passports for travel overseas.
SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Part of the territory they took over hapepen to have a building that - where the Syrians process passports. So they have blank passports and the have the means to primam and fake them. So this is obviously another level of concern that we have to pay attention to.
MARSH: U.S. officials are also concerned ISIS may have access to biographical data and fingerprints for Syrian citizens that could be used for phony identifications.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The Intelligence Committee is concerned that they have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports which is a concern in any setting.
MARSH: Following the Paris attack, investigators found fraudulent Syrian passports on two of the terrorists. The U.S. government has since expanded its effort to flag to other countries suspected documents terrorists could exploit to travel.
Today, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department has been aware for some time about the terror group's passport making capabilities.
ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We have been aware of reports not just in the press that they may have obtained this capability. Obviously, it's something that we take seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: Well, keep in mind these individuals cannot just travel to the United States using a passport only. They'd need a visa. In order to get a visa, they need to be screened by the State Department which includes fingerprinting. So there are checks and balances. That said, a passport is a fundamental travel document in anytime. It';s used to circumvent the legal process at the big concern. Brianna?
KEILAR: Sure is. Rene Marsh, thank you. And I want to get more now with the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Retired General Wesley Clark.
So General, obviously ISIS wants their trained jihadists to return to their homelands to stage attacks. Do you think that these fake passports make travel that much easier for them or is this something that we shouldn't be as alarmed as perhaps seems like we should over.
CLARK: Well, I think that most of the countries require Syrian citizens to have visas. Perhaps in Turkey, they don't. So we would obviously look first to the countries that don't require visas for residents of Syria or holds Syrian passports.
And then there may be other identifying characteristics of these passports like flocks of numbers on these passports and so forth.
So there's different ways to handle this. But, the big lesson here is from Paris and from the United States. Democracies have to do better at internal security. We need to know who's leaving, we need to be able to know who's coming in and we have to be able to cut off the flow of funds to ISIS. Those are the three big to dos on out to-do list before we ever get to tackling ISIS in Syria and Iraq. We need to tighten up our own system.
Now Europe's working pretty hard on this. I'm anxious to see results of what comes out of the -- out of the Paris study and whether they'll actually put together the kind of border controls that Europe needs. So That's the first step.
KEILAR: We're hearing from Defense Secretary Ash Carter that he's reviewing this proposal for military hubs in few locations to fight ISIS.
[17:20:02] Tell us a little bit more about how this would work and also do you think this would be effective.
CLARK: Well, I think, you know, you would have teams that would have laser designators that they would be able to pinpoint ISIS locations near the front forage to the battle area. They'd be able to vector aircraft into strike targets in those areas. So they could open up the route for the advance of let us say Iraqi forces on the ground. I think that could be effective, but it's not going to be decisive. What's the only thing it's going to be decisive in this case is to really work the politics of this because ISIS is a geostrategic artifact.
It's the result of conflict between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The Sunnis vs. the Shia and until we get those different groups on the same side. So the Saudies (ph) are working out to try to pull all the Sunni terrorist groups or Jihadi groups excluding ISIS together and to keep them from fighting each other to be able to turn their attention to fighting against ISIS, so that's kind of the first step in this. But you got to get the political objectives between the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey all to be congruent so you can then focus the military bench ISIS. And so that when you do drive them out or underground, you have a replacement and governing body to go into that territory and reestablish law and order.
Otherwise, it's the familiars sort of flock them all. People disappear into the family, you don't know who they are. You get shot at. There's improvise explosive devices and we have all been there. So we will not repeat that.
KEILAR: General Wesley Clark, we certainly appreciate your time and your insight on this. Thank you so much for being with us.
CLARK: Thank you Brianna.
KEILAR: And coming up, the ISIS terrorist, who's at the top of the U.S. hill list. He may have given orders that set in motion the terror attacks in Paris and also San Bernardino and the bombing of the Russian airliner. Also with only four days to go until the CNN Republican Debate, it leads reporting maybe setting up a long awaited showdown between Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
Tonight we're learning new details about the dangerous leader who is work his way to the top of the United States target list. Cnn's Brian Todd, he's been working his sources. So tell us who this man is?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianne, his name is Abu Muhammad al- Adnani and the question is not what has he done, but what hasn't he done. Tonight, we got new information on the power and lethality of all Al-Adnani. He is the ISIS leader who's words seem to matter the most. When he speaks, ISIS sympathizers and operatives seem to take action. That's why U.S. officials have put him at the top of their kill list.
The bloodbath in Paris, the downing of a Russian passenger plane, the San Bernardino shootings far-reaching attacks on civilians inspired and in some cases, directed by ISIS but while Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is at the top of the ISIS pyramid, tonight analyst say, it's this man, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani who could well be the ISIS leader at the top of the kill list.
MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": He is a very, very high valued target. Arguably more high-valued than that al-Baghdadi.
TODD: The State Department calls Abu Muhammad al-Adnani specially designated global terrorist and has a $5 million bounty on his head. U.S. officials told CNN, he is not only ISIS' spokesman, but also gives key direction on external plotting.
ALEXANDER FERNANDEZ, FORMER STATE DEPT. COUNTERROR OFFICIAL: He's like one of those, you know, executive VPs who actually gets his hands dirty and he's a trouble shooter and does stuff that actually affected the reality on the ground.
WEISS: A recent defector from one of ISIS is security services told me that forget about his official role as the spokesman of ISIS, al- Adnani actually runs all of Syria.
TODD: But his role as ISIS' spokesman is lethal. September 2014, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani issues an audio message calling for lone wolf of attacks which analysts say was a game changer. He called on followers to kill Americans and what he called the filthy French and said to smash their heads with rocks or slaughter them with knives.
WEISS: I think it was it was his declaration of war, essentially.
TODD: Over the next few weeks, an ISIS sympathizer attacked New York police officers with an ax. There was a deadly assault on the Canadian Parliament. Later, 18 days after all al-Adnani called for attacks on Russians, the passenger plane was brought down in Sinai. Analyst say, he could have at least had an inspirational role in the Paris attacks. Al-Adnani has been at this for more than a decade. U.S. officials say, he was among the first to join insurgents fighting American forces in Iraq. He was captured and detained for five years by the Americans including a period at Camp Buka where Baghdadi was held. Now, this top ISIS leader virtually never appears in video you only hear his voice.
JAVIER LESACA, VISITING SCHOLAR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: The ISIS is protecting him very seriously by not showing his face. He is not the showing any video of where is he or he is not -- they are not even any clue for where this person is.
TODD: Now, if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed could Abu Muhammad al- Adnani be tapped to replace him?
[17:30:05] Analyst say, Adnani is a logical choice that he has significant operational knowledge and all the fighters look up to. Now what may hold al-Adnani back, the fact that he is Syrian and Baghdadi and most of ISIS's top leaders are in a close knit group of Iraqis, Brianna.
KEILAR: Brian Todd, thanks so much for that report. Let's get some insight now from our experts. We have Cnn National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, Cnn Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes and former Congresswoman Jane Harman. She was the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. She now heads up the Woodrow Wilson Center.
So, to you first Congresswoman, if the U.S. were to take out al- Adnani, would this be symbolic or would this really affect ISIS's operations?
JANE HARMAN, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It sounds like it would really affect their operations for a bit of time. I mean this is a resilient organization and more people pop up as we take a mile and we have to rollback their territory, noxious role of the guys and then we also have to defeat the idea. It's a big project and we have to get on with it.
KEILAR: How effective do you think it would be? What would the impact there Peter?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, anything back to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, he founded Al Qaeda in Iraq which is the progenitor of ISIS. I mean this is basically his plan. I mean he was killed in 2006, ISIS has increased dramatically in power since. So it's not about one person, it is a sort of torture (ph) and harming (ph) sort of adjusted out, it's about taking out the network. It's the middle managers. I mean it's a campaign. It's more than one person.
So, you know, publicity is significant but I mean lot of significant people been killed in the past.
KEILAR: And taking out a network is a huge undertaking Tom?
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We're nowhere close to taking out a network. We knock off the leader. Another guy moves up. We just help their succession planning, their career development program, they are nowhere near dismantling. This network which is also based on having so much land and we're nowhere near taken away all the land from them, so there are long way off from success in this thing.
HARMAN: But there is urgency here and we can if this campaign is rolled out with more lethality than prior campaigns rollback a lot of their territory and put that on the tube instead of Donald Trump, 24 seven, yeah, and -- pardon me and then we are hostile ...
KEILAR: You're pardoned.
HARMAN: ...in focus on the piece of this, two other pieces making homeland resilient. I think we're doing well in our homeland. And then, defeating the idea which is their recruitment messaging piece which we have to get much better at too.
KEILAR: This San Bernardino case that al-Adnani may have somehow inspired or certainly he has inspired some recruitment, there were so many red flags, I think in retrospect looking back. Is it just Tom that law enforcement is so overwhelmed with trying to monitor people who are self radicalized that things will slip through the cracks?
FUENTES: Well I'm not sure that those flags are red. I think that's the other issue here, is what red flags. What was the FBI empowered to do with some of the information they had? They already convicted that whole group that was going to go to Afghanistan a couple years ago that he apparently would had some contact with. Leah went to prison for 25 years, so how much more involvement did he have with them once that happened? And how much of a flag really came up? But I think that's the part I disputed, it's easy to call at that.
BERGEN: The main point is over notifies. I mean there's a lot of signals that we think are now important, but we know it usually one of these cases, these -- the perpetrators being interviewed by FBI is on the right off. Almost universally that's true, it is acceptable for the -- for them not to have to the attention rule and spokesman. I think they're be very careful. They went posting Jihadi cell phone social media, the kind of thing that they gets the FBI and to -- and then bring in a fulminant, that kind of stuff.
HARMAN: Well, yeah, but a couple of other points to make though, if that home was full of weapons and remember they had always pipe bombs in the car, you know, where was mama? And she did not notice any of the staff or anyone else in the building? It seems to me, it's urgent and this is again why some of things Trump's staying are so counterproductive for the Muslim community to be aware of what is going on its neighborhoods and be comfortable telling us if strange things are happening in buildings people without records.
And one more point, they only have to be lucky once. We have to be right 100 percent ...
HARMAN: ... of the time and then anything can happen.
KEILAR: Congressman Jane Harman, Tom Fuentes, Peter Bergen, thank you all so much. There are just four days to go now until the next Republican presidential debate, it's going to be right here on CNN. And tonight there are some new indications that it could feature the first real showdown between Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.
With only four days to go until the Republican Presidential candidates debate here on Cnn. A new audio recording shows Senator Ted Cruz doing something he hasn't yet done in public, explaining his strategy for beating Donald Trump. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like and respect both Donald and Ben. But I think in instances in particular, you look at Paris, you look at San Bernardino, it's given a seriousness to this race. That people are looking for, who is prepared to be a commander in chief? I think -- but people were honest who they are. I believe that gravity will bring both of those campaigns down. I think the lion share of their supporters come to us.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
[70:40:03] KEILAR: CNN Jeff Zeleney is following Trump in Iowa today. And Jeff, I am assuming that Donald Trump has a reaction to this rather candid video or audio, I should say.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well Brianna I mean Donald Trump has long sort of waited for other Republicans to take him on before he responds in kind. So he could do that tonight when he takes stage in Iowa.
Behind me here is you can see the crowds are gathering but, you know, this has been somewhat of a calculated bromance between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump over the last few months or so.
But Donald Trump did tweet out this just a little bit earlier. Let's read it, he said, "It looks like Ted Cruz is getting ready to attack. I am leading by so much he must. I hope so, he will fall like all others. Will be easy."
So Donald Trump clearly relishing in the moment to fight back a little bit on Ted Cruz there after that close door private conversation was made public in a recording by the New York Times.
So we'll see what Donald Trump says tonight if he says anything at all about this, Brianna.
KEILAR: Do you think that these plays out perhaps in Tuesday's debate?
ZELENY: We'll it'll be interesting to see. I mean Ted Cruz has some other challengers he is contending with first. He and Marco Rubio have been going back and forth over national security, over immigration, over other thing. So here are these hands full.
But he did tweet out something else but sort of back paddle a little about what he said. Let's look at this. He said. "The Establishment only hopes Trump and me in a cage match. Sorry to disappoint. Donald Trump is terrific.
So Ted Cruz clearly walking back at what he said in that close door meeting. So I actually do not expect a lot of fireworks between those two at the debate on Tuesday.
Ted Cruz prefers to be waiting in the wings to be somewhat of an alternative if Donald Trump supporters decide that they need to go a different direction. Taking him on in a primetime audience for so many people may not be the wisest strategy for Ted Cruz, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yeah, so much risk, Jeff Zeleny for us in Iowa. Thank you so much Jeff. Let's get some political analyst -- analysis, now, I should say from our experts.
We have CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. We have CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and we have Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics.
So first to you Nia, this idea that's getting a lot attraction is this idea that Republicans could have a broker or contested convention, but if we could get to the point where no one has enough delegates to really seize it. This is not something that happens everyday.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. I mean it happens a lot in kind of the fantasies of political nerds, but not very much in reality. Really only three times, 1948 with Dewey, 1952 with Stevenson and 1976 out with Ford which was more of a contested convention and not a broker or convention.
The magic number is 1237. You got to get a simple majority, but the reason everyone is so worried is the way the calendar is set up. There's all sorts of proportional delegate -- delegates that are allocated up until March15th.
KEILAR: It's not a winner takes all.
HENDERSON: It's not a winner take all until March 15th. The irony is it was designed to make it sort of a simpler process but it looks like it might be much more prolonged given the way the calendar and delegate are going to be allocated.
KEILAR: I know you been talking your sources Rebecca. They must have some concerns about how this would affect the dynamics of really whether Republicans can seize the White House.
REBECCA BERG, POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: That's putting it lightly, Brianna, really because this isn't as existential crisis for Republicans right now. Republicans, professional Republicans I should say are worried that if Donald Trump succeeds or if he is able to move forward in this primary race that it is going to be a black mark on the Republican party for decades to come. This is not just looking toward the next election and so, what we're going to see in the next couple of weeks and months, especially if Donald Trump in the primaries does very well early on. I think we are going to see a big choice really for the Republican Party. Do they intervene at some point and try to stop him actively as a party risk him running as an independent as he has threatened.
Or they just stay in the sidelines the whole time and risk loosing this election by a lot and maybe turning people off a Republicans for generations.
KEILAR: Wow it's so -- go on Jeff.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wait let me ask, obviously I've never understand what that means. Will the Republican Party intervene? Who was the party?
KEILAR: Yeah, no that's such a good point.
TOOBIN: Who's like who is in charge, you know?
BERG: That's a great point.
TOOBIN: Donald Trump treats Reince Priebus as if he is like dandruff on his shoulder. I mean, there is no leader of the Republican Party. No one can tell Donald Trump for what to do. I just do not understand the whole idea that somehow the establishment is going to force him out, they can't.
BERG: But what the Republicans can do once we get to the convention is they can change the rules of how delegates are portioned. They can get on the floor and actively block him from taking the nomination.
HENDERSON: And I mean can you imagine what that would mean over there?
BERG: It would mean highly controversial.
BERG: And unprecedented.
HENDERSON: For their credibility.
[70:45:00] Yeah, and I mean, and that's a thing, they made these rules and to then all of a sudden want to change them because the guy they wanted didn't, you know, the guy they wanted didn't make it through.
I mean to talk about a credibility issue but I think Jeffrey is exactly right. There are no grand gatekeepers of the party. You see the party trying to make argument about Trump representing the Republican Party or not representing the Republican Party or representing conservatism. They have little credibility with the folks who are backing Donald Trump at this point.
BERG: Really Donald Trump does reflects how the Republican Party has changed and I think he may represent what the Republican Party is right now. And that's something that professional Republicans here in Washington hadn't really come to terms with that.
KEILAR: Yeah and what you say really speaks to the difficult situation that Republicans are in and they are very afraid. And that is very clear. Rebecca Berg, Nia-Malika Henderson and Jeff Toobin, thanks so much. Stick with us, I should say as well. We have a quick program, you know, be sure to tune in Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern for CNN State Union because Jake Tapper will have a one-on-one interview with Donald Trump.
All right, stand by you guys. I have another recording that really touched off a political firestorm. Next, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's remarks about African-American college student and affirmative action.
The Supreme Court just released the audio recording of Justice Antonin Scalia's controversial remark on African-American college students. During oral arguments this week on a University of Texas affirmative action plan, Scalia questioned whether it is a good idea for some African-American students to be placed in elite university programs. Here's a part of his exchange with one of the attorneys.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school or less slower track school where they do well.
One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas. So they come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are to too fast for them.
You know, I'm just not impressed by the fact that that the University of Texas may have fewer, maybe it ought to have fewer and maybe some, you know, when you take more the number of Blacks, really competent Blacks admitted to lesser schools turns out to be less.
And I don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many Blacks as possible.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let's get back now to our legal and political experts. Jeffrey Toobin to you first, democrats are very upset about this. A lot of former civil rights leaders are very upset about this.
Congressman Elijah Cummings said today that, "Justice Scalia's remarks regarding African-American students ability to perform in elite universities are a disgraceful contemporary example of views that were typical of segregationist in pre-civil rights era America." You tell us from a legal perspective when you hear what Scalia said. What's your take?
TOOBIN: We'll, it is a response to something very specific, which is a brief in the case discussing what's known as the mismatch theory. And this theory holds that if you look at where African-Americans have succeeded, where they have gone on to professional schools, where they have got graduated in most significant percentages. They actually do better in less selective schools than in more selective schools like the University of Texas at Austin.
That theory is open to a lot of criticism and many people have criticized it and -- but Scalia's comment is just part of a larger argument that he and Justice Clarence Thomas have been making for many years, which is that, you know, African-Americans and groups like the NAACP, they may think they know what is good for African-Americans but we know better, what is better for them. So this is not a new argument that they're making but it is a very controversial one.
KEILAR: Nia, I interviewed a counsel for the NAACP today and she said this mismatch theory, it has been debunked. Tell us about that. Has it been?
HENDERSON: Well it seems like it has been and Toobin is right there. Clarence Thomas I think is been a very vocal proponent of this idea. He talked about his own Yale law school degree and how he had a 15 cent of sticker on it because that's all he felt it was worth because apparently he thinks that he got into that school because of affirmative action.
But if you look at for into the University of Texas, African-Americans actually graduate from the University of Texas at a higher rate all than other schools in Texas that it might lesser schools.
So it has been largely debunked. I think one of the biggest kind of critiques and rejoinders to what Scalia has said is this media campaign -- social media campaign, where you have African-Americans who graduated from the University of Texas basically tweeting photos of themselves in their caps and gowns.
And I think this is a conversation that we'll continue to see as Jeffrey Toobin said, it's been on ongoing and there's been this conservative critique of African-American or of affirmative action for a while, we'll just have to see how the court decides.
KEILAR: All right Nia, Jeffrey, thanks so much to both of you.
[70:55:00] And I do want to remind our viewers. We are just four days away from the final Republican presidential debate of the year. Our very own Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator when the GOP candidates face off in Las Vegas this coming Tuesday, December 15th, mark your calendars.
And let us know if you have questions for the candidates. You can send them to us. Just go to Facebook.com/CNN and you can comment there on the top post and we will be reading it. Coming up we'll take you back to San Bernardino where divers are searching a lake near the site of the terror attacks. Did killers throw important evidence into this lake? And a frightening new warning, the U.S. believes ISIS has the ability to create fake passports that could be carried by real terrorists.