Return to Transcripts main page


Lindsey Graham Misses George W. Bush Presidency; Update in San Bernardino Shooting Investigation; Democratic Reaction to GOP Debate; What GOP Candidates Do Going Forward; Freddie Gray Case Jury Sends Message to Judge. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 16, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got to ask you, real quick, you're advising the Lindsey Graham campaign. He is the guy everybody was talking about from the undercard debate. He is known for his one-liners and is quick-witted. But what struck a lot of people is how emotionally he talked during the debate. Listen here to a little bit of it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At least 3,500 American Muslims serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your service.


GRAHAM: You are not the enemy. Your religion is not the enemy.

I'm tired of beating on Bush! I miss George W. Bush! I wish you were president right now!



BOLDUAN: One, was that a planned line, "I miss George W. Bush?"


You know, Senator Graham, in my opinion, first of all, he's the only one with military service on the stages last night. But, you know, the passion of his commitment to our troops and his commitment to winning this war comes out through his debate performances. And I don't think there's an equal to him on either stage. You know, not just because I advise him but because I know these candidates. There's not an equal to him on either stage in terms of his knowledge of these issues on foreign policy. And plus, when you mention "Princess Bride" in a debate, you automatically win, in my opinion.


BERMAN: So far, nothing else has worked in terms of the polls.

BOLDUAN: Will it work?

BERMAN: Maybe he'll get the buttercup bounce.

BOLDUAN: John Berman won this one. Ding, ding.



O'DONNELL: Great line.

Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brett. Great to see you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news in the San Bernardino terror investigation. Just moments ago, the FBI director, James Comey, said that the two killers, Tashfeen Malik, and her husband pledged their commitment to jihad online through direct messages in 2013 before they met in person.

BOLDUAN: This is something we have definitely never heard before coming out of this investigation.

Let's get over to CNN's justice reporter, Evan Perez, live in New York. He just was in this briefing with Director Comey.

Tell us more, Evan, and the significance of these direct messages.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Kate, the FBI director is here at NYPD headquarters really to talk about terrorism and to encourage cooperation with the local police departments. And one of the things that he did provide was an update on the San Bernardino investigation. In particular, he was talking about the communications in 2013, late 2013, between Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple that carried out the terrorist attack there. And he said that those communications took place via direct messaging because there have been some stories by "The New York Times," in particular, that said that there was some postings, public postings, that perhaps were missed by authorities. Here's how he put it.


JAMES CONEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We can see from our investigation that in late 2013, before there is a physical meeting of these two people and resulting in their engagement and then journey to the United States, they're communicating online, showing signs in that communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom. Those communications are direct private messages. So far in this investigation, we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period of time and thereafter.


PEREZ: And the importance of that bit of information is simply that there's really nothing that would be able for the FBI to see, at least not until this attack occurred. And they were able to get a search warrant to be able to get those messages. That's something that's important because Malik was applying for a visa and got approval without anyone being able to know what she was thinking about, what she was planning when she got to the United States. The other thing that Director Comey talked about today was providing an update on the Chattanooga investigation. You recall earlier this year, a man by the name of Mohamed Abdulaziz killed five people at a couple military recruitment centers. And he said that that has now been determined to be a terrorist attack that was inspired by foreign terrorist propaganda. We know from talking to sources that the attacker there was being inspired by Anwar al Awlaki, the Yemeni cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone attack. This is obviously now at the top of everybody's mind going into the Christmas season, the holiday season, the concern about terrorism -- John and Kate?

BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez for us in New York.

Obviously, some news made there. The direct messaging between the San Bernardino terrorists, very interesting because the idea that social media, that something had been missed, did come up here in the debates last night.

Thank you, Evan.

BOLDUAN: A big part of the conversation and what to do about that going forward for sure.

Also coming up for us, a lot more ahead. The road to the Republican presidential nomination just got a little bit shorter after last night. The first votes in the nation, Iowa caucuses, they are just around the corner, 40-plus days away. But will everyone from last night's -- on last night's debate stage make it that far?

[11:35:23] BERMAN: Plus, jury deliberations under way right now in the case of the first Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray. This is just hours after the jury told the judge they were deadlocked. So what is happening so far this morning? Some new information. We'll have the latest.


BERMAN: There is breaking news into CNN. The University of Texas-Arlington issuing a shelter-in-place alert. There are reports of a man with a gun on campus. The reports indicate that a male has been seen in Army fatigues walking into the architecture building there. That is all we know at this point. A shelter-in-place warning there. We'll get more information for you as soon as we can.

BOLDUAN: We'll bring it to you as soon as we get that.

BERMAN: We are here in Las Vegas, the site of the debate last night. There were nine candidates officially on the main stage. But in a certain way, there was a tenth candidate on stage, and her name, Hillary Clinton.


JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Hillary Clinton wants to double down on a failed foreign policy.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's strategy is to lead from behind.

CARLY FIORINA, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER CEO, HEWLETT- PACKARD: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are responsible for the growth of ISIS.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every one of us is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.


BERMAN: If you were counting, Hillary Clinton was mentioned 31 times throughout the debate, the most by Senator Ted Cruz, 10 names there, followed by Governor Christie who mentioned her name seven times.

BOLDUAN: Here to give us the Democratic reaction to last night's debate, Connecticut Senator and Clinton supporter, Chris Murphy.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D), CONNECTICUT: Yeah, thanks for having me.

[11:20:06] BOLDUAN: Of course.

So you tweeted out just this morning the following, "Memo to GOP field. We don't beat terrorism with all-consuming irrational fear. We win by being smart and focused, learning from history."

I can hear Republicans talking in my ear right now from here in Vegas, and they would say, yes, Senator, but if you look at recent history, Hillary Clinton was the one at the helm of the State Department with the rise of ISIS and the fall -- and Syria falling apart. So is that the record that you want to run on?

MURPHY: So, I mean, he thought what I saw last night was pretty scary. I mean, Ted Cruz seems to think that as long as you utter a couple tough-sounding words, you have a strategy. Marco Rubio seems to want to repeat the exact same mistakes that we encountered in Iraq War with massive ground troops, perhaps going back into the region. Donald Trump displays a dizzying lack of knowledge about the region in the Middle East. And Hillary Clinton yesterday put forward really what is the only sensible, comprehensive plan to take these guys out, recognizing that ground troops in the region would give ISIS exactly what they want, would just balloon their recruitment numbers, but suggesting that a targeted, focused attack on these guys, wherever they live, whether it be online or on their way into the United States, is the way to go. So I think that the American people understand that ISIS is serious, that there is reason to fear them. But these Republicans don't seem to have any real plan. They just seem to have a lot of talk that's empty and completely un-nuanced.

BERMAN: So, Senator, you heard more than one other candidate last night suggest that it is World War III right now in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism. Do you think that's an accurate description?

MURPHY: Well, I think we are absolutely at war with ISIS, but it's ironic that you had Senators up on that stage yesterday who refuse to actually declare war in Congress against ISIS. So a lot of tough talk from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and even from Rand Paul occasionally, but all of them are doing absolutely nothing to put Congress on record as supporting the president in his declared war against ISIS. Hillary Clinton has said that Congress should declare war against ISIS, and she would support it. So for all of this tough talk about whether we're at war or not, Congress actually has a constitutional responsibility to declare war, and all of these Republican presidential candidates don't want to do it. That's the height of irony.

BOLDUAN: That's a conversation and a debate that's been going on -- you're talking about the Authorization of Military Force that's been going on, on Capitol Hill, for quite some time now. We'll see if Congress actually acts.

Senator, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thanks, guys.

BOLDUAN: Have a good one.

We are live outside the Venetian in Las Vegas, everyone, where the dust is still settling after last night's intense CNN debate. As we've been discussing this morning, national security taking center stage, the nine Republican presidential candidates sparring on how to keep America safe from terrorists.

BERMAN: But interestingly enough, there was no sparring, none at all, between the two candidates leading in the polls. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, they've had this bromance going on. And it continued. And I want to you see how Donald Trump, in fact, handled it toward the end of the debate.



DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I've gotten to know him over the last three or four days. He has a wonderful temperament.


He's just fine. Don't worry about it.




BERMAN: Really interesting to see that in the body language there also.

BOLDUAN: Awkwardly.

BERMAN: I know, I know.

So what does this mean going forward? What do these candidates do next? We want to talk about the strategy into January.

We're going to bring in CNN's political director, David Chalian; and political commentator, Kevin Madden, a senior strategist for Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012.

You know, I am curious about what we just saw right there, Donald Trump saying Ted Cruz --


KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A little -- a physical pat on the back.

BERMAN: -- my little friend.


We're so friendly there. How much longer can they continue that? Does it prove advantageous to both of them to stay friendly until Iowa?

MADDEN: Any time you see a trend line in the polls that starts to threaten Donald Trump's position in the polls, he does tend to take that candidate on. So I think you may see some more from Donald Trump -- he may not do it on the debate stage when standing next to him physically, but he may do it out on the campaign trail and during interviews.

But the other thing that's interesting is the Ted Cruz strategy of the bear hug, it's working. You know, he got out of that debate last night without having to get into a head-to-head fight with Donald Trump that may antagonize Trump supporters that ultimately he feels he wants, and he's going to need if he's going to win Iowa.

BOLDUAN: What does that say about the next phase of this debate? I mean, you think Trump's still going to take Cruz on. He has to or else the bear hug is just going to suffocate him.

[11:45:] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, and I do think that Donald Trump, in taking Cruz on, is sort of testing Cruz to sort of see what do you got, right? We saw a little bit out of the campaign trail already before the debate. And I agree with you, it doesn't serve either one of them well on the debate stage. But out on the campaign trail, Donald Trump can see what Ted Cruz gives back.

Here's the thing. And Kevin just got at this. Ted Cruz is a home, a natural home, for Donald Trump supporters if Donald Trump's support starts waning. We've seen no evidence of whatsoever --


CHALIAN: -- but it makes sense why Cruz would not want to alienate Trump's supporters.

MADDEN: When you're at one of these gymnasiums on a cold winter night in Iowa and the Trump supporters start to see that there's not enough of them there to win the caucus, when there's a second ballot in those caucuses, they're going to start to swing over to the Cruz people, the natural allies.

BOLDUAN: The need for organization.

BERMAN: I want to talk about -- and Kevin, you've been there. You've been at a campaign heading into Iowa and New Hampshire. One interesting thing this time around, you have the month of January to campaign. You've got a month now to go. So who needs to do what?

MADDEN: Well, I think Cruz needs to continue this momentum that he has in Iowa. And he starts to make an appeal to the Trump voters, also to the Carson voters who may start to see the numbers dropping for Carson and start to look for a natural home.

But I also think Marco Rubio right now has to make a very quick push to try and consolidate the center-right lane of voters who are concerned about a potential Cruz or Trump nomination and start to really, you know, bring together all of those voters and become the natural alternative on that side.

BOLDUAN: We have zero seconds, and you're not even wearing a coat.


So I'm going to make this really quick. Do you think anyone's going to drop out before Iowa or even before the next debate in January?

CHALIAN: I don't. I see no reason at this stage why anybody would get out of the game. Let the voting began and then I think the reality --


BERMAN: But quick after that.

CHALIAN: Very quick. Immediately after Iowa or New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thanks, guys.

Also more breaking news in the trial of a Baltimore police officer accused in the death of Freddie Gray. Moments ago, one day after being deadlocked, the jury just sent a message to the judge. We'll be right back with that breaking news.


[11:51:08] BERMAN: We do have breaking news. The jury in the trial of Officer Porter in Baltimore has said that they have a message for the judge.

BOLDUAN: Porter is one of six police officers to be tried in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. And if it ends in a hung jury, the prosecutors will have to try the case again.

But what is happening right now? Let's go. Let's get there.

Let's go to Baltimore and bring in CNN correspondent, Jean Casarez; as well as Eric Guster, civil and criminal trial attorney.

And, Jean, do we know what the latest on what the message is?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't. And we are just waiting right now, because the jury buzzed, and they had a note. What that note includes, we don't know. Now, everyone is waiting for the attorneys to arrive, and the judge not going to be taking the bench or bring the jury in until the parties are here, and until the defendant is here, and we have not seen them arrive yet, but once they are in place, we should know what this is. Now, they did say yesterday afternoon, mid-afternoon, they were deadlocked. The judge brought them back, and asked them to continue to deliberate as a judge always does. So they left yesterday a little before 5:30 and they were back here first thing 8:30 this morning, and we have heard nothing from them this morning, and so we have just been deliberating and the note could be significant, because this is about lunchtime, and about everyday, when they take lunch, they never send a note, but take lunch. And now they have suddenly got a note. So as soon as we find out, we let you know what it means and if there is any resolution to the case.

And William Porter is facing four serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray ranging from the felony involuntary manslaughter, to 10 years in prison and misconduct in office, which is a misdemeanor, and so there is anything that is possible in this point -- Kate?

BERMAN: All right. Jean Casarez for us on the ground in Baltimore.

And, Jean, let us know if you hear anything about what is in that note.

Eric, let's bring you into the discussion, because yesterday, at the end of the day, we heard that they were deadlocked, and they went in to talk more and now a few hours into the deliberation. And, today, you have a new note, and so, what are the range of things that it could be?

ERIC GUSTER, CIVIL AND CRIMINAL TRIAL ATTORNEY: The range of things is that it is almost infinite. You can have a jury that says that we have a verdict, and it could be that we are deadlocked again and they want more instructions or different types of evidence, because what you are seeing right now is what trial lawyers do, and everyone in the courtroom is nervous, and nobody knows exactly what the jury is doing to say, and they know that yesterday they said that they were deadlocked which means if they can't reach the decision, the judge has the right and the ability to give them an Allen Charge, which is to go back to try, and because you are the first jury to hear this case, and the best ones to review this evidence and you are the ones that we need to reach a verdict. Everyone is hoping for a verdict. I am sure that the defense wants a not-guilty verdict or hung jury, but we are anxiously awaiting to see.

BOLDUAN: Eric in your experience, can the judge offer the Allen Charge again after yesterday? Is it likely that the judge would?

GUSTER: Yes. I believe so. Because I believe that the judge would tell them to go home the rest and come back and try again, because it is not only importantly important to William Porter and the family, but to the nation, so they want a defined verdict to end this case, guilty or not guilty, and they want to have a defined verdict to let this case be over this week or next week.

BERMAN: Eric, it is interesting, because there are more than one charge there. And four separate charges, and would we know that if they were deadlocked on more than one charge? Possible to be deadlocked on one or two charges and then reach a verdict on three or four?

[11:55:14] GUSTER: Yes, that is a split verdict. Sometimes the jury comes back with one charge, two charges or maybe none of them, because sometimes they reach some of the cases and I have seen when you have multiple charges to agree on one or two charges, but on the third one, they are hung. So it is going to be interesting to see if the judge asks them, are you deadlocked on everything or deadlocked on a couple of the charges? Because sometimes the judges will take those charges and let those verdicts be read into the record which means those charges can be put to the side, and the jury can go be sent back and told to review everything from the other charges.

BOLDUAN: Eric Guster, thank you so much.

And Jean Casarez will be in the courtroom, and will bring us the very latest.

Thank you both very much. We'll watch that closely today.

BERMAN: Very soon, will Donald Trump will hold a rally after the debate. Will he take on his rivals? We will cover that live.

BOLDUAN: Plus, in an unexpected announcement, Ted Cruz, who is threatening Trump in Iowa, is holding a news conference a short time from now. What is the big revelation that could come out?

Stay with us, CNN's special live coverage from Las Vegas.