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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Interview with Ben Carson's Former Campaign Manager; Cruz Talks North Korea, H-Bomb; Trump Calls into Question Cruz's Canadian Birth; Enrique Marquez to Appear in Court; Gun Shop Owner Gives Gun to Trump, Talks Obama's Gun Control. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 6, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] BARRY BENNETT, FORMER BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's kind of an offense. And they're all leaving Donald Trump alone. And he's got the support out there right now. And unless something cataclysmic happens, he's going to win.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know it's so interesting, Barry, hearing you say that no one's taking on Donald Trump. That was absolutely the strategy of Ben Carson. He wasn't taking on anyone. He still doesn't take anyone on. Did you agree with that strategy when you were in the campaign?

BENNETT: Well, I mean, we talked about it day one, right? That's who Ben is. Ben is not a politician. He's not a mudslinger. He's not going to attack anyone. I'm very proud of what we did together. He went from, you know, unheard of to number one. We raised $54 million, 1.1 million donations, the largest social media following. But in the end, people have decided to go with loud. So, you know, we've got to get used to this new reality.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So Ben Carson, over the last several days, he's been talking about the campaign shake-up which you were part of. He says the reason for the shake-up is that, you know, we didn't have the ability to execute. We have to have the ability to execute. The campaign staff didn't. Now he thinks they do. Do you think that's a fair criticism? Do you think you didn't execute?

BENNETT: Well, we outraised everybody else in the field. That's a pretty good execution. We had five million Facebook fans, more than anybody else. That's a pretty good execution. You know, so, you know, Dr. Carson has some friends who I wasn't able to stop from making terrible mistakes. And hopefully the next person can help him with that. But, you know, had those mistakes not been made, you know, we might be talking about, you know, Ben Carson at 30 percent in the polls. But, you know, the past is the past.

BOLDUAN: And you do -- and you have said that -- you called Carson one of the smartest guys that you've ever met. I mean, you know the numbers. You're looking at the polls yourself. He's falling in the polls. You've dropped his campaign. You've left the campaign. What is missing from Ben Carson now? Do you think Ben Carson can regain it?

BENNETT: You know, everything is possible. But the clock is ticking, and it's going pretty fast. And, you know, I don't know that television advertising is going to cut through the clutter in Iowa these days. It's a grass-roots game. Now, we've spent a lot of money on data in the Carson campaign, and we've got a lot of targets out there. And getting them out to vote. That's going to be critical. But that's just Iowa. Then we move, you know, to New Hampshire. And then South Carolina. And then Nevada caucuses. And then Super Tuesday. You know, by that point -- by the middle of March, this thing could be well over. And at this point it's getting harder and harder to see how Donald Trump isn't our nominee.

BERMAN: Barry, first of all, you've said a lot that's fascinating on many levels, and I hope we get a chance to talk to you again because you have a lot of insight here. You said that Ben Carson has a lot of friends who made terrible decisions. Does the fact that Dr. Carson surrounds himself with people who, in your mind, apparently you believe have bad judgment? Does that call into question, in your mind, Ben Carson's ability to lead?

BENNETT: No. I mean, I think Dr. Carson is such an inspirational figure. People want to follow it. I mean, his life story is nothing short of amazing. You know, and he's one of the world's top brain surgeons. So he's incredibly smart as well. But there are a lot of people who try to interject themselves in the whole process. Sometimes there was a shadow campaign going on, on the outside of the campaign. A lot of that ended up hurting us pretty badly. It wasn't done in his direction or often even without his knowledge.

BOLDUAN: Do you still think that Ben Carson is the best candidate for president?

BENNETT: Well, I think Ben Carson has the best head and the best heart. But, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Does that mean he's most qualified, though?

BERMAN: That's not a yes. That's not a yes.

BENNETT: Yeah. Well, you know, I mean, I'm a realist, you know. And, you know, I believe in data. I believe in polls. And I have not seen a plan out there that is going to take down Donald Trump quite yet.

BOLDUAN: Barry Bennett, great to have you on. We really appreciate it, Barry. Thank you very much.

BENNETT: Any time. We'll see you.

BOLDUAN: All righty. Very interesting insight.

BERMAN: He basically says unless something cataclysmic happens, Donald Trump will be the nominee. He hasn't seen a plan that would not take down Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: This is coming from a man who ran Ben Carson's campaign until, what, six days ago?

BERMAN: Last week.

BOLDUAN: Very interesting.

Ted Cruz is expected to respond live to Donald Trump's birther concerns at any moment. What will he say, or is he just going to continue to talk about the Fonz? We'll bring it to you live.

[11:34:41] BERMAN: Plus, officials say he bought the guns used to unleash the massacre in San Bernardino. Any moment now, the neighbor of the terrorist couple there will walk into court. The case about his role in one of the worst terror attacks on U.S. soil.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Senator Ted Cruz on the campaign trail in Iowa today. He was just speaking with reporters outside his campaign bus talking about North Korea. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hi, Senator.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning. Welcome to Iowa. We're midway through our sixth day, 28-county barnstorming tour. We continue to see enormous excitement, enormous enthusiasm.

I'll tell you, last night, we got some chilling news. That it appears North Korea has tested yet another nuclear weapon. They're claiming it is a hydrogen bomb. At this point, we don't know whether they used fusion and have a hydrogen bomb or not, whether that claim is real or not, but by all appearances, it appears to be yet another nuclear test. And this underscores the gravity of the threats we are facing right now and also the sheer folly of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. When we look at North Korea, it's like looking at a crystal ball. This is where Iran ends up if we continue on this same misguided path.

It's worth remembering back, North Korea has a nuclear weapon today because of the Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. They used the billions of dollars that flowed into North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Now we're facing a megalomaniac. And to underscore the sheer folly, Wendy Sherman was the lead negotiator for the Clinton administration on the failed North Korea nuclear deal. So what happens under President Obama and Secretary Clinton? They recruited back Wendy Sherman, the one person on earth who has already messed this up once to be the lead negotiator on the failed Iranian nuclear deal. And sadly, Wendy Sherman negotiated essentially the same deal, sending in --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:40:25] BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN political director, David Chalian, who joins us now from Washington.

We're going to keep listening to Ted Cruz because I think he is about to address the issue of his birth in Canada.

You know, David, it was interesting. We had Dan Pfeiffer on with us before, senior adviser to President Obama. And Dan told us he thought it was a mistake that President Obama and the White House did not address Trump's birther stuff more quickly when he was in the White House and thinks Ted Cruz needs to say more directly and fast.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And my guess is he probably will. Listen, he has already said, remember, he issued a full statement renouncing his Canadian citizenship. This is now a year and a half ago he did this. Clearly in advance of the presidential run in knowing that this issue was bound to come up as it came up with George Romney and it came up with John McCain and then, of course, the whole Obama controversy. But John and Kate, he publicly renounced that citizenship. And in that line, in that statement when he did that, he said he never did anything whatsoever to affirm his Canadian citizenship, even though he apparently had dual citizenship. I think he's going to have to spell out what that -- what is behind that statement that he never did anything to affirm what specific things did he do ever, sign a paper or anything, relating to that to sort of make the Trump issue go away. But here's the deal. Every legal scholar is on Ted Cruz's side of this, basically, saying this is not a real issue for him. He is totally eligible to serve as president of the United States, even though it hasn't been fully litigated in the courts.

BOLDUAN: I think we do have it cued up, so let's go back to Iowa. Ted Cruz talking to reporters. He was asked about this issue, of course, and here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you consider this settled law or just a gray area where you have a really good legal argument?

CRUZ: Look, as a legal matter, the request he is quite straightforward and settled law. That the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen. People will continue to make political noise about it, but as a legal matter, it's quite straightforward. I would note that it has occurred many times in history. John McCain was born in panama, but he was a natural-born citizen because his parents were U.S. citizens. George Romney, Mitt's dad, was born in Mexico when his parents were missionaries, but he was a natural-born citizen because his parents were citizens. And actually, Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona before Arizona was a state. And yet, he was a natural-born citizen because his parents were citizens. As a legal matter, the question is quite straightforward.

And listen, as last night's events demonstrated, I think there are serious issues facing the American people, serious issues to be decided in this election, and that's where our focus is going to stay, is on the real issues that matter to the men and women of this country.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: Thanks, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now, David, that seems very different from I'm going to let my jump the shark "Happy Days" reference stick.

BERMAN: Yeah, that's no Fonzie video right there. That's taking on the issue pretty directly.

CHALIAN: Right, but notice how he separated it out. He wasn't going to get in the mud with Donald Trump about it. He didn't want to sort of exchange jabs and trade barbs on the issue with him. But he did want to address the legality of his eligibility to run and serve as president of the United States. And that, I think, to what you were saying earlier about what Dan was saying, I think that is the important thing for Cruz to get out there and hammer home is that he has sort of legal history on his side.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. And it was also interesting, and I don't know if you had a chance to hear it, David, Barry Bennett, Ben Carson's former campaign manager, was on. And in his take on it, he thinks while others say this is a ridiculous issue, it's stupid, he thinks it's a legitimate issue to take on.

CHALIAN: I have no doubt that if he is the nominee, Democrats will bring this up. Maybe not the nominee on the Democratic side, but perhaps outside groups or activists and what have you. I think we will see this ginned up if Cruz is the nominee. I don't think that legitimizes it in anyway, necessarily. Again, the preponderance of legal analysts have looked at this and said this really is not an issue for him. But as a political issue, you know, I'm sure Barry Bennett is right. I'm sure that this is not -- Ted Cruz did not just offer his final and last statement on this, I can assure you that.

BERMAN: No, but he did offer a new take on it for sure. Again, it wasn't just a glib YouTube video. He talked about legalities. He talked about the historical president. It will be interesting to see if we start seeing, I don't know, a paper from the campaign explaining, you know, how he renounced his Canadian citizenship and all that.

David Chalian, thanks so much for being with us. Really interesting stuff.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

[11:45:16] BERMAN: All right. Just ahead, Ted Cruz and his fellow Republican candidates, they have been talking about President Obama's announcement on gun control. Let's hear what they are promising to do ahead of the president's town hall on CNN tomorrow night.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a gun shop owner, he makes a bold statement with a rather unusual gift for the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump. We have that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: In a few moments, Enrique Marquez, the friend of the San Bernardino terrorists Syed Farook, will be in court and expected to plead not guilty. He is accused of supplying weapons for Farook and his wife with weapons.

BOLDUAN: And he also allegedly planned to attack a college and a freeway a few years ago Syed Rezwan Farook.

CNN's Stephanie is outside the courthouse.

Stephanie, what are you learning? What's going on?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate and John, we are expecting Enrique Marquez to be arraigned this afternoon. And the charges relate to 2011 when he conspired with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to supply weapons. And there is also two assault weapons that were used in the December 2nd assault in San Bernardino to have made false statements, and have purchased the weapons. And also the marriage to one of Farook's relatives, which authorities say was a sham, so he's got a charge related to that marriage fraud and a false statement about that. He's being held here. So the idea is that it is very quick, and just to find out what he is pleading, and then the move on to set the trial date, and so a couple of minutes, if everything goes according to plan -- John and Kate?

[11:50:17] BOLDUAN: And all of this while the investigation is still under way in San Bernardino of what happened and the attackers and the time line and all of it.

Stephanie Elam, thank you very much.

Coming up, Donald Trump is the new owner of a custom rifle.

BERMAN: Up next, we will speak to the New Hampshire gun shop owner about why he gave Trump a gun as a gift, and most importantly, what does he now think about the new gun proposals from President Obama.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: New this morning, a lot of gun store owners are calling President Obama the best gun salesman in the world, because they say that every time he asks for more regulations, gun sales go through the roof.

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in Mark Limoges, a gun store owner in New Hampshire and a Donald Trump supporter. In fact, he gave Mr. Trump a custom rifle last night.

And my first question is, why did you give a gun to Donald Trump? But what have you got there?

MARK LIMOGES, OWNER, BLACK OP GUN SHOP: It is a custom A.R.-15 rifle built right in our shop at claimant, New Hampshire, and put together by one of our co-owners, John.

BERMAN: And that is a replica of the gun you gave Donald Trump?

LIMOGES: This is an exact replica of the gun that we gave Mr. Trump, and it has the Black Ops replica on the handle, and the "Live free or die" with the American flag on the handrail.

BOLDUAN: So, Mr. Limoges, why did you want to give a rifle to Mr. Trump?

LIMOGES: Well, we have been a supporter of his since he announced the candidacy, and so since we don't get a lot of celebrities to come to claimant, we wanted to make his trip memorable.

BERMAN: And you support him for president?

[11:55:19] LIMOGES: Yes. Yes, I do.

BERMAN: And let's talk about the announcement that President Obama talked about with executive action to expand the definition of what a gun seller is and that might increase to the number of background checks at gun shows and the like. What do you think of that?

LIMOGES: Well, we are all for safe gun sales transactions, and it is not the people coming in to do it legally that are doing to the crimes, but the people illegally, and so you are still going to be able to get the weapons one way or another. And why punish the people who do it legally?

BERMAN: And so, but you is no problem then with the executive actions that he is taking? Do you think that those punish people trying to get them legally?

LIMOGES: Well, the thought of it being -- trying to disarm the American citizen is kind of ridiculous in our eyes. The system that we have now with people coming in doing the background check and everything seems to be working fine. Could it be tweaked or whatever? I am sure it could be, but the process that is there now seems to work fine.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Limoges, you say disarming the American citizen, and Donald Trump said -- to CNN -- that he thinks that with Obama, because of Obama, you are pretty soon not going to be able to get guns. Do you think that the president wants to take away your guns?

LIMOGES: I think it is probably a first step towards it, yes.

BERMAN: Really? Really?

BOLDUAN: And even though the president said in his speech yesterday that his actions are not a plot to take away everybody's guns.

LIMOGES: Right. But Mr. Obama has also said other things that have not always been the truth.

BERMAN: Look, but he says that he respects the Second Amendment, but if you look at the actions taken, and even if he was proposing a few years ago, which were steeper than this, and even if you support the universal background check, that does not mean that you want to take someone's guns away, and so, again, you think that the president wants to take your guns away?

LIMOGES: No, probably not totally, but I think that he wants to definitely control it more.

BOLDUAN: Back to the gift, and what you have in your hands there, and what did Donald Trump say when you gave him the gun?

LIMOGES: Well, he was very impressed, and he was inquisitive of the rifle, and where it was made and the parts were made, and it is all made locally, and all put together locally in claimant.

BOLDUAN: Did he say what he was going the do with it, because I think that I'm correct when I say that he can't have it in New York.

LIMOGES: He can have it in New York.

BOLDUAN: He can?

LIMOGES: Actually, the Secret Service is bringing it back to us, and we will modify it so it is going to be legal in New York.

BERMAN: Oh, that is interesting in and of itself.

BOLDUAN: And what did the Secret Service say, and were they nervous when you wanted to give him a gun?

(LAUGHTER)

LIMOGES: Yeah, a little bit at first. We wanted Mr. Trump to come to the gun store, which the Secret Service was not thrilled about. So when the Secret Service agent came to the store and took the gun, we removed the bolt out of it, and they took possession of the weapon and presented it to us before we went into the room to present it to Mr. Trump.

BERMAN: Last question here. I have heard a lot of gun store owners say that when the president proposes or pushes for a gun control measures or introduces new measures that gun sales actually go up.

LIMOGES: That is correct. When President Obama mentions --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You have seen that at your store?

LIMOGES: Yes. We certainly do.

BOLDUAN: By how much? What do the people say?

LIMOGES: Most of them are nervous with what Mr. Obama is going to do to limit their chances of getting weapons.

BOLDUAN: Mark Limoges, thank you for coming on and bringing the visual aid.

LIMOGES: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: We appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: And important programming note. Tomorrow, President Obama joins CNN's Anderson Cooper for a live town hall for gun violence in America, 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

BOLDUAN: That is for tomorrow. But that is it for today. Thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[12:00:06] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And welcome to "Legal view."

It is the hour of breaking news on CNN. They are celebrating in North Korea right now --