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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Surprising New Poll Numbers; Apple Refuses to Unlock Terrorist IPhone; Cruz News Conference Scheduled with Reporters; Bush, Rubio, Kasich Trying to Make Dent in Trump Lead in S.C. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired February 17, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00:] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: This is the weirdest political season ever.
Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. Kate Bolduan is off today.
Take a look at this man. Take a good luck. He is winning. Donald Trump in Bluffton, South Carolina, fresh off the news in a brand-new CNN poll has it up big in Nevada, 26 percent. Fresh off news the CNN poll has him up in South Carolina.
He just walked off this stage moments ago. Listen to the marching orders he just gave South Carolina voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The main thing is you have to go and vote. But if you don't vote for me, don't go for me and vote. It's a nice thing to you. You have to go and vote. You ever hear these politicians, "doesn't matter who you're voting for but you must go out and vote." I don't feel that way. Just go and vote if you're going to vote for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You're not going to vote for me, don't vote at all. The order from Donald Trump.
Again, the new CNN/ORC poll from Nevada has Trump at 45 percent, 26 points up on Marco Rubio, who is in second. Comes up big in South Carolina, also.
On the Democratic side, wow. The Nevada race is closer than ever, just a one-point difference now between the two. Hillary Clinton up one point on Bernie Sanders.
Let's talk first about the Republican race.
CNN senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is live in Bluffton, South Carolina, where Donald Trump, Jim, just walked off that stage.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And he likes those new poll numbers in Nevada, John. He said that he's up so much in Nevada right now, according to our latest CNN/ORC poll that maybe he doesn't need to campaign there. He's just joking. I think we'll see him out in Nevada after the South Carolina primary.
I have to tell you, I thought he was going to go after President Obama in response to the comments yesterday that Donald Trump will never be president, you know, he essentially avoided the subject, didn't talk about Obama at all, mainly because he has so many targets to talk about.
And, first among them, appears to be Lindsey Graham, a Senator from South Carolina, who is a top surrogate for Jeb Bush during this event here in Bluffton, South Carolina. Donald Trump called Lindsey Graham a disgrace, a nut job, and more.
And let's play a little bit of that. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Lindsey Graham is a disgrace. And I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States. And I don't think he should run. I don't think in this state -- remember, I was at 42 and he was at 2 when he was running. In this state, I'm talking about. He was at zero. I mean, the guy was at zero nationwide. I don't think he could run for dog catcher in this state and win again. I really don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Donald Trump also talking about the nearest rival in the polls right now, according to the latest polls, Ted Cruz. Once again, saying that he's the one who does well with evangelicals.
And one other bit of news here that I think is going to be something we're going to talk about throughout the day, John, in Bluffton, just at the very end of his comments here in Bluffton, Donald Trump was talking about going after ISIS, the war on terrorism, and Donald Trump said in very plainly "torture works." Those are the words that he used, "torture works, waterboarding is fine, but we need to be much tougher with the terrorists." That is going to be talked about a great deal. Just about everybody in both parties in the United States reject torture. There may be a disagreement about enhanced interrogation techniques and waterboarding, but torture has been deemed a major no-no by just about every political figure in both parties. To hear Donald Trump say that, I think was a very big deal, and something that we'll be talking about for the next few days, I think -- John?
BERMAN: Interesting, you hear him use the word "torture." You wrote an op-ed on enhancements interrogation techniques. Interesting to know if he sees a distinction between the two.
Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
[11:05:09] One reminder we want to tell you about, tonight, a CNN town hall with the Republican candidates. Two town halls, in fact, beginning tonight. They will answer questions directly from voters in South Carolina. Tonight, you have Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz. Tomorrow, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, John Kasich. That's at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
We've got a taste of the Republican race, a Donald Trump event. What about the Democratic side? We have a brand-new poll in Nevada showing the race tied.
Let's bring in Dan Pfeiffer, CNN political commentator, former senior adviser to President Obama.
Dan, tied. Tied. In Nevada. This is after Iowa, which was essentially tied in the caucuses there. This is after New Hampshire, which is a blowout for Bernie Sanders. The Clinton people said, yeah, it's next door to Vermont and a white state. What about Nevada? Nevada is diverse. So what is the issue there?
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's clear that Bernie Sanders has made some progress in building out his coalition in Nevada. No question about that. And I think we have to look at this not in what the poll numbers are but what the delegate fight is going to be and the Sanders campaign has come a long way really quickly in that state so that they will do well there. What it looks like to me is there's going to be a delegate split. Hillary Clinton did well in 2008. If you'll remember, President Obama -- even though he lost the popular vote in that state, he won more delegates because of the way that they are distributed across the state.
BERMAN: I know you remember that, Dan Pfeiffer.
PFEIFFER: I won't let anyone forget that.
BERMAN: And that's something you bragged about. You said, yes, he lost but won the delegates, and that's something that you learned after the fact that explain away what happened. If this becomes a delegate fight, they are going to lose the bragging rights that they are hoping to get once this race turned to more diverse states like Nevada.
PFEIFFER: I think there's no question about that. The ideal for the Clinton campaign, a strong victory on Saturday and followed by a strong victory in South Carolina the next week, giving themselves some momentum heading into the Super Tuesday and the big state contests that are coming. You know, that day for them is going to be deferred at least a week and maybe indefinitely. BERMAN: Yeah. I mean, look, it's a tough February for Hillary
Clinton, and the Clinton campaign is going to have to wait it out. If you look at South Carolina -- she is doing really well. Up very big in the polls there. Also, up very big among African-American voters there, the key group that they have been targeting. And the margin among African-American voters shows that you maybe some of that focus over the last several days, last week-plus, in fact, is paying off.
PFEIFFER: She's had a strong advantage there from the beginning. I think the hope in the Sanders campaign and the fear of the Clinton campaign was that after New Hampshire, those numbers begin to shift and Sanders will make more inroads for the African-American community. That's what happened in 2008. Barack Obama was actually losing African-American voters to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina up until the day after he won the Iowa caucus and those numbers moved dramatically towards Obama. That has not happened to date and that gives the Clinton campaign, you know, a real sigh of relief, I guess, as they head into this tough period.
BERMAN: So both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, no doubt, hearing a little bit that Barack Obama, the current president of the United States, said yesterday. He was asked about both candidates at a news conference and he talked about them in ways you don't usually hear a sitting president do.
Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Hillary better than I know Bernie because she served in my administration and she was an outstanding secretary of state. And I suspect that on certain issues she agrees with me more than Bernie does. On the other hand, there may be a couple of issues where Bernie agrees with me more. I don't know. I haven't studied their positions that closely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: "I don't know. I haven't studied their positions that closely." I don't know if I believe him on that, Dan Pfeiffer. I believe he studied both of their positions very closely and I believe he knows now who he would support and I believe he's choosing his words very, very carefully.
PFEIFFER: He's choosing his words very carefully. He's president of the United States, leader of the Democratic Party. He should be doing that.
I would say he has a lot on his plate that probably stems beyond reading what is on the Clinton and Sanders campaign websites. But, look --
BERMAN: He clearly knows who he supports here. He clearly goes out of his way to say, I know Hillary really well, I support a lot of things that she supports. And maybe I support some things that Bernie does, too, but I don't know.
[11:10:03] PFEIFFER: The point is, what he's trying to do is -- and this is very important for any president in a primary, to not put their thumb on the scale. Let the voters decide and we'll see where it goes. He has focused intently on doing his job and ensuring that we have a Democratic president succeed him because that's so important to build on what he has accomplished in the last seven years and make sure this country is headed in the right direction. I think he will play an active role in the general election, not the primary election. I think a big part of this will be around, can we get the voters who turned out for Barack Obama in 2008, in 2012, to come out without Barack Obama on the ballot, and he's going to make sure that happens.
BERMAN: And you think the thumb is completely off the scale 100 percent, nowhere near the scale?
PFEIFFER: It certainly seemed that way in that answer to me.
BERMAN: All right. Dan Pfeiffer, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
BERMAN: There's new controversy in the new Democratic race. A big Bernie Sanders' supporter says "a uterus does not allow you to be president." Hillary Clinton speaks moments from now. How will she respond?
Plus, look at this. Have you ever seen the pope so angry? Stunning video from his historic trip. Learn what set him off.
Also, the FBI wants Apple's help cracking the iPhone of a San Bernardino terrorist. Apple says no. Are they standing in the way of learning key facts about the attacks?
[11:15:21] BERMAN: New this morning, Apple is flat-out refusing a judge's order to help the FBI unlock a phone used by one of the San Bernardino's terrorists. In a pointed statement overnight, Apple's CEO Tim Cook describes the order as everything from dangerous to chilling, even labeling it an overreach by the U.S. government. Why?
CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez, is joining me with the latest.
Evan, what is going on here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John, this was a cell phone carried by one of the two terrorists that killed 14 people in the attack in San Bernardino. The FBI says it needs Apple's help to get information from a cell phone owned by the San Bernardino County Health Department which was used assigned to Syed Farook, an employee of theirs. The iPhone has a security feature that erases data if the pass word by the user is entered incorrectly 10 times. Here's FBI Director James Comey discussing this issue at a recent congressional hearing. Take a listen to James Comey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: This is a big problem for law enforcement armed with a search warrant when you find a device that can't be opened even though the judge says there's probably cause to open it. As I said, it affects our counter-terrorism work. San Bernardino, a very important investigation to us. We still have one of those killers' phones that we have not been able to open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: If you listen to Apple CEO Tim Cook, he's saying that this isn't about a terrorist phone. This is the government, he says, that wants Apple to build a back door that would affect each and every one of us.
Here's a statement from Cook that was sent overnight. It says, quote "The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."
We expect this case, John, to go all the way to the Supreme Court.
One thing we should point out, the FBI has already been able to get a lot of data from the cell phone company attached to this cell phone. For instance, they know that the terrorists went to this lake. If you remember, they did a search of a lake that was nearby there. What they want is to see what else was on this cell phone, if there were any communications with other terrorists, for instance. That is still to be found out if they could get into the cell phone.
BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much.
I want to bring in CNN's intelligent and security analyst, Bob Baer, also a former CIA operative.
Bob, why can't intelligence officials get into this phone?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: Well, John, the software is beyond their capabilities, obviously. Just like a lot of apps, encryption apps, beyond the National Security Agency and the FBI to have the capability to read them. The FBI has a good case here because they have to wonder whether this is a wider network and this is the last piece of evidence which would disapprove or prove it. I can see Apple's point of view, why should they develop software to open every Apple phone, and it becomes commercial, they lose business. This will go to the Supreme Court and it's a really vital issue we have to decide.
BERMAN: I know you're an intelligence guy, you're not a lawyer, but can't you make the case for one phone versus every phone in the world? Can't you make that the case that Apple should help in this case or on a case-by-case basis?
BAER: As I understand the issue, Apple has to develop the software, which would bypass these 10 attempts as passwords, and then would make every iPhone vulnerable, and that would be, for them -- and let's not forget Snowden because everyone thinks that Snowden -- what he said was the government can listen to every phone and this would be confirmation for this. This is a huge political issue as well. You just can't get in to one phone alone.
BERMAN: So how much stuff is out there that is encrypted like this, that investigators can't crack into? We're not just talking about iPhones. We're talking about a lot of potential ways that terrorists can communicate.
BAER: Oh, absolutely. Disciplined terrorists can figure out what apps the National Security Agency can't get into. For instance, Wicker is one of them, Telegram, even What's App is another one. Once they take these apps and start using them in a disciplined way, it makes the FBI, their job very, very difficult to track these people. This is an uphill battle for the FBI and they understand this violates -- this could violate our rights but, on the other hand, we had 14 murdered in San Bernardino, and this is the way to get into it, get into that metadata and get into those individual phones and sees what's on there and see if there's a bigger network.
[11:20:00] BERMAN: Is this is a simple case of privacy concerns versus the desire to crack down on potential terrorists? Is it the same old line we've been battling for years, or is it more advanced than that because you're getting more specific now?
BAER: It's more advanced because I think the sophisticated terrorists understand that e-mail is not safe, cell phone calls aren't safe, but all of these encryption apps are safe, and they are going to switch to them as they get better and they have done this. They did it in France. They've done it in Belgium. And I don't see why they wouldn't do it here. And we don't know that Farook himself didn't use these apps.
BERMAN: Bob Baer, appreciate it.
Coming up, Jeb Bush now wearing contact lenses. Does that mean he's actually seeing a path to the presidency? We will tell you what he is saying at this moment. Actually, a vicious feud between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio over the last few minutes.
Plus, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have finished their tennis date, like, forever. Both going hard at each other. Look at this. Ted Cruz scheduled a news conference just a few minutes from now. Is there news? Is he going to say something that could change this race? Stay with us.
[11:25:46] BERMAN: Happening right now, I want to go to Seneca, South Carolina, where the Cruz campaign has just scheduled a news conference. Ted Cruz will come to the lectern and answer questions from reporters, perhaps make a statement. He's clearly got something on his mind that he wants to say.
CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is there. She joins me right now.
Gloria, I think Senator Cruz is waiting for you to finish to start talking. If he takes the stage, turn it over to him.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. You know, we're here in Seneca and it's clear that there is this huge fight going on between Donald Trump and the Senator. Donald Trump this morning just called Cruz effectively a liar again, and Cruz, it seems to me, clearly wants to answer these charges.
You know, as we head into the final days here in South Carolina, the problem for Cruz is not only the fact that Donald Trump is 16 points ahead in the polls, according to our polls. Also, Trump has a substantial lead with evangelical voters by 20 points, according to our poll. That's clearly something that Cruz can't let stand. I think what we're likely to see today is Cruz responding to Trump's charges of liar, liar.
BERMAN: Gloria, stand by.
We'll let Senator Cruz take the stage. We'll go back to it the minute he starts talking.
And I think you're right. You're going to hear a new response from Senator Cruz to Donald Trump and what Donald Trump has been saying.
In the meantime, let's check in with the other campaigns, because Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, John Kasich, they are all campaigning through South Carolina today. Just three days to make a name for yourself and try to make a dent in the lead that Donald Trump has right now. You can see all of the candidates out there.
Let's check in with Athena Jones first. She's covering the Jeb Bush campaign.
Athena, Jeb pushing Marco Rubio, going after each other like nobody's business over the last few minutes.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's true. Jeb Bush is arguing he has the executive experience and record to be president that folks like Marco Rubio does not. He said over and over again that Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are gifted orators and they have the skills to lead. He spoke very forcefully against this assertion by Marco Rubio that he has more foreign experience because he sits on Senate committees. Rubio is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Jeb Bush says that argument doesn't hold water. He's been commander-in-chief, so to speak, of the Florida National Guard. He got some big applause when he said, "With all due respect, Senator Rubio, your four years or five years in the Senate does not match up to my record as Florida governor."
I've got to tell you, John, this is exactly the kind of crowd that Jeb Bush and his rivals want to appeal to because almost everyone I talked to, I talked to 20 people, they said were undecided and they were supporters. One person, who was a Jeb supporter, said he was ready to donate to him right this minute. We also heard from an Independent voter who said that she was here because Barbara Bush didn't raise an idiot.
So more proof that the Bush family name carries weight here in South Carolina. The question is, how much weight and how much will it help -- John?
BERMAN: How much in deed. Our latest poll has him in single digits. Still, obviously hoping to pick up more.
Athena Jones whispering in the Jeb Bush campaign because he's still talking. Stand by, Athena, listen more and let us know if he makes more news.
Let's turn to Marco Rubio now.
Our Phil Mattingly chasing the Rubio campaign. He held a town hall meeting, not taking questions from voters.
But, Phil, he did just take questions from reporters and he, too, on the attack.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basically, everybody is fighting everybody right now, John. Welcome to South Carolina. Marco Rubio's target is clearly Ted Cruz. The two have been going after each other in a sharp way since the debate, once again, calling one another a liar.
Now the issue is campaign tactics. Right now, Marco Rubio pointing to a Facebook page that his digital team found that was fake, saying Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Congressman, and top-tier surrogate for Marco Rubio, had, in fact, switched his decision to go with Marco Rubio and is now supporting Ted Cruz. That's not true. Marco Rubio saying that calls into major questions what Ted Cruz's campaign is trying to do.
Take a listen.