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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Official: Suicide Bombers Were on U.S. Watchlist; Nine People Arrested in 24 Hours; New Video of Where Paris Attacker Was Allegedly Hiding; Two Americans Confirmed Dead in Brussels Attacks; Interview with Secretary of State John Kerry; Interview with Mike Huckabee. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 25, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:19] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. A U.S. official confirming to CNN that the Brussels suicide bombers were on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list. This news just breaking. Our live report coming up.
And an OUTFRONT exclusive tonight. He was the world's most wanted man. You're going to go inside the alleged hideout of the suspected terrorist attacker Salah Abdeslam for the first time. Our exclusive footage.
And just when you thought it couldn't get any uglier. Ted Cruz accuses Donald Trump of planting a tabloid story about him. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett live from Brussels on this Friday night. OUTFRONT this evening. Breaking news. Officials confirming to CNN that the brothers who blew themselves up at the Brussels airport and on a subway train were both on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list. Ibrahim el Bakraoui, the airport bomber was on the list before the Paris attacks last November. His brother Khalid was added soon after the Paris attacks months ago.
This comes on a day of major terror raids across this city. Belgium security forces launching major operations on suspected terror targets. At least nine people arrested, including one man shot and dragged off by police at a local tram station here that I went to see. And in Germany today in an extraordinary stroke of luck, extraordinary stroke of luck, a 28-year-old Moroccan man described by police as lingering at a train station. So, they asked them a question. Well, it turns out he was not supposed to be there. His passport was banned.
They looked at his cell phone and they found a text message between him and one of the bombers, one of the Bakraoui brothers. The bomber at the metro-station. Also, on that phone, a text time-stamped message from three minutes before the bomb exploded inside a subway car. That message with just one word. End. This as OUTFRONT has obtained this exclusive video. We're going to show you for the first time tonight inside the alleged basement hideout here in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam. This is the last Paris attacker. This video is shot after his arrest. The morning after his arrest one week ago. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with Pamela Brown and the breaking news. Pamela, you are breaking this headline. The suicide bombers being on a U.S. counterterror watch list for months and that was the shortest time. What more can you tell us?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's absolutely right. We've learned that Ibrahim el Bakraoui, the suicide bomber at the airport was actually on a U.S. watch list before the Paris attacks or his ties to terrorism. As we know Turkey deported him last summer because they believed he was a foreign fighter. And he was added to what's called the tie database here in the United States. And then his brother Khalid was added to the watch list after the Paris attacks for his alleged involvement in the attacks by paying for the safe house as we know.
All this sort of raises questions, Erin, because we heard from the Belgian prosecutor shortly after the Brussels attacks that they only knew about the brother's involvement with violent crime, not terrorism. Yet here in the U.S. it appears that they were on the radar for terrorism even before the Paris attacks, at least for that one brother -- Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible, Pamela, your reporting. It shows, it's just a stunning lack of coordination to be on a U.S. counterterror watch list, people who are Belgians and Belgian people didn't know about it. And then we have a significant arrest in Germany today of a man who had a text message from one of the bombers. I mean, and they picked him up because he was lingering at a subway station. They weren't even looking for him. And then it turns he has a message from one of the brothers. I mean, this is almost too hard to believe.
BROWN: Yes. It makes you wonder how many more like him are out there. And as you've said earlier, that really was a stroke of luck. He was just questioned during a routine stop at a train station. And it turns out he was a delinquent. He was wanted in a couple of countries in Europe. Police did some more digging and then saw these text messages on his phone just a few minutes before the last blast saying end in French. And then also the name of one of the suicide bombers in that text message on his phone.
In fact, in addition to that investigators have learned that he went to the hospital for an unspecified injury at the same day that Salah Abdeslam was captured. So, all of this is making investigators believe, Erin, that he was tied to that Brussels network. And again, how many more like him are out there in Europe? That is why there is this frenzy going on right now to round up more people.
BURNETT: All right, Pamela Brown. Thank you very much.
And also breaking tonight. Officials scrambling to connect the men that they have arrested over the past 24 hours. Nine of them to other potential terrorists here in Brussels and beyond. And as that arrest in Germany shows today, it could be terrifying large of a network. It is difficult. It is a dangerous mission as they try to unravel this most deadly terror cell. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
[19:05:24] BURNETT (voice-over): Security forces taking over Brussels Schaerbeek neighborhood, an assault by heavily armed officers. A major operation in broad daylight. Loud explosions. Once quiet streets now the focus of the war on terror.
Police have been scouring this neighborhood for days. And today it led them here to this tram stop where in a dramatic confrontation they shot a man.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
Witness Lydia Lazone tells me, we heard a shot. It was the police that shot in that direction to my right. We saw a man on the right in front of me. He was on the ground. At that moment, she tells me, the police dragged him and put him in ambulance. Police had demanded the man's backpack. After shooting him, they shouted at him to throw it aside. Police dragged the man away. Then the bomb squad moved in to check the bag.
(on camera): This is where the man ended up. About 40 feet away. Hours later, his blood still on the ground.
(voice-over): Today's shooting only about two miles from the Schaerbeek apartment where a taxi driver told police he picked up the three men who pulled off Tuesday's deadly airport attack. Schaerbeek looks like any other middle class neighborhood. The area is home to many young jihadists. Lydia Lanzone has lived here for 17 years. Today shots outside her home. A day she never thought possible. She tells me, I live in fear now. I live in fear now. Not before. Maybe things will calm down, but she tells me, I think it's just the beginning.
Secretary of State John Kerry arriving here in Brussels to meet with Belgian and U.N. officials this morning. He attended a memorial at the airport to honor the victims of the horrific bombings. For Kerry, the attacks are now personal.
Americans, of course, we now know are dead in these horrible terror attacks here in Brussels. Do you consider this an attack against America?
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Whenever Americans are killed, of course.
BURNETT: Four days after the bombings, the people of this beautiful old city are afraid of more attacks, watching raid after raid, and trying to mourn. Says Lydia, it's so sad, just sadness.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, political senior correspondent Ryan Heath. He lives here in Brussels. You have been with me throughout this week covering this story. I mean, the stunning thing, the stunning breaking news tonight that these two brothers were on the U.S. counterterror watch list. We already know some of these bombers, two of them were on an Interpol watchlist. We know Turkey had deported one of the bombers and Brussels knew about this. And this is something on a U.S. counterterror list the Belgians didn't know.
RYAN HEATH, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO EUROPE: Absolutely. So, this shows potentially that the incompetence and these gaps are not just a Belgian disease. But it also says that we need to be worried because if this is happening now in this one instance, we're starting to loop in Germany, we're starting to loop in France. We're relying on strokes of luck across all these different geographies. What else is out there? It's time to start doing a clean out until we understand exactly what else it could be necessary.
BURNETT: And what do you make of this story out of Germany? I think that it's almost impossible to believe that you have a young man loitering on a subway platform. And they said you're lingering. So, they check his passport. He's banned for the entire EU. He shouldn't be here because he's wanted for robbery. And then they check his cell phone and then he has text messages from one of the bombers three minutes before the metro bomb and they find this guy by luck.
HEATH: It's absolutely extraordinary, it's going to raise more and more questions around controlling the borders and how that shames on that Germany, Belgium and so many other countries participate in. So, there will be political questions to answer above and beyond these terror incidents come Monday morning, but what it also tells us is that we simply have to do more coordination. You can't allow for these situations to happen by luck. You have to have more systematic ways of checking. It's not just -- so let's take a step back, ISIS these situations, it's not a foreign policy issue that you can dump in the corner in the Middle East. It's now a domestic issue.
HEATH: It's not just a Belgian issue. It's not just a European issue. It cuts across all the different policy areas at all the different levels --
BURNETT: And every level.
HEATH: And if you don't tackle it systematically, you can't tackle it at all.
BURNETT: I want to bring in Bob Baer, former CIA operative. And Bob, what do you make of this, I mean, this news literally breaking at the top of the hour. Pamela Brown discovering that the two brothers involved in this bombing here in Brussels were on the U.S. counterterror list. Brussels apparently didn't know.
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: It's extraordinary. I mean, the Europeans are not taking this seriously. That whole conflict in the Middle East is moving into Europe. They have to combine databases. They have to take police techniques and change them. They're just not ready for this, what's coming their way. And I think the fact that this network, the Paris network and the Brussels network, was operating almost in the open in safe houses, automatic weapons, explosives, walking around Europe without border checks, without ID checks, the Europeans have got to change the way they do business or there's going to be a lot more dead people.
[19:10:14] BURNETT: And, you know, if people think this is something limited to neighborhoods where, you know, they say, okay, there's a lot of young Muslim men, you know, one of these safe houses, I was talking to a woman who's lived here for almost 20 years, an Australian-Belgian who lives -- has a fright right around the corner. Okay? They are hiding in plain sight these men. It is integrated. It is not as if they're in some area that's closed off for anything like that, Ryan. I think people maybe don't realize that. These are middle-class neighborhoods and they're very diverse in many cases.
HEATH: And it's extraordinary. You go to that safe house, the last place that Salah Abdeslam was in, and there is a pharmacy next to her, there's a bus stop on the other side. There is a tram network that is just around the corner. There is school down the road, there's a garbage depo. All within -- of this place. This is a heavily trafficked area. People can see what's going on in their neighborhood if their eyes are open and if they have a support of security and intelligence --
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks to both of you. You're going to be with me because when Ryan mentions that house where Salah Abdeslam, who was perhaps the one who caused a trigger here, the most wanted man in Europe, when he was caught right before these bombings. That is where they caught him. Our exclusive video. You're going to go inside that alleged hideout. We're going to show you how he lived and evaded capture for four months and the blood of capture.
Plus, an American teenager just a few feet from the bomb that exploded in the Brussels airport. You're going to see the very emotional reunion with his parents.
And Ted Cruz furious with Donald Trump over a supermarket tabloid accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear. This national enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear. And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:16:01] BURNETT: We are following breaking news tonight as I come to you live from Brussels where tonight we have exclusive new video for you of the apartment where it's believed the alleged Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam was hiding and captured just days before the Brussels attacks. Now, this apartment is less than two miles from where I'm standing tonight, and as we drove through the neighborhood and passed it, it was quiet. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Just a regular middle-class neighborhood. Then though we saw the broken windows, and what you're about to see now for the first time is the safe house where a massive raid took place. Kyung Lah begins our coverage OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down these concrete stairs into a basement, a small room cluttered with clothing, tarps, electronic equipment, a rare view into the hideout of a terrorist. Salah Abdeslam, the key surviving suspect in the Paris terror attacks, had been on the run for four months. The most wanted man in Europe escaping capture despite a massive international drug net. This exclusive video obtained by OUTFRONT was recorded the day after Salah Abdeslam was captured in Molenbeek. The neighborhood where he grew up and gives us a glimpse into how he alluded capture for so long.
Pizza boxes and multiple bags of other half eaten food delivery containers, clues as to how long Abdeslam hid here. The room contained no furniture other than a fold-up chair. In the hallway, blood on the floor. And elsewhere in the apartment, shattered glass. All a reminder of a violent end to Abdeslam's time as a fugitive. Abdeslam shot in the leg trying to escape had sprinted into the street out of the apartment when officers shot him. Captured say authorities not because someone turned him in, but because Abdeslam made a mistake using a cell phone the police were tracking.
In the wake of the Brussels attacks, police arrested nine people in the last 24 hours. A stepped up response to the attacks, but the inability to capture Abdeslam for so many months in Belgium highlights the challenge security forces face here. Molenbeek is a working class neighborhood, an immigrant community home to many law-abiding Muslims, but it also represents a separate culture to the larger European one it resides in. One that terrorists' recruits used to their advantage.
PAUL CRUIKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It is true that there is a small but not insignificant fringe in Brussels, in Belgium, that does sympathize with ISIS, offering the terrorists opportunities to get some kind of help.
LAH: Security officials have long known that the local communities will be key in working with terrorism officials to identify the terrorists, especially those who travel to Syria and then return to Europe, but Erin, that video certainly shows there's a lot of work to be done in that apartment -- Erin.
BURNETT: A lot of work to be done in that apartment.
And with me now, our Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. Back with me now Ryan Heath of POLITICO. And former CIA operative Bob Baer. I want to play our exclusive video in two parts for all of you. But I also wanted to just say, you know, when we got this video, the person who shot it was so afraid of what might happen that they don't want to be named. I'm not even going to say the gender of the person because they're so afraid of what the repercussions might be. But I want to make the point, these raids are not happening in
derelict deserted places. Right? You've all seen the street. It's a nice street. It's a middle-class neighborhood. We drove past the building where Salah was captured in this violent take down. As I said, non-descript. Tonight for the first time the exclusive footage from the morning after the raid from inside this building. So, you can see that police burst through the windows on a deck. Glass is literally everywhere on the deck and also on inside. Then a giant pool of dried blood clotted in the hallway and you can see the clots. So, then that's what you see right here.
So, let me ask you, Nick Paton Walsh. This is just evidence of what happened here. They burst through violently. And then there is clearly evidence that someone was shot and ran.
NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But what you have bear in mind that, when you talk about the person who gave you this particular video and what you see inside there is evidence of the community assisting this man in hiding out. And that's what they key. And observing and looking at this investigation. Now, this clearly is a community willing to support this individual, to potentially make feel deeply afraid, the person, who assisted you in seeing these pictures.
WALSH: I think that is the issue that police face and what Belgium has to face in moving forwards. And there's certainly some demons that must be confronted here.
BURNETT: And Ryan, you see in this first part of the video, you know, as you're going right up to the door -- the door there with the police tape on it. And you'll see more in a moment, but also the fingerprint dust. I mean, this was the morning after this raid. And you can see evidence that the police were in there trying to do everything they could, but right there, all you see is just evidence almost standing there at the window, blood and running.
[19:21:01] HEATH: And it doesn't look like a man on the run. It looks like a man who has got a lot of help and being there for quite a long time. You know, that's accumulating material there. This is not someone who dropped by for the night and then headed up somewhere else.
BURNETT: So, let me play now the second part of the video here. You've got the fingerprint dust, as I said. Then the trail of blood leading to the basement. This is where the most wanted man in Europe was essentially what we're calling his lair. This seems to be where maybe he was sleeping, where he was spending his time. A door covered in police fingerprint dust and tape. When the door opens, there's a chair and piles of stuff. Now, we don't know whether if this stuff is his stuff or the stuff that the person who has this apartment actually had in there. Pizza boxes, food remains. Evidence that Abdeslam was getting food from outside somehow with somebody's money. Somebody clearly was involved in his day-to-day existence, Bob Baer, and that is something that is a crucial point. BAER: Well, exactly it worries me. This isn't the Europe I know.
One, they defended this place with automatic weapons which is just sort of unheard of, you know, to fight it out with police to defend a safe house. And the fact that they lived in the middle of a middle- class community, it's extraordinary. What it tells me is, there's a large immigrant community in Brussels that the police have no idea what's going on. It's whether they're committing common crimes or terrorism, they don't have a good handle on it.
The Belgian police did not see this coming. They weren't expecting this. They're not prepared for it organizationally. They're behind the curve on this, and it's scary. And again, it's scary, Erin, because these people who have set up here can get on airplanes and fly to the United States. They could have just as easily come here and set up in a safe house, made their explosives, and attacked American targets. And I think that's what we should think about as Americans.
BURNETT: And of course, as you look at this video, Nick, it's very chilling because you have the warning today of one of the Belgian senior leaders of ISIS or whatever the word might be putting out a video. Saying, we've told you we were doing to do it. We did it. And we're going to do it again. And they said that last time and a lot of people said though, that is just a charge of bravado. But yet, they did succeed. So, when you look at a hideout like this, you say how many more hideouts like this are there in this city?
WALSH: There is a sense of impunity to there as well. As you said, that is not a man on the run there. That bicycle sat there. A tool kit, freshly put bananas. You have to ask yourself, is the trash being kept indoors? Because they were about leading us somewhere else or, you know, being examined by someone --
BURNETT: Right. Why was the food there?
WALSH: And it kind of remind me too a little bit on the -- different level, the Bin Laden's lair, you got a snapshot of the individual. You know, we refer to them as monsters, but still a choice of pizza, an intimate life of their own hiding out in the basement there. And some of them -- because these are still people capable of acts quite as disgusting as we've seen here in Paris and Brussels.
BURNETT: And after being a part of the Paris attacks and part of planning the Paris attacks, they say Bob Baer, he was still living there, as Nick says, in the most chilling way as a human being, eating his pizza, finding a way to go to the bathroom in that small apartment.
BAER: With impunity and operating with automatic weapons, that's what really scares me. And explosives. And what also worries me is, how many other networks -- we are just stumbling across one now. The Paris and Brussels attack. And you can be certain there are more networks out there that are not connected. They are not connected with metadata. They're not calling each other. They're compartmented. And as the Islamic State loses ground in Iraq and Syria, the way they're going to react is by striking Europe. BURNETT: All right. Well, I thank you all very much. And OUTFRONT
next, a Utah teen who survived a brush with death in the airport bombing. Our camera is there for the emotional reunion. And Ted Cruz lashing out over a salacious tabloid story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: So Donald when he has losing, when he's scared, when Republicans are uniting against him, decides to pedal sleaze and slime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:29:16] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. CNN confirming two Americans are among the victims of the Brussels massacre, others with ties to the United States are also confirmed dead tonight. Their loved ones are trying to come to grips with something that is unimaginable, something you could never comprehend happening to you.
Brynn Gingras Is OUTFONT.
EMILY EISENMAN, BOYFRIEND KILLED IN ATTACKS: It's been the hardest day of my life.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hope is now heartbreak for Emily Eisenman. Her boyfriend and Belgian native Bart Migom is among the 31 people killed in Tuesday's attacks. His family identified the 21- year-old's body Friday.
EISENMAN: I'm going to miss the fact that he was my best friend, and I just felt like I could have spent the rest of my life with him.
[19:30:03] And I always told this to him at the end of our phone calls.
(SPEAKING FOREING LANGUAGE)
Which means Bart is always in Emily's heart.
GINGRAS (voice-over): The horrific news Pinczowski family as well. Alex and Sascha Pinczowski were checking into their flight headed to New York. Their family confirmed it received a list of the survivors at the Brussels hospital, and the siblings were not on it.
In a statement, the family said, "We are grateful to have closure on this tragic situation and are thankful for the thoughts and prayers from all."
This as Secretary of State John Kerry made a sobering announcement. Americans also among those killed.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States, I want you to know, is praying and grieving with you. For the loved ones of those who have been very cruelly taken from us.
GINGRAS: A senior U.S. official confirmed two Americans among the victims, but their yet been release. Some families are still waiting for word tonight, like those of Justin and Stephanie Shults from Tennessee who are still missing. They were dropping off Stephanie's mother Carolyn Moore at the airport. Moore was visiting the couple who live in Brussels. She survived the blast but says she has still not heard from her daughter or son-in-law.
And an emotional reunion for surviving victim Mason Wells and his parents. Wells, a missionary from Utah, is suffering from severe burns as his fellow church member Fanny Clain. This is the third terrorist attack he has survived. He remembers this one vividly.
MASON WELLS, BRUSSELS ATTACK SURVIVOR: I was looking down and a huge blast came from my right. I believe my body was off the ground for a moment. A large part of the right side of my body got really hot and really cold. I was covered in a lot of fluids, a lot of blood, and a lot of that blood wasn't mine.
GINGRAS: And in the coming days, we should learn more names of those killed. Belgian authorities are continuing to identify remains. Erin, you could imagine, their work incredibly difficult considering the scope of this tragedy.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Brynn, thank you very much. And more breaking news tonight that offers yet another reminder for Americans about how random and horrific ISIS attacks can be.
Sources confirming to CNN that more than two dozen people at a football game in Iraq were killed in a suicide attack, the bomber blowing himself up in the middle of a crowd at a soccer stadium.
Earlier today, I sat down with the Secretary of State John Kerry here in Brussels, who says the United States is still on its way to defeating ISIS.
BURNETT: Secretary Kerry, thank you so much.
KERRY: Pleasure. Thank you.
BURNETT: Americans, of course, we now know are dead in these horrible terror attacks here in Brussels. Do you consider this an attack against America?
KERRY: Whenever Americans are killed, of course.
BURNETT: So you do consider it an attack on America. Do you think Americans were targeted?
KERRY: I think it's an attack on America, it's an attack on Europe, it's an attack on civilized people and countries all around the world. It's an attack on people who weren't even here and who weren't killed because it is an attack on everybody's ability to move freely, to live without fear, and that's what the terrorists want. That is precisely why we have to continue, as we are, to go after Daesh with full determination to destroy them. I am confident we are going to.
BURNETT: Are you concerned about attacks on American airports, American metro stations, attacks like the ones we have seen which intelligence is saying are linked to ISIS headquarters, which is a different profile from San Bernardino?
KERRY: Let me put it to you this way. Law enforcement and intelligence community people have to get it right to prevent an attack every minute of every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If somebody wakes up one morning in their apartment and decides they want to go out and kill themselves and take some people with them, they can most likely subway, on a bus, in a market somewhere to do it unfortunately, but I am convinced that we are slowly and steadily deteriorating Daesh's ability to recruit, its ability to prosecute its nihilistic ideology, and over time we are going to get back to a world where we feel that we can travel with impunity and feel safe.
BURNETT: So what about the young man who said I know so many people going to ISIS. I asked him, why you didn't go? He said, well, I have a brain, but I understand why they go.
They are still going.
KERRY: There are some who have gone but they are less going and they are less able to go today, and as Daesh continues to get beaten, as its leadership continues to be decimated, I believe the attraction is going to be reduced.
[19:35:11] And I think you will see a lot fewer people believing that as a narrative worth associating with or putting your life on the line for.
BURNETT: And will ISIS still be a threat when you leave?
KERRY: Well, I think -- I think this -- I think that we are going to put a huge dent in them in the course of this year. There is no question in my mind, but it's going to take a number of years probably to reduce the impact of the ideology of people who will continue to carry an anger or a willingness to engage in some kind of act individually as a lone entity. I mean, even though we destroyed the core of al Qaeda, and we did, al Qaeda dispersed. There are al Qaeda operatives out there who continue to represent a threat.
But they don't represent a complete shredding of the fabric of your life. And that's what we've been fighting respect to Daesh because if you left Daesh unattended to and you didn't go after them, the results would be absolutely devastating.
I think people have come to that conclusion, which is why there isn't one single country anywhere that supports Daesh. Daesh is isolated. That's why I can say to you with such confidence we will destroy it. BURNETT: All right. Secretary Kerry, thank you very much.
KERRY: Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, an amazing story of survival here in Brussels. You're going to meet a woman. She was separated from her husband as she tried to protect her four children during the airport attack. That woman will be my guest tonight.
And the fight between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump got even uglier tonight. This time over a salacious tabloid story.
[19:40:53] BURNETT: Tonight, an amazing story of survival coming out of the deadly terror attacks here in Brussels. Minutes feeling like hours for my next guest, seconds feeling like hours. Mother of four separated from her husband at the airport. She came under attack and she's with me now, Liza Dignac.
You had gone into the airport with your four children. They're all eight and under, very young children. Your husband was parking the car. And then what happened?
LIZA DIGNAC, FAMILY SURVIVED AIRPORT BLASTS: We were at the check-in. Fortunately, we had this problem. We had to take another paper. We went to another entrance. When the bomb exploded, we were a little bit far away. I mean 20 meters, I think. Then just had to hide my kids. We tried to be in a safe place.
BURNETT: I know you grabbed your children, but you said it was your 8-year-old son who started yelling Salah, Salah.
DIGNAC: Yes. He was worried about this area station. I don't know why, but he was sure that it was terror attack.
BURNETT: He knew that was the terrorist who had just been arrested.
DIGNAC: Indeed, myself, I didn't think about. After that, we just thought we have to be in a safe place and --
BURNETT: How did you take your children -- there were people there who were dying, who were injured, and you were trying to take your children away for safety. You must worry about that for them now forever, those images in their head.
DIGNAC: Yes. I just remember my kids and the eyes from my kids. I don't have a lot of images. Maybe they have. I'm a little bit worried about, but I don't have images.
BURNETT: Your husband in some of the video playing on television, you can hear him screaming your name, but you didn't hear him there. He thought you and your four children might have all been dead. DIGNAC: For him, it was a terrible moment because of course maybe 10,
20 minutes, I don't remember exactly the time, but these 10 minutes looking for all your family and going into the airport and everyone was going outside. For me, it was just -- we wanted to go. He was inside and searching for us.
BURNETT: You found him and it was a wonderful reunion. You are so lucky I know to have your children and your husband. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
DIGNAC: Thank you.
BURNETT: Thank you, Liza.
OUTFRONT next, U.S. politics. Ted Cruz blaming Donald Trump for a salacious tabloid story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With this pattern, he should not be surprised to see people calling him sleazy Donald.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Trump firing back.
[19:48:02] BURNETT: Breaking news in the race for the White House. Ted Cruz blaming Donald Trump for a salacious story in a tabloid magazine. Trump, however, says he had nothing to do with the story.
Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ted Cruz breathing fire at Donald Trump today.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him. And this garbage does not belong in politics.
SERFATY: In a hastily arranged press conference today, the Texas senator bringing up unprovoked a tabloid story about him, accusing Donald Trump of being behind it, but not offering any proof.
CRUZ: It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear. And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.
SERFATY: Trump today responding in a statement saying, quote, "I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not as yet read it."
This comes as the GOP rivals have been sparring in sharply personal attacks involving their spouses. Trump's attacks include a tweet threatening to spill the beans on Heidi Cruz and a retweet of a split screen image of his wife Melania and Heidi Cruz, with a caption, "The images are worth a thousand words."
Cruz looking to frame this as a pattern for Trump.
CRUZ: Strong women scare Donald.
SERFATY: This isn't the first time Trump has stirred up controversy with his comments about women. From his criticism of FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly's debate moderating --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.
SERFATY: And his comments to rolling stone about former rival Carly Fiorina's appearance, saying, "Look at that face, would anyone vote for that?"
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
SERFATY: To his assortment of digs at Hillary Clinton.
[19:50:01] TRUMP: And Hillary, who's become very shrill. You know the word "shrill"? She's become shrill.
SERFATY: The latest CNN/ORC poll shows that while 59 percent of Republican women have a favorable view of Trump, 39 percent have an unfavorable view, and his unfavorable mark jumps to 73 percent among registered women voters nationwide, revealing how much of an uphill climb he could face in a general election if he emerges as the nominee.
SERFATY: And you can see how remarkably aggressive Ted Cruz was today here at his press conference, clearly very affected by all of this. He also went after Donald Trump for being absent from the campaign trail this week. He said that Donald Trump is sitting in Trump Tower hiding out, essentially picking Twitter fights. We know Donald Trump will return to the campaign trail, though, next week.
BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much from Wisconsin tonight.
And OUTFRONT now, former Republican candidate and former governor of Arkansas joining me, Mike Huckabee.
Governor, thank you for being with me tonight.
You know, technically, on this one it seems Trump was hit first. An anti-Trump super PAC ad was the first to do this using a suggestive photo that mocked Trump's wife Melania. Then Trump retweeted a tweet that had a side by side. An unflattering photo of Ted Cruz's wife compared to his wife Melania.
Did Donald Trump cross a line with this one, Governor, do you think?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think everybody is crossing some lines here. Ted Cruz's PAC should never have run that photo, the modeling photo of Donald Trump's wife who wasn't his wife at the time. It happened 15 years ago, before they were married. And she was a model.
Donald Trump should not have responded with, you know, the side by side photo. I think wives should be off limits. I think children ought to be off limits. It's hard enough for the candidates, but to inject the families, whether it's the wives or the kids or brothers and sisters, frankly having been in this arena for 26 years, I find this the most deplorable part of it. I just think we all ought to say there are some things that we just don't do. There are certain places we just don't go.
BURNETT: And it would seem families should be one of them.
Governor, Donald Trump, though, has changed the game, right? He uses social media and twitter. He's made this campaign much more casual and often that's meant much nastier and lower in terms of dialogue. He's attacked other candidates' wives as well on Twitter. Over the summer, he retweeted a controversial post about Jeb Bush's wife that said Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife. Columba Bush is a naturalized American citizen.
But Trump stood by and he said, if my wife was from Mexico, you know, I would feel the same way. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't regret anything. It was a retweet. It wasn't me. I wouldn't say that he would. If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, is any of this okay because some of the time it seems, governor, they hide behind the retweet. Well, I retweeted. That's not the same thing as actually tweeting. Sort of a retweet does not indicate endorsement yet it's still coming from his Twitter account.
HUCKABEE: Yes, I think when you retweet something, essentially it's like repeating gossip that you don't know whether it's true or not. It's just better not to go there.
There are plenty of issues for us to talk about in this campaign, especially in light of what's happened in Brussels where you are right now. I think we need to be talking about the threat to Americans. We ought to be talking about our economy falling apart. And when we get down into, really, some nasty and unfounded things
about family members, it, frankly, demeans the entire political process and it causes people to just not even want to go vote. And that's not healthy for this great republic of ours.
BURNETT: No, and I have to say, I agree with you on this issue of what's happened here in Brussels. You are meeting people who have survived something horrible, have gone through something horrible, a terrorist attack. Lives ruined.
And yet, the discussion in the U.S. political election right now is people tweeting out pictures of who wife is hotter. I have to say, frankly, it's very embarrassing. It's very embarrassing being here and having to talk about that.
How do we change this? How do we change this in the United States?
HUCKABEE: Well, one of the reasons this continues to be effective is because everybody talks about it. I mean, we're talking about it. I don't know how to fix it other than everybody just sort of has a pact and we just say, we're not going there.
[19:55:01] It's not healthy for the country. It's not relevant to the election. And we're going to focus more on the substantive things that really do matter like people getting blown up in an airport because they were simply trying to go on vacation. That matters to everybody because we don't know, but we're going to be in the airport the next time, in the next place that happens and that scares the daylights out of everybody.
That's why these issues really need to be talked about a whole lot more than photos and allegations of spouses, especially that are unproven, untested. You know, I'm also glad to see, quite frankly, the award given to Hulk Hogan against Gawker. I thought it was great because I think if there could be more pushback when people go into salacious, unfounded stories about other people, there might be a little more discretion applied.
BURNETT: Very fair point. Thank you so much, Governor. I appreciate talking to you.
HUCKABEE: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And more of our breaking news coverage from Brussels next.
BURNETT: Thanks so much for joining us from Belgium tonight.
"AC360" starts now.