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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Breaking, Several Arrests in Brussels Terror Attacks; Shooting at Lackland Air Force Base; Trump Hires Paul Manafort to Get Delegates as Republicans Battle for N.Y.; Democratic Candidates War over Presidential Qualifications. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 8, 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] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A prosecutor saying that several arrests have now been made in connection with the Brussels terror attacks.

Let's bring in CNN's Kellie Morgan in Brussels, as well as Nic Robertson, in London.

Kellie, let's get to you. Bring us the news. Several arrests. What more are you learning?

KELLIE MORGAN, CNN PRODUCER: Well, not much more at this stage. We don't know the number of those who have been arrested today, nor do we know their identity. As you say, they have been arrested in connection with the blast at the airport here in Belgium and also the metro attack. We expect to learn more later, with press conferences, that kind of thing. We do know police have been looking for eight key suspects since the attacks. There have been European security bulletin launched on March 23rd, the day after the attacks. We know some of the names that were on that list. Mohamed Abrini was one of them. Some of the names we know that were on it, there are people that police have been looking for. But as I say, we do not know who those people are that have been arrested today. We'll be bringing the details as soon as we have them.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Kellie, perhaps the biggest name being kicked around is Mohamed Abrini. What is his significance? He's known to be an associate of Salah Abdeslam, and he was seen in a picture with Salah Abdeslam.

MORGAN: That's right. He's been wanted in connection with to the Paris attacks. And we know the eight people police have been looking for with connections are the two Salah Abdeslam or Abaaoud who was the leaders of the Paris attacks. Yes, you can see there's quite a tight web here. And obviously we need to find out more detail. If it's indeed Abrini has been arrested, Paris prosecutors and authorities warned people to stay away from him, warning he was armed and dangerous. So he is a key suspect and someone the police have been looking for.

BOLDUAN: From the federal prosecutor, is there any idea yet of where these arrests were made? Obviously, a lot of the raids have been focused in the Molenbeek area outside of Brussels. What are you hearing about where the arrests have been made? MORGAN: Unfortunately, we don't have any detail on that yet. We know

it's happened in Belgium. We don't know if it's happened in Brussels. Awaiting those details and how many raids were carried out. Interestingly, it comes a day after the prosecutor released the new images of the third airport bomber, the new CCTV images, a series of images taken across Brussels of that so-called man in the hat or the man in the white coat. Basically, showing the route that he took after he fled the airport, a route that basically took him within 15 minutes to the metro station bombing. He was there 40 minutes after the blast, and the question I guess is, was this a journey that he took to witness both of the ghastly attacks.

BERMAN: All right. Kellie Morgan in Brussels. Thank you so much.

Again, there are two breaking stories this morning. One, a series of arrests made in and around Belgium, perhaps connected to the attacks. We're waiting on the identities of the arrested. We'll bring you more information when we have it.

Also a shooting at Lackland Air Force Base. Two dead. We're told deputies on the scene. We're awaiting more information from there. You can see live pictures. Deputies going building to building. Two known dead. We'll get back to that as soon as we get more information.

In the meantime, politics. It's 11:03 on the east coast. Do you know where your delegates are? This guy, he'd better. Take a look at his face. Can he count to 1237?

BOLDUAN: I hope so.

For once Donald Trump has said you're hired. Paul Manafort added to his campaign with one job, get Donald Trump the delegates to win the Republican nomination. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL MANAFORT, FOR DONALD TRUMP: There becomes a time when winning isn't enough. It's how you win and how much you win. And he recognized this was the time, and he reached out to some people who suggested me. We got together. I've known Donald since the 80s. And we talked about it. He felt I could help him as I felt, and he made the changes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He did. Already making a projection. He says he's confident Donald Trump will hit the magic number before the convention.

Here to discuss how this could change the game, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; and CNN political commentator, Errol Louis; and long-time New York political reporter, Andrew Kirtzman, now a political consultant.

Guys, great to see you. Dana, first to you.

Who is this man, and why does he matter?

[11:05:09] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He matters a great deal. The motto of the campaign manager for Donald Trump from the beginning of his campaign June 16th, until now is this guy is a thoroughbred, just going to get on him and let him ride. For the most part, it's worked pretty well. But now they're in a different state of the game. And, in fact, Manafort said to me earlier today when he was here, he needs a jockey, somebody who's a little bit more experienced in organizing and directing the brand new candidate. And so that is what he has been brought in to do, trying to not just organize the delegate situation, but in the short term, trying to, as you heard him, trying to get to that magic 1237 before the convention. He insists that it's doable. But you have all of these anti-Trump forces with lots and lots of cash trying very hard to make sure that doesn't happen.

BOLDUAN: And your first day on the job, you probably shouldn't say, I can't do it.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Errol, the beginning of the horse racing metaphor, is too much of the track already behind him. Donald Trump hemorrhaging delegates this morning in Colorado and North Dakota and Louisiana. Can Paul Manafort do enough, or has too much damage been done?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I suspect Paul has a list of the unpledged delegates of which there are many. In many states you can win a state, and unpledged delegates are still floating out there. It's the Republican version in some cases of what Democrats call super delegates. Paul probably knows a lot of these people personally and has a lot of leeway and a lot of things to happen. This is not like a government situation. You can go and talk about. Do you want a job? Does a friend need a job? Can we talk about free tickets to Mar-a- Lago? I don't know. He has a lot of things to offer. There's going to be a lot of bargaining, and the negotiator, Donald Trump, says he can make deals. Paul Manafort is going to be out there making deals from now until the convention.

BOLDUAN: Mar-a-Lago is going to be booked for the next three years with the amount of people going there.

(LAUGHTER)

Andrew, this is a shift here that Donald Trump is bringing on this political figure to help him with his delegate strategy. There's also a shift when you look at just what's happened in the past couple days. Donald Trump cancelling his trip to California. They're not sending anybody to Colorado this weekend. It's all a focus on New York.

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, POLITICAL CONSULTANT & FORMER NEW YORK POLITICAL REPORTER: Right.

BOLDUAN: Right now.

KIRTZMAN: Well, he's positioned far blowout in New York. And he needs it, and it looks like he may get it. Right now Ted Cruz and John Kasich are really battling for second place, and they'll both claim a victory if they come in second, especially Kasich, but it's not a victory, it'll be second place. And Trump has 10,000 people out cheering for him in Long Island. And these guys are going through these kinds of cliche photo ops. New York is not really like that kind of town anymore. It's not -- the ethnic tribes aren't really what they used to be. Also, Cruz is romancing funders here. He's behind the scenes of the Knickerbockers Club in Manhattan trying to raise some cash from people.

BERMAN: From people with New York values?

(LAUGHTER)

KIRTZMAN: Right. And he's trashed the city. It's quite spectacle, and who could do it better than the New York media market, which is in a perpetual state of feeding frenzy.

BERMAN: On that subject, Dana Bash, you had a talk, a sit-down with Ted Cruz where you asked him about this is subject --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: After he rolled mazza, looking for votes. This is the exchange between you and him. You asked him if he should apologize for the new comment. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: You understand how a sound byte is played and how your opponent is using it against you. Any regrets in using that terminology now that you're asking New York voters to vote for you?

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not remotely. Everyone in New York and outside of New York knows exactly what I meant by that, and it is the liberal values of Democratic politicians who have been hammering the people of New York for decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: But it is following him around the city, around the state. Isn't it?

BASH: Look, you're not being covered by the "Houston Chronicle" anymore. I mean, to your point, this is the New York media. The cover of the "Daily News" suggesting he take the "F.U." train. That's the beginning of it. He takes it in stride. He does. He gets the game and what he stepped into by saying what he said about New York. But I was talking to you both --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Exactly. [11:09:54] -- from Upstate New York yesterday where it's a different

world, and voter after voter who came to the Ted Cruz rally, some of whom weren't sure even after they would vote for him, they didn't find offense in what he said about New York values. They said those are city slickers. Somebody actually said that to me. So they understand the difference and the disconnect, but --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: But when it comes to the disconnect, that's clearly -- Cruz is not a dumb guy. He's playing this in a strategy now.

LOUIS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Do you think he knows this is going to follow him. Do you think when you look at New York in total, not just NYC, this is likely to hurt him more or help him more?

LOUIS: The comment will not help him in any corner of New York. It was a dumb thing to say.

(CROSSTALK)

LOUIS: He wasn't going to get those votes anyway.

But keep in mind, it's not winner-take-all. It's modified winner- take-all. It's modified winner-take-all. If you can win a congressional district, and some of the districts where he was campaigning in the Bronx and some of the Democratic districts. In one case there were 13,000 Republicans there. If you can win a majority of those and somehow eke that out through personal connections, he's tied in with a lot of ministers, you get as many delegates as if you were in Republican stronghold with a quarter of a million Republicans. So Cruz is being smart and strategic. He has great analytics. They don't guess about where they're going to go. They try to target.

BERMAN: One vote Ted Cruz is not going to get is Rudy Giuliani. A man you know well, Andrew. You wrote a book on Rudy Giuliani. He says he's going to vote for Donald Trump. Yet, he's not going to endorse Donald Trump. What gives?

KIRTZMAN: He wants to stay relevant, so he's going to try to stay with a front runner. You're talking about a man who endorsed Mario Cuomo once. I mean, he's a transactional politician. He's trying to calibrate the thing.

One thing I want to say about upstate. There is no love for down state upstate, but still, New York is not a Ted Cruz kind of a place. I mean, the Republicans in New York State elect pro choice candidates, like Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki. Ted Cruz can do things in orthodox Jewish communities, to Errol's point, and that's a smart strategy, but there's a reason that John Kasich is in second place here.

BOLDUAN: He is in second.

BASH: He is. BOLDUAN: Ted Cruz is in third place here.

BASH: And that is making Camp Cruz crazy.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure, especially after the ad that Kasich took out that is taking on Cruz and not Trump. What's behind that?

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: They understand that they could potentially beat Ted Cruz here in this state for the reasons that you were just talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Absolutely. And if that happens, which is likely that he could, that's going to make the whole "wait a minute, this should be a whole two-man race" thing you're hearing from the Cruz campaign, and a lot of the Never Trump forces that were trying to be strategic in saying it's easier to beat Trump with two people rather than three people in the race, even though Kasich isn't doing that well.

A quick thing about New York being more of a Republican state for the Pataki's of the world. But you're right about the Cruz strategy. It's not to win the state or even come in second. It's to pick off the pockets of the congressional districts where he think he can get them.

BERMAN: We'll see if Paul Manafort can play defense.

Dana, Errol, Andrew, thank you for being us. Really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

Coming up next, forget about the Republicans. The Bernie Sanders campaign says the Democrats will be looking at an open convention. His campaign manager will join us live, next.

BERMAN: Plus, a heated clash between Bill Clinton and Black Lives Matter protesters. Hear how the president fired back on a bill he signed into law.

We'll have more on two breaking stories we're following. Two dead in a shooting at an Air Force base in Texas. And overseas arrests, potentially major arrests, made in connection to the Brussels attacks. Stand by for more information on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:18:00] BOLDUAN: Back to breaking news out of Belgium. A federal prosecutor saying several arrests have now been made in connection with Brussels terrorist attack.

Let's bring in Nic Robertson. He's in London.

It seems there's a lot of information we don't know quite yet, Nic. We don't know the names, at least at this moment unless you have a breaking update on that. We also don't know how many. What is the significance that you're picking up of the several arrests made?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This diminishes the threat to European cities and to Belgium. By how much we don't know until we know the names and how many people have been picked up.

We know that Belgian authorities have been on the lookout for anything more than eight or 10, up to 20 or more people. We know that as of last year European intelligence agencies knew that 60 operatives from is have been sent to target European cities. Anyone taken out of that mix, if these men are part of that ISIS terror threat, which is what the Belgian authorities are so on the alert more at the moment, is going to help them. It's not going to remove it all together. Until we know precisely who has been arrested, it's going to be hard to say.

But it is interesting that these arrests, we don't know how many, came the day after Belgian authorities decided to put out more information about the man in the hat and the white coat, seen with the other two suicide bombers at the airport in Brussels minutes before the attack there. He went on the run. Belgian authorities released videos showing him as he moved away from the airport and towards a nearby town. Has this helped them develop more intelligence and more information? Who have they captured? How significant? We're waiting to find out.

BOLDUAN: And there's some indication we could get more information, the number of people, some of the names. Some of that could be coming. We're watching it closely. Nic is there for us and we'll bring you updates as we get them.

Nic, thank you so much.

[11:20:05] Let's go back to politics here in the U.S. The war of words between the Democratic candidates reaching somewhat of a cease fire this morning. Give us a minute. It could change. After Sanders called Clinton unqualified, Clinton said Sanders didn't do his homework. They're both backing away from the attack lines and turning their focus toward the Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's a silly statement, but he's free to say whatever he chooses.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is he qualified to be president?

CLINTON: Here's what I believe. I believe voters will be looking at both of us, but I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate. And on her worst day she would be a better president than candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: She's qualified?

SANDERS: Of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us right now, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, Jeff Weaver.

Jeff, Bernie Sanders just said yes, she's qualified. Two days ago, he said these are the reasons she's not qualified. Which is it?

JEFF WEAVER, CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BERNIE SANDERS: I think what he was pointing |t the other day is on a number of issues, the secretary as taken stances including supporting the war in Iraq, taking money from big companies that call into question if she should be the nominee.

BERMAN: He said she's not qualified to be president because. This morning he said, of course, she's qualified.

WEAVER: I think he said these more qualified than any of the Republicans. He has pledged to support the Democratic nominee. She has as well.

BOLDUAN: He said she's qualified. Please tell me you're not going to say he misspoke on that.

WEAVER: No, no. Clearly, her resume makes her qualified in that sense.

BERMAN: So she is qualified?

WEAVER: In that narrow sense, yes.

BERMAN: She is qualified?

WEAVER: In the narrow sense of the resume for the job, yes.

BERMAN: In the narrow sense of, yes or no, is she qualified, she's qualified?

(CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: There's more than a resume. There's things like judgment. Over the number of years, there's times when she exercised terrible judgment, the war in Iraq is one of the issues, supporting DOMA. If you look at her record, on issue after issue, she now apologizes for half her record, DOMA, the super predator comment, the war in Iraq. On and on it goes. She repudiates positions she took.

BOLDUAN: Jeff, when people watch this, they say this is part of the silly season no one likes. Bernie Sanders said it this morning, this is not the question that keeps Democratic voters up at night.

WEAVER: Oh, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. But why then has it become a trip up? Why is he -- if this is not something keeping folks up at night, why has this become a thing of unqualified and not qualified? If she's better than any Republican out there, she's qualified.

WEAVER: Well, look, what we have said all along, and this goes back to -- there was a debate about who was a progressive a couple months ago.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

WEAVER: A similar kind of debate. What has been clear throughout the campaign is Bernie Sanders has set the agenda in terms of the message. The Clinton campaign set the tone. We came into New York after Wisconsin, after they lost seven of the last eight contests, some of them, by overwhelming margins, we came into New York, there was an attack on the Senator's qualifications. Jeff Zeleny reported about Clinton's strategy in New York was going to be disqualifying him, defeat him, and then reunify the party later. Let me tell you something. Bernie Sanders is a son of Brooklyn. He's going to campaign like a Brooklyn person. If they want to bring it, on that level, we'll bring it back.

BOLDUAN: Is it not over? Is it still being brought in?

WEAVER: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: What's happening here?

WEAVER: We'll see. If the Clinton people want to have a debate on the issues and the substantive issues, we're happy to do it.

BERMAN: Let's talk about substance.

WEAVER: Sure.

BERMAN: You're talking about Clinton's decisions on Iraq and said she's, in part, responsible for the rise of ISIS. And you say that the decisions she made while secretary of state helped create a vacuum in the Middle East.

WEAVER: It's not just me.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: No, it's not just you. People like Marco Rubio have said that.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: People like McCain have said that repeatedly. Are you saying the decisions --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- of the Obama administration -- exactly, I talked to her about it --- to withdraw the troops from Iraq during Obama's term help create a vacuum in Iraq? WEAVER: It wasn't a withdrawal of troops. It was going into Iraq in

the first place. It was a mistake. Bernie Sanders was in the Congress at the time talking about exactly what would happen, which is --

(CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: -- a vacuum would be created and there would be a lot of instability and god knows what would come out of it. And that's what happened.

BERMAN: One of the vacuums -- a lot of people are using the vacuum comment for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which certainly Bernie Sanders supported.

WEAVER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Does he think that created a vacuum in Iraq?

WEAVER: No, the vacuum was created by engaging in an unnecessary war of regime change in the Middle East against what is admittedly a brutal dictator, but not one who was involved in 9/11.

BOLDUAN: So one vacuum, but not the other? You don't think it created a vacuum with troops being pulled out?

[11:25:09] WEAVER: Well, should the United States troops have stayed there forever? That's the problem. That's the problem with the wars. We're not going to have U.S. troops occupying other countries for years and years. It's not feasible strategy. That's why we have to have a different foreign policy, not of a Bush, George W. Bush foreign policy or a Dick Cheney foreign policy.

BOLDUAN: You have been floating the possibility, actually, the likelihood of an open convention. Do you have a floor operation underway for that?

WEAVER: We're beginning to work on that. In all likelihood, there will be an open convention when we get to the Democratic convention.

BOLDUAN: Describe the operation for us.

WEAVER: Yeah. The operation or scenario?

BERMAN: The operation.

BOLDUAN: The operation. We get the scenario.

WEAVER: We are in constant contact with super delegates as we go towards the convention to convince them what is the fact, polls show Bernie Sanders beats the Republicans by better margins. And if Donald Trump isn't the nominee, the secretary loses to Kasich and sometimes to Cruz.

BERMAN: You talk about the idea of an open convention, fighting it out on the floor, we're trying to figure out if that's a threat or something you're actively planning for.

(CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: I was just at a meeting about it two days ago. Yes, it is something actively going on in the campaign. We have many people affiliated with the campaign with floor experience in the Democratic Party. We're looking at our options in terms of rules and delegates and what have you on the floor.

BERMAN: Who is your Paul Manafort? Who is going to run it?

WEAVER: We'll -- to be revealed.

BOLDUAN: Do you have one name, though?

WEAVER: No. I don't think we have one name. We have a team of people who are helping us.

BERMAN: Jeff Weaver, great to see you. Thank you so much.

WEAVER: Dream Weaver.

BERMAN: Dream Weaver here on the set with us.

(CROSSTALK)

WEAVER: Yeah, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Coming up next, the Clinton campaign will join us to respond and also talk about Bill Clinton's heated run in with Black Lives Matter protesters.

BOLDUAN: Plus, we'll have more on our breaking news. Authorities just captured one of the fugitives in the Brussels terror attacks. Major arrests have been made. New details about the identities and how many have been arrested.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)