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Intense Search Underway for Truck Attack Suspect; President- Elect Received Brief Today, Averages One a Week; Trump May Be Emulating Nixon's "Madman Theory"; At Least 32 Dead In Fireworks Blast Dozens Wounded; The Latest on Bana; 7-Year-Old Syrian Girl Meets With Turkish President. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 21, 2016 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman, here in for Anderson tonight.

Police have a name and a face to go with the Christmas market truck attack in Berlin. However, their suspect, this man, a native Tunisian named Anis Amri, is at large. Authorities say he could be armed. He could be violent and here is what's worse. He was already on their radar before Monday's horror unfolded and a dozen people lost their lives.

Now, not only was he known. At one point, he was in custody. Tonight he's a fugitive.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin joins us now live from Berlin with the latest on the search for him.

And, Erin, what are we learning about the suspect?


Well, we know that he had at least two run-ins with German authorities in August. They actually arrested him trying to cross illegally into Italy on forged documents. But the German judge in that case for some reason took the decision to let him go. We also know that in June, German authorities tried to deport him but failed to do so after being unable to establish his true identity, all of this leading to very serious questions here in Berlin tonight as to what authorities could have been done to prevent these attacks, John.

BERMAN: Yes, 5'8", 165, on the run, believed to be dangerous right now. They're offering 100,000 euro reward for any information leading to his capture.

I understand his father is also speaking about him. What is he saying?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. His father gave an interview to a Tunisian radio network in which he said that his son left for Italy when he was a teenager. While he was in Italy, he was arrested and convicted of armed robbery, spent four years in an Italian prison. He was released from jail and made his way to the Cologne area of Germany. It was there that he had according to his father a run-in with

Islamists, already leading to some fresh questions tonight as to why the Italians simply let someone who was convicted of armed robbery, someone who was not supposed to be in the E.U., simply walk away from prison and make his way to Germany.

BERMAN: Someone clearly on their radar.

Erin, last question. You're in Berlin. Just curious at this point, several nights after the attack -- what's the security posture on the streets there? Is it visible?

MCLAUGHLIN: It's absolutely visible, John, although they're trying to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. The thoroughfare, which leads in the direction of the attack now open to traffic, it had been previously closed off.

But we had seen an increased police presence throughout the city, especially focusing on transportation networks, airports, and railway stations as people are trying to get home for Christmas, home for the holidays.

BERMAN: Yes, especially given the fact that there is this manhunt under way for this man believed to be armed, believed to be dangerous, and now we've learned believed to have links with ISIS figures within Germany.

Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much.

Also with us tonight, CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, "Daily Beast" senior editor Michael Weiss, author of "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror", and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen, author of "United States of Jihad".

And, Paul Cruickshank, let me start to you. You've been working your sources again inside Germany and across Europe. What have you learned about the suspect and his background?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, he was violent before he was radical, it seems, from what the father has told Tunisian radio. But when he came to Germany very quickly, was on the radar screen of German counterterrorism services, part of an extremist network inside German, recruiting for ISIS, and had a number of contacts with leading figures in that ISIS recruiting network.

The German counterterrorism services considered him dangerous, considered him a risk. At a certain point in time, it came to their attention that he was trying to get hold of a weapon. So, there were a lot of alarm bells that were ringing within German security services when it came to this individual. But it appears a lot of balls were dropped and he was still able to launch this attack.

BERMAN: And that will be the source of many, many questions, already is, but certainly going forward. Michael, you've been working your sources as well. Anis Amri believed to have contact with this German figure, this man named Ahmad Abdulaziz, his nom de guerre is Abu Walaa, head of a pro-ISIS network inside Germany.

What do we know about him? He's been arrested and charged with terror offences last month.

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, along with four other guys in the ISIS network. According to one guy who had actually gone off to Syria and joined ISIS and then defected because he renounced the ideology, Abu Walaa as he's known is the number one ISIS recruitment director in all Germany.

[20:05:00] This is the mastermind of German jihad. In his network, there were two individuals. One of them is a German Serb called Boban S., his last name hasn't been identified by the German authorities yet, who ran a kind of ad hoc Islamic center out of his apartment, also in the Westphalia region which is where Amri came from and also where Abu Walaa lives or lived.

And in this center apparently, he was indoctrinating any and all customers to the Salafi jihadi doctrine, and also arranging for people to make immigration to Syria. Now, according to a German outlet that reported on this today, Amri was given a choice. He could either go and make immigration himself and join ISIS and fight on the battlefields of the Middle East or carry out a terrorist operation on German soil. And that decision or choice given to him was said to have been personally signed off by Abu Walaa.

Abu Walaa, by the way, has a Facebook fan page that has something like 25,000 followers. He posts these sermons. He's always dressed in a black cloak and hood. You could never really see his face on his social media. But now, he's been identified and arrested, so people know who he is.

BERMAN: It's so interesting, the Germans are working under the assumption that the man they're looking for, Anis Amri, directly connected to a main ISIS figure inside Germany right now and this is just a beginning of the investigation.

Peter Bergen, so, what are the implications of this on two fronts? Number one, if this suspect, Anis Amri, is part of this network, does it make him harder to find? Is it possible it would be easier, or more people working to hide him now?

And the second part is, does this make the situation even more dangerous? This is something we saw we believe in Belgium, where it seems as if some of the attacks that did transpire were carried out more quickly because some of these terrorists felt they had to get it done before they were caught.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: John, I think the answer is yes and yes. I think the fact that he seems to have some links to the network, makes it easier for him to hide. The fact that there is a network means it's more likely to carry out attacks.

You know, the situation in the United States is quite different. There's really no analog that we have in the United States where you have, as Germany has had, 800 Germans fight and get training and perhaps thousands of fellow travelers who essentially identify with ISIS ideology. And that story is true in France, 1,500 have gone to get training and there are literally more than 10,000 sort of extremist sympathizers.

So, in every European country, there is a network you can plug into, we saw that in Paris attacks and Brussels.

So, you know, the situation in Germany, luckily the Germans haven't had the same problems as the Belgians and the French hitherto, and now, we've had this attack. You know, in European country after European country we're seeing that there is a pretty vibrant ISIS support network quite different than what we see in the United States.

BERMAN: Paul Cruickshank, authorities had him under observation. He was on their radar, had him in custody at one point. But obviously, not enough to keep him. What did they get during that time and what were they looking for that they didn't get that would have allowed to -- the authorities to place him under arrest or expel him?

CRUICKSHANK: That's a very good question, indeed. They did learn that he was trying to get hold of a gun during that period. They did learn that he had these extremist ties inside German, including to an individual who is called Boban Senowovich (ph), who is the Serbian- German leading figure in this ISIS recruiting network, somebody who was close to Abu Walaa that Michael was talking about.

All these people were arrested back in November. So, just a few weeks ago they arrested five of the key leaders of this recruiting network. But they did not manage to arrest this perpetrator, this suspect in the Berlin attack. He escaped the dragnet in those arrests.

BERMAN: Michael Weiss, born in Tunisia. Tunisia is a country that has ended up supplying a huge number of ISIS soldiers.

WEISS: By orders of magnitude. I mean, we focus on the graduates who come from the West. But most of the people who go off to join ISIS who aren't from Syria and Iraq, come from countries in the Middle East.

BERMAN: Why Tunisia?

WEISS: This is a great question. Tunisia is probably now the only country that went through the so-called Arab Spring to have kind of had a peaceful transfer of power and reconciled what started out to be an Islamist government with its sort of traditional Franco secular history.

Maybe it's because they don't find a hospitable environment in Tunisia. They're going off and wanting to do jihad elsewhere. But it's also a problem that people who returned, where do they then migrate to? I mean, this guy, obviously, he went to Italy, he was arrested and then he got out, using forged papers apparently to try and come back into Italy.

How did he get into Europe and why wasn't he on the radars of not just the German counterterrorism officials but the E.U. system that's meant to kind of, you know, invigilate these borders?

[20:10:02] BERMAN: These are questions they'll be answering. And hopefully, once they do catch him, again, manhunt underway tonight. You know, a working across Europe, 100,000 euro reward being posted for the hack capture of Anis Amri.

Michael Weiss, Peter Bergen, guys, thanks so much.

Paul, stick around, because I want to ask you about surveillance cameras like the one that led to the Boston bombers or helped capture them, and why we have yet to see this kind of video out of Berlin.

And then later, troubling new details about what made this Mexican fireworks market more like a powder keg instead.


BERMAN: With much of Europe now looking for the Berlin truck attack suspect, German lawmakers have started rethinking privacy restrictions that have until now limited the use of surveillance cameras. In a country with a totalitarian past, expanding the tools of the state and especially state security is controversial.

However, as CNN's Brynn Gingras reports, it has worked elsewhere.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a bomb exploded during the 2013 Boston marathon, surveillance cameras showed the smoke rising over the finish line. But that wasn't all they revealed. For investigators, footage from street cameras exposed critical information, the faces of the Tsarnaev brothers who set off the explosion and the backpack they used to carry the bomb to the race.

Those pictures eventually wallpapered the city and aided in the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his brother Tamerlan was killed in a gun battle with police.

[20:15:03] Low footage authorities obtained from close circuit television sometimes depicts difficult moments to watch, each frame can prove invaluable to investigators. It often leads authorities to the suspects, as it did in Boston.

In Brussels, twin explosions at the airport and a train station in March were documented by passengers. Cellphone video revealed devastating wreckage through thick smoke.

But the investigation quickly centered around this image taken from the airport surveillance cameras -- three men pushing luggage carts, two of them suicide bombers who police believed wore gloves to conceal the detonators. After a manhunt, authorities arrested the third man in the hat.

More recently on a New York City street in September, closed circuit television showed window storefronts shattering and people running for their lives. NYPD investigators were able to rewind the footage from street cameras and spotted Ahmad Khan Rahami in one location where a pressure cooker come was found.

Law enforcement officials say surveillance video helps create a timeline of suspects' movements before they take action. Terrorists buying supplies in London before committing as series of attacks in the transit system in 2005. And camera footage obtained by shows terrorists taking control of a Paris cafe during a series of attacks in 2015. One of those cameras revealing a dramatic moment when a woman's life was spared because a suspect's gun seemingly jams.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Plenty to talk about now. Back with Paul Cruickshank, and joining us, CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem.

And, Juliette, you know, German authorities, they have a picture of this guy. They have still photos of this guy. What we don't have is some of that video that we just saw right there, the likes of which we've had in previous attacks, chilling footage of these men before they were carrying out the attacks and it can be instructive. It tells you what they're wearing, where they're headed, what they were doing, and part of that can be crucial to launching an investigation.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's absolutely right. But it's sort of -- you can't take Germany out of Germany. There was a reason for these rules. And part of it was because the surveillance state of East Germany.

And so, there were actual laws that prohibit real time CCTV in Germany, as a counterterrorism measure, as anti-crime measure. There's actually a political party in Germany called the Pirate Party that is a data protection party. They actually exist to prohibit surveillance.

And so, there will be changes, no question about it, because there has been clamoring lately to get more cameras being used by police officers, law enforcement, and put them on buildings. I think the amazing thing about what happened this week, though, is there is no iPhone photos either. Remember, Boston was a lot of iPhones, it was private phones.

A lot of the cases you just showed were not public surveillance cameras. They were private surveillance cameras. So, I still find it remarkable that we have no real-time, you know, private sector or a citizen pictures of what happened, and of someone getting out of the truck.

BERMAN: You know, it's not clear that they don't exist, right? The German authorities initially ask people not to release them. They want them to go to the investigators. So, we don't know at this point what investigators have.

KAYYEM: Fair. BERMAN: If they do have them, we haven't seen them, though, and that is interesting, as you say, because you would think they would want the public to be helping with whatever information they have.

Paul, do you get the sense that the environment that has existed in Germany is now changing? Or there will be a greater willingness to change? I mean, we know why they feel the way they do after East Germany and the Gestapo and Nazi Germany, why they don't want people snooping all the time. But it does seem like they might be more willing to change that now.

CRUICKSHANK: Yes. Bottom line, yes. And, in fact, this morning, the German cabinet this morning agreed to a legislative package to free up the possibility of having more CCTV cameras around the country, more surveillance cameras around the country. So, they are taking what appears to be immediate steps in that direction.

Our understanding, John, is that there were a number of CCTV cameras in the area, in the vicinity of the attack, and the investigators were able to look through some of that footage. But Juliette is absolutely right, compared to somewhere like London or somewhere like Boston, many fewer cameras. So, many fewer images coming.

In the Boston bombing example, there were ten terabytes of data, video data that came in within just the first 24 hours. And those were absolutely crucial when it came to identifying the suspects.

BERMAN: Paul, quickly, this is the first I've heard that there have been some security cameras that did at least film the scene with the truck plowing through the market. Do you have any information about whether or not they did see the suspect there or whether it provided any clues?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, not that they necessarily have footage of the truck plowing through, but that they had access to surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the attack. That's our understanding. I want to be clear on that.

[20:20:01] And the fact that many fewer cameras means they have much less coverage, and I think they would have had a lot more answers more quickly if they had more CCTV cameras.

KAYYEM: And at the very least, they wouldn't have taken the wrong guy. So, remember, we lost about 24 hours if you had cameras.

No one should believe that these cameras will stop terrorism. No one in law enforcement believes, oh, if we just had cameras, we'd be safer. They're for after the fact identification, evidence collection. You know, there will be litigation, all sorts of things like that, but necessary nonetheless.

BERMAN: No one wants to pretend this is an easy discussion to have, we're still having debates in this country over privacy versus security. It's not an easy answer. It seems easy when you're in the wake of an attack like this. But it is a discussion worth having.

Juliette Kayyem, Paul Cruickshank, thanks so much.

Coming up, the president meets with his national security advisor and does get the classified presidential daily briefing which had been a point of controversy to say the least. We're going to take a look at how the president-elect is monitoring world events from Mar-a-Lago, that's next.


BERMAN: It took well over a month but the final tallies are in. Hillary Clinton received almost 2.9 million more votes than Donald Trump, edging him out in the popular vote by a margin of 2.1 percent. But, of course, that really gets her nothing but a free walk in the woods. Clinton did get more votes than any losing candidate in American history. But as we know, it's the Electoral College that counts. And Trump won there.

And with the win, he won the title of commander-in-chief at a very difficult time. As you likely know, Mr. Trump has come under criticism because he has mostly been skipping the president's classified daily brief. Now, CNN learned he's taken on average one a week.

[20:25:01] But it does look like he made an exception today and did get the briefing. He also met with his incoming national security adviser at a time when global terrorism is again in the headlines.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President-elect Donald Trump addressed reporters today, he had his new national security adviser right behind him.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: What's going on is terrible.

STARR: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn in Florida to discuss world events and staffing. The meeting was on the schedule before the terror attacks in Germany and Turkey.

Trump began the day with an official president's daily brief, the PDB, his first of the week. Trump's staff insists he is getting some type of intelligence briefing every day and will be on top of things from day one.

JASON MILLER, TRUMP TRANSITION SPOKESMAN: He's very much up to speed in what's going on and fully ready for the -- to be sworn in next month and take over the role as commander-in-chief.

STARR: A U.S. official tells CNN Trump is averaging one formal intelligence briefing a week, the same type that President Obama gets every day. Trump is also getting intelligence briefings on specific topics.

MILLER: The one thing I will say is that the president-elect is receiving numerous briefings, whether it's from his national security team, with General Flynn and others, as well as the formal PDB.

STARR: The briefings come amid increasing global turmoil. The Kremlin today said relations with the U.S. have frozen, a day after President Obama imposed new sanctions aimed at Russia's involvement in Crimea and Ukraine -- sanctions the incoming president could reverse.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The next administration will obviously have to make their own decisions about this. We hope that they will come to see the wisdom in not conducting business as usual with Russia.

STARR: All leading to the greater question, how friendly will the incoming president be to Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: I think when he calls me brilliant, I'll take the compliment, OK?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: He sure has to be more cautious about Russia than he appears to be. I mean, he needs to understand that their interests and their attitude does not align with ours.

STARR: Nowhere may that be more clear than the Moscow meeting of Russian, Iranian and Turkish officials on what to do next in Syria.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): All three countries presented here are united.

STARR: But U.S. officials still believe the talks will not stop Moscow from continuing its military operations in Syria beyond Aleppo.


STARR: But getting some of the essential national security jobs filled still on the to-do list. Topping that list may be a nomination for a director of national intelligence and for Mr. Trump to select his White House advisers on homeland security and counterterrorism. Perhaps all the more urgent given recent events -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Barbara Starr in the Pentagon, thanks so much.

A lot to talk about now with the panel. With me tonight, "Washington Post" reporter Phillip Bump, CNN political commentator and Trump supporter and contributor to "The Hill", Kayleigh McEnany, CNN political commentator and former New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, and Carlos Watson, editor in chief of

Philip Bump, it's interesting. Last night, we were sitting right here. The president-elect was receiving some criticism because the transition was coy, whether he had received the classified daily briefing yesterday. It honestly seemed as if he hadn't. Today he did and they made a point of telling us that he did.

I'm wondering if this is one of those rare examples of Donald Trump, the president-elect, responding perhaps to some criticism. PHILIP BUMP, REORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, I think we're

probably on the safe side of assuming that Donald Trump isn't necessarily doing what the media was worried about him not doing.

BERMAN: Well, it wasn't just the media, by the way.

BUMP: No. That's fair.

BERMAN: Security analysts on both side of the aisle, Rick Santorum, Republican senator, told me he wished he would receive the briefings.

BUMP: Yes, that's fair. But we knew that he had been on occasionally receiving these briefings. And obviously with what has been going on, it certainly makes sense he would be receiving these briefings.

It does however still reinforce the question, the question we were asking last night and the question you started with, which is the extent to which he is getting up to speed on what's going on. You know, we've talked about the fact that he's getting briefings daily from General Flynn, the extent to which that actually encompasses all of the information he's going to need between now and when he actually becomes president, it's a big question mark. I don't know if there's any way we can find out the answer.

BERMAN: Christine Quinn, Jason Miller, the transition spokesman, tells us that Donald Trump will be up to speed on January 20th, Kayleigh and others point out that he is receiving daily briefings from General Michael Flynn, who will be his national security adviser. Is that enough?

CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, first of all, look -- I find it baffling that if you're president-elect at any point, but right now with things so complicated, so perilous, so dangerous in the world, why you're not craving the presidential briefings, why you're not bringing in every person from every side of the aisle to come in and talk to you and educate you about options for how to deal with what's going on in the world.

[20:00:04] You know, I think one of the things about being the president of the United States is not living in an echo chamber. Not only hearing people who agree with you or going to tell you what you want to hear and it concerns me that whether it's one a week, yesterday -- today not yesterday it is clearly not daily.

And I worry that the president-elect seems to lack any real intellectual curiosity and deep concern about what's going on in the world. I mean I'd love to get a briefing every day I'm so worried about what's happening in the world. But I'm not in charge. He is. And why isn't he craving every little detail. I know he said he knows more than the generals. But we have to hope that is just flippant one-liners.

BERMAN: Kayleigh?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is getting the details. Let's be clear here, the presidential daily brief is a product. It's a product that every president has gotten in one form or another of the intelligence of the day, the threats that the world faces. If Donald Trump doesn't want it in that package. If he wants to be briefed via its national security adviser, if he wants to be brief on specific incidences, this terrorist attack happened he was brief on that.

If he wants ...


BERMAN: Does appear on that though.

MCENANY: So we don't know what his schedule look like yesterday. We don't know if he said immediately when these happen, Mike Flynn ...

BERMAN: Hang on.

MCENANY: ... was here, do me and ask to what happened, gather the information and presented to me and tell me the facts of the situation. I am certain that he did that. Just because he doesn't take the PDB every single day, that doesn't mean he's not receiving the relevant information.

BERMAN: We don't know what he's receiving. And we also that he didn't received the classified daily briefing until today. Christine go ahead.

QUINN: How busy could he have been yesterday to not squeeze in, nonetheless clear have it -- clear your schedule to get briefed on what happened in Berlin and what happened in Turkey? There -- I mean there is no amount of holiday shopping, there's no amount ...


MCENANY: Was in a different form.

QUINN: No, he was brief -- no Kayleigh, actually what -- this isn't about form, this isn't about whether it's a binder or oral. I get that.

MCENANY: No, you know that he was brief or not ...


QUINN: You know what Kayleigh, then don't say he was because you don't know it.

MCENANY: He brief yesterday ...


BERMAN: By Michael MaClean (ph).

QUINN: Right. But that's not the same thing as the briefing he received today. And the thought that he was so busy as president- elect he couldn't find time to have an informational briefing from outside of his own advisor astounds me. And I have to say it worries, and I'd rather be not worried at this moment and feel more confident.

BERMAN: Carlos, you want to jump to here.

WATSON: Yeah, I think the reality is even though it understandably concerns you, I think people are going to give him wide latitude. They know the President-elect Trump won in a different way. They know his campaigned in a different way. They know that policy wise, he's already doing the reverse Kissinger. That he's getting close to Russia, while pushing China away. And so I think people are going to give him broad latitude.

Up until, they're seeing many problems that seem to be resolved of that. And certainly I think if that happen, people will have a different perspective. But right now, I think one of the interesting things about where President-elect Trump is, is like him or not he's had a relatively good transition. He's announced a number of people at this point. Poll numbers seem to be in his favor. The Dow is up, maybe in record territory soon. And Christine, I think the reality is, even if we think the reality is the way he's going about it doesn't seem to be as fully responsible or at least doesn't comport with Obama's normal, you got it six times a week on average. I think the reality is people already gotten settled in with let's give him wide berth.

BERMAN: You know, it doesn't keep will get him a wide latitude, the big question though is will the facts give him wide latitude and will events give him wide latitude there.

WATSON: Look how he jumped on and seized on what happened in Turkey and even wove in, what happened in Zurich and he wove in what happened in Berlin ...

MCENANY: He correct it though.

WATSON: But again -- he is stepping forward quickly and dominantly. And even if he's wrong about Zurich, you know, people will argue that for him in terms of his policy standing that it may worth.


PHILIP BUMP, WASHINGTON POST JOURNALIST: I think there's two additional piece os contacts that are important here. And the first is that he is actively undercut the CIA's intelligence on the issue of what Russia did over the course of the campaign. He's done that through (inaudible), he's done that on Twitter. And at the same time he also ...


BUMP: ... but let me just make to the point. Also last week he said that the reason he wasn't taking them every day is because he was smart. Because he didn't need to have the same information every day. I mean your point about how he gets the information that is a fair point.

QUINN: Yeah. BUMP: Outside of the campus (ph), of him saying, essentially I don't need them because I'm smart enough without.

WATSON: But I think even if you are a critic of his, I think it's possible to hear all of this information and say that Trump is going to get information in a variety of ways. I mean whether we agree with it or not, he clearly has stocked his cabinet or at least his initial nominees with more military people than we normally see. So he's clearly someone who is open to questions of national security and clearly is interested in that.

[20:35:02] Now, whether or not he goes about being briefed in ways that we think are the norm and the ways that are going to be strong, and I think the results -- by the way, I think we're going to matter and I think it's going to become most clear on Iran and North Korea.

BERMAN: One last point. Again, there is a difference between the information coming from the intelligence services and the information that comes through your own people. Again, you know that subjective measurement, but there is a different -- Kayleigh, last question. What message do you think this does all send at this point to the intelligence services in this country?

MCENANY: I don't think it sends much of a message. I think what he does as president of the United States is what's going to send the message. I think his press secretary will be asked about the Russia cyber attacks. I think the press secretary needs so say yes it happened. It had no bearing on the voting that day. Yes it happened. I think that would send a powerful message, the intelligence community, but I think if you were scared Christine about Donald Trump and briefings his getting, the last thing ...

QUINN: Worried.

MCENANY: ... heck of a lot more. He got all the briefings ...

BERMAN: Right.

MCENANY: ... with more terrorist attacks ...


BERMAN: I'm going to cut it off right there. Guys, thanks so much. Don't go far.

Coming up, is the president-elect emulating the so called "Madman Theory" that fueled Richard Nixon's foreign policy. Nixon's strategy was to keep his enemies guessing and thinking he was willing to go to extremes. Sound like someone else we know? That's next.


BERMAN: So Donald Trump's fiercest critics would have you believe the president-elect is unhinged. That's the word they use. But there are others who say that Mr. Trump seemingly random and sometimes contradict for his tweets and statements are not only purposeful, they are calculated. Then it's all a direct lift from the playbook of an earlier president, hint? It starts with Richard and ends with Nixon.

[20:40:15] CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF UNITED STATES: We must as a nation, be more unpredictable.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's called the "Madman Theory". A term and strategy taken from the playbook of former President Richard Nixon. The objective, keep your enemies guessing about your motives, temperament and willingness to go to the extreme. Nixon used it to get the North Vietnamese to the table by making them think he'd use nuclear weapons to defeat communism.

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: "Madman Theory" which I watch as a young soldier Nixon and Kissinger do, is to basically use unpredictable, seemingly brash, bravado, over-escalation to get the other side to fall off its positions.

LABOTT: Trump has used similar questions about how he would handle foreign confrontations. Refusing to rule out nuclear weapons.

TRUMP: But I can't take anything off the table.

LABOTT: Calling for ban on Muslims.

TRUMP: A total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

LABOTT: And most recently taking a call from the president of Taiwan. A break from with diplomatic tradition billed as a calculated ploy for leverage.

TRUMP: I don't know why we have to be bound by one -China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things including trade.

LABOTT: But some more about taking the "Madman" approach too far, saying Nixon knew not to corner his adversary.

JEFFREY: You have to give them a way out. If you have a zero-sum game, and along with a highly risky, roll the dice, look at me, means you are going to sooner or later run into serious trouble.

LABOTT: And some called a dangerous gamble in the world craving stability, where unpredictable leaders like North Korea's Kim Jong-un could call his bluff.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: There is no question that there is a time and a place for performance art, even in diplomacy. There are times when you kind of make your adversary just not sure at all what you're going to do. But I don't think you could play that all the time and I know you can't play it as a substitute for knowing what the issues really are. LABOTT: Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: And joining me now, CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to Richard Nixon as well as three other presidents David Gergen. CNN political commentator and former White House political director, Jeffrey Lord, and former White House and State Department official Shamila Chaudhry.

David, I want to start with you. You were in the Nixon White House. So, do you buy the idea that Donald Trump is implementing his own version of what is known as the "Madman Theory"?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And John, please understand. It didn't start with Nixon. It goes back a long way. Machiavelli 500 years ago ...

BERMAN: You don't work for him?

GERGEN: ... ruler about the importance of the leaders simulating, you know, "Madman". I work for him too, yeah. It didn't work out so well. The -- but and Nixon use it well, and do think Donald Trump has embraced the theory. You know, he talks regularly Henry Kissinger and Kissinger often talks about this as a way of controlling events. I would say couple of things words of caution about when it's used.

In the Nixon case it was in the context of a well-thought through strategy that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger advised and they constantly talked together about that. And it's important to know where you're trying to go with that. And the second thing is, if Nixon used it sparingly to one people, don't try to corner me. Nixon will tell people, if you try to corner him, he will lash out like a steak, and so you better watch it don't do that.

They didn't use it widely. You do want to make sure your friends know that you're a reliable ally. That you're not erratic. And you want some of your enemies to know you're pretty constant in what you want to pursue, and -- but if you try to corner us, watch out.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Lord, in other difference from the Nixon times you know, it's more complicated world, I mean yes it was dangerous then, there was the Cold War going on, but it's a much more complicated situation right now. It's not the United States versus communism. It's not bipolar. There are so many different actors at so many times, can this same idea apply?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it can and David is absolutely correct. I mean this does go back hundreds of years. I think in the case of President Nixon, I think he learned as vice president. He was the why Eisenhower's vice president. And the Eisenhower administration it was President Eisenhower himself and his secretary of state John Foster Dullas, who promoted what they called in the day the, uncertainty principle or brinkmanship, is it later became known. [20:45:09] Which basically was what Nixon called the "Madman Theory", what Ronald Reagan would later talked about is peace through strength. It basically says that if you are strong your enemies and show a willingness to, you know, be unpredictable, your enemies are going to be pretty, you know, understandable hear that they don't want to mess with you. Note well that Ronald Reagan was an inaugurated on January 28th, 1981 and after 400 somehow days, Iran release its hostages that day, there's no accident there. This is very old principle in American foreign policy and foreign period.

BERMAN: Jeffrey just to be clear, yes or no because a lot of people look at Donald Trump and say, oh it's erratic. But you do think this is by design, Jeffrey?

LORD: Yes, I do. Absolutely I do.

BERMAN: So Shamila ...

LORD: And again, you know, as I said many times in terms of his business. This is a man who understands strategy very well. I mean he is the president-elect of the United States. He had a good strategy. He executed it. He is the president. Yes I believe he's got a strategy.

BERMAN: So, Shamila you are a former State Department official and as you know a lot of people working to diplomatic or they were over several administration and they have to deal with all different kinds of chief executives who come in and change world relations, what are the concerns you imagine right now within the diplomatic community about Donald Trump if he is going to do this type of "Madman Theory" idea?

SHAMILA CHAUDHARY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well I think one of the major concerns for starters is that he actually doesn't have a strategy, that he's speaking off the cuff and he's pursuing a "Madman Theory" like approach at the get go. Which is not when you want to do it. And he's doing it in public on Twitter through social media, which is probably the most ineffective way to pursue any kind of negotiating tactic with the foreign government. It boxes them in way too much. Usually the president is used to make policy when it's done and they'll say it out loud on social media and through Twitter when policy has been decided. Not at the beginning.

So I think there is a lot of concern in the bureaucracy in the Foreign Service establishment over whether the president actually has a strategy. Does he knows what he's talk about. He hasn't been getting his briefings. There's a lot of concern that he not going to be willing to be informed about where, you know, what the policy is and where the system wants to take it.

BERMAN: But, you know, I've been struck through despite the fact that there may be some concern within the U.S. diplomatic or how leaders from other countries like Japan, Prime Minister Abe has gone out of his way to meet with Donald Trump after the election, clearly trying to curry some favor with the man who will be president. CHAUDHARY: Well that makes a lot of sense to me. Diplomacy is all about relationship building. It's about understanding who your counterparts are? It's about building private links with one another, so that when there are public disputes, the bureaucracies and leaders themselves can sort things out behind the scenes and not in public. So I think Abe was doing the right thing.

My bigger concern is how President-elect Trump will manage, you know, such things in the future should there be a conflict with the Japanese. Will he go to Twitter first or will he consult the bureaucracy and, you know, vet any tweets he wants to put out or talking points? That's my bigger concern.

BERMAN: All right David Gergen of the Machiavelli administration, Jeffrey Lord, Shamila Chaudhary, thanks all so much for being with us. Appreciate it guys.

CHAUDHARY: Thank you.

LORD: Thanks John.

BERMAN: And a quick reminder, coming up for the top of the hour, the CNN Special on ISIS. Why they hate us. This is the timely report you do not want to miss. And coming up in this hour, the latest on the deadly explosion in Mexico at a market packed the people buying fireworks for holiday celebration. At least 32 people were killed.


[20:52:38] BERMAN: The City of Tultepec is grappling with the aftermath of the explosion. It kills at least 32 people at the holiday market in Mexico. Pyrotechnics they are major industry in Tultepec and the market was crowded yesterday with people buying fireworks ahead of Christmas and New Year's.

CNN Leyla Santiago joins me now and Leyla what do investigators know now or do they know who set off these explosions?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really aren't saying much. When I spoke to a Mexican state government official, I was told that the focus right now is on the victims and that said, all day, we watch really a massive effort behind this fence as investigators even had dogs out, sifting through this debris trying to figure out what led to this explosion.

And I should mention, I was also told there was a 2005 incident also here as well as a 2006 incident that was here involving injuries. But just nine days ago, we heard government state the officials here call this one of the safest markets for fireworks in Latin America. This is place where people come from across Mexico to visit, especially as you mentioned for this time of the year. But we're still waiting to get more answers, we know that this involved 300 vendors all of which I'm told by the government official that had permits to be here.

BERMAN: And Leyla, you spoke to a woman who has missing family members, what did she have to say? SANTIAGO: There are several families out here, so right now, as a matter of fact just a few moments ago, I had a woman stop by and hand me this. This is flyer that reads disappeared. It says -- (inaudible) Marian Rodriguez (ph) and she's a 44-year-old mother that still has not been found. And then, I spoke to Conception Hernandez (ph) and I want you to listen for just a second to what happened when I talked to her.


SANTIAGO: You know, you just don't really even need to understand the Spanish to understand that pain. She is desperate, trying to find her brother and her mother. They were here with her niece, the niece made it out, but she has been to the morgue, she has been to the hospital, and she came back here, and she is specifically told me when I asked her what do you want from the government, and she said, just tell me where he is, or where she is I will go wherever to pick them up, I just need answers.

[20:55:16] And that is something that is echoed among many of the families that are now out here for a second night and waiting, just waiting right outside of the fence.

BERMAN: It's heartbreaking. All right, Leyla Santiago in Tultepec, thank you so much Leyla.

When we come back, I want to bring you the best news possible about a little girl caught with her family in the worst situation imaginable. This is an update you will want to see right after this.


BERMAN: Before we go an update on Bana al-Abed, that's the 7-year-old Syrian girl who gave the world a child's view of the nightmare in Aleppo. Bana with the help from her mother shared her family's plight in messages and video posted on Twitter. They begged from help from Turkey's leaders. This week, the al-Abed along with thousands of Syrians were evacuated from Eastern Aleppo. Bana and her family, they are now in Turkey where they have met with President Erdogan and his wife. This video and several photographs in the meeting were posted today on Erdogan's verified account along with the message, Turkey will always stand with the people of Syria.

We should know Turkey's involvement in Syria is of course complicated but we are thrilled for Bana and her family.

That's does it for us, thanks for watching, the CNN Special Report, "WHY THEY HATE us" on ISIS with Fareed Zakaria starts now.