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Trump Tweets Suspect at NYC Attack Should Get Death Penalty; Republicans React to Details of GOP Tax Plan; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:32:02] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Nervous, aggressive, that is how one neighbor describes the suspect in the deadly New York terror attack. The comments come as investigators reveal new details about the suspect including that he planned the attack for more than a year even rented a similar truck to practice his driving.

Joining me now to discuss and some of the political reactions CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and former senior director of counterterrorism for the National Security Council, Joshua Geltzer.

Paul, I want to start with you in the statements from the president overnight and this morning saying he would like to see the death penalty. I just spoke to Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida who said, look, we're all emotional, we all have our opinions, he doesn't think it will be a problem in court.

Is it that simple? When the president says things like this out loud can it complicate a prosecute?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It can complicate a prosecution. As a matter of fact, it could even prevent the death penalty from being administered. And I'll tell you why. There's an internal procedure in the Justice Department to determine which cases get death penalty recommendations and which do not.

When the president, who is the head of the Justice Department, weighs in and says, I want that guy to get the death penalty, he's disrupted the entire process and a defense attorney is going to come in later on and say, this is an unfair process, he's been denied due process because the president expressed his opinion to the people who work for him.

BERMAN: By saying that he could work against the very thing he's trying to get.

CALLAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: There is some irony there.

CALLAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: The other thing the president discussed overnight and this morning is whether or not this man should be considered an enemy combatant sent to Guantanamo Bay. He backtracked off of that a little bit this morning, but the Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the United States moments ago discussed this and said he would like to still keep that in the arsenal. Let's listen.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Terrorists should know this. This administration will use all lawful tools at our disposal, including prosecution in Article 3 courts or at Guantanamo Bay. If anyone has any doubt about it, they can ask the more than 500 criminals whom the Department of Justice has convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 and they can ask the dozens of enemy combatants at Guantanamo.


BERMAN: So at this point this is an academic argument, Josh, because this terrorist will not be charged as an enemy combatant. He's not going to Guantanamo Bay, but the attorney general seemed to conflate two things there. He still said he wanted to keep Guantanamo Bay as an option, and enemy combatant as an option, but also bragged about the 500 criminals who the DOJ has convicted.

Those are two separate things. The DOJ convictions of the 500 people, that's an argument that some people are making for not charging as an enemy combatant.

JOSHUA GELTZER, FORMER SENIOR COUNTERTERRORISM DIRECTOR, NSC: That's right. And that seems to be the argument that won out overnight and I suspect that's because the folks who work on these issues within government, who have the experience asking the question, how do we take a bad actor like this off the battlefield for as long as possible, those folks said to the president, here are the tool and the toolkit that you want is criminal prosecution.

[10:35:05] You want this in federal court where justice can be served, where a lengthy sentence can be imposed, and where there's been a ton of success in the past.

BERMAN: If you look at the Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, you know, he was -- he committed his crime and then was sentenced to the death penalty within two years. That's actually a pretty quick time for a death penalty case.

Art Roderick, to you, one thing we did learn, which is fascinating and actually gets to this whole discussion about whether or not he should be charged as an enemy combatant, is this man waived his Miranda rights.


BERMAN: And started talking from inside the hospital. How important is that in an investigation or how useful is that in an investigation?

RODERICK: That's very also useful. But I mean, there's also the public safety exception to the Miranda rights.


RODERICK: -- where they didn't have to initially read him his Miranda rights. But since he's waived them, I mean, I think this just shows the bravado of this particular individual, that he wants to get his story out there and we've seen this, you know, he wants to have the ISIS flag in his hospital room, he wants -- wanted it on his truck when he was committing this heinous act. So I think that's a key part of it.

I mean obviously they're getting a ton of information from him. I think the key part of this investigation -- we're at the beginning here, we're three days out. Initially we -- all we were working off right now is a complaint. I'm sure there'll be an indictment, a superseding indictment as we move through this investigation and I think this indictment that's going to come forward in the superseding indictment will have a lot more information in there regarding this crime.

BERMAN: And look -- go ahead, Paul.

CALLAN: I just want to add one other thing. Because the president has been concerned about the criminal justice system and being slow and not getting justice quickly. I was looking at the Gitmo statistics. You know, there are five people at Guantanamo right now who have been there for 16 years and they were allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks of 2001 who still have not gone to trial.

The federal court system generally anywhere from one to three years, your -- your trial is completed. So if you want swift justice he's in the right place, the federal court system.

BERMAN: And also there was a suggestion that somehow terrorists see the justice system here as not a deterrent. Well, look, this guy by all accounts or by all of the evidence seems to have wanted to die in this attack anyway. I don't think he was concerned about the legal consequences at all.


BERMAN: Josh, there's something interesting that ISIS has not done in this case, which is claim direct responsibility here. We were talking to Juliette Kayyem last hour and said that ISIS may not want to create too direct of a link to someone who is in custody and might be talking.

GELTZER: Generally ISIS has been reluctant to claim responsibility when the individual did not die in the attack. And of course here that's what occurred. The individual is in custody. I suspect on ISIS part there's some uncertainty with that. They don't know exactly what this person will go on to say, to be like, whether in a sense the individual could tarnish their image at least as they see that image.

And so there may be that reluctance even in the wake of an attack that was successful insofar as taking lives which of course the terrorist group encourages folks like this to do.

BERMAN: You know, Art, to you, a little while ago we saw a picture of the school bus that was rammed by this truck driver.


BERMAN: Dramatic video, pretty --


BERMAN: Pretty tragic video, concerning. Let's play it right now so people can see what we're talking about here. This is the aftermath of the attack. The truck drove down the West Side Highway and rammed into this school bus which was carrying special needs kids. You can see the damage it caused right here.

And then at the end of this video in just a moment, we'll keep rolling this so you can see, you actually see some of the law enforcement officers coming on to the scene right there, just right there.

RODERICK: Yes. Right there.

BERMAN: But they're coming on thinking they're seeing an accident, right, and then they react to what they realize is an attack.


BERMAN: It becomes something much, much different.

RODERICK: Yes. As a law enforcement officer you have to be prepared for everything and that's exactly what occurred here. They think they're responding to a motor vehicle accident and in reality they're responding to a terror attack. And this officer that stopped this individual is really a hero because he wanted to commit more crimes. I mean, there's even talk now that he wanted to drive on to the Brooklyn Bridge and continue this crime spree that he was on and that officer did a very heroic thing and took this individual down pretty quickly, pretty quickly.

BERMAN: All right. Art, Paul, Josh, thank you so much for being with us.

Up on Capitol Hill, moments ago, the Republican meeting where they're all learning the details of the tax plan just broke up. Lawmakers have been following -- filing out of that meeting. They will start talking. We will start hearing from them, supporters and maybe some Republicans with concerns. That reaction from Capitol Hill, next.


[10:43:45] BERMAN: A feeding frenzy on Capitol Hill as Republicans react to the unveiling of the new tax plan. Of particular note, changes to deductions for state income taxes, property taxes and your mortgage payments.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill. New Yorkers, New Jersey, California, a lot of states in this country

very concerned about that. You've been talking to some representatives. What are you hearing?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the devil here is in the details, John, and that's what we're hearing from members who are putting their eyes for the first time today on this massive tax bill. They are being briefed by members of the House Ways Committee for the first time today and as you see behind me a lot of activity because members are leaving that briefing, giving us their first reactions on what they think.

Now from the leadership we just saw Speaker Ryan leave and from Kevin McCarthy, really trying to sell the momentum here, saying this is positive, going over well, and certainly from the outside of that briefing room we could hear applause at numerous times throughout that briefing. But in talking to individual members leaving the briefing today, many still have reservations, they have concerns, they say look, we haven't really been able to read this bill.

It was largely crafted behind closed doors. We want to go over every detail before we can sign off on that. And we heard from, as you noted, many members from New York, New Jersey, those high tax states who still have concerns on one of the most contentious issues that has always been there, the state and local income tax issue.

[10:45:15] I talked to Congressman Dan Donovan from New York and he said he's not sure if the deal that was struck to keep those property taxes in place but repeal the state and local income tax, he's not sure if it will be enough to win his support. Here's what he said moments ago.


REP. DAN DONOVAN (R), NEW YORK: You know, I'm always concerned about the SALT deduction or the elimination of the SALT deduction, but, you know, we'll calculate to see if the AMT elimination is beneficial to the folks that I represent. Whether or not -- because I live in New York City, our tax -- property tax is lower than in any other parts of the state, whether that's enough, I just don't know yet because we don't have the detail.


SERFATY: And what we're hearing from a lot of members essentially is we're going to wait and see and read every detail here. One member calling it an opening salvo. The reality is that this is an incredibly steep climb. Now this opens it up to a larger process where potentially more tweaks could be made when they mark up next week and it is, John, as you know, an incredibly ambitious timeline that the leadership has set. They want this marked up next week on the House floor, the following week, and then potentially move over to the Senate.

A lot of back and forth and goal to have this on the president's desk by the end of the year, but certainly a lot of concern here. A lot of members saying we still have to actually read the bill to figure out if we support it -- John.

BERMAN: You can see the wheels turning in Congressman Dan Donovan's mind right now because he's doing a calculation. And that's what's going to be so important. And just to put it simply if you can no longer deduct your state income taxes or your property tax deduction is capped and your mortgage interest deduction is capped also that can more than make up for a potential tax cut depending on where you live.

So for some of Dan Donovan's constituents it's possible. We don't know yet because they have to crunch the numbers. It's possible they could see a tax increase, in fact, rather than a tax cut. That's what Congressman Donovan has to look into right now.

And Sunlen, 22 votes, right, that is what Republicans can lose here. There are more than 30 from some of these high tax states that they're watching?

SERFATY: That's right. And that just shows you how really narrow their path is for this. They really can't afford to lose many of the members and the congressmen and women that we've been talking about from New York and New Jersey are a powerful group and they want to be pushed to make changes. They wanted to make sure that they would be looking out for the constituents.

And as you said, it was really reflecting Dan Donovan's concern there that, look, the jury is still out here, I have to look out for my state and we expect to hear that in the days ahead -- John.

BERMAN: Initially some stocks were down. Home Builder stocks were down the minute the announcement came out. That is one interest group here that we're watching very carefully. Other stocks I'm sure went up as a result.

Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much.

And coming up in just moments Phil Mattingly will talk to the House Speaker Paul Ryan. He will talk about this tax plan, what is in the details and he will push the speaker to explain how much this will cost or how much it will benefit people in different states around the country. We'll bring that to you live when that interview happens.

All right. Houston, we have a championship. An emotional night for the Astros and especially one player whose post-game proposal really put an exclamation point on the entire win.


[10:52:59] BERMAN: The Houston Astros are World Series champions which means that Andy Scholes just had the happiest moment of his entire life. He's out here with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Yes. I wouldn't call it the happiest but it's definitely in my happiest sports moment of my life. I mean, I literally cried when the Astros got the final out to win this World Series.

This "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

And it's an incredible moment for Houston sports fans. We've been waiting for a World Series championship for 55 years and George Springer once again the hero in this. When he homered in the second inning to give the Astros a 5-0 lead. He's the first player ever to hit a homerun in four straight World Series games. He was your MVP of this series.

And the Astros pitching staff coming through with a great performance. Charlie Morton avoiding getting hit by a bat right there. He pitched the final four innings to close out this game as the Astros win what was an awesome World Series taking game seven 5-1.

I was in the clubhouse for the celebration afterwards and all of the players could not be happier to bring a title to the city of Houston especially after what it went through with Hurricane Harvey.


ALEX BREGMAN, ASTROS INFIELDER: Are you kidding me? It's what you dream about as a kid. We're so fired up. We did it for the city of Houston. So proud to call Houston home. It's unbelievable.

JOSH REDDICK, ASTROS RIGHT FIELDER: We wanted to pick up our city going through all this tragedy and really trying to pick a city up. To bring a championship was goal from day one. And if we can do it after a tragedy even better.

LANCE MCCULLERS JR., ASTROS PITCHER: Times weren't easy and they're pretty impossible for a lot of people and the fact that we got to be like a small part of just people being able to get away from it and to enjoy some moments is special.

GEORGE SPRINGER, ASTROS OUTFIELDER: This means the world. It's incredible. I'm lost for words.


SCHOLES: Now a really cool moment right after the win, Astros star shortstop Carlos Correa surprising everyone by proposing to his girlfriend.


CARLOS CORREA, ASTROS SHORTSTOP: Daniella Rodriguez, you make me the happiest man in the world. Will you marry me? Will you marry me?


[10:55:03] CORREA: I'm pretty sure of the decision I made and I was planning that if we were World Series champions I was going to do it right there. I don't think that's a stage you can create. It just has to happen. And we were able to win tonight so perfect timing for me to get engaged. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Just an incredible night for the city of Houston and the entire Astros franchise -- John.

BERMAN: That's some sweet planning. Planning on winning a World Series then getting engaged. Hard to top.

Andy Scholes, thank you very, very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: We're getting new details now about the Republican tax plan at a big interview with the House speaker coming up.