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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 1, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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differences crack that global coalition against isis? and releasing mrs. baghdadi, eb wife of the world's most wanted terror leader freed in a prisoner swap. is the u.s. losing a key conduit in the war on terror? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following important, breaking news in the war against isis. more u.s. ground troops are being ordered into the fight, special targeting force will go on risky missions like the october raid when a u.s. commando died helping kurdish forces free isis hostages. the pentagon's surprise announcement comes as an explosion near a subway station causes havoc in the capital of turkey. nato ally in the fight against isis, officials say it was caused by a bomb. man who just stepped down as the head of the top u.s.
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intelligence agency is warning, it's only a matter of time before a paris-style terror attack happens here in the united states. i'll discuss all of this much more with congresswoman tulsi gabbard, and our correspondents, analysts and experts, they have full coverage of all of today's top stories. let's begin with today's surprise announcement, more u.s. ground troops joining the fight against isis. chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. how many more boots on the ground is the pentagon talking about now. >> reporter: not a significant increase in numbers, a few dozen u.s. special forces, perhaps 200 in total when you add support troops but a significant expansion role. the kind of missions they're going to be involved in, going after high valued targets, isis leaders, rescuing hostages, they are some of the most dangerous missions, after months and months the administration saying there would be no combat role for u.s. forces there. these forces will be very much
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in the center of the fight. after frequent white house denials that u.s. troops would face combat in iraq and syria, today the president is ordering dozens of u.s. special forces into combat roles, involving direct action against isis. >> these special operator will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture isil leaders. >> reporter: the new expedition area force will number in the dozens, though support forces expandite total footprint to 200. >> this force and the operations this force will conduct will provide us additional intelligence that will make our operations much more effective. >> reporter: part of their mission, raids like this one in northern iraq in october. daring joint operation involving kurdish commandos and the u.s. army's delta force to freeze isis-held prisoners, demonstrating added danger of
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direct action one delta force operator, master force joshua wheeler, was killed. in addition to the 50 special forces the u.s. already deploying on the ground in syria. >> it puts everybody on notice, in syria, you don't know at night who's going to be coming in the window, and that's the sensation we want all of isil's leadership and followers to have. it's an important capability. >> reporter: the expanded u.s. combat role comes in the aftermath of paris. and as progress against isis on the battlefield has been halting, president obama declared the group contained in an interview two weeks ago. >> from the start, our goal has been, first, to contain, and we have contained them. >> reporter: today, however, the chairman of the join chiefs of staff general dunford appeared to contradict his commander in chief. >> have we currently contained isil? >> we have not contained isil. >> have they been contained at
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anytime since 2010? >> tactically in areas they have been. strategically they have spread since 2010. >> reporter: carter insisted the u.s. will eventually win. >> are we winning, mr. secretary? >> we will win. >> are we winning now? >> we are going to win. >> we have been watching the number of u.s. forces in iraq and syria steadily increasing over the last several months started at a couple of hundred in june 2014, but look, each month going up a couple hundred more, now we're at above 3,000 as we look at this, remember the president's only authorized 3,550, you add in 50, already been authorized to go to syria. the 200 announced today, that will put you above the authorization level. the president's going to have to raise that authorization level again. but watch that graph there. it came up from a few hundred guarding u.s. embassies in baghdad and erbil, now look where they are, and they're
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going to be in combat. we're nowhere near numbers going back to 2008 or so when you had a peak above 150,000, still a fraction of where you were then. but a steady increase when operations against isis began. >> presumably numbers will continue going up. we'll see what happens. thanks very much. global war in isis hampered by differences. president obama revealed he warned the russian president vladimir putin against intervening in syria's civil war. jim acosta in paris where the president has met with world leaders including putin. >> any progress in breaking the u.s./russian stalemate. >> reporter: not much. president obama offer ed not mae much progress, convincing vladimir putin to change course in syria. the shift, if it ever comes, could take months, as isis grows stronger. that essentially means u.s. and
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russia will keep on bombing different targets, washington taking aim at isis, moscow hitting u.s.-backed forces fighting al assad. still, based on their conversations, the president is convinced putin may be shifting his calculation in syria away from supporting assad, but mr. obama cautioned, during a news conference today, that may not happen any time soon. here's what he had to say -- >> mr. putin, i don't expect that you're going to see a 180-turn on their strategy over the next several weeks. they have invested four years in keeping assad in power. predicated on propping him up. and so that's going to take some time for them to change how they think about the issue. >> reporter: also complicating the president's military campaign in syria, moscow is still outraged over turkey's downing of the russian warplane last week, russians are accusing
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turkish leaders of trying to protect a black market oil supply from terrorists. turkey's president denied that in paris, vowing he would resign if the claim was proven true, and in a meeting with president obama, erdogan fired back russian bombers are slaughtering ethnic turkmen in syria. obama told them to cut it out and the common enemy is isis but that has not resolved the conflict. a russian news agency said moscow has had evidence obtained that turkey was importing oil from isis across the border. the president did not weigh in on that claim today but he has had repeated conversations with turkey's president about gaps at the border. it is a source of frustration at the white house. >> the president did appear to weigh in on that claim, russian claim, that isis oil is being slipped through the turkish border from syria into turkey.
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the president said 100 kilometers of the border was not controlled by the turkish military, people going back and forth, including terrorists, foreign fighters, he said and isil, he said, is shipping out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorists activities. president showing his frustration with the government of turkey, a nato ally. is that what you're hearing privately on the sidelines as well? >> reporter: privately on the sidelines, yes, wolf, they are there expressing frustrations to the turkish leaders that, yes, this porous border has to be clogged up. it is out of control at this point. it is allowing isis terrorists and foreign fighters to go back and forth. yes, he did weigh in on oil coming in to turkey from syria. but as for that claim, putin made this claim here in paris, wolf, that turkey shot down that russian jet to protect the oil supply. president did not weigh in on that exact precise accusation
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from russia but just hearing that here in paris, that added more fuel to the fire, this simmering dispute between russia and turkey is not going away soon. >> jim acosta in paris for us, thanks very much. joining us now, congresswoman tulsi gabbard of hawaii, member of the house armed services and foreign affairs committee and iraq war veteran. thanks for joining us. the news the joint chiefs chairman saying the u.s. is not limited by the 3500 ground troops it has in iraq, including 50 who are going into syria, maybe another 200 going into syria as well. does this sound like mission creep to you? >> well, wolf, the first thing i think it's important to make sheer is, i have long said that the united states should not be in a nation-building mission. if we're talking about small deployments of special forces, troops who are going out there directly to defeat our enemy, defeat isis and work with local
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ground forces to be able to accomplish that mission, that's something that makes sense. that's very different than a large deployment of 10,000 or 100,000 regular u.s. ground troops or occupying force, as we've seen in iraq. if that were the case, that would be counterproductive to us achieving the mission of defeating isis, it would play into their rhetoric, saying it's a war between islam and the west and that is not good for anyone. >> you served in iraq. you fought there. has the u.s. learned lessons from that experience, looking forward? >> i wish the answer was yes wolf, but the answer's no, and this is my greatest concern. the reason for this is because, after iraq, the united states went ahead and did the very same thing in libya, overthrowing gadhafi. isis is growing in strength, has a stronghold in libya today, with plans to continue to
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expand. and what's each crazier is that now the united states policy is looking to do the very same thing once again in syria with this focus and determination on overthrowing the syrian government to assad, which will only serve to make isis stronger in syria, taking over that territory in syria, providing a greater threat to the region and to the world. >> president, you just heard in the report, says he doesn't expect putin to make 180-degree turn when it comes to the future of bashar al assad in damascus. you disagree with the president when it comes to the fought of president assad. you believe it's a mistake for the u.s. to focus in on his rule, his regime, right now. explain to our viewers why. >> well again, i think this is a very simple question of looking at exactly what's happened in the recent past. when we saw the united states overthrow saddam hussein in iraq, what was the result and
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the outcome? groups like isis, al qaeda, growing stronger, taking over mother territory. same thing occurred in libya, the united states overthrew gadhafi. now we have isis with headquarter there's in libya and continuing to look to expand. the very same thing will happen in syria if the united states is successful in its focus and its objective of overthrowing the syrian government of asad, isis will walk in the front door, take over syria and pose the greater threat to the region and increase humanitarian crisis there ten-fold. >> you just visited -- you were just in paris, seeing what was going on over there following terror attacks. we heard a very disturbing assessment from michael flynn, former head of the defense intelligence agency, saying what happened in paris, he could easily foresee that happening here in the united states as well. you agree with him? >> when i was there in paris, it was heart wrenching to see the
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impacts of this isis attack there. and it's the reason why we need to take very seriously our priority, our focus, our mission must be to dedicate our resources in executing a strong and decisive strategy to defeat isis rather than what began as a distraction in overthrowing the syrian government of assad but something that has now put us in a far more dangerous position, putting us directly at odds, putting the united states at odds with russia, creating the great potential for head to head conflict, world war in nuclear conflict with u.s. and russia. >> today the president, at his news conference in paris, strongly urged turkey to do a better job sealing its border. i want to play a little clip of what the president said. listen to this, congresswoman. >> i think about 98 kilometers that are still still used as a transit point for foreign
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fighters, isil shipping out fuel for sale that helps finance the terrorist activities. >> very blunt comments from the president about a nato ally, saying nearly 100 kilometers, they have one of the largest militaries in the world, the military of turkey, but he says they're not controlling almost 100 kilometers of their border with syria, terrorists are going back and forward, and isis -- isil, as he calls it, is shipping oil illegally through that border to for sale to europe, if you will, to make money to fund isis terror operations. when you hear that from the president, what goes through your mind? >> well, it been no secret of the fact that turkey has not been standing with the united states standing, with us in this fight against isis to defeat and destroy isis. their first priority has been to squash the kurds, get rid of kurds who, by the way, have been our most effective fighting ground force defeating isis in both northern -- both iraq as
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well as in syria. their second priority is getting rid of the syrian government of assad and doing everything that they can to send arms and equipment and weapons and ammunition to those working towards that end, including islamic extremist groups like al qaeda, like al nusra, strengthening isis, our enemy, and open borders they have with syria, the direct and indirect assistance they've been providing to isis and these other islamic extremist groups prove the point that turkey's not standing with us, they have done less in the fight against isis than they have done for isis in helping strengthen isis. >> pretty strong words from the president today when he suggests that turkey's basically cooperating with isis in the sale of that illegal oil in order to make money to fund further terror operations. congresswoman, we have much more to talk about. stay with us. i know you're up on capitol hill. much more with tulsi gabbard after this.
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>> following breaking news in the war on isis with our guest, congress woman tulsi gabbard, on the house armed services and foreign affairs committee, also an iraq war veteran. there's a chilling, new warning, i mentioned it to you earlier
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about the possibility of a paris-style terror attack here in the united states. i want to play the clip, this is the man who just stepped down as head of the u.s. defense intelligence agency. listen to what he told cnn's jake tapper. >> really do believe it's a matter of time. i believe that there's going to be where our luck is going to run out and they're going to be able to achieve something along the lines of what we saw in paris. >> so here's the question, is the u.s. prepared, does the u.s. have adequate intelligence, because you're well briefed on these issues? >> wolf, this is something thars continues to be ongoing concern. lieutenant general flynn was the guy who called out this threat from isis long before many people were listening and i think he's very much in tune with the possibility of this type of attack or this kind of threat facing the american people. i want to mention one thing that is deeply earn concerning to me happening now at the turkey/syria border. we have a u.s. f-15 planes
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patrolling the border between the two countries, at the same time that russia has put in place a very sophisticated anti-aircraft missile defense system. this is deeply concerning to me because this, again, puts the united states and russia at a head-to-head conflict with possibility whether intentional or accident one side will shoot down the other side's plane, kicking off a much larger potentially world war and nuclear war between the united states and russia. and the thing is, with this, we've got to ask ourselves, what will the cost of this be? devastation to the american people, to the world, and what -- for what? what's the benefit? why are we trying to do this in syria? why are we trying to go to war with russia over this disagreement of overthrowing the syrian government of assad? it's crazy. >> you don't think it legal, the president, you believe, requires congressional authorization to do what the u.s. is doing in
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syria against assad, right? >> that's exactly right. to go to war, to overthrow another country's government, this is something that congress must authorize. but this is something that's been ongoing from the united states here now for a few years with this arming and quipping, this cia program, to provide weapons and ammunition and support to these groups, some of them islamic extremist groups to overthrow the syrian government of assad. >> congresswoman tulsi gabbard of hawaii, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, prisoner swap frees ex-wife of the world's most-wanted terrorist. does it mean the u.s. is losing key intelligence and insights about the leader of isis? ono off-days, or downtime.ason. opportunity is everything you make of it. this winter, take advantage of our season's best offers on the
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for all binge watchers. movie geeks. sports freaks. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. back to breaking news. new warning about the possibility of an isis-inspired terror attack, like the one in paris, right here in the united states. joining us now here in "the situation room," national security analysts peter bergen, counterterrorism analyst, and military analyst retired lieutenant general mark hertling. you heard michael flynn, former head of defense intelligence agency, say he could easily foresee what happened in paris happening here in the united states. do you agree with him. >> heck, no, i don't agree for a heartbeat. washington, there's a phrase, you underpromise and
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overdeliver. set the barlow, and ensure there's not an attack. let's have a reality collect, the contrast between america and europe. there's no geographic continuity with isis. we don't have these densities of suburban communities here that you see in europe. we don't have information sharing problems we see in europe. we don't have the same per capita number of cases that european security services have. we have the fbi director saying number of americans traveling over to isis declined. you want to tell me we have the same threat picture as europe? i don't think so. i don't buy it. >> i concur with phil. general flynn was the first person in the government to warn of the rice of isis but the fact is geography, you can't drive from paris to washington. you can drive from paris to damascus and also you know, the other thing is, volume, numbers of people going. we've got over 1,000 french citizens who have gone to syria and a couple of dozens, who have
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succeeded, americans, going to syr syria. >> you did see the study, 300 americans acting in effect as isis ambassadors on twitter, many of them women of the 300, many women. what is the attraction? especially to women here in the united states to go out there and serve the cause of isis? >> well, you know, some have a romantic delusion they'll marry the man of their dreams of. we've done research of the women going, many are getting married and seeing them taking part in heroic religious struggle against assad and restoring the caliphate, a whole set of reasons. seeing american females recruiting americans to come. there's a woman hoda in alabama, 20-year-old, very active on twitter, recruiting, trying to recruit american citizens, and she's not alone. >> according to this day, 300 americans acting as isis ambassadors on twitter. general, the defense secretary ash carter, general dunford
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testified about plans to defeat, destroy, isis. we heard a lot of criticism that 50 u.s. special operation forces in syria isn't going to have much of an impact, now maybe another 200 might be based in iraq but go into syria at the same time. is that really going to make much of a difference? >> i believe it will. you're going to talk about operators that will certainly be contributing in a counterterrorism role, those are all of the roles that the secretary described. and then you're going to have a large number that will remain in northern iraq, probably erbil, talking about intelligence gatherers, transporters, helicopters and support troops. you're still going to see a very small number of counterterrorism special operators conducting those raids, those hostage rescue missions and the things that you normally associate with special operations forces, wolf. >> how good is u.s. intelligence in dealing with isis in syria right now? >> i think if you look at the the successful rate operations
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that have been conducted over time, say over the past 6 to 12 months, the pace of operations has been pretty good. pace of air strikes, it's pretty good. the problem in these situations, though, when you start air strikes with this frequency, you're starting to destroy the same targets, trying to collect on. it's a two-edged sword. you lose the collection when targets start to move but as soon as they re-create networks they have a vulnerability meaning they've got to go back up on the networks and that's an opportunity for intelligence. >> i want all of you to stand by. f breaking news. a prisoner swap that may cost the u.s. key source of insight into the world's most-wanted terrorists and keeping track of developments in 2016 presidential race. senator ted cruz has new momentum but stirring up new controversy today with answers like this when he was asked about contraception and allegations that republicans are behind a war on women.
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>> jimmenny cricket, a made up, nonsense example. last i checked, don't have a rubber shortage in america. it's like, when i was in college we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in, and voila. hi i'm heather cox
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republican presidential candidate ted cruz is enjoining a surgeon of support in iowa, crucial state in the gop
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nomination contest. the question remains, can cruz knock front-runner donald trump from his perch in the polls? sunlen serfaty is joining us now. what's behind his recent surge? >> well, his rise, wolf, has been fueled, in part, by his infli infli inflammatory and controversial rhetoric, he doesn't shy away from this. it plays well to his base and that might be a big reason why cruz is now within striking distance of donald trump. >> let me be very clear, i don't believe donald trump will be our nominee. >> reporter: ascending, within striking distance of donald trump in iowa. >> going to have to hit me, right? a sad day but we will hit back. >> reporter: the texas senator's success bringing greater scrutiny to provocative rhetoric, plenty in the last 48 hours alone, cruz turning voter's question about access to birth control -- >> what do you do? go, aha!
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the condom police. >> reporter: -- into a condemnation of democrats for what he sayses a fabricated narrative. >> when the war on women came up, republicans would curl up in a ball, they'd say, don't hurt me. jiminy cricket, this is a made-up, nonsense example. last i checked, we don't have a rubber shortage in america. it's like, when i was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila. >> reporter: cruz criticizing media for focusing on the reported anti-abortion rest of the colorado planned parenthood shooter. >> registered as an independent and woman and transgender leftic activist. if that's what he is, i don't think it's fair to blame on the rhetoric of the left. this is a murderer. >> reporter: he was trying to make a point about rushing to judgment. charging that most violent felons are democrats -- >> listen, here's the simple and
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undeniable fact, overwhelming majority of violent criminals are democrats. >> reporter: when asked for proof, the cruz campaign citing 2014 study of three states, finding ex-felons who registered to vote do so overwhelmingly as democrats. such incendiary flourishes are noting not new to cruz who takes attacks on prez obama to an extre extreme. >> the obama administration will become quite literally the world's leading financier of radical islamic terrorists. >> reporter: two months from today, first votes will be cast in iowa. of course a lot can and will change before then. but ted cruz, he's also an added threat, invested a lot of time outside of iowa, laying the groundwork on southern states, which could go a long way for him going forward. >> thanks very much. for more, let's turn our political experts. joined by cnn politics senior digital correspondent chris moody and senior political
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reporter. any of the controversial comments, cruz, donald trump's had some controversial comments, but is it going to make a difference in terms of the support he has from his base? >> i don't think we know yet. this is what has gotten him in the race, gotten him being able to compete with donald trump in states like iowa and in the south, too. i don't know ma that we know what the long-term effect, is it a cumulative effect, some of the comments that he's made that, again, base really, really likes. this is why they have really backed him so far, so i think he's got to figure out whether or not this kind of rhetoric means that his support will have a ceiling, or if he's going to have to temper if it he wants to grow beyond the red meat base of the republican party. >> his numbers in iowa, first caucus state, going up. >> it's a combination of factors. one, good old-fashioned hard work.
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after the 2012 presidential elections ted cruz was in iowa 2013, i was with him, meeting with a group of pastors, and he has spent a ton of time in that state working specifically with evangelicals. if you look at polls is drill down in iowa, you will see that a bulk of the support comes from people who say they are very conservative. the question is, can he expand that to a broader base? it also doesn't help that donald trump has been questioning the intelligence of iowans over the past several weeks. i'm sure they're looking possibly for somebody else to vote for at the caucuses. >> donald trump clearly an outsider, no political elections that he's had to endure. ben carson, the same. cruz trying to paint himself as an outsider as well. a sitting u.s. senator in washington, inside the beltway, can he project himself as an outsider like trump and carson. >> i think so, because his entire identity is that he has been in the face of the republican party establishment here in washington. essentially called mitch mcconnell, the leader of the
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senate republicans, called him a liar. he was on the leading edge of the government shutdown over obamacare in 2013. he has called his republican colleagues squishes. i think he, you know, his whole brand, he's -- that he's willing to take the fight to the establishment here in washington. >> who would the gop establishment, old school republican leadership, prefer, cruz or trump? >> that's the most fun question a reporter could ask a member of the establishment, one they don't want to answer. on one hand, ted cruz has been an enemy of the so-called establishment here in washington. a lot of them will say quietly that they see him as a person that sees his own ambition larger than the greater good for the party. but donald trump is of course, donald trump. so i think it's a question that they hope they don't have to answer next year. >> in iowa, we've seen cruz go up, trump still number one, carson go down. why is that? >> that's right. i think part of the reason, this is sort of the post-paris attack
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effect, you've seen carson stumble with some of the responses in terms of foreign policy, national security. in cruz, i think, benefited. carson has gone down 10 to 12 points and cruz has gone up, almost the same amount. and as chris said, he has been on the ground there in iowa courting those evangelicals. and it pays off. he sounds like a tell evangelist when they talks. >> rubio going at it, searching to see who's going to emerge from the second tier. >> well, what ted cruz has been saying is that he's the conservative candidate and marco rubio is the, quote, moderate candidate. and that is something of course marco rubio doesn't want to be put in those boxes. you could see a matchup going forward. maybe not just coming out of iowa but going through the south where ted cruz has spent a lot of time. there are a lot of possibilities that could happen next year and marco rubio and ted cruz matchup could be one of them.
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>> trump keeps saying, these guys as they move up, rubio, cruz, they're going to start hitting him and you know what? 4 he says he's going to hit right back ten-fold. >> right. you saw cruz playing nice with donald trump for much of the cycle because he wants trump supporters but he said yesterday that he doesn't think trump will be the nominee because he of course he thinks he will be the nominee. we'll see. >> could get pretty lively on the campaign trail. coming up -- ex-wife of the world's most wanted terrorist released from prison. why did lebanon led a crucial connection walk free? for every family... ♪ ...and whatever he puts in our snow globe, shows up at our house. and this year, look at what he put in our driveway. santa can do that? he sure can, honey. the lexus december to remember sales event is going on now,
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. we're following a developing story out of lebanon where the former wife of the isis leader al baghdadi has been freed from prison. the release took place as part of a prisoner swap involving lebanese being held by a terror group. brian, what are you learning? >> wolf, this was a very important prisoner swap. this woman, saja dulaimi, was traded for more than a dozen lebanese soldiers. but it's dulaimi's connection with the isis leader. could this lead them closer to abu bakr baghdadi? she has an intimate connection to one of the biggest terrorists in the world. saja dulaimi has just been released from a lebanese prison
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and downplays her past with the leader. >> translator: we divorced six years ago. he wasn't al baghdadi or anything. >> reporter: a lebanese security source says dulaimi's daughter, believed to be fathered by al baghdadi, was also released with her. one official says saja dulaimi was traded for a group of lebanese soldiers. >> she was released because i think, a, her intelligence value to the security forces ran out. she revealed all that she could reveal or that they could get out of her and they ran out of other options to retrieve the soldiers. >> reporter: dulaimi's marriage only lasted a few months. his current personal wife is still a mystery. iraqi intelligence has said that he has two wives. u.s. intelligence officials will not comment on whether they will
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want to question doll lawmakula. but u.s. officials will likely want access to her. she could provide cell phone numbers metadata and help target the isis leader. any insight dulaimi could give on his personality could be critical. >> that far removed, could she say anything useful now? >> to be honest, the most insight she would have is his relationships with people, who he trusts, how he coordinates with them, how he communicates, which areas he feels secure in. >> some of the questions that could be asked of her include to what degree does abu bakr al baghdadi have with the apocalypse, the end of days, is he going to go all out in his confrontation with the west?
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>> but given saja dulaimi's association, it's not clear she would give them any information. her current husband is involved with the al qaeda affiliate al nusra front and her brother is a senior member of that group. wolf? >> even though she's been held and possibly interrogated could put herself in some danger. isn't that right? >> that's right. an official told "the new york times" that during the iraq war, the americans captured the wife of zarqawi. after they released her, jzarqai killed her. be sure to tune in this sunday as we honor the top cnn
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we'll credit your account $20. it's our promise to you. we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. because we should fit into your life. not the other way around. happening now, breaking news, hundreds of boots the pentagon wrapping up the war against isis poised to deploy a specialized force to iraq and to syria. what will the growing u.s. presence in that country and in syria mean for the fight against terrorist forces? rush hour bombing. a powerful explosion rocks the largest city in turkey, a key nato ally now being called out by president obama for failing to secure its border against isis. and tonight, new information about the paris attackers. why was the mastermind prepared to spend thousands of dollars on
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high-end clothes? top cop fired. chicago's mayor demands the resignation of the police superintendent over the handling of this deadly shooting that now has an officer charged with murder. will the move diffuse growing tension in the city? i'll talk to the naacp president, cornell william brooks, who himself was just arrested while protesting in chicago. hit me. donald trump talks to presidential rivals urging them to attack and vowing to hit them back ten times harder. the gop front runner saying the only way to get to the top is through him. will his competitors bring it on? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news in the war against isis. the u.s. stepping up its presence on the ground. the defense secretary ash carter
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announcing the pentagon will deploy a specialized expeditionary targeting force to iraq where terrorist forces control broad regions, including the country's second largest city. we're also following developments in chicago where the mayor, rahm emanuel, has fired the police superintendent amid growing protests over a deadly police shooting. dash cam video just released a few days ago show as white police officer firing 16 times at a black teenager. that officer now has been charged with first-degree murder. we're covering that and much more at this hour with our guests, including the president and ceo of the naacp, cornell williams brooks, and ranking member of the house armed services committee, congressman adam smith. our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by. let's begin with the breaking news. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr begins our coverage. barbara, you're learning new details about this new plan to send u.s. special operation forces to iraq and then to syria
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to fight isis? >> wolf, indeed. defense secretary ash carter has been facing withering criticism on capitol hill for president obama's anti-isis strategy. today he unveiled some new plans but will it be enough to deflect that criticism? hundreds of u.s. special operations and support forces heading to dangerous ground in iraq and syria. >> these special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture isil leaders. this force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in syria. >> reporter: the announcement to send more forces coming after the attacks in paris. the military will now do more risky missions, such as the special operation hostage rescue raid in october where master sergeant joshua wheeler was
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killed in action. >> we're good at intelligence, mobility, we're good at surprise. we have the long reach that no one else has and it puts everybody on notice in syria that you don't know at night who is going to be coming in the window. and that's the sensation that we want all of isil's leadership and followers to have. >> reporter: the new forceful number just dozens of commandos but they will have significant backup. helicopters to get to their targets, rescue forces if they run into trouble. potentially some 200 troops in all, officials say. all of this as a separate group of 50 special operations forces are to arrive at any time in northern syria to assist anti-isis forces there. the chairman of the joint chiefs underscoring the u.s. needs better intelligence. >> our effectiveness is
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obviously a link to the quality of intelligence that we have in our assessment of this force and the operations this force will conduct will provide us additional intelligence that makes our operations much more effective. >> reporter: a raid in syria that killed top isis operative in may provided an initial trove of intelligence leading to improved information about isis. two operatives still in the u.s. cross-hairs? isis' leader abu bakr baghdadi. now, carter insisted today that isis has lost territory, lost ground in syria and iraq but he was asked flat out, is the u.s. winning against isis? the secretary largely sidestepped that question and said the u.s. will win. wolf? >> yeah. he was pressed a couple times and said eventually the u.s. will win and refused to say the
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u.s. is winning now. barbara, thanks very much. russia is also upping it military presence in the region but has a very different strategy and goals when if comes to fighting isis. our senior white house correspondent jim acosta is in paris and has been traveling with president obama. the president and russian president vladimir putin are deeply divided when it comes to syria? >> reporter: they are, wolf. president obama was very candid today that he has not made much headway in convincing vladimir putin to change his tactics in syria. the shift, the president conceded, could take months as isis continues to grow stronger. they've met face-to-face twice in the last month but they still don't see eye to eye. so president obama told reporters a the a climate summit in paris, expect russia's vladimir putin to continue to go his own way in the war on isis. at least for now. >> mr. putin, i don't expect that you're going to see a 180
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turn on their strategy over the last several weeks. >> reporter: that means the u.s. and russia will keep on bombing other targets with russia taking aim at moscow and ooirz figisis bashar al assad. >> i don't think we should be under illusions that isis only hits isil targets. that's not going to be happening in the next several weeks. >> reporter: still, based on their conversations, the president is convinced putin may be changing his calculus, away from supporting assad to avoid landing russia in another military mess. >> for him to get bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he's looking for.
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>> but it's more complicated than that. russia angrily -- turk's president denied that vowing he would resign if the claim is proven true. and in a meeting with president obama, he fired back. the russian bombers are slaughtering syria. mr. obama all but told both sides to cut it out. >> i want to make sure that we focus on that threat. >> reporter: moscow had some evidence that russia was importing oil from across the porous syria/turkish border. president obama is frustrated with the situation at turkey's border and has had repeated conversations about gas there being exploited by isis terrorists. this is a constant source within the white house. >> it certainly is.
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the president saying within 100 kilometers, a very open border, the turkish military, 500,000 troops not doing enough. the president clearly frustrated with turkey, a nato ally. let's talk more about this with the ranking member of the house armed services, congressman smith. thank you for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. you have questions the past several months? >> i think the focus is better. general dunford presented a much better strategy coming out of the white house. frankly, throughout the syrian conflict. it's not been great. there have been things said and they are definitely getting clearer. >> general dunford today said the u.s. has not contained isis. two weeks ago, the president in
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the interview with abc news said isis is contained. secretary kerry says in a new interview, the u.s. can defeat isis, quote, if we get our act together. i mean, there seems to be a conflicting amount of statements coming out, some positive, some negative. >> there are two pieces to this. first of all, saying that isis is contained i think is flat wrong. they have reached -- they have an ability to spread out of the internet. >> why would the president say that, that isis was being contained? was he being very specific to iraq and syria and certain geographic areas because the impression was that the u.s. is winning this war. >> what the president is trying to do is to counter some of the more extremist rhetoric that is frankly coming from the republican party about how, you know, we're basically all going to die trying to panic
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everybody, that isis is here, isis is there. he's trying to put it in perspective. i agree with that. i think playing into the fear that isis is trying to spread doesn't help. that simply moves terrorism forward. that said, you have to be careful about the way you put it. secretary carter is right. isis has lost territory in syria and iraq and then there was a news story a couple years ago about how defections are starting to happen because the perception is that isis is no longer making progress. that said, they can spread terror over the internet, over a phone call. so to say that they are -- until they are gone, they are not contained. >> secretary carter under repeated questioning even refused to say the u.s. is winning right now. the u.s. eventually will win but he can't say that the u.s. is winning. >> that's the wrong question because you don't really have a metric. what he said is, we are making progress in terms of rolling back isis' gains, the kurds on the ground, primarily in syria and iraq, have taken back territory, and that has undermined them.
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when you have a terrorist organi organization, as the cliche goes, we only need to be right once. you can't say you are winning until the group is completely gone. >> to the critics, this seems half-hearted. 50 special forces to syria, maybe another 200 later. if you're going to go in there and destroy and defeat isis, don't you need to send more than 250 u.s. commandos? >> and there is where the critics are among. this becomes the u.s. military versus isis and then isis has won a huge, huge victory. they can then portray themselves as defending islam against russian aggression. the only way we win this war is if sunnis in iraq and syria and everywhere else that isis is wiped out and western force there, they pop it right back up. if they can credibly claim that russian aggression against muslims is what they are fighting against, we'll eliminate this group and another has to be popped up. it has to be led by the locals,
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by the sunnis and the arab states and we have to support that. if we send 30,000 troops in there, we may win in a month but the terrorism will continue. this has to be locally driven. >> the former head of the intelligence agency, retired general michael flynn, he spoke to our own jake tapper today and made a stunning charge that back in 2012, when the dia was offering assessments of how isis was growing, the president in the mid-sf of re-election campaign and simply ignored those warnings. listen to what he said. listen to this. >> i think that they add viced him incorrectly. they were dead and these guys are -- these guys are -- we've beaten them.
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>> it's a pretty stunning accusation, especially given the current central command was forced to taylor it is intelligence to be more attuned to what the white house wanted. >> i think mike flynn is absolutely wrong. the evidence is in what the obama administration was doing in 2012. they were still actively, you know, doing drone strikes. the intelligence was aggressive against al qaeda and isis. we were still targeting in a dozen different countries. so he's absolutely wrong. >> he points out that the president was calling isis the jv team. >> well, that, again, the president has said some things that are not accurate. but while they were calling him the jv team, we were targeting them, aggressively going after them and also al qaeda and a variety of other groups have threatened us. the motion that the white house decided in 2012 that this was over and stopped is just totally belied by the facts that the drone strikes continued, the intelligence continued. >> what about this current
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investigation by the pentagon's inspector general that the central command was forced into sort of cherry picking or doctoring its intelligence to make it more palatable to what the white house wanted? >> we don't have any evidence that that has happened. i will tell you, i've been to afghanistan and iraq and at least seven times each and i talked to one group of analysts and they gave one picture. i spoke to the cia to the dia. there is always differences of opinion. this is when president bush was in charge as well as when president obama was in charge. there is no evidence whatsoever that the white house pretended -- >> just to be precise, the president labeled isis the jc team, you're saying what? >> i don't think that was the correct thing to say. >> he's simply wrong? >> yeah, i think he is wrong. what he's trying to do -- look, terror is about spreading fear and making people change their
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way of lives. we've had presidential candidates talk about how we need to round up all of the muslims. the fear that is being spread by the other side, the president is trying to say, hey, calm down. we are the united states of america. we've got this under control. and i think he's right to say that. i do think some of his choices of words have underestimated the enemy in a way that is not helpful. >> we're going to have a lot more to talk about, congressman. stay with us. there's reports that isis is recruiting assets here on twitter. much more after a quick break. i absolutely love my new but the rent is outrageous. good thing geico offers affordable renters insurance. with great coverage it protects my personal belongings should they get damaged, stolen or destroyed. [doorbell] uh, excuse me. delivery. hey. lo mein, szechwan chicken, chopsticks, soy sauce and you got some fortune cookies. have a good one. ah, these small new york apartments...
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breaking news this hour, the u.s. increasing boots on the ground to fight isis in iraq and syria. the defense secretary ash carter announcing the pentagon will deploy what is being called a special targeting force to conduct raids, hostages, capture isis leaders whether in iraq or syria. we're back with the ranking member of the house armed services committee, democratic congressman adam smith of washington state. the president was pretty blunt today in his news conference criticizing turkey, a nato ally, one of the largest militaries in the world, 400,000 active duty
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troops, 200,000 reservists, the president saying there's nearly 100 kilometers on their border with syria where they are not patrolling. there's a transit point for foreign fighters. isis is shipping out oil from syria into turkey for sale to fund their terror operations. what's going on? turkey is a nato ally. can't they close up that 100-kilometer area of the border? >> that's a huge part of the problem. we have two clear missions in syria. we have to get rid of assad. assad is not a legitimate leader. and second, we have to get rid of isis. part of what fuels isis is assad. >> why isn't turkey there? >> turkey's number one goal when this started was to get rid of assad. they were not particular of who they were fu they were funding in that effort and a lot of weapons went to al
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nusra and they didn't care because they wanted isis gone. now that they see the threat, they are caught in the middle. you have turkey focused on eliminating assad while others are focused on eliminating isis. i don't know what is going on across the turkey to turkey border but they need to close and it they need to recognize that defeating assad, you have to do both. you have to defeat assad and defeat isis. if you have a strategy that is only affecting one, it's not enough. >> isis is recruiting a lot of assets here in the united states. a new study out by george washington university says that it's almost unpresentecedented, recruiting people to go ahead and join this movement. is enough being done to stop this movement from growing here in the united states? >> we're working on it but it's difficult. >> why are they so good in social media and the u.s. basically created and developed social media not so good at it.
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>> they have a simpler message, wolf. it's always easier to preach to people who have nothing to lose and who are disaffected by what is going on. i met with the nsa director. part of the problem is that isis is smarter about this stuff. once they find someone they work with, they encrypt everything and it's hard to get access to that information. look, social media appeals to the lowest common denominator. that's the real threat. in all of this concern about the syrian refugee, they go through a two-year process and are vetted very, very carefully. they can recruit people who we don't even know. >> who are in the united states. >> and a lot of times, no connections. they are just people who, as i said, disaffected is a polite way of saying it. they are unhappy with their lives, looking for an answer and isis takes advantage of that and uses social media to recruit them and it's something that we have to really be vigilant about
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and it's a difficult problem to get at. >> but they are good in social media. they have some very specific online magazines. they recruit not only the u.s. but in europe. my only point is why can't the u.s. counter that? we're good at social media, too, i suspect. >> well, we're trying to counter it but isis is trying to appeal to a particular group of people. to muslims who feel like they have been under assault from the west. so if the west then comes out with a message -- and we've tried this. we've done this in the al qaeda wars and a variety of other things. we use video games and comic books to push them away from joining jihad. but when the message is coming from the westerner, versus coming from -- this is why we have to have that local -- why we have to have muslims. there are many out there doing that. they are the ones who -- the messenger matters. if the messenger is the west, you're going to be less able to go after a disaffected muslim youth than if you are a muslim. >> sunni muslims leading the charge against isis right now in
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big numbers. that would be great. let them get the job done. >> everyone talks about winning. that's the only way we win, is if what you just said happens. >> congressman smith, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, new fallout from the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. tonight, the top chicago official is out of a job. plus, jury selection for a former cop on trial for the death of freddie gray. can the officers charged in the case get a fair trial in baltimore? a penguin loaded a toy car onto a racetrack. zoom! it took off... ...going faster and faster, and twisting and turning, until finally, it stopped... ...right in our driveway.
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chicago's top cop fired as the city reels from the police dash cam ra, jason van dyke killing laquan mcdonald. the police department held the video for over a year only released it last week under court order. chicago's mayor rahm emanuel says the department needs to confront its challenges with new leadership. superintendent mccarthy knows that if a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves. after this weekend, after handling the protests involving the mcdonald video last week and the arrest of laquan's killer,
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superintendent mccarthy and i discussed the undeniable fact that the public trust and the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded. this morning, i formally asked for his resignation. >> let's talk about this and more with the president and ceo of the naacp, cornell william brooks. also joining us, jeffrey toobin. the former federal prosecutor, sunny hostin and former fbi assistant director and analyst tom fuentes. cornell, you were actually arrested with some of your colleagues protesting on the streets of chicago. >> yes. >> give us your thinking. why did you decide to do that? >> we wanted to send a very strong message to law enforcement. the naacp thought the best way to send a strong message to law enforcement was to break the law in order to deliver the message to law enforcement that you cannot violently violate the
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constitutional rights of your citizens by not holding police officers accountable and allowing them willy-nilly to prey upon the people that they are charged with protecting. so the police department that for over a generation has not been accountable, not been transparent, where we have a police review board that received 10,000 complaints and only resulted with any significant disciplinary action in 19 of those, where we have a police department that has operated its own domestic guantanamo in terms of disappearing citizens and violating their rights. this is the kind of department that needs to receive a clear message and so we were arrested with a group of young seminarians and we need to be clear that the pressure will escalate. there will be more civil disobedience. there will be no protests, more
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direction actions by the citizens of chicago and the people across the country because the department -- the chicago police department is not unique but it is distinctive in terms of the degree to which it has violated the rights of it is citizens and it cannot be counted. it cannot be allowed to continue to operate in such a fashion. >> did the firing by the mayor of the police superintendent meet your requirements? is that enough? >> no. the people in chicago and people across the country are not working for a parade, personalities, simply a changing of the guard. they need systemic reform in this police department. so where you have a police authority board that reviews thousands and thousands of complaints, dismisses complaints without ever interviewing police officers, we have a system of check and balances without much check and no balance.
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we have the fox guarding the chicken coupe where the fox is in uniform and not looking out for the well-being of the chickens. that would be the city of chicago. we need much more than that. >> should the mayor rahm emanuel step down? >> again, the problem here goes well beyond a police chief who has served for 4 1/2 years or the mayor. this goes back at least a generation. so when we have a police department, where we have officials who have been convicted of perjury, the police department where there's no accountability. so the point being here, it is not merely the matter of the superintendent changing jobs or the mayor changing jobs, we need to see significant reform and we also need a federal practice investigation because the fact of the matter is, this goes well beyond the tenure of either superintendent mccarthy or mayor emanuel. >> jeffrey toobin, was there a
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coverup by the police? did city leaders, if addition, refuse to make the video public because they were trying to protect their titles, the police officers, if you will, of the police officers involved? >> i think it's clear now that there has to be a federal, an outside investigation. there are so many unanswered questions about this situation. you know, why was this video not released for a year? rahm emanuel points to alvarez. alvarez points to the federal government. what was the impact that emanuel was running for re-election at the time that this could have been released? what about the burger king videos which some assert were erased by police officers or someone else? there are a lot of unanswered questions about this situation and only an outside investigation, the united states department of justice, the illinois attorney general, lisa madigan, has called for the u.s. department of justice to step in.
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i think that's the only solution that will have any sort of credibility at this point. >> sunny, do you agree? was there a cover-up? >> i think jeffrey raises very important points here. i am not prepared to go so far as to say there was cover-up but this was unusual at best. the fact that it would take 13 months for any prosecutor to bring a case, given these fact, given the clear evidence that we've now all seen on this video is arguably just almost malpractice. i think when you look at the systemic issues that have a long time been known by the citizens of chicago that exist in the police department, there's just no question that without this finger pointing between the prosecutor's office and the mayor's office and the police department, it does smell of some sort of problem there in
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chicago and i agree with jeff, the only way that the citizens of chicago and actually i think for many of us in this country that have been observing this kind of brutality that we've been seeing from our police department, we do need, at the very least, an independent investigation by the justice department to sort out whether or not there was some sort of untoward cover-up going on here. >> you and i, tom, just read this letter from lisa madigan to the attorney general of the united states, loretta lynch, asking for a full-scale investigation of what is going on in chicago. you used to be a police officer outside of chicago. do you believe there was a cover-up? >> i don't know. if there was a cover-up, it's hard to tell at this point without the investigation of where it came from. so i agree with sunny, with jeff, that they do need to have an investigation into this outside of the chicago authorities who made the decision to sit on that video because we've seen other communities where we've had a
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police shooting and the video is out the next day. so why did this take 400 days? looking at the facts of that video and what occurred in this thing, i don't think that investigation should have taken more than one or two months. again, not an entire year. so something was going on there. was that being run by the mayor's office saying don't release it, they are in campaign season, was it the state's attorney's office in taking a long time to actually bring the charges? we don't know a lot about it but something is amiss. >> sunny hostin, cornell william brooks, tom fuentes, thank you very much. donald trump, the republican presidential front-runner, is offering some advice to rivals who want to topple him. >> hey, there's only one way to get to the top and it's all through trump. let's face it. all: milk! milk! milk! milk! milk!
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it's gotten squarer. over the years. brighter. bigger. thinner. even curvier. but what's next? for all binge watchers. movie geeks. sports freaks. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. republican presidential candidate donald trump telling rivals if they want to get to the front of the pact they will have to go through him and they are challenging him to bring it on. jeff zeleny is in new hampshire. jeff, donald trump is about to hold a campaign rally there. what is the latest? >> reporter: exactly two months from tonight, the iowa caucuses will kick off this long 2016
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campaign. it's been frozen in place and in essentially two categories, trump and the rest of the field. but the rest of the field is starting to get restless and ted cruz is starting to break out. donald trump is urging his rivals to bring it on. >> so far, let's see, christie hasn't hit me yet. he will at some point. rubio has got to hit me. >> reporter: bravado from the republican front-runner exactly two months before the iowa caucuses kick off the 2016 campaign. >> even i think cruz is going to have to hit me because, you know, he's a nice guy. >> reporter: after defending trump for months, ted cruz is suddenly on the rise and may not be a nice guy in trump's eyes much longer. >> if somebody hits me, i'm going to hit them back so hard. oh. hey, there's only one way to get to the top and it's all through trump. let's face it. they have to. >> reporter: hitting back has become a trump trademark. few republicans have escaped his
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buzz saw. cruz is running neck in neck with trump in one iowa poll and already making a bold prediction. >> i don't think trump is going to be our nominee or president. >> reporter: cruz appears to be taking a page from trump's playbook, making attention-grabbing comments of his own. asked about birth control in iowa, cruz knows of know conservatives who flat out oppose contraception. he says he and his wife do not. saying they were glad they had two girls, not 17. >> last i checked, we don't have a rubber shortage in america. but, look, when i was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. you put 50 cents in and viola. >> reporter: many religious organizations are opposed to birth control. he also told radio host hugh hewitt, democrats commit more crimes in america. >> here's the simple and undeniable fact, the overwhelming majority of violent
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criminals are democrats. >> reporter: and took the media to task, saying no more baby parts as he was arrested. >> it was reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman in a transgender leftist activists. >> reporter: aids say he was trying to make a judgment. trump is still standing by his assertion that he saw thousands of muslims celebrating in new jersey on 9/11. even though no one has produced video evidence to support that claim. on cnn's "new day," former new york governor rudy giuliani accused trump of exaggerating his claims. >> let him deal with it. let him show the evidence of it. if it shows up, it will corroborate him. if it doesn't show up, it's going to make him look really bad. >> reporter: but so far, there's no evidence that anything trump has said has made him look bad
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or diminish him in the eyes of his voters. he's stepping up his campaign much more aggressively. last night he was in george. tonight in new hampshire. tomorrow in virginia. later in the week in north carolina and then finally in iowa. as this campaign enters a new phase, he's stepping it up and tonight, wolf, i expect him to tell his rivals once again to take their best shot. wolf? >> jeff zeleny, thank you very much. let's dig deeper with sara murray, brianna keilar and chief political analyst gloria borger. rudy giuliani said that trump is judged by a different standard because he's an entertainer. >> i don't think that's it. i think this is about republican primary voters. republican primary voters are mad at the so-called establishment which would be elected officials. republican elected officials. they are mad at the media. don't like the media. and so donald trump gets a bit of a pass where other
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entertainers or politicians would not. i think that's what we're seeing going on. if he attacks somebody, it's okay because he is different. he's not one of them. he's sort of the ultimate outsider. >> sara, you've been on the road covering trump now for a while. do voters seem to have any concerns about some of the assertions he's made? >> i think, if anything, when you present voters with any sign that donald trump might be telling the truth, they would rather blame the media than blame donald trump and i think a perfect example of this is in the 9/11 comments. voters will say, looking i saw someone here or we saw these small pockets of people. the difference is, donald trump is not talking about small pockets of people, muslim americans cheering on 9/11. he's talking about big groups and that sends a very different message. it says that it's a pervasive feeling among muslim-americans that they want to harm america as opposed to a couple of people who may have had hatred in their heart that day but supporters look at that and say donald
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trump was right and the media is just spinning it. >> ted cruz is moving up in iowa based on the last poll that we saw. he's number two just beyond donald trump. brianna, he's almost statistically tied. >> that makes him almost vulnerable to donald trump. you start getting in the way of his polls. >> hit me. >> and he might even hit before he's hit, i think. but the expected pathway for ted cruz is basically through donald trump or around donald trump. the expectation would be that somehow trump would either self-destruct but at the same time you wonder, he's not going to go quietly. you wonder if that's going to happen. but the other issue would be, you know, that cruz would take trump down if you look at the way cruz has sort of been playing this. you heard him there in that sound bite. he said, i don't think he's going to be the nominee. i don't think he's going to be the president. that's not especially hard hitting and so far he hasn't shown that he wants to do that. his pathway is possible. you hear this from democrats and republicans but at the same time
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it's narrow and i think this is the biggest challenge for ted cruz. at a certain point he has to expand his appeal and for so long covering congress and covering politics now, i've talked to republicans for years, establishment republicans loathe him. i am not overstating that. >> i do think cruz is very well positioned to win in the south. there are lots of evangelical voters there. he will do very well in the south. if he can get through iowa, win or second place, and can do decently in new hampshire, i think he can do very well in the south. then the moment of truth for the republican party will be, oh, cruz or trump or brand x after march 1. i think the republicans i've been talking to today, that's what they're thinking. >> stand by. we have much more to talk about, including growing fear among those establishment gop leaders donald trump may emerge as the
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republican presidential nominee. more on that when we come back. ♪ santa has a magic snow globe for every family... ♪ ...and whatever he puts in our snow globe, shows up at our house. and this year, look at what he put in our driveway. santa can do that? he sure can, honey. the lexus december to remember sales event is going on now, with some of the most magical deals of the year. this is the pursuit of perfection.
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tand that's what we're doings to chat xfinity.rself, we are challenging ourselves to
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improve every aspect of your experience. and this includes our commitment to being on time. every time. that's why if we're ever late for an appointment, we'll credit your account $20. it's our promise to you. we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. because we should fit into your life. not the other way around. donald trump enjoying an extended run at the top of all the polls and daring his republican rivals to take their best shots at him. we are back with our political experts. brianna, something lindsey graham not doing well told "new york times" about donald trump. it would be an utter, complete and total disaster if you are a
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xenophobic religious bigot, you are going to have a hard time being president of the united states and you're going to do irreparable damage to the party. those are strong words by a republican against a fellow republican. >> those are very strong words. as you said, lindsey graham isn't doing so well in the polls. the question is, what about these other candidates? and why aren't they sort of taking this tone lindsey graham is taking? it's because they're afraid of donald trump, they're afraid of the voters who support them. donald trump has them in this place where they are revealed to be woosy or revealed to put themselves out there and be vulnerable and get clobbered and that's not going to end well for they. jeb bush, he's sort of tinkering on the edges criticizing donald trump when it comes to his leadership abilities. ted cruz sayses night going to be nominee. chris christie, governor of new jersey says when donald trump says this thing about thousands of people protesting --
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thousands of muslims celebrating 9/11, chris christie says, i don't recall that, but i forget things. this just shows you where he has them. >> if donald trump wins in iowa, wins in new hampshire, then they go to south carolina, all those other southern states, he does very well there. potentially, he could be the republican presidential nominee. >> he could. to get back to your point, i think republicans don't want to elevate donald trump any more by attacking him than they've done. donald trump could be the republican nominee. i spoke with a bunch of republicans today asking them that very question. a lot are taking sort of a wait-and-see attitude. they believe one, his ego will get in the way. if it looks like he is going to lose in any early states, he might decide he doesn't want to be a loser. he might decide that he would just get out.
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and there's a sense that donald trump cannot carry it through the south. and that would be an opening for cruz. >> so far nothing knocked him out of first place in any of these major polls. >> there is a wishful thinking among a lot of establishment republicans that donald trump's ego will get in the way or he'll implode. they know the easiest way to elevate supporters is for the establishment republicans to go after donald trump. then he points to them and says look at the party who left you behind. they're trying to kick me out of the race. that's why everyone has been so careful in terms of most of these establishment republicans attacking trump with the exception of lindsey graham who has nothing to lose. >> if it becomes a two-person race, it's donald trump versus one other person. then donald trump has to get 51% of the vote, not 25% of the vote. there is a question about whether in the republican party,
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he can do that. we know his base is solid. we know his base loves him. the question is, how high can he go? >> but he has been very impressive so far at least. no matter how irtighting some of his comments may be to other republicans, it hasn't hurt him. >> no, it hasn't. you were talking about wishful thinking that some republicans hope he'll implode. i talk to some republicans who say these candidates cannot just ignore donald trump if they want to surpass him. they have to figure out a strategy to take him on. they can't just hope and pray that it's going to work out for them. >> that's the ted cruz conundrum now. we are getting close to iowa. you have to think about how you will do it. you have to go through donald trump. >> why is he goading all these candidates? he wants them to take him on. >> thanks. >> stay with cnn for the next republican presidential debate.
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i'll be the moderator. the final gop face-off happens december 15th. live from las vegas only here on cnn. erin burnett "live out front" starts now. warnings about a paris-style attack in the united states as the president puts combat troops in the front for isis. breaking news for the justice department to investigate chicago's police department. charges of a cover-up growing in the shooting death of a black teen. >> could donald trump be his party's nominee? why republicans are in a panic over the very real possibility. let's go "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnett "out front" tonight, u.s. troops going to war. president obama putting combat boots on the ground in

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