tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 10, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
familiar with it, intelligence flows, you're now more capable -- >> reporter: in another potential sign special operations are going to get more emphasis, several sources tell cnn that currently the head of special operations command is the leading contender to be nominated by president obama possibly to take over heading all u.s. military operations in the middle east, jake. >> barbara starr at the pentagon. thanks so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. under water search, fbi divers combing a lake in san bernardino near the scene of that terror attack as investigators now reveal ties between syed farook and a convicted terrorist who is from the area and al qaeda recruiter. did his arrest lead farook to abandon an earlier plot? time bombs? a bag of explosive devices left behind by farook before he returned with his wife to
massacre 14 people. and tonight a first look inside the room and new questions about whether the bombs were meant to kill first responders. secret apps, terror groups perfecting the use of encrypted communications that help them plot, recruit and send orders to cells around the world all undetected. can isis now launch attacks in the united states by smartphone? hydrogen bomb. north korea's kim jong-un intentionally let slip his alleged development of a thermonuclear weapon, hundreds of times more powerful than an atomic bomb. has north korea dramatically increased its capabilitiecapabi is kim trying to reclaim the world's spotlight. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news. the fbi now searching a lake right in san bernardino near the site of that terror attack that
killed 14 people. a law enforcement official tells cnn the search is connected to the shootings. investigators are still looking for that hard drive that was missing from a computer in the home of the killers. and we're also now learning details of syed farook's ties to a convicted terrorist recruiter. officials tell cnn farook was in the same social circle as the california man who helped radicalize others. that man was arrested for trying to travel to afghanistan to join al qaeda in 2012 around the same time investigators believe farook abandoned another terror plot. we're covering that, much more this hour with our guests including senator mark warner, he's just back from a senate intelligence committee briefing. and our correspondents and our expert analysts they are also standing by. let's begin in san bernardino, cnn's kyung lah is working the breaking news for us. kyung, you're at that lake that's now being searched by the fbi. what's the latest?
>> this is a lake just a short drive away from that scene. seen a couple of divers tworks divers going into this manmade lake over the last couple of hours looking for that evidence, crucial evidence. you can see they're just set up here at the edge. there's a tent. there are a number of people who look like they are getting ready to go into the water. this just one of the latest developments in an ever-expanding investigation. tonight, the fbi is looking into a connection between syed farook and a convicted terrorist behind a 2012 terror plot. authorities are looking at farook's friendship with soniel who recruited three other men in riverside, california, to travel to afghanistan to join al qaeda. he was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years in prison for his role in the plot. >> several down in the conference room. several down. >> reporter: federal authorities have not brought any charges against farook's friend and former neighbor enrique marquez who bought two of the ar-15s used in the attack.
marquez told investigators he plotted with farook back in 2012 but got spooked and abandoned their plans. investigators are also looking at whether marquez's marriage to a woman who came from russia in 2009 was a marriage only for immigration purposes. meanwhile, the fbi says farook's wife tashfeen malik was radicalized years before coming to the u.s. >> as early as the end of 2013 they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged. >> reporter: and tonight as survivors share images from the inland regional center on the day of the attack, cnn has learned farook left behind a bag of explosives before he left the building. >> we have two suspects both inside the business. >> reporter: reuters also reporting tashfeen malik reached out to multiple islamic militant groups in the months before the attack. the attempts were all ignored. a law enorcement official tells cnn syed farook had at one point
explored reaching out to al nusra and al shabaab. members of congress briefed by the fbi director say neighbors who live near the couple never reported any suspicious behavior, everyone though they saw things that raised red flags. >> there were people who were aware of things, thought they were suspicious, but did not want to be accused of being discriminatory and so on. >> reporter: and back here live in san bernardino you can see one of the divers. he's making a very slow painstaking search trying to see if there is any evidence here in this manmade lake. it is quite deep. one of the residents here says this is about 25 to 30 feet deep. it was emptied about three years ago. if they are going to try to go through this entire lake, wolf, they are going to be here for some time, wolf. >> certainly are. let's see what they find if anything, kyung lah, thank you. let's bring in our justice reporter evan perez.
evan, you have new information about the search going on now as we speak. >> reporter: one of the things that they very much want to find is this hard drive that's missing from a computer at the home. it's one of the things if you recall we've reported previously that fbi has been trying to figure out where they went, whether they destroyed it or whether or not they threw it away. what we believe is the search here in this lake is about is other items perhaps, but certainly one of the things on the top of the list is this hard drive for a computer that was found inside the home that might provide some more information about what these two were up to before the shooting. >> what was the evidence leading up to the decision to go zersea the lake? >> reporter: one of the things they did find at the house, wolf, was a tablet computer and a couple cell phones. but there's still much of the electron iic fingerprints that they'd left behind that the fbi's still trying to put together. so that is part of the search right now is to figure out
whether or not there's a hard drive there or where it might be. >> what about the other details you're now learning about what's described as these improvised explosive devices left inside that meeting room where the massacre occurred? >> well, you know, i can tell you, wolf, that day there were some of the first responders, some of the investigators actually walked into that room and did not notice the bag because, you know, when you walk into the room you saw obviously there were bodies, blood, a lot of people ran out, left their belongings. so people did not initially know that this bag had been left by farook. and now what we're told the investigators have told family members of the victims and people who survived in a briefing is that farook left the bag before he left the room and then came back to carry out the shooting. we know that the bag contained three pipe bombs that were tied together and were connected to a remote control car. and the remote for that car was
found inside the vehicle of the two suspects, of the two shooters. the belief by investigators is that they were trying to remote control detonate that bag with the improvised explosives to try to kill those people in the room, wolf. >> evan perez, thanks very much. let's get some more on what's going on. joining us democratic senator mark warner of virginia. he's a member of the senate intelligence committee. he's just back from a briefing. senator, thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> what can you tell us about the motivation or inspiration for this mass murder? >> i think we're still trying to discover that. i can tell you this much coming from an all-senator briefing by director comey. we're really lucky -- >> he's the fbi director. >> really lucky to have him as the fbi director. he's a straight hoot shooter. they're on this combined with other agencies. there are a lot of questions that remain to be answered. why do they have so many explosives? what did they do for the four hours in between the shooting and when they were taken out? were there other communications with other individuals? questions that need to be
answered, but i know the fbi's on it. >> so do they suspect there's others at large? >> i think they are -- >> other cohorts -- >> there is no indication at this point. but they will go through this methodical process and we will get the answer. >> what about those three pipe bombs that were left in that room where the massacre occurred? did they brief you about that? >> well, classified briefing i think at an appropriate time the fbi will reveal what happened there, thank goodness those bombs were not exploded. >> but is the indication now these two killers were inspired by isis or some other terror group? or actually driven, instructed, coordinated by some group? >> it's been reported there was some evidence of radicalization as much as four or five years ago. so i think this was inspired. i think it is why we need a more comprehensive approach on how we take care of what is becoming unfortunately this new normal. >> yesterday i spoke to representative adam schiff of the house intelligence committee. he said the shooter had in his words certain operational
security measures to avoid detection and impede any investigation. what can you share with us about that? >> one of the things we know is that isil is very good at propaganda. anyone that has ever taken a look at isil inspired magazine called "inspire" which lays out both trade craft, ability to make bombs. this is a very sophisticated organization. and part of the way we have to counter this threat is by making sure that folks in the community are willing to step forward. if they see something that is inappropriate that oftentimes may mean community leaders, folks are much more willing to respond to community leaders than necessarily government proclamations. why we need a concerted effort around countering propaganda, one of the reasons why mr. trump's comments play so much against our national interests in terms of adding fodder to the fire in terms of radicalization, why we need an approach in terms of reviewing the visa waiver program, why we need a better approach in terms of intel sharing. and we're going to have to take a serious look at this encryption issue.
and obviously the military issue in terms -- >> but we know the husband and wife they were brutal killers. but did they have some professional techniques as far as evading detection that you know of? >> i'm not aware. i do know again the amount of information that you can find if you're a bad actor find over the web and some of the propaganda and techniques that are put out through this magazine pretty dangerous. >> senator, we have more to discussin clueing what's going on right now. you saw the driver looking for that hard drive in that lake in san bernardino. there's some live pictures coming in right now. we're going to see if they find that hard drive. they suspect maybe these killers threw that hard drive in that lake. they're looking. we'll have much more right after this. the markets change, at t. rowe price, our disciplined investment approach remains.
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breaking news this hour, new developments in the san bernardino terror attack investigations. take a look at these live pictures. fbi divers they are searching a lake near the massacre site out in san bernardino right now. possibly looking for what's being described as a hard drive that belonged to the killers. the suspicion is that hard drive may have been thrown into that lake. they're looking right now for that hard drive. we'll see what they find. stay with us for that. in the meantime we're back with democratic senator mark warner of virginia, he's a key member of the senate intelligence
committee. senator, you're part of this bipartisan group that wants to rethink that whole visa waiver program that allows people from friendly countries to come into the united states without a visa right now. was this used -- or has it been used or do you believe it will be used as some sort of back door for isis terrorists, among others, to sneak into the united states? >> if we look at terrorists in europe, the folks that did the paris attack, they all carried french or belgium passports. we have a good relationship with european countries. we have open travel arrangements. but as we've seen we don't know -- we know that 10 million europeans traveled to turkey last year, most for vacation, but we don't know how many actually went into the war zone. we're saying going forward if you've been in the war zone, that ought to be a red flag and say you got to dpo through a stricter level of scrutiny. we've got to make sure somebody doesn't use that european passport and come here too easily. so the visa waiver program one area that needs to be reviewed, house has already passed legislation, we're working on
bipartisan legislation. we need to look at the so-called fiancee visa. so how people come into the country number one. number two, we need to take a broader look at the whole propaganda efforts. isil as we talked earlier before the break very sophisticated. we've got to reach out into the community to make sure that people relay if they see bad things happening. that means we need the trust within the community. third thing is, we've got to also look at our intel. one of the -- i was in technology before i was in politics. we've got to have better intel sharing between countries. but we really have to have a serious conversation about this end-to-end encryption challenge. that can't be just legislated alone in america. we have to take an approach that frankly is more global. you know, look at -- wolf, there's 1,500 new mobile apps a day put into the itunes store. we have to have a fully engaged conversation with the technology community how to sort this through and we need a military strategy and ultimately that is going to require the moderate
rebels we back in the region forming some level of the alliance post-assad with the regime forces to take out assad -- take out isil from a military standpoint. >> based on everything you've heard and you're obviously well briefed, this marriage between syed farook and tashfeen malik, was this a terror related marriage? that she was what some are calling an isis bride deliberately sneaking into the united states pretending to be married to this guy in order to go ahead and kill people? >> i have no indication of that. >> what is your suspicion? >> i don't have a suspicion on that. >> he apparently was radicalized back in pakistan long before she came to the united states. >> i think one of the questions that need to be found out was that radicalization taking place in pakistan? she grew up part of her life in saudi arabia. where did that take place? we also have to find out the male when was he ral cad idical. we need to get to the bottom of this particular event and tragedy, but we also need to step back and say not with some of the demagoguic language some folks have been using but have an approach how folks come to
this country in terms of the visa waiver program, how do we reach out into the community and have people report back if they see suspicious activities. and that's going to require trust. how we do a better job of intel sharing and really get these questions around encryption. and we need this military strategy to take out isil on the ground. >> you want to send u.s. troops there? >> what i believe is the only way with the stalemate we have between the assad forces, the moderate rebels that we back and isil, the only way that i see us taking out isil would be some level of collaboration between the moderate forces and post assad some of the regime backed forces. otherwise i see unfortunately a stalemate. we did see some good news today, saudi arabia got some of those moderate forces together and were trying to move them more against isil as opposed to simply taking on the regime. >> senator warner, thanks as usual for coming in. coming up, the high-tech place where terrorists are making
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in a san bernardino park near the site of last week's mass shooting. we're going to watch to see if they find that hard drive that they suspect may have been thrown into the water by those murderers. also today lawmakers coming out of the secret fbi briefing on the terror attacks, they're sounding alarms about the likelihood the husband and wife killers used encrypted communications to avoid detection. it wouldn't be the first time. cnn's brian todd has new information on the use of encryption in an attack earlier this year right here in the united states. what have you learn snd. >> the attack was an isis inspired plot possibly directed by isis. it was the attempt to shoot up a prophet mohamed contest in garland, texas. tonight the fbi is expressing the frustration that they still can't break the encryptions that were flying back and forth just before that attack. in the hours leading up to this nearly catastrophic terror
attack, the prophet of mohamed, one gunman believed to be an isis sympathizers communicating with isis overseas. >> he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist. we have no idea what he said because those messages were encrypted. to this day i can't tell you what he said with that terrorist 109 times the morning of that attack. that is a big problem. >> reporter: the gunman could have been communicating with the notorious head of isis' hacking division, killed recently in a u.s. drone strike. hussein's belief to have inspired the garland attack and may have directed it. this kind of terror chatter in the dark is one of the greatest challenges in stopping the next major terror attack. u.s. officials say terror groups are perfecting the use of encrypted communications, conversations chopped up into a jumble by mathematical algorithms. >> they do a very good job of hiding whatever you're saying from being intercepted from somebody like a government. >> reporter: islamic extremists even have their own brand of
encryption technology developed or at least modified by supporters of al qaeda. experts say it helps terrorists communicate in secret. and there's a mobile version of it. i isis has developed a mobile app that provides updates to news and propaganda with videos. and jihadi websites public tutorials telling militants how to hide tracks online and which apps to use for most secrecy. >> that provided pretty sophisticated guidelines what to use, what to talk about, how not to get their communications intercepted. >> reporter: text encryption techniques are right out of the show "homeland." matthew green showed us one way terrorist ks make their texts disappear on the telegram app. you can program them to self-destruct in a few seconds. i send green a text to meet me somewhere. he reads it, then -- and just like that you've got no record of the communication.
>> now, what about encrypted plotting in san bernardino or paris? so far there's no evidence that the san bernardino attackers used encryption, but intelligence officials still looking at that. now, regarding paris, officials say there's no hard evidence the attackers used encryption to plot those attacks. but they suspect they may have because they left such a small electronic trail, wolf. >> brian, but even with encrypted communications there's still capability that u.s. law enforcement intelligence agencies have to find out who's talking to whom, isn't that right? >> that's right, wolf. even with encrypted communications they can't hide what they call metata da ta, that's the information on who is talking to who is when they're talking. u.s. law enforcements and intelligence they can always tap into that. that can be very valuable, but they cannot read the content of those messages. that part is encrypted. that is what the fbi director is so frustrated with tonight. >> he certainly is. you can see that frustration during his testimony. thanks very much, brian todd. let's bring in our experts former fbi assistant director,
cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes, former cia official, our cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mudd. former homeland security brent. guys, thanks very much for joining us. phil, why is isis so good at promoting itself in social media and the u.s. apparently not so good at stopping that? >> if you look at how much we've moved in the past decade or so from al qaeda, look at who's transmitting the message, al qaeda looks like he's got one foot in the grave. look at how they communicate. back in the day al qaeda had to go on al jazeera, isis does it by twitter, facebook. look at what the fbi director was saying. when isis finds somebody of interest, they have an advantage al qaeda did not have, go encrypted. and finally i think the most important piece of this, the message from isis is not join a terror group. that was an al qaeda message. it's join a state where you can have a life to live a pure islamist. it's not join the organization that conducted 9/11 attacks. they have a lot of advantages
over what we witnessed ten years ago. >> they're recruiting a lot of people all the time. even if they lose a lot on the battlefield, they're getting a lot more on a nearly daily basis. >> and there's no censorship. they can put out whatever they please 40,000 times a day, which they do. the government if they create apps or websites, they've got to get people to look at them. if there's nasty stuff on there, they're not going to put it out there. >> we're showing pictures live from the lake in san bernardino. you see these fbi divers. they're going in, they're looking for this hard drive that may have been thrown into the lake by these two killers as they were trying to make some sort of escape, or whatever. you've worked with these fbi divers. explain what's going on. >> well, just what you see. the theory behind that is that after the boston marathon when one of the roommates threw little brother's computer in the trash, later the fbi had dozens of people going through the landfill where that dumpster was put in to look for that hard drive. and i think the logic here is if they saw that they probably didn't throw it in the trash can where it would be found. they probably threw it in the
nearest body of water. and that's a good one there that's 20, 25 feet deep according to the neighbors. >> so they're looking in. we'll see if they find anything. brent, what options do u.s. officials have in dealing with this new so-called isis encrypted app? >> well, look, wolf, this has been an evolving threat and i think that the white house and the security officials have been clear about that. and we have to keep evolving with the threat, right? so i'd like to see more of a discussion about the resources we're putting against some of these technology problems, bringing in more experts. senator warner was on a little while ago, made a very good point about making sure we're getting the tech community in the game here. but i think it's also important to remember that as our enemy gets more sophisticated, that means we also have to be strengthening our traditional tools of intelligence gathering. that means building relationships in the muslim community here at home. it means building assets overseas. and, look, every time we're out there demonizing islam, that process gets harder. >> as far as these isis social media propaganda, beheading
videos, whatever they are they're trying to show life inside the caliphate as they try to show it. why are they so successful, brent? >> well, you know, look, i think the point was made a few minutes ago that they have no rules in what they have to put out, right? they are really just trying to push peoples buttons. so it's kind of an all of the above strategy. you see very gruesome imagery that may appeal to some disaffected individuals. you see promises of a better life that may appeal to other individuals. unfortunately we need to find ways to combat that. that means building stronger relationships in those communities here at home and abroad. >> we're standing by, by the way, tom, i want you to know this and phil, brent, everyone standby. we're expecting a briefing by the fbi at the scene of the search that's going on at this lake in san bernardino. we'll have coverage of that once the fbi shows up and briefs us on the latest developments. the fbi now being the lead agency in this investigation. i think it's fair to say, phil,
that this investigation really is still at a very early stage. >> well, if you look at the characteristics, you have to understand the investigation. wlo did they contact, which is the most significant characteristic, are there coconspirators? we're just learning the past day or two how significant the person who provided the weapons was. we're learning in the past day that there's another individual who might have been involved in the radicalization process. if they find this hard drive in the lake, there's another big question. does that hold information from their computers that indicates communication with an isis core member in syria with other co-conspirators. by this time typically they would have destroyed this media but right now good operationally we're still learning a lot. >> once again we're standing by to hear from the fbi out in san bernardino. they're going to update us on the search. the search that's going on right there. you see an fbi diver. he's looking for a hard drive that these killers may have thrown into that lake. we'll see if that hard drive is found. we'll get the briefing. much more coming up. there's also breaking political
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where fbi divers are now searching for evidence in the san bernardino terror attack possibly looking for a hard drive that belonged to the two killers. we'll update you on that. we'll standby for that fbi news conference once it starts. also, there's breaking news in the 2016 presidential race. we're just now getting our first look at what voters think of donald trump's call to ban muslims from entering the united states. a new nbc/"the wall street journal" poll show 25% agree while 57% disagree. but the numbers are much different among republican voters. let's go to our political reporter sara murray. she's in new hampshire for us waiting for a trump rally to start. how are republicans responding, sara, to trump's comments? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. when you look at republican primary voters in this poll, it's a much more closely divided group. 38% of republican primary voters said they were in favor of donald trump's proposal. and 39% said they were opposed. so it's pretty tight there. but as you can tell by the
protesters behind me as you can tell by the signs in this event saying being muslim isn't a crime. support our immigrants. this is obviously the kind of thing that is very controversial and very devisive when you look at a broader electorate. >> there's also been a development in donald trump's overseas trip scheduled for later this month. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu put out a statement yesterday and i'll read it to our view eshs, prime minister netanyahu rejects donald trump's recent remarks about muslims. the state of israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all citizens. tell us what trump responded. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. trump tweeted he's going to be postponing his trip to israel. he said he would meet with prime minister netanyahu after he becomes president. he would make the trip then. as you pointed out netanyahu is one of a number of world leaders who came out and rejected donald trump's proposal. so even though he's still willing to meet with trump, it would have made for some pretty awkward optics.
>> certainly would have. there would have been a lot of demonstrations presumably in jerusalem outside the prime minister's office by israelis, jews and israeli muslims as well. i think that's one of the concerns that the israeli government had. that's certainly one of the concerns the trump campaign presumably had as well. the optics could have been not so nice. all right, sara, thanks very much. let's bring in three members of cnn's political team, our chief political analyst gloria borger, chief political correspondent dan dana bash and republican strategist kevin madden. dana, 57% of adults, all americans, oppose this proposal according to this new poll. but among republican primary voters we just heard sara report there's an even split 38% favor, 39% oppose. they sort of highlight the tight rope the rest of the republican presidential candidates are walking right now. >> it does. and i think it's noteworthy that that 38% almost mirrors where
trump is standing in iowa, new hampshire, nationally among republicans. it's no accident. these are the republican voters, or those who say they're going to vote in republican caucuses who like to hear this kind of thing. now, as we've discussed, if it were a two-person race for the republican nomination, trump would lose. but the reason trump is doing so well is because 38% or 32 or 33 depending on what poll you're looking at, is so much more support than anybody else is getting. in fact, you know, if you just look back at our poll a couple days ago from new hampshire, three people behind him combined didn't even have as much support as donald trump did. >> he's doing well in all these national polls and in the state polls as well. gloria, this new poll also reveals voters genre actions to trump's statements, campaign statements 41%. you can see 41% of the respondents say trump's comments insulting, think he's got the wrong approach.
others not so sure about that. he's sort of playing off people's fears, right? >> if you look at our polling at cnn recently on isis and terrorism, 81% of the people in this country think that there are terrorists currently living in this country ready to strike. 68% believe that president obama has not been strong enough. so what you see in those numbers is anxiety and fear and reaction to a president that people don't believe has taken strong enough action. it's almost not about trump per se. it's about how they feel on national security generally. they feel this president hasn't done a good job. >> you were an adviser to mitt romney four years ago. you're not an adviser to any campaigns right now, kevin. but if you were what would you be telling some of these republican sns. >> first of all, i think gloria is right. the first thing i would tell everybody is we have to acknowledge there's a certain level of anxiety out there. one of the main things is that
the candidates -- these other candidates, donald trump's opponents, they have to take control of the conversation. donald trump is driving, shaping the entire conversation right now. so all these campaigns are forced to react. the second thing is provide an alternative. you don't necessarily have to agree with donald trump, but you have to offer some -- you have to counter donald trump and offer people your own ideas, your own clear vision for what you would do to address some of those ang zi xietieanxieties. they've had a very tough time breaking through. we talk about donald trump nonstop instead of some of the other candidates. >> it's hard to counter donald trump though. i keep saying it's like punching jell-o because what are the ideas that you would counter to donald trump's ideas when he hasn't put any plan on the table? >> well, i think that's the thing. what he offers is a very unserious plan with no details. so offer a very serious plan with more details. >> what jeb has been doing that.
you can argue jeb bush is doing that. >> not in a way that offers a very strong contrast. >> there is somebody who has and even did more so today, ted cruz. >> right. >> he put a very -- you know, he's a senator so he can propose legislation, a very detailed piece of legislation out there on this issue which allows him to constantly when asked about donald trump sidestep say, well, i don't agree with him. but i have my own plan and here's what it is. >> guys, standby. an important note to viewers, the final republican presidential debate of the year only a few days away. i'll be the moderator when the gop candidates faceoff in las vegas next tuesday december 15th. do you have any questions for the candidates? submit your questions by going to facebook.com/cnn and commenting on the top post. we're standing by for a live news conference. the fbi getting ready to brief us. there you see the microphones out in san bernardino. fbi divers have been in that lake behind the microphone. they're searching apparently for
a hard drive they suspect the killers may have thrown into that lake. (elephant noise) (mic
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we have breaking news we're following standing by for an fbi conference. there you see the live pictures where fbi divers are searching for evidence in the san bernardino terror attack possibly including a hard drive that belonged to the two killers. let's as we await the start of the briefing, tom fuentes is with us. when they sent the divers into the lake looking for a hard drive or other evidence, that's
not an easy assignment, especially if the depth is 20, 25 feet. >> they go looking for equipment and do an under water search and practice this and train for it and are very experienced at it. when i was an an assistant, they did a dive when they chased a cop and saw them throw the gun in san francisco bay and dove into the bay with navy ships keeping them from drifting off to sea and found the gun. the diving teams are very good and have a good shot at finding something if in fact, it's there. >> i've seen stories where they have drained small laking searching for evidence. >> absolutely. >> you've heard of that. >> yeah. >> this lake presumably doesn't seem like a huge lake. >> that's a man-made lake. >> if they find the hard drive and it's not damaged, that could
be very key. >> the guys are great at recovering information from even damaged equipment. the kind of thing i would be looking at for example is search history. there is a long gap we don't understand between the time he began radicalization and today and i'm not aware of in 2013 and 2014 for example. there is a large amount of information. >> the townhouse where the two killers lived, they did find a tablet that was damaged and a cell phone that was damaged sent to fbi investigators to try to determine if they could retrieve anything and we're told they actually are successful. they are retrieving information. >> right. that's what we understand. they are able to reconstruct data on the similar cards and phones and search history and same thing with the computer and many times the devices are linked with some of the companies like apple, have a
system where if you make an entry on your phone, it will be on your ipad, it will be on your iphone, on your computer. that's also the possibility they are looking for a computer which is also linked and may have i e independe independent. >> kyung lah is there at the lake. set the scene as we await the start of this fbi news conference. >> reporter: well, you can see that elevated from the last time i spoke with you, wolf. we were at the edge of the lake and saw the head of the fbi. the fbi special agent who has been running a lot of these news conferences, we saw him walking this way along with the san bernardino county sheriff and very surprisingly, they said they would be holding a news briefing and checking to see who was here, if the networks were here and local affiliates were here. we don't know what prompted this. this is a spur of the moment news conference. there wasn't anything scheduled for today and as i look over my shoulder, i can see some officials starting to gather.
i can see the sheriff, the fbi as well as the police chief. all of this happening right at the edge of the lake. meanwhile, there are still two divers in the water, in this man made lake 25 to 30 feet deep that have been painstakingly for the last few hours going through this lake. we don't know if they found anything but they are having a news conference. you can see there are people setting up here and local reporters gathering, a lot of teams rushing here because this simply wasn't scheduled. we don't know if they will reveal anything new but there must be something they said they wouldn't be holding a news conference unless there was a development so we are expecting some sort of development soon. >> they were holding almost hourly news conferences, briefings in san bernardino. the police chief, the sheriff, the fbi and atf but that has gone away. they must have something they want to share with the public right now, otherwise the fbi
agent in charge, the assistant director would not come to the microphone as we expect he will be with the san bernardino sheriff and police chief, as well. so this is pretty unusual, right? >> reporter: this is because they made very explicit directions in a lot of the e-mail correspondence with reporters they wouldn't be having these regular news conferences unless there was a development to share. as i look here, they look like they are being briefed from the very agents in the water from -- again, we haven't seen them pull anything, especially large or anything out of this lake but they are being briefed by the teams who have been searching at this lake for the last few hours and you are right, wolf, they said they would not be briefing the press unless there was a development. we are expecting some sort of development from the authorities and will be shared with us today. >> we will of course, have live
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. happening now, breaking news. under water search, we're standing by for an fbi briefing miles from the scene of the san bernardino terror attack and what evidence are divers hoping to find below the surface? could it provide a link to isis? bag of bombs, we're learning the gunman left explosives in the room before leaving to get his wife to help him slaughter co-workers as we get a new look inside the event where the shooting happens, were the killings aiming for a bigger massacre? sergeant bowe bergdahl is sharing his first public account of the horrors and explaining his dangerous decision to slip
away from his base in afghanistan all alone. and getting a reaction, we have a new poll of the americans' views on donald trump's proposal to ban muslims from entering the united states. is the firestorm helping or hurting his campaign? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight, the fbi on the hunt for potentially critical clues in a lake not far from the san bernardino shooting massacre. we expect an fbi briefing at that lake any moment now. we'll have live coverage. one official tells cnn divers are likely searching for missing evidence such as the hard drive that vanished from the computer in the home of the two killers and tonight, we're also getting a look inside the training session gunman syed rizwan
farook attended and learning a chilling new detail about the moments before the shooting. investigators say farook left a bag of homemade bombs on or near a table inside the room before leaving the building and returning with his wife to open fire and also breaking, u.s. officials are revealing a link between farook and a convicted terrorist doing time here in the united states right now. sources tell cnn he was in the same social circle as a terror recruiter involved in a 2012 attack plot. i'll ask martha mceldersally wh she's learning and a retired u.s. air force colonel and pilot and correspondents and analysts are standing by to cover the breaking news but first, let's go live to the lake in san bernardino where we're awaiting an fbi news conference. cnn national correspondent kyung lah is on the scene for us. kyung, this is highly unusual the fbi said they wouldn't brief us unless they had something
important to share. we'll get word from them shortly. what are you hearing? >> reporter: let you listen in. >> what's going on at the lake with the dive teal, i know you have a lot of questions. they won't be able to take a whole lot of questions if you can bare that in mind? >> that was laura and what you're saying, wolf, i'm going to step out of the way here, you can see that we have the special agent in charge, san bernardino police chief, as well as the sheriff walking up to the mic to brief reporters. >> all right. are we ready? >> not yet, one second. >> one more. >> sorry. >> no problem. >> this is what happens when you have to be at two places at once. >> you're performing well under pressure, though.
i have to say. yeah. that's all right. >> this is the fbi assistant director in charge. >> all right. good afternoon. thanks for joining us today. as i told you from day one, we will leave no stone unturned, so the reason here we're searching this lake today is because we did have a lead that indicated that the subjects came into this area. we have now put a dive team into the lake as a logical part of covering that lead, so they are seeking evidence. the specific evidence we're looking for, we're not going to
discuss but we're just simply saying we're seeking evidence of anything that had to do with this particular crime. so the san bernardino area has been, as you can all tell, it's been invaded by many, many federal agents, primarily fbi, some atf, as well and that is because this is a multi agency investigation and we're working and will continue to work hand and hand with our partners from san bernardino county sheriff's department as well as the san bernardino pd and atf. this investigation as i've mentioned many, many times is massive and that's going to take time so i know it's a little bit of a disruption to the area. it would not be uncommon for us to do neighborhood canvasses at a later date. it's very possible we will. if you see fbi agents out on the street, don't worry about it. it's part of the investigation and that will continue. yesterday the sheriff, the chief, myself, the county
district attorney and u.s. attorney met with all the family members that agreed to meet with us, which was most of them. the family members were met with first, the family members of the deceased and secondly the family members of the injured. speaking of the injured, we now have a 22nd injured that checked herself into a hospital and realized that she had been injured in the initial attack last thursday. as part of those meetings with the family, which by the way, none of us ever want to have to have another meeting like that, those poor people have been through a lot and i would ask for your respect of their privacy. they have been through a tremendous amount over this past week and they continue to go through a tremendous. the emotional and physical scares suffered by them will take years to get over and many of them will never get over some of the emotional scars.
please be patient with us. we're trying not to -- my number one concern here is the protection of the integrity of this investigation because remember, if there is a prosecution, it could be two years from now in a courtroom and everybody is gone but those federal prosecutors and the agents and the task force officers will be there to help present the decisions that we make in these initial days so it is incredibly important that we're methodical and think things through in what we say to the press. i recognize there is a lot of information out there in the media. some of it may be factual, others of it is not. one of the things i want to clear up, there has been reporting of a 2012 terror plot in the riverside area. we did arrest four individuals back in 2012. they have since been convicted of material support to terrorism. those individuals were not
planning to conduct a terrorist attack in the u.s. they were planning to go overseas and fight, go through a taliban training camp and ultimately enter an al qaeda training camp and fight against u.s. forces in afghanistan but there was never, to my recollection, i'm certain of it, a credible threat to the u.s. we watched them for months and months and months. we had human intelligence into them and there was never a danger to the community. the day we took them down, the case obviously made big news and i want to make sure we clear that up because i heard on many media channels that there -- they were taken down as part of their plan to attack to conduct a terrorist attack in the u.s. at this point, i'd like to turn it over for any questions you have. >> was there any connection between marquez, farook and
these four terrorists? >> i heard the same reports. it would be irresponsible for us to not look into any potential connections w. we don't know the connections yet. we got to find that out. i'm not prepared to discuss that at this point because i just don't have all the answers. >> that is something being invest gated? >> of course, it would be irresponsible not to investigate it when we had a case taken down in november of 2012 right in the same general area. [ overlapping speakers ] >> how important is today's search to your investigation? >> first of all, we think this search will last for days. it's very possible. we would be remised not to go into this lake and conduct a thorough search for any evidence items that may come back. at the end of the day we may come up with nothing. we don't know yet. >> why this particular area. >> yesterday was an assessment and today is the first day of searching. >> why this particular area.
>> i won't get into what led us here. there were a couple leads that led us to this park and because this park has a large body of water, the fbi's four dive team and the sheriff's department has a dive team. that's what these people do. they are specialist in under water evidence retrieval. >> did they discard something into the lake? >> we don't know that. we just would be remissed not to explore that option. >> could there be something not in the lake? is your focus the lake itself or have you already searched the whole park? >> we've already searched the area pretty extensively. the lake is a much more tedious task and that takes specialists. you raised your hand. >> [ indiscernible question ] >> i believe it was on that day. >> do you know if this -- >> can i ask you, going back a few years, do you still believe or do you not know if mr. farook's family had any
knowledge, pipe bombs in the place guns that no one had any knowledge of anything? >> that's speculation for me to go there at this point. we don't know everything. again, methodical factual investigation as we go through this. we're trying to be extremely cautious to ensure we build a solid case if there is a case to be prevented in federal court. >> is this still a terrorist investigation? >> we continue to investigate this case as a terrorist act. >> they came in here after the attack? >> i'm not going to get into when or how we received those leads but we have leads that indicate that they were here or in the area at some point. i'm going to take one more question. i haven't taken any -- >> what is the -- >> the attack and time they were shot dead on san bernardino avenue? >> we're still walking through that. we are building a timeline of everything we know to ensure we can retrace every step they
took. potentially if there were other contacts made and our contacts made and that's potential. we don't know. we're just trying to ensure we account for every minute of the time that day prior to the time that the heroic law enforcement officers -- >> is marquez in fbi custody? >> it's possible they were at this park. >> is marquez in fbi custody? >> i won't address anything to do with mr. marquez at this point. >> can you confirm you're searching for a hard drive? we're hearing -- >> i can confirm we're searching for any evidence addressing this crime. that's all -- >> the sighting here -- >> the back in the green -- >> all right. i'm sorry, you've been waiting. you're the final question. >> no, my question was the same as his, do we know if they came this direction following the shooting? we know they were fleeing in an suv. is this the way they came? >> we have indications through
leads, we're going by many leads but at some point they came to this park. i want to reassure the public, there is no belief that there is anything dangerous as a result of this case in this place. okay? thank you for your time. thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> there you have the latest information from the lose anslo angeles assistant director. he's not going to discuss specific evidence but there were leads suggesting it would be wise to go to the park not far away from the massacre and search the park area and have fbi divers searchng for evidence we've been told maybe they are looking for a hard drive that may have been discarded. kyung lah is on the scene for us. kyung, they are being cautious in releasing details. i don't know if you ca hear me kyung, but go ahead and tell us what else is going on over
there. >> reporter: what we're seeing and this is laura over my shoulder telling reporters that we're not expecting, they are not expecting to do any further briefings today but what we are seeing here, wolf, the divers are still in the water. the reason why the fbi says they are here is there are reports, there were reports that the couple was scene here on the day of the massacre. he would not clarify whether it was prior to or after the massacre. he says that they are still in the process of putting together this massacre that this is going to be a sloma thousand dollar kill process. he would not confirm the reports that we have, that it was hard drive. it's a hard drive they are looking for and missing from the computer. there are some details. the reason they are here is because there were a number of cameras who did see the dive teams here and residents who started showing up and were concerned because they didn't know what was happening but the fbi special agent in charge
saying that this is one of those briefings that when there is something to say, that they will come out before the news cameras and update the public and press about what's happening. wolf? >> thanks very much. i want to go to pamela brown. she has more on the breaking developments and overall terror investigation. pamela, what are you learning? >> we're learning one of the key pieces of evidence that the investigators are looking for is that hard drive that's been missing and investigators believe the couple removed it from their computer and disposed of it. the hope is that they will be able to find it in that lake and in addition, we're getting new information that syed farook may be tied to a convicted terrorist in the u.s. tonight an fbi dive team is searching a lake in san bernardino for any evidence connected to last week's killings. a law enforcement official tells cnn the divers are possibly looking for items such as the missing hard drive from the suspect's computer. this as investigators are now
learning syed farook had direct ties to a radicalized group arrested in riverside, california three years ago. the fbi charged four men in 2012 with planning to blow up a u.s. military base in afghanistan, but the fbi is only now learning farook was in the same social circle as the group's recruiter who was sentenced earlier this year to 25 years in prison. >> it shows there is a network emerging very slowly for law enforcement intelligence folks. >> reporter: they revealed a terror plot in 2012. the arrest of the riverside group that year may explain why farook and marquez decided to abandon their plan. three years later farook and his wife tashfeen malik did carry out an attack. >> the director emphasized that we're not aware of any other components to this particular plot, in other words, co-conspiracies that may be out there that pose a risk to the
public. that's obviously the first and foremost priority. >> reporter: this picture shows the training event farook attended with co-workers before launching the massacre. >> the subject farook, first syed. >> reporter: in a meeting with survivors, investigators said farook left behind a bag of explosives before returning to the event with his wife. >> the fact the bombs didn't go off meant maybe he came back to finish the job. >> reporter: and enrique marquez' mother spoke to reporters and told reporters that her son is a good person and that she didn't know anything about the recent attack saying how would i know? i didn't know. and she also went on to say whatever i asked my son to do, he would do it. he watched over his brothers and helped me a lot and he was my right hand around the house. he was a good young man. wolf, we know fbi investigators continue to talk to marquez trying to get information from him. he's not been charged in this case. >> we'll see what happens in
that front but not ruling out the possibility he could be charged. we'll see what happens. joining us is representative martha mcelderry ssally and sere house homeland security. thanks for coming in. we have a lot ocho dto discuss. much more after this quick break. feel a cold coming on? new zicam cold remedy nasal swabs shorten colds with a snap, and reduce symptom severity by 45%. shorten your cold with a snap, with zicam. redid you say 97?97! yes. you know, that reminds me of geico's 97% customer satisfaction rating. 97%? helped by geico's fast and friendly claims service. huh...
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we're following the breaking news you saw live "the situation room." the fbi telling reporters they are searching a lake and park near the san bernardino terror attack and following up on leads that indicate the two killers were in the yarea on the day of attacks they were looking perhaps for a hard drive on the computer they found in the couple's townhouse near san bernardino. we're back with more that mcsally, congresswoman, the scary thing about this what happen in san bernardino, potentially the fear, you've been fully briefed and fbi, they are worried this could happen anyplace and that there are investigations now into these kinds of potential criminal
acts. >> right, there are. i served on a task force from march to september and took a deep dive looking at the flow of foreign fighters. they have 950 investigates. the ones they know about were not concerned about. it's the ones they don't know about and those being self-radicalized or directed and inspired on the internet. isis is sophisticated in the social media campaign. 200,000 positive tweets a day and that's where we see individuals in each of the communities radicalized under the radar. >> the tweets you can monitor the tweets but it's encrypted communications and apparently isis developed an app for their own encrypted communications which the fbi director says is his worst nightmare right now. >> it's end to end extradition, dark space and when they find someone they think is serious, they will bring him into the dark space and direct him on specific ways to do attacks but okay with somebody self-radicalizing and reading material and training on how to
put together pipe bombs and take action into their hands or just private communications that are not encrypted that because they are not on anybody's radar, there is no law enforcement warrant or anything. we can't identify those communications until a crime has be committed. these are challenges we have. >> they are looking now in the lake and we're told among other things they are looking maybe for the hard drive thrown in there by this couple as they sought to escape or whatever they were doing during the four hours between the time of the massacre, the time they themselves were killed in the shootout with fbi and police. if they find the hard drive or other evidence that could be significant. >> absolutely. the electronic signature, everybody has an electronic signature especially when you've shown to be radicalized, their electronic signature is very important. they appear to try and do everything they can to get rid of their electronic signature and it's been seven days so we have to let the fbi do the investigation to chase everything they can because that
can give us a lot of information. >> here is very worry some information. neighbors apparently suspected something was going on. n they noticed activities that shouldn't have been going on but some say they didn't want to go to the fbi or police because they thought it would be prejudice or profiling. >> if you see something, say something. often times good people impose good intentions if they see something isn't right, let the fbi know and if they investigate and it's nothing, the person, their reputation isn't challenged. again, we shouldn't be turning on each other and acting paranoid but if something doesn't seem right, you do need to report it to law enforce the. we've got obviously federal investigators but it's often the neighbors, family members, facebook friends, coaches, religious leaders will be the ones who after the fact, after a
tragedy we identify we maybe saw them getting radicalized. we need to prevent that up front. >> you searchrved in the u.s. a force and iraq. they had, what, a potential for 19 ieds or pipe bombs in the garage, thousands of rounds of ammunition and no one noticed anything? that's pretty startling. >> it is startling. again, but these are ways that isis and other al qaeda elements put out magazines and online videos how to make these types of things and again, some of them are doing it on their own and others are directed. it is certainly a wakeup call for us as we've been in our briefings, we want to identify what else can we do to prevent the next attack. we're looking at the k 1 visa process to see if there is anything we need to do there to tighten it up. all the way around, this is exactly the worst-case scenario we've been concerned about in homeland security and we all need to not live in fear but
remain vigilant and definitely identify and report things if it doesn't look right. >> yeah, the k 1 visa, fiancee visa, how did she get that visa and you got to go back and look at what happened, mistakes that may have been made to make sure they are not made down the road. >> we asked those questionsed to and we look forward to moving any changes forward to keep america safe. >> keep us informed. >> we will. we're following the breaking news, the fbi as you can see these are live pictures searching a park and lake near the site of the san bernardino terror attack. the terrorism experts are standing by for live coverage. no no no no no, i'm not ready, i'm not ready, i'm not ready intel's best processor is here. so you can take this very real, very terrifying memory and edit it, share it, play it back in amazing 4k quality. that is terrifying! introducing intel's new 6th generation core processor
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the breaking news, the fbi telling reporters they are searching a lake and a park near the site of the san beernardino terror attack. you saw that conference live. they are following up on leads that indicate the shooters were in the area on the day of the attacks. we're all right keeping on eye on switzerland. they are searching for suspects related to the paris terror attacks. let's bring in our terrorism analyst paul cruickshank and security analyst bob baer and michael weiss a senior editor with the "daily beast" and tom fuentes. tom, they are searching this lake in san bernardino and they
may be serging for this hard drive from the computer discovered in the killers', the couple's townhouse. if they find the hard drive assuming it's been under water, will they be able to find useful information? >> i think they are confident the technicians can reestablish the search history and other things. it will have to be dried out and take care but usually they can get it. >> we also know the two made efforts that he came out shooting, doesn't this feel like they acted without outside help or had outside help? >> wolf, you know, looking at the search in the lake right
now, they are clearly looking for a wider network, whether it wasn't whiting.the attack was - i don't think these people acted alone. they were talking to people. they were recruited a long time ago, possibly in riverside based on the communications and now the fbi is desperate to get into this hard drive and tom is absolutely right if it is just water soaked, it's phone. the only way to destroy a hard drive is smash it with a sledgehammer. we may get lucky and it may turn out as a wider network. >> paul, you've been reporting on this new threat in geneva switzerland now, extremests discussed the idea of launching attacks in chicago, toronto. what are you learning about what is going on in geneva? >> wolf, this comes from a european security source briefed on the intelligence. they say there are several factors which has led to this terrorism alert in geneva. one of them intercepted communications from u.s.
intelligence of isis extremist whose have come back from syria, suspected to come back from syria to europe talking about the idea of attacking various cities among them, geneva, hence the warning provided to the swiss but toronto and chicago viewed more of sort of aspirational ideas of launching attacks. but also several other strands coming in to the swiss, one of them the van with belgium number plates recently crossed into switzerland and traced the number plates they picked up on cc tv and found out that the vehicle, the van was linked to an associate of salah abdeslam, the eighth attacker on the run after the paris attacks and a third factor, the identification of the third bataclan attacker in paris, his identification
coming just yesterday, there has been concern about an individual who recruited him and sent him to syria and that individual in turn related to a swiss national suspected of being in syria and to come back to europe, they are very concerned about him right now. all these different strands coming into the swiss and they had little choice but to raise the alert level today, wolf. >> michael weiss, would isis try to strike again so close after paris? >> sure, if they could absolutely. and you know, isis is very large and dangerous one. the isis spy who defected who i interviewed in "the daily beast" said he was building a battalin exclusive oh of fighters and if isis pulled the plug, it would be the last minute but sent two french nationalist and spoke beautiful french and gone back
to france. the fact the countries, belgium, france, switzerland, frank phone country it's looking like a much wider network. if the cia intercepted communications saying more operative haves gone to syria and come back in switzerland, it shows europe has been the problem to not protect the borders and geneva is home to the second largest u.n. instillation outside of new york and one of the first targets of alibi da a qaeda and iraq was t embassy of baghdad so that's a very, very hot target for a group like isis. >> stand by because we're continuing to follow what is going on. we'll have more on the link between the san bernardino gunman and a convicted terrorist. shouldn't that have put syed rizwan farook on the radar of federal authorities? from rudy ♪ (rudy barks)
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tonight new evidence donald trump's plan to ban muslims coming into the united states is playing well for republican voters. we're standing by for live remarks from donald trump campaigning tonight in new hampshire. our political reporter sarah murray is out there. sarah, trump says the public agrees with him. what is it like over there? >> reporter: that's right, wolf.
we're getting data showing the broader electret, all americans not in favor of trump's plan but a different story when you look at republican primary voters. donald trump still looming large over the gop field. >> i'm 20 points up. i'm way up on everybody. >> reporter: leading nationwide even as republicans remain divided over trump's controversial plan to ban muslims from coming to the u.s. a new wall street journal nbc news poll shows 38% of republican primary voters approve the proposal. while 39% oppose it. among all americans, nearly 6-10 oppose the plan. the front runner showing staying power as he tasfaces backlash. >> the group not criticizing me is the public. the public agrees with what i said. >> reporter: his supporters, some of whom took part in a conversation with cnn remain steadfast. >> i could careless about a few muslims or a few people upset.
i could careless about people saying they don't like donald trump's tone. we need a true leader and donald trump is that leader. >> reporter: trump's rivals continue to line up in opposition. some subtle. >> i'm going to support the republican nominee and i believe the republican nominee will be someone that can win the general election and i don't believe donald can. >> reporter: others more direct. >> president obama's strategy is a miserable failure. the only thing worse than obama's policies is donald trump's policies. >> reporter: south carolina senator lindsey graham unleashing a stinging critique in new hampshire. >> i would rather lose without him than try to win with him if he keeps doing what he's doing. there's no shame in losing an election. the shame comes when you lose your honor. >> reporter: in the face of backlash, trump is cancelling a trip to israel.
i'm postponing my trip to israel and to schedule my meeting with netten ya hue at a later date and netten netanyahu responded trump's comments. trump tweeted the united kingdom is trying hard to disguise the massive muslim problem. there are signs his brash rhetoric is costing him in other ways. one of trump's middle east business partners is pulling trump branded products from i its shelves. this is a different event we'll see donald trump at tonight. he's looking to secure the backing in new hampshire and while some don't agree with donald trump's proposal, they believed he's sparked a conversation how to handle muslims and weed out radical islamic terror elists and sill
supporting him. >> they are. scary murray in new hampshire. let's bring in don lemon that interviewed trump yesterday and also joining us, our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin and ryan lizza. ryan, you look at the new poll numbers, 57% of adults in the united states all parties oppose donald trump's proposal but among republican voters out there, there's an even split 38% in favor, 39% opposed. if you're another republican candidate, how do you move forward? >> the first thing is the poll shows that this just politically, forget the moral content of what he's proposing, it's a political loser and lindsey graham is right the republican party will lose if donald trump is their nominee. i think i'm somewhat surprised that the number for support in among republicans is so low, it seems that that number would suggest that donald trump over
estimated how much of an anti muslim sentiment is actually in the republican electret. >> it's sort of consistent with his number 38%, about 1/3 support and support him among republicans. >> it suggestions this guy has a low ceiling and is going to be hard for name to break out of the 20 to 30% box he's in. >> jeffrey, is it worth it for republicans to write off trump and risk alienating for the sake of a general election. >> one of the lessons, i think of the trump canadidacy is the weakness. who is going to tell donald trump what to do? priebus? he treats him like dandruff. he has no worry about the republican party. there is no one in the republican party to tell donald trump to go away and there is no mechanism in place for him to lose his support and losing in
the primarilies and leading in the polls and we'll see how it goes. he's not going anywhere unless he or the voters decide that he's a loser but no politician will tell him to leave. >> don, you did a great interview with donald trump. do you think he's going to be surprised by the new poll numbers? >> no, i don't think he'll be surprised. the only numbers he's looking at is iowa, new hampshire and national polls. i don't think he's paying attention to this particular poll and i think he views it just as jeffrey toobin says. people would say barack obama is a de facto leader of the democratic party even though schultz may be the president and reince priebus but donald trump is essentially the leader of the republican party now. he's doing what he wants to do and he is leading the party in the way he wants to lead, whether they like it or not. he's the leader of that party.
>> take us a little behind the scenes, don. you interviewed him at trump tower in new york. what was he like off camera? >> i have to be honest, before we started the interview and he had never done this before, he said i sent someone down and i want you to come up. went up to the office, gave us gave us a tour, background on the office, how he got there. his kids were there. donald junior was there. ivanka was there doing work in their offices and took us around a little and the only thing he said to me is, listen, i want you to be fair. i said, i'm going to be fair. by fair, i'm not going to do that, i'm going to ask you the tough questions, i want you to answer them. what i don't want you to do is either of us to antagonize each other because what good does that serve? the american public doesn't get anything out of that. and with he had a great interview. he was very candid.
and so, you know, there you go. >> there he goes. a really good interview, as i said, i think our viewers enjoyed it as well. don lemon, thank you very much. jeffrey toobin, ryan lizza, thank you. two days away from the final republican presidential debate of the year when they face off in las vegas next tuesday, december 15th. by the way, if you have a question for the candidates, submit your questions by going to facebook.com/cnn and commenting on that top post. anxious to get your questions. just ahead, captured by the taliban and held for five years, beau bergdahl is speaking out publicly about his ordeal and why he left his army post in afghanistan in the first place. we'll be right back.
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he's been portrayed as a hero and a deserter, and now the u.s. army soldier was held captive by the taliban for five years. sergeant bowe bergdahl is telling his story for the first time. jim sciutto has details and explains why he left that base in afghanistan back in 2009. >> this is a truly remarkable firsthand account of bowe bergdahl's captivity in afghanistan. he tries to explain what can
only be said is the out landish plan he had, a decision he now regretted, minutes. >> hello, i am scared. >> reporter: he was a prisoner of the taliban for five years. today, in an interview on the serial podcast, we heard bowe bergdahl's account of his captivity for the first time. >> it's like, how do i explain to a person that's just standing in an empty, dark room. >> reporter: he was held in a room that was so dark that you couldn't see your hands. >> it's like you're standing in a dark room and on the other side of the wooden door that you could probably rip off the hinges is the entire world out there. >> reporter: bergdahl was captured after he walked off his small mountain outpost in western afghanistan, he says, to
draw attention to what he called leadership failure within his unit. >> all i was seeing was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were literally, in danger of something that was seriously going wrong and somebody being killed. >> reporter: his idea was that his disappearance, which he planned to only be temporary. >> everybody is alerted. the cia is alerted. air force is alerted. not just army. >> reporter: but a mere 20 minutes after he left, he knew he made a mistake. >> i said, good grief, i'm in over my head. suddenly it starts to sink in. >> reporter: his fears were quickly realized. >> the next morning is where i got myself screwed. >> reporter: within hours, bergdahl was surrounded by
taliban fighters. h his last moment of freedom for five years. >> this was arranged with the okay of his lawyer. we've seen the prosecution fear out. donald trump talked about how he should be shot as a deserter. house republicans talking about trading him for five taliban detainees. with this interview, you're seeing his defense play out in the public sphere as well. >> what's next, jim, in this trial? >> an army general is considering -- he's expected to make a decision on charges. initially, army prosecutors were going to charge him with desertion, which could put him in prison for five years. at a preliminary hearing, he believes that bergdahl is being truthful, he's being sincere and actually recommended no jail time but we'll see what the general decides. >> we certainly will. jim sciutto, thanks very, very much. that's it for me.
remember, follow me on twitter. be sure to join us right here tomorrow in "the situation room." thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. the fbi dive team searching in the san bernardino lake looking for a crucial piece of evidence. plus, donald trump is live in this hour as a new poll shows surprising support for his ban on muslim. and ted cruz, amazing support tonight. a closer look at this hour on who is ted cruz. could he beat donald trump? let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, the breaking news, divers hunting for evidence that the san bernardino terrorisay