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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 5, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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happening now, tears and anger. president obama cries as he recalls the victims of mass shootings and expresses frustration at the country's failure to curb gun violence. will his new gun control actions make a difference? missing movements. what were the san bernardino terrorists doing after their bloody massacre and before their final shootout with law enforcement? tonight, the fbi is asking the public for help filling in the blanks. firefight, conflicting reports right now about a bloody clash in afghanistan which has left a u.s. service member dead and a helicopter down on the ground. what went wrong? and vicious sid? a former british bounce house salesman whose name came up at a
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parliamentary debate. is he the new jihadi john? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." breaking news, the fbi now urging the public to help account for the whereabouts and activities of the san bernardino killers during the period after their massacre and before their final gun battle with police. investigators now say they know what the terrorist couple did for almost four hours after the slaughter, but they need to learn what happened during a missing 18 minutes in the timeline. this comes on the same day that president obama broke into tears as he recalled the victims of america's mass shootings. the president unveiled new executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, including expanded background checks. he criticized congress for failing to pass new gun laws. republican lawmakers and candidates, they're vowing to overturn the measures.
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i'll speak live with republican congressman adam kinsinger. let's begin with president obama's new action on gun control and his appeal to americans for a sense of urgency about gun violence. he said the right to bear arms is important, but so are other rights, and he went as he spoke of the victims. >> our right to worship freely and safely. that right was denied to christians in charleston, south carolina. and that was denied jews in kansas city. and that was denied muslims in chapel hill and sikhs in oak creek. they have rights too. [ applause ] our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from movie
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goers in aurora. and lafayette. our unalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in blacksburg and santa barbara. and from high schoolers at columbi columbine. and from first graders in newtown. first graders. and for every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from their lives by a bullet from a gun.
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every time i think about those kids, it gets me mad. and by the way, it happens on the streets of chicago every day. >> let's go live to our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, it's not every day that you see the president of the united states break down like that. >> reporter: no question about it, wolf. this was one of the most emotional moments of the obama presidency. the president embraced the crowd of mass shooting victims and their families and as you pointed out cried openly as he made the case for new executive actions on gun control. he also described what he said was the saddest day in office, the sandy hook school shooting, before laying out his proposal and here's some of the finer points. under his new executive actions, a warning to nearly all gun sellers across the country to conduct background checks or risk prosecution. plus new fbi and atf agents, $500 million for mental health care and a new push to develop
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smart gun technology. these new executive actions are not a gun grab. in fact they stop short of a law man dating universal background checks across the country, but the president felt it was necessary today to once again defend his position on the second amendment. here's what he had to say. >> i believe in the second amendment. it's there written on the the paper. it guarantees a right to bear arms. no matter how many times people try to twist my words around, i taught constitutional law, i know a little bit about this. i get it. but i also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the second amendment. >> reporter: he also went after the nra saying the gun lobby was trying to hold the country hostage. the nra responded saying these
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proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the obama administration. to hammer home his argument, wolf, the president was joined by the father of daniel barden who died at sandy hook, former congresswoman gabby giffords. she was nearly killed pie a mass shooter five years ago. the anniversary of that is coming up on friday. much of the president's ablilit to enforce these new gun actions depends on congress to spend the money for mental health and hire the investigators at the atf and fbi. we expect the president to make this case at the town hall with anderson cooper. he's going to be talking about this again and again, wolf. >> he certainly will. i imagine that he will show that passion and show that emotion thursday night live, 8:00 p.m. eastern. the president will answer questions from anderson as well as from people at that town hall. we'll have live coverage obviously of that, 8:00 p.m. eastern thursday night. other breaking news we're following, a dramatic appeal to the american public from the
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fbi. investigators are asking for help in tracking the movements of the san bernardino terrorists during a crucial period between the massacre and their final shootout with law enforcement. they have put together a nearly four-hour timeline but there are 18 missing minutes. >> we want to ensure that we know whether or not they stopped at any locations, any residences, any businesses that we don't already know about. we want to ensure that if they made contact with anyone that we don't already know about between those hours or between that time that we're able to flow investigate those matters. >> let's turn to our justice reporter, evan perez, who's following this story. evan, given all the cell phone technology, the security cameras, the witnesses, how is it that the fbi doesn't know for where they were for 18 minutes, nearly 20 minutes. it sounds like it could be potentially significant. >> well, that's exactly what
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they're trying to figure out, whether or not there's anybody they were in contact with. keep in mind there's no indication yet that they have found that this was something that was directed, whether there are any co-conspirator, anyone else who was involved in plotting this attack. the only two known to be involved were the two involved and the man who bought the weapons, enrique marquez. the 18 minutes they don't know where they are exactly. they know they were inside this one area of san bernardino but they want more detail on what that is. really what this points to is something unusual about this case really. the fact that to this day the fbi is still trying to figure out why then, why that day. they had these weapons for a couple of years, wolf, and they chose this day to carry out this attack. and this location a very unusual location obviously, attacking an office gathering, holiday gathering.
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syed rizwan farook went in, came back out and returned and tried to carry out this attack. so a lot they are trying to figure out with this attack and certainly this 18 minutes they believe could be key to trying to explain that. >> and this friend, enrique marquez, they're trying to get more information from him as well. as far as these 18 minutes are concerned, they want to find out potential low did they dump evidence, for example, or were they in some sort of communication with others. >> well, certainly the visit to the lake. at one point after they leave the inland regional center, they go to this regional park nearby and this lake and that's one reason why the fbi spent all this time searching that lake to try to see if they could find anything. nothing yet has been connected to this attack. however, it's very puzzling to them. why did they stop there, why that day? again, there's still a lot of parts of this puzzle left to be put together by the fbi. >> right now the assumption was they were inspired by isis but not necessarily officially
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directed or moved by isis. >> right, exactly. it does appear that these people were definitely radicalizing over a period of year. they started out looking at videos before they moved on to isis, but it does appear that they were definitely just inspired and not directed by anyone. >> at least now, but they're anxious to get more information. evan perez, thanks very much. meanwhile, u.s. service member has been killed during a special ops mission in afghanistan, and a medical helicopter is now down on the ground as the fighting continues. let's get the latest from our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim, what are you hearing? >> the latest we're hearing now, wolf, is that a quick reaction force, so-called qrf, has been sent to the scene because this firefight is still under way. it's been under way for a number of hours now. we know already one u.s. service member killed in action. two u.s. service members who were injured in this firefight, a joint operation between u.s. and afghan forces. they were confronting taliban
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forces in helmand prauovince. this is a taliban strong hold and has been a number of years. this falling under the train, advise and assist mission. but under that big umbrella, you often have offensive operations like this one that can be very deadly. of course another place where u.s. forces are in a train, advise and assist role is in iraq, and that role in fact expanding and we saw just in recent days iraqi forces that have been trained by u.s. forces able to take back that key western iraqi city of ramadi. u.s. officials hailing that today as a significant success. >> desperate families escape the iraqi city of ramadi, shaken after months under isis control. iraqi security forces carried the dead. evidence both of isis' brutal rule and the intense battle to dislodge the terror group. the fighting continues to echo
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throughout the city, with isis still occupying small pockets. still today u.s. officials deemed the retaking of ramadi a success, calling it the most difficult task for iraqi forces since they were retrained and reorganized by u.s. forces following their retreat, as isis raced into iraq from syria. >> even when the iraqis are taking casualties, they have taken over 1,000 casualties in this counterattack, they have continued to advance, to fight and to liberate their territory. >> reporter: success in ramadi may embolden iraqi forces to accelerate the operation to retake mosul, iraq's second largest city, captured by isis in june of 2014. u.s. officials say preparations have already begun, as u.s.-backed iraqi security forces and kurdish peshmerga capture crucial territory around mosul, a city of some two million people. >> mosul has already started but you've got to think of a rolling
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kind of campaign to isolate and squeeze, learn more about the information and what's happening there. mosul is a very complicated -- there's shia, sunni, arab, kurd, everybody is there together. we want to make sure everything is synchronized and working together and that has now really started. >> reporter: the sectarian tensions inflamed as several sunni gulf states led by saudi arabia cut diplomatic ties with shiite iran. tensions stoked when saudi arabia executed a prominent shiite cleric, leading iranian protesters to storm and burn the saudi embassy in tehran. >> we are encouraging a de-escalation because any time you have regional polarization, regional escalation, it can cause difficulties and opens up for seams for extremists on all sides to take advantage of the situation. >> reporter: there has been progress in isolating mosul in iraq. preparations getting closer to the city but wolf, no u.s.
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officials are saying that that operation is imminent. it's a much bigger city, 2 million people. many more isis fighters entrenched there. they expect that to be a very long battle and there's going to be some time before iraqi and kurdish forces are ready to advance. >> that's going to be not only long but very, very bloody as well. jim sciutto, thank you very much. joining us now republican congressman adam kinsinger of illinois. he served in both iraq and afghanistan. let's talk about afghanistan first. still 10,000 u.s. troops left in afghanistan. this year another 2,000 or 3,000 nato troops as well. these individuals right now, these american women and wommene in great danger. and isis, maybe a thousand fighters already, beginning to move as well. >> afghanistan is a mess. you see the taliban regaining strength. you see isis having a foot hold there. it's almost becoming the old afghanistan. the problem with this whole
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thing, not just that but the fact that afghanistan is getting its political house in order, which is necessary to see a successful afghanistan, so i think it's going to be imperative on the president frankly to reassess combat power we have there. maybe we need more than 10,000. we see six air force folks killed the other day. we see a special ops soldier killed today. this is not something we can watch slip out of our hands. >> you say the afghan government is doing a better job. maybe in kabul, the capital, they're in control there. if you go outside the capital, there are whole areas in helmand province and elsewhere they're not even visible. >> it's hard to rule, it's hard to get to certain areas. the helmand province is what we're seeing falling apart. getting the government right is very important but being able to have that government project its power outward. you have a lot of afghan soldiers that are fighting bravely. we hear about some on the afghan
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national police that aren't. but let's get that together. if this falls apart and crumbles, we'll see a redo of syria, iraq and everywhere else. >> the u.s. has been in afghanistan since october of 2001, a month after 9/11. it's been years and years and years. the longest war in u.s. history. a lot of analysts say the u.s. can spend another 15 years there. it really is not going to make any difference because these people will go on fighting each other forever. >> i agree with analysts that say it's not going to make any difference. a couple things i see is, number one, when we're there, when we're working with the government, we can manage the problem to an extent and hopefully mitigate the problems that exist there. the other issue is what happens if we leave? what happens if we go back to a pre-september 11th, 2001, afghanistan. in this new world we're seeing today where terrorism exists, by being able to communicate through the darkness of the internet, that's just going to be another area in a very important region of the world that will fall to lawlessness.
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>> congressman, that whole region is exploding right now, especially the escalating tensions between saudi arabia and iran. i want to get to that in a moment. let's take a quick break. much more with congressman adam kinsinger when we come back. fund manages your portfolio. is it run by robots? no no, you can talk to a person anytime. 'cause i don't trust robots. right...well, if the portfolio you're invested in doesn't perform well for two consecutive quarters, amerivest will reimburse your advisory fees for those quarters. i wasn't born yesterday. well, actually it looks like you were born yesterday. happy belated birthday. thanks. for all the confidence you need td ameritrade. you got this.
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back with republican congressman adam kinsinger of illinois. you're still in the air national guard. >> i am. >> so you're not a veteran yet but almost active duty. not full-time. let's talk about the escalating tension between saudi arabia and iran. the fear is this could really explode and maybe not just proxies fighting each other but directly some sort of conflict between these two nations, powerhouses in the region. are you that concerned? >> i am that concerned. i don't necessarily see this happening in the next week or two weeks, but i think this could easily happen in the next year or two years. what you have is boiling tensions, you know, through syria, through just frankly history, between the sunni and the shia religions now. and what you're seeing, frankly, is not just -- and it shouldn't be seen in the context of a conflict between saudi arabia and iran, but this is really two different religious ideologies
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where this is boiling over. and the big concern is this. we can look at some of the brow at that time of the saudi regime and we know this. they are our allies. you have to play power politics in the middle east. what happens if you have an armed sunni group that walks onto mecca and says mecca is now sunni territory. you will see a civil war of frankly biblical proportioning in t -- proportions in the middle east and that's not good for anybody. >> so what the saudis convict 40 or so convicted terrorists, including a shiite cleric, what should the u.s. do about that? clearly the u.s. is opposed to that. >> we always need to work with the saudis to try to bring human rights, to try to bring due process of the law and things along that line. but it's a very different region of the world. as we learned in iraq, you frankly can't make that region to be our view of jeffersonian democracy. so i think being able to help in
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that is a role, but at the end of the day the saudis are going to do what the saudis are going to do, the iranians are going to do what they're going to do. they killed a huge number of american troops in iraq, they continue to destabilize the middle east. what we're seeing as a huge evolution of any order that exists in the middle east and this is very concerned to anybody watching this. >> how concerned are you, because the saudis didn't like the u.s.-brokered nuclear deal with iran. they're very worried iran will still build some sort of nuclear weapon. the concern i've heard repeatedly now is the saudis, who have a lot of money, they could go out and buy a nuclear bomb if they want maybe from pakistan. is that realistic? >> i think it's very realistic. united arab emirates, we negotiated a nuclear agreement with them and they wanted to enrich uranium and we said, no, we're committed to a nuclear-free middle east so we didn't give it to one of our best friends but gave that right to one of the our worst enemies. reverberations throughout that region is america has left us, america has chosen sides and
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it's not our side. the saudis have made it clear, they'll do what they need to do to defend their country. as you see, they see iran as a big threat and frankly iran seize saudi arabia as a big threat. i think they have a right to be concerned about a nuclear iran. >> what should the u.s. do now? >> talks to some extent. i think that's probably the only place we can go from now. we need to reaffirm our commitment to our sunni allies and let them know that we are standing with them and will defend them. at the end of the day it's probably going to have to come between religious leaders to say we need to settle this tension down. we may have differences between what we believe in the lineage of islam but we cannot let this devolve into a full-scale civil war. the president's announcement today on guns, your reaction. >> he needs to come to congress. congress may be unpopular but we exist and we're part of the constitution. i think some of these things he could have put through on congress but he's had both sides going to retreat to their corners and fight it out. i think it's unfortunate. >> you support more background
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checks including at gun shows, online, purchases along those lines? >> i think ensuring that we have back ground checks is very reasonable and right. the problem is when you do it by executive order, not only can it be undone but you basically say i don't need to go through congress. this is a discussion the american people need to have through congress. >> he says he's repeatedly gone to congress. remember a few years ago there was legislation that was close but not close enough, but republicans, he blames, for saying no. >> well, there are many democrats on that side too. i think it was bipartisan opposition to some of it. sometimes inaction of congress is action in and of itself. the american people have a right to throw out the entire house of representatives every two years. he needs to take this case to the american people and to congress. instead he's created both sides entrenched on their end. >> adam kinsinger, thanks to coming in. >> you bet. donald trump attacks hillary clinton' strepngth and stamina while his republican opponents go after one another.
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brighter. bigger. it's gotten 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. in the presidential race today, it seems like just about everyone on the republican side is going negative. voters in iowa and new hampshire are tuning into very hard-hitting new ads as the candidates increase league target one another. phil mattingly is just outside manchest manchester, new hampshire, with the latest. what's going on over there, phil. >> reporter: wolf, candidates relentlessly raised money throughout 2015, fund-raiser
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after fund-raiser after fund-raiser, and now they're putting that money to work. >> john kasich -- >> reporter: the political air war kicking into high dpegear. >> chris christie could well be obama's favorite republican governor. >> reporter: across televisions in iowa and new hampshire, the republican primary has gotten tough. tough on the issues. >> and i will say the politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the rio grande. >> reporter: on democrats. >> he's the one hillary doesn't want to run against. >> reporter: and on each other. >> but unlike some, his state is now booming. >> reporter: the ads spending millions apiece from the top tier candidates underscores the urgency of the moment. just weeks remain before voters caucus in iowa. 36 days before the new hampshire primary. for candidates not named donald trump, strong showings in at least one of those states could make or break their campaigns. as for trump -- >> isn't this more fun than a
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regular, boring rally? >> reporter: he launched his first ads monday and continued to attack at a massachusetts rally. >> bye-bye. bye-bye. >> reporter: where he attempted to dismiss democratic front-runner, hillary clinton, in the same way he dispatched with protesters at the event. >> they remind me a little bit of hillary. no energy, no stamina, no strength. >> reporter: and trump got into another dust-up on twitter. this time with actor samuel l. jackson. >> oh, well allow me to retort. >> reporter: who told golf magazine that he's a better golfer than the billionaire, because jackson doesn't cheat. trump tweeted that he doesn't know jackson and he thinks he, quote, does too many tv commercials. boring, not a fan. meanwhile in new hampshire, other candidates confronted an issue that has risen to the top of voters' minds, addiction. bush, christie, kasich and carly fiorina all showing up on a
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forum on the heroin epidemic in the state. >> we need to eliminate the stigmas and the barriers so more and more people get engaged in this. so they're not embarrassed to say i have an illness that i'm on the road to recovery in. >> reporter: and chris christie calling marijuana a gateway drug, vowing to put andy to legal marijuana use. >> get high now, the clock is ticking. i'm coming in january of '17 and we're going to end the game. >> reporter: now, wolf, in new hampshire in particular the push is becoming incredibly strong from candidates like john kasich, chris christie, jeb bush, marco rubio. these are candidates that are completely reliant on a strong finish in this state. if you look at the ad wars, this fight is just beginning, wolf. >> they have got, what, exactly five weeks from today, the new hampshire primary, less than four weeks to the iowa caucuses. phil, thanks very much. joining us in the situation room, our cnn political commentator, gloria borger and
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david. they're going after each other but not after trump. >> well, funny about that. i think that they all believe, and rightly so, that spending money to attack trump right now would only accrue to the benefit of one of the other candidates they have to knock down. >> and possibly trump. >> and possibly trump, right. so if you're a candidate and you -- if you're marco rubio, why not attack ted cruz, because if you attack donald trump, it would only benefit ted cruz. i think a lot of them also believe, and this may be wishful thinking on their part, that a lot of donald trump's supporters may be nonparticipants, at least they're keeping their fingers crossed about that. but this is a little bit of a chess game they have got going on right now. so i think they leave him alone for now and go after each other. >> because it seems that a lot of them are fighting for second or third or fourth place right now, just assuming trump is number one. >> i think they're fighting for
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the role of the guy standing when trump goes away. and that's a very tricky place to land without being able to predict everything that's going to come down the line. you don't want to lose all of trump's voters but you don't want to get too cozy to them either because that is a path to nowhere in a general election. so it's a tricky road. and i think why marco is going after chris christie and ted cruz and chris christie is now going after marco and they're all sort of ignoring trump -- >> my head is exploding. >> there's no win in going after trump at this point. you know, he's taken a lot of scalps of people who have gone after him and while he's riding high, until the primaries, until someone actually shows you can't win here, there's really no point to it. >> in the scheme of things, and you and i have covered a lot of these contests, iowa and new hampshire, how important are they really in selecting the republican nominee? >> i think they're hugely important. i think anybody who tries to sort of say, hey, they're just two early small states and are
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not representative, they're missing the whole equation of how you build your path to the nomination. momentum is huge. that is hugely important. if you win one of those early contests, donors start flocking to you, the field starts win owing and yes, they are a crucial first step in that process of showing yourself to be a real contender for the nomination. >> especially for trump and cruz. >> i ask the question, gloria, because mike huckabee won iowa back in 2008. >> so did rick santorum. >> sick ran storick santorum wo >> here's the flip side of that. rudy giuliani who decided to skip those states and compete in florida. >> didn't work out for him either. >> it didn't work out for him either. this is the time when not only the folks in iowa and new hampshire are looking at you but the rest of the country is looking at you, particularly with the viewership of these presidential debates. it is really, really important.
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and i think, you know, what we're going to see after iowa and new hampshire, and you're not going to crown a republican nominee, but you are going to winnow out the people who aren't going to make it to the next round. >> especially for cruz and trump. you know, trump's entire many today pain is predicated on being number one. if he doesn't win iowa, if he doesn't win new hampshire, i'm not sure he can make that argument. >> what if he wins iowa and new hampshire. >> he still has a tough map ahead. if he doesn't, i think his campaign collapses. >> david says if he wins iowa and new hampshire, for all practical purposes, he says it will be over and he'll be the nominee. >> i don't know if it's over, but he's already the most well positioned person to be the nominee on this day. but if he wins iowa and new hampshire, i think he's off -- >> if he wins iowa and new hampshire, gloria, south carolina is not very far behind, nevada and then you go to the other southern states. he'll do well in all of them. >> he will do really well.
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i think the question is what if he wins one of them? what if he, you know, loses iowa, wins new hampshire or the other way around. i think then, you know, there are more opportunities for these other candidates. >> but then we have the race that everyone has been expecting. the anger candidate and the establishment candidate. if he wins iowa but jeb bush or marco rubio wins new hampshire then you have it. >> then you could have ted cruz winning iowa and donald trump winning new hampshire. then what is it? >> well, then the rest of the field really benefits. >> that's a really important point, gloria. what we have seen in the last couple of cycles as john mccain edged it out past mike huckabee and put that together, as mitt romney dealt with rick santorum, we've always seen that conservative grassroots wing get closer and closer and not convert to victory. this may be a different cycle this time. the grassroots may have the energy. >> yeah, one winning each race. >> hold that thought. we have a lot more to discuss, including ted cruz. he's doing really well in iowa
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right now. what's going on over there? we'll try to update you on the latest.
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we're back with our political experts. this afternoon senator ted cruz predicted the attacks will increase as the iowa caucuses get closer and he will stay positive and not engage in mud slinging. however, he's drawing sharper contrasts between himself and donald trump. how is he differentiating himself, sunlen? >> reporter: well, this is a pretty notable shift coming from ted cruz out here on the campaign trail in iowa. specifically on immigration. ted cruz really presenting himself now as a tougher candidate to handle illegal immigrants in this country and what to do with them after they have been deported. ted cruz basically now essentially trying to move to the right of donald trump. i want to show you this exchange. this was obtained by buzzfeed.
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this was an exchange ted cruz had on the rope line after his first event here in iowa during his six-day bus tour where he was confronted about differences that he has with donald trump. >> donald trump is really strong on immigration but he supports deporting all illegal immigrants. >> yes, we should enforce the law. in fact, look there's a difference. he's advocated folks coming back in and becoming citizens. i oppose that. >> reporter: now, that is a pretty clear signal that ted cruz is trying to signal to conservatives here in iowa and elsewhere that he is going to be in his opinion the tougher candidate, really trying to appeal to this core base of supporters that both he and donald trump are chasing. the trump campaign has fired back already. the trump campaign manager telling jake tapper in an interview moments ago they believe cruz was not sincere in what he said. the campaign manager saying it's difficult to believe that cruz would allow people to come back into the country legally after
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they had been deported so clearly, wolf, this just underscores how big of an issue immigration is. how much of a flash point it is among the republican candidates. and especially how it really sets up almost a collision course between trump and cruz. they have largely avoided each other, taking each other on directly but that might all change, especially as both of them hone their messages going into the iowa caucuses. >> that's very much. s.e., is that going to work for cruz to show that he has a tougher position on immigration than donald trump has? >> whether it's immigration or a number of issues, trump has held, i would say, fluid positions over the years, and that's, you know, being kind. he's literally voted for democrats. and on immigration and obamacare and abortion, he looks like a liberal. so i think what ted cruz is trying to do here is say i've been consistent, i've been conservative, you can trust me on these issues because i have been consistent, whereas trump,
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actually his positions are maleable and he doesn't know where he stands on immigration. >> he's also saying, cruz, that the establishment, i assume he means the republican establishment, may try to sort of steal the election away from him. >> oh, my god, first of all -- >> go ahead. >> i don't know who the establishment is anymore, do you? >> there are no back rooms. >> i don't understand who this establishment is. but of course that's what he is saying. it's mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the most conservative of us all. and it -- you know, he is saying, look, i'm the conservative nominee. i'm more conservative than donald trump. to your point, i'm anti-establishment. marco rubio has a foot in each camp. don't trust him on that. i'm the true conservative. of course he's trying to appeal to the voters in iowa because he has a good shot at winning iowa right now. >> in some of the polls he's ahead of trump in iowa right now, david, so i assume at some point as we get closer, less than four weeks to go till the iowa caucuses, these guys are
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going to have to go at it. i just assume that. >> we know one of them, donald trump, loves a fight so it's not going to take much coaxing to get donald trump to take on ted cruz. he was saying just last night that he knows how to build a wall unlike ted cruz. he knows how to build a real wall. donald trump knows exactly what goes into that. here's the deal. ted cruz, iowa is tailor made for him, no doubt about that. he is clearly having a very successful time at the moment. he's got some weeks to go, wolf. the big question i have about ted cruz is how does he wear throughout this process because he fits the mold of a mike huckabee or rick santorum perhaps with more skill and a more animated base, but i think he has to be wary of broadening out his appeal because he has been so consistent in appealing to the consistent conservative evangelical slice of the party, that now the big challenge for ted cruz will be broadening beyond that. >> sunlen has been reporting this as she's been on the trail
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with cruz, that he seems to be -- his campaign seems to be more evangelical in tone, more faith-based. the closer you get to the caucuses, because that's a very big chunk of the iowa caucus goers, and he's taking from dr. carson in that way. >> senator cruz is spending an enormous amount of time in iowa right now, a lot more than the other candidates. trump goes there occasionally but gets big crowds but he's not there on a day-to-day -- going to all 99 counties, for example, on some sort of bus tour. >> but that hasn't stopped trump actually from attacking cruz for iowa voters. for the iowa voters' ears onny van g -- on evangelicalism. he was saying there aren't a lot of evangelicals coming out of cuba. ted cruz's father is from cuba. ted cruz was born in canada, but he's an american citizen. it was a veiled attempt to make
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ted cruz sound scary, other, a foreigner. and for donald trump to say my evangelical bona fides are much more -- he did the same thing with ben carson. >> he says he's a presbyterian. >> yeah. whether that will work in iowa where they know evangelicals and seventh day adventists very well is another story. i'll be sitting down tomorrow with donald trump. tune into "the situation room" tomorrow 5:00 p.m. eastern and you'll see our extensive conversation. donald trump and me tomorrow here in "the situation room." coming up, is the masked killer seen slaughtering hostages a former british bounce house salesman whose name came up at a parliamentary debate? ♪ while you're watching this, i'm hacking your company. grabbing your data. stealing your customers' secrets.
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slaughtering hostages in a new isis video may be a former inflatable bouncehouse salesman raised in british parliament. brian, what are you learning? >> wolf, investigators are looking at the identity of this new man that they are calling the new jihadi john. members of parliament grilled them over media reports which say the british government might have had him in their custody and let him get away. he gloets, threatens and insults britain's prime minister.
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>> how strange it is that a leader of a small island threatens us with a handful of planes. you would have thought you would have learned the lessons of your pathetic master in washington. >> reporter: it presents a new version of jihadi john, mohamed emwazi. the name will be not confirmed in the latest isis propaganda video but tonight british media are reporting that authorities are investigating whether it's this man, siddartha dhar. >> embrace islam. >> reporter: he's in his early 30s from a london suburb. the report that he once sold inflatable bounce houses for children, dhar's name came up several times today. the home secretary grilled about how dhar had been in the british government's custody but eventually fled to syria. >> he was well-known to the
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authorities, having been arrested six times on terror-related offenses before being placed on police bail in 2014 and requested to sur run der his passport. it was when he failed to comply with those conditions that it has emerged that he has absconded. >> reporter: dhar was suspected of being involved in a group which has been banned in britain. >> these individuals are involved in protests and organizing road shows around the country and constantly attracting attention to themselves and i think some of the attention they are drawing to themselves seem to be actively supporting terrorist organizations. >> reporter: in a 2015 guide to the islamic state, a man believed to be dhar says, "snickers, kit kat, bounty, twix, yes, we have them all".
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>> it forced me to inquire who this person was and what his message was about and i realized that this man was someone who stands up for the truth. >> reporter: now siddartha dhar would be filling a crucial void left by the original jihadi john. >> their propaganda piece, which, among other things, shows someone who is raised in the society who speaks per effects english, who can speak to your audiences and now they are on our side. >> reporter: but the big question tonight still is, is siddartha dhar the man in the video? his family has been interviewed and they said at first they thought the man was siddartha dhar. they thought it was his voice but then said they were not sure. officials are analyzing this new video and are tight-lipped. >> that man may have tight connections with a radical cleric in britain? >> he was arrested in 2014 alongside a man named anjem
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choudary, a radical cleric who has voiced support for isis and the 9/11 terrorists. he's standing charges this month and it was after his association with anjem choudary that he fled to syria and joined isis. >> let's bring informer cia analyst phil mudd. why do you think isis decided to showcase a new so-called jihadi john? >> i think if you look at isis, you're talking about a group that wants to create a global empire, if you will. they have to retain 700 plus citizens of the united kingdom have gone to join isis. they've got to maintain fundraising among people who will fund them outside syria and iraq and energize their own fighters who are watching these kinds of videos to determine what the leadership is doing. they have lost traction and i think they made a simple decision. life with jihadi john who is
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dead now, we need a voice who is consistent and to analyze people and we need videos. losing traction, they said, we have to figure out a way to regain it and this is their effort to do so. >> they often release videos like this after they've suffered losses on the battlefield. do you sense that they are worried about the recent loss in ramadi and iraq? >> i'm not sure they are worried about it. these people are motivated by what they believe is direction from god. when they suffer from setbacks, they view this as the standard operating procedure for an organization that's being tested by god. that said, if you're sitting around on new year's eve at an isis campfire, an iraqi military is willing to fight you. the russians joined the coalition and you face more attacks from not only the syrian military but from moderates in syria. it's a good year.
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i think what we saw in this video is an effort to regain the momentum we saw, especially amid 2014. >> the original jihadi john was taken out by a u.s. drone. is it only a matter of time that this new jihadi john is taken off by a u.s. drone? >> this man is cooked. he's a dead man walking for several reasons. number one, he's got to participate in a network. a network means vulnerability. he's got to talk to people, talk to the camera, talk to detainees. the second and more interesting thing i'd say, wolf, is over the past couple of years, both the british and french have indicated willingness and have been willing to participate with the americans in killing their own citizens in drone strikes. so i think already prime minister cameron has said this guy signed a death warrant and it's okay in britain for the executive branch to sign that death warrant. they don't have to go to the judiciary. they are going to participate in intelligence collection with the
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americans and others to locate him and after that he's dead. >> phil mudd, thanks very much. coming up, what were the san bernardino terrorists doing after their massacre and before their final shootout with the police? the fbi is asking the public to help fill in the blanks. and as tensions rise between the iranians and the saudis, there is worry that there could be all-out war. ric. right now, it's like paying just $9.99 after rewards for this case of paper! office depot officemax. gear up for great. oh no... (under his breath) hey man! hey peter. (unenthusiastic) oh... ha ha ha! joanne? is that you? it's me... you don't look a day over 70. am i right? jingle jingle. if you're peter pan, you stay young forever. it's what you do.
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. now, presidential emotion. president obama tearful and angry as he announces how he'll use his power to change gun laws, promising hundreds of more atf agents and expanded background checks. tonight, cross aongress and the laws. as officials ask the public for help, where were the killers of san bernardino and what were they doing? >> missile crisis arrives. an underground missile bunker as
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tensions boil. could terrorizing escalate and scuttle the iran nuclear deal? the republican presidential campaigns awaken, dropping millions and millions of dollars on attack ads. will they make a difference in the final push for iowa? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. kro you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news. a newly revealed mystery complicating the investigation into the san bernardino terror attack. the fbi now saying it's unable to determine where husband and wife killers farook and malik were at in the first 15 minutes
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after they shot people at a holiday party. police are asking for the public's help in filling in the gap in the timeline. this comes after a tearful president obama reveals how he'll use his executive powers to prevent another mass shooting. he's implementing new gun control measures, including extended background checks known as the gun show loophole. the president was visibly angry and at times wiped away tears as he recalled the 2012 mass is customer of the sandy hook elementary school. we're covering that in this hour with governor menendez and our political committee covering in-depth coverage in the race for the white house. let's begin with president obama's emotional announcement
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of new gun control measures. jim acosta has details. it's a clearly very personal issue for the president. >> reporter: wolf, he was raw and recognized he is running out of time. but taking aim at what he has called the inability to pass gun control law, president obama is going around congress to tighten up the nation's background system for buying firearms. it was perhaps the most emotional speech president obama has ever given in office. first, embracing the crowd of mass shooting victims and their families on hand, and then openly crying as he made the case for new executive actions on gun control. >> from first graders in newtown. >> reporter: the president wiped away tears as he recalls the saddest day in office, the slaughter of 20 first graders and six adults in the sandy hook school shooting. >> every time i think about those kids, it gets me mad. and by the way, it happens on
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the streets of chicago every day. [ applause ] >> reporter: under the president's new executive actions, a warning to nearly all gun sellers to conduct background checks or risk prosecution. plus, new fbi and atf agents, $500 million for mental health care and a new push to develop smart gun technology. he was joined by the family of dani daniel barton who died at sandy hook. >> as a nation, we have to do better. we are better than this. >> gabrielle giffords was also attending. >> it's like you're a community of people now. >> we are for incredible -- you know, unbelievable, devastating circumstances. so it's not a community that people want to belong to. i'll just leave it at that. you don't want to be invited into that club. >> reporter: the new executive action stopped short of a new
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law mandating universal background check ace cross the country. the president blamed the nra and republicans in congress for that. >> they can not hold america hostage. >> reporter: the nra responded saying the proposed executive actions are a right for abuse by the obama administration which has made no secret of its contempt for the second amendment. paul ryan said the president goes after the most law-abiding citizens and amounts to intimidation that undermines liberty. >> he's obsessed with undermining the second amendment and law-abiding citizens who are going to fall the law no matter what it is. >> reporter: the white house says that's pure politics. >> i believe in the second amendment it's there written on the paper, it guarantees a right to bear arms. no matter how many times people try to twist my words around.
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>> reporter: now, much of the president's ability to enforce these new actions depends on congress to hire new investigators at the atf and fbi. republicans have long said that the president should enforce the existing gun laws. the white house is firing back saying gop lawmakers have the opportunity to do just that. wolf? >> soon the president will show that passion and that anger, that frustration thursday night at the town hall, the live town hall with anderson cooper. jim acosta, thank you for that report. the fbi now revealing a critical gap in the timeline of the san bernardino terror attacks. officials say right now they cannot account for the whereabouts of the husband and wife killers for about 18 minutes after the massacre and they are asking the american public's help. >> we want to ensure that we know whether or not they stopped at any locations, any residences, any businesses that we don't already know about. we want to ensure that if they made contact with anyone that we
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don't already know about between those hours, or between that time, that we're able to fully investigate those matters. >> let's bring in our justice reporter, evan perez. given all of the cell phone technology and all of the evidence that they have so far, they can't account for these 18 minutes. the assumption is maybe they were trying to dump some evidence or they were in contact with other people. that's the concern? >> all of those possibilities, wolf. and it's very unusual for you to have the fbi certainly make a public plea like this, certainly at this stage in an investigation like this and these 18 minutes, again, from 12:59 p.m. to 1:17 p.m. is the part that they don't know. we have a map that the fbi shared that shows all of the different places they believe that they were driving up and down in that san bernardino area and they didn't go very far. the fbi doesn't know of any additional plans for additional attacks that they had. it appears that after they carried out the attack at the
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regional center, they didn't go back home. they were driving around and made a few stops, including tracing a cell phone that appeared that they made a stop at a lake and that's why the fbi believes that they may have stopped there to dump some equipment or some of their evidence and that's the reason the fbi spent some days searching that lake. they ended up finding nothing that relates to this investigation. this is a really interesting -- a very mysterious case because they still don't really know why that day, why the inland regional center, why this holiday party, why did they choose this party to carry out the attack? they had the guns and the black powder, they had this for several years. still the mystery for them is solving the idea of why they did this, why they chose that day. >> still working on the assumption that this was an isis-inspired attack as opposed to a formal isis attack.
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>> they were radicalized and influenced by radical jihadi influence but they don't believe anyone overseas directed this. >> evan, thank you very much. breaking news coming in from afghanistan. an official stills cnn a quick reaction force has been deployed to the scene of an ongoing fight in which a u.s. soldier was killed. jim sciutto is working the story for us. what are you learning, jim? >> that's right. a qrf deployed when u.s. forces are in danger on the ground and we know that they've been in danger. one u.s. service member killed in action earlier today. two u.s. service members injured and in the rush to evacuate them, one helicopter disabled as well. the initial thought, it might have been hit by mortar fire. the rotor hit a wall and it was too dangerous to land. the fire fight is still under
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way right now. >> my understanding is that there may still be americans on the ground in this immediate situation engaging with the enemy and support of afghan forces. but again, i don't have the exact detail right now and how it transpired initially and what their status is at this moment in time. >> this was a joint u.s./afghan operation under the umbrella of train, advise and assist. keep in mind, that sounds like you're standing in the background or just training and advising but that often puts u.s. service members right in the middle of a fire fight. a u.s. delta operator killed in iraq with kurdish forces there. now you have an american killed here. the enemy here, we're told, in this fight, the taliban, this is a taliban-controlled area in southern afghanistan in helmond province. >> jim, thank you. joining us is bob menendez
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of new jersey, a former chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, thank you very much for joining us. i want to get to all of these issues. very quickly, the fbi is saying that they are missing 18 minutes of the terrorist movements in san bernardino. they are working on the assumption that this was isis-inspired, not isis-directed. what are you hearing? >> i don't know much more, wolf, than what you've reported. they are trying to figure out what those 18 minutes represent in terms of movements. and i believe that in time they will, with the help of the community at large, hopefully plug in that time. the real question for me has always been, is this isis-inspired or isis-directed and it seems at this point they are moving in the direction of isis-inspired. isis-directed would have been a game changer. still, a dangerous set of circumstances with lone wolf activities here in the united states and abroad. >> and they are trying to figure
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out during those missing 18 minutes whether this husband and wife, these killers were in touch with anyone that might have been directly involved in isis or some other terror group. senator, a u.s. soldier, as you know, was killed today in afghanistan. the situation is described as still ongoing. you just heard jim sciutto's report. it's been 15 years since the u.s. got involved in trying to destroy al qaeda and the taliban. why can't the u.s. get the job done in afghanistan? >> well, i think the taliban, you know, are committed to ultimately to death, if necessary, in order to achieve their goals. they are willing to take the longview. they believe that the west, in general, both nato and the united states, even though we have been there, as you have said, for nearly a decade and a half, are not committed to the longer term fight and ultimately they believe that time is on
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their side. this is rugged territory. operations are not, as we view standard armies with uniforms fighting each other is very different and the challenge is one in which the taliban know the region and at the end of the day, are willing to fight over the long term and that's part of our great challenge as well as that the afghans, despite all of the resources that we've poured into them and all of the training and assists that we've given them are still not fully up to the fight and that's a challenge as we look at the lives and national treasure that we have invested in afghanistan and look at this point and have to decide what does it mean if we don't continue to help the resolve of the afghans beat back the taliban. >> you want to keep the 10,000 u.s. troops still in afghanistan there on the ground fighting the taliban and now isis moving into afghanistan as well? >> well, as you know, the president made a decision to extend and delay the forces draw
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down there until the end of this new year. and we have to evaluate that as we go along because, at the end of the day, all of the lives and national treasure that we have committed to afghanistan, not only about the taliban coming to power again potentially but also a greater strong hold for the possibility of isis. and as we try to continuously remove territory from isis, we can't allow it to take new ground as it moves forward. >> and it's getting worse with iran and saudi arabia. they are escalating tensions. senator, stand by for a moment. i want to get to that. a lot more. we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever?
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we're back with democratic senator bob menendez. want to talk to him about the soaring tensions between saudi arabia and iran. stand by, senator. we'll get to you in a moment. i first want to bring in our global affairs correspondent,
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elise labott. she has the latest on this developing situation. >> that's right, wolf. iran unveiled a new missile bunker and promised to speed up its missile program, a show of defiance to the u.s. and so saudi arabia, where an escalating fight between the two countries threatens to derail peace throughout the region. the government unveiled a huge new underground missile site boasting precision-guided missiles which the u.s. fears could carry a nuclea warhead. this muscle flexing comes as tensions reach a new high. secretary kerry in diplomatic overdrive to get the sides talking again. >> we believe it's important to work through that tension and disagreements so we can all work harder together on other issues, which are affecting the middle
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east at large. >> reporter: today, kuwait joined saudi arabia in cutting diplomatic ties with the iran. the backlash against iran growing. but today, iran's president was defiant on twitter, declaring, quote, saudi arabia won't be able to cover up its crimes by cutting ties with iran. fury among the largely shia population spreading after the beheading of this cleric who they called a terrorist. saudi foreign minister said iran only has itself to blame. >> these are aggressive moves that have led to this, not anything we could do. >> reporter: u.s. officials fear confrontation between the regions between the dominant shia and sunni powers could bleed over into iraq where prime
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minister abadi, who is friendly with iran, needs troops to hold ramadi. now that iraqi forces have retaken the city from isis. >> there is a potential for polarization because it enables extremists on both sides to take advantage of the situation. >> reporter: and in syria where the u.s. needs iran and saudi arabia to agree on a peace deal to end the brutal civil war. >> the saudis have not agreed to any of this all along and, therefore, i think they still want to argue to their own base and to the united states international community that their focus is iran. that's where they see the problem. and they are not willing to change that posture in order to help with the fight against isis or in order to bring peace to syria. >> reporter: now, u.s. officials wonder if gulf nations are playing politics to gain leverage in syria. the saudis have been concerned
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since that deal that the u.s. would embrace iraq. today, the state department said that those fears are unfounded but despite the u.s. having no formal diplomatic ties, it's remarkable how often secretary kerry is on the phone with the foreign minister. they have grown quite tight. >> thanks very much for that, elise. let's get back to senator menendez. senator, these two countries, saudi arabia and iran, neither one seems to be backing down. how is this going to impact the u.s. war against isis? >> significantly. it's one of the most critical moments in our fight against isis. so we need a coalition of courts committed to real causes of action against isis and that coalition is fractured when you have within the region itself this type of divide. now, let me just say a couple of things, wolf. number one, going ahead and ransacking an embassy of any
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country or anyplace in the world is unacceptable according to the geneva geneva accords. we have differences with them on democracy and human rights. thirdly, american leadership is indispensable in this regard. so our challenge here is to try to diffuse the situation, get the saudis and iranians in a communicative path. that won't be simple because the saudis feel that we left them at the dance after they were committed to us for such a long time and we made the deal with iran and when president obama suggested that iran should be and would be a regional power. well, this is of concern to the saudis. they are surrounded in the neighboring countries with yemen, with iraq, with syria, where they see an existential threat around them and they are
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concerned about iranian and shia crescents. so this is going to be one of the most critical moments and a bit of a tinder box. this adds a lot of fuel. >> it certainly does. you oppose the iran nuclear deal. how much blame do you put on the president, the secretary of state for doing that deal which clearly the saudis did not like? >> well, look, you know, the deal is separate and apart. i do believe it was not the type of deal we should have structured and i do believe that we need to be very strong with the iranians. for example, as i'm sitting here, i see this new broadcast about the missile -- underground missile capabilities that they have. there is a separate set of u.n. security council resolutions not allowing the iranians to test intercontinental ballistic missiles and yet, after the nuclear agreement was signed, they have had not one but stwtw tests and so far the security
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council has done nothing and we have not quite yet done anything yet. i've written to the president, a group of my colleagues have written to the president and secretary of state saying we need separate and apart from the nuclear file to send a very clear message to iran that they cannot, with impunity, violate the international community's will and face no consequences. if we do, then whatever the nuclear agreement is worth for, they will think that they can violate that with impunity as well. >> would you think it's realistic or unrealistic to assume saudi arabia, if they continue to have this tension with iran, might actually go out and buy a nuclear weapon, let's say, from pakistan? >> well, i was concerned about that when i spoke against the iran deal because, you know, under the theory of mutual self-destruction, countries seek nuclear power and derive the nuclear weapons from them so
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they can fend off another country that has it. and so the potential has always been there. this clearly exacerbates that and it has to be a real concern. now, i know the administration will say, well, why would any country want to go through the sanctions that iran went through? but iran ultimately achieved largely what it wanted and countries like saudi arabia that have even with declining oil prices still have significant resources may very well look in terms of their own national security and follow that course. i hope they do not. but it is a risk. >> and iran's about to get $150 billion in sanctions relief, assets that are about to flow in to iran. the saudis clearly are angry about that as well. senator menendez, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead, inside the war that is raging tonight among the republican white house hopefuls. next, president obama's rare display of emotion and the
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with the first caucuses and primaries of the 2016 race for the white house only a few weeks away, the republican presidential hopefuls are attacking each other with a new found fury and not just on the stump. the ad wars are raging tonight cnn's political reporter sara murray is live in new hampshire. >> reporter: every republican is going after every other republican. but the one exception, the one mostly spared from the incoming fire is donald trump. >> you'd never won a thing of consequence in your life. >> reporter: months of honing policy positions and polishing speeches, coming down to this. the last few weeks before voters hit the polls.
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now the knives are out. chris christie bashing his gop rivals who hail from the senate. >> you go into the legislature to tell you when to be there, where to sit and then say yes or no. say yes or no. senator rubio can't even seem to get that done. >> reporter: and marco rubio turned immigration into a shot at ted cruz. >> he supported guest workers coming into the united states. he supports massive doubling of the number of green cards. his record on immigration in the past is different than what it is now. >> reporter: and donald trump, he's sticking to one of his favorite pumping bags, jeb bush. >> bush was three. bush? that's not good. how would you like to spend $59 million? see this young guy over here? stand up. stand up.
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if i spent 59 million on him, he'd be at least 5. okay? >> reporter: all of those millions of dollars coming straight to the homes of the early-state voters. a super pac slamming christie as too cozy with barack obama and his liberal principles. >> chris christie could well be obama's favorite republican governor. why? christie's record. >> reporter: and a threat of illegal immigration. >> i understand when mainstream media covers immigration, it doesn't often see it as an economic issue. but i can tell you, it is a very personal economic issue. >> reporter: vowing to secure the border. >> if i'm elected president, we will triple the border patrol. we will build a wall that works. >> reporter: and using some language that sounds awfully familiar to trump. >> he says, we're going to build a wall. now, here's the good thing. he's a politician so he wouldn't know where to start. i know how to build a wall.
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okay? i know exactly. i know the footings, how deep they have to go, how high we can go with the precast. i know everything. >> reporter: now, apparently donald trump had a little extra time on his hands to settle some other feuds today after samuel l. jackson said he was a better golfer than trump insinuating that trump cheats. trump took to twitter saying he's pretty sure he never golfed with samuel l. jackson. boring, not a fan. wolf? >> trump gets hit and he hits right back. sara, thanks very much. let's get more with chief political analyst gloria borger and ron brownstein and cnn political commentator kevin maddon and jeffrey toobin. gloria, these ad wars are escalating right now but in the bottom line, do they really mean much? >> i think at this point, first
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of all, i'm used to seeing biographical ads where these candidates would be introducing themselves to the public but it hasn't worked for jeb bush. this is what mitt romney was doing at this point. it hasn't been working. so they are not doing that. they are doing these ads that are negative and nasty to try and differenciate themselves. as i was looking at sarah's piece, what occurred to me is that they are all stepping on each other. they are all so nasty about each other that the public might just say, you know what, i can't tell the difference between these folks. and so i'm not quite sure about the effectiveness, although i do think that the cruz ad with the men in business suits climbing across the border was pretty good, i must saw. >> why is trump continuing to hit jeb bush as he's fallen in the polls? what's going on here? >> well, first of all, bush doesn't have a monopoly on his
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attention. trump routinely goes up against anybody who pops up in the polls. the reason he goes after jeb bush, he's been an important foil from him right to the beginning to many of the trump voters, bush embodies what they don't like about the republican establishment, what they don't like about the direction of the party and it's a counterpoint to bush that's been so valuable and helpful for trump, really right from the beginning and establishing his holdover his lane of the party. >> in 2012, kevin, when you were working for mitt romney, his super pac did a lot of the attack ads, if you will. that was a smart strategy at that time because it kept mitt romney sort of out of it. >> well, i think what happened is it complimented a lot of the strategies that we had inside the campaigns as far as who we wanted to draw the contrast with. when the romney campaign had to draw contrast against rick perry or newt beginnigingrich, we did
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relentlessly. one of the differences in this 2016 race is that when it comes to the front-runner donald trump, a lot of the campaigns have jabbed at him intermittently and their supsupe super pacs have been silent until now. what they are going to find answer to is was it too late to start defining donald trump? as gloria pointed out, the volume of ads with so much of the this noise is getting lost. >> you know, jeffrey, you're our legal expert. let's go through what i always assumed would happen at some point that it's now happening on this day. donald trump calling into question ted cruz's eligibility to become president of the united states because he was actually born in canada. trump saying it's precarious right now for the gop speaking in an interview in "the washington post." republicans are going to have to
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ask themselves the question, do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years? that's a big problem. it would be very precarious, one for republicans because you'd be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision and don't want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head. i'm going to tell you what cruz has just responded but is this really a serious legal issue whether or not ted cruz is a natural-born citizen? >> you know, i think the answer is, no, that it is not a serious issue. the courts have never really defined what that term means. you know, for people who don't know, ted cruz was born in canada. his mother was an american -- is an american citizen. his father came from cuba. as i say, he was born in canada. the fact that his mother was an american citizen probably means that he is a natural-born citizen in the words of the constitution. but i think an even bigger issue is that the courts would
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probably not give standing, the right to sue, to anyone except the person he was running against if he becomes the nominee of the republican party. i don't imagine hillary clinton or bernie sanders or whoever it turns out to be will actually file that lawsuit. so i think the issue will never really come before the courts in a way that the court will deal with on the merits. you know, ted cruz, there are a lot of reasons to vote for him and vote against him but i don't think the citizenship issue is a serious one. >> ron, donald trump's response calling into question his natural-born citizenship. ted cruz saying something to the effect, let me read it here, "this is happy day's suggesting trump is jumping the shark." what do you think politically, why is donald trump right now all of a sudden raising this issue of the natural-born
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citizenship rights of ted cruz to serve as president? >> a couple of things. whether or not there is a legal issue there or not, as jeffrey discounts effectively, there is the ability through this issue to kind of raise the question whether ted cruz is really one of us and i think it kind of goes with a lot of the thieves of the trump campaign, who qualifies as a true american. and i think he is subtly raising those issues, the same way he has by saying there are not a lot of evangelicals who come out of cuba. again, emphasizing the dissimilarity between cruz's background and most republican voters. over 90% of primary voters are white and over 50% are 50. what i think you see from trump, whatever the legal merits is, subtly raising those issues. and by the way, one of the things that is striking, as gloria and kevin mentioned, is how little the candidates have gone after trump which reflects their belief that in the end if
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it's one on one against trump, they would have the advantage. the problem is it may never get to one on one against trump and also that if he stays as high as he is on diminish, maybe they don't get over the top. it's a striking strategy to have the front-runner largely exempted from these ad wars going on. >> ron is absolutely right but i want to disagree on one ink this. the idea that donald trump does anything subtly i would have to disagree with. the fact that he's bringing this up -- this is typical donald trump, which is attack your opponents with reckless abandon and bring up every single issue that you can. >> and he knows that cruz is such a threat to him in iowa that cruz has the potential to win the iowa caucuses and no choice but to attack. >> i always wondered when trump brought this issue up and today he did. we'll see the fallout. guys, stand by. remember, be sure to join us tomorrow. i'll be sitting down tomorrow one on one with donald trump, the republican presidential
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front-runner. you can see the full interview right here in "the situation room," tomorrow, 5:00 p.m. eastern. my extensive interview with donald trump. we'll take a quick break and much more right after this.
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a remarkable display of emotion as president obama announced the executive action. the president wiping away tears as he recalls massive shooting over the recent years, including the one at sandy hook elementary school. >> it's our right to worship safely. that right was denied to christians in charleston, south carolina. and that was denied jews in kansas city and that was denied muslims in chapel hill and six in oak creek. they had rights, too. [ applause ] our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from movie goers in aurora and lafayette.
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o our rights were stripped from college kids in blacksburg, in santa barbara and from high schoolers at columbine. and from first graders in newtown. first graders. and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. every time i think about those kids, it gets me mad.
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and by the way, it happens on the streets of chicago every day. [ applause ] >> gloria, it's not every day you see a president of the united states start crying, in effect, as he did today. >> no. this is a president, i recall, after newtown got quite emotional, got emotional on the campaign trail in 2008 when he talked about his grandmother who had just passed away. but we don't see it very much. this is no drama, obama, as we call him. this is clearly an issue that he feels very strongly about. i think it's one of the dreep frustrations he has as president of the united states. and today what was interesting about this moment was he also admitted that gun control is not going to happen during his presidency. and he sort of came out and said it and said, this is hard and we've got to start somewhere so we're going to start with this. >> ron, you've spent a lot of
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time studying this issue. polling shows that americans are split on the issue of gun control. so how will this move by the president play out, do you think, in the 2016 election? >> first of all, i agree that's as impassioned as we've ever seen president obama in public. look, americans are not only split, they are conflicted and closely divided. i think the answer to how it plays out is reflected in this really revealing chart that we've posted today in "national journal" looking at public opinion on guns. it helps democrats among the groups where they have been gaining. minorities, socially liberal whites who put more priority on gun control but helps republicans among the groups where they have been gaining, primarily blue collar whites, rural voters, people with a gun in a household. each side, i think, in a very close balance sees a benefit in stressing this issue. and that itself, wolf, is a big change. because from 2000 to around
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2013, democrats had largely abandoned this issue, believing it was a political loser. now both sides are back on the field and i think the result is that in 2016 we are going to see the parties >>. >> jeffrey, you think these executive orders will be challenged through the courts? >> i really don't. they are so modest. the paradox of today is there was all this drama. you see the president's emotional reaction and the angry response. what he actually did was very small. he didn't even issue a regulation. all they did was issue informl guidance that said we believe the definition of gun sellers is somewhat broader than it had previously been. the number of companies affected is probably not that great.
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the only way could you challenge it is if one of these new gun sellers, newly-defined gun sellers was criminally prosecuted. he or she could go to court and say i want the case thrown out. that's a long way down the road. this was mostly, i think, a symbolic political event that really defined the terms of the debate for the future. as a legal matter, it really was a fairly minor event. >> kevin, we heard several of the republican candidates say in effect the president is trying to take your guns away. ted cruz made that point. he also posted on his website this image. take a look at this the president of the united states in full riot gear, if you will, theoretically, supposedly getting ready to take away your guns. is that going too far? >> i don't question the president's passion and belief on this i think it was strong evidenced by that moment he had today. i believe if you look at the republican party, second amendment voters are among the most animated, most active
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voters inside the republican coalition. this does offer the candidates an opportunity to draw a starker contrast with the administration that they believe, rightly or wrongly according to jeff's points, that there is an encroachment on their liberty and that this is outside. president's legal authority. >> but is that picture of the president in that helmet in riot gear, is that going too far? >> i think voters will make up their finds for that on their own. i think many -- >> what do you think? >> i believe that's not the best way to make the argument. there are many voters inside the republican who care passionately about this issue that do believe the president is encroaching on their liberty. they do rally behind certain appeals like that. >> i think the picture is disrespectful. this is the president of the united states. i think it's disrespectful. >> there i ways to make the argument in a much better way, a
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more persuasive way and beyond the republican base. >> guys, thanks very much. there is breaking news we are following. there's a new twist in the san bernardino terror investigation. where did the killers go in the minutes immediately following their deadly attacks? 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.
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more on breaking news. the fbi asking the public's health filling a critical gap in the san bernardino terror attack timeline. officials cannot account for the where abouts of the husband and wife killers 18 minutes after the massacre. let's dig deeper with peter bergen and former fbi assistant director tom fuentes. how significant would that 18-minute gap be for the fbi to learn what happened then? >> normally in a case like this, the fbi wants to reconstruct every minute of the time they spent from the time this incident ended as far days, weeks, months back in their lives. the fact there is a gap here after the shooting and before their encounter with the police, did they meet with somebody, destroy evidence, throw the
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laptop in a different dumpster than the lake or other places they were looking? that's very significant if they did any of those things. they might not have. >> the fbi is trying to determine whether this was simply an isis-inspired terror attack or an isis-directed terror attack. they are hoping if they can find out what happened during that 18 minutes, they can close down on that. >> if we look at the pattern of the radicalization, it seemed to have taken over a very, very long period of time. it seems this 18-minute gap is more useful for the things tom is describing than a particular kind of clue that will say this was directed by isis. it doesn't seem to have been anyway. these people were shopping for a cause. at one point it was al qaeda and yemen. they had been radicalized three years before the incident. >> they are trying to figure out if there was anybody else involved. that's critical, right now. there was a friend, but they
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want to find out if anybody else may have been involved. >> that's right if they have them meeting somebody else, that's very significant. they could also have developed other cases out of the original case from the cell phones or other information that they have that will not know. they are not going to tell us. if they have developed another cell and they are looking at another related cell to these two people, they are not going to tell anybody. it's not going to be in the press conference. they can do that investigation right now and looking for additional corroboration of that fact. >> this new jihadi john, this video that came out, authorities think it's a potentially significant development. >> i don't think it's 100% nailed down. he had a long record of militancy in britain. he was part of a group surrou surrounded, well known to british authorities. he escaped to syria with his family a couple of years ago. >> let's leave it at that.
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we'll continue to follow all these stories. thanks to you very much. and to our viewers, join us tomorrow here in "the situation room." donald trump will be my guest. i'll sit down with him tomorrow for a one-on-one interview. thanks very much for watching. erin burnett "out front. in "starts right now. next and new tonight, donald trump on the attack and raising questions about ted cruz' citizenship. trump versus cruz. both candidates speaking live this hour. we'll take you there. a rare show of emotion for president obama crying at the white house. will his executive actions on guns make a difference? armed protesters take over federal building. why some of them are citing their mormon faith as a reason for the takeover. let's go "out front." good evening, everyone, i'm


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