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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Warns of Independent Run; Media Outrage at Trump Muslim Ban; Judge Rules Against Chicago Police Shooting Video Release. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 9, 2015 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:24] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: First, Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims from entering the United States until the government, in his words, figures out what's going on. Well, now what seems to be going on could be a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The outrage has been fierce across the board towards Donald Trump's proposal, even from some party leaders like the RNC chairman, the Republican speaker of the House, and the Republican Senate majority leader. All of them more or less saying Trump's plan doesn't represent the party.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now Donald Trump is dropping new hints that he would possibly leave the party and run as an independent. He now is repeatedly citing this poll. You see it here from "USA Today" that says 68 percent of his supporters would vote for him if he leaves the GOP.

BOLDUAN: Where does the race go from here especially heading into a very important final Republican debate of the year next week, the CNN debate?

Let's get more from former South Carolina Senator, Jim DeMint, now the president of the very powerful Heritage Foundation. He's kind enough to join us in studio.

Great to see you, Senator.

JIM DEMINT, PRESIDENT, HERITAGE FOUNDATION & FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA SENATOR: Kate and John, great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: So we laid it out. The food fighting that goes on in presidential races. By and large, party leaders stay out of it. And stay out of it for very good reason. But as we see in this circumstance, party leaders aren't staying out of it. They feel like they have to come out and speak out against the proposal that Trump is putting forth. What's going on within the Republican Party right now?

DEMINT: Well, it's easier to attack Trump than to actually lead. We try not to focus on the personalities at Heritage but on the ideas. And Congress needs to lead, stop the cronyism that the Republicans and the Democrats are supporting. And some of the things that Trump and other candidates are talking about, I think you're going to see begin to change next year with Paul Ryan as speaker. He gave a speech last week about the big ideas. That's what unites parties. It's not the day-to-day tactical fights. And I think that's what's happened to Republicans. They've bogged down into these day-to-day tactical fights, attacking one presidential candidate or another. And the candidates are running against them.

BERMAN: You are a man of pretty big influence right now at Heritage. Heritage is very influential, so what you say matters. I'm not asking to you comment on a candidate but on a policy. You do comment on policies. What do you think of the policy proposal to ban Muslims from coming into the United States?

DEMINT: Well, Americans don't ban an entire religion because the lack of leadership of one president. It really does come down to a lack of leadership. People are fearful and frustrated. The president has -- he's been unwilling to identify the problem and to present a plan. And he blames guns or climate or other things. And when people look in at that, they're frustrated and fearful.

BOLDUAN: What about the reactionary proposal that is actually being put forth? Is that the right solution to --

DEMINT: Certainly not.

BOLDUAN: -- as you say, an ineffective president?

DEMINT: Certainly not. That's not who we are as Americans. But I understand people's frustration when they're not getting a solution and some plan that they can feel some comfort in. Even -- I mean, from left to right, the president's speech the other night did not comfort anyone, and he seemed to be talking down to everyone and criticizing the people who weren't with him. We need to move away from that and hopefully Republicans in Congress can show some leadership on that front.

BERMAN: You know, for years, when you were in the Senate, even before Heritage, you liked to stir the pot a little bit in terms of electoral politics. You would endorse people not always endorsed by the party leadership.

BOLDUAN: We've often used the term "kingmaker."

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So what about the idea of someone -- and we're not going to name names here because you don't want to get into specifics -- but what about the idea of someone leaving the Republicans to run as a third-party candidate supporting these ideas you were just talking about?

DEMINT: We're not for one party or another, but frankly as a conservative, if you have the Republicans divide in two with the left really united, then the chances of our ideas winning an election diminish greatly. Particularly someone as high profile as Donald Trump leaving. So we hope to unite the party and hopefully even impact some of the Democrats around bigger ideas. And we plan to be working with Paul Ryan and others that are in Congress to present these ideas of how we fix our tax code, how do we replace Obamacare, how do we fix Social Security and Medicare. These are things that need to be talked about in addition to protecting our country from a growing terrorist threat.

BOLDUAN: As a conservative, do you see any circumstance where you would not back the party's nominee?

DEMINT: I don't, because that's generally where conservatives congregate.

(CROSSTALK)

DEMINT: Really, I know a lot of the news is about the party and about the people. But we really focus on the principles and the policies. And our job is to build support --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:35:14] BOLDUAN: Do you think, though, with the people and the policies, is there a fight for the soul of the Republican Party right now?

DEMINT: Yes, and there always has been. There were the Rockefeller Republicans and the Reagan Republicans. And people forget that the party establishment didn't like Ronald Reagan. Yet, he proved that the bold ideas could unite people across party lines and win elections. And I've seen that in the work that I've done stirring the pot a little bit, places they said you couldn't elect a conservative to the Senate, you actually could if you had a good candidate with the right ideas. So our focus this year is to draw the parties together around the right ideas, and we'll let the Republicans sort out which one they want to actually be the nominee.

BERMAN: Senator Jim DeMint, great to have you back. Come back next time you're in New York.

DEMINT: I appreciate your having me. Thank you.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Senator, thank you very much.

BERMAN: So this question being asked in a lot of places right now, is it OK to call Donald Trump a racist? That's what a mega-popular website is now telling its staff.

BOLDUAN: Much more on that ahead.

And also this. Any minute now, President Obama, he will be speaking -- he'll be addressing the nation, marking 150 years since the U.S. abolished slavery. You see the setup there in the U.S. capitol. We'll bring you his remarks live. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:49] BERMAN: New controversy about Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslims from coming into the United States, some in the media taking a stand. The editor of Buzzfeed, Ben Smith, wrote a letter to his staff saying, "It is entirely fair to call Trump a mendacious racist. He's out there saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti- Muslim campaign. Buzzfeed News reporting is rooted in facts, not opinion. These are facts."

BOLDUAN: Trump's opinion of the media, of course, isn't exactly a secret. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The mainstream media, these people back here, they're the worst. They are so dishonest, 70 percent, 75 percent, is absolute dishonest, absolute scum. Remember that. Scum. Scum.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: The dishonest media -- they are dishonest. You won't believe how dishonest.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was the nice stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: That was the nice stuff. We'll show you the bad stuff later.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- that was not a scientific poll that he was citing.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about our senior media and politics reporter, Dylan Byers; and senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, as Jeffrey giggles.

First to you, Dylan, to talk about the media on this bit. What is behind this very, very direct statement coming from Ben Smith to his staff?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: Well, look, I think that for a long time, the media has been struggling to deal with Donald Trump and deal with some of the more incendiary things that he's said. And this most recent proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States has given the media license to sort of stand up against Donald Trump and say enough is enough. And look, you know, mendacious means that he lies. I don't think there's anyone who would disagree with that statement. Even "The New York Times" is willing to call Trump out and say that some of the statements he's made have no basis in fact. Now, is he a racist? Certainly Donald Trump would disagree with that characterization, but I think many members of the media are finally ready to come forward and say, look, enough is enough. You can't -- you can't do this to Muslims the same way you couldn't do it to Mexicans back when you launched your campaign. So that's some of the pushback that we're starting to see from outlets like Buzzfeed and others.

BERMAN: And what do you think Donald Trump likes more than anything else? Being called out by the liberal media, I imagine, what he would say, the liberal media.

BYERS: Yeah. No question. If 75 percent of the media are scum, that means three out of four are us are probably scum. I'm not sure which one of us among the four of us is not scum.

(CROSSTALK)

BYERS: It's you. It's totally you.

He is benefiting enormously from going after a group of people who are largely distrusted by his base. And that is the mainstream media. So, look. He benefits the more that the media goes against him, the more it's OK to call him a racist, a demagogue. The more that solidifies support among his base. Does it take away support from other folks who might have supported him before such a radical call? I don't know.

BOLDUAN: I think everyone can agree, though, not everything any candidate says on the campaign trail is 100 percent truthful. It's pretty amazing that Ben Smith comes out with this statement.

Speaking of the truth and what's possible and what's not possible and what's happening on the campaign trail, this proposal that's really sparked all this, Jeffrey, there's a debate of even the legality if it's even possible to ban all Muslims from coming into the country. Is it constitutional? "New York Times" today putting out quite a lengthy article saying that it could stand up to a legal challenge because of a distinction that Donald Trump is making now.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. I read that article, and I've seen the arguments, and I don't buy that at all. I think it is worth starting with the idea that there has never been a law in American history that designates an entire religion for anything. We have never had a law that said Jews, Christians, Muslims, do or don't do "X." So that's, I would say, a pretty good clue about how permissible it is.

What is permissible is that the government has made rules in the past about nationalities. Cubans have a specific policy. The Soviet Union had an immigration policy. That's part of the foreign relations of the United States diplomacy in that form. But in religion, I think, given the First Amendment, given the 14th Amendment, equal protection, given the idea that there can be no religious tests in other part of the Constitution, I don't think there's any court in the world that would uphold this in the unlikely event it became law.

[11:45:21] BERMAN: Jeffrey, you have an interesting take on the whole media aspect. A lot of people say this is just bluster from Trump. You actually think at this point we should take Trump at his word.

TOOBIN: Yeah. You know, we are always trying to sort of analyze the next step. You know, what is he trying to do? Who is he trying to appeal to? Let's just talk about what he says. I mean, you know, people say, well, he's not really claiming that all Muslims -- yes, he is. And I think, you know, rather than calling names -- I mean, I understand what Ben Smith is doing. I don't think it's crazy. I think Buzzfeed, in general, is a terrific institution. It's not my style to be calling people fascists and mendacious. But we should be talking about exactly what he's saying, what are his proposals, and what does it mean when he says, well, this will only -- policy will only be in effect until we get our act together.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: What does that mean?

BOLDUAN: When you know the act is together, he says it has to do with a touch and a feel. It's kind of like you just know it when you know it.

TOOBIN: Right. That's an appropriate thing for journalists to do, I think, is to press on the facts of what he says. You know, how you label him, what names you call him, that's of less interest to me.

BOLDUAN: Dylan, Jeffrey, thanks, guys. Thanks so much.

Coming up for us, can Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel survive the backlash that is coming at him? His new attempt to restore trust in his office as a judge moves to keep a video of another deadly police shooting out of the public's eye.

BERMAN: Plus, the hero, who vowed to take a bullet for strangers as he led them through the smoke after a terror attack, speaking out on the moments in California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:24] BOLDUAN: New this morning out of Chicago, a federal judge ruled moments ago that video of another fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager will not be released publicly.

One man who has seen the video, a former city investigator, says that the killing of this 17-year-old, Cedric Chapman, by police, a Chicago police officer, he says it was unjustified. And he says that Chapman could be seen running away from the stolen car that he was driving when a police officer opened fire.

BERMAN: That video is not going to be released the day, but they will review it if possible at a new hearing in January. And this comes after an emotional admission and an apology from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a rare speech at a city council meeting this morning. He said that the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald should not have happened on his watch, and he is sorry.

CNN's Ryan Young is following all of this live from Chicago.

It sounds like a dramatic meeting, Ryan. RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and a dramatic meeting and a

dramatic day, and a dramatic time in Chicago. A lot of people have been calling for change for quite some time, and now it seems that hands of justice are moving ever so slowly. People are definitely watching it.

We start with the Cedric Chapman case. That will be reviewed in January, January 13th or 14th, I believe, and people want that video released as well. A lot of people are saying that the city should brace themselves, because more videos are going to be compounding over the weeks as dozens of families have come forward to say that the practices in Chicago have been going on for quite some time. And now all of the family members are saying, look, there is a problem here in Chicago. And to be in the city council chambers and to the listen to mayor -- and he got quite emotional talking about the changes that need to happen in the city, and really addressing the public. And for the first time, he was taking it on his own. He was saying it is going to stop with me. That was when you saw a lot of the city councilors become emotional. And he looked directly at the people -- and he said that he talked to former gang members about respect and how he wanted. He talked about how he wanted to see the city move forward and that all children would be treated the same. He wanted to see the police department move to that mantra to make sure that everybody in the city is treated equally.

But he also talked about the crime in the city. There have been over 2,000 shootings and 400 murders, and how do you get the city and the police department to stay on top of crime, and at the same time, provide an excellent level of service the people in the communities. And that is a question that he not only did he raise, but he will own as a mayor, and make sure that it is better from here on out -- Guys?

BOLDUAN: Another big question is what is the impact of his word in that city right now.

BERMAN: Ryan Young, thank you so much.

Coming up, "I will take to a bullet before you do" -- the words of calm in the moments after the terrorists opened fire in San Bernardino, California. The officer who helped survivors out of that building, now speaking out for the first time. And why he says that he does not feel like a hero.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:39] BERMAN: New this morning, the first responders who arrived at the scene of the San Bernardino shooting are speaking out. A reminder of what they saw and what they did. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. JORGE LOZANO, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Are you ready? If you are not cool, I am not walking.

Thank you. Thank you. Try to relax, everyone. Try to relax. I will take a bullet before you, and that's for damn sure. Just be cool, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: You hear that over and over again. We have heard that amazing calm. You heard that officer saying "Relax, I am going to take a bullet before you do, that's for sure." And that officer is Detective Jorge Lozano, and he says it was his duty to help everyone there. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOZANO: There was a female there with a small child, an 8-year-old little boy who was just terrified, shivering to the point of shaking like a leaf, and I said what I said. I meant what I said. I said it for them to just kind of calm down and relax, and that we were going to be doing everything that we could to get them out of the building safely.

I don't feel like a hero whatsoever. Any one behind me or any of the people behind me or the 300 people there would have said the same thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Well, he is a hero, and let's just say that. His story is one of the many stories of the horrific scene and the fear and the terror of those first responders came upon that day.

Thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

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