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Sources: Farook Planned, Abandoned 2012 Attack; San Bernardino Killers Radicalized Before They Met; Protesters Demand Resignation of Chicago Mayor. Aired 5-6:00p ET

Aired December 9, 2015 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Previous plot. Tonight, new revelations about the man who provided the killers with some of their weapons. A childhood friend, former next door neighbor, Muslim convert who married into the killer's family. And now CNN is learning he told investigators about a previous plot abandoned in 2012. Did he know about the San Bernardino attack, as well?

Terror marriage. The couple behind the massacre now said to have been radicalized before they even met online. And discussing jihad and martyrdom for years. Was it a shared hatred for the west that brought them together?

Anger in the streets. Protesters shutting down parts of downtown Chicago, demanding the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel over excessive police force, including that now notorious killing of a black teenager, all caught on camera. Will the mayor's apology and calls for a painful and honest reckoning quell the outrage?

Trump one-on-one: the Republican presidential frontrunner sits down with CNN's Don Lemon amid the biggest controversy yet of his campaign, facing bipartisan outrage for his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Will Trump back down? Don Lemon standing by to join us live this hour with the candidate's answers.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on several fronts tonight, including in downtown Chicago right now. Hundreds of outraged protesters are shutting down streets as they demand the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, resign after multiple incidents of excessive force by Chicago police.

We're also standing by for remarks from Donald Trump, under fire from both Democrats and Republicans for proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Trump just sat down to talk about the exploding controversy with CNN's Don Lemon. We're standing by to hear what Trump is now saying.

And there's news breaking right now in the San Bernardino terror attack. The FBI director saying that husband and wife killers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were radicalized before they even met each other.

And sources are telling CNN authorities now believe Farook and his friend, Enrique Marquez, who provided him with some of the guns used in the massacre, plotted an earlier attack back in 2012 that was abandoned.

We're covering that and much more this hour with our guests, including the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. Also, our correspondents and our expert analysts. They're standing by with all of the fast-moving developments.

Let's begin with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.

Pamela, you're learning more from your sources about this alleged 2012 terror plot that was abandoned. I know CNN, you broke it first. What are you finding out?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned that Syed Farook and his friend, his former neighbor and friend, Enrique Marquez, were apparently plotting to launch an attack back in 2012. This is what Enrique Marquez has been telling investigators.

We know that he has been questioned over the last several days. And he told investigators that the two had been radicalized as far back as 2011. And in 2012, after Marquez had purchased two AR-15s, that they had plans in the works and that they were going to launch the attack but that they got spooked. Apparently, he told investigators they'd picked out a specific target in the California area.

And right now investigators are trying to corroborate the information that Marquez gave to investigators, verify the details. We know that just after the San Bernardino attack, he checked himself into a mental health clinic. So there's still a lot to verify in terms of what he has told investigators.

And right now they're trying to figure out whether or not he had any prior knowledge or if he was complicit in any way with the San Bernardino attack. He claims, apparently, according to sources, that he didn't know about that, but he did tell investigators about this prior plot that the two had conspired about.

And there's still a lot to learn, Wolf, with this neighbor and also anyone else who may have been associated with the terrorists including, you know, investigators want to know more about the family members, the mom who lived there under the same roof where these bombs and the cache of weapons were.

BLITZER: And all of this is coming, in part, because Enrique Marquez waived his Miranda rights and is talking to law enforcement. Is that right?

BROWN: That's right. He waived his Miranda rights, sources tell my colleague, Evan Perez. He's been talking to investigators, giving a lot of really important information and giving a timeline, Wolf, of the radicalization of Syed Farook.

We heard Director Comey of the FBI today say that Farook and his wife were online talking about jihad in 2013. Jihad, rather, in 2013. But even two years prior to that, we're learning now through this friend who's speaking to investigators, that Farook was radicalized then and had been planning for some time to launch an attack.

[17:05:15] The question now: was something missed? And how far along in this plotting were they? I mean, that's also a big question. People talk all the time about things they want to do in the U.S. But really, how far along were they?

BLITZER: Pamela Brown breaking the news for us. Pamela, thanks very much.

There's also other breaking news we're following in the San Bernardino terror investigation. CNN's Brian Todd has new information about Enrique Marquez. He's the man who bought those automatic rifles that the killers used.

What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we have new information about Enrique Martinez's [SIC] background, about his conversion to Islam, his relationship with San Bernardino killer Syed Farook, and more about this crucial new turn in the investigation.


TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials say they learned the new information on the 2012 plot from Enrique Marquez himself. Marquez told investigators he and Syed Farook were on a path to radicalization as early as 2011. That same year, U.S. officials say, Marquez bought the first of two assault rifles for Syed Farook, which Farook later used to carry out the San Bernardino attacks.

RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: It could well be that Farook was trying to mask what his intentions were in everything that he did by using aliases or potentially using a straw buyer for weapons.

TODD: Enrique Marquez has told investigators he didn't know about any plans for the San Bernardino attack. But in the wake of the attack, Marquez checked himself into a mental health facility. He's not been charged. But his house has been searched. And tonight his role in the investigation is crucial.

HOSKO: I think Marquez is key right now, because the two primary actors are dead. They have tried to, at least, destroy some of their electronics to prevent law enforcement knowing what they were up to beyond this.

TODD: Enrique Marquez is a convert to Islam, who once attended this mosque in Corona, California. CNN has learned he was a childhood friend and next-door neighbor to Syed Farook. Neighbors say the two worked on cars together and that Marquez was introverted. According to his marriage certificate, Marquez was married last

year, with Syed Farook's brother as a witness. Marquez and the brother, Rahil Farook, and their wives all listed the same home address. Even though he's told investigators he didn't know of the San Bernardino attacks in advance, a friend of Marquez's told ABC News of something Marquez said at a party months ago.

MICHAEL G. STONE, FRIEND OF ENRIQUE MARQUEZ: He said something on the lines of, like, there's a lot of Muslims in our own backyard just ready to just go haywire and attack. We didn't think nothing of it.


TODD: But Michael Stone also told ABC that Enrique Marquez was drunk when he said that.

Now, officials caution Marquez's story about the 2012 plot could be an attempt to deflect his role in helping buy the rifles used in the San Bernardino attack.

Enrique Marquez could not be reached for comment. And so far no attorney for him has come forward. He has waived his Miranda rights and is cooperating with investigators, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Brian, you're also learning a little bit more about Marquez's time at that mosque out in California.

TODD: That's right, Wolf. A manager at the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco Mosque told CNN that Marquez had attended sermons by himself for a while, but then he says Marquez stopped coming to the mosque about two years ago. When this manager later asked Marquez why he stopped, Marquez said simply that he had been busy.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.

Let's go to San Bernardino right now, where new information is emerging about the husband and wife terrorists who carried out the mass murder. CNN's Kyung Lah is out there for us.

Kyung, investigators are now revealing new details about the couple. What are you learning?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we're learning is and what their focus remains on -- even though they're looking into these other people around the couple, their focus remains on the couple itself and whether this marriage, a marriage that was born online and overseas, whether it was simply designed for terror.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: ... who were radicalized for quite a long time.

LAH (voice-over): Today before Congress, the FBI director suggested the husband and wife shooters, seen here as she first arrived in the U.S. on a fiance visa in the summer of 2014, had a marriage forged by terror.

COMEY: As early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and then married and lived together in the United States.

LAH: Investigators now believe Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had each become radicalized before they ever met or started dating online two years ago, while she was still living in Pakistan. They married in California last year. What remains unclear tonight, sources say, is if their love was real or if their relationship was a sham.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is there any evidence that this marriage was arranged by a terrorist organization or terrorist operative?

COMEY: I don't know the answer to that yet.

GRAHAM: Do you agree with me that, if it was arranged by a terrorist operative of an organization, that it's a game changer?

COMEY: It will be a very, very important thing to know.

LAH: Police now want to know more about the couple's baby and Farook's mother, who was living with the couple at the time of the attack. CNN has learned she sold the home where she had been living alone for more than $200,000 in the summer of 2015.

On investigators' radar tonight, a $28,500 deposit into Farook's bank account in the months before the assault.


LAH: Now, on the night of the assault, the -- there was an attempt by the couples to destroy their electronic tracks. They had smashed those cell phones. But we are now learning, Wolf, that investigators have found a tablet and other cell phones in the couple's home. And they have pulled some data from them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kyung, thank you.

Kyung Lah in out in San Bernardino for us.

Let's get some more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He's the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. The FBI director James Comey in his testimony today said those killers were, at least in part, inspired by ISIS. What information have officials learned to come to that conclusion, other than that Facebook posting made on the day of the attack, when the wife pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think probably there's a mixture of information that they're able to exploit from electronics, Wolf. Some that indicates they may have looked at other organizations. And they may have made a rather late decision to proclaim allegiance to ISIS.

But there are a ton of unanswered questions here. If, as the director stated earlier today, these two were radicalized but in communication with each other even before they met, there's a profound question about why we didn't catch those kind of international communications. And if there were other plots, either that they were working on at the time or had been working on in the past with this neighbor, there are profound questions about why none of that came to our attention, too.

So on the intelligence committee, we're going to be pouring through this to determine how we missed what we missed, what steps can be taken to improve our intelligence gathering, as well as what we do here at home to protect against these kind of attacks.

BLITZER: Is there any indication, Congressman, that this attack was actually ordered from overseas, or the two had some sort of guidance or financial assistance directly from ISIS?

SCHIFF: I don't know that yet, Wolf. It sounds like, from the director today, he was not aware of that yet. Obviously, this is something we're desperately eager to find out. Was this in any way directed by foreign terrorist organization? Or was this, as it might appear, a last-minute decision by the female shooter to align herself with al-Baghdadi? We're very interested in knowing just how long this relationship, if any, with ISIS may have gone on.

BLITZER: Syed Farook was allegedly planning another attack back in 2012. Has the FBI learned any more from the individuals he was communicating with and how he was actually communicating?

SCHIFF: I don't know that, Wolf. And frankly, it's been a frustration for us on the Intelligence Committee that the FBI has not yet been more forthcoming with us. There still is a lot we need to learn as overseers, but also the FBI, I'm sure, is still very much in the early stages of this investigation. They're trying to answer a lot of these questions. And I'm not sure how many answers they have at this point.

BLITZER: Do you know if he had an accomplice in that previous plot, if this friend, Enrique Marquez, for example, was that accomplice?

SCHIFF: I don't know, Wolf.

BLITZER: Because he's obviously now waived his Miranda rights, and he's talking about something that occurred back in 2012.

Here's the question. If the husband and wife killers had been radicalized for years before they met, what does that say about the vetting process here in the United States?

SCHIFF: Well, it says that we have a lot of flaws in it. We've started to repair some of those flaws by the legislation we've just taken up on visa waiver here in the House last night.

But if, for example, the female shooter applied for this fiance waiver, gave an incorrect address, wasn't even interviewed and yet somehow made it through that process and we're still trying to determine whether that interview took place, then that exposes some real weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our security practices in terms of our visa process.

BLITZER: Yes, the husband, Syed Farook, a U.S.-born citizen, obviously. His wife, Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani woman who came here on a fiance visa, allowed to come into the United States because she was going to marry Syed Farook.

Stand by for a moment, Congressman. I want to get into the whole area of encrypted communications. The FBI director says this is his big nightmare out there right now.

[17:15:00] Were these two terrorists using encrypted communications to communicate with some folks outside of the United States? Much more right after this.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Sources now telling CNN that authorities now believe that Syed Rizwan Farook and his childhood friend and neighbor, Enrique Marquez, plotted an earlier attack back in 2012 that was abandoned.

[17:20:10] Marquez provided Farook and his wife with some of the weapons they used to massacre 14 people. Marquez has told investigators he didn't know about the plans for the San Bernardino terror attack. And he has not been charged.

We're back with the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Congressman, the FBI director, James Comey, confirmed today -- this is pretty stunning -- that there were 109 encrypted messages between that Garland, Texas, terrorist tried to commit a terrorist act back in May of this year and an overseas terrorist the morning before the attack. But Comey and other officials say they have no clue what those 109 messages contained. They can't -- they can't get into those messages.

Here's the question: is it possible that radicalized individuals are sitting in the United States right now, plotting and communicating about attacks using this encrypted cover, if you will?

SCHIFF: Excuse me, Wolf. It is certainly possible that those encrypted communications are going on. And we are going to be very interested to determine in this case in San Bernardino whether that was an issue.

At this point I don't know that we can tell that, but we should be able to determine, having seized some of the electronics. And we're pretty good at being able to restore even smashed electronics. So that's a very real concern, and it's a very concern not only for the intelligence community, but it's also very much for the law enforcement community.

There are all kinds of people engaged in much more garden variety crimes, some of them very violent here in the United States, where the devices they use are encrypted, so even with search warrants you can't get into, for example, an iPhone and determine evidence of a kidnapping and assault, a robbery, a rape, a murder.

But also, as you can see, it's presenting a real blind spot to the intelligence community as ISIS and other organizations counsel their members to go dark by using these encrypted applications.

BLITZER: Is there -- as far as you know, and you're well-briefed on all of this, Congressman, is there some specific plan of the FBI other law enforcement intelligence agencies have right now to deal with this dilemma?

SCHIFF: Well, there really isn't. And, you know, I think the intelligence community may have more resources to try to get at the problem and try to identify who's talking to whom and how to be able to listen to those conversations or gain access to them.

But it's very difficult. This encryption is incredibly sophisticated. We've been having, you know, I think, very productive in-depth conversations between the intelligence community law enforcement and the technology sector about what can be done about it.

But there really is no consensus. We're not even near a consensus. And I'll say this, that you know, there's a great deal of dimensions to this problem. You have the technological question about whether you could safely build in a door for law enforcement to go through to see these encrypted communications with a court order.

So there's technological challenges involved. There are also privacy interests not only at home but overseas, where people may use these encrypted communications for legitimate purposes to avoid the prying eyes of authoritarian regimes.

And then finally, even if we had some kind of reform here at home, what's to prevent these terrorist organizations simply using apps either that they develop themselves, because the technology is widespread, or overseas applications providers that are encrypted. So a lot of tough issues in trying to wrestle this going dark problem to the ground.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff of California, thanks very much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead. Angry protests on the streets of Chicago, right now, the demonstrators demanding that the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, resign.

Also breaking now, Donald Trump still defiant, still threatening, potentially, a third-party run for the White House. Stand by. Don Lemon has just sat down for a one-on-one interview with Donald Trump. We're going to have that for you. That's coming up.


BLITZER: We're standing by for our new one-on-one interview with Donald Trump. He just sat down with Don Lemon. We'll get to that in a moment.

We're also following some breaking news in Chicago, where protesters have now taken to the streets, demanding the resignation of the mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The demonstrators furious about the conduct of the Chicago police. They say the mayor's latest apology isn't enough.

Let's go to CNN's Martin Savidge. Martin, what sparked this latest round of protests?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's all the things you mentioned there in the lead-in. People clearly upset with the way the police department has been acting and also clearly upset with the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, with what they feel was a lack of leadership.

Several hundred people here gathered in what is considered some of the prime and most expensive real estate of all of Chicago. This is the Gold Coast area.

But this demonstration has been going on for four and a half hours, ever since Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered his speech down there at city hall. Clearly, these protesters here didn't believe a word that he said. And what they say they want to see is not his apology. They want to see him walking out the door.

This has really turned into a political crisis, as much as it's turned into one of a law enforcement question here in the city of Chicago.

The protesters here, several hundred -- take a look over here this way, Wolf. You've got a pretty strong, heavy police presence, as well. And that's the way it's been working. This has been a peaceful demonstration. It has constantly been on the move. It stops at major intersections, major areas, organizes again and then pushes on.

There have been a few detentions. There were people who were arrested but only held for a while and then released. That created a few standoff moments for this protest, but once their protesters were set free again, they move on.

It's not done in cooperation with the police, but it's clearly being done in coordination with the police department. So far all of this has gone on peacefully.

But the one thing protesters are making clear: they're not leaving and they're not stopping until, they say, the mayor steps down, which means all of this is going to continue for as long as it takes, they say. Disrupting downtown traffic, disrupting commerce and clearly disrupting neighborhoods, Wolf.

BLITZER: Martin Savidge on the streets of Chicago for us. Thanks. We'll stay in touch.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; the former FBI assistant director, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes; and former federal prosecutor, our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin.

Sunny, these protesters demanding the resignation of Mayor Emanuel. Has he lost the confidence of this city in the wake of the fatal shooting of that Laquan McDonald, young teenager who was killed?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there's no question there's a crisis in confidence now in Chicago about the mayor's leadership. I mean, there was a poll done, commissioned by the insiders, a newsletter that's published by "The Illinois Observer" and 51 percent of Chicagoans say that the mayor should resign.

We're hearing more talk, and more and more talk about a cover-up of a police shooting for over a year. That's a very, very serious allegation. I mean, the timing, though, if you think about it, Wolf, is curious at best. We're talking about a shooting October 2014. And then we're talking about his re-election April 2015.

And then we hear a settlement, a $5 million settlement with this family in April just a day after his election. And so people are questioning his transparency. They're questioning his leadership. And we know that his office fought at every turn to prevent the release of that video.

I think it's more than a crisis, actually, in confidence for this mayor, because we now know that the state representative, LaShawn Ford, has introduced a bill that's calling for the recall of the mayor of Chicago. And so when you look at all of those facts, my goodness, you know, what will he do? Will he resign?

BLITZER: Does he have the confidence, Tom Fuentes, of the Chicago Police Department? We're talking about the mayor.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't think he does. And I think especially, you know, he's just sacrificed their last superintendent, McCarthy. And what we don't know and what started to emerge is that Rahm Emanuel's the one that held back on these videos or has been fighting the release.

You know, now we don't have commissioner -- or Superintendent McCarthy anymore. And the current videos are being fought from being released to the public. So I think he's being held accountable for what decision it looks like being his decision to not release the videos and be transparent.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, I want to switch gears a little bit. In another major development here, something we're watching, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Antonin Scalia saying today during the court's hearing of an affirmative action case, he said -- let me quote from Scalia -- "There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a less -- slower track school," he said, "where they do well."

Those remarks, as you can imagine, generating a lot of controversy right now, especially on a sensitive issue like affirmative action. What exactly is he saying, Justice Scalia?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there was a friend of the court brief filed making precisely this argument, that it would be better -- that African-Americans would be better off at slower track schools.

But as usual, Justice Scalia expressed himself in the most inflammatory way. You know, he has really almost intentionally become the "get off my lawn" justice. And this is the way he expresses himself verbally, the same way in his written opinions.

And what will be even more interesting is on Friday the audio of the oral argument will come out. So everybody will be able to hear for themselves what he said. And people will react accordingly.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on this controversy. That's coming up later.

All right, guys, stand by.

Also coming up, there's breaking political news we're following. You're going to hear what Donald Trump just told CNN's Don Lemon about his threat to run as an independent presidential candidate instead of as a Republican.

Also about the political firestorm over his call for a stop to Muslim immigration.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Are you racist?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the least racist person that you have ever met.



[17:39:57] BLITZER: Breaking news in the 2016 presidential race. Donald Trump once again threatening a third-party run for the White House, a move that could deeply split the Republican Party.

Our CNN anchor, Don Lemon, is just back from a one-on-one conversation with Donald Trump.

Don, what did he tell you about the possibility of a third-party run? LEMON: It's always interesting. I wasn't sure how he was going

to answer that question, but Wolf, he seems to -- not seems to. He really does take issue with the establishment in the Republican Party, the leaders of the Republican Party. He does not feel that he is being treated fairly. And if he is not treated fairly, whatever that means -- I asked him what that meant -- he said, don't rule out the possibility that he could run on his own. Take a listen.


LEMON: Here's what Jeb Bush tweeted. He said, "Maybe Donald negotiated a deal with his buddy Hillary Clinton. Continuing this path will put her in the White House." And then he linked to this tweet -- the tweet of you saying that 68 percent of your supporters would support a third-party bid.

Here's the pledge that you signed. You saw this pledge. You know where I'm going. Are you going to break this pledge?

TRUMP: I think it's highly unlikely unless they break the pledge to me, because it's a two-way street.

LEMON: What does that mean?

TRUMP: They said they would be honorable. So far I can't tell you if they are. But the establishment is not exactly being very good to me.

But I'm leading in every poll by a lot. It looks like I'm going to win. My whole life has been about winning. I'm not like so many of the other people that you talk to that are essentially losers, OK. I know how to win. I intend to win. It's the best way of beating the Democrats if I get the nomination.

In the FOX poll that I'm sure you saw, I'm way ahead of Hillary. Head-to-head I'm ahead of Hillary. I will beat Hillary. The one person that Hillary doesn't want to run against, and I know a lot of people inside, because I get along with Democrats, with Republicans, with liberals, with everybody, the one person that they don't want to run against is me.

LEMON: OK. I just want this plain spoken for the viewer.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

LEMON: What do you mean? You say if they break this pledge then you'll break the pledge. What do you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, if they don't treat me with a certain amount of decorum and respect; if they don't treat me as the frontrunner -- by far the frontrunner; if the playing field is not level, then certainly, all options are open. But that's nothing I want to do.

LEMON: How will you know that? What determines that?

TRUMP: Well, I think I'll know that over a period of a number of months. We'll go through the primaries. We'll see what happens, and I'll make a determination. But I would imagine they would treat me properly, because I'm leading by a lot.

LEMON: So the pledge is you keep your word if they keep their word?

TRUMP: You got it. I want to run as a Republican.



BLITZER: Don, you also asked him about the charges that his ideas are bigoted. How did he respond?

LEMON: Wolf, you know, I asked him that a few months ago during an interview, and I think we played some of it here on THE SITUATION ROOM, and some people were taken aback by it, like, "Why would you ask him that?" I mean, you know, where have you been?

I asked him, I said, "People say you've insulted women, you've insulted Muslims, you've insulted Mexican immigrants, you've insulted Asian people and on and on, and African-Americans."

And he said, "I don't think so. I don't think I've insulted any of those people." He doesn't consider himself a racist. In fact, he says he's probably the least racist person you will ever meet. Here he is.


LEMON: Here's my question. I asked you last time, I said -- and some people were shocked -- if you were racist. You knew why I was asking you that? Are you racist?

TRUMP: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.

LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so.

LEMON: Islamophobia?

TRUMP: I'm the person -- No, not at all. I'm a person who happens to be very smart, and I happen to have a certain street sense, and I know where things are going.

I said take out Osama bin Laden, in a book written in the year 2000, called "The America We Deserve." I said, "You better be careful," because I saw this guy Osama bin Laden, probably on television. I said take him out. He knocked down the World Trade Center.

LEMON: So as I sit here with you, you've been very kind to me, right? You introduced me to your family. You've been very kind to me. It has to -- when people say that you're racist or homophobic or Islamophobic or whatever it is, that has to bother you, or compare you to Hitler. There are newspaper covers. Does that bother you?

TRUMP: If things are true, if that were true, it would bother me tremendously. OK? But of course, if you're a racist, you probably wouldn't care. But if things are true, it would bother me. But it's so false. And honestly, I don't hear it often.


LEMON: So in this interview, Wolf, he talked about -- he's very clear about why he has said what he said about Muslims, about immigration, about policy, about a temporary ban. He's very clear about that. He is not taking any of it back.

He's also very clear about this. He believes that he has hit on something with the American people that people say in the privacy of their own homes or privacy -- in private conversations, but they don't necessarily say it publicly. And he believes he has hit the right note with this and that Muslim immigrants into this country, he said with some exceptions, should be temporarily banned until we figure out what's going on, as he said in that statement. And I followed up, what does that mean and he explains in the interview what he means by it until we figure it out.

BLITZER: Don, I want you to stick around. Stay with us. But I also want to let our viewers know the full interview with Donald Trump will air on Don's program later tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon, 10:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, we're going to go back to the streets of Chicago where protesters are now demanding the resignation of the Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Plus, we have breaking news from the investigation into the San Bernardino terrorists. Officials now telling CNN the man who bought their automatic weapons was part of an earlier plot.


[17:50:12] BLITZER: This hour, we have breaking political news in a new one-on-one interview with CNN's Don Lemon, Donald Trump says he still wants to run for president as a Republican but he's threatening a third party run if the Republican establishment doesn't treat him with -- in Trump's words -- a certain amount of decorum and respect.

Our anchor Don Lemon is still with us. We're also joined by our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and our CNN political commentator SE Cupp.

SE, you heard Trump say -- make this threat. How worried should the Republican establishment be about this threat?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It would really make no sense for him to do this. As he points out, he is leading in all of the polls running as a Republican, so I'm not really sure what -- you know, what would make him decide to run over as an independent where historically that has never produced -- a third party candidate has never produced a president.

I think Republicans need to be worried that he's threatening this kind of language but frankly if I'm Republican, I'm ready to excise the diseased limb from the rest of the body to save the body, and I know that that might ultimately mean a loss for the White House but I think it would ultimately preserve the conservative party, the conservative movement in the Republican Party for many, many, many years to come. He's threatening down ballot, you know, races at this point.

So I think we have to think long term and as much as it might hurt to have a third party run, it might be better for us in the long run.

BLITZER: Dana, you know, a lot of Republican establishment, they believe if he were to run as a third party candidate it would take a lot of Republican votes and virtually guarantee the Democrats -- let's say Hillary Clinton's election.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And I was talking to some Republicans today who said, you know, never mind a national run. If he doesn't get the Republican nomination, ends up wanting to be a spoiler, he could just put his name on the ballot in Virginia or in New Hampshire or in any other potential swing state, and if the election is that close, he could throw it for the Democrats. He can just do something like that.

But I think, SE, my sense is that his threat isn't so much, if you -- if you, you know, make me angry, I'm going to leave now. It's ultimately if I don't get the nomination I could leave. That's the biggest threat.

CUPP: You think he's planting seeds for the future.

BASH: It seems that day.

CUPP: And that may be the case.

BLITZER: Let me go back to Don Lemon who just had this important interview with Donald Trump. Did he explain to you on the controversy surrounding his comments yesterday that all Muslims should be banned from coming into the United States at least for the time being? Did he explain how he would verify whether or not someone is Muslim?

LEMON: Yes, he said well, we'd have to work with all of the, you know, member nations, he said, and to figure it out but he did say that there would be exceptions. I asked him about athletes, about diplomats, about foreign leaders from Muslim countries. He said of course, Don, of course, that, you know, there would be exceptions to this, but he said that he would work within the system, work within the bounds of the Constitution and with governments from member nations from our allies to make sure that this works.

What I thought was very interesting is that I said, you know, what about people who are radicalized here. When you look at one of the gunmen in San Bernardino, born, raised here, radicalized here, how do you stop that? Well, he said, you know, you can't stop everything. I've looked into all options. But he did respond to that and he gave a little bit -- a couple more specifics in our interview tonight that you'll hear about how he plans to do that.

But once with the third party thing, again, he says he wants to run, SE and Dana, he says he wants to run as a Republican. I said, if you were to run as an independent, and I'm not sure we put that part in the clip that you had, do you think that you would win? He said, I think it would be much tougher. I could win but I would rather not do that, was basically his answer.

BLITZER: Interesting stuff. All right, Jeffrey, is it constitutional what he's proposing to keep all Muslims at least temporary out of the country? How does that work?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I certainly think it is not constitutional. I also suspect we'll never know because Congress would never pass such a law so it would never be tested in court, but, yes, it is true that we can limit individuals -- immigration from countries. That's something that's been done many times in American history. But never in American history have we limited a religion and, you know, it is true also that non-citizens don't have the same constitutional rights that American citizens do, but they do have some rights.

And the idea that they could be completely disqualified from the opportunity to come into this country, that they are otherwise legally allowed to do, strikes me as something that the federal courts in America would never tolerate. It's never been done in history. We've never had a law that singles out a single religion for anything. I just don't see any way this could be constitutional.

BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by.

An important note to our viewers. The final Republican presidential debate of the year just six days away. I'll be the moderator when the GOP candidates face off in Las Vegas Tuesday night, December 15th. Do you have any questions for the candidates, submit your questions by going to and commenting on the top post.

Breaking news next, major new developments in the investigation into the San Bernardino terror attack including new details of what sources now say was an earlier plot. Why was it abandoned?


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, allies in terror? Officials tell CNN that a friend who bought guns used by the San Bernardino killers was involved in an earlier attack plot with the gunman Syed Farook.