tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN January 17, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm PST
thanks to all of you for being part of our program. lit's see what happens next. i will see you next from dabo, switzerland, next sunday. happening right now in the "newsroom" -- >> several americans unjustly detained by iran, finally coming home. >> president obama calling it a good day as five citizens freed by iran are now on their way home. "newsroom" starts now. hello and thanks for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. ramstein air base in germany where very soon three of the american prisoners released from
iran will arrive in u.s. custody. this is likely the plane right there that carried them from tehran iran. they stopped off in geneva switzerland earlier today and this morning president obama from the white house applauding their safe return. he said by holding talks with iran on the nuclear deal, the u.s. was better able to negotiate their freedom. >> jason rezaian is coming home. the courageous journalist for "the washington post" who wrote about the daily lives and hopes of the iranian people. he's been held for a year and a half. he embodies the brave spirit that gives life to the freedom of the press. jason has already been reunited with his wife and mom. pastor saeed abedini is coming home, held for 3 1/2 years. his unyielding faith has inspired people around the world in the global fight to uphold
freedom of religion. now he'll return to his church and community in idaho. amir hekmati is coming home. a former sergeant in the marine corps. he's been held for 4 1/2 years. today his parents and sisters are giving thanks in michigan. two other americans unjustly detained by iran have also been released. nosratoliah khoshavi and matthew trev knittic. when americans are reunited with their families that's something we can all celebrate. today we're united in welcoming home sons and brothers who in lonely prison cells have endured an absolute nightmare. but they never gave in and never gave up. at long last they can stand tall and breathe deep the fresh air of freedom. as a nation, we face real
challenges. they may not be resolved quickly or easily, but today's progress, americans coming home, an iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted an unprecedented monitoring of that programming, these things are what we can achieve when we lead with strength and wisdom. >> that was the president this morning. let's get to chris frates at the white house. so, chris, we know that in exchange seven iranian prisoners were released from american custo custody. what do we know about the president's explanation for going ahead with this swap? >> reporter: the president made the point these iranians who were released didn't do anything violent, they weren't charged with violent crimes, weren't part of a terrorist network or charged with terrorism-related charges. they were iranians who were charged with violating the sanctions that have now been lifted after the nuclear deal and with the trade embargo. the president made the point because these channels were open with the nuclear deal they were
able to do a deal with the detained americans and bring them home. and we were talking to senior white house officials as well who made the point and pushed back against the criticism that we're hearing particularry from republicans in the primary field who believe this was a bad deal, and they say if there's anybody out there who wouldn't have brought these americans home, they should say so. this was our opportunity to bring them home. if we hadn't, there would be an endless cycle of violence. he said if not u.s. sailors detained last week probably still would have been held and these americans would still be in iranian prisons if not for his brand of diplomacy, fred. >> how does this deal influence the relationship between the u.s. and iran moving forward? >> reporter: well, certainly the president says that the channels that were opened during their talks are ones that will stay open. he makes the point that he pushed for the release of the iranians with president rouhani
when he talked to him, he said secretary kerry, every chance he had talking with his iranian counterpart, pushed to make sure the americans were released and that he says this broadens america's role in the world. here's how he summed up -- in fact, before i get to, that i want to make the point he also addressed iranians specifically. he talked to young iranians and said this is your chance to engage in a wider world, essentially challenging them to open up to the world and bring that bigger dialogue. and here's how he summed up the achievements that his administration saw this weekend. >> today's progress, americans coming home, an iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program, these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we leave with strength and with wisdom. with courage and resolve and
patience. >> reporter: obama taking a bit of a victory lap there but was also quick to point out there's still tensions between these two countries. it's not as if everything is rosy. just today the united states slapped more sanctions on the ballistic missile program in iran and the president saying there are still sanctions for human rights and that the united states will continue to be tough with iran when they need to and engage in diplomacy when that's needed as well, fred. >> all right, chris frates, thanks so much from the white house. appreciate it. so from geneva now, the freed americans will fly to a usair base in ramstein for full medical checkups and also where they will be reunited with their families and be allowed some private time. frederik pleitgen is outside the usair base in germany. give me an idea what is being prepared there for their arrival. >> reporter: well, there certainly has been preparations going on here pretty much for the better part of the day, fredricka. we spoke to some folks on the base and they said the word they
were getting is this is definitely going to go down at some point today. the flight from geneva here to the ramstein military base only takes about 30 to 40 minutes and once they reach the military base almost immediately they'll get picked up off the flight line and be taken to the landstuhl medical facility about 1 1/2 miles away from here and that's where they'll get the state-of-the-art medical care that of course is important after that long time they spent in detention. there were a lot of concerns, especially about the health of jason rezaian, that he had lost a lot of weight. we saw i would say about an hour ago an american diplomatic vehicle also enter the ramstein military base. it's unclear whether or not that is related to the fact that these three americans are going to be arriving here, most probably in the next couple of hours. but there certainly have been preparations going on. this is a facility that of course is very well versed in dealing with situations like this. the last time something like this, something similar happened
is when bowe bergdahl went through and came back to america. >> fred, give us an idea of the status of all the americans, five americans that were freed but we understand four were on the plane including along with jason rezaian was his mom and his wife. now, what about the fifth person? what do we know about that departure from iran or even later, you know, arrival in geneva? >> reporter: yeah. exactly. the whole situation was when not all of them departed iran at the same time. you had matthew, who was leased by the iranians, that was not part of that prisoner swap officially. he went out of iran apparently on his own. so you had four americans who were then left to then evacuate out of iran. one of them chose not to go on this flight. that's nosratoliah khoshavi. it's unclear whether or not he'll leave iran at some later
date. the swiss who were conducting that flight from tehran to geneva have put out a statement saying it was five people in total who were transported in tehran to geneva. it was jason rezaian, amir hekmati, saeed abedini, and mother were the five passengers that were brought to geneva and will also be the five passengers who are going to be brought to the ramstein medical facility and then of course reunited with their loved ones once they get to landstuhl. >> fred fligpleitgen, thanks so much. jason rezaian is among those on board the plane as you heard from fred that left iran earlier today. the newspaper says they are relieved the 545-day nightmare for jason and his family is finally over. two of the paper's editors spoke with our brian stelter in their first interview since their colleague was released. >> marty baron, executive editor of the "washington post," doug gel, the foreign editor, join me
on the phone from germany. marty, you're in germany. are you awaiting jason rezaian's arrival at your location? >> yes, we are. >> and you've been there stand big since friday. when did you have a sense that this swap would actually happen? >> well, actually, first we went to geneva and then we came to germany. as to when we had a sense as to when this might happen, you know, several days ago we were hearing from our reporter who's been covering this that something might happen soon. and we also heard from certain contacts within iran itself that there might be something imminent. >> so it wasn't the u.s. government tipping you off, telling you to get ready. it was one of your own reporters? >> it was not the u.s. government telling us to get ready. it was our reporter doing her job covering national security
and diplomatic relations who told us that the word that she was getting was something might happen soon. >> doug, what are your emotions right now as you wait to see jason rezaian for the first time in over a year and a half? >> i'm relooefd, but i'm also elated. i remember the morning a year and a half ago when a skachy cell phone call told me jason and his wife had been taken from their apartment the night before. we never could have believed that this nightmare would go on so long. but i'm just overjoyed that it's about to be over. >> marty, i wonder if you ever had a sense, you ever had a fear that after 545 days maybe jason would never be freed. >> well, i always held out hope that he would. i almost never say never. but i was certainly concerned that it would last a very long time. that was my primary concern.
i always felt that he would be released eventually, but i was concerned that it could be many years. >> doug, as a foreign editor, will any of your internal protocols change with regards to sending staffers to countries where something like this could happen? will you send any correspondents to iran in the future? >> i think we veal to take stock and discuss that as we learn from the lessons of jason's experience and review what's happened. clearly the world has become more dangerous for foreign correspondents operating in places like iraq and syria where the threat tends to be from nongovernmental groups and operating in places like iran and egypt, where governments have acted with impunity and punishing journalists. we've taken steps to make sure we're protecting the security of our people and reassess those at
all times. but whether we'll send a reporter to iran, we just don't want to say. >> marty, i know "the washington post" is having a big celebration at the end of this month, big newsroom opening. jeff bezos, the owner, will be there, many other dignitaries. any possibility jason could join you all for that occasion? >> well, we don't know. it would be great if he could. but the most important thing now is to make sure that jason's health is good. that's going to take some time to evaluate. and then we want to know what he wants to do. we're not making arrangements for him. he's now a free man, thankfully. and he can make arrangements for himself. >> you know, foreign editor like marty baron, there's nothing tougher than having a reporter out overseas on assignment then having that person stuck in prison for this amount of time. that's why they are overjoyed that he is free today. fred, back to you. >> all right, thanks so much, brian.
straight ahead, we're hearing from family, friends, and a lawmaker who has fought for years for the release of u.s. marine veteran amir hekmati. rheumatoid arthritis like me... and you're talking to a rheumatologist about a biologic, this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira helping me reach for more. doctors have been prescribing humira for more than 10 years. humira works for many adults. it targets and helps to block a specific source of inflammation that contrubutes to ra symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened, as have blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have
"the wall street journal" shows clinton opening up a 25-point national lead over senator bernie sanders. clinton again hammered sanders on guns today. >> i'm very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation. now i hope he will flip-flop on what we call the charleston loophole and join legislation to close that because it's been a key argument of my campaign that we democrats, in fact, americans need to stand up to the gun lobby and pass comprehensive commonsense gun measures that will make america safer. and that's what i intend to do. >> let's talk more about this and perhaps the strategy behind hillary clinton. with me from the scene of tonight's democratic debate in charleston, karen finney, a senior adviser and senior spokesperson for the clinton campaign. good to see you. >> good to see you, too, fredricka. >> tonight is another big chance for clinton to fend off sanders
in iowa and new hampshire even though we are talking about the south carolina as the stage and south carolina the place where already, according to the most recent polling in december, she continues to be out in front. so how is she doing that? how is she trying to, you know, make up for some lost support in new hampshire and iowa yet at the same time as she puts it defend south carolina and her positioning there? >> you know, i have to tell you, fredricka, our strategy is basically the same regardless of what the polls say, whether they say we're up or we're down or we're even. and that is to continue to do the work. we spent a lot of time with thousands of volunteers building a really strong grassroots organization both in iowa and new hampshire, here in south carolina and nevada. and this is one that really matters because, you know, at the end of the day it's about getting your folks out to caucus or getting them to vote, and that's not something the polls can measure. so we are going to just keep working hard every day between
now and february 1st and beyond to make sure that voters in all of these states know where hillary clinton stands on the issues that they care about and what's at stake in this collection. >> current events will always find its way into the debates, tonight coming on the heels of the release of the americans who were held prier er prisoner in. she and bernie sanders seemed to have the same point of view on this. presumably he is quoted as saying it's a good thing. hillary clinton's position on this, does she feel like she has to distinguish herself while also trying to separate herself to a degree from the obama administration? >> well, look, she was part of -- she talked about earlier today, she was part of actually bringing the iranians to the table to get to the point of having this historic agreement which we're now seeing, you know, that move forward. i do think, though, part of what that reminds us and will remind
voters, we need a president, one of the top jobs of our president is commander in chief. so as voters are looking at their options, who is the person who you think can go toe to toe with the russians, toe to toe with the iranians? we already know that hillary clinton has been able to bring them to the table once. so i think part of what this does is it reminds people this is an important part of the job and making sure that the person who walks into the oesm office in january of 2017 is absolutely prepared is critical. >> you hear from the bernie sanders campaign and they say it's clear that hillary clinton and her camp are nervous. so are you nervous? >> no, not nervous. i mean, again, i feel -- you know, i have the benefit of having known hillary clinton for more than 20 years so i know she would be an excellent president. i know -- i believe in where she stands. look, i think she's going to do very well tonight. and i have to say i find it very interesting that senator sanders is, you know, kind of -- he's sort of come around when it
comes to the immunity issue. but we're here in charleston, south carolina, where a vicious act took place in the murder of people at bible study. and why it is that he can't say he would support the charleston loophole i think is very surprising. so i think tonight we're going to hear from both of the candidates about where they stand on issues. you know, bernie has a few things they need to answer for. we'll see if he changes his tune and decides to have another conversion, this time the day of the debate. so we'll see. >> so clinton reminded viewers on morning television today that she's always been willing to stand up to the nra. she even called bernie sanders a flip-flopper on this. 's listen to what most recently is being said about the gun debate and these two candidates. >> i resent very much clinton camp saying i'm in the nra lobby. i have a d-minus, a d, like in david, d-minus voting record from the nra. i likely lost an election,
statewide election in 1988, because i was the only candidate running for congress who said, you know what, military style assault weapons should not be sold in america. i have always believed in a strong background check and doing away with the gun show loophole. >> so, karen, just this morning hillary clinton called him a flip-flopper. here he is saying i want to set the record straight. what do you expect will happen tonight at this debate? it's likely to be a very contentious issue between the two. >> i think we will certainly hear some questions about the change. i mean, he may not be comfortable with the phrase "flip-flop," which i understand. that's not part of the way he's talked about himself and his campaign. but the truth is he was asked at the beginning of this week if that vote on the gun manufacturer's liability in 2005 would a mistake and he said no, and at that point he said, well, i want to take a look at it. now, his tone and his verbiage
sort of changed throughout the week to just last night where he started to say, yes, i would support a piece of legislation that deals with the gun marver's liability. he may couch the fact he has a d-plus record, but what he didn't tell you was that the nra on that 2005 piece of legislation was their highest priority. so it is true he voted in a way that the nra was hoping people would vote, that he voted in line with what they wanted. that is true. he can't get around that. so it will be interesting to see how -- maybe he defines a flip-flop a little differently, but it sure looks like a change in position to me. >> we know tonight they're going to best, both of them, try to iron it all out. karen finney, thanks so much, from charleston, south carolina, place of tonight's debate. >> thank you. in the next hour in the "newsroom" i'll be talking to a campaign adviser for senator bernie sanders about what he is doing ahead of tonight's debate.
don't miss cnn's special coverage after the debate. our political team will break it all down and analyze how the candidates did starting at 11:00 p.m. eastern time with wolf blitzer. we'll be right back. real milk vs. almond milk ingredient spelling bee lecithin lecithin. l-e-s (buzzer sound) your word is milk. m-i-l-k milk wins. ingredients you can spell.
jason rezaian and the other americans coming home. we're learning more about those released in this prisoner swap. the u.s. is not commenting on the names of these men until after the american prisoners are in u.s. custody. but iranian state-run media is reporting their napes. all were convicted of viola vio sanctions but nonviolence
sanctions. one was arrested for conspireing to provide satellite services to iran. another in california attempted to purchase marine navigation equipment and illegally export it to iran. and three men in texas tried to illegally export high-tech microelectronics. let's talk more about the americans released in iran in this prisoner swap. a senior associate at the carnegie endowment, good to see you, karim. >> thanks, fredricka. >> how significantly will this impact, in your view, the relation going forward between the u.s. and iran? >> well, fred, we've long had a situation in which the vast majority of the iranian people would like to have better relations with the united states, but the hard line forces who really control power in tehran, the supreme leader and the revolutionary guards, have been opposed to that. i think that joust will really continue in the coming months and years. the will of the iranian people,
we should also not underestimate these forces of darkness in iran that want to see the status quo continue. >> so, then, when we look at the release of these americans and while this administration wants to celebrate that and say that, you know, this is a good day, at the same time, do you see that this kind of diplomacy working toward the release of prisoners could also backfire? >> i doubt this is the last time that the iranian government has imprisoned u.s. citizens. if i were to fly to tehran tomorrow, i have no doubt that i would also be thrown in evin prison. we should also note there remains an iranian in the prison, a friend of mine who's been in prison for three months, someone very well-known to major international companies that are interested in investing in iran. so while i think, you know, i'm thrilled for the families of
people like jason rezaian and others, i think we should put into some perspective the fact that the relationship between the united states and iran will likely remain difficult for the coming months and years. >> but you do think that this perhaps lays the groundwork for continued diplomacy that may ultimately bring the release of others? >> at some point they will have to release cian and after him, there are still many dozens of political prisoners in iran. again, i think there are hard-line forces in iran who see dual nationals, iranian-americans, as basically, you know, items that they can take and use for bartering. i would tell iranian-americans they should be careful about visiting iran these day, even folks who are not really
politically active can be caught up in the relationship between the two countries. >> do you see potentially the u.s. can leverage this now open door of diplomacy with iran to perhaps assist in the global fight and the global struggle over syria? >> up until now, despite the fact that secretary of state kerry and iranian foreign minist minist minister zarif have by all accounts a close relationship, we haven't seen common ground in syria. i think frankly, fredricka, today is really deservedly a day of relief for iranians who, after almost the last decade, are no longer under the yoke of economic sanctions. but i think fst many syrians a day of mourning, a time in which they're concerned now iran is going to have a financial windfall to continue supporting syrian dictator bashar assad and hezbollah. so up until now i haven't seen
signs that iran is really ready to reconsider its support for that regime in syria. >> karim, thank you so much for your time. appreciate it. >> thanks, fred. still to come, the u.s. and iranian presidents both hailing this as a huge victory. iran's landmark nuclear deal officially takes effect and the years of crippling sanctions. but will iran continue to keep its end of the bargain? you can't breathed. through your nose. suddenly, you're a mouthbreather. a mouthbreather! how can anyone sleep like that? well, just put on a breathe right strip and pow! it instantly opens your nose up to 38% more than cold medicine alone. so you can breathe and sleep. shut your mouth and say goodnight mouthbreathers. breathe right
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breaking news. a plane carry three-game of the five americans freed from iran is expected to land at this usair base in germany very soon. these are live pictures from ramstein air base in germany. the group was released as part of a prisoner swap. it happened just as the nuclear deal between the u.s., iran, and five other powers took effect with iran meeting the first requirements of that agreement. cnn national diplomatic editor nic robertson is live from vienna where that landmark nuclear deal was reached this past summer. what have you learned about how this swap was worked out in the thick of those nuclear negotiations?
>> reporter: we've heard president obama saying today that during the meetings there were separate meetings that were going on. and after the nuclear deal was struck last july, he says that's when the pace of these meetings accelerated. so it was something that was going on, if you will, at every opportunity. he said at every meeting that the state department by secretary kerry would have, they would raise this issue but raise it at sort of a parallel meeting. so what we are learning is that every step of the way that this nuclear deal was sort of being brought along the track unknown to us who were standing outside where that deal was being hammered out in the hotel behind me, unknown to us, that each meeting secretary kerry would have, he would raise the issue of the prisoners and that they were inching towards some progress. but after the deal was hammered
out here in july, that's when this process really began to accelerate and come to fruition, timing very clearly, timing with the next phase of iran having its compliance so far authorized by the u.n.'s nuclear watch dog. fredricka? >> nic robertson, thank you so much for that update. we'll check back with you. president barack obama says the world has reached a milestone in ensuring iran does not develop a nuclear bomb. >> now that iran's actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen. and perhaps most important of all, we've achieved this historic progress through diplomacy without resorting to another war in the middle east. >> international inspectors announcing yesterday that iran met if stthe steps required unde
nuclear deal, meaning crippling economic sanctions are lifted. president hassan rouhani hailed it as a historic day for his country, tweeting -- joining me now to discuss this, jim walsh, an international security analyst who has traveled to iran and testified before the senate on iran's nuclear program. good to see you, jim. >> good to see you, fredricka. >> in your view, how significant is it that iran is already a lot less able to put together a nuclear bomb? >> i think it's a major victory for international peace and security, for our national security, and for our allies. this is the first time in ten years that iran has not had enough nuclear material on its territory that if it had wanted to enrich it could have produced a nuclear weapon. so this is a real turnabout. and i think what's noteworthy about this agreement, most agreements are structured
reciprocally. you do something, i do something, you do something, i do something. in this one, they did it all up front. they had to fulfill all their to obligations on the nuclear side before they got sanctions relief. so i think it's really worked out quite well. >> and to see that tweet and hear the comments in an earlier press conference from rouhani, hearing words like stability and peace, in your view, is it a new day for iran? how much do you trust that this will last? >> well, i think agreements last because both sides get benefits. you don't get buy-in, no agreement will be sustainable. i think this is an agreement in which all parties got something they wanted. so i think it's likely to continuer, and moreover we have the international atomic energy agency on the ground 24/7, full-time monitoring of its sensitive nuclear financial statements. so even if it had a change of heart, we would know about it very quickly and we could go back and get -- snap back sanctions. i think the fundamental issue,
fredricka, is not what rouhani wants to do. i think we're in pretty good shape there. the question is the future leadership, the future politics in iran and, you know, the, you know, next president of the united states, will they sustain this process? i hope they will. iran has important elections in february to elect the assembly of experts, which the group that selects the supreme leader. so that's going to be a critical election. i think that's why rouhani and iran move so quickly to implement the agreement far faster than people anticipated because they wanted this victory in their hands going into the february elections. >> you heard rouhani say this is what the iranian people want. they want an openness. they wanted this kind of change in their company, in their country, and they wanted to be able to, you know, compete on the world stage. so what do you see as next in terms of access, whether it be the iaea or any other authority to see whether iran does, indeed, uphold its end of the
deal? >> well, i think it's already happened. you know, that iaea report essentially certified that iran did what it was supposed to do, and that includes now being under a much more intrusive inspection system. this is the most intrusive verification inspection system in the nonproliferation regime internationally. there's no country that is submitting to this level of transparency. so that's why i have some confidence -- >> the next check would be? >> pardon me? >> the next check or observations would be? >> well, the enrichment facilities are under 24/7, and then some of the other facilities it will be monthly or biweekly or quarterly, something like that. but at the most sensitive facilities, it is 24/7 because they have electronic monitoring and video and data coming in all the time. so we're in pretty good shape on that. >> all right. fascinating. thank you so much, jim walsh. always goold to see you. >> thank you, fred. >> we'll be right back. you're down with crestor. alright! now there's a way you can get crestor for $3.
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prisons is expected to land in germany. rezaian and his wife were arrested at their home in iran july 2014. she was released, but rezaian spent 545 days in jail. his childhood friend calls the ordeal harrowing. >> yeah. i just can't wait to see him again. i mean, as soon as i can i will. i posted every single day on facebook and twitter. i couldn't live my life every day knowing that that was happening to him. i had to do something. >> his friend says he launched online petitions and social media campaigns in hopes of getting rezaian released. family and friends of the other americans released from iran are also celebrating today. one of them is congressman dan killdy of flint, michigan. he tirelessly fought for amir hekmati's release, and he will be traveling to germany with the marine veteran's family to greet him. our sara ganim is live in flint,
michigan. you sat down with the congressman earlier. how did the family find out about heamir hekmati's release? >> reporter: hey, fred. yeah, the sister got a call yesterday morning from the state department saying your brother is with the swiss embassy in iran, and that's how she knew he had been released. this 4 1/2-year wait with plenty of false hopes, plenty of times they thought he might be released but he wasn't, that had come to an end. of course they were still full of anxiety until they actually found out this morning that he was out of iranian air space. as you mentioned, the congressman, a family friend, he was with them yesterday. he told me this homecoming is especially important because amir's father has terminal brain cancer and they had been hoping this homecoming would happen before it was too late. take a listen. >> really a big relief in a
sense that, you know, there was some fear that amir might not be able to make it back to see his father, and he will. we are reminded that it's a sad situation in many ways when amir left, his father was a strong and robust guy. he was a college professor. and now he's having some significant health struggles, but he'll be happy to see his son, and i know amir will be happy to see him. every time i'vehekmati, he said looks forward to putting his arms around his son, kissing him on the face, being with him. so that's going to be a pretty special moment. snoorl the f >> reporter: the family is hoping that moment comes in a few days. the people here in flint where amir grew up say he was a patriot, he was proud, he was strong. he actually wrote a letter a few years ago to secretary john kerry saying he did not want to be released as a part of any
kind of prisoner swap or political deal. that's who people here say that he was. he was proud of his time in the marines. take a listen to what a family friend whose son served alongside amir had to say. >> well, i mean, i don't think any less than any marine, but there is something special toll immigrants. these are first-generation american, and although he wasn't born in iran, he knows the stories, he knows and appreciates the freedom this country offers more than most. and so that regard, i mean, really appreciated the opportunity to be part of this country in defense of its freedom and appreciate it more than some of us do that don't know otherwise. >> reporter: now, the great news today, fred, is that as we speak that family is on their way to detroit to the airport. they're getting on an airplane. they're headed to germany where they're going to meet their brother who they haven't seen in
4 1/2 years while he was imprisonsed in one of the worst prisons in the world. fred? i know they can't wait. thanks so much. sara ganim, appreciate it, from flint, michigan. on the road to politics, the road to the white house. ted cruz's controversial comments on new york are sparking major backlash. how the big apple is fighting back and what cruz has to say about it next.
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movie geeks. sports freaks. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. i think most people know exactly what new york values are. frankly, they're not the same as the rest of the country's. instead of christmas, they celebrate festivus. in new york, people don't say hi to their neighbors. they say, hello, newman. >> sounds like you're describing the tv show "seinfeld." is that what you mean by new york values? >> believe me, if i could say liberal jews, i would. >> oh, boy. that was "saturday night live" taking aim at the republican presidential candidate ted cruz last night for his remarks on new york values. cruz's comments on donald trump
and new yorkers have sparked major backlash. "the new york daily news" made cruz the subject of their front page on friday. see it right there. "drop dead, ted." this morning cruz continued his attack on donald trump, doubling down, in fact, on his controversial comments. >> he explained that his views were that he was very pro-choice, he supported partial birth abortion, he was open to gay marriage, and his explanation for all of that, he said, i'm a new yorker, i'm from manhattan. those are the views of new york those are what new york values are. they're not iowa values, but that's new york values. so that was donald's own explanation of what new york values are. it's how he articulated it. and it strikes me as curious now that he is displaying such outrage that anyone would even acknowledge that there is a particular political view, and i would point out it's a view echoed by far-left liberal democratic politicians like andrew cuomo, like bill
de blasio, like hillary clinton, and donald trump has supported those candidates and their positions on a lot of issues. >> let's talk more about this with ted cruz's foreign policy adviser, victoria coats. so senator cruz is now explaining that's what he meant by new york values, but did he expect that that would be the interpretation when he said that on that debate stage up against donald trump? >> well, i think, fred rhee kashgs what senator cruz was saying was really just using mr. trump's own words from that 1999 interview with tim russert in which he explained that his views on things like abortion and marriage were informed by the fact that he was from new york, and he said this is different from how they feel in iowa. soy think what senator cruz is tapping into is that sense of disconnect between the coasts and what a lot of people call flyover country. >> so why do you suppose senator cruz would think that would
resonate with the rest of the country? if he was, you know, insulting donald trump or insulting new yorkers as a whole, was there a feeling that he thought the rest of the country would think that's okay? >> well, no. he says repeatedly he has no interest in insulting new york. heck, i'm from philadelphia. one does -- >> isn't that how in interpreted it, even donald trump? >> well, i mean, i let mr. trump speak for himself in terps of his interpretation, but as the senator said this morning he has great admiration for the people of new york and really feels that it's the liberal politicians who have betrayed them. >> so is this the kind of staying power you suppose senator cruz was hoping for with this comment or did he think it would go away? >> no. i mean, he's happy to have the conversation, and as he said preetedly, it's based on mr. trump's own formulation. and so if we want to talk about mr. trump's history, i think that's something senator cruz is very happy to do. >> so this morning donald trump sat down with our own jake
tapper and slammed senator cruz for failing to report not on that but to federal elections officials about taking two loans from citi bank and goldman sachs for his senate campaign. this is what was said. >> ted cruz, he's got a lot of people putting big money in, probably baby goldman sachs. they loaned him a million dollars, so they certainly have control over him. >> do you think ted cruz and all the other people you mentiond are more likely to be to do the bidding of their donors because they got money from them? >> yes. >> so does senator cruz feel like this is a distraction because he has to recover from moments like that? >> the statement was actually inaccurate. the loan from goldman sachs was in no way a contribution. it was a loan that ted and heidi cruz took out against their own assets to assist his senate campaign. and if the campaign had not been successful of course they would have had to have liquidated those assets. so that was in no way a
contribution from goldman sachs. and i think the senator welcomes the opportunity to clear this situation up. >> all right. victoria coach, thanks for being with us. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> more straight ahead in the "newsroom" right now. thanks for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. three of four prisons freed from iran may have arrived in germany. they left this morning on a swiss jet from the long flight from the persian gulf to switzerland. they touched down in geneva shortly after 12:00 eastern time. that moment was the result of 14 months of intense, top-secret ghoeshgss between the u.s. and iran. that had no guarantee of success for president obama who spoke this morning. he says it's a huge relief. >> my fellow americans, today we're united in