Ted Cruz Calls For Resignation Of His Communications Director, Rick Tyler. Aired 3:30-4p ET

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Rick Tyler. Aired 3:30-4p ET>

[15:30:00] PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That to me is hugely different than the government saying in future phones, we need you to prebuild in the capability for us to access that phone. In Apple's world, if I was the CEO of Apple, which is unlikely to happen, but if I were, I would say, look, there's a Chinese company or Indian company that's going to come in with its customers and say, we don't give the Americans that kind of back door. So I think that would put Apple at a disadvantage. Let's distinguish between asking them to help with a phone that's already on the market and engineering a future phone that has back doors.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Fair enough. But I think the FBI in this case is saying look, all we know is that we all this terrorist phone. We can't get into it. We just want this one phone to be unlocked. And what is interesting here, though, is that this is just one layer, Phil. Even if they get into the phone, there could still be encryption on there. What then?

MUDD: I would go to the national security agency which has been expert in encryption for years to say rate the encryption on the phone. But if the FBI can't get in there, initially that phone will be wipe if they fail consistently over time. Another words, if FBI keeps trying to override, and this is the problem obviously they have, eventually the phone is going to eliminate all the data on it.

Before we continue, Pamela, let's remember something here. America's data, phone data, and especially after 9/11, email data has been readily accessible to the FBI with a court order. Nobody threw up their hands and say the country is at risk because the FBI can get data from Google or from Verizon.

I don't understand the privacy argument here. Why is the cell phone data so much different than the mounds of information? When I was at the CIA and FBI we collected from e-mail, internet service providers. So I don't get it.

BROWN: Well, and I think, you know, everything with Edward Snowden and all those documents are really sort of fueled the fire for these companies to ensure privacy for their customers. So it is really an interesting debate.

Phil Mudd, thanks for sharing your perspective. Appreciate it.

And up next, breaking news right now involving Ted Cruz, calling for the resignation of his communications director. Details on that up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:336:14] BROWN: Breaking news right now, Ted Cruz just telling reporters that he has asked for the resignation of his communications director Rick Tyler after he tweeted out a false story about Marco Rubio insulting the bible. Tyler had apparently apologized to Rubio this morning. I want to take a listen to what Cruz had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- deleted the tweet, apologized and pulled it down, although I have spent this morning investigating what happened. And this morning, I asked for Rick Tyler's resignation. I had made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with a very highest standards of integrity. That has been how we have conducted it since day one. It is why when other campaigns attack us personally impugn my integrity or my character, I don't respond in kind. None of you have heard me throw the kind of insults at Marco Rubio that he throws at me every day. If other candidates choose to go into the gutter, we will not do the same.

Rick Tyler's a good man. This was a grave error of judgment. It turned out the news story he sent around was false. But I'll tell you, even if it was true, we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate. Even if it was true, our campaign should not have sent it. That's why I have asked for Rick Tyler's resignation because the standards of conduct in this campaign have been made absolutely clear for every member of the campaign.

And listen, I understand, that Marco's campaign team believes it's politically advantageous to try to distract the topic from his own record. And they have a long record they have earned in South Carolina of engaging in this kind of trickery and impugning the integrity of whoever their opponent is to distract the attention. We are going to stay focused on issues of substance and record because I think that's what the American people want. I think that's what they deserve. And that's what they're going to get. This campaign is about turning this campaign around, bringing back jobs and economic growth and protecting the constitutional rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you talk --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: All right. Let me bring in Dana Bash, CNN's chief political correspondent, joining me now.

Dana, this looks like a pretty big deal here.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a big deal. And I think that Ted Cruz just hit the nail on the head about why politically he felt it was so important, urgent even, to make this change on his staff and to fire his communications director, because the Rubio campaign and even to a lesser extent on different issues the Trump campaign, they have been hitting Cruz over and other for the past several weeks, as somebody who runs a dirty trick campaign. And that is not something that's helped Cruz's campaign. And that I think is an understatement.

So this is something that Ted Cruz doing not just because, as he said, he doesn't want to run that kind of campaign, but also to send a political signal that he isn't running that kind of campaign. And you mentioned going into playing with what senator Cruz said what is at issue here. I will remind our viewers of it, it is a tweet that Rick Tyler who is now the former Ted Cruz communications director, sent out on a story that we now know is inaccurate, suggesting that Marco Rubio was walking by Ted Cruz's father, Rafael, in a hotel lobby, where he had the bible and the inaccurate quote from Rubio was that he said that was a good book but not many answers in it. Whereas the real story is that he apparently walked by and said, got a good book there, all the answers are in there.

So it was a false statement that he put out. Again, Rick Tyler yesterday apologized, saying that he shouldn't have done that. But where we are in this campaign and where this story line has been about Ted Cruz and his campaign doing dirty tricks, this is the last thing that Cruz needed and he needed to signal he won't tolerate that -- Pam.

[15:40:18] BROWN: Right. Because this is just the latest in a string of incidents, Dana. We had Iowa where they said that, you know, Ben Carson had apparently dropped out. There was a voter violation, mailers that went out, and so this is just sort of the -- I guess straw that broke the camel's back essentially, right? It makes some wonder why this wasn't done sooner.

BASH: It is. And you know, to be fair, you know, Rick Tyler is just -- is kind of one of many people who forwards information on social media. In this particular case, it looks like, you know, he obviously forwarded the wrong story. He apologized for it. But because of where we are, with Ted Cruz having to fight off this narrative, that he is just a regular politician, which is the opposite of what he was going for, because they're engaging in these alleged dirty tricks. He had to, again, send a signal it's not OK.

I was just talking to Rick Tyler last week in South Carolina about another alleged dirty trick which actually they turned out to be right about where Marco Rubio's campaign, they were pointing out that Ted Cruz's campaign had a Web site that was supposed to show Marco Rubio's real record of things but there was a photograph that was doctored of Rubio shaking hands with Barack Obama and that photograph never existed. It didn't happened.

And Rick Tyler saying, look, you know, they're grasping at straws and this is -- they're trying to change the subject away from Rubio's campaign record and his substance and the fact he doesn't have real accomplishments. Whether or not that's true, clearly, again, the Cruz campaign is seeing and believes that all of those allegations, they're hurting him, and so he wanted to make a statement, make a point, that in this particular issue, he's not going to stand for it. BROWN: And the question is, will this change the narrative now. We just heard Donald Trump flat out call him a liar. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I want to get some reaction now from the former Republican senator from New Hampshire and national campaign co-chair for John Kasich, John Sununu. What is your reaction to this news?

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATOR: Look. I think my reaction is probably the same as most Americans. These campaigns going back and forth, the name calling. They are acting like seventh graders at recess on the schoolyard in a fight. And it just reminds people that there's one candidate in the race right now that doesn't need on the job training, that's John Kasich, one candidate that has been the chief executive running the seventh largest state in the country, creating jobs in Ohio, that's John Kasich.

I mean, it is huge contrast. He has been out on the stump. John Kasich is talking about solutions to balance the budget and cut taxes. He is talking about his record, his vision for the country, and that's a huge distinction. Every time the voters turn on the TV and they hear about Ted Cruz complaining about Marco Rubio, Marco Rubio complain about Ted Cruz.

BROWN: I want to bring Dana Bash back in if she is still available just to continue to focus on this issue right now. Because, Dana, clearly the Cruz campaign feels like all these incidents have been hurting them, but what do you think, has it, just based on how he had done recently, you know, in South Carolina and New Hampshire?

BASH: Yes. It's hard to tell what the reason is that Donald Trump left South Carolina with every single delegate and Ted Cruz, who has been playing hard in the south, got none, and Marco Rubio for that -- you know, he's got none, and so does John Kasich.

But, you know, I do have to say that senator Sununu talking about the fact that John Kasich isn't engaging in all this. That is a positive for somebody like him because with so few people in the race, only five Republicans now in the race, everybody else is kind of shooting at each other. It might allow for somebody like John Kasich to be heard more when he says -- because he said this at several debates and he says it pretty much every time he is out on the campaign trail that, you know, he is trying to rise above this. He wants to be kind of the not just the none-dirty tricks candidate but the guy who wants to talk about solutions and not about the politics. So we'll see if that could potentially play out.

But look the dirty reality and senator Sununu knows this because he has run a lot of campaigns himself is that dirty tricks are dirty but unfortunately they also tend to work in many cases.

BROWN: All right. Senator Sununu, I want to let you jump in here.

SUNUNU: Sure, thanks. I agree very much. Look, they usually backfire though. I think in the end they hurt campaigns. They are rarely effective. And I do think this is already having an effect. There's no question John Kasich has a great deal of momentum because he stands apart as someone offering solutions, someone with a vision for the country and someone who has done this job before. He has cut taxes. Whose taxes has Ted Cruz cut? Nobody's. He has balanced budgets. He has rolled back regulations. He has done things no one else in this race has achieved.

Today, polls were out in Massachusetts that show him running ahead of Ted Cruz. Poll out in Michigan show him running ahead of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. So I think there's no question in these upcoming states that are getting ready for primaries on March 1st and March 5th and March 8th, John Kasich has a great deal of momentum. We are going to win a lot of delegates in those races. And then we are going to go on to even better turf in the Midwest and Illinois and of course winner take all Ohio.

John Kasich is out there every day, carrying that positive message, talking about his record, talking about the way we can get this country turned around again. And his vision for creating economic growth. He did it in Ohio, 400,000 new jobs created, $5 billion in tax cuts, and it's a vision and a leadership style we need for America today.

BASH: And you know, why senator Sununu is governor Kasich's best surrogate.

BROWN: Absolutely, I know.

SUNUNU: I try, I try.

BROWN: He has the right guy on his team.

SUNUNU: He's been my friend for 20 years.

BASH: I know.

BROWN: So you're passionate about it, I understand. Senator Sununu, Dana Bash, thank you so much. We have much more ahead on this breaking news of Cruz asking his communications director to resign. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:50:23] BROWN: Back to our breaking news now of Ted Cruz asking his communications director to resign in the wake of controversy.

Let's bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty at the Ted Cruz rally in Las Vegas. And we also have CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Sunlen, I'm going to start with you because you were there when Cruz made this announcement, right? Tell us about it.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Pam. And I can tell you he really moved very swiftly on this. You could tell me meant business when he announced this at his press conference just behind me moments ago. Very clear that he is trying to send a message that his campaign has zero tolerance for these sort of things. And I thought one of the most interesting aspects of what he said is, yes, this news account turned out to be false and yes, Rick Tyler his communications director deleted it and apologized.

But he said even all those things aside, even if it turned out to be true, I still would have asked for his resignation. So really trying to bring down his hammer on his communications director here to make that the point that his campaign is above it all or trying to be above it all, used to say, you know, saying we're not going to be a campaign that questions another candidate's faith. Clearly he takes that seriously clear that he's making moves to show that he is moving quickly.

And I should say also this whole life span of this controversy has been very short. Rick Tyler tweeted overnight early this morning deleting it, apologizing, shows how there's really little wiggle room here for this sort of things between these campaigns.

BROWN: But, Gloria, it's the latest in a series of issues that the Cruz campaign has had to deal with in the wake of Iowa and then this fabricated picture of Rubio. Donald Trump, who we know has recently called Cruz a liar, he is now jumping on the bandwagon here and jumping on this controversy saying as we see in this tweet, wow, Ted Cruz falsely suggested Marco Rubio mocked the bible and was just forced to fire his communications director. More dirty tricks!

I guess it's no surprise Donald Trump is jumping in right now, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it plays into his narrative about Ted Cruz. It also plays into Marco Rubio's narrative about Ted Cruz.

Look, I think what Cruz was doing today, and I think Sunlen may agree with me, is that he was trying to stop the bleeding on this notion that he's running a dirty campaign against Marco Rubio.

You know, I was at a press conference in South Carolina last week where Cruz criticized Donald Trump's ethics and said quote "ethics matters, OK." If you're a values candidate and you are running on social issues and values and you are constantly being accused of dirty tricks and to a degree you are being caught, like with a doctored photograph of Marco Rubio shaking Barack Obama's hand, it doesn't look good for you. And I think at a certain point Cruz just decided that he had to take an affirmative step here to kind of stop the story line and stop the narrative. However, no matter what he did, you know, Donald Trump was going to jump on it.

BROWN: So we are less, Gloria, than 24 hours away from the Nevada caucuses, though. How will this impact that? Do you think this really will stop the bleeding?

BORGER: Well, you know, we don't know. First of all, we know that Trump is a favorite in the Nevada caucuses. I think that when you are a candidate like Ted Cruz and you are going over and you're looking for support among people of faiths and you are looking for voters who may vote based on social issues and values and you saw that in South Carolina, for example, Trump did a lot better than you thought he was going to do and beat Cruz on values, that I think he's got a problem. And I think that that's another reason he tried to stop the bleeding here today because that is what he is running on. And you know, you can't run on your values if you're being accused of dirty tricks every single day. It's very difficult.

BROWN: And Sunlen, I mean, in many ways, Rick Tyler has been the face of this campaign. What has been his response, if any, and who will fill his shoes especially at such a pivotal point on the campaign trail?

SERFATY: Yes, you're right, Pam. He has been the face of his campaign. We see him all over TV. And I think - I was thinking back just a few minutes ago to something Rick Tyler told me a few days ago. He says, you know, if you want to know our message of our campaign, look at my twitter account. He tweets all the time and he pushes out the lines that the campaign wants the story line of the day, so to speak, to be. So I was just thinking about that, how certainly that is another layer to this story. It certainly says a lot about how campaigns, of course, use twitter and now get in trouble on twitter.

And also what Marco Rubio did today, I think is worth revisiting, how he really pushed not only the Cruz campaign to in essence move towards this resignation, he said, look, they're accused of doing dirty tricks and these sort of tricks all the time but no one is ever held accountable. So I think that line really pushed Senator Cruz to turn and make that decision to call for his resignation, Pam.

BROWN: And, you know, the real question is how much did Marco Rubio and Trump's criticism of Cruz play into this decision as well.

Sunlen Serfaty, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

We are going to have much more on this breaking news, Ted Cruz asking his communications director to resign less than 24 hours out from the Nevada caucuses. Keep it on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:00:07] JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to "the LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper.

(Byline: Pamela Brown; Phil Mudd; Gloria Borger; Sunlen Serfaty; Jake Tapper)

(High: Ted Cruz is calling for the resignation of his communications director, Rick Tyler after sending out false twitter message about Marco Rubio.)

(Spec: Politics; Government; Taxes)

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