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Chicago Police Shooting; Trump Towers; Mass Shooting Investigation; New Video Released in Chicago Shooting Death. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired December 7, 2015 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:05] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST HOST: Even in Iowa, he's huge.

THE LEAD starts right now.

And breaking news, first on THE LEAD, a brand-new poll showing the Iowa horse race, with Donald Trump towering over all like never before.

Radicalized for some time -- new details from police about the husband and wife terrorists in San Bernardino, as a new picture surfaces of them coming to America and the investigation into the wife reaches all the way to Pakistan.

Plus, you can see the gunshots, just released, another Chicago police shooting, another 400-plus-day wait to see the graphic video. Does it show a justifiable killing or murder?

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the globe. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake. And this is THE LEAD.

And breaking news right this second, our CNN/ ORC poll out of Iowa, where Donald Trump looms larger than ever in the Republican field. With exactly eight weeks left until voting starts, when America finally gets down to the business of actually electing the next president, Trump is the overwhelming double-digit leader.

Winning Iowa would be a huge jump-start to Trump's bid for the nomination, something many people once thought impossible, but something that now looks more and more likely by the day.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is here to run down the numbers.

So, Dana, Trump went from being statistically tied, ahead by really a margin of error, and now he's up by 13. What changed?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing the trend in the Iowa poll really mirror what we saw last week in our national poll, which is that Trump is besting the other candidates on issues voters care about, from the economy, to immigration to foreign policy, and of growing importance these days, what voters see as Trump's abilities as commander in chief.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BASH (voice-over): Just two months until the first presidential contest in Iowa, and Donald Trump is ahead there, way ahead. A new CNN/ORC poll shows that 33 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers say they will support Trump. That's an eight-point increase from just last month.


BASH: And Trump's support is much more solid than any other candidate; 55 percent of Trump backers say they will definitely vote for him.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are looking for a commander in chief who will keep us safe.

BASH: Ted Cruz is now in second place overall, but winning among evangelical voters, traditionally key in Iowa. Ben Carson tumbled seven points, now the third choice of Iowa Republicans likely to vote. What unites GOP voters is disdain for President Obama.


BASH: And Republican candidates spent the day competing to criticize the president's Oval Office address on ISIS.

CRUZ: We don't need a president who goes on national television and lectures the American people like a schoolroom, condescends to the American people and says the problem we have is Islamophobia.

BASH: Ted Cruz hit a common conservative theme, slamming the president for avoiding the term radical Islamic terrorism, something Trump who is winning among Iowa Republican voters on fighting ISIS and foreign policy noted while live-tweeting the president's speech. And Marco Rubio called it a glaring Obama omission.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It starts by acknowledging to the American people that indeed we are at war. And we are at war with radical Islamic jihadists who are also terrorists, of course, but motivated by their view of Islam.

BASH: Lindsey Graham argues the problem isn't rhetoric, it's tactics, the president's refusal to commit more U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody in their right mind goes to war to destroy somebody but I won't use ground troops. It hurts the cause to put those limitations.


BASH: Now, taking aim at a Democratic president is the easy part politically for all of these Republican presidential candidates. But the big question for voters is what they would do, what these candidates would do if commander in chief to fight ISIS abroad or stop self-radicalized terrorists in this country. And, Jim, we are still missing a lot of specifics across the board in

the Republican field.

SCIUTTO: Dana, stay right there, because I want to add CNN political commentator Donna Brazile and Republican strategist Katie Packer. I should note that Katie's firm is working with Marco Rubio's campaign, but Katie isn't advising any of the 2016 contenders herself.

Let's go to the conversation.

We have the CNN poll. We also had another poll out today from Monmouth. Big differences here, because in the Monmouth poll, you have Ted Cruz leading 24 percent to Trump's 19 percent. Explain the differences in methodologies to explain that difference in results.

BASH: Sure.

A lot of people are probably looking at this feeling like they're being bombarded with numbers. But there is a really important difference in why the discrepancy. Monmouth University's poll, which does show Cruz ahead, included mostly -- the sample size, those who are polled included mostly people who had gone to Republican -- voted in Republican primaries in the Iowa in the past.


CNN does that, but then it expands and also focuses a lot on voters who say they're going to go to the 2016 caucuses. Now, Trump appears to be drawing a lot of support from new voters, people who haven't gone out before. And that helps explain why he's doing so much better in our poll.

SCIUTTO: It's a different profile of the kind of voter who's going to go and turn up.

BASH: The samples.

SCIUTTO: Katie, I wonder if you agree with that. Do you think that that will bear out in the primaries, that he will attract so many voters they will show up not just in the polls, but in his actual results on primary day -- on caucus day, rather?

KATIE PACKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, certainly, it could happen.

My understanding of the CNN poll is that its self-proclaimed likely primary voters saying they intend to vote, which is a big difference from people that actually have a history of voting. And caucuses are tough to get people to show up at. It's not like showing up and just casting a vote.

You have to stick it out for an evening. These things can sometimes last hours and hours and hours. Sometimes, people come and they're not willing to stick it out. So we don't really know. History as a guide suggests that it's not particularly likely. And so I think that's why most of the campaigns will use a likely voter sample that is heavy on people that have a history of actually showing up.

SCIUTTO: Donna, does that make sense to you? Because one of the criticisms has been in recent campaigns the polls haven't been that accurate in predicting the actual outcome.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's true, because if the polls were accurate, we'd have President Giuliani, or President Cain, or President Gingrich on the -- of course, the Republican side.

On the Democratic side, we would have had President Hillary Clinton already. So I agree with Katie. Caucus-goers, they have to be highly motivated. And on the Republican side in 2012, only 121,000 people showed up, 19 percent. So Donald Trump may be leading right now, but you have to organize these people to show up at a certain time, 7:00 p.m. Central time.

And they have to stick it out. They have to caucus. They have to register and be Republicans. Look, he's in the catbird's seat. The rest of these individuals -- Mr. Trump, yes, Mr. Trump, you're leading. OK? All right? OK?


PACKER: You might get a compliment from...

BASH: But just to button this -- and, Donna, I know that you will remember this. Everybody said the same thing about the polls back in 2008 on the Democratic side, because, you know, Barack Obama said I'm going to get all these new people to the polls and the Clinton campaign said, oh, that's not going to happen, but guess what, he did.


SCIUTTO: But they did.

Now, there's something in the numbers here beyond the sampling. The CNN poll found that 55 percent of people supporting Donald Trump have definitely decided they will caucus for him. Other candidates don't get that kind of strength of support. It seems to me that feeds to the idea that he will actually draw those people, those voters out.


PACKER: But you also found 26 percent of Republican voters in the CNN poll said that they for sure are going to vote for the candidate they're with. My guess is that's very heavily Trump.

But almost 75 percent have said they're still making up their mind. And so it tells me that there's still a lot of volatility. Trump is without a doubt in the catbird seat. But he's also the very best known candidate. So it's not particularly surprising.

This is a massive field. We have never seen anything like this before. And these candidates are going to become better known particularly in these early states. SCIUTTO: But, to be fair, we're getting pretty close here. Right? I

mean, we're like eight weeks away. He's leading in Iowa, but he's also leading in New Hampshire, right?

So let's say the polls bear out. He wins both of those. That's tough momentum. Do you look at that, Donna, as he wins both of those, is he the presumptive Republican candidate?

BRAZILE: I mean, how can you stop him? He's dominated the media. He's dominated all of the polls so far.

We know that he can, you know -- I guess he's self-funded. So Donald Trump is in a really good position as a Republican. But you know at the end of the day, it's about delegates. These polls are really great. They're great for conversations like this, where I'm saying that Donald bird -- is in the catbird seat, but I would not call this race over, because it's still too early to call it over.

BASH: And as we get closer, it's going much more from what people say publicly, what people say to pollsters, and the kind of organization that these campaigns have on the ground. You cannot underestimate that, especially in Iowa caucuses.

BRAZILE: The ground game, absolutely.

BASH: And he's got some -- Donald Trump has some good people in Iowa, some veterans. The question is whether he can translate that.

SCIUTTO: And that moment in the booth, right, when you make that decision to...


BRAZILE: At the caucus, you actually have to stand up.

PACKER: It's not a private vote.



BRAZILE: It's like, I like James Brown, I like Aretha Franklin. You have to really declare that you want Donald Trump. Can you imagine Dana Bash looking at me like, like, really? Not Ted Cruz? Not Ben Carson?


BASH: I'm just trying to figure out which one you would want to be president, James Brown or Aretha Franklin.


BRAZILE: Well, I'm a sister, so Aretha.

SCIUTTO: That sounds like a ticket to me. We can talk about that next time.


SCIUTTO: Dana, Donna, Katie, thanks so much for joining us.

In our national lead, the Chicago Police Department now under federal investigation, as a prosecutor releases brand-new video of a police officer shooting a man in the back as he runs away. That's next.



SCIUTTO: And welcome back to THE LEAD.

New video released just hours ago show in stark detail another shooting death at the hands of Chicago police. Prosecutors say they will not charge the officer seen in dash-cam video shooting and killing Ronald Johnson. In a matter of seconds, you see Johnson get out of a car and run from police before, as you saw there, the officer fires his weapon.

The video comes as questions swirl in Chicago about a possible cover- up into the death of Laquan McDonald. He is the black teen -- teenager seen in another video shot 16 times by a white police officer.

A police report now public in that case contradicts disturbing dash- cam video.

[16:15:05] I want to bring in CNN's Ryan Young. He's been covering all of this from Chicago.

So, Ryan, let's start with the new video released today, a separate shooting of Laquan McDonald. Ronald Johnson's family lawyer just spoke. There's still questions about whether Johnson's weapon was planted, aren't there?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the family's still very upset. His lawyer was actually talking about that.

When you look at the video, of course, the quality is not the best. They circle an object and say that is a gun. Well, the family and attorney did not believe that is a gun and think the gun was planted afterwards.

And they also want to talk about the fact that he was running away from the officers and didn't appear to be a threat. But the state attorney's office says other officers have been shot before in that same instance. So, you have people bracing for this video to be released. Now, it's out there. And we saw all the detail that was given to make sure the public stayed calm today.

SCIUTTO: I should say, I mean, just difficult images to watch. And they were playing there as you were talking, Ryan, all this coming as we have now this police report in the Laquan McDonald case contradicting what we saw in the Laquan McDonald video.

YOUNG: Look, that's the real question here. People are obviously pointing at the police department and saying this is a part of the practice of the Chicago Police Department. The fact they don't feel like they always get a fair shake when it comes to investigations here. They believe the police department is involved in a cover-up. So, that is the reason why so many people now are happy the DOJ is stepping in.


YOUNG (voice-over): After two fatal officer-involved shootings, the Chicago Police Department is now the subject of a federal investigation to determine whether officers engaged in conduct that violated federal law.

LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am joined with the same systems that fail community members also fail conscientious officers by creating mistrust between law enforcement and the citizens that we are sworn to serve and protect. When suspension and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest.

YOUNG: The announcement comes after the release of police reports from the night Laquan McDonald was shot. The reports reveal discrepancies between accounts from the responding officers and what is seen on dashcam video.

At 9:57:25, McDonald's seen walking in the street with a knife in his right hand. Authorities say he punctured the tire of a police car. Officer Jason Van Dyke and his partner are on the left hand side of the screen with weapons drawn as McDonald moves away from the officers. According to the Van Dyke, quote, "McDonald raised the knife across his chest and over his shoulder pointing the knife at Van Dyke and attempting to kill Van Dyke."

At 9:57:36 the teen is still walking away from officers. That's when Van Dyke starts firing. According to the police reports, quote, "In defense of his life, Van Dyke backpedalled and fired his handgun at McDonald to stop the attack."

As McDonald falls Van Dyke keeps firing, hitting McDonald 16 times. The police report says, quote, "McDonald appeared to be attempting to get up all the while continuing to point the knife at Van Dyke. Van Dyke's partner wrote, McDonald, quote, "swung a knife toward the officers in an aggressive manner."

Two other officers documented that McDonald was waving the knife at officers with a third officer saying McDonald, quote, "raised his right arm toward Officer Van Dyke as if attacking Van Dyke." Even the sergeant who recovered the video and reviewed it found it, quote, "was consistent with the accounts of all the witnesses."

As Van Dyke remains out on bail on first-degree murder charges, his attorney maintains that he acted in self-defense.


YOUNG: And, Jim, just think about this day. You had Loretta Lynch talking about what's going on in Chicago, you have the state's attorney here in Chicago talking about what's going on here in Chicago, the mayor of Chicago is now addressing the media and talking about what's going on with the police department. And everyone's talking about changes, reform and investigation. So, you can obviously tell the story is not going away.

SCIUTTO: No question. These videos keep those stories alive.

Ryan Young, thank you.

Joining me now former NYPD police officer Eugene O'Donnell, former St. Louis police officer Redditt Hudson, and here with me in Washington, CNN political commentator Van Jones.

Redditt, I want to start with you today because the state attorneys announced they will not press charges against the officer who killed Ronald Johnson in the newest video released today. After watching that video, do you agree with that judgment?

REDDITT HUDSON, FORMER ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICER: I would say if it can be established that that is a weapon in the gentleman's hand that was running away, it's a very different case than what you have with Laquan McDonald. My problem is, I can't establish that based on the video that I saw. I saw the freeze frame that she presented when they showed evidence today. And even when they zoomed in you can't -- I couldn't personally distinguish whether or not that was a gun or weapon of any sort or what.

And given the history there in Chicago and the level of corruption that we've seen throughout the years on the Chicago Police Department and inability of the authorities there to check themselves with that, I've got still some more questions about that case.

[16:20:04] SCIUTTO: Eugene, I want to ask your view too looking at that video. It's not clear to my own eyes as well whether that was a weapon, but in the heat of the moment the police were investigating a shooting nearby that location. Do you agree with the state attorney's decision?

EUGENE O'DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well, the context is everything. And the last word on this today should be from the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who said that these investigations take a long time and they're painstaking. And dissecting them is a complicated matter. And as I say, the entire video, witness statements, the entire context is crucial to the final determination of what the officers did properly or not properly.

SCIUTTO: Van, let's talk for a moment about timing, because in Chicago, you now have two police-involved shootings both more than a year ago.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. SCIUTTO: Talking about 400 some odd days before the videos are

released. Talk to folks from Chicago, lots of allegations about political motivations here, you know, protecting the police. What are your doubts?

JONES: Well, listen, on the second video, this new video, you can understand why it may take some time. It's grainy, there's a lot of stuff going on.

There is no excuse for it taking a year on the Laquan video. And that's why the mayor's in the hot seat. It looks like a cover-up. I mean, there's not one law enforcement officer in the country who's seen that and said, oh, yes, that's a good shoot. Not one.

And yet it takes you a year to release video, a year to bring charges. That whole time the guy is still on the force. That police officer who unloaded his weapon and reloading again was on the force for a year and nobody did anything about it. That's why Rahm Emanuel's in the hot seat.


SCIUTTO: Eugene, please stay there and hold the thought, because we're going to come back to this right after the break and I want your thoughts on the discrepancies between those police reports in the Laquan McDonald shooting in the dashcam video.

Please stay with us.


[16:26:21] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Just moments ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed death of Laquan McDonald and the Department of Justice now launching an investigation into a possible of pattern of violations by the Chicago Police Department.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: We are going to welcome this investigation. We're going to cooperate with it. And it's in our long-term interest. The city needs answers to what happened in the case of Laquan McDonald's tragic and avoidable death.


SCIUTTO: I want to bring back our panel, that's former NYPD officer Eugene O'Donnell, former St. Louis police officer Redditt Hudson, and CNN political commentator Van Jones is here with me in Washington.

Eugene, if I could start with you. In the killing of Laquan McDonald, police officers at the scene contradict the video from their point of view aggressively came towards the officer with a knife in his hand. Is this a case of the officers protecting their own, or do you think it's genuinely possible they saw things differently than we see in this dashcam video?

O'DONNELL: That's really the question. There's going to be inconsistencies in all of these, but are they so material, are they so profoundly different these stories that they give rise to the inference that they're covering up a bad shooting.

I mean, I think the question that I have and I think most people have is why would this officer for no reason kill this young man? The chilling answer which I hope is not true but could I guess conceivably be true is he felt he couldn't get -- could and get away with it.

Certainly as we're talking about police reforms, Chicago would do well to do something New York did after the Eric Garner case which is to take their entire force at this point, without pointing fingers there's lots of good cops here but to run them through deadly force training, run every single street cop through deadly force training to reinforce the idea in the city that is riddled with gun violence that officers are only shooting because they must not because they choose to. They're shooting as an absolute last resort when life or limb is in the balance. Otherwise, deadly force is not appropriate.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Seems like a reasonable idea.

Redditt, you look at the "Chicago Tribune", it's wrote a stinging editorial about McDonlds's death taking on the police union for saying the dashcam video doesn't show the same view that the officers had on the scene. Here's what it said. This is from the Fraternal Order of Police, the president Dean Angelo, "would have you believe that another angle McDonald can be seen menacing the officers with a knife instead of walking hurriedly away from them. From another angle, he's struggling to his knife raised instead of writhing on the ground and falling still. No way." That the word from the editorial.

Could there be any penalty for these officers with their statements contradicting so diametrically opposed to what we see in that video, seems to be clear and black and white.

HUDSON: There should be charges, co-conspirators to criminal activity. That was a murder in here. You talk about context earlier. Look at what happened in Laquan McDonald's case. You had an officer who clearly lied on his report and had that lie corroborated by his fellow officers. That is also context.

It's the same police department, same officers. Here we have another shooting where we don't have definitive video evidence that there's a weapon in this kid's hand. The question is legitimate as to whether or not that gun was planted, given the history of this department.

And for the police union to come out and back this officer on this shooting talking about another angle or the guy was still trying to raise up while he's being shot in a semi-fetal position on the ground is ludicrous. But many of the unions across this country want zero accountability for their officers no matter what they've done.

SCIUTTO: You know, Van, you just heard from two former police officers, Eugene and Redditt, Eugene mentioning it's possible the police involved could think they might get away it, right? And you have Redditt talking about history of planting weapons.