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New Poll: Trump Dominates GOP Field; Sanders, Democratic National Committee Reach Deal On Crucial Voter File; Hack Has U.S. Fearing Foreign Infiltration; Two Charged With Attempting To Aid Terror Groups; Sanders, DNC Reach Deal on Crucial Voter File; Manhunt Underway for Affluenza Teen. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 19, 2015 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: OK, and there's a wedding, Carline Ritter and Andrew Porter "Star Wars" theme wedding was held outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Darth Vader walked the bride down the aisle and they walked down to the movie's theme song, and Chewbacca was a groomsman.

AMARA WALKER, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Wow, that's so romantic, isn't it?

BLACKWELL: I love a lot of movies. I love "the color purple," but I'm not opening --

WALKER: Exactly. I'm not going there either. There is a lot of news to tell you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


BLACKWELL: Top of the hour now. About 8:00 here on the east coast. Good to have you with us this Saturday. I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you with us.

WALKER: Thank you. Good to be with you, Victor. I'm Amara Walker in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Republican presidential hopefuls out in full force this weekend, hoping to put a dent in Donald Trump's surging lead. Jeb Bush is about to kick off a town hall in New Hampshire. The one-time front runner has a lot of catching up to do.

WALKER: That's right. A new Fox News poll has him dropping just 3 percent support from voters. Trump, on the other hand, just gained 11 points on his already massive lead. His closest competitor, Ted Cruz, is at just 18 percent, Marco Rubio 11 percent, Ben Carson, 9 percent. More GOP campaign events kick off soon in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

I want to bring in CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson. First off, the rest of the Republican field, Stephen, is stuck in the low single digits, all with 3 percent support or less. Do you think that any of these candidates have a shot at catching up to Trump's numbers, especially Jeb Bush coming off that pretty strong performance as he seemed to be the only person willing to take on Donald Trump?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, it's going to be very difficult. The way the election works, of course, it's not a national poll. It's a state by state primaries and caucuses. That means the candidate can do well in a state and then sort of project themselves back into the national race.

That's what Jeb Bush is hoping for. He's got four events today in New Hampshire over a 12-hour period, really heating it up in his campaigning. We have seen over the last few days a change of tactics from Jeb Bush, really going out and attacking Donald Trump very vociferously.

He's been calling him the chaos candidate. He even put out an ad which showed Donald Trump praising Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seven years ago.

He's really trying to consolidate the support of those who say that Donald Trump would not be qualified to be commander-in-chief. Yet it's not clear that those people would actually choose Jeb Bush if they were to turn against Donald Trump.

WALKER: Right. And it kind of shows that in the polls, doesn't it? I mean, you have, as you say, Jeb Bush kind of going on the attack against Trump. Yet he's not really making much of a dent in the polls of Trump. You were saying last hour, the million dollar question is how in the world does Trump continue to maintain this surge?

COLLINSON: Right. I think there's a distinction here that's quite interesting. It's not clear all the way through this campaign that there is a big desire in the Republican grass roots for a campaign by Jeb Bush, for Jeb Bush to be their nominee.

Donald Trump has given voice to those people that -- angry at the Republican establishment, lost faith in Republican leaders, and they see Jeb Bush as just an extension of that establishment.

The fact that he's the brother and the son of a president is a big disadvantage. Donald Trump is coming from the outside. Polls show that experience in this race is not what Republican voters are looking for.

They're looking for an outsider. And that, you know, is -- Jeb Bush can do all sorts of campaign events. He can say what he likes, but he may not be able to overcome that central fact of this election.

WALKER: Is this shaping up to be a three-way race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio? And if so, what would the consequences be of that?

COLLINSON: It looks like it. If you talk to people in the Republican Party, they believe that might be what's happening. It's possible, still, that someone like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie could do very well in New Hampshire, for example, And push their way into that.

If it is a three-way race, and Rubio, Cruz and Trump fairly evenly matched, we could get to the convention next year with no candidate having a majority of delegates that they need to win the nomination.

[08:05:05]That could lead to a very messy floor flight, and it could really split the Republican Party apart and make it more difficult for the GOP to win the general election against what looks like a fairly easy ride to the nomination at this point, at least, on the Democratic side for Hillary Clinton.

WALKER: And for Hillary Clinton's point of view, who do you think that campaign sees as the biggest or most formidable challenger to her, to Hillary Clinton?

COLLINSON: All along, if you talk to Hillary Clinton people and Democrats, they say they fear Marco Rubio. There is this generational contrast between Mrs. Clinton and Marco Rubio. Rubio is running a forward-oriented campaign, saying he's the candidate of the 21st Century and Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the 20th Century.

So I think Marco Rubio, who has also got some very well-developed political skills, he's very good debating, would perhaps be said by most Democrats to be the biggest threat for Hillary Clinton. Many Democrats feel if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, it almost guarantees a part in the White House.

WALKER: All right, Stephen Collinson, always great getting your perspective, thank you.


BLACKWELL: We're also following some breaking news overnight from the Democratic side of the race. There's been this deal reached between Bernie Sanders and the DNC over access to a crucial voter database.

This comes after tensions burst on Friday. You saw it on live television. Now this all started when the DNC cut off sanders from internal voter files, saying his staffers wrongly accessed information belonging to rival Hillary Clinton.

Then the Sanders campaign filed lawsuit in federal court against the DNC, after they were suspended from using that. But early this morning, the two sides have come to an agreement.

Let's get some details. CNN's Chris Frates is following the latest from Washington. What are we hearing from both sides?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. A pretty uneasy agreement to this very messy internal fight and we're hearing from both the DNC and the Sanders camp on this agreement that will restore the Sanders campaigns access to voter files as soon as this morning.

Last night, the DNC says the Sanders campaign had met their demands for information regarding the data breach. But in a statement, the DNC says they will continue to investigate to ensure that the data that was inappropriately accessed has been deleted, and is no longer in possession of the Sanders campaign.

Now, the Sanders campaign, perhaps not surprisingly, had a very different interpretation. They say the DNC, quote, "Capitulated and reversed its outrageous decision."

Now, this all involves data from the Hillary Clinton camp. They were absolutely furious on Friday. Listen to what Press Secretary Brian Fallon said about this yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): It was an egregious breach of violation of the rules. And for someone like Senator Sanders who said he was going to run a different type of campaign, this is as below the belt as it goes. He should come clean.

He should discipline these other staffers beyond the one they fired today and that we can resolve this and we can move forward and we can have a fairly waged campaign. Until that happens, I don't understand what all these distractions are about, about lawsuits.


FRATES: That was Friday. This is a new statement this morning from the Hillary Clinton campaign. They say, "We are pleased that the Sanders' campaign has agreed to submit to an independent audit. We believe this audit should proceed immediately, and pending its findings, we expect further disciplinary action to be taken as appropriate."

Now, of course, this all comes as the drama amps up for tonight's third Democratic debate in New Hampshire. We'll see how Sanders and Clinton responds to this, and whether this becomes a big issue on the stage in New Hampshire tonight, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, Chris Frates in Washington for us. Thank you so much.

FRATES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We'll see you later to talk about the debate. Chris, thanks so much. All right, Amara.

WALKER: Well, the FBI is investigating a major computer breach that may have allowed hackers to spy on U.S. government and private companies' encrypted communications. The breach at Juniper Networks happened about three years ago, but was only discovered a few weeks back. CNN's justice reporter, Evan Perez, broke this news -- Evan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Victor, Amara, one U.S. government official says it's akin to stealing a master key to every government building. Juniper Networks says that someone was able to break into its systems, and alter source code for an important piece of software. Now this means that sophisticated hackers could use a back door to spy on communications that is supposed to be protected by encryption. Juniper makes routers and computer equipment that is widely used by private companies, and by U.S. government agencies, like the Pentagon and Treasury, and the FBI.

Now U.S. officials tell me that they believe this is the work of foreign government hackers. Now the breach occurred three years ago, and Juniper only discovered the vulnerability in the last couple weeks.

Juniper issued a statement, saying that once they identified the vulnerabilities, they worked to develop security patches to protect the equipment that was affected. The FBI has now launched an investigation.

[08:10:08]And because of the sophistication, officials say that only a handful of governments have the capability to do this, and Russia and China are at the top of that list -- Amara, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Evan, thank you so much. We want to take you inside this major battle between Canadian forces and ISIS fighters in Iraq. We're going to have the details on how the Canadians, who were really there to train and advice Kurdish forces, got into this direct fight with the terrorists.

WALKER: Also, President Obama stopped in San Bernardino, California, late last night for an emotional visit with family members, the victims of the San Bernardino shooting.

BLACKWELL: Learning new details about how the San Bernardino gunmen, at least one of them, was able to get his hands on the weapons used in the attack.

WALKER: The Farook and Marquez relationship is something that FBI agents and historians and counterterrorism officials will be studying for years.


BLACKWELL: New this morning, two men in the U.S. have been charged with attempting to support ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front. The 19-year- old Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is accused of attempting to provide material support on social media, and 22-year- old Adam Shafi from Fremont, California, allegedly tried to travel to help the Al-Nusra Front terror group.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following both angles for us. Polo, what else do we know about these men?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, they are the latest investigations conducted by counterterrorism officials. At this point, the reality is, the number of terror-related investigations continue to stack up.

And that's happening in prosecutors' offices all across the country. The level of support for groups like ISIS in the U.S. seems to have reached an unprecedented level.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have to remain vigilant here at home.

[08:15:04]SANDOVAL (voice-over): Newly unsealed court documents paint a clearer picture of the government's efforts to catch potential terrorists before they strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm literally shocked.

SANDOVAL: People in Fremont, California, are stunned over allegations made against Adam Shafi. The 22-year-old man was stopped by the feds as he tried boarding a flight from San Francisco to Turkey last summer.

Wiretaps revealed Shafi believed America is the enemy, and he said to a friend, I am content to die with them referring to the terror group, Al-Nusra Front.

The FBI believes he was headed to join the organization when he was stopped. Shafi's legal team denies those allegations, saying their client was simply on a humanitarian mission. In a statement, his attorney says, "Adam is innocent, and he sought to assist Syrian refugees."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty crazy. You know, when it's right here at home, it's a different story.

SANDOVAL: People in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, are reacting to the arrest of their 19-year-old neighbor, Jalil Aziz, believed to have spread ISIS rhetoric on social media, using at least 57 individual Twitter accounts.

Prosecutors allege the young man also shared the names and addresses of U.S. service members, calling for violence against them. High- capacity magazines, ammunition, and a survival kit were found in his home last month. Investigators say it's all evidence he planned to launch an attack in the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were quiet. You never would have known.

SANDOVAL: About an hour from the nation's capital, Mohamed al- Shanaowi is believed to have received almost $9,000 to finance a terror attack on U.S. soil. The 30-year-old Maryland man reportedly took to social media, pledging his allegiance to ISIS. He allegedly told a childhood friend he was a soldier of the state.


SANDOVAL: A look at these three cases alone, you'll find something very common. U.S. authorities were able to identify and track them electronically. Perhaps they popped up on the radar using Twitter or doing some of those electronic transactions. Officials say that it's those who do not necessarily make it on the radar that are very difficult to track, the so-called lone wolves. You don't really identify them, Victor, until they become operational and until then, sadly, it's too late.

BLACKWELL: We have one of our law enforcement analysts here to figure out what the government is doing to get better at tracking down these home-grown terrorists. Polo Sandoval for us this morning. Thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

WALKER: And as Victor was saying, joining us live is CNN law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Gilliam. Jonathan, the first question to you really is, seems like we're hearing and seeing more and more of these kinds of arrests.

Does this mean that there are more of these alleged or wannabe jihadists out there or are the efforts to track them down just getting that much better, including intelligence?

JONATHAN GILLIAM, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, efforts are always getting better, Amara. What we're seeing now, though, is, you know, the Achilles' heel of anyone who uses social media, especially when they're doing nefarious things, once the FBI or intelligence sources gets an in on that, then they have an in on the spider web of where that goes.

Now, they're developing different ways to communicate not only with the companies that handle these websites and these different social gathering areas online, but also, you know, I'm sure that the source -- or the amount of sources that they have in and around these areas are -- is growing, as well.

Because the reality is electronic surveillance is good. Sources are great and that's what's going to always lead you, as Polo was talking, to the people that they can't find on social media.

WALKER: Right. And the other side to that, too, we heard from President Obama yesterday, and he admitted that it's going to be very, very difficult. It has been very difficult to track down these, you know, self-radicalized lone wolf terrorists. Can you talk about why that is such a challenge?

GILLIAM: Well, I think it's a challenge for a couple reasons. One, because a lot of these social media programs have -- are difficult to get into, unless you have a subpoena, you can't go around snooping on everybody's social media, and that's a difficult thing.

They are also using encrypted -- these people aren't dumb. I mean, our enemy is full of who have high degrees or computer scientists, engineers. And so they know how to move around and manipulate the internet for their purpose.

The other problem is that people are afraid, as always, to come forward as sources. And I really think that out of all these things, sources are what is going to help answer this entire puzzle.

WALKER: All right, Jonathan Gilliam, great getting your perspective. Appreciate your time. Thanks.

GILLIAM: You got it.

WALKER: And still to come, new polls this morning giving Donald Trump an even bigger lead over the rest of the Republican field. But can the other GOP candidates catch up?



WALKER: President Obama landed in Hawaii a short time ago. He will be on vacation there with his family, until January 2nd, with no public events scheduled. He left California last night after meeting with victims of the San Bernardino shooting.

BLACKWELL: The president and the first lady spent about three hours at a local high school there in San Bernardino. They met individually with those affected by the tragedy, and the president came out and said that he came away with an understanding of their strength. Watch.


PRESIDENTO OBAMA: As difficult as this time is for them and for the entire community, they're also representative of the strength and the unity and the love that exists in this community, and in this country.

And as we go into the holiday season, even as we are vigilant about preventing terrorist attacks from happening, even as we insist that we can't accept the notion of mass shootings in public places and places of work and worship, we have to remind ourselves of the overwhelming good that exists out there.

And if you met some of these folks, despite the pain and the heart ache they're feeling, they could not have been more inspiring.


BLACKWELL: Coming up at 10:00 -- in the 10:00 Eastern hour, we will talk with some of the family members of those who were killed, who actually spoke with the president, and we'll get their thoughts on his message.

WALKER: Also, gearing up for the big Democratic debate tonight, we'll have details on what we can expect the candidates to focus on.

BLACKWELL: Plus, he's now one of the most wanted teens, of course, in his state but across America. The FBI and U.S. Marshals join the search for the 18-year-old who used the spoiled rich kid defense after being charged in a deadly dui crash.


WALKER: Welcome back, everyone. You're taking a live look at Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, at a town hall in New Hampshire this hour. Let's listen in.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- secure and free. I ask for your support. I would love to have your vote. You do make -- you do elect presidents here. The senator is absolutely right. I would love to have your active involvement in this campaign. I'm going to be up here a lot.

If I don't get it today, I'm coming back next week. I'll ask for it again and I'm coming back the week after that and the week after that. I am -- I love campaigning here, and I'm going to ask for your support until I get it.

I think you're looking at the Republican nominee and if I'm the Republican nominee, I'll promise you one thing. I will take it to Hillary Clinton because I have a proven record. And it's a record of accomplishment that I can go campaign any place in this country, and compare that to the record of personal ambition because that's all she is. It's all about her.

In my case, it's about making sure that people have a chance to rise up. That is a winning message against someone who has been organizing her entire life to pursue her own personal ambitions. You're looking at the next president of the United States, and I appreciate you being here.

BLACKWELL: All right. So you've got Jeb Bush there, the one-time Republican presidential frontrunner fading in the polls. The new Fox poll, Fox News poll, has him tied in fifth place. You see him here with just 3 percent after what many considered to be a strong performance in Tuesday's CNN Republican debate in Las Vegas.

Of course, we know that the campaigns are in high gear. The Republican candidates, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, are all actually out. You saw one rally there in New Hampshire. They've got rallies and meet and greets in Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, everybody is out today.

[08:29:44] WALKER: Well, the entire GOP is hoping to catch up with Trump, who now has support from 39 percent of likely voters in a new Fox News poll. And that's more support than his three closest GOP competitors combined. Ted Cruz is up to just 18 percent, Marco Rubio at 11 percent and Ben Carson down to 9 percent.

BLACKWELL: All right. A late-night deal was reached between Bernie Sanders and the DNC over access to a crucial voter database. This comes a day after the bitter tensions threatened to overshadow tonight's third Democratic debate.

On Friday, the DNC cut off Sanders from the internal voter files saying his staffers wrongly accessed -- or inappropriately is probably a better word -- the information belonging to rival Hillary Clinton. The Sanders campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court against the DNC, and the deal came just after midnight.

Let's talk more about this with CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. And Ron -- good morning to you. I want to first just get to --


BLACKWELL: -- what do you make of the really quick resolution of this overnight? Is this some admission of an overreaction from the DNC? Or is this some admission of wrongdoing, as they had earlier in the day, by the Sanders campaign? It ended really quickly.


BLACKWELL: Yes -- ok.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, this -- this was -- this was a circumstance where everybody looked bad. What the Sanders campaign did was truly egregious in the modern campaigning -- The modern campaign world. The ability -- what it takes to acquire the data that the Clinton campaign says was improperly accessed and what the DNC says was improperly accessed is substantial. I mean this is kind of the fruits of their voter contact over months. And it really is egregious what the Sanders campaign did.

On the other hand, the reaction by the DNC, I think, can fairly be portrayed as an overreaction. Because just as that data was important to the Clinton campaign, cutting off the Sanders campaign completely from access to that, you know, is really kind of a guillotine kind of move. And it comes at a point where I think many people have correctly questioned whether the DNC has tilted towards Hillary Clinton, particularly in the scheduling of debates.

The Saturday night before Christmas is not exactly, you know, the highest visibility moment they could have chosen for Democratic debates.

So I think everybody looked bad in this. And I would add also, I mean for the Clinton campaign to really, you know -- I understand why they felt that they were -- their data was violated and what Sanders did was egregious. But they are not necessarily the one who wants to get in a fight about kind of, you know, handling online communications and data and so forth after Sanders really has kind of tamped down that whole issue about the Clinton e-mail.

So I think everybody looked bad in this, and the Democrats will be better off if they can come to a resolution and move forward.

BLACKWELL: Ron, you brought up in that answer the scheduling of the debates. The last Democratic primary debate was on a Saturday. This one is on a Saturday. The next one is on a Sunday.


BLACKWELL: And let's put up what we heard from Governor O'Malley discussing specifically tonight's debate. They have scheduled it during shopping season -- December 19th. I don't know why that is. I think it's out of a false sense that they have to circle the wagons around the inevitable front runner, and Sanders campaign spokesperson told the "New York Times", "We're playing the hand we're dealt. I guess Christmas Eve was booked."

Is this really a broadening of an argument that we heard, I guess a few months ago? Is this really a pervasive view amongst the Democratic Party?

BROWNSTEIN: Among the other campaigns -- it's a legitimate argument. I mean these were -- these were strange decisions.

BLACKWELL: Beyond the campaigns -- amongst the voters.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, you know, I -- I don't know. I mean I think for people who are supporters of the other candidates, sure. They feel that they are, you know, getting a bad hand here. But, you know, for most voters, these kinds of process questions don't really rise to the moment.

I mean Bernie -- look, I think Bernie Sanders' challenge is bigger than the debate scheduling. I mean he has clearly touched a chord around issues of economic inequality and among younger voters and among college educated liberals, but he hasn't gone beyond that in either respect. He hasn't really developed a significant contrast with Hillary Clinton, I think yet on foreign policy.

And more importantly, as you move beyond Iowa and New Hampshire and you move into states where the full diversity of the Democratic Party is on display, places like South Carolina and Nevada, much less the big states that come after that, he has to move beyond his pretty much predominantly white base in order to really compete. He has not shown the ability to do that yet.

BLACKWELL: Quickly before we go, there are about 43 days before Iowa. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is more than 43 points behind. What does he have to do tonight or what can he accomplish as we go into the debate this evening?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I mean, look, I think it's very difficulty at this point. I mean a lot of the cake is baked. But I think what he has to do -- I've always felt that his line of argument is a generational contrast with both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, particularly as you noted earlier in your conversation this hour.

There are Democrats who worry about the generational contrast with Marco Rubio if he is the Republican nominee. I think Marin O'Malley probably needs to be more like Gary Hart in 1984, arguing that Democrats need to turn the page to a new generation of leaders.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ron Brownstein, always good to have you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you -- Ron. WALKER: All right. We're going to turn now to CNN's Chris Frates.

He's been following the latest developments from Washington. And we know that Hillary Clinton's campaign wasn't exactly happy yesterday regarding the voter registration information. What's the reaction been from them?

[083503] CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, they were more than unhappy, Amara. They were furious, right? So they put out a statement this morning, saying "We are pleased that the Sanders campaign has agreed to submit to an independent audit. We believe this audit should proceed immediately, and pending its findings, we expect further disciplinary action to be taken as appropriate."

Now, Brian Fallon, the spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign, was on our air last night. Let's take a listen to just how angry they were.


BRIAN FALLON, SPOKESMAN FOR CLINTON CAMPAIGN: It was an egregious breach of violation of the rules. And for someone like Senator Sanders who said he was going to run a different type of campaign, this is as below the belt as it goes.

He should come clean. He should discipline these other staffers beyond the one that they fired today. And that we can resolve this and we can move forward and we can have a fairly-waged campaign.

Until that happens, I don't understand what all these distractions are about, about lawsuits.


FRATES: So there you have Fallon arguing that this incident was really the campaign -- the Sanders' campaign that was in the wrong here, arguing it was a below the belt shot. And guys, the implicit message here is that, you know, Bernie Sanders is not just a -- he's basically another politician, right? That's what the Hillary Clinton campaign wants you to believe. He's not this revolutionary figure.

So we're going to see tonight in this debate in New Hampshire, how forcefully does she make this argument? How much can she put Sanders on the defensive? Because remember, you know, this -- Sanders has tried to make, you know, Clinton the target here. Now she has an opportunity to make Sanders the target. You know, Sanders trailing Clinton in the polls here.

So we'll see how this goes. And maybe, you know, this might make it almost as fun to watch as Democratic debate, which they have been a little more staid, these Democratic debates -- might be as much fun to watch these as the Republican debates.

WALKER: Yes, finally some drama to talk about, right?

FRATES: Exactly. WALKER: But you know, as you're saying this particular dust-up was

resolved, I guess, pretty quickly when it came to this voter database at the DNC. But there has been some ongoing tension, hasn't there been, between Bernie Sanders campaign and his supporters with the DNC and the establishment Democrats when it comes to Hillary Clinton? And they're saying that, you know, they're biased towards Hillary Clinton.

FRATES: Oh, absolutely. And I mean what's interesting about this kind of inside politics dust-up, right, voter files and these kind of inside baseball is not something that is on the top of many voter issues. Voters are not worried about this issue.

But what it does speak to, as you kind of point out is this larger landscape. Bernie Sanders has, you know, fired up his supporters, saying that, you know, we're the new kinds of warriors in this battle for America, so we're taking on not just Republicans here, but the Democratic establishment, including Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

He's trying to make the case that he was wrong, that the DNC overreacted, and by, you know, taking care of this quickly, they have capitulated. Now, of course, Hillary Clinton saying, hey, man, this is the usual kind of underhanded political tricks that all kinds of politicians use. Bernie Sanders is now in that camp. He's just one of another politician. He's not the revolutionary figure you're looking for.

So that what's fascinating about this little dust-up, Amara, is exactly how it speaks to this bigger narrative and we'll see how that plays out in the debate stage tonight.

WALKER: Oh, the dirty mud-slinging of politics. We have many, many months to enjoy it. Chris Frates -- thank you.

FRATES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come on NEW DAY -- first, look at this video. We're going to talk about this teen.

WALKER: He's wanted by the FBI, Texas law enforcement, and U.S. marshals. He's the 18-year-old who used the spoiled child defense after being charged in a deadly DUI crash. We'll have the latest on the search for him and his mother, still ahead.


[08:42:03] WALKER: Developing this morning, a manhunt under way right now for the teen sentenced to probation after he killed four people in a drunk driving crash. Ethan Couch made headlines two years ago after his attorney claimed he suffered from so-called affluenza, meaning he was a rich kid who was less culpable because his parents did not set limits for him.

Well fast forward to today, he's on the run. Authorities believe, he's with his mother.

CNN's Nick Valencia has the latest.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, if authorities know anything about the whereabouts of 18-year-old Ethan Couch, they aren't making it known publicly. U.S. marshals now offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to Couch's capture. But for now, Couch and presumably his mother, are on the run.


VALENCIA: It's this video that eventually led to the manhunt. Posted on social media this month the clip seems to show a group of college-aged kids partying while playing beer pong. Among them appears to be Texas teen, Ethan Couch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need some an ambulance. It's bad. We flipped, and oh, my god.

VALENCIA: Two years ago, Couch, then just 16 years old, was sentenced to ten years probation after killing four people while drunk driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And two of those were my wife and daughter.

VALENCIA: His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. As part of a deal, Couch agreed to stay away from alcohol or end up going to jail. In a bizarre defense, Couch's attorney convinced the judge that Couch was a victim of affluenza -- the product of wealth and privilege, with parents who never taught him the difference between right and wrong.

Listen to what Couch's mother said during a deposition, from one of the victims' civil suits against her son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is the last time you recall disciplining Ethan for anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't remember.

VALENCIA: Now the teen and his mother have gone missing. Couch apparently fled shortly after this video was made public, apparently to avoid violating the probation deal. According to Reuters, the teen's father told law enforcement the passports of both Couch and his mother are also gone.

DEE ANDERSON, TARRANT COUNTY SHERIFF: I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

VALENCIA: County sheriff Dee Anderson tried to lock up Couch two years ago.

ANDERSON: I think this was planned and I believe that they planned to get away, and I believe that they're going to run far and try to hide.


VALENCIA: Authorities believe Couch and his mother may have left the country, and as it seems, the 18-year-old will do just about anything to avoid any time behind bars -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nick -- thank you so much.

Joining me now, defense attorney and former prosecutor, A. Scott Bolden. Scott -- good to have you back.

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me this morning.

BLACKWELL: So if and when this young man, Ethan Couch, is found, what's the process from there? Does he go straight to jail for violating his probation? Walk us through what happens.

[08:45:00] BOLDEN: Well, he'll certainly be held once the police bring him back into custody. And I'm very confident that he will. After that, it's a violation of probation, there could be additional charges.

Remember, when he was sentenced, he was a juvenile. He's an adult now. And so under Texas law, he could be sentenced as an adult.

But the violation of probation is a very low standard. He could be resentenced to ten years in prison. You know, the government was asking for 20 years. So this is going to be a pretty open and shut case, I think. He'll probably go back before the same judge.

But I don't think this judge is going to be having it, once she showed him leniency in the first opportunity. And given all the media and given the disaster that has occurred in connection to this case.

BLACKWELL: All right. So let's flip it. How would you defend him?

BOLDEN: Tough. You're putting me on the spot. I think I would argue that the defense has worked essentially, or the argument has worked. He was in rehabilitation, one. But two, that he made mistakes. And he is still a young kid. And people make mistakes, and he needs more intense rehabilitation.

But as I sit here and say that, I'll be honest with you. You've got to have credibility as a defense attorney. And even as I would argue or you have asked me what would my argument be, I don't think it's a very strong argument.

BLACKWELL: Well, these attorneys have to do the best they can to, of course, represent their client.

But let me ask you about the mother who reportedly is missing, as well. We don't know if they're together. But one can assume that they are. What does she face?

BOLDEN: Well, she's in a heap of trouble, as my father used to say. That is because obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to do the same -- just for starters, if you will.

If they are together and if the government can prove that this was either planned or that they took the passports and that she has either lied to them or not been cooperative with them, or she is just with him, knowing that he didn't show up for the probation report or the meeting. And she -- and she's aware that she is harboring this fugitive, then she too can be charged as an adult, and possibly be sentenced.

Again, there's a lot of media pressure and political pressure, not just on this judge, but this case. It's a national case of import. And their leaving probation or exiting or going on the lam, if you will, just confirms all the negative reports and the victims' comments about why this judge was so lenient.

So look for them to be caught. Look for him to be resentenced. And look for the mother to be sentenced too.

BLACKWELL: I wonder -- we heard from Nick Valencia in his package there that the father of this teenager, Fred Couch, said that it appears that their passports are missing. How important could his role be in it this search? I mean, how vital is his involvement?

BOLDEN: Well, I can tell you right now, if they haven't interviewed him already, they're going to be interviewing him and this is going to be long, detailed interviews. What did he know and when did he know it? What were their movements, what were their conversations? They may even threaten him if you're not going to compel the truth or you're not going to come forward with the truth about this, and where they are, you too could be caught up in this. So you ought to be as honest and forthcoming as possible because he should have as much information as the two people on the run unless they kept it from him as well.

So he could be both friend or he could be a foe. But if he's a foe and doesn't cooperate, look for the government to either threaten or to actually charge him too. So we're a long way from resolution. But the dragnet is going to be cast wide by the government, given how embarrassing this latest chapter is in this case.

BLACKWELL: Yes -- defense attorney and former prosecutor A. Scott Bolden, always good to have you.

BOLDEN: Thanks for having me.

WALKER: A shootout between a police officer and a driver caught on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands on your head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put -- you know what, turn --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no I don't want a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands on the hood.


WALKER: This is Giffords, Florida -- Indian River County sheriff's deputy Christopher Luster was shot in the leg during this exchange. He was treated and released from the hospital last night.

The suspect, Andrew Coffee, is still in the hospital with wounds in his torso and leg.

Fighting back against ISIS -- details on how Canadian troops helped take out hundreds of terrorist targets in Iraq.

Also, a massive landslide in Oregon buries homes and wipes out everything in its path.


[08:52:45] BLACKWELL: Protests against police brutality turn violent in Chicago. Police said protesters blocked traffic, including an ambulance on its way to the hospital. An officer who fell down was assaulted and suffered a broken wrist. No arrests were made in the assault. But police are reviewing video footage now. And police made one arrest during the protest and wrote three citations.

WALKER: Canadian ground forces fending off ISIS overseas in a day- long battle. Troops fired at ISIS fighters after the terror group bombed and attacked Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Canadian Special Forces say their role is to train local forces and advise Kurdish troops. They are not the primary fighters, but they do offer backup.

Turkey now faced with an ultimatum. Get out, or else. Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al Jafari warned the country has 48 hours to withdraw its forces from Iraqi borders. He said the Iraqi government is surprised and angry that Turkish forces entered the country without permission back on December 3.

WALKER: And take a look at this. A massive landslide slammed into homes in Oregon, killing a woman and her dog. It happened early yesterday morning. And authorities say the woman opened her door to take her dog outside when the landslide swept in. Her husband and another dog managed to escape. The landslide was caused by fierce storms that have plagued the area all month.

Changing gears a bit now. Just when you thought the playoffs had solved all of college football's problems, you know what, there is another issue.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Coy Wire is here to help us sort it all out and there is a lot to sort out.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Yes. There are 40 bowl games this season, and quite frankly, there are just not enough quality teams to play in all those ball games. Years ago, it would have been unfathomable to think that a team with a losing record would make it to a bowl game. This year: three -- three teams with losing records going bowling. And earlier, we asked you, are there too many bowl games nowadays? Have we taken the sanctity from college bowl games? And you had plenty to say.

Stephen said, "There's no reason a 6-6 team deserves a bowl game. Typical for our culture to reward everyone no matter how bad they are."

CWC, he said here, "Depends on what you think bowls are for. Reward for good season -- too many; money -- about right."

[08:55:04] Kevin said, "40 bowl games, really? How can that be special for a college team? And how competitive can some of these teams be? Reduce them."

And then like a ray of sunshine, Amy says, "Bowl games are a great chance for fans to cheer for their team. I love watching them with my husband." How do you like that?

BLACKWELL: That's nice.

WIRE: That's a good perspective. Let's get one more.

Jerry said "Way too many bowl games. To this point, it's ridiculous."

So as always, you guys have so many great comments for us. We love when you share with us on Twitter and on our Facebook page. So thanks so much for being part of the show and the conversation.

I do like the Victor Blackwell bowl.

BLACKWELL: Hey we can have it. Start it up. I do love the bowl game names. You've got like the Burrito Bowl Game --

WIRE: Oh, yes.

BLACKWELL: -- you've got the Sugar Bowl. And with 40 of them, you can go on down the list.

WALKER: Well, just like that woman said, I just want to spend time with my husband.

WIRE: Maybe we should come out with the Bald Dude Bowl.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

WIRE: There we go. There we go -- I love it.

BLACKWELL: I'm ready. Coy Wire -- thanks so much.

WIRE: Yes, you're welcome.

BLACKWELL: If you have not heard, fans are loving the latest edition of "Star Wars".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's ten. It's tops. Speechless. I can't even -- I can't even say anything, because I don't want to -- I don't want to spoil it, because it's so exciting to even talk about it.


WALKER: Yes, you can hear that excitement in his voice.

BLACKWELL: Vibrating with excitement. Disney projects "The Force Awakens" will rake in $100 million from Friday's box office alone. Already made a record-breaking $57 million from Thursday's early showings; it's expected to make a total, maybe more than, $200 million this weekend.

WALKER: And take a look at this. One couple in Massachusetts took their love for the franchise films into a whole new level. They've named their newborn Jedi. Meet Jedi. The dad explained they kept seeing news about the latest "Star Wars" flick so when their boy was born on the same day as the film's premier, they decided to go with their gut. By the way, the baby's full name is Ryker Jedi Gracie.

BLACKWELL: Ok, nice enough that they gave the kid the middle name Jedi. I thought initially it was his first name. But ok, we'll go with that.

WALKER: At least it's not Darth Vader Jedi Leia.


That's it for us.

WALKER: That seemed a little much.

BLACKWELL: That's it. We'll see you back here at 10:00 eastern for an hour of "NEWSROOM".

WALKER: Don't go away. "SMERCONISH" is up next after this break.