Return to Transcripts main page


Turkish Authorities Say New Years Bomb Attack Thwarted; Brussels Cancels Fireworks; Bill Cosby Charged in Sexual Assault Case; Latest on Campaign Trail; Establishment GOP Hopefuls Jockey For Position; All Chicago Officers To Be Armed With Tasers; Ethan Couch, Mom Fighting Deportation. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired December 30, 2015 - 16:30   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Are the police recommending people not participate in celebrations, particularly in these three cities, Washington, New York and Los Angeles?


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Absolutely not. They want people to come out here.

And you can see the crowd is already building here. You know, they want people to go about their lives. They want people to be vigilant, but, you know, the FBI, the New York Police Department, they get paid to keep us safe. And so that's the message that you keep hearing from officials. Obviously, this is something they're very concerned about, because, in light of the Paris attacks, in light of what happened in San Bernardino just a few weeks ago, they can't take any chances.

But they're making sure that they have boosted security both here and in cities around the country, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Evan Perez, good to have you there on the scene.

Turning overseas now, in our world lead, Turkish officials are claiming they foiled a New Year's Eve bomb plot, two suspected ISIS terrorists arrested this morning in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, the pair accused of planning to carry out a suicide attack.

This all comes as, moments ago, the mayor of Brussels in Belgium announcing he was canceling tomorrow night's fireworks celebration completely due to terror concerns.

Let's go right to CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She's been following this breaking news.

How severe and specific are we hearing this threat in Brussels? Because that's a pretty remarkable step that they would cancel all celebrations.


Well, clearly, authorities in Brussels very tense tonight. The decision comes after the arrest of two people plotting attacks in Brussels to coincide with New Year's celebrations. And, today, Belgian authorities arrested a man connected with the Paris attacks.

But while these plots in Brussels and Turkey were thwarted, around the world, fears of a terror attack planned or inspired by ISIS are proving a jittery backdrop to the new year.


LABOTT (voice-over): Today, Turkish officials arrested two alleged ISIS operatives found with these backpacks and suicide vests ready to use, as authorities say the pair being identified only by their initials scouted locations for a New Year's Eve terror attack.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: As this year is ending, it appears that ISIS is ratcheting up its campaign of international terrorism, pivoting much more in that direction.

LABOTT: Brussels canceled its New Year's festivities and fireworks a day after raising the threat level to indicate an attack is likely. On Tuesday, police arrested two men suspected of plotting to attack popular tourist sites in Brussels on New Year's.

Authorities seized military uniforms and ISIS propaganda, which they say suggests the pair was inspired by ISIS. In London, a British couple just convicted of plotting a massive suicide attack they planned for March, a raid of their home found stockpiles of chemicals and bomb-making materials and this video of them testing an explosive device.

Those are the ones they have caught. Hours before New Year's Eve celebrations, authorities worldwide worried about what they don't know in the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, fears of a possible ISIS-inspired attack.

CRUICKSHANK: ISIS, both in the plots that it's directing, but also in the plots that it's inspiring, has moved towards soft targets, because their ambition is just to kill as many people as possible to get into the headlines.

LABOTT: In Dhaka, Bangladesh, authorities banned outdoor New Year's parties after dark, as the U.S. Embassy warned American citizens of a possible attack.


LABOTT: And as it faces losses on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, officials are worried that ISIS will increase its efforts to plan or inspire global attacks, which is why anxiety in capitals around the world is unprecedented.

And as they receive threat information, more and more governments, Jim, are raising those threat levels, fearing an attack could be an almost certainty.

SCIUTTO: Yes, these groups, they like to show their power any way they can. Elise Labott, thanks very much. The politics lead, this means war, a quote from Donald Trump, of

course, as he turns to the other 2016 front-runner, Hillary Clinton. And what if, what if the leading GOP candidate does not win Iowa? Can Donald Trump still capture his party's nomination? Our political experts will weigh in. That's right after this.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back to the lead.

Our politics lead now, Donald Trump says his own personal life is fair game for his political rivals as he ratchets up attacks on Bill Clinton for his marital infidelities. And now we may be about to hear even more from Trump. He's doubling down on his promise to spend big, spend huge, you might say, on ads in early voting states, hoping to shore up his lead there, even as he told Iowans that second place wouldn't be terrible.

CNN political reporter Sara Murray is live in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where Trump spoke to a very large audience today.

So, is Trump trying to do some expectations management here, Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think he is a little bit on both sides. Today, he bragged about his high poll numbers and how he's beating everyone, but in almost the same breath, he warned voters that they better actually turn out when it comes Election Day.


MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump rounding out the year with a warning to his political rivals: 2016 is going to be a battle.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I consider them enemies. We view this as war.

MURRAY: On his last day of campaigning before the new year, Trump is coming out swinging.

TRUMP: Hillary is a disaster.

MURRAY: Doubling down on his jabs against the Clintons and dredging up Bill's past indiscretions.

TRUMP: We had to respond to Hillary. She came out with that...


TRUMP: No, she came out. Remember, she wrote -- she said he's got a -- he's demonstrated a penchant -- I demonstrated a penchant for sexism. Can you believe it? Me. I did have to mention her husband's situation, OK? And that is now the biggest story on television.

MURRAY: Voters in South Carolina say those attacks are fair game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's telling the truth. I mean, you know, there's a history of Bill Clinton being aggressive in a way he's talking about.

MURRAY: Trump's rivals still stumped on how to take down the GOP front-runner, in the meantime turning on one another, John Kasich putting out a video painting Jeb Bush as a candidate of the past, while Marco Rubio turns on Chris Christie.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris Christie's a funny guy, but he's never in New Jersey. He's gone half the time.

MURRAY: With the rest of the field tearing into each other, Trump is using his iconic hairdo to tear into President Obama's environmental agenda.

TRUMP: You can't use hairspray, because hairspray is going to affect the ozone. I'm trying to figure out. Let's see, I'm in my room in New York City. And I want to put a little spray, so that I could -- right? Right?


TRUMP: But I hear, well, they don't want me to use hairspray. They want me to use the pump, because the other one, which I really like better than going bing, bing, bing, and then it comes out in big globs, right, and it's stuck in your hair, and you say, oh, my God, I got to take a shower again. My hair's all screwed up.


MURRAY: And ending 2015 with a parting plea: Voters better not let him down.

TRUMP: Don't sit back and say, oh, Trump's going to do well. The more we can win by, the more power we have, in a sense, because it's like a mandate. But you got to go out and vote.


MURRAY: Now, there's another candidate who's doing a little bit of reshuffling today. And that's Jeb Bush.

His campaign announced he's canceling $3 million in reserved airtime. Instead, he's going to spend that money on deploying 60 staffers from campaign headquarters into the early voting states. A number of those folks are going to be headed to New Hampshire. Gives you a signal of sort of what the campaign is hoping to do to revive its floundering campaign and how important New Hampshire will be to Jeb Bush's chances, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Sara Murray there, thanks very much.

Joining me now, Angela Rye. She's a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. John Hart, he's a Republican strategist and editor in chief of Opportunity Lives.

John, if I could start with you, Donald Trump saying to supporters, hey, second place wouldn't be so bad. He's got this big ad buy. At least he says he's got a big ad buy coming. We haven't seen the -- reserving the airtime yet. But when you connect those two, is he worried?

JOHN HART, EDITOR IN CHIEF, OPPORTUNITY LIVES: He is worried, because Donald Trump cannot stand to lose.

I think, if he doesn't win either Iowa or New Hampshire, his campaign is over. And, historically, we're entering a very volatile period of the campaign, where there's big shifts in the final few weeks. You know, Rick Santorum was at single digits at this point and then won the Iowa caucus.

So, Trump has already seen his lead dissipate in Iowa. He's seen, I lead, his lead dissipate some in New Hampshire. And I predict that will continue and that a whole month from now, we're not going to be talking a whole lot about Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: Angela, Trump said yesterday -- it was interesting. I was watching this press conference that he gave on his airplane. And he was asked if his own personal life is fair game for his political opponents, in light of the fact that he's going after Bill Clinton's past. And he said, yes, absolutely.

Are we going to see that? Are we going to see his opponents on either side of the aisle take him up on that?

ANGELA RYE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think they have to.

At this point, what you have seen with Donald Trump that he -- and we have said this over and over again -- is the new version of the Teflon don. Nothing sticks to this guy. If he can attack someone like John McCain, if he can attack one of the debate moderators, if he can do -- attack Carly Fiorina's face...

SCIUTTO: Attack the media.

RYE: Right, definitely attack the media. That's a no-brainer with, of course, all of the GOP field.

The one thing that I would say is that it is time for his personal life to come into play. We know that the only other divorced president that we have ever had in the White House was Ronald Reagan. That was just one time. This guy's now been married three times.

If he's going after the personal life, not even of another candidate, but of a candidate's husband, then his personal life is certainly fair game.

SCIUTTO: John, we learned today, a short time ago, Jeb Bush is pulling $3 million from planned advertising to bring in more staff in those early states.

You look at his campaign, is that a sign of worry, of, I don't want to say panic, but is it a sign of concern that he's too far behind?

HART: I don't think it's panic at all.

I think he's looking at the field and looking at the competition. And Jeb Bush and all of the candidates know that they have to show momentum in these early states. So, again, this race is wide open. We have been analyzing this for months, but the average voter is just now tuning in and paying attention. And so I think that's the calculus he's making in these early states.


SCIUTTO: You said earlier, you know, Trump, if he doesn't win Iowa or New Hampshire, he's finished. But I wonder if that math is just different in this campaign, because we have so many -- so many of the rules just haven't applied.

People were saying Donald Trump is finished every month for the last several months, and he's somehow around. You have such a big, disparate field. I wonder if you agree with that. Could someone win -- lose the first couple and pop up or win the first couple and disappear?

RYE: Or win the first one and not win anything else. We saw that with the last two cycles. You had Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses. And for what? Nothing. To no avail.

I think the one thing that I would ask the Bush campaign is, what took you so long? What took him so long to show up in that last Republican debate? And why just now are you deciding to put all of your campaign -- or many of your campaign staffers into the early states? You should have done that a long time ago.

And I think it took Jeb Bush a while to realize he's not the heir apparent. Just because your dad and your brother were in the White House, it doesn't make you a shoo-in. And the other thing that we saw this cycle so far is that Citizens United verdict really doesn't matter much.

He spent a whole lot of campaign cash on political ads, and it hasn't resulted into much.

SCIUTTO: I want to talk, if I can, John, about Marco Rubio, because one of the big lines of attack against him has been these missed votes in the Senate.

What is interesting about that line of attack is, early on, it didn't stick, because voters, they figure, hey, there's not a lot going on, on the Senate floor anyway. If you miss the vote, I understand, except when it's tied to national security, when they have said, you missed this key hearing on the terror threat in the U.S. And, of course, you know the level of terror concern here.

Is that a concern for Marco Rubio?

HART: Not particularly.

I think that's background noise, frankly, in the campaign. I think you can have -- it's fair game to raise those issues, but, in the end, voters want a candidate who's going to be aspirational, who is going to talk about solutions, who isn't going to spend all their time on personal attacks, but will describe what they view as a vision for the future. And Marco Rubio is one of the most gifted candidates we have on our side to do that.

SCIUTTO: So you look at -- when you look at the race where are you seeing those coming from in your view particularly when you look to the other side of the aisle?

RYE: To go back to this really quick, one good case study Bobby Jindal when he was running for governor of Louisiana, I was a Homeland Security staffer and he missed tons of hearings.

Tons of those hearings related to Hurricane Katrina and he wasn't showing up to those and still didn't have the stickiness effect we thought it would have even in that race.

SCIUTTO: People imagine here there's nothing going on in Washington.

HART: Expectations are very low.

SCIUTTO: But the terrorist thing is different though. That is the issue that is sticking in people's mind. In years past it was the economy stupid, but this time around it is terrorism, national security.

RYE: With the recent attacks, you brought up the other side of the aisle, there's no competition for Hillary Clinton when it comes to national security and foreign affairs. Her knowledge on those issues whether she was first lady, senator --

HART: Rubio was so fluent. He still gets it on foreign policy. When you have Marco Rubio and Donald Trump on stage, it's obvious Rubio is far more fluent on foreign affairs than Trump is. You have Trump talking about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it. How do you enforce that? Air strikes on Mexico? What does that mean? It's incoherent.

SCIUTTO: John Hart, Angela Rye, thanks so much for joining today particularly as we get close to the holidays.

The National Lead, the so-called affluenza teen and his mother now trying to extend their stay in Mexico, new video is giving us insight into how they were captured.

And just minutes ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announcing a new plan to reduce police shootings in Chicago. Could it appease protesters camping outside his home now and calling for him to resign?


[16:50:42] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our National Lead, following more deadly police shootings, Rahm Emanuel is desperately attempting to bring stability to his city. The Chicago mayor announced today that every cop in town responding to a call will be armed with a taser.

Hoping that the new measure could reduce the number of officer- involved shootings. But will it satisfy protesters who argue there is a much deeper problem within the police department than the weapons the policemen are carrying, and will this calm critics calling for the mayor's resignation?

Let's go now to CNN correspondent, Rosa Flores in Chicago. What do we hear from the mayor today in that press conference?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, to summarize it he pretty much said he wants to inject humanity into policy. He tells us right now 21 percent of the units out on the streets with police officers have tasers.

They want to double that number to -- from 700 units out to 1,400 units out on the streets of Chicago to have tasers available. This comes with training as well. Training on how to use those tasers.

Now, in addition to that they are hoping to train police officers into the de-escalation of a situation. In other words, to simmer the situation down so that it doesn't resort to lethal force. Here's how the mayor put it. Take a listen.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: -- so the rest of us can be safe and like all of us, they are human and they make mistakes. Our job is to reduce the chances of mistakes as you go up. It's another option. The goal first is to create a situation where you're not getting anywhere and that everybody goes home safely.


FLORES: Now, this is not happening in a vacuum. Like you mentioned there have been officer-involved shootings that have been very high profile that have set the spotlight of the nation right here in Chicago.

The other thing that's happening in the background, the United States Department of Justice is also investigating the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department. And, Jim, one of the things that the U.S. DOJ is looking at specifically is training -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: As you know, protesters they've been holding demonstrations right outside Emanuel's home comparing the police department of Chicago to the KKK. You know, Rahm Emanuel, he looked a little beaten down today. Pressure from the style he's known for here in Washington, how has he responded to those still calling for his resignation? FLORES: Well, you know, he didn't mention that today. In the press conference in the past he's generally said he's here to solve the problems of police accountability and transparency in the city of Chicago.

One of my big questions, Jim, and I didn't get to answer -- get to ask this question during the press conference was, you know, training and policy usually only as good as enforcement and accountability. Will that change?

And that is the big question that a lot of the protesters here in Chicago have. Will the police accountability be there aside for just the training?

SCIUTTO: Do they use those tasers instead of deadly force? Rosa Flores, thank you, in Chicago.

More now in the National Lead. The day after their capture in Mexico, the so-called affluenza teen and his mother are not giving themselves up. In fact, they're fighting deportation to the U.S. in a Mexico court.

Ethan Couch and his mom were nabbed yesterday near a popular resort town in Mexico that after three weeks on the run. Authorities were able to trace them via their cell phone.

Ed Lavandera's in Dallas. Ed, explain this to me, I'm curious, I'm sure a lot of our viewers are curious, how they're extending their stay in Mexico and not forced legally to go back to Texas where they're from?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And just so you know, Jim, as we've been reporting over the course of the last day, everyone was under the impression that Ethan Couch and his mother would be flying from Mexico into Houston.

The U.S. Marshals Service and the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department in Fort Worth say that the precautions had been made and everything have been put into place to transport them safely from Houston into custody there in Fort Worth as well.

[16:55:02]But all of that apparently fell apart this morning as we've learned that Ethan Couch and his mother have hired attorneys there in Mexico and have filed paperwork to delay or at least what seems like could be a lengthy delay to have them deported.

Essentially what is going on here they are fighting their deportation through the immigration process and the officials here say it could take several weeks to get them back.

SCIUTTO: Yes, because the initial report was delayed for just three days. But now it appears there's no real time frame for how long they can stay in Mexico?

LAVANDERA: A U.S. Marshal official in Houston says that these never get by in three days and they expect it to take a little bit longer. You can take a listen to what they said.


CHIEF DEPUTY RICHARD HUNTER, UNITED STATES MARSHAL: It depends on the court system down there. And it also depends on the fact that the Couches have legal council. And it seems to me if they wanted to they can pay as much money to drag this thing out as long as they want to.


LAVANDERA: Jim, that marshal saying he wouldn't be shocked if this took several weeks to get them back here to Texas and into the custody of Tarrant County officials.

SCIUTTO: On the lam in Mexico, sounds like it's out of the movie. Ed Lavandera in Dallas, thank you.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter @jimsciutto or tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Jake Tapper. Brianna Keilar is coming up next. She is filling in for Wolf Blitzer in that familiar place, "THE SITUATION ROOM."