Return to Transcripts main page


Flood Warnings for 8 Million People in 16 States; Manhunt in Tel Aviv for Gunman Responsible for New Year's Day Shooting Spree; Terror Group Uses Trump in Recruiting Videos; Putin: NATO Expansion Threatens Russia; Singer Natalie Cole Dies; College Football on New Year's Day. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 2, 2016 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:06] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Starting with this brazen attack. Israeli police right now are searching for the shooter who killed two people and wounded seven others in Tel Aviv.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Plus the danger level puts a rising in parts of the Midwest this morning, officials in Illinois warning a second levee could be breached at the Mississippi River overtop this bank.

BLACKWELL: And out with the old and in with the new for the Republican presidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson, his three top staffers quit. We are one month now from the Iowa caucuses. Will the campaign manager be able to get Carson a much-needed boost in the polls? Let's get started.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik sitting in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, 8:00 here on the East Coast. Good to be with you. We're going to start with the flood warnings now in affect for eight million people in 16 states. Missouri just beginning its recovery after highways, neighborhoods, schools were flooded this week.

KOSIK: CNN's Allison Chinchar joining us live now. Allison, first question, has the rain stopped? And if it has, I know the flooding though is still going to continue with more than 200 rivers. They're sitting at or above flood stage right now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Yeah. The good news is the rain has stopped for a lot of these locations, which is fantastic because as you can see with (ph) 283 locations at or above their flood stage through the basin. And 11 of those locations, again, set flood record crests, is the highest they've ever seen those flood locations ever to be. The problem with that, it's not just at those locations, it's all of the locations farther south of there where problems could arise because that water has to go somewhere.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You live in a water you can expect anything that (inaudible) never expected be this high. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHINCHAR: Several interstates are now back open in the St. Louis area. The recovery just beginning from flooding triggered by a downpour last week. Up to 10 inches of rain falling in some areas of Missouri. Water levels have fallen several feet, but many homes are still far from drying out. Those who live here say they've never seen this before in December.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not -- Not in my lifetime here. No.


CHINCHAR: As they watched the flooding in Missouri, those downriver began stacking sand bags knowing it's only a matter of time before they get hit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, we get to deal with it once it hits Illinois.


CHINCHAR: Rivers in Illinois are running 15 to 20 feet above normal levels, with more still to come. Two teens were swept away, their abandoned truck found in 17 feet of water. One body has been found. The search continues for the other teen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our best guess is they both swam out, and the water was too high and moving too fast for them to battle that current for very long.


CHINCHAR: As Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tours the damage, the people who live here know it isn't over yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just keeps coming higher (ph) than I thought it would come.


CHINCHAR: Look, at the area of concern, which is this entire basin area right here, the reason is, it's not just in Mississippi. We have a lot of other rivers that then flow into the Mississippi including the Missouri, the Ohio and the Arkansas River. So in St. Louis, it is done raining and they have hit heir peak. The crest has now gotten as high as it will. But that's not the case for areas farther south. That water continued to flow down into places like Cape Girardeau, and (inaudible) which are yet to hit their crest. It will be at least a day or two before they finally hit their peak.

Then farther south of that, we're talking Memphis also into Pine Bluff. Again, these are going to be a couple of more days. The problem with that is you never really know exactly how much water is coming out of these, so some of these numbers could end up changing for the actual crest. Another thing that could change is once we get far down say towards Greenville and Vicksburg, because we're not expected to hit crests

here for another 10 to 14 days.

Any rain that we get in the next 10 to 14 days could also change some of these crest sites making them much higher especially if we get additional 2 to 3 inches of rain, anywhere from Minnesota, all the way down to those locations because that water has to go somewhere.

Also, all the way down towards Baton Rouge, also expecting major flood stage about 44 feet but not until January 19th. The big thing here is when it goes from Baton Rouge down to New Orleans, the hope is they can stop it before it gets to New Orleans. By using the Bonnet Carre spillway it flows over into Lake Pontchartrain hopefully alleviating some of the water that would have normally ended up in New Orleans. So that's at least the hope that fingers crossed it actually turns out that way.

KOSIK: All right Allison. And thanks for that. We know it's not just Missouri, it's Illinois as well. Residents are stacking sandbags as the Illinois River reaches near record levels. Now, a second levee is in danger of breaching and several more days of rising water are still ahead. Now, on the phone with us, we have Pattie Thompson. She's with the Illinois Emergency Management in Springfield. Pattie, thank you for joining us.


KOSIK: So what are you expecting at this point?

THOMPSON: Well, as we just said, we are still experiencing rising waters in several places. So we've been concentrating our efforts along some of the areas of the Mississippi, the Illinois and some of the other rivers in Illinois. We've got a lot of hot spots, so to say, around Illinois right now.

KOSIK: Have you ever seen anything like this? How unusual is this for December? And how do you prepare for something this massive?

THOMPSON: Well, I think part of what was unusual about this, besides it being in December, is that it happened so quickly. We had those very heavy rains last week. And now, we've -- since then we've been dealing with the quickly rising rivers. Usually it is in spring time when we're dealing with rain like this and flooding but we have to be prepared at anytime time of the year because obviously that can happen.

KOSIK: And with these rising floodwaters, what are you telling residents to do? THOMPSON: Well, the nature saying that we've been repeating or the last week since the rain started was for people not travel on flooded roadways. It's impossible to tell how deep the water really is. And we've seen too many times in several states now, that we've had cars washed away and with tragic results. So we've always repeated the phrase, "Turn around, don't drown." Now, we have areas in Illinois where we're encouraging people to evacuate their homes because of the threat of the levees being overtopped or breaking is very real. And we don't want people in harm's way.

KOSIK: All right, that's Patti Thompson with Illinois Emergency Management in Springfield, Illinois. We do wish you well as you experience several more days of rising water.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We're tracking the terror concerns around the world. They start in Tel Aviv today, tensions high as police search for a killer, a manhunt underway for a gunman who shot and killed two people, wounded seven others in a New Year's Day shooting spree. And in France, soldiers guarding a mosque shot at a man who's wounded after he drove his vehicle towards them.

Officials have not determined a motive in that incident. And new this morning, a terror group linked to Al Qaeda is using Donald Trump in their recruiting videos calling people U.S. racist and using Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as an example.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching and Ku Klux Klan and tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.

DONAL TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so remember this, so listen. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the (inaudible) is going on.


BLACKWELL: Well, the Trump campaign has not responded or reacted to the inclusion of his comments in that video. But let's talk about this. Now, I want to bring in Jonathan Gilliam, CNN law enforcement analyst, former FBI special agent, former

navy SEAL as well. Good to have you this morning.


BLACKWELL: So this video, more than 50 minutes long. Many elements here, but of course, as we saw Donald Trump included. What is the value of those comments to those who might be susceptible to that message? Is it as powerful as Secretary Clinton said at the most recent Democratic debate? GILLIAM: Well, first off, I'm not sure if they would have said those comments had Secretary Clinton not said what she said. So, I think that is an important lesson here, because when these politicians are running and spouting, you know, their rhetoric against each other, they should be very careful of the message and the opportunity that they give these individuals to jump into that rhetoric. That's a very dangerous thing because their propaganda is very dangerous in recruiting.

BLACKWELL: So let me -- I want to be sure about -- clear about something as we continue the conversation. Do you believe that Al Shabaab, potentially included Donald Trump's snippet in their video because Secretary Clinton suggested that ISIS was doing it?

GILLIAM: Well, they didn't do it before. So, I'm assuming now, it could very well be. See, they pay so close attention to what stirs America up and what stirs the western culture up, that they will jump on this stuff. Their propaganda is run by people who understand media, understand how, you know, media works.

[08:10:07] And so they -- that's why they're producing videos that reach their millennials whereas our state department produces videos that don't reach anyone when they're trying to counter this stuff. So, it's interesting that the chicken come first or did the egg come first? And I think that's kind of what you're dealing with here.

But let me just say this, when it comes to this group and the rhetoric that he's spouting, this is coming from a group that does discriminate and a group that does keep hostages and detain people. So it's kind of like, you know, the rhetoric is coming from somebody who does exactly what they're talking about and America will never be that way.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about the intended audience for a much of this video. The African-American community in the U.S and not just African-American Muslims but potentially African-American Christians. And the suggestion that African-Americans should convert to Islam and then engage in jihad. And they will only find solace in Islam. Your thoughts on that intended audience?

GILLIAM: Well, I think it's very important in this country that we stop looking at each other and looking at our color. We need to start looking at ourselves as Americans and this is a perfect example why. Because people take advantage of the color discrimination issue that we have and -- that has existed here. For a long time it's gotten worse, recently. They take advantage of these things.

And I think that we as a country need to get past that and we need to rise up as a country against these types. Even if somebody does convert to Islam, they should not feed into this rhetoric because this rhetoric goes against everything that this country stands for. Freedom, non-discrimination, and the ability to be the best that you can be.

So I think that's really how we as a group, as a country, as a nation come together and get away from this stuff. And then also I will say this, Victor, is that, you know, when Donald Trump -- and I know we're talking more on the tactical side of this and not get into politics so much but this is kind of bleeding over into politics.

And one thing I will say in defense of Donald Trump is that when he made the statement he made, he followed it up with until we find out what the hell is going on here. And that's a very important part of this statement because it's -- it's not a statement where Donald Trump is trying to go out and put people in interment camps. It's where he's trying to say we need to figure out what's going on here.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, but he's trying to figure out what's going on and basing that on because people are Muslim and the religion specifically is what is causing what is happening in the country specifically after San Bernardino. I got your point but that will certainly be a conversation that we'll have later in the morning about that -- that fragment of the statement as well. Jonathan Gilliam, thanks so much.

GILLIAM: You got it, Victor.

KOSIK: OK. Still to come under "New Day", Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is starting fresh in 2016 after losing three, three top-10 paydays and dropping to third in the polls. Hear how his new campaign manager plans to boost his numbers.

BLACKWELL: Plus, contaminated Blue Bell ice cream. It was a big story in 2015 and now the feds are involved investigating the companies handling of that Listeria outbreak. Also singer Natalie Cole has died leaving behind a legacy of unforgettable music.


NATALIE COLE, SINGER: I think that was the only thing I had left, Larry. My voice. God didn't take my voice. He took my health for a minute, you know, but my voice was still there.




KOSIK: Well, it's 2016 and we're officially in an election year. This weekend, presidential hopefuls are kicking their campaigns into overdrive, because the all important Iowa caucuses are just 29 days away. Some candidates making the most of precious little time left. They're starting the year with new strategies to attract more voters. Others seemingly have totally new campaigns.

CNN's Chris Frates is live in Washington with the latest. Good morning Chris.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Alison and welcome to this first political day of this presidential year after (inaudible) of a campaign in 2015. But the political world took some time off New Year's Day to recover. But with the first voting only weeks away, a number of Republican presidential candidates are back on the trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We're going to have a great time next year. It's going to be an amazing year. We're going to make America great again. And we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens.

FRATES: Donald Trump has been off the campaign trail the last few days but that hasn't stopped him from going after his rivals on Twitter. "I would feel support for Jeb Bush and how badly he is doing with his campaign, other than the fact he took millions of dollars of hit ads on me." Hoping to regain some mojo in the New Year, Jeb Bush changed things up this week canceling (inaudible) in Iowa and South Carolina and moving dozens of staffers to keep early states to try to cut into Trump momentum.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's not a serious candidate. He has a broad appeal that may not be as deep as people imagined. So we're going to put together a ground game if you will in Iowa and New Hampshire and here in South Carolina that I think will be second to none. And that's how we'll do -- we'll win and we'll going to do well. So I'm excited about it.

FRATES: Trump leads by wide margins in national polls but his lead in Iowa is more disputed. With the Iowa caucuses less than a month away, Ted Cruz is gaining on the billionaire. The Republican senator is up with an ad there selling his conservative credentials. And he starts a six-day Iowa bus tour on Monday. To help blunt Cruz's rise and stay on top, Trump said he'll soon start spending at least $2 million a week on his own advertising.

TRUMP: I'm going to be doing big ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and they're going to very substantial and I think very well done. I've seen the first two or three of them, we're very proud of them. We're going to be talking about a lot of things including the border, including trade, including ISIS and security for the country.

FRATES: And Ben Carson rang in the New Year with a cast of advisers, after three top aides resigned on New Year's Eve. The struggling contender promised to reinvigorate his campaign ahead of Iowa's February first caucuses.


FRATES: So Democrats are also getting back on the campaign trail. Bernie Sanders is in Massachusetts today. And over the next two days, New Hampshire gets a double dose of Clinton. On Sunday, Hillary Clinton makes several stops in the granite (ph) state. And on Monday, former president Bill Clinton makes his first appearance solo appearance of the campaign to stump for his wife. Back to you guys.

KOSIK: New year, new campaign strategy, something tells me it's going to get even more interesting. Chris Frates, thanks very much.

FRATES: Thank you.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk now. CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord and Ben Ferguson join us now. Good to have you both. Good morning.


BLACKWELL: And to you too. Let's start with the shakeup in Ben Carson's campaign, campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, communications director among others. All out the bails on the retired neurosurgeon has been struggling to the polls (inaudible) now the latest CNN ORC poll has -- he was the frontrunner now sitting in the distant third place tied with Marco Rubio. Ben, I want to start with you. There are shakeups that are, you know, based on strategy, and then there are shakeups based on a flailing out of control campaign. Is this one of those or something in the middle?

BENJAMIN FERGUSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it's in the middle. I think anytime, if you look at Armstrong Williams as the business adviser, whatever that means, to Ben Carson. Armstrong Williams has been known to be very tough to deal with. And if he's running that campaign, now it's absolutely obvious that he's in charge of Ben Carson's campaign for the White House. You have a lot of people that just could not work with him.

And that seems to be part of his past and history. And Ben Carson I guess feels like going forward with Armstrong Williams and his ideas of his campaign is the way to move forward. I think it's a very bad political move. I think this is very bad for his campaign. He had a lot of good people around him that quit, that left. And when you have this many people leave. It's not just one. I mean you had a lot of people that been with him from early on that said we can't deal with you or Armstrong Williams anymore and I don't know if he's going to be able to come back from this, to be honest with you.

BLACKWELL: And Jeffrey, we know there are candidates who have lost key campaign advisers and directors and who have gone on to win, namely, a former governor of California, Ronald Reagan.

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER MEMBER OF THE RONALD REAGAN ADMINISTRATION: That would be right on the day of the New Hampshire primary in 1980, Ronald Reagan fired his campaign manager, his political field manager and his press secretary. What happens here, and frankly, I think it's a little too soon to understand this in terms of Dr. Carson. But Ronald Reagan was unhappy with the direction of his campaign. He'd lost in Iowa. He was concerned that, you know, the campaign was becoming about his consultants as opposed to about himself. So he personally fired them. And he hated to fire people. And this is a hard thing to do.

And he took control of the campaign himself. He appointed Bill Casey who later became the CIA director as his campaign chairman and brought in others, brought back (inaudible) et cetera. So, my only point here is this may be a case of Ben Carson taking control of his own campaign which from the Carson standpoint would be a good thing. Or on the other hand, we could all be totally wrong here. And Ben could be right. It could be chaos in there. You know, it takes a little while to figure out how this works. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the candidate, and Dr. Carson is the candidate. FERGUSON: And I think the biggest difference here is Ronald Reagan was the guy that understood exactly what he was as a politician, who he was. As a candidate, he understood that. Ben Carson does not have that type of expertise or experience. And I think he's had some blunders recently. Foreign policy was a great example of it when he was calling Hamas Hummus I think or (inaudible) whatever it was he was saying. Those things, you can only blame yourself for that.

And I think those are some of those issues you put together with his personality that he's not one to get real intent and go after people. He should have been doing that earlier on, especially in Iowa. And now, he's trying to reinvent himself. And I don't know people will find that authentic (inaudible) doing that.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, that's exactly where I was going to go. I mean Armstrong Williams saying that he's going to have more fire in the belly. And there was -- even from the doctor's own admission, lack of confidence after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, can a new communication's director, a new campaign manager fix those questions or answer those questions about the candidate himself? But we'll find out 29 days until Iowa. Jeffrey Lord, Ben Ferguson, thank you both.

FERGUSON: Thanks Victor.


KOSIK: Blue Bell ice cream coming back on the shelves in many states this month. After a deadly Listeria outbreak. Find out why a criminal investigation has now been launched over that outbreak.

BLACKWELL: Plus, taking back Ramadi from ISIS, Iraqi forces sweeping through evacuating civilians, tracking down the final few ISIS militants.



BLACKWELL: CNN has learned that devastating hotel fire in Dubai on New Year's Eve apparently began on the 20th floor when curtains caught fire. Flammable material on the outside of the address, it is a luxury high-rise, allowed the flames to quickly spread up the sides of the building. About 16 people were treated for minor injuries. Good news, no deaths reported.

KOSIK: In Iraq, ISIS launched a counterattack on Friday after being driven out of most of Ramadi in recent days. Government officials say 10 vehicles filled with explosives targeted an Iraqi army base northeast of the city. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed, 17 wounded.

BLACKWELL: The justice department has opened a criminal investigation into an outbreak of Listeria at Blue Bell creameries. Three deaths are blamed on a contamination caused a nationwide recall, you know, that happened last April. It was of all Blue Bell products. Now, the CDC found the deadly bacteria may have been lurking in the factory for five years. Federal prosecutors are now looking into possible wrongdoing by company executives as they handled that outbreak. Still to come on your "New Day" Russian president Vladimir Putin says NATO is a huge threat to his country.

KOSIK: Details on the steps Putin is taking to protect Russia against this enemy.


[08:31:09] KOSIK: New this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin says the expansion of NATO is a threat to the country.

BLACKWELL: Putin has signed a new security strategy outlining the national interest and strategic priorities for Russia. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance has details. Matthew?


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this isn't necessarily a changing strategy, but it's making formal what Russian officials have really been spending out for years, which is that NATO and the expansion of the military lines. They seem very much here as a threat to Russia's national security. Now, Russia and the west are going to observe the NATO expansion for several years.

It was the prospect of Ukraine being absorbed into their lives that was one of the reasons that Russia annexed Crimea, back in 2014 where it's got an important naval base on the Black Sea. The new paper which is updated every six years in Russia by law, says that Russia's independent and domestic foreign policy have triggered what it calls a 'time to action" on the part of the United States since (INAUDIBLE), as well, the paper. It's only the latest in a series of Russian statements that put Moscow and NATO at loggerheads.

Back in 2014, Russia updated its former military doctrine. It's official preparations to defend Russia with weapons to take into account NATO's growing presence to this (INAUDIBLE).At the time, Russian defense officials said that NATO's enlargement meant the alliance was getting closer to Russia's borders and presented an external threat to the country. It's still the case, apparently, that is what's believed is still true here in Russia.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


KOSIK: OK. Matthew, thanks very much for that. And let's take a little deeper and bring in CNN Military Analyst Major General James "Spider" Marks. Thanks for joining us.

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Alison, thank you, Happy New Year to you..

KOSIK: A Happy New Year. So, General, what do you think, this new Russian document, does it impact NATO in any way?

MARKS: Well, it certainly impacts NATO from the perspective of making sure that it has done -- NATO has done everything it should, to ensure it's prepared for any type of challenges that Russia would provide. And that's just not kinetic challenges.

Look, we have never had a hot war with either the Soviet Union or Russia. NATO has been immensely successful over the course of its lifetime following World War II. I mean, it's quite an amazing resilient alliance. We have always had conflicts with Russia and the Soviet Union through proxies. And that's what we really need to be aware of. Clearly, what we saw in Ukraine this past summer, in Crimea, these are the pushes and pulls that NATO must be prepared for and frankly it is.

KOSIK: Do you think then that this is Vladimir Putin's way to sort of wield its world [clout][ph][03:03:58] on the world stage by declaring that this expansion of NATO is a threat to his country?

MARKS: Alison, Putin mostly communicates internally. He's in a far better position when he's popping out his chest and speaking rather bellicose term internally. His popularity within Russia is phenomenal. It exceeds 70 percent. So, it's not surprising that he would be in this type of a position, stating these kinds of positions that really are for internal consumption.

The Soviet Union and Russia has always benefited from chaos along its borders, what they call the "near abroad". And when they can stir things up right over their own borders, they get stronger and stronger internally. He has just done that through these proclamations in a rather diplomatic and military ways.

KOSIK: OK. And you look at what NATO is doing, NATO was adding countries, Montenegro actually on the cast of joining NATO. And, do you think that this is making Russia feel even more threatened?

[08:35:05] MARKS: No, not at all, not at all. This is an inevitable turn of events. Look, in NATO in the late '90s, the 1990s, NATO expanded immediately into about 13, and then 16, nations. And this was as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.

This is an inevitable course and kind of a march of history. Putin has seen this. He understands this. It's an opportunity for him simply to be a little more boisterous so he can bolster the population internally, and they'll embrace him even more.

KOSIK: Vladimir Putin, a little more boisterous, I guess so. General Marks, thanks very much.

MARKS: Sure, Alison. Happy New Year again.

KOSIK: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's talk about this critical documents in the Freddie Gray case. They've been unsealed. Coming up, details on how those documents could undermine the prosecution of police officers charged in Gray's death, that was last April, as you remember.

And, she was often mentioned in the same breadth (ph) with other greats like Aretha Franklin covering her song here "Daydreaming." Today tributes pour in for singer Natalie Cole.


KOSIK: A legendary songstress and multi Grammy winner born into musical royalty has passed away. Natalie Cole died Thursday evening in Los Angeles. She was 65. Her family said she suffered from complications due to ongoing health issues. Natalie Cole followed in the footsteps of her legendary father, singer Nat King Cole. She won nine Grammys throughout her career including Best New Artist for her 1975 debut album, her voice, in one word, "Unforgettable".


COLE: Unforgettable in every way and forever more and forever more.

And I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy, no matter what you say...

This will be the on e I waited for...


[18:39:57] KOSIK: Joining me now, we're snapping here in the studio. Joining now to talk about that incredible voice that we are snapping our fingers to is CNN Entertainment Analyst Chris Witherspoon. Chris is also the entertainment editor

Chris, good morning. I know you have interviewed Natalie Cole. How much of her success do you think is attributable to her father? Or, does she stand on her own in her own right?

CHRIS WITHERSPOON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT ANALYST: Yes. I interviewed her back in 2013. Such a class act. And yes, she really stands in her father's shoes. He had an amazing career, Grammy winner. She's a nine- time Grammy winner herself, who has a huge body (INAUDIBLE). She attributes much of her success to her father.

She recalls growing up playing piano, sitting next to him, watching him play the piano, learning how to kind of master her voice from his talents. She had an amazing career in her own. She had some dark moments she discussed with me during our interview as well, talked about her drug addiction and how she kind of overcame drug addiction. And wanted everyone to know that if she beat drug addiction, so can anyone out there. So she was very candid about overcoming her demons and standing in the light and then really finds success post that.

FEMALE: Yeah. And, you know, she struggled with drug abuse and Hepatitis C but she was very public and very candid about her addiction and the health problems that she was struggling through. Why do you think that is?

WITHERSPOON: I think that she wanted folks to know that anybody can overcome drug addiction. I recalled in one interview she was talking about her song "This Will Be," one of the biggest that she put out, she said that the day that song came out she went to Harlem to buy drugs. She also told me that during her drug addiction with heroin, she contracted Hepatitis C. And that was something that ultimately led to her kidney dysfunction.

But I think that she wanted folks to know that if she can overcome drug addiction, so could they. And there are so many celebrities out there that deal with drug addiction that don't open up and aren't as candid as she is. So (INAUDIBLE) refreshing to see her be so honest and just like have her life be exposed. s

KOSIK: What do you think is going to be her legacy?

WITHERSPOON: I think her music. I think her music. And I think so many celebrities go on Twitter and Instagram and talk about how she blessed their lives, how she was -- someone who love them and who exposed them to great music. Aretha Franklin first statement now. She said she prospers (ph) so long. She's one of the greatest singers of our time, and that's Aretha Franklin. So I think she definitely has her place in history.

KOSIK: Well, we'll definitely continue listening to her music. And she will be remembered.

Chris Witherspoon, thanks so much.


BLACKWELL: A lot of good music there. Let's shift gears now and talk about the new information coming out in the case against six Baltimore police officers. The question, "Did Freddie Gray have a previous back injury? And did prosecutors hide that information from the defense?"


[08:45:22] BLACKWELL: There is new information coming to light in the Freddie Gray case. Lawyers for one of the officers charged, now trying to get a look at Gray's medical records.

You remember, Gray died from a neck injury he suffered while riding in the back of a Baltimore police van. But now, one of the officers says Gray told him he had a bad back weeks before his death.

Here is Miguel Marquez.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Alison, defense lawyers for Caesar Goodson, he was the driver of the van which Freddie Gray was critically injured, have filed documents asking for Gray's medical and incarceration records.

In one of these documents, a Baltimore police officer wrote that Gray said a couple of weeks before he was critically injured in the back of that police van that he had "hurt my back," or "had a bad back." The defense arguing here that there could be other causes for Gray's traumatic injury that he received in the back of that van. The timing of this document is worth noting though.

The officer, John Hertzog, is a sergeant offered up information on an unsolicited basis after Gray was critically injured and after the riots in Baltimore. Hertzog wrote this memo and sent it to his superiors on May 1st, Gray died April 19th, and Hertzog's original conversation with Gray happened on March 31st. Hertzog said in the memo that his memory was jogged by all the press surrounding Gray's death and the riots.

Another document filed by defense attorneys asked for Gray's detention records because they cite an unconfirmed report that Gray had tried to harm himself while in Baltimore Central Booking Facility during a previous arrest. The prosecution argued Gray's medical records, they're not relevant. Having nothing to do with the injuries sustained in the back of the van last April. They say Gray's neck was critically injured because of his treatment by police. The judge in this trial is expected to rule this week on whether to allow those records in the Goodson trial who faces the most serious charge of second degree murder. His trial is expected to start January 11th.

Alison, Victor?

BLACKWELL: (INAUDIBLE) discuss these records and how they could affect this case, defense attorney A. Scott Bolden. Scott, good to have you back. I want to start with...


BLACKWELL:.. the validity -- good morning -- of this argument from this statement. A sergeant comes out with this unsolicited information that Freddie Gray said a couple weeks ago he had back issues. Any concerns from your perspective?

BOLDEN: Well, couple things. One, it's a bit (INAUDIBLE) department involved more. So I'm not surprised that that information didn't get to the prosecutors or to the police officers involved on a timely basis. That being said, the fact of the matter is that this is information that did come to the prosecution's attention, it was not disclosed in the Porter trial, the judge said it was not disclosed on a timely basis. It potentially could have been exculpatory. But remember, the Porter defense never really used it, and so it became really a moot issue.

Here, Goodson who is charged with the most serious crimes, it could be relevant, probative, and material and in the sealing of Freddie Gray's medical records by the judge in the Porter case, he may change his mind in the Goodson case.

BLACKWELL: So, I'd imagine that, you know, those medical records would hold a lot of answers. Do you expect that they will be unsealed for this next trial?

BOLDEN: Well, we'll have to see. You know, the motions have been filed. And again, with Goodson having the most serious charges and him actually driving the van which may have caused the injury. Now, that being the case, it's been determined that the injury was caused by the driver of the van, or at least while he was in the back of the van. The reality is that if there was an intervening or supervening cause or preexisting condition that made Freddie Gray more likely to less likely to sustain this type of injury, then sure, that is a huge piece for the defense to be introduced if the judge lets it in now. We'll just have to see how he rules. But those medical records and now they have an affidavit from Hertzog could be the changing factor.

BLACKWELL: Well, for the basis of conversation, let's assume a couple of things. That the judge will allow that we'll unseal those medical records, and that he did have some preexisting back condition. Does that then exonerate the officers? Obviously, whatever the condition was didn't leave to his death before he was in that van, I mean does that then get off these I guess five, possibly six, if they retry the first officer moving forward?

BOLDEN: Not at all. But it's a big issue for the defense. It allows the defense in this case to argue strenuously that the acts of the driver, Goodson, or any of the other officers was not the cause -- or the causation for the criminal negligence, or the cause of his death that he had a preexisting condition and that preexisting condition heavily contributed to his death or to his injury. Then it will be up to the jury as the fact finder to determine whether they believe Goodson and the medical information, or whether they believe the prosecution that says his medical records are irrelevant. It was the bad acts of these officers, the negligence of these officers, the criminal negligence of these officers that ultimately caused his death.

[18:50:35] BLACKWELL: All right, A. Scott Bolden, always good to have you.

BOLDEN: Thank you.


KOSIK: Well, lots of bowl games this weekend. And social media is buzzing over the running back. Many are calling the best player in college football. All the details coming up next in sports.


KOSIK: The New Year is traditionally a time to get rid of the old and welcome the new. Well, that includes updating your vocabulary.

BLACKWELL: The word police -- there is such a thing.

KOSIK: There is?

BLACKWELL: At Lake Superior State University in Michigan have released their annual lists of words and phrases they say should be stricken from use in 2016.


BLACKWELL: Thirteen made the list this year. They are So, Conversation, Problematic, Stakeholder, Price point...

KOSIK: What's wrong with those? But all right, I'll go on with the list here. Also on the list -- Secret sauce, Break the internet, Walk it back, Presser, Manspreading -- did I look at that right?

BLACKWELL: Don't look at me for manspreading. KOSIK: What does that even mean? What does that mean?

BLACKWELL: I'm not going there.

KOSIK: Vape, Giving me life and Physicality. OK. Well, I have to look up what that word means?

BLACKWELL: I'll tell you during the break.


BLACKWELL: College bowl games dominated many TV sets on New Year's Day. Stanford's Christian McCaffrey dominated the Rose Bowl.

KOSIK: OK. So now, this morning, everyone is talking about his performance and whether or not he is college football's best player. Are we talking the best player?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: That's what we're talking here, you guys. They had social media buzz still this morning. Late in the morning. It's still trending. The rose bowl that is. And this game wasn't played for 102 years. But Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, he put on a performance that is arguably the greatest performance in rose bowl history. It was so good that one fan after the game tried to reopen McCaffrey's Heisman campaign. Check this out.


[18:55:20] CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY, RUNNING BACK: We're worried about the next play and what we can do to help the team be successful. But we just knew that we can be extremely good when we're focused on what we're doing and executing our offense and plays. And so, it's not our season. No, you know, you can't focus on all that.


WIRE: Now, if you're wondering why this guy is so fired up. Check out some of the highlights in the very first play of the game. Look at this guy, looks like Victor Blackwell is back in the game just dominating the Hawkeyes.

First play of the game, 75 yards touchdowns. He would end up cranking out 368 all-purpose yards. He had the 68-yard punt return touchdown right here. And social media is blowing up. People questioning why McCaffrey wasn't voted as the best player in college football. We asked you this morning if there were a Heisman revote like that. Dan was asking for would you have to pick McCaffrey. Why do I not? Here's what he had to say. Allen said, "Breaking @BarrySanders all time yards from scrimmage record should have translated into a Heisman." That's a good point. He beat that record by 600 yards. John Farley said, "One game against a bad defense I think the voting was right." Well, I was a top 25 defense. So they weren't too shabby.

Chris, I'm a little biased, don't (INAUDIBLE). Chris Taylor tweeted, "McCaffrey would absolutely get my vote not only because he's a great player, he's an even better human being. Gwen said, "Revote that Heisman." And finally, Charles, is the man tweeted, "No, I wouldn't pick McCaffrey, the Heisman is about the season. Not one game Henry won in the end.

Thanks so much as always for joining us, guys. We have a lot to say and we enjoyed sharing it.

KOSIK: All right, Coy Wire, thanks so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

KOSIK: And I got to get to because I did look it up, manspreading, I'm going to read this. It's the practice of sitting in public transport, with legs wide.

WIRE: Oh, yeah, yeah.

KOSIK: OK. So when a guy takes up like half a seat because -- yeah, it's like, you know, us ladies, we sit with our legs closed. Well, I know I take public transportation in New York on the train and I know these guys who sit and they just kind of sprawl out...

WIRE: Highly unacceptable. Let's ban the word and guys that are doing that.

KOSIK: I say, keep the word and ban the practice.

WIRE: All right.

BLACKWELL: I feel like we should find a less provocative term for it.

KOSIK: That sounds a good idea.

BACKWELL: Second, I do it. I take up -- I paid for the both seats --

KOSIK: Well, now, you should be more cognizant of it and think that, you know, there are other people sitting around you who'd like to use the sit next to you.

BLACKWELL: Unapologetically, a manspreading.

WIRE: Victor Blackwell.

BLACKWELL: Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN airs "STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE", a controversial documentary from CNN Films about jobs and his visionary influence on modern culture. That vision first took hold in the mid 1980's with the revolutionary Macintosh personal computer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things that Steve thought was important in (INAUDIBLE) facilitation was this is where all the signatures are and there are all the people. The original group, they actually signed the machine. There's Steve Jobs right in the middle. My name is over here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you do that?

STEVE JOBS: Because the people that work on it consider themselves, and I certainly consider them artists. These are the people that have been under different circumstances would be painters and poets. But because of the time that we live in, this new medium has appeared in which to express oneself to one's fellow species. And that's a medium of computing.


KOSIK: This looks like a good one.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, be sure to stay with us when that comes, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. "STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE". We've all got the machine and we've got iPhones in here on the desk,

KOSIK: Yeah, we do. Everything. All right.

Let's have a quickly look before we go with some of the developing top stories. Israeli authorities are hunting for a 29-year-old Israeli Arab who allegedly opened fire on a crowded street in Tel Aviv. Two people were killed, seven wounded. Surveillance video from the market shows the gunman removing the weapon from a bag before stepping out on the sidewalk and shooting.

BLACKWELL: And of course, this morning, we're watching the flooding in the Midwest. The body of a teenager has been recovered. And another still missing after their struck was found 17 feet under water there.

About 8 million people in the Midwest are bracing for exceptionally high water this weekend. Deputies are going door to door, telling people to leave their homes as these levees are breached.

KOSIK: An air base in India, near the Pakistan border came under attack today by a group of militants. A government official says four of the gunmen were killed. Two security force members and one civilian also died. No group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

BLACKWELL: It's been good to have you with us this morning. But you're not done with us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of NEWSROOM.

[18:60:04] KOSIK: Don't go anywhere, "SMERCONISH", starts now.