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CNN NEWSROOM

Berlin Attack Fuels Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric; 911 Tapes Released in Toddler's Road Rage Death; Families of Three Orlando Victims Sue Social Media; New Charges in Flint Toxic Water Crisis; Violence Hits Home for NBA Star Dwyane Wade. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 20, 2016 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Will be no happy ending. Much of the world is squeamish about taking in immigrants from war-torn countries. The concerns heightened by early reports that the suspect in the Berlin attack was a refugee -- was a refugee, rather. Officials still aren't sure that they have the attacker. In fact, they think that suspect is the wrong guy.

Far-right populist politicians in Britain and France, though, reacted swiftly. Britain's Nigel Farage tweeting this, quote, "Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise, events like these will be the Merkel legacy." France's Marie Le Pen said, quote, "How many massacres and deaths will be necessary for our governments to stop bringing in a considerable number of migrants?"

With me now to talk about this and more and Timothy Naftali, a CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library. And Errol Louis, a commentator, a CNN commentator and anchor of Spectrum News.

Welcome to both of you.

So early on, Donald Trump labeled this attack in Berlin and the attacks in other places as a result of radical Islamic jihadists. He used that term. And as you know, many U.S. generals have warned against using that term but many Trump supporters say it's about time someone called it like it is.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And lo and behold, saying the magic words has changed nothing on the ground. Those kind of sort of semantic distinctions I think experienced policy has been saying for a long time now really aren't going to settle the questions on the ground. The situation actually is considerably more complicated than radical Islamic jihadists. You've got sort of a Kurdish nationalist movement that's been in the middle of all of this. You've got the great power game being played by Russia as it has for a long, long time.

You've also got Turkey, which is a member of NATO, which then evokes the United States and solemn treaty alliances that are in fact the law of the land. It's much, much more complicated than simply trying to wipe out the Islamic State, which is -- you know, let's give President-elect Trump credit for being a very good campaigner. It worked miracles at campaign rallies and in the voting booth. But the situation, again, in reality, after he takes office, he's

going to find it's much more complicated.

COSTELLO: Well, Timothy, he has been holding these big rallies, right? And some people claim that he's still campaigning, so are these tweets part of that? Because it is unusual for a guy who's not president yet to be tweeting such things about foreign entities.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Carol, President- elect Trump has taught us all not to expect the expected, all right, so he decided to throw away the playbook. He's decided to start shaping his presidency before he ever becomes president. So it doesn't -- and he has also selected Twitter, social media, as his preferred form of engaging with people besides the rallies. So it's no surprise he's doing this.

What this does, however, is it confuses foreign governments because they're -- you know, they're hearing two messages at the same time. What will be very interesting to see with regard to the Trump administration is what role they play in the Turkish-Iranian and Russia conversation about stabilizing Syria.

The United States shares interests with some of these governments but not all of these governments. What will the U.S. position be? Will we be a party to these negotiations? Or will we continue to do what the Obama administration tried to do which was to let the regional players solve this issue?

COSTELLO: Well, frankly, we just don't know, right? We do know that Donald Trump wants to tighten the borders so maybe he's using these tweets to put pressure on Congress very early to go along with whatever plans he has to build a wall, to put these refugees through extreme vetting, to bar people trying to come in from Middle Eastern countries?

LOUIS: Well, that's right. The one consistent theme throughout the campaign has been that Donald Trump does not want to take any part of the refugee crisis. He doesn't want any of them in. He's got this extreme vetting. You'll remember during the campaign, one of his now allies, I guess Chris Christie, saying that not even a 5-year-old child would we take, not 7-year-old girl you just talked about, nobody.

That then creates what? A refugee crisis of unimaginable dimensions in Turkey. 2.7 million and growing. Does that continue for five years, for 10 years, for 20 years? Do we get sort of a permanent refugee crisis that Turkey is not equipped financially or politically to handle? If so, then Trump is at best kicking the can down the road.

COSTELLO: Yes. And I think that some Americans might say why we care about Turkey, right, but Turkey's a great ally in that part of the world and, frankly, the United States needs Turkey.

NAFTALI: Well, we all agree that the surge worked in Iraq. And the surge worked in Iraq not just because General Petraeus is a really smart guy and the U.S. military's wonderful. It's because we allied with Sunnis, in the Sunni belts around Baghdad. We helped them achieve some security.

[10:35:04] Our war against Islamic extremism, whatever you want to call the radical violent Islam, involves working with peaceful Muslims and that's by far the majority of Islam. If we send out signals that we are only fighting for one religion and not for humanity, then it's going to be harder for us to ally with Muslims and there's so many that want to work with us.

COSTELLO: Well, I think the other problem that Donald Trump might have is throughout his campaign he said that he was going to defeat ISIS like right now, the hammer was going to come down hard but again nobody really knows what that means.

LOUIS: Well, I don't think serious people ever believed that. You know, even a lot of his supporters frankly. When he says, we're going to just bomb the crap out of them. You know, I can't say the obscenity on the air that he would use at these rallies. That's not a solution. That's not -- I mean, even strategically that won't work. That won't work as a tactic on the ground. If it were that easy to do, believe me, it would have happened by now.

You know, Bashar al-Assad, as well as the Russians, they're no slouches when it comes to bombing the crap out of stuff, if it were that easy, it would have gotten done. We have I think sort of a regional conversation, I think is what this administration has wanted, but I think it's part of an ongoing regional discussion that goes back to -- I remember being a kid in the seven-day war. You know? I mean, when you're talking about the Middle East, and make no mistake, that's what we're talking about, you can stand in the Golan Heights and hear bombing in Damascus 40 miles away in a straight line.

This is Israel, this is the West Bank. An existing refugee crisis. This is Syria and the Islamic State and Turkey and Russia. It calls for, dare we say it, a foreign policy. Something we've never heard announced from the president-elect.

COSTELLO: Although everybody I talked to from the Trump transition team says, you know, he's putting great people in place, they're going to craft this great foreign policy. America's going to talk much tougher. Act more swiftly. And they're going to make America great again.

NAFTALI: Well, I believe it's the responsible thing to do to give a new administration a chance. But we'll see. First of all, they have to be confirmed. These great people have to be confirmed. Then the Senate has to play its role in asking searching questions. Once they're confirmed, we give them a chance.

What Errol mentioned is absolutely true. We've been given -- we have foreign policy by tweets at the moment. You cannot describe a policy in 140 characters. What is the policy going to be to Syria and Iraq? Because these are two different countries. ISIS is a problem in both but they're different countries with different needs at the moment.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the Trump administration has planned and how it explains it to us all.

COSTELLO: All right. I have to leave it there. Timothy, Errol, thanks so much.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, 911 tapes released in that tragic case of road rage in Arkansas as the hunt continues for the man who shot a 3- year-old boy to death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:19] COSTELLO: For the first time we're hearing the heart- wrenching 911 tapes from a road rage shooting death in Arkansas. A grandmother screams after finding out her 3-year-old grandson Acen King has been shot. Authorities still hunting for the man who fired into the woman's car apparently because he was irritated she was driving too slowly.

Cara Kneer joins us live from Atlanta with more. Hi, Cara.

CARA KNEER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, a senseless tragedy took 3-year-old Acen King's life early Sunday morning and we have obtained, like you said, the 911 call as his grandmother discovered him slumped over in the backseat of her car.

We want to warn you, the audio is upsetting. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on one second. They're getting him out. Hold on. They've put him on the ground. They're saying he's been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KNEER: Just devastating. And that was the moment Kim King Macon discovered her grandson. She was taking her grandson, age 3 and 1, to JCPenney to meet up with family members for last minute Christmas shopping. When she was en route to the store, she stopped at an intersection and noticed a dark Chevy Impala pull up behind her. He honked his horn at her allegedly because she was taking too long at the intersection. She then obviously honked back. He got out of the car and fired a shot. A shot she initially thought was fired into the air. So she continued on to the store where she discovered Acen had been shot in the neck.

Now members of community are calling for an end to the violence in Little Rock. Church and community leaders encouraging anyone who knows anything to please come forward. The reward on any information has now been raised from $20,000 to $40,000. And we should mention, Carol, a go-fund-me page has been set up to pay for Acen's funeral -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So sad. Cara Kneer, reporting, thank you.

The families of several victims at that Orlando gay nightclub targeted by a terrorist are now suing Facebook, Google and Twitter. They blame social media for fueling the explosive growth of ISIS over last few years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH ALTMAN, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING FAMILIES OF VICTIMS: It's our belief that these companies provide an instrument that ISIS can use to conduct terrorist activities. And they do this by providing an infrastructure that allows them to create a Web, to spread a Web, and even when they take these people down, Twitter says they took down 350,000 accounts, the problem is they didn't keep them down. It's weed whacking. They take the top off the weeds and they leave the roots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: CNN national correspondent Deborah Feyerick has more on this. Good morning.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning there, Carol. And the families are suing these social media giants basically for providing material support to ISIS. And material support is really a charge that's usually filed by federal prosecutors who bring it against people who aid and abet terrorists. Well, in this case, the Pulse families are saying that Twitter, Facebook and Google knowingly and recklessly allow ISIS to use these social media accounts in three key ways. First, to spread propaganda. Second, to raise money. And third, to recruit people like the Pulse gunman Omar Mateen who the FBI says was radicalized online.

Now the suit says that without these companies, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last couple of years would never have taken place. And that's what they're fighting. You can hear the lawyer basically saying one pops up and they just create a new account. The lawyers do accuse Twitter of allowing ISIS accounts to promote the brutal terror videos, to solicit donations and essentially connect with one another. There's a whole sort of underground of communication. They also accuse Google of making money from ads that run just before the horrible videos on YouTube that we've seen.

[10:45:06] They also accuse Facebook of providing a platform to spread their hate and their violence. And earlier this month these social media companies did say that they're joining together to try to identify terrorist content and keep it from being shared. Twitter is really defending itself saying it shut down some 360,000 accounts. So, in fact, they are trying.

COSTELLO: So how difficult will this suit be to win?

FEYERICK: Well, it's very challenging. There's a Common Decency Act which basically says they cannot be liable for what -- they're just the publishers. Right? They don't provide the content. They just provide the platform to publish. So they do feel that they're protected under this liability clause but, again, even their efforts to take it down, it is just so insidious.

James Comey, the FBI director, has described it like cockroaches. So they just keep coming and coming and coming. So it's going to be very difficult for them to take it down completely.

COSTELLO: Deborah Feyerick, many thanks.

Checking some other top stories for you at 45 minutes past. An underwater drone now back in U.S. hands after it was seized by China last week. The incident took place in international waters off the coast of the Philippines where U.S. officials say the Chinese Navy took the drone from an unnamed survey ship. The Pentagon, which called the seizure, quote, "unlawful," says its investigation is ongoing.

Search teams trying to recover the wreckage of Malaysia Flight 370 have likely been looking in the wrong place. That's the finding of a new report from the Australian government. But the report does not give a specific location for the plane so the country's transportation minister says the search area will not be extended unless new evidence surfaces. The search for MH-70 is due to end in the next few months.

A tourist has been released from a New York City hospital after being stabbed just one day after proposing to his girlfriend. Police say the victim was walking in midtown Manhattan when another man walked up and stabbed him in the neck. Incredibly the victim was able to catch up to friends when the knife fell out -- fell out of his neck. He later gave it to police. The couple has since returned home to Washington state. No arrest so far.

And a touchdown dance is becoming very profitable for the Salvation Army. On Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot jumped into a giant Salvation Army red kettle after scoring against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL will not fine him for that but wallets are opening up. The Salvation Army says in the hours following the game online donations spiked 61 percent. Good for him.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, more people are facing criminal charges in the Flint water poisoning case. Who they are and what that means just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:47] COSTELLO: Four more people are facing charges for their roles in the Flint water crisis. The new round of criminal charges announced moments ago by the Michigan attorney general joined at a press conference by a special prosecutor and investigators.

Now let's talk about those new charges. CNN correspondent Sara Ganim joins me. Good morning.

SARA GANIM, CNN INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Carol. You know, this is a big deal because these are two of the highest level officials to be charged so far in this water crisis. Two emergency managers. They were essentially in charge of the city of Flint and all of the decision-making while the city was in financial crisis. They reported directly to the governor, to Governor Rick Schneider, and that's why this is so important.

Now the charges are false pretenses and conspiracy. What they essentially did, what we're learning for the first time today, is they misled the Michigan Department of Treasury into getting bonds for a city that was in debt, $13 million in debt, and didn't have a credit rating. They misled the state to get money to build a new pipeline and that led to the water crisis. And so this is sort of a diversion from not necessarily charges that say they knew that there would be problems with lead in the water or legionnaires which we know killed more than 10 people in Flint. But the method in which they were able to financially bring this new water source to the city then that was a point in which led to all of this crisis.

COSTELLO: So it's connected directly to the governor's office, what might happen to the governor, right?

GANIM: What's next? I mean, what's next is the question we've been asking for months in Flint, right? The attorney general, Bill Schuette, has said that he will not stop until he feels the investigation is complete. He said today, already, that this is not over. They are going to keep going. And he has always said that no one is off limits, but that there's no target here, there's no one person they're going after.

Of course the people in Flint, a lot of them, have always called for some sort of accountability from the governor's office. But there are a lot of people and there's a lot of finger-pointing and everyone says they got bad information from someone else. So this is just another step in that process.

COSTELLO: Sara Ganim, thanks so much.

He's a star on the basketball court. Now Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade is working on becoming a leader in his community. Wade grew up in the Windy City, Chicago. But as CNN's Matt Winer learned, Chicago's crime problem is now hitting even closer to home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT WINER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the waning days of the deadliest summer Chicago has endured in decades, Chicago has never needed solutions more than now. In August alone, the city recorded more than 90 murders. The killings concentrated on the city's west and south sides, are almost exclusively shootings and police say often gang related.

The chaos is costing innocent lives. 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge was pushing her baby in a stroller on her way to register her kids at this school when police say two gang members on parole began firing their guns at a rival. Aldridge was shot by mistake and killed leaving behind four children and an extended family including her cousin Dwyane Wade.

DWYANE WADE, CHICAGO BULLS GUARD: When it's happened to your family, when your auntie is the one that's crying on your shoulder, if you're looking at your nephews and your nieces and their whole life is turned upside down, if you're looking at a 3-week-old baby and you realized she would never get to know her mother. Like all these things, when it's up close, when it's personal, when it's in your family, it really becomes real.

WINER: Pastor (INAUDIBLE) is Jolinda Wade, Dwyane's mother, who emerged from drug addiction and prison to become a Baptist preacher at the church her son bought for her which is now expanding into a community center. She says her niece's death is part of a terrifying trend of violence fueled by gangs, guns, drugs and social media feuds and more unpredictable than ever.

JOLINDA WADE, PASTOR, NEW CREATIONS BALM CHURCH: My niece was going to register her kids in school. So that means now you don't have to be in no gang. You don't have to be -- you can be driving on the expressway now, it's happening like that. You can be jogging now, it's happening like that. You can be coming home from school, just coming to visit your family, and now it's happening like that. So it's happening in our everyday life.

[10:55:05] WINER: Wade knew his hometown was hurting when he decided to return as a free agent with the Bulls. Fairly or not, many look to Wade to invest time and money in troubled areas.

D. WADE: You can't change every neighborhood. You know, but I try to -- and my family has tried to focus on certain areas. You know, I grew up on the South Side. I grew up in the south suburbs. And we try to focus in those areas and try to uplift those communities. But I also challenge the city of Chicago. I also challenge the community. Its community leaders. There's people in these communities that's doing very well as well. I also challenge parents to do more.

WINER (on camera): Given what you and your family have been through this summer, what's your level of optimism about this turning around here in Chicago?

D. WADE: You know, some days, it's -- some days you don't have it, you know. And some days you do. And just to be honest with you, you know, I know that, you know, I would donate money to the city of Chicago to try to help certain communities. But as I do my job, others have to do theirs. You know, obviously we put responsibility on our youth but they're following their adults as well. They're following what's going on in their communities. They're doing what they see. So we have to do a better job. Others have to do a better job of leading. And if they don't do it, then the things that I'm trying to do becomes pointless.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: That was Matt Winer reporting.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. "AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND BOLDUAN" after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, I'm John Berman. Kate is off

today. We have breaking developments this morning in five major terror attacks around the world from Jordan, where tourists were slaughtered inside a Medieval Castle, to Turkey, where several people are being questioned right now after the assassination of the Russian ambassador that happened in Ankara. Now those being questioned includes the shooter's family and his roommate.