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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Slams Virginia GOP; Trump Claims Hillary Clinton i Plays Women Card; No Indictment in Death of Tamir Rice; Iraqi Troops Retake Ramadi. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 28, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto, in tonight for Anderson.

And we begin tonight back on the campaign trail where new battles are raging. Right now, Donald Trump is speaking in a rally in New Hampshire. He has been talking for about 45 minutes now. He spent the long holiday weekend waging new feuds on two new fronts.

Target number one, The Virginia Republican Party. Mr. Trump has been slamming party officials there for requiring voters to sing a loyalty oath before voting in a republican primary there on March 1st. That requirement could hurt Mr. Trump who is showing strong support among independents and conservative voters who haven't been politically engage before.

Feud number two, that centers on Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump has been umping up his accusations that Mrs. Clinton is playing the quote "women's card" and now he is dragging Bill Clinton's past infidelities into the battle.

CNN's Sara Murray joins me now with the latest from New Hampshire.

So, Sara, listening to him tonight, what did he have to say on these two new battles that he is waging?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, That's right. Well, let's start with Clinton because he was just talking about her right behind me essentially saying there is no difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And he keep off his speech by saying he is Hillary Clinton's worse nightmare and claiming that Clinton campaign is devastated by the things he has been saying, but he did not dived directly into the accusation, into the critics that he has been making about Bill Clinton's past infidelities. That is something that he has been tweeting a storm about the last couple of days. But so far tonight, it looks like he is not willing to go in that far, at least on the stamp here in New Hampshire, Jim.

SCUITTO: So, on the second battle between the Virginia GOP and Trump, this is essentially the establishment Republican Party versus Donald Trump. What is at the root of this battle?

MURRAY: Well, again, and this was a tweet storm from Donald Trump going after the Virginia Republican party saying that they are trying block independents. They are trying to block Democrats from coming to the poll.

Essentially, what the Republican Party is acting voters to do is sign an affiliation say that you are in fact the Republican voter before you vote in that primary. Now, the reason that Donald Trump is so concern is one, because he constantly looking for signs that establishment Republicans are trying to keep him and his voters out of the race. That his (INAUDIBLE) are trying to sidelines his support.

But you know, the reality is in places like Iowa and places like New Hampshire and in places like Virginia, you talk to voters who have never turned out for the polls before who showed up at that rallies and who are interest in Trump. So if they see that that might potentially be something that to block them from going to the polls. And that's what Trump said in an interview earlier today could be something that could hurt him.

SCUITTO: Yes. It is not traditional vote as big part of his support.

Sara Murray, thanks right there with the candidate.

MURRAY: Exactly.

SCUITTO: Lots to talk about with our panel tonight. Joining me now David Ramadan. He is a Republican who serves in the Virginia House of Delegates. We also have CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter. She used to work as communications director for Senator Ted Cruz. And Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who was White House political director in the Reagan administration.

Goo to have you all on tonight.

David, I would like to begin with you. Yesterday, you responded directly to Donald Trump in the forum that he liked by tweeting. And you tweeted quote "our party, our rules, your dollars and your bullying do not work in the commonwealth, as in Commonwealth, Virginia, moron." You say that's Trump grievances about this loyalty pledge unacceptable.

So, can you tell us why? Why us he on thin ground?

DAVID RAMADAN, VIRGINIA STATE HOUSE: Good evening, Jim. Good to be on the show. Look. This is very simple. This is nothing to the Republican Party of Virginia or to Virginia overall. If you know Virginia, you knew this was coming. And this was not something that just happened this week or yesterday. This is a decision thinking by the grassroots, by the conservative grass root committee called the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia or governing body within the state back in September.

This is simple process. It is a nine words statement of affiliation that says my signature below indicates that I am a Republican. This is a republican nomination. For the Republican nomination, it should be Republicans that are voting and deciding who is their Republican nominee is going to be.

Same thing on the other side. This has happened on the Democrat side. We have had this pledge, although this time it is not a pledge. It is same as affiliation. We have had stronger pledges in the past. Back in 2000, we had a pledge and we have the highest turnout in the primary than we ever had.

So we don't understand what is the problem. We don't understand why Mr. Trump decided to go on a rant against the Republican party of Virginia yesterday. I believe it was uncalled for and it was my decision to respond in kind.

SCUITTO: Jeff, I want to go to you now, because we know why Trump is doing this and that's because he does appeal outside traditional Republican base. Do you believe a move like this by the Republican party of Virginia is clearly aimed directly at your candidate, to be clear, they put out a statement saying it's not targeting any candidate or group of voters in particular but do you buy that?

[20:05:08] JEFFREY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No. No. I don't buy it. You know, the thing that I find so amazing here, back in December of 1976, a month after president ford lost his reelection, Ronald Reagan sat down for an interview with "The New York Times" and said that the only way the Republican party could win was to save itself by declaring conservatives believes. And the very first thing he said in this article was that he intended to court Democrats and independents who were conservatives and welcome them in. And he specifically said that the Republican Party has too many folks who see the party as quote-unquote "fraternal order." In other words, a club. And what I'm hearing out of Virginia here is that the Republican Party is a club. that you got to be -- you've got to join it and do it their way or they don't want you. This is why the Republican Party loses elections.

SCUITTO: There are two risks.

LORD: It is not a fraternal order.

SCUITTO: There are effectively two risks here because there are two kinds of voters that one side of the other might alienate with the move like this.

But, Amanda, I want to start with you. If Trump keeps picking fights like this, does he run the risk of alienating that club in effect that Jeffrey is talking about there, prominent block of Republican voting base? Is that a risk for him? And then give me a moment because David, I want to then come to you.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, I see both sides of it. Certainly Virginia has the right to set its own rules. That said, it seems like the state is trying to have it both ways, sort of a closed primary light by stating your affiliation. You know, I'm a conservative. I identify as a conservative, not necessarily Republican. And so, I think Trump has a valid complaint that he is trying to bring new people into the fold. But I think the proof will be in the pudding. Is this pledge meant to encourage turnout or discourage turnout?

If it's meant to encourage and get people to identify as Republican for the first time getting into the habit of voting that way, it's a good thing. But the way it's written, it seems like a blind party pledge. I would like it if it was a little more robust as a recruitment tool, something like the contract with America that people could rally behind, but I don't see that happening here. It is just blanket, I'm a Republican.

SCUITTO: But David --

CARPENTER: And you know, people don't identify just with the party anymore.

SCUITTO: Let me come to you, David because there is an equal risk on the other side that the Republican party of Virginia alienates this new energized base who may have different views on some issues or big issues but they are attracted to a Republican candidate here. I mean, what is wrong with expanding that tent, right, if we talk about the big tent party, what is wrong with that?

RAMADAN: We are the big tent party. We want everybody to join us in this party. All we are asking is that they indicate they are Republicans. If they have not identified as Republicans before, we are inviting them to identify as Republicans now. Everybody is welcome. It's a big party, please join us.

Look. This is not against anybody. Every campaign was notified back in September that the Republican party of Virginia was considering such a statement. There was no return from the Trump campaign or any other campaign that objected to it, zero objections. It was debated by the grass root leaders. These are 47 people that voted for this are grass root leaders that have supported great conservative candidates in Virginia. They all ran last time as part of the (INAUDIBLE) movement in Virginia. So this is not an establishment versus anybody. Anybody who tries to claim this is an establishment, they are just making it up. The facts are not on their side.

SCUITTO: Jeff, I heard you laughing so I know you disagree. But I do want to ask this question. I mean, these fights with Donald Trump whether it's a state Republican parties or the RNC. And we have certainly seen that, as well, do you see them continuing perhaps even past the convention if he does in fact become the nominee?

LORD: Well, it would be very interesting. I mean, that kind of thing has happened in the past. Berry Goldwater won the republican nomination in 1964 and a number of people, quite prominent. Governor Rockefeller, Governor Romney of Michigan, the father of Mitt Romney did not endorse him. So this kind of thing can happen. It's happened in the past. I would hope not if we want to win. I would hope not.

SCUITTO: Amanda, I want to give you the final word here. We are running out of time. I mean, the thing is, really, the person that comes out benefitting from all of this Donald Trump, not the establishment, I mean, this is exactly what his supporters like about him, is it not? That he's standing up to the party?

CARPENTER: Yes, here is the thing. I want to know when Donald Trump is going to start acting like a front runner. It seems like he has always finding excuses for potential failure later. And when I look at this given the fact that this was decided in September, he hasn't said anything until now. I don't think he knew. I also think he has a big march for southern Super Tuesday problem. There is a dozen states that vote that day. Virginia is one of them. There is 565 delegates at stake. I think he is setting himself up to find someone to blame for a wipeout that day.

[20:10:11] SCUITTO: Well, we are going to have to leave it there. Amanda Carpenter, David Ramadan, and Jeffrey Lord, thanks very much.

Coming up next for us, more from Donald Trump, this time about who is more sexist, Trump or Hillary Clinton's husband, former president, of course, Bill Clinton?

And what the prosecutor calls a perfect storm of mistakes that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. A tragedy by any measure but not a crime, that's what a grand jury ruled today.


[20:13:57] SCUITTO: As we said earlier, Donald Trump is ramping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton. Over the weekend, he accused a Democratic front runner of unfairly playing the women's card after she said the Des Moines Register that Mr. Trump had a pension for sexism. Trump turned around and used those words to attack Clinton's husband in a tweet which he defended as fair play.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he is fair game because his presidency was really considered to be very troubled to put it mildly because of the things that she's talking to me about. I mean, she's mentioning sexism. I actually turned her exact words, I don't know if you saw the following tweet, but I turned her exact words against her from that standpoint.


SCUITTO: This morning, Trump doubled down with another tweet about Mr. Clinton.

It read if Hillary Clinton thinks she can unleash her husband with his terrible record of woman abuse while playing the women's card on me, she's wrong.

Now late tonight, Hillary Clinton's campaign fired back releasing a statement that read in part quote "though Donald Trump has pushed around nearly all of us, all of his fellow Republicans, Hillary Clinton won't be bullied or distracted by attacks he throws at her and former president Clinton.

So lots to talk about with CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza. He is the Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker" and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She is "the New York Times" presidential campaign correspondent.

Ryan and Maggie, it is great to have you on.

Ryan, I want to start with you because I want to play a clip, this is of Donald Trump from 2008 in an interview our Wolf Blitzer where he was talking about President Clinton's impeachment and he is very critical of president George W. Bush and actually takes up for President Clinton. Let's have a listen to what he said.


[20:15:35] TRUMP: He lied. He got us into the war with lies. And I mean, look at the trouble bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant and they tried to impeach which is nonsense. And you yet Bush got us into this horrible war with lies by lying by saying they had weapons of mass destruction, by saying all sorts of things that turned out not to be true.


SCUITTO: Calls impeachment totally unimportant, nonsense. He is basically giving Clinton a pass for the exact same thing he is hitting him on now. I mean, you take that along with the friendship between the Trump and Clintons, the wedding invitations, et cetera, I mean, you can write the attack ad yourself right now. But I wonder, I mean, do people have memories that long in this campaign cycle?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there is two things. One is there is nobody out there that is spending money pointing these things out the way you just did, Jim. And two, the argument that he made there was basically the liberal argument back in the '90s, right, that impeachment was a destruction or bigger issues going on. And in the Bush years, liberal critics of Bush on the war often pointed out the same thing Trump pointed to in the comment that compared to what Clinton did, compared to the infidelities and statements about the Lewinsky scandal was nothing compared to matters of life and death in the Iraq war.

So, you know, like a lot of these issues, Trump had a much more liberal position back then, but I don't see a whole lot of his opponents going after him in a systematic well-funded way. So he is just going to move along high on top of the polls until someone does.

SCUITTO: And you hear him right there at the Trump rally. He certainly still getting cheers on the campaign trail.

Maggie, initially this battle began with Hillary Clinton and Trump throwing out sexism allegations in both directions. But today, Trump took it to another level, I mean, saying that Bill Clinton has quote "a terrible record of woman abuse that is quite a charge." Is this a preview of what is to come particularly if Trump and Clinton become the two nominees?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's certainly a preview if that's the case, but we have to get there first. What Trump started doing several days ago is teasing some kind of an attack on Hillary Clinton related to this. He kept saying be careful on twitter and not actually saying what he was talking about a couple of his aids, spokeswoman Katrina Pierson actually went the furthest on this over the holiday weekend. His national political director Michael (INAUDIBLE) also talked about it with Wolf Blitzer but didn't really go that far so Trump finally went there himself, which guarantees much more coverage of it. I do think that you will see a lot more of this, you know, if they are facing each other.

What I haven't been able to hear at the end of the rally is whether Trump himself talked about it from the stage in New Hampshire. That remains an open question bringing this up in front of voters I think is a different point. And I agree with Ryan that somebody putting this on air as a criticism of Trump, you're very unlikely to see that in a Republican primary. You surely not going to see that from the Democrats. But right now, this is taking place essentially as a media argument. It remains to be seen how broad amplification it gets.

SCUITTO: Yes, social media argument at that.

Ryan, this argument that Trump is making that Bill Clinton is fair game - listen, you know, there are others on both parties who might make that case on a number of fronts. But I want to play what Rand Paul had to say on CNN today about this feud between Trump and Clinton particularly on the issue of bill Clinton. Have a listen.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think it's Hillary's fault but I mean, Bill Clinton is who he is and there are laws that we have and there are social norms. And I think we have actually improved the social norms where men are not allowed to pray on women at the workplace. And I do think the way Bill Clinton treated Monica Liewinsky, that kind of behavior wouldn't be tolerated at any corporation in America.


SCUITTO: So I mean, first, he makes an argument there that others have made. But now, you have two Republican candidates, Senator Rand Paul quite far back but making that same case. What do you make of that? And does that stick on the campaign trail speaking specifically about Hillary Clinton?

LIZZA: I think it makes it clear that whoever the nominee is that all of the issues from the '90s and Clinton era are going to be re- litigated and prosecuted by the Republican nominee. And it started with Rand and obviously, Trump is taking it farther than anyone which is what he does. But I guarantee if it's Chris Christie or if it's Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, these issues will be raised, right? But George W. Bush when he ran in 2000 against Al Gore, he talked about restoring honor and decency to the White House. That was a way of raising those issues.

So Hillary Clinton, she's got to deal with the baggage of her husband and all of the positives that he brings. Because remember, his polling numbers, his approval numbers are quite high Bill Clinton's. I think in fact they are higher than hers. So he is a curse and a blessing. And just one point on what Maggie was saying, Trump did not really go

after Hillary on these issues tonight. In fact, he even brought up the phrase he mentioned, though he didn't use the phrase, and he specifically said he didn't want that to be the story tonight. Tonight was about attacking Chris Christie and about attacking a local newspaper publisher who has endorsed Chris Christie. So he's moved onto the next attack tonight.

SCUITTO: Well, I'm not going to use that phrase, either but thanks very much to Ryan Lizza and Maggie Haberman. It is great to have you both on tonight.

Coming up next, the rookie cop that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice will not face chargers neither will his partner. Tonight, the Rice family says the prosecutor sabotaged the case and their child's chance for justice.

Plus, a victory for Iraqi forces. They have taken control from a key city from ISIS. What it means for a broader against the terror group and for President Obama's strategy.


[20:25:08] SCUITTO: Welcome back.

Today, a grand jury declines to indict two police officers in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice was killed more than a year ago outside a Cleveland recreation center. He had a pellet gun, a toy that police say resembled a handgun. Someone called 911 to report.

At a press conference today, officials showed a photo of that toy gun next to a real cold weapon to make clear how similar they look. They also played magnified video showing Tamir in the moments leading up to that shooting. The prosecutor said the images make it clear that Tamir was drawing that pellet gun from his waist band when the officer fired. However, the dispatcher also neglected to tell police other information given by the 911 caller. Rice's youth and the possibility that gun was just a toy. The prosecutor called Tamir's death an absolute tragedy, but not a crime. The Rice family, however, does not see it that way. Tonight they are accusing the prosecutor of sabotaging the case.

Martin Savidge joins us now.

Martin, residents in the city of Cleveland have been waiting for news from the grand jury for a long while now. It has been a year since this happened. What's the reaction you're seeing there now that there is no indictment?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the immediate reaction is subdued. There have been a number of protests. There was one that took place at the justice center downtown. There is another that took place earlier here at the scene where the shooting took place back in 2014. But in both cases you had about two dozen people. More protests are planned for tomorrow. But the other thing to point out here is that it was known that this

was coming but perhaps not at this particular time, in other words, the week between Christmas and New Year's. That seems to have surprised a lot of people, caught them somewhat off guard.

As you point out, the family of Tamir Rice, though, is extremely angry and the mother (INAUDIBLE) issued a statement. And in it she said that -- if I can bring it up on my phone. One second. She said that she felt this case was badly mishandled by the prosecutor here. And she goes on to say the prosecutor McGinty deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son and acting instead like the police defense attorney. She goes on we mourn for Tamir and for all of the black people who have been killed by the police without justice. In our view this process demonstrates that rice -- race, rather still an extremely troubling and serious problem in our country and the criminal justice system.

So a very strong backlash against what the mother says was the murder of her son, which clearly the prosecutor and the grand jury disagree.

SCUITTO: The phrase stuck in my mind, they said they were disappointed but not surprised shows how persuasive an issue this is.

Martin Savidge, great to have you on the scene.

Certainly a lot to talk about here. Joining me now CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired NYPD detective Harry Houck and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.

Sunny, I would like to begin with you. You have been following this case from the very beginning and all along you said that this case needed a special prosecutor. Did this decision not to indict surprise you?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly did surprise me. The bottom line is you have an officer who was let go from another police department just two years before this because they found that he was emotionally immature, they found that he had a dangerous loss of composure during firearms training and most importantly, the supervisor said he didn't believe time nor training would be able to change or correct these deficiencies. And that was in 2012. And the Cleveland police department never reviewed that personnel file.

So there is just no question in my mind that this is an officer that was certainly probable cause that he committed a crime here. There was a judge in the county that found the same. There have been experts that found the same. And so, the fact after all of that type of evidence and the fact that this officer who was clearly incompetent shot Tamir Rice two seconds after getting out of his place cruiser, that tells me that given the evidence when prosecutor McGinty says he recommends no charges be filed. This necessitates and screams out for a special prosecutor, someone that is un-bias and somewhat that is looking for prosecution.

Let's be clear, and Mark Geragos, I think will agree with me. Prosecutors control the grand jury. Prosecutors control the flow of information who gets in front of the grand jury? Which evidence is presented? If you want an indictment, you get an indictment as a prosecutor. This prosecutor didn't want an indictment.

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's not true at all and you know it's not. Did you always --

HOSTIN: Very true.

SCUITTO: Harry, in fairness, before I come to you -- Mark, I do want to ask you a question as a defense attorney. There have been a lot of cases like this and I don't want them to merge together because the circumstances are different and we don't want to make that mistake. But just for my sake and I think for the sake of our viewers, what exactly is the legal standard? What would a prosecutor or grand jury have to prove that a police officer used force unreasonably because that was a big judgment in this case, would a reasonable police officer have made the same judgment, they decided yes, based on mistaking, for instance, the gun for being a real gun. What standard, is there a standard, an identifiable standard that prosecutors have to reach to get charges against a police officer?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, I jokingly say and it's not too far from the truth that the standard for probable cause has devolved into is the defendant breathing? Because probably cause is the lowest standard that we have in the law. So, if - and Sunny is absolutely correct and I know we don't often agree, but if that prosecutor had wanted an indictment, that prosecutor would have had an indictment. Tamir Rice's mother and the statement that was read was absolutely true. This Cuyahoga County prosecutor acted like the defense lawyer. He did what the defense lawyer did. He went out and hired experts who said that the officer acted reasonably. He allowed, if you believe what's being reported, the officers to come in and read statements and not be crossed-examined. I mean that's unheard of.

And so, when you have a prosecutor who wants to go through basically what is a dog and pony show and be able to wash his hands of it and say hey, I didn't do it, the grand jury didn't indict. That is a complete farce and that's why people are angry. In fact, in California we've just passed the law that in circumstances like this, you can't go to a grand jury because it's a ruse. Grand jury originally was supposed to be a ball work against abuse by prosecutors. It's now become a hand maiden for the prosecutors.

SCIUTTO: Harry, I know you have thoughts on this. You're a former police officer. You look at the circumstances of this case. Did officers have a choice but to shoot?

HARRY HOUCK: No, they didn't have a choice.

HOSTIN: Come on, Harry, shot him in two seconds.

HOUCK: I've been talking about.

HOSTIN: Shot him in two seconds. HOUCK: Please, let me talk, please. Are you going to talk the whole show? And I can't be able to say anything? But anyway, as soon as the officers got there and I have said this in the past, that maybe their tactics were bad, they should not have pulled up very close to him, but the fact is and the FBI reviewed the video, also, when the officer got out of that car, Tamir Rice was going for something in his waistband, which was that gun, which looked exactly like a gun and the police officer has only one thing to do, he has to fire his weapon to be able to save his life. Now, we don't have crystal balls as police officers.

GERAGOS: Harry, Harry.

HOUCK: So, when we are ...

GERAGOS: Nobody is asking for a crystal ball --

HOUCK: All right.

GERAGOS: But Harry ...

HOUCK: Whether that weapon is a real weapon ...

SCIUTTO: Give him his chance to finish, and then I'll come to you, Mark.


SCIUTTO: Mark, go ahead for a moment.

HOUCK: Am I going to be allowed to talk here at all?

SCIUTTO: No, you are for sure, Harry.

GERAGOS: I want you to understand --

SCIUTTO: You made your point. Let's get Mark a quick response. And we'll give you a chance.

GERAGOS: Harry, I would agree with you that maybe beyond a reasonable doubt he wouldn't have been convicted, but there are defenses, but that doesn't excuse this complete farce of saying there wasn't probable cause. Even you, Harry, probably the most ardent supporter for law enforcement can see that the tactics were lacking. There is no way you can justify rolling up on the scene and within two seconds shooting somebody.

SCIUTTO: Harry, let me ask you to answer that. The speed, Harry, if you can answer the speed.

HOUCK: It doesn't matter.


SCIUTTO: Two seconds?

GERAGOS: Yes, it does. It does.

HOUCK: The fact is that it doesn't matter, two seconds. Well, how long is it going to take for me to get killed? The fact is, if that gun was a real gun and he had waited two or three more seconds, we would be talking about a dead police officer. Except we don't know that. The fact is that officer did not know that that was a fake gun.

GERAGOS: No, Harry, because the gun was not real.

HOUCK: As far as he was concerned, that was a real gun, and that's why he wasn't indicted and that's why the FBI is going to clear them all. So, if there is a civil rights ...


SCIUTTO: Mark, let's give Sunny, we are running out of time. So, I just wanted to give you a quick moment for a quick thought before we go away.

HOSTIN: Look, the bottom line is the actions of the dispatcher should be looked at. The shooting itself needs to be looked at. The response afterwards - let's remember that the officers didn't provide first aid because they had no training. This is an untrained, incompetent police officer that's tactically decided to put himself in harm's way, to rush up near this person that he thought was armed, get out of the car and shoot him in two seconds.

HOUCK: That's not against the law.

HOSTIN: And by the way, and by the way, he claimed that he gave ...

HOUCK: The line, Sunny.

HOSTIN: He claimed that he gave Tamir Rice repeated commands to drop the gun, repeated commands to do this and do that, but he shot him in two seconds. Tell me how that makes sense, Harry.

HOUCK: You know, you've never faced this before.

HOSTIN: All right, police officers ...

HOUCK: How do you ask somebody to compile with an order, but not give him the opportunity to comply.


HOUCK: You say as this is paper cup behind your desk. Here is a police officer that - who was thinking in his mind that he might have been killed when somebody was drawing a weapon on him. He wants to go home, too, to his family.

HOSTIN: Two seconds.


SCIUTTO: Harry, Sunny, Mark, we are going to have - we are going to have to leave it there.

GERAGOS: Crazy --

SCIUTTO: We are going to have to leave it there. This is -- listen, we're hearing right now and haven't had before, this is a debate happening in communities around the country right now. And I appreciate you-all coming at it with passion. I do. Sunny Hostin, Harry Houck, Mark Geragos, you know what you're talking about. Just ahead.

GERAGOS: Happy New Year to you, guys.

SCIUTTO: Happy new year as well. Iraqi troops celebrating the retaking of a key city near Baghdad from ISIS. Is it a victory for President Obama's antiterrorist strategy?


SCIUTTO: The Iraqi government says it has retaken the key city of Ramadi in western Iraq, which ISIS captured back in May. It is a setback for the Islamic state. And somewhat say it looks like evidence supporting President Obama's strategy for fighting ISIS, but still, Americans are skeptical. In the latest CNN/ORC poll, only 25 percent say they are satisfied with how things are going in the war on terrorism, almost three times as many people, 74 percent are not satisfied. So a great deal to discuss tonight. Joining me now, CNN military analyst and Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Also, CNN contributor Michael Weiss.


He's senior editor for "The Daily Beast." Also, co-author of "ISIS Inside the Army of Terror." General Hertling, if I can start with you. I don't want to overestimate or underestimate the importance of this win, because this is something that's been in the works for weeks, delayed many times, a lot of halting progress. Some setbacks. Now, they got most of it. How important is this - if it's not too early to call it a victory? How important is this victory in a fight against ISIS in Iraq?

LL GEN. MARK HERTLING: Well, it's a good first step, Jim. And I'd say, you know, I'd classify it in a category of positive development and a tactical battle. That's part of the campaign that will contribute to a strategy. I know that's a lot of words. But it's just a first step. It shows that the Iraqi security forces have come alive again. They've been re-blued as we say in the military, they've been retrained. They have better leaders and they seem to have this support of the central government in Baghdad. All of those things are critically important to defeating ISIS in Iraq. So, from that standpoint, it's a pretty positive first step and congratulations to now what seems to be a well-led and better trained Iraqi army.

SCIUTTO: And we've seen those congratulations coming in from the U.S. president, the French president and elsewhere. Michael, I spent a lot of time in Iraq as I know you did going back to the U.S. invasion. Familiar tactic of ISIS and its predecessor al Qaeda in Iraq was to retreat, but then keep up the attack, blend into the population, carry out ambushes, assaults, et cetera. Knowing that pattern, should we assume that something like that is going to follow a tactical victory like this?

MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": Sure. In fact, there is already evidence this week that they have escalated their opportunistic attacks in Diyala province. Diyala province, keep in mind, the ISIS spokesman has said is going to be one of the most crucial provinces in the country that ISIS is looking to vitiate or deteriorate Iraqi security forces infrastructure there. Look, I agree with the general. This is a good tactical victory. I have seen evidence that it's particularly units like the golden division, which is the Special Operations taskforce, counterterrorism task force --

SCIUTTO: Trained by the U.S.

WEISS: Trained by the U.S. And also, the reason that they are successful is they are multi-confessional and multi-sectarian. You've got Christians, you've got Sunnis, you've got Shia, including some soldiers, by the way, who've been kidnapped by the Shia militias and tortured by them. So, these are real patriots of the country. My concern and where I would sort of sound a note of skepticism or caution is it's true that the Hashd al-Shaabi, the Shia militia groups, which are vehemently anti-American and pretty much whole sale proxies of Iran, have stayed out of this fight, but it is also true and I'm sure the general can attest to this because he knows the country very well and the history, these militias have infiltrated many institutions in the Iraqi government.

In the mid 2000s, the Sadras (ph) controlled the transport ministry and the health ministry. They were using ambulances, for instance, as patty wagons to ferry Sunnis not to hospitals, but to prisons and to torture chambers. The federal police in Iraq today is controlled by the interior ministry, which is controlled by the Badr core. The Badr core is headed by Hadi al-Armory who although he is an Iraqi citizen is also a spy for Iran and for its Revolutionary Guard core. He fought on the Iranian side during the Iran-Iraq war despite being, again, an Iraqi national.

So, what we have to wait and see is, what is going to happen in Ramadi. It's not about just expunging the terrorists. What do you do? How do you control or hold the terrain, and most importantly, because Iraq fundamentally boils down to a political solution. How do you stop any kind of sectarian bloodletting or retaliatory attacks? If the federal police get up to kidnapping Sunnis, charging them with being collaborators of ISIS and torture ...

SCIUTTO: Michael, hold that thought because I want to give General Hertling a chance to respond. So, you are shaking your head.

HERTLING: I'm not sure I agree with that in Anbar province. There are certainly some places in other place - in other parts of Iraq where that could occur, but I think what you are going to see in Anbar, in Ramadi, Fallujah, (INAUDIBLE), are going to be the recruitment of police from local areas. That's what we have seen in the past. When you're talking about Diyala province, most of your viewers aren't going to know where those places are, but those are the provinces that are more mixed and they do have a Shia element. And we did see, and I saw, when I was commanding the northern part of Iraq that possibility that there were sectarian divides, but I think, you know, we've passed that point hopefully. And that's where we have to watch and I agree with Michael, we have to watch this very closely. If there is any kind of sectarian division, if there are the death squads, if there are the hidden prisons, then you are going to have some problems.

WEISS: If I can just ...

SCIUTTO: General Hertling and Michael, I'm sorry. We do have to leave it there. Bottom line, we can say it's progress, but lots of caveats. Appreciate Michael, absolutely, both of your views.

Coming up next, lives lost, homes destroyed, the damage from the severe weather in Texas. We'll have a first-hand look.



SCIUTTO: We want to show you right now what people are dealing with in the Dallas area. That level of destruction, this after deadly tornadoes turned homes into barely recognizable rubble. The National Weather Service says an EF-4 tornado, which typically has wind gusts up to 200 miles per hour was responsible for this destruction, this in Garland, Texas. Tornadoes just part of a deadly week of storms that claimed more than 40 lives across the country. Here is Alina Machado.


ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The path of destruction carved by this deadly December tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's massive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my gosh, it's big.

MACHADO: It's growing clearer by the day. The twister part of a massive storm system that swept through Texas and parts of the Midwest over the weekend killing 24 people. In Texas, 11 people died. Eight of them in Dallas County. On Monday, less than 48 hours after the storm survivors were allowed back into some of the hardest hit areas for the first time. Carol Barnes was among them. Her house barely standing. Several cars piled up in front of the home.

CAROL BARNES, SURVIVOR: I think I'm in shock right now because I really don't believe that happened.


MACHADO: Barnes and her family rode out the storm inside a bathroom. Her husband and her children held on as the twister tore through the home. BARNES: The walls started shaking and the house was rocking and we

just kept hearing these noises, hold on, hold on and then it was nothing.

MACHADO: They survived, but lost everything in the storm. So did David Ruiz and his family.

DAVID RUIS, SURVIVOR: You really don't know what's coming next, you know. You don't know how to recover yet.

MACHADO: The family's two cats are still missing. The wintry mix that followed the tornado left little hope of salvaging much of what was left behind, but Ruiz says he's glad they have insurance, grateful they have the support of family and friends and most of all, thankful his wife and two children survived.

RUIZ: Thankfully a lot of family has been sending a lot of money so that we can recover and we're able to eat and, you know, stay somewhere warm with a friend.

MACHADO: In Illinois and Missouri, more than a dozen people died after driving onto flooded roads. The victims include four foreign soldiers who were temporarily stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for training. Now, people in both states are bracing for what could be record flooding in the coming days.


SCIUTTO: Alina Machado there on the scene. Is there more severe weather on the way? I'm almost afraid to ask.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the weather conditions here in the Dallas area are expected to continue to improve, which is obviously great news for people here who have so much clean up to do, but flooding is still a big concern, especially in Missouri and Illinois and earlier tonight, a semi and a school bus that was occupied were both swept off the road by rising flood waters. In Masquatua, Illinois that's just east of St. Louis, thankfully, everyone was rescued and no one was hurt, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Alina Machado, thanks very much on the scene. There is a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye is here with a 360 news and business bulletin.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, another controversial police shooting in Chicago. Two people including a mother of five were killed over the weekend. Police say 55-year-old Betty Jones was accidentally hit when they shot at 19-year-old Quintonio La Greer who police say was combative. His family says he suffered from mental illness.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has broken the $1 billion barrier, faster than any film in history, just 12 days after its global release. The seventh "Star Wars" film has made more than half a billion dollars in the U.S. alone. And a rare siting of a real life sea monster, check this out, captured in an underwater camera. This giant squid swam into a bay in central Japan on Christmas Eve. One very brave diver helped guide that tentacle visitor right out of the sea, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Randi Kaye, thanks very much.

Up next, we are counting down the top "Ridiculist" of 2015. You voted, we've crunched the numbers. Tonight we start at number three.


SCIUTTO: It is that time of year again when we countdown the top "Ridiculist" of 2015. Every year we ask you to vote for your favorites. We begin at number three, an unforgettable encounter between a bear, a chihuahua and an ex-Marine.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight we're adding the bear who messed with Carl. Now, who is Carl, you may ask? Well, Carl is an ex-Marine, occasional barroom brawler and unafraid of a little close combat animal style.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The manner beast that I run from ain't been born, and its mama is already dead.

COOPER: Oh, yeah, we're just getting started with Carl. By the way, what Carl said sounded familiar, it's because that's how Wolf Blitzer begins "The Situation Room." Anyway, before we hear more from Carl, let's have our affiliate reporter layout the basics of what recently happened to Carl's California home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other week Lacy the dog he loves like a daughter started whimpering outside. Carl ran out and there it was, a bear who had no idea what world it just stepped into. Carl's world.

COOPER: Okay. Can we get some popcorn because I think I'm going to need some popcorn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't running from nothing. I never have in my whole life and I ain't going to start now and you're not going to sacrifice my babies for some damn bear.

COOPER: Okay. First of all, just like a movie, I cannot believe this. Second of all, I would like to announce that Carl is CNN's newest homeland security advisor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I raised both hands in the air and I cussed at him. Get out of here you [EXPLETIVE DELETED]

COOPER: All right. I think Carl may have missed his calling as a life coach. I'm going to need to hear that again. Let's replay that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, get out of here you [EXPLETIVE DELETED] COOPER: All right. If that is not my new ringtone, I don't know what is. So, just to recap where we are: Carl has rushed out of the house and is now hurling obscenities at the bear. Your move, bear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he looked at me like go f yourself.

COOPER: What happened next you ask? I certainly did. I don't even know how to describe what happened next. Get some popcorn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened next can only be described as insane. Carl landed a whirling haymaker, punching the bear right in the face.

COOPER: A whirling haymaker. For those of you following along at home, the bear is now Joe Fraser, Carl and Muhammad Ali and Carl's porch is basically Madison Square Garden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came up like this and he turned, boom! I hit him hard. Damn near corkscrewed his head.

COOPER: OK, before you start tweeting me, I don't necessarily support or recommend punching bears in their heads, not at all. I want to be very clear on that. That's not something I'm calling for. Also, you might be a little skeptical that things happen exactly how Carl said they did. Fortunately, the local news interviewed a witness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says the bear was a bit shorter than Carl, but still a formidable opponent.

COOPER: Wait a minute. The bear was a bit shorter than Carl? Are we sure the animal Carl attacked was actually a bear? Or did he maybe just throw a punch out, I don't know, a pudgy Labrador retriever in the middle of a yawn.


That would be awful. This whole thing is bizarre. Whatever it was, Carl's message was received loud and clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is a jerk, but he ain't been back - smacked my Carl.