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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Chicago Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty In Death of 17-Year- Old; ISIS Terror Plot Targeting New Year's Eve And Thwarted; Battle Between Trump And Clintons Heating Up. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 29, 2015 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:36] RANDI KAYE, CNN HOST: A moment ago, the Chicago police officer charged in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald pleaded not guilty to murder and misconduct. Officer Jason Van Dyke's arraignment was done without cameras present.

You may recall, this is the case that got a tremendous amount of publicity after dash-cam video of the 2014 shooting was released last month.

Listen to how some people reacted as Van Dyke walked into that courthouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, people, make a hole, men...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who cares about him? Who cares about him like the 16 holes he made in that -- like the holes he made to that boy. What are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make a hole...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like the 16 holes he put into that boy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Van Dyke's attorney wants the trial to take place outside Chicago because of reaction exactly like that. He doesn't think his client will get a fair trial there.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Chicago with much more on this. Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Randi. Well, the arraignment process was very, very brief. It was only delayed a bit because there was a chambers meeting with attorneys. But after that, it was actually very brief with Jason Van Dyke pleading not guilty.

Now, here is the background. Of course, we know that Jason Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct. And this all dates back to October of last year when he shot and killed teenager Laquan McDonald.

And we have video of Jason Van Dyke entering court today. And you can see there are a lot of people around him. A lot of the times what we've seen is that small groups of people greet him as he's coming into the courthouse. And then as he leaves, the courthouse they also scream things at him, they pound his vehicle as he drives off. But again, he has pleaded not guilty to all six counts and to the count of official misconduct. And the pretrial motions now are expected a month from today and that is January 29th. Randi.

KAYE: OK, Rosa Flores, live for us there in Chicago, thank you.

Back with me, Judge Glenda Hatchett, you heard the reaction that Van Dyke got there as he walked to the court. What do you think? I mean, his lawyer said he can't he get a fair trial, can he get a fair trial in Chicago?

JUDGE GLENDA HATCHETT, FOUNDER, THE HATCHETT FIRM: I think that the attorney has a very strong argument to change venue, given all that's happened and all the pretrial publicity. But we saw the same motions in Baltimore, and it wasn't changed. And so it may well stay in Chicago.

[11:35:11] And, you know, I would argue that he should be tried in Chicago and that he should be tried by a jury there.

KAYE: Why is that?

HATCHETT: Because I think that this community has a vested interest and we -- our justice system says that you should be tried by the community of your peers. And I think that that should happen here.

Although I will admit and concede that there is a strong argument that his attorney could make for a change of venue, given that there has been so much publicity in this case.

KAYE: All right, Judge Glenda Hatchett, always nice to see you. Thank you so much.

HATCHETT: Oh, thank you so much. We'll see you a lot more in January when these pretrial motions are filed, Randi. That's going to be very telling.

KAYE: Absolutely, agreed, thank you.

Meanwhile, just ahead of terror plot targeting New Year's Eve thwarted and the plan involved ISIS and military style outfits. We now know the specific target.

Plus, the battle between the Clintons and Donald Trump is getting personal and nastier. Race, sex and even Monica Lewinsky now included in the back-and-forth. Will Bill Clinton go unscripted on the campaign trail?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: A plot to ring in the New Year with a wave of terror attacks. That's what Belgian authorities believe they might have prevented from happening in the heart of Brussels.

Two people are now under arrest. Investigators say they found ISIS propaganda and military style outfits. They believe the terror group inspired the plot but did not direct it. Authorities do not believe the arrests are related to the terror attacks last month in Paris.

[11:40:01] But a short time ago, we learned an air strike last week in Syria killed an ISIS leader who was linked to the massacre in Paris. Coalition official say he was actively planning even more attacks.

This comes as ISIS might have suffered a major blow in Iraq. The government claims it's forces have retaken the city of Ramadi from the terror group and are flushing out small pockets of fighters still there. Tribal leader say ISIS still controls a quarter of the city. Still Iraq's prime minister is making a very bold prediction that ISIS will be pushed out of Iraq entirely in 2016.

So let's talk more about this with retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. He was also Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs under President George W. Bush.

Good to see you general as always. How significant would you say the retaking of Ramadi is? And can Iraq really drive ISIS out would you say within a year?

MARK KIMMITT, (RET), U.S ARMY BRIGADIER GENERAL: Well first, it's a significant military victory for the Iraqi security forces who this time last year were in pretty bad shape. Second, it demonstrates that in many ways ISIS has lost its momentum in its ground operations. And as for Mosul, that's going to be a much better fight, a much tougher fight for the Iraqi army. It's about five times the size of Ramadi and about three times the distance from the support bases needed to take that town. Let's hope the Iraqis can take Mosul in 2016, but it's going to take a tough fight and a lot of organizational capacity to do that.

KAYE: And speaking with Ramadi here, I mean the tribal leaders says we said they say that ISIS still controls 25 percent of Ramadi. Twenty-five percent sounds like a whole lot more than just maybe a few pockets of fighters. So, how do you keep control of that city? How do you prevent those pockets from growing?

KIMMITT: Well, first, you've got to reduce those pockets of resistance. And I think that's what the tribal fighters, the Sunni tribal fighters who have the most invested in retaking Ramadi will do. But in fact it is the case that the Iraqi security forces now control the main parts for Ramadi, but it's not surprising that there's still this remaining 25 percent pocket of resistance. That will take a little bit longer to reduce. But Ramadi is back in the hands of the Iraqi government.

KAYE: We've certainly seen other cities where ISIS has fallen in Iraq and Syria. Is it the same protocol there then? I mean what does Iraq need to do to vanquish them for good and what is the U.S. role possibly look like there?

KIMMITT: Well, now that they have pretty much taken the major cities except for Fallujah in the Euphrates River Valley, the other main access of advance for ISIS was along the Tigris River Valley. Yes, they have taken back the Iraqi security forces have taken back Baiji and Tikrit. But the major city, the second largest city inside of Iraq, Mosul, now needs to be taken and that's what they're going to try to do in 2016.

It's very -- there is very good chance that ISIS will be pushed out of Iraq over the next year. But frankly, strategically, if they -- they may not matter for the ultimate defeat of ISIS.

KAYE: And Mosul is key in all of this, isn't it?

KIMMITT: Yeah. Yeah, sure is.

KAYE: All right. General, as always. Thank you.

KIMMITT: Sure.

KAYE: And now to the race for the White House, Republican front- runner Donald Trump continuing his onslaught against both Bill and Hilary Clinton. He had this to say this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESEDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what they said. They called him a racist. I don't believe he is a racist if you want to know the truth but they called him a racist. There was a miserable campaign. He did very poorly. And here they're bringing him out again. He's being wheeled out and we're going to see what happens. There was certainly a lot of abuse of women and you look at whether its Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them, and that certainly will be fair game. Certainly if they play the woman's card with respect to me, that will be a fair game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Donald Trump run a lot buzz words there. The Clinton campaign calling Trump's words demeaning saying that "Hillary won't be bullied or distracted by attacks that he throws at her in front of President Clinton. But when then insults are directed at women, immigrants, Asian-Americans, Muslims, the disabled or hardworking Americans looking to raise their wages. Hillary Clinton will stand up to him as she has from the beginning."

Joining me now is Democratic Strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter and fund-raiser Robert Zimmerman and Republican Strategist and Former Chief of Staff to Senator Mitch McConnell, Josh Holmes. Good to see you both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be with you.

KAYE: Robert, let me start with you in this one Robert. Will Bill Clinton be an asset do you think to his wife Hillary Clinton this time around, or could his presence on the campaign trail possibly backfire?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Let's be clear. Bill Clinton is one of the most respected public figures in the world. One of the most successful presidencies in modern times and it's certainly one of the most politically astute figures out there.

[11:45:02] Of course he's going to be a great asset. Let's understand. Donald Trump's Atlantic City lounge act for the right wing has a certain resonance among his supporters. I mean 44 percent of Republicans believe President Obama is a secret Muslim. Fifty-four percent of Trump's supporters feel that way.

In fact, that crowd thinks duck dynasty is a think tank. So, clearly in the Trump world that kind of hatemongering and that kind of language has a resonance. But then you get to people with real lives and you get to the electorate at large. And that clearly demonstrates why Donald Trump is politically irrelevant in the bigger picture.

KAYE: All right. So let me ask Josh about this. I mean in the past Josh Trump has been a big supporter of the Clinton and he even called the Bill Clinton impeachment nonsense. So watch this interview from 2008 and when I'll ask you about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant. And they tried to impeach him which was nonsense. And 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: So, Josh, you saw Trump's flip there. I mean could that flip- flopping when it comes to his support of the Clintons hurt him?

JOSH HOLMES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SENATOR MITCH MCCORNELL: Oh, sure. I mean it's the convenient evolution of Donald Trump based upon where the politics of the day are. I don't think anybody's argued that he's been a consistent conservative or a consistent republican. I mean he's been nothing short of a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican in the course of 10 years.

You know, he does have one point, though. The one point is that every time the Democrats bring out Bill Clinton, they hope that there's going to be this miraculous sort of conversion from the democratic party of the 1990s, the democratic party of 2015.

I ran a race in Kentucky last year for the senate majority leader. Bill Clinton was there enough times to pick up his mail. And every time he showed up, the poll numbers got worse for the person he was campaigning for. So, you know, I don't think this is exactly what the Clinton campaign thinks is going to be the panacea to support her candidacy.

KAYE: Well, Bill Clinton will be on the campaign trail starting in just a few days, January 4th in New Hampshire is his first big outing, Robert. How do you think he should or how do you think he even will respond if he does to Trump's attacks? Because Clinton's attacks on President Obama as you know back in 2008 really backfired.

ZIMMERMAN: Well actually I think he really was a great asset in 2008 despite when the punditry world feels. But I think the bigger points is this, it's not my place to give Bill Clinton advice, but I think Democrats always do better when we show how we represent the difference from the Republicans. And I think that's our most important issue here.

This is not a conservative versus liberal election. If you look at what Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson stand for. A near of 60 and they have support from 67 percent of the Republican electorate. It's really about their demagoguery. That's really an issue here not about conservatism and it's about demagoguery versus decency.

So I think whenever we can stand up and be a party that supports Planned Parenthood, stands up for pay equity for women, stands up for raising the minimum wage and building the economy. I think we clearly demonstrate why we're better equipped to lead. And I think the American people respond to that.

After all, in the last six presidential elections, democrats have the won the vote in five with the last six. While Republicans seem to get a more narrower and narrower attempts.

KAYE: All right, let me ask you about this as well. Donald Trump making an announcement on Twitter this morning regarding his finances, he said, "My campaign for president is $35 million under budget. I have spent very little, and I am in first place. Now I will spend big in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina."

All right, so, Josh, will this extra money solidify his place at the top? Will he even make a difference? I'm curious in why doing it.

HOLMES: Well, you know, it's funny. A lot of us on this side of things who are watching this, want to see it before we believe it. There's been a lot of talk about what Trump is doing on the ground in terms of field staff, what he is doing in terms of spending on the air what he plans to do. None of it has really come to fruition yet. And the real question is whether he's actually willing to open up his wallet. He may believe that all the earned media that he's getting in his current position in the polls will carry him to wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. But I've got to believe that there's any act of professionals in that operation. They are taking a look at it and say, no, now it's the time you're going to have to spend.

So I'll believe that when it hits those the T.V. screens in Iowa and New Hampshire.

KAYE: And Robert very quickly...

ZIMMERMAN: It's totally correct. In fact if I could just point out, Randy. Those of us who know Donald Trump's reputation in New York, now we know very well he never spends his own money and never pays upfront. Very hard to run a presidential campaign that way and especially with news reports that the money he has raised he's used to pay himself back for the use of his plane. So, I don't think -- wait until the check clears the bank before we believe it.

KAYE: OK. We will...

HOLMES: That's right.

KAYE: ... see if the check is in the mail on that one. Now, Robert Zimmerman and Josh Holmes, thank you both very much.

ZIMMERMAN: Great to be with you.

HOLMES: Thank you.

KAYE: Have a good new year.

[11:49:59] Up next, more on our breaking news, the arrest of Ethan Couch, the Affluenza teen, hear about the going away party he had and why Couch could now face a new sentence.

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KAYE: And let's get back to our breaking news, the capture of the so- called Affluenza teen Ethan Couch and his mother in Mexico.

Moments ago, we heard from the Sheriff of Tarrant County, Texas, he said that Couch will be put into the juvenile system when he has returned to the U.S. while his mother will be arrested and she will also face criminal charges.

Let's talk more about this case with Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler and CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan.

Paul Butler, let me start with you here. What can we expect when they are returned, the two of them?

PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR: So, they will be arraigned and the teenager will be charge with probation violation, you know, so many people go to prison for probation violation. As many people in prison for that and for the substantive offense, you know, I keep thinking of what a stark contrast this case is with the Tamir Rice case.

So, we have a rich white teenager who kills four people and he gets probation, Tamir Rice innocent 12 year-old boy playing with the B.B. gun, he gets shot by the police and there's no indictment and no prosecution of that police officer.

You know, African-American kids often deserve the same kind of break that this rich teenager got. They don't get it. They get zero tolerance. So what this case, these two cases really exposed there's unequal justice, one system of justice for rich folks, another for people with color.

[11:55:00] KAYE: Right, just for the background for our viewers, there was a psychologist who testified for the defense in this case of Ethan Couch saying that he shouldn't go to prison, that he should be able to see his family and that he was just a victim of being brought up, you know, in a wealthy family and really didn't know right or wrong.

So, Paul Callan, why don't you respond to that?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I wrote an article for CNN.com when this case first broke, saying that the cure for affluenza is prison. And I was up hold then I have to agree with Mr. Butler that this sentence by this judge by the way who chose not to run for reelection is an outrage.

The defense essentially was that he was so wealthy and privileged that he hadn't been given -- he thought that wealth could buy its way out of criminal charges and apparently it did here. So, I think you'll see a new judge coming down very, very harshly. I think you'll see at least a 10 year sentence down the road on this and I think ultimately justice will be done in this case.

KAYE: Yeah, he will go back to court and his case maybe can be moved to adult court. So, we will see what happens with that. He may serve another eight years or more in prison if found guilty.

But what about the mother's role in this case, Paul Butler? What charges could she face? I mean the sheriff said it right there, he was not at all surprised that she helped her son go on the run.

BUTLER: Yeah. So, she is looking at harboring a fugitive, obstruction of justice, Texas State charges, because we have international borders caused, possibly some federal charges as well. But again, she kind of aided and abetted his affluenza defense. The idea was that she and her husband had coddled this kid so much that he didn't know right from wrong. He had unrealistic expectations.

So is she culpable? Sometimes we think about free textual prosecutions, where prosecutors are really upset about something else but they go over the crime that they can get you for. Think of them as going after -- Jamir Hofer (ph) for tax evasion for example. Al Capone for tax evasion.

It wouldn't surprise me if prosecutor kind o have an attitude about this lady and her husband, and are looking to bringing case against her.

KAYE: Paul Callan, let me ask you about this beer pong video, because that was released just before they disappear. So just we have a 60 seconds here. But tell me how much you think that might play a role, there it is right there. May we don't see Ethan Couch drinking, but part of his probation was, he was not supposed to be around alcohol, so how much will this play a role do you think in what happened?

BUTLER: Oh, I think it will be play a role because even though you don't see him drinking, all they have to do is call as witnesses some of the other kids where at the party and they can prove undoubtedly that he was drinking. But I think the big thing here is fleeing the jurisdiction clearly all of the evidence suggest this was a permanent move that was being planned and that is going to be a harsh retribution by the court to send the message that you can't flee the jurisdiction especially when they cut this kid such a break.

Four people dead, one brain damaged, three times the legal limit, and volume in his bloodstream as he rode down that road at 70 miles an hour. I mean, come on.

KAYE: And somehow he ended up in the lovely resort town of Puerto Vallarta, right?

BUTLER: Right. Well, boy, I tell you. For -- you know, when he becomes a fugitive, he picks a luxury resort, I mean he remains in character, doesn't he, Randi?

KAYE: There you go. All right, we will leave it there. Paul Callan and Paul Butler, thank you both very much.

BUTLER: Thank you.

KAYE: Just ahead, it was a duck hunt in rough weather now one man is dead, and a country singer missing after sending an eerie tweet right before they set out.

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