Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Terrorist Threat As Year Ends; Cosby Arraigned Today; Affluenza Teen Still Held in Mexico; Police Assigned to Protect Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports Not Allowed to Carry Weapons; The Year in Politics. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 30, 2015 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:07] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto in again tonight for Anderson.

And we begin tonight with breaking news. As the year ends, a new terrorist threat lures. Top U.S. security officials have briefed President Obama about a threat originating overseas, a possible attacks here on the U.S. on three cities - New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.

We should point out officials say the threat is uncorroborated at this point. It is based on a single source. It does not mention specific locations in those cities. However, with New Year's Eve just a day a way with the big crowds that gather to celebrate it, and given the global concern about the capabilities of both ISIS and Al Qaeda, officials are taking this threat seriously and addressing it with tightened security.

At the New York Times Square, 6,000 police officers will be watching more than ever before.

CNN justice reporter Evan Perez is in Time Square tonight. He joins me now with the latest.

Evan, always hard to judge these threats specific, credible, et cetera. What do we know about this particular threat?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. As you know, the president gets briefing on all threats. Some of them are credible, some are not. And in this case he asked for a briefing from his top officials, right before he left for his vacation in Hawaii, and this is one of the threats that was mentioned to him.

Now, when you're talking about New York, you think about Times Square and the fact that behind me in 24 hours, we are going to have about a million people here gathered, 6,000 police officers from the NYPD will be here, the FBI. Have boosted the number of agents and personnel at its command center here in Washington and Los Angeles.

The big concern is the rose bowl which draws a lot of visitors, a lot of tourists and obviously a big TV audience for both the parade and football game. It should be noted that as usual, you know, you hear from the homeland security department that they know of no credible specific threat of a terrorist attack in this country. That said, you know, we talked to officials all the time, you and I and I'm sure we hear the same thing which is the thing they worry about are plots that they don't know yet. They don't know anything about. That happens a lot. For instance, San Bernardino was not on anyone's radar and that attack was carried out. Same thing with Paris. So that's why you see boosted presence of police here in New York. You are going to see the same in Los Angeles and in other places around the country.

SCIUTTO: And Evan, as always, with this, there is security you see and the security you don't see, right, in response to a threat like this?

PEREZ: Right. Exactly. Exactly. I mean, behind me, we already see a lot of police officers with long guns. But you also -- there's a lot of officers here not wearing uniforms. They are not visible. And in New York, you will have a lot of surveillance cameras all over the place. And, you know, the question here, through always, is all the focus on places like Times Square, you know, the NYPD says that they are also keeping an eye on the subways and other parts of New York just to make sure people are safe.

SCIUTTO: Final question and this is one I'm sure that you get from friends and colleagues, as well, is to be clear, no New York officials or U.S. officials are saying to anyone stay home tomorrow night, correct? They are not encouraging, you know, locking the door and staying inside.

PEREZ: Exactly. Exactly. You know, the ISIS threat is something that, you know, is something new for this country. And you know, the FBI director calls it crowd source terrorism and that's one reason why you see all these concerns. But that said, people -- the officials want people to go out and celebrate. They want you to leave it up to the FBI, to the NYPD. They want people to be vigilant but they don't want you to stay at home out of fear because, you know, that's what the terrorists want us to do.

SCIUTTO: OK. Evan Perez, great to have you there. Appreciate it.

Now to breaking news from the flood ravaged Midwestern United States. More than 12 million people face flood warnings tonight. The death toll from flooding in Missouri alone has risen to 14 after a driver's body was recovered and vehicle swept off a road in Crawford County there.

In a suburb of St. Louis, amateur video captured this jarring scene, a house toss around in flood waters then hitting a bridge just one size sign of the force of those waters. And we were told tonight that the worst isn't over in Missouri. The national weather service in St. Louis office is warning of quote "historic flooding extending through early next week with record-breaking water levels expected."

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Pacific, Missouri right by those flood waters. He joins me live. Martin, the rivers in Missouri that have been flooding at record

levels. What's the latest tonight? Have they crested yet or are the waters still rising?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Small indication there is a slight decrease in the water levels here in Pacific where we are. But this is just one community out of so many that are either inundated with water or facing the threat with water. And then if you take a look in the background here, you can see where the water is but you can also see how pitch black it is. There is no electricity, no lighting back there. That is the flood zone.

And again, this is a disaster that has -- well, they are running out of adjectives to try to describe it. History is the word to use, historic over and over as they try to compare it to the great flood of 1993, some say 1982, some go back all the way to 1990. Many residents in this town say they never seen water levels like this, not in their lifetime growing up.

And it has triggered catastrophic events. The water rescues are ongoing in many parts of this state. You got three rivers, major rivers that are all facing the potential for records and breaking those records not by maybe an inch or two in some cases, by feet.

And then of course there is going to be the cost and the cleanup. The governor surveying from the air and it is just staggering to see all of this water particularly at this time of year as you know, Jim, this would be something perhaps anticipated with a spring thaw, not New Year's Eve or almost there -- Jim.

[20:06:14] SCIUTTO: So we have heard some warnings about more rain particularly downstream from where you are. But I suppose the other issue when you talk to meteorologist and others is that, you know, all this water has to go somewhere and as its flooding, it's not necessarily -- the river is not doing its job, is that right? So, it's not taking the water further south. Is that one reason why the flooding is expected to stay a threat for so many days?

SAVIDGE: There is a number of strange things, I guess, you can say that have been going on. Number one, this event was triggered pretty much initially in Missouri. They had incredible rainfall last weekend, in some cases, they have almost a foot of rain.

Traditionally, major flood events like this start up in Minnesota way up north. They see it coming. They have days, even weeks, to prepare. They had only hours in some communities. And so, now this water level as you point out is going to move into other tributaries, primarily the Mississippi River. That's why you will see states like Mississippi, cities like New Orleans begin either putting out their emergency plans or getting very serious about those plans because they know it is coming their way and everyone in between is going to feel it.

SCIUTTO: A lot of big cities downstream from there. Martin Savidge, thanks very much. A startling development today in another story, the allegations

against Bill Cosby, at least 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assaulting them over decades. Cosby has always denied the acquisitions. He has counter sued some of the alleged victims and crucially he has never faced any criminal charges, until today. The first person to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault was a former Temple University employee. Now, those accusations have led to three felony charges in a Pennsylvania court.

Cosby was arraigned today. His bail set at $1 million. The accuser has said Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004. Today's charges come just before the statute of limitations for such alleged crimes runs out in this case.

Jean Casarez joins me with more.

Jean, you were in the courtroom today. Tell us what that scene was like.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, today, it just everything happened so quickly. And in the courtroom is a very short proceeding but there is so much that I can tell you from it.

Bill Cosby arrived and he was hand and hand with one of his attorneys seemingly like he couldn't see well. In fact, he had to be guided through the very small courtroom behind me to his seat. Once he sat down, he had attorney on either side. The magistrate judge came in and the proceeding began and the proceeding is very short because an arraignment is really to establish constitutionally that you are aware of the charges. And so, the judge apprised him alleged aggravated indecent assault and so that he understood the charges. And then she said, I have set your bail at $1 million. Now, Cosby was listening. He was focused. He didn't show any out ward emotion as the judge was really directing the conversation right to him, but when she talked about the passport, his attorney jumped up. He had the passport in his pocket. He took it out, and he gave it to the prosecutor saying your honor, we are surrendering this passport right here, right now.

And then the judge went on to say there are conditions of your bail. First of all, you cannot have any contact with your complaint, alleged accuser. And then she went on saying that if there is any violation of this, that he would be arrested. And she reiterated, you can have no contact with your complainant. He said with who? So those were the first words that Cosby uttered. And she said with the accuser in the case. And then she asked him, do you understand all of this? He said yes I do. And he said it loud. And he had a smile on his face but it wasn't an arrogant smile. It wasn't a jovial joking smile. It was a serious smile. And almost with that she said Mr. Cosby, good luck. And he said thank you. And he left the courtroom.

[20:10:14] SCIUTTO: Jean, just to help our viewers understand, this alleged crime occurred in 2004, so 11 years ago. The allegation was already public. The accuser has already gone public. Just in the simplest terms, in laymen's terms, why did it result in criminal charges just today? CASAREZ: Well, first of all, the statute of limitation, the length of

time to bring the case was going to expire early next year. It's a 12-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. So they actually could still bring it. And the district attorney said that it was because of brand new evidence in July. Well, that is when we know that a 2005 civil deposition from this very case became part of it so interesting is that we learned today for the first time in the affidavit of probable cause that Mr. Cosby gave a statement to police in 2005 which almost and basically says exactly the same thing as that deposition, that there was sexual contact between he and Andrea Constand. He believes it was consensual. That is what he says. She obviously is saying she was drugged. But even though he said that to investigators in 2005, the district attorney at the time, Bruce Caster, opted to not bring charges saying he didn't have enough evidence. But now but with his deposition they must believe that they do.

SCIUTTO: And now, a court will decide.

Jean Casarez, thanks very much.

Coming up, more breaking news, the so-called affluenza team is staying in Mexico for now, but his mother is on a plane right now headed back to the U.S. Stunning new developments when "360" comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:12] SCIUTTO: More breaking news, Tonya Couch, the mother of affluenza teen, Ethan Couch, is on her way back to the U.S. tonight. But her son staying in Mexico with his newly dyed hair. He is fighting his deportation and seeking legal shelter there. Fugitive team, his defense team was said that he's too rich, too spoiled for a prison term after a deadly drunk driving accident is now accused of probation violations.

Mother and son were arrested by Mexican police on Monday in a tourist hot spot of Puerto Rialto (ph) after a three week manhunt. This may surprise you, it didn't stay hidden they were wanted from Texas authorities. Here is new video from ABC News. That's Ethan at a butcher shop just two hours before they were captured by Mexican authorities. His mom was at the same store just days before.

Ed Lavandera joins us with more.

So, Ed, Ethan and his mother Tonya, they are being split up after weeks on the run. What are we learning tonight about how that played out?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting and it is really something that had developed here in just the last couple hours. We are told by Mexican authorities' sources there telling us that Ethan Couch is in the process of being moved from Guadalajara Mexico where he is being held at immigration facility and being moved to Mexico City.

In the meantime, his mother is now in the process of being deported back to the United States. We are told she is on a flight from Guadalajara to Los Angeles. We were told by U.S. marshal officials earlier in the day that she would be escorted by several Mexican immigration officials then she would land there and be turned over to the U.S. marshals and handcuffed and begin the process of facing the criminal charges that she now faces here in Texas.

But what exactly she'll be back here in Texas isn't exactly clear. Marshals and Texas authorities have been very hesitant to share the logistics how that would play out. But Tonya Couch on her way back here to the United States, Ethan Couch moving tonight to Mexico City.

SCIUTTO: So we know that Ethan Couch has filed a petition in Mexican courts in effect asking for their protection. From what I understand that could take some time to get through the court. (INAUDIBLE) few days, not could be longer. You have the holidays. Do we have any idea how long this process could last in Mexico?

LAVANDERA: Well, originally earlier in the day, we were told that both Ethan and his mother had done this. But apparently, this is just now apply in what has spurred this change isn't exactly clear. But this legal process that Ethan couch is now going through according to U.S. marshals well, should and possibly could delay his return here significantly. He is not scheduled to make an appearance before this immigration judge until sometime next week. And then after that, it could take several more weeks before it is ruled whether or not he can continue to stay in Mexico. And we don't know until then whether or not he will be sent back here to the United States in Fort Worth to face the judges here.

SCIUTTO: Yes, curious and curious. Ed Lavandera, thanks for following this for us.

A lot to discuss. Joining me now CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos. He is a criminal defense attorney.

So Danny, you got to help me understand this. How does his mother get deported today there, in effect accused of the same thing, right, running to Mexico, but Ethan Couch stays in Mexico.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is a very good question. What we know is that in Mexico, there are two sure ways to get a U.S. citizens back from Mexico when they are fugitives in Mexico. One is extradition and the other simple or faster more stream line process is simple deportation and these were both, both the couches were not Mexican citizens. Mexico will not deport obviously its own citizens, but they may have stood in slightly different legal positions.

Ethan Couch for example might raise the argument that he is being prosecuted in an unfair way whereas his mother was not currently under prosecution. That's one possible theory. But either way, both have filed writs of what is called Amparo. And what that is, is like a habeas proceeding here in the United States where you challenge the underlying legality of the proceedings. And when an Amparo is filed, the proceedings, the extradition or the deportation proceedings will be stayed. That is a legal word that means you are hitting the pause button until the challenge is resolved. So this could go on for an indefinite period of time depending on how long it takes to resolve this writ of Amparo.

SCIUTTO: So one question, Mexico has extradition treaty with the U.S., but even with that, it doesn't happen instantaneously. It still has to go through a legal process in Mexico.

CEVALLOS: Yes and no. Extradition, well, usually takes longer. It requires, and just as in general proposition more paperwork. But U.S. marshals probably much prefer deportation. It's faster. It doesn't require the same amount of paperwork. And it can be done in a matter of days depending on how fast these two agencies, these two entities, two countries work out a deportation proceeding. But any time you have two separate sovereign nations seeking to move different citizens back and forth. There is a huge range and any U.S. marshal will tell you it could take a couple days. It could take weeks. It really depends on how well it's coordinated.

[20:20:31] SCIUTTO: So Danny, final question here. You are a criminal defense attorney. You have had client in that situations. I mean, what does Ethan Couch possibly have to gain from fighting this now through the Mexican courts? It's certainly not going to change the alleged crime that he would be facing in the U.S. What advantage is he trying to seek here?

CEVALLOS: The first mantra in criminal defense is, in the face of overwhelmingly bad odds you still have to fight. But in this case, Ethan Couch may be challenging the underlying prosecution against him in the United States. For example, if a criminal defendant is subjected to, say, the death penalty, which is not the case here, sometimes a requested country like Mexico may pause before they give that defendant back to the U.S. or whatever other country. That's not the case here. But Ethan Couch's lawyers both in Mexico and the United States will have to get very creative to challenge this proceeding.

SCIUTTO: Danny Cevallos, thank you. Confusing case. You made me a little bit smarter tonight. Appreciate it.

A lot of packed airports this week with holiday travelers heading home. Tonight an exclusive "360" investigation at two major airports where some police officers are unarmed and say they are actually told to run away if there is an attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:15] SCIUTTO: This is, of course, a busy week to travel. A lot of people heading back and forth after family holiday gathering. O'Hare is one of the nation's busiest airports. And tonight, it along with another Chicago airport Midway is the focus of an exclusive 360 investigation.

We want to know why some of the police officers assigned to protect both airports are not allowed to carry weapons. They work alongside armed police officers but there is one major difference. If there is an attack at any terminal, these aviation police officers say they are trained and told to run away and now those officers are speaking out.

Here is senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look around the passenger terminals at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airport and you will see what appear to be police officers, but take a closer look. Not one of them is carrying a gun. In the event of an active shooter or terrorist strike here, you might be surprised how they have been told to react, to not fight back, not try to neutralize the threat but instead to run.

You guys are police officers, but you don't have guns. You are unarmed. Do you feel safe when you're working?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir. Not safe at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

GRIFFIN: Do you feel almost as if you're a sitting target?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

GRIFFIN: It is not for lack of training or licensing or experience. Aviation police officers are all sworn officers in the state of Illinois. They get the same training as Chicago police. And many are military veterans or have second jobs in suburban police departments.

These two officers speaking in silhouette for fear of being fired, say all they want is to carry a gun like any other law enforcement officer.

Just two years ago at Los Angeles international airport, a man with an assault rifle killed a TSA officer, wounded several others before being shot and wounded by an armed police officer. If the same event took place in Chicago's two airports, the nearly 300 unarmed aviation police would be defenseless to stop.

So in the event of let's say a terrorist attack, let's say it is shooter, what are you supported to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run.

GRIFFIN: Run?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hide.

GRIFFIN: Hide?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seek shelter.

GRIFFIN: This internal Chicago aviation department document obtained from aviation department sources outlines the policy. If evacuation is not possible, hide. We must also ensure that unarmed security personnel do not attempt to become part of the response. Here is the training video officers say they were instructed to watch. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If evacuation is not possible, you should find a

place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Block entry to your hiding place. And lock the doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing but casualties if you tell us to run and hide and how can the public look at us if they see police officers running and hiding. That goes against the very oath we swore to and took.

GRIFFIN: It's the Chicago police who carry guns at both airports since they are the primary law enforcement agency. If there is a major incident or an arrest, aviation police tell us they must wait for Chicago police to show up, a unique arrangement among major U.S. airports.

MATT BRANDON, SERVICE EMPLOYEE INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 73: It doesn't make any sense.

GRIFFIN: Matt Brandon is an official with the union that represents aviation police officers.

So basically, they are just -- I mean, no disrespect to the officers but as their role, the airports are glorified security guards.

BRANDON: That's exactly right. And my question to the city is you send these men and women to the Chicago police academy to be trained as police officers to be able to respond as police officers to be able to act as police officers.

GRIFFIN: The Chicago police department has 231 armed officers assigned in O'Hare and Midway and the city says that's enough. So, too, does the Chicago aviation department about its unarmed force and the staffing level of armed police is for the most part similar to other major U.S. airports.

If you compare the top three busiest airports in the U.S., Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson has 178 armed police. Los Angeles, 572. While O'Hare is budgeted 175. The numbers do not include additional security such as private security personnel.

In an email to CNN, the aviation department says the multilevel security has proven effective in stopping and preventing crime and that violent crime incidents are extremely low. But there has been no explanation why the nearly 300 aviation police officers here are unarmed.

[20:30:00] The department is declining to discuss security measures. CNN surveyed large U.S. airports and found Chicago's use of unarmed aviation police officers is unique.

According to Miami security expert Wayne Black, absurd.

WAYNE BLACK, MIAMI SECURITY EXPERT: You've got sworn law enforcement officers at a U.S. airport that are trained to hide if there is an attack. That's crazy. Airports are targets of terror activity. What are they going to do if somebody runs in with a gun and there is no law enforcement officer there?

GRIFFIN: In October, a man caught with these knives attempted to get on the airfield and actually told the officers he knew they were not even armed. The gun issue has been part of an ongoing dispute between the officers and their chief, Richard Edgeworth. Chicago's aviation police recently took a no confidence vote against Edgeworth calling him "incompetent" and someone who exerts control through intimidation and fear. Despite the vote, Edgeworth's boss says he has the full confidence and trust of the aviation department.

Edgeworth has repeatedly refused to even answer numerous phone calls from CNN and when we approached him to ask our questions, he did what his officers are supposed to do if anyone approaches them armed.

(on camera): Excuse me. Hi, Chief Edgeworth? Drew Griffin with CNN.

RICHARD EDGEWORTH: How are you?

GRIFFIN: Good to see you. We wanted to ask you why your officers aren't armed? Why is this the only aviation police officers in the United States ...

EDGEWORTH: I don't have any --

GRIFFIN: That apparently are not armed. Wouldn't the public be better protected if they were armed and were able to engage a threat instead of - sir? Instead of having to run and hide?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: That was Drew Griffin reporting. Up next, politics 2015 style from Donald Trump's morphing into a political frontrunner to Jeb Bush's near disappearance and upstart Bernie Sanders' challenging Hillary Clinton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:33]

SCIUTTO: It has been, and there is no hyperbole here, an exceptional year in politics. We started with 17 GOP presidential candidates, six Democrats and we still have a crowded field, 11 and three. But who would have thought that a total outsider who has thrown out all of the rules of a political campaign, it seems, I'm talking about billionaire, reality TV star Donald Trump, of course, would be the front runner, the sustained front runner for months now clearly tapping into simmering anger over immigration, fear of terrorism and really a broader frustration with almost villibetrialic anger for Washington and traditional politicians. Democrats, they have their own upstart candidate in Bernie Sanders, though Hillary Clinton still leading on that side. Here are just a few highlights from the trail this year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I want to build a wall.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I tried to stab someone.

TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They are rapist.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, me, too.

(APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON: Me too.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

TRUMP: I think she's a beautiful woman.

[applause]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry.

TRUMP: I know where she went. It's disgusting. I don't want to talk about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Certainly a lot to talk about with our panel tonight. Political scientist P.J. O'Rourke. He's a contributor to "The Daily Beast" and "The Weekly Standard". His latest book is "Thrown Under the Omnibus." CNN political analyst and journalist Carl Bernstein. He is author of "A Woman in Charge, the Life of Hilary Rodham Clinton" and CNN senior political reporter Nia Malika Henderson. I want to start with you, but I don't even know where to begin, right? Because so many what we thought were rules have been broken here, it's almost like the anti-candidate is the one who has the advantage. I just wonder, you brought down a president with your reporting, some 40 years ago. Have you ever seen anything like what we've observed this year?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and it's about the country and the state of fear and anger of many people. It's also you use the word reality TV. A lot of this campaign is about a new kind of reality TV. Hillary Clinton is one of the great celebrities in the world as is Donald Trump. And we are judging them not as ordinary political candidates, but also as celebrities. They are aware people are getting their information from increasingly is social media, Matt Drudge, Fox, cable news. This is very untraditional. So all the old norms are out of the box and we have a new situation in terms of how we conduct an election and who the candidates are and the fact that the Republican Party agenda is now being driven by someone who's a demagogue and a neo fascist.

SCIUTTO: I have to ask you, because we talk about reality TV, and there is certainly an element here directly to Donald Trump, but what is funny or sad is that reality almost doesn't matter, right, because so often we're in a fact free zone in much of the political debate.

P.J. O'ROURKE, AUTHOR "THROWN UNDER THE OMNIBUS": Totally.

SCIUTTO: It used to be that you could challenge a candidate with something he or she said, now they'll say well, you know I didn't say that, or you're in the media, you're lying?

O'ROURKE: Anybody who doesn't understand Donald Trump, doesn't drink enough. Because every bar in the country along about 11:30 at night has got three or four Donald Trumps in them, and you can no more hold them to account the next day than you can hold Donald to account the next day.

SCIUTTO: So Nia, I mean, of course we talk about Donald Trump a lot, but he's not alone in controversial comments. You have a candidate who was a front runner as well for a time and Ben Carson who made an effort to assure people that he tried to stab someone or hit someone in the head with a hammer when he was a kid, which gets to the idea that it's not just Trump that's profiting from this, you know, really this counter-Washington sort of view of the world, right? Anything that doesn't fit with the Washington norm is popular, incredible, right?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. I mean this idea that you raise of the anti-candidate as well as the anti-Obama. Let's remember, Ben Carson rose to fame because he basically told Obama off to his face at a prayer breakfast in 2013 likening Obamacare to slavery at one point.

[20:40:07]

And certainly has said more off color things than that. It's also about personalities, right? Very much the calls of personalities we've seen whether it's Donald Trump, Ben Carson or even Bernie Sanders. There is something there about these fingers. They have understood that when it comes to attracting voters it very much is about these personal stories, about what they are willing to say and in that way they really I think have formed a sense of attachment with their different constituencies and we'll have to see how this plays out in 2016. Ben Carson, of course, is fading in the polls at this point. Sanders is kind of plateaued. But there is Donald Trump who probably understands that politics is marketing better than anybody we've seen is sort of Sarah Palin 2.0 in that way. I want to see how he fairs in continuing the way he's been able to brand himself among certain voters.

SCIUTTO: So, Carl, we talked about Trump. We talked about Carson. You know, surprise winners here. Well, not quite winners, but they've been ahead. Jeb Bush really going nowhere in his campaign. He had so many advantages coming in, and the perception was, that with that name, with that pedigree, he was going to have power, but it just really never materialized. How do you explain that, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Well, one, he hasn't been very impressive in the debate. He's been out of his league and he's been uncomfortable, but Donald Trump has been speaking a very interesting kind of common American English. And candidates are not used to speaking that way and we're not used to hearing the kind of language Donald Trump is using. It may be vulgar. It may be obscene. It may be bullying, but I think people are experiencing a great relief sometimes, particularly those to whom he appeals adhering what they regard as straight talk. Jeb Bush doesn't sound like straight talk. Most of the traditional candidates sound as if they have been briefed, stuffed. Well, Donald Trump just says what comes into his head. It goes out there and as P.J. says, yeah, it sounds a little bit like the bar, but people would rather be at the bar right now, because they are angry, particularly those 40 percent or so of the Republican Party who support Trump.

SCIUTTO: P.J. gets back to the question, who would you rather have a beer with? Sort of written large here. I just wonder, you know, the conventional wisdom is that ...

BERNSTEIN: Tell you.

SCIUTTO: When the primaries come around, you know, normality will return when voters actually go into the booth or they participate in the caucuses, they are not going to ...

BERNSTEIN: You know, I was thinking --

SCIUTTO: Is that true?

O'ROURKE: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I'm just not sure it is. One thing you have to remember that democracy is government by the people and 50 percent of people are below average in intelligence, mathematical fact. And every now and then, it really comes into play. The person I don't want to have a beer with is the American voter at the moment.

[ laughter ]

O'ROURKE: Between the support for Trump and the support for Bernie Sanders, I honestly -- sober up people and go home.

SCIUTTO: P.J., Carl, Nia, thanks for helping us digest this year. We hope you ring in the new year with a great New Year's Eve. Thanks very much.

From that year in politics to the year in crime, there was the Subway pitchman who was jailed for possession of child porn and having sex with minors to the daring prison escape and massive manhunt featuring a seamstress who fell under the spell of two inmates. Two, a Baltimore suspect who died in custody and spawned riots in Baltimore. Randi Kaye has the year's top crime and punishment stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JARED FOGLE: Hi, I'm Jared the Subway guy.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pitch man turned prisoner. Subway's Jared Fogle sentenced to more than 15 years after pleading guilty to charges of child pornography and crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors. Fogle caught on tape sharing sick fantasies with a Florida woman who said she secretly recorded him describing how he lured children in.

JARED FOGLE: Whatever, we - just sharing stories and then, you know, we get a little closer and a little closer and a little closer and before you know it, you know, it just starts to happen.

KAYE: On tape, he admits having a thing for middle school girls, even suggesting it's easiest to seduce children who are vulnerable.

FOGLE: We're leaving no stone unturned.

KAYE: A prison break and a prison tailor part of a master escape plan. Convicted killers Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of Clinton correctional facility in Dannemora, New York. The escapees cut holes in their cells, snake their way through underground tunnels and emerged from this manhole, but seamstress Joyce Mitchell, their getaway driver doesn't show up.

[20:45:08]

Leaving Matt and Sweat on the run. A massive manhunt begins. Mitchell later tells NBC how it was supposed to go down.

JOYCE MITCHELL: I was supposed to bring clothes for them. I was supposed to bring a tent. I was supposed to bring a shotgun.

KAYE: Weeks go by. Matt is killed by police, Sweat is shot by a state trooper just feet from the Canadian border. Sweat now back behind bars.

Turns out Mitchell not only helped them in the escape, but she was also romantically involved with one if not both of the fugitives. Mitchell admits sending Sweat naked photos of herself before the prison break and having oral sex with Matt in the prison tailor shop. In court, she admits using hamburger meat to smuggle hacksaw blades inside to the escapees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you pleading guilty because you are, in fact, guilty?

KAYE: Mitchell is sentenced to seven years. Baby Doe, an unidentified chubby cheek toddler washes up on the shores of the Boston harbor wrapped in a plastic garbage bag with a zebra blanket wearing her polka dot leggings. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children generates this computer image of what she may have looked like. It goes viral. Three months later, Baby Doe is identified as Bella Bond, she lived with her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Rachel Bond and Michael McCarthy are arrested for her murder after they are exposed by a family friend. The girl's mom allegedly came clean to the friend.

DAVID DEAKIN, SUFFOLK COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: She responded Michael McCarthy killed her and I'm accessory after the fact because I helped him get rid of her body. KAYE: McCarthy allegedly believed Bella was possessed by demons and beat her until she died keeping her body in the family's refrigerator until dumping it at the harbor. He's charged with first-degree murder. The girl's mother is charged as an accessory after the fact. Both pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

An arrest then a rough ride. Freddie Gray suffers a severe and critical neck injury during a police transport, dying a week later. Baltimore erupts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

KAYE: The National Guard is called in. A curfew is put in place. Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announces charges against six officers. Charges include not buckling Gray inside the van and not calling medics.

MARILYN MOSBY: Mr. Gray's death was a homicide. We have probable cause to file criminal charges.

KAYE: Officer William Porter is on trial first, but a jury of seven blacks and five whites failed to reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges against him. A new trial is expected next year. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: And just ahead, we've been counting down your favorite "Ridiculist"s of the year, your choice for number one when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: As 2015 draws to a close, we've been counting down your favorite "Ridiculist" of the year. Here is your choice from number one. This is from the beginning of the year when Anderson took aim at a certain claim that there was a gay agenda. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist", and tonight I would like to address something - the gay agenda. Now, I've never actually been to the secret meeting where the gays plot their agenda, though, I imagine the catering is quite amazing, but thanks to someone named Larry Tomzack, my eyes have been opened. Larry says there is an avalanche sweeping across our society today. It's not a trickle, it's a tsunami. The mixed metaphor, by the way, is all Larry's. In an op-ed for "The Christian Post", he writes and I quote, "the indoctrination and propaganda coming from those advocating a gay lifestyle in our country, classrooms and culture are increasing. All of us need to take note and take action to guard those we love. We're being bombarded." You can tell Larry is being serious because the Bs are capitalized.

Now, look, I don't know what a gay lifestyle is, just like I don't know what a straight lifestyle is. Seems like all the gay people I know just like all the straight people I know live all different kinds of lives. I know gay police officers and doctors, gay marines and ministers, even a couple of gay TV news anchors, believe it or not, and all the ones I know just want to be able to live their lives with the same kind of rights and responsibilities as everyone else. Now, Larry says that indecent behavior is being conveyed to unsuspecting children and points to the fact that both "Dancing with the Stars" and "Survivor" have had gay contestants and that Ellen DeGeneres celebrates her marriage. Yes, by the way, he puts marriage in quotation marks. Ellen talks about other examples on her show recently.

ELLEN DEGENERES: So, in the article the pastor criticizes a lot of TV shows for promoting gay agendas. He says that "Glee" has over five characters. "Modern Family" had a gay wedding, Anderson Cooper boasts about his homosexuality. If you ask me, Larry is watching a lot of gay TV.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I'm in there as well, me and my constant boasting. Larry Tomszak has a solution for avoiding this gay problem. He recommends that parents turn off the TV and turn on the DVD player so their kids can watch wholesome shows like "I Love Lucy" and "Leave it to Beaver." Now, listen. I agree with Larry. I grew up watching "I Love Lucy" and I'm as straight as they come. As for the "Beaver", I never tuned into that. It just never sparked my interest for some reason. I don't know why. Anyway, those are the good old days when gay people could be arrested for going to a bar, fired from their jobs, which actually they still can in many states and live life largely in the shadows. Good times. Larry may also like the new TLC show, all about men who are naturally attracted to other men, but decide to marry women anyway. It's called "My husband is not gay". And some of the couples were on "Good Morning, America" explaining their very reasonable decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time I got to the core of who I am, I knew that I wanted to be married to a woman and I knew that I wanted children and I wanted to be a father and I wanted to be called daddy when I come home.

[20:55:02]

COOPER: And for the record, there is plenty of gay people who are having kids these days and, by the way, if you're a gay guy who wants to be called daddy, you don't necessarily have to get married to a woman. I'm just saying.

There's been a lot of criticism of the show by gay people who feel it supports the notion that somehow gay people can and should change. I feel certainly for anybody who's not happy with who they are. The guys on this show insist they have regular marriages and do regular guy things like go shopping together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see that guy over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good looking guy for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's okay. I kind of like guys that are more athletic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he your type?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think - but then I - I like the swimmer's build.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the swimmer's build?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what kind of guy are you into?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually taller like Brian Reynolds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With you there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who isn't?

COOPER: Just like a bunch of straight married guys going out shopping together. They also insist they can have attraction towards their wives, even though they are naturally inclined to be attracted toward men. I'll let them explain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could say I'm oriented towards donuts and if I was being true to myself I would eat donuts a lot more than I eat donuts, but am I miserable, am I lonely, am I denying myself because I don't eat donuts as much as I'd like to eat donuts? I'm not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yeah. Not gay. Who's the doughnut in that analogy, by the way? I think he needs to throw something else in there, perhaps a bear claw. Look, the point is, gay people are more visible today and while that makes Larry uncomfortable, so much so that he - spends a lot of his time watching and thinking about gay people, I'm not sure turning back the clock or the TV dial is the solution. But look, Larry, don't worry. When you're up late at night thinking about what gay people are doing, then I'm sure you can always find a good rerun to watch somewhere on "The Ridiculist."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Anderson Cooper. Just ahead, more on one of our top stories tonight, Bill Cosby charged with sexual assault. His first criminal charges after months of accusations from dozens of women. What his lawyers are saying about those allegations, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)