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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 31, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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happening now, breaking news. explosions and flames. fire consumes a luxury high-rise hotel in a major middle eastern city lighting up the night sky as the new year arrives. what sparked this fiery disaster? terror arrest. a new york man accused of plotting a new year's eve massacre, an attack on a crowded restaurant and bar. was he following orders from
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isis? rising rivers, effecting millions of people. a potentially historic flood disaster unfolding. the mississippi river cresting now near st. louis. the water possibly reaching record levels with levees in some areas threatening to fail. will they give way? and cosby's defense. lawyers for bill cosby vowing a vigorous defense against sexual assault charges they call unjustified. the 78-year-old comedian possibly facing up to 10 years in prison. will he take a plea agreement? i'll be asking one of his lawyers. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm brianna keilar. and you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. we are following breaking news. dramatic images from dubai. it's a fire that swept through a luxury high-rise hotel, massive
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flames leaping up the sides of the 63-story building lighting up the night sky as the new year arrived. at least 14 people are injured. and while there's no word yet on the cause, witnesses say they heard an explosion before the flames erupted. we're also following the arrest of a new york man who federal officials say was planning a new year's eve terror attack in the name of isis. the justice department says he was plotting a massacre at a restaurant and bar tonight and that he was given instructions by an overseas isis member. recovering that and more this hour our correspondents, experts and analysts and guests. we want to begin with that spectacular fire that consumed the 63-story luxury hotel in dubai. cnn's becky anderson is there. becky, give us the latest. do we know what the cause could be? >> well, this is absolutely remarkable. at this point we don't know what the cause is specifically. one source telling us it may have been curtains in a flat on the 20th floor of this five-star
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hotel and residential complex. we're also hearing from officials here that it may have been that the fire started outside of the hotel. certainly this fire is now 90% or more contained. and officials telling us that most of the damage has been to the outside of the building. they believe the integrity of the inside of the building actually not as bad as it might look from these images. look, this was four and a half hours ago. i was having a new year's eve dinner with just -- a quiet dinner with some friends in the hotel, which is about three miles away but has a very good view of the address hotel downtown in dubai because it also sits right next to the burj khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which is where the fireworks display that dubai puts on every new year's eve starts. and many people taking different positions around dubai in order
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to see that. we were certainly at a hotel which had a very good vision. so this is four and a half hours ago at about 9:35 local time. we are told that it was a very orderly evacuation and that some 16 people have in cured injuries, one person slightly worse injured and apparently somebody had a heart attack as a result of smoke inhalation all sort of problems that were incurred as people tried to get out of the hotel. but we are told it was a very, very orderly evacuation. and, brianna, some two and a half hours later the fireworks display actually did go on. the show went on. it was very unclear until about ten past 11:00 local time whether the display would actually happen given the juxtaposition of this hotel to the burj khalifa, the biggest building in the world. but dubai decided that they would go on with the show, which
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and the fireworks did happen at midnight. there are about a million people in dubai, or thereabouts, watching the display from as i say various different locations. the roads had already been blocked off in order to accommodate the people. so, again, the emergency crews, and there were four large fire fighting crews we are told, were able to gain relatively easy access. and somewhat two and a half to three hours later you have what is now a smoldering hotel. the fire is as i say 90% contained. and dubai sort of getting back to normal as it were. people have moved away and they're going home. it's five past 2:00 in the morning but really quite a spectacular close to the end of 2015 here in dubai, brianna. >> becky anderson for us in the uae, thank you so much. more breaking news that we're following. an alleged new year's eve terror flot thwarted with the arrest of
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a new york man who federal prosecutors say was taking directions from isis. cnn justice reporter evan perez is working this story for us. evan, it does sort of stand out that officials say this was supposed to happen tonight this attack on a bar and a restaurant. >> that's right, brianna. it was supposed to happen tonight in rochester, new york. the suspect's name is emanuel luchman. he's 25 years old. according to the fbi he was planning this attack buying -- from walmart, buying knives and zip ties, ski masks, duct tape. the plan was to use bombs, perhaps a pressure cooker bomb and knives to kill people at this gathering for new year's eve. the fbi says this is a man who has a criminal history in new york serving five years for a robbery arrest. and also has mental health problems. you know, they arrested him yesterday after he recorded a video, brianna, pledging allegiance to isis and claiming
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responsibility for an attack that was supposed to happen tonight. they say that he was in touch or he claimed to be in touch with an isis operative overseas who was ordering him or directing him to carry out this attack. >> and how did they -- these authorities, how did they manage to stop him from doing this? >> well, they were working -- he was working, brianna, with a couple of fbi informants. one of them was paid $19,000, the other one was paid $7,000 for their help with the fbi and it appears they'd been keeping an eye on this guy for a while and decided to orchestrate this sting operation with these two informants in order to do this to try to make sure they take him off the streets before anything could happen. >> all right. evan perez, thanks so much for following this story. terror concerns are certainly stretching at this point from los angeles to washington to new york tonight. and sources are telling cnn of an overseas threat to those cities this holiday week. i want to go now to cnn's miguel
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marquez. times square.w you're there in - some of the 1 million people who are expected to attend and celebrate new year's eve tonight are already there behind you. tell us about the security situation there. is it obviously heightened? >> reporter: well, look, it is always very big security here. and i do happen to be with several thousand of my very good friends. [ cheers and applause ] happy new year. >> happy new year! >> reporter: it hasn't stopped people from coming out here. you can see this is just a few thousands of the probably million they're expecting here tonight all the way up there to the toshiba sign if you can see it is where the ball will actually come down. 6,000 police officers. the overall contingent is about 800 police officers bigger than normal. so not enormously bigger, but there are a few things that they are using to go around that make it different. bomb sniffing doss in big numbers, radiation detectors,
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chemical detectors, cameras, about 1,000 cameras across this area. the entire city tens of thousands of police officers keeping venues safe, things that used to be just celebrations and venues are now considered possible soft targets because of those attacks in both paris and san bernardino. but the people here ready for a good time. >> yeah! >> reporter: and i hope you don't need the restroom soon. you're going to be here until midnight. good luck. happy new year. and happy new year to you. >> they've been training perhaps. all right. miguel marquez, thank you so much for that report. i want to get more on this now with cnn contributor michael weiss, he's senior editor of the daily beast and also co-author of "isis: inside the army of terror." we have former fbi assistant director and cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes and cnn military analyst retired lieutenant general mark hertling. tom, to you first. we know that the president has been briefed on this possible threat that is targeting three major cities. what are officials doing now to
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address this? >> well, i think that threat came in from overseas a while back even before the president left to go on his trip to hawaii. you know, thai doing what they would have been doing anyway. they've got 6,000 new york city police officers, hundreds of federal agents, state and local from other jurisdictions helping as well. so, you know, they're covering new york and these cities as they would have anyway. the threat is so vague, i don't think it results in any increase that they wouldn't have done any way to secure those zones. i might add i think that part of new york city is probably going to be the safest real estate on the planet tonight. >> what do you think, michael? you're there in new york. i'm sure that you've walked around a little bit. maybe you've avoided times square, but certainly you've been there in the area. anything that you're noticing, a stepped up presence perhaps? >> i mean, there's about according to reports 600 to 800 more cops on the street than as per usual. but i mean, again, as tom was saying, this has happened every
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year since 9/11. there's always a heightened state of vigilance and awareness in new york city in particular because this is sort of the number one target for global terrorists from al qaeda to isis. the threats have been vague. i mean, i've seen no chatter, nothing out of the ordinary to suggest any kind of specific target in mind. but, yeah, i mean, you know, most new yorkers attend to avoid times square for reasons other than terrorism, dissension of tourists into that area a million people all gathered into one spot, but new yorkers are tough. i mean, we always tend to see something, say something. that's the kind of attitude that's predominant in the city for over 15 years now. >> yeah. and i know that that is what officials are certainly counting on there. general hertling, you look at a crowd this size. this is huge. a million people, they're there to celebrate. they're probably thinking about what could be going on around them. they've got their eyes peeled. but this is about celebrating. what are the challenges for authorities when they're dealing with a crowd of this size?
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>> well, this is a headache for the operations centers, for the joint interagency task force, for the people who are sharing information because there are not only the potential for terrorists but also just the looney tunes out there, brianna, you know that. there are a million people in new york and as the reports say there's about 6,000 police officers and that's generous. so you're talking about them being in pairs. every two pairs of police officers have to watch, if you do the math, about 400 or 500 people. they've been there for hours. your report just now shows them walking around. that's a tough, tough situation to be in when you're providing security. i've had to provide security like that in a combat arena for a march one time. and you just don't know when something bad is going to happen. it's difficult. >> what do you think, michael, about this announcement today by the justice department, this arrest of a new york man who was planning to kill new year's eve revelers in the name of isis? he was planning to do this at a bar and restaurant. what's your take on that arrest?
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>> two main points, one, very dispositive of isis. it's rather hilarious if you read the complaint. this guy is very keen to go to syria and make the immigration to the land of the caliphate and the isis guy talking like, yeah, yeah, you can come here but first go and kill thousands of kufar over there. this is what they do. they seize upon losers, these sort of lump elements in society who have nothing really to live for. they say why don't you go out with a bang, quite literally. the other point i have to make is this, evan mentioned that these guys including one fbi informant managed to buy -- i wrote this down because this is extraordinary, two black ski masks, zip ties, two knives, a machete, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves. and they got away with it at walmart. whoever runs that walmart in rochester should be fired. what cashier allows two men to buy this kind of equipment so close to the new year? this is extraordinary. >> i totally agree with you on that. tom, what do you think about that? if i'm a cashier and someone's
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coming through my line with zip ties and a ski mask, i am doing a double take. >> absolutely. even if a guy's a complete loser and already been in the criminal justice system and all of that, it doesn't mean he won't do it. and that's the problem. that's really where that lone wolf fear comes from are guys just like this that are crazy enough, possibly mentally ill, definitely psycho pathic and going to go out and kill somebody. how do you stop it? you know, that's exactly right. he should have been stopped at walmart. >> yeah. keep your eyes peeled, right? that's what they're saying. see something, say something. maybe that needs to be stressed more. >> should be see something, sell something. >> that's what it was. tom fuentes, michael weiss, general hertling, thank you so much. next, we're talking breaking news. under water, millions of people are affected by cresting flood waters along the mississippi river. we'll have a live update from the emergency zone. and then also bill cosby's attorney will join us. she says that her client is not guilty of criminal sex charges. how is she planning to keep him
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out of jail?
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st. louis and affecting millions of people. cnn meteorologist jennifer gray is near st. louis. jennifer, give us a sense here, the mississippi river is cresting near where you are, but how much worse could this get? >> well, the big problem is going to be all the towns downstream along the mississippi river. this water has a long way to go before it reaches the gulf of mexico. imagine the slowest wave you can think of taking several days to rise in each city and taking several days to lower. we're talking several feet above flood stage and major flood stage in a lot of cases. in fact, st. louis like you said is cresting right now, the mississippi river there. it is not going to break a record, but we are seeing it very, very high. in fact, the meramec river where i'm standing in front of actually the river is north of us, this is actually highway 141, it is very high. it actually broke a record. it is now falling. it has fallen more than a foot since this morning, which is good. but it has a long way to go.
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about 12 or 13 more feet to make this area look a little more normal. interstate 44 right there, the bridge right over highway 141. interstate 44 is shut down and will be so most likely through tomorrow. highway 141 could possibly be shut down until monday or tuesday. not to mention, bring an narks we've been talking about the water treatment facility that was flooded. so we have untreated sewage that is flowing into this river. and so as this water goes down, they are going to have a lot of cleanup. there's going to be sewage, we also have seen a lot of trash dumps floating by not to mention roofs, parts of houses floating by. and also just the mud and silt from the river itself is going to be left behind. so neighborhoods are going to have a lot of work ahead of them. and not to mention like we talked about earlier, all the towns and cities that are south of us, memphis will be hard hit, and we're also looking at a lot of towns along the mississippi river where louisiana and mississippi are. and then it has a long way to go
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before it reaches the gulf of mexico. so for several, several more days. >> and this area is just immobilized right there behind you, jennifer. those are traffic lights that are submerged. >> reporter: yeah. you're exactly right. you know, we talked to a lot of residents. they remember the great flood of 1993. they say this area is worse than it was then. people have told us they have family members that are basically in their home or in their condo and they're cut off from the rest of the community because roads are flooded to get out. luckily they say they have power and all of that, so they're okay. and they know the water's going to go down by this weekend. but just imagine being in your home or your condo knowing that there's really no way to get out if you needed to. and that's why they did those evacuations around this area because that's the worst case scenario. you don't want people trapped in their homes and neighborhoods. >> certainly don't. jennifer gray for us in valley park, missouri. thank you so much. cnn meteorologist tom sater is monitoring the situation from the cnn severe weather center. tom, i know parts of the
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mississippi are cresting now. but this river could crest in other areas even into the weekend, right? what is ahead for this area? >> we could see this, brianna, for the next two and a half weeks if it takes this long just to clear the meramec river. good news is no rain for the next seven days. from the ohio valley, missouri valley down to the delta. now, what we're talking about here is we're losing a lot of green. that means we're losing some warnings, although evacuations still took place in southwest missouri, branson, a touris area. but it's all about the rivers. the missouri river five feet under the record at st. charles is receding. now it's all heading down to the south where the meramec river, which by the way hard to get a crest, the waters were higher in arnold, eureka still cut off, now it's reaching the mississippi river we're going to really start to talk about what's going to happen to the south. rain coming in from the ohio river, rainfall from the missouri river, up north of the mississippi and now we're going to toss in the arkansas. that's where it's going to get a little hairy. the good news is that we're not
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going to break the record from the great flood of '93 in st. louis, but where the meramec reaches the mississippi, points to the south, chester, st. genevieve, historic readings, some of the records on the mississippi go back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. a big college town southeast missouri state university, a record will be felt there. karo, illinois, 59 feet. if they get to 60, they got to blast a waterway to release the pressure. then we have to come down to where the river is really bad on the arkansas river, flooding north and south of little rock, pine bluff major flooding. once that enters the picture, it's really going to be hard to find a crest. massive amounts of water from the north meeting this river as well. greenville all the way down to the state of emergencies now for mississippi and louisiana, baton rouge 44 feet. they may have to open spillways which could cost millions and millions of dollars. they're watching this close. they know how to handle it but that won't happen for another
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week and a half. >> all right, tom sater, thank you so much. we are looking live at some pictures. you can see this area is really immobilized by -- this is a road going underneath a highway, immobilized by these flood waters. republican congressman of missouri joining us now on the phone. he represents parts ofts flood zone. congressman, i know that you've talked to fema. give us the latest. how bad is the damage there? >> well, they anticipate we're probably going to have a disaster that will qualify for some federal funding, which means it's minimum $8 million worth of loss. so i think they're working very diligently with our local county officials and emergency management officials. i know our governor has been on top of this working with emergency people as well as getting ahold of the president and giving him a heads up to let him know the magnitude of this situation so that there can be an anticipatory response made
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whenever it's necessary. so really all of the different folks whether it's the governor's office, the national guard, the fema folks, high patrol, local emergency management people have all been working very well together. and with the army corps advice on where to look for the problem areas they've been working very well together. and it's minimized a lot of the dama damage. >> what are you expecting in the days ahead? >> well, as the water recedes as your reporter and meteorologist indicate, we were cresting today on the missouri and meramec in our area the mississippi is cresting today and will go on down to the coast over the next few days and weeks here. but as soon as the waters recede, the local folks will begin assessing the damage whether it's the folks along the rivers or whether it's the folks in counties, i got one county that's got 40 county roads closed right now. so you can imagine the county roads and county bridges that
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are damaged in these flood waters. that's a lot of the local impact here. the river it goes down -- as waters go down the mississippi river of course is impactful. but when you talk about all of the local folks, you get back into counties, whenever those folks don't have ways to get out either. you're seeing pictures along the major rivers, we've still got people behind water in some of these raurl areas that are flooded because of the creeks and rivers being backed up as well. it's a widespread problem. and over the next few weeks we'll get assessment and go to work and clean it up. that's what we do. we fix up our problems and move on. >> all right. congressman, thank you so much for the update. we appreciate it. we wish you luck certainly today and in the days ahead. and coming up, we are standing by to speak with bill cosby's attorney. she says that her client is not guilty of sex crimes and there will not be a plea deal.
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also, donald trump proves the doubters wrong. remember when everyone thought this criticism of senator john mccain would be the end of the line? well, it certainly wasn't. >> he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured, okay. i hate to tell you. oh remotes, you've had it tough.
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million bond. he's due back in court in two weeks. we're about to speak with his attorney who says that her client is not guilty and there will be no consideration of a plea deal. but first, let's get more on this now on this case from cnn's jean casarez. >> tonight, bill cosby out on $1 million bail. his legal team vowing to mount a vigorous defense after cosby was arraigned on criminal sexual assault charges. >> mr. cosby, anything to say? >> these charges stem from a sexual assault that took place on an evening in early 2004 at mr. cosby's home, montgomery county. >> reporter: the 78-year-old comedian charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault with andrea constand. considered cosby, 37 years her senior and a temple alum, a friend and mentor. she accuses cosby of drugging then assaulting her when she visited his pennsylvania home.
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>> mr. cosby made two sexual advances at her that were rejected. on the evening in question, mr. cosby urged her to take pills that he provided to her and to drink wine. >> reporter: according to the criminal complaint, the pills and wine left constand feeling dizzy, nauseous, frozen and paralyzed but aware of cosby fondling her breasts and putting his hands into her pants. constand went to the police about a year later, but the district attorney did not file charges citing lack of evidence. she filed a civil suit against cosby forcing him to be deposed. he settled the suit with her, the terms of which were sealed. that deposition was unsealed in july. in it cosby admits to giving women quaaludes but never without their knowledge. constand is the first of at least 50 women to have come forward with similar allegations over four decades. some of those women now sharing their reactions to the news.
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>> when i saw the mugshot, i started to cry. it was -- it just hit me so hard. and i really didn't anticipate that i was going to react that way. >> reporter: an attorney representing some of the accusers says she believes other alleged victims may be called to testify against cosby at the trial. >> they're going to demonstrate that kind of courage. they're going to tell what they say is their truth. >> reporter: the comedian has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and even filed a countersuit against seven women earlier this month. he has yet to directly answer questions about the allegations. in interviews last november, cosby refused to comment. >> shaking your head no. >> there's no response. >> reporter: in a statement his attorneys called the charges, quote, unjustified. and vow that he'll be, quote, exonerated by a court of law. jean casarez, cnn, new york.
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>> with us now here in "the situation room" is bill cosby's attorney monique pressley, thank you so much for being with us to talk about this. why isn't your client asserting his innocence? >> that's exactly what i'm here to do. what do you mean? >> i said why isn't he? >> because he does that through attorneys and i know that you know because you've been in the business a long time that people who are charged with crimes have a right to remain silent. and they don't have an obligation to prove their innocence. it's the people charging them that have an obligation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt their guilt. and if every time mr. cosby opens up his mouth he gets sued by another person with false allegations who's looking to make some money then it becomes risky to say anything at all. so under the good advice of council, he's letting me do the talking for him. that's why i'm here tonight. >> you say he's completely innocent. you say that he's not going to go for a plea deal. you say that he's going to duke
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this out in court. >> we say that we're going to let the courts do their job. and i don't know how long it will take for the justice system to function properly and do what's necessary in this particular case, but what i do know is that in the real eleventh and a half hour that a d.a. who ran on promises to bring this case and bring this charge fulfilled a campaign promise by charging bill cosby with this crime. >> but he's using his own words against him. i mean, in this criminal complaint which quotes this deposition, it's bill cosby who tells police that he went to his room, he came down with pills for andrea constand to take and that he touched her bare breasts and her private parts. he recounts a phone call that he had with andrea constand's mother where he says, i think i gave the victim some pills. and he told mrs. constand that he touched the victim's breasts
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and vagina but guaranteed her there was no penile penetration. so this idea of giving a woman pills and then having sexual contact with her, this is his idea of a consensual sexual experience? >> you didn't say what the pills were. and i understand that people want them to be quaaludes because in another part -- >> don't put words in my mouth. he says benadryl here. i did not say quaaludes. >> these are words coming out of my mouth. i say people, not you, want those to be quaaludes and are trying to conflate issues. but the deposition revealed the parts out there that i can talk about because i'm still constrained by a confidentiality agreement says it was sustinex and that the complainant took it willingly after complaining of being able to sleep. the actions you describe from the deposition, i know you know are not criminal. so the fact that someone took some medication that is legal
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and over-the-counter -- >> you're not -- you've said that i know -- >> consensual sexual contact is not illegal. >> you said that i know it's not consensual, i did not say that. >> because you're an experienced reporter. >> no, i'm asking you if giving pills which he asserts at different points are different kinds of things, whether that is consensual. he also did testify in that deposition that he obtained seven prescriptions for quaaludes to give to other people, not to take himself. that's something that he considers acceptable. >> that's something that was going on in the '70s. and this is an allegation about 2004. >> sure. sure, sure. but doesn't something he did in the '70s show he considers it acceptable? >> well, i don't know, do people do things 40 years earlier that they consider acceptable and then no longer consider them acceptable when it's 40 years later? certainly. i've done things 30 years ago, i'm just 45 now, so when i was a
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young teen or a young adult that i wouldn't consider acceptable behavior for someone of my age. and i'd like to think that the american people who are watching would feel the same way, but where quaaludes are concerned, that's not even a substance that was available on market 40 years later. so the fact that he willingly was deposed and gave that information has nothing to do with what even this complainant said herself. it's not just his testimony. it's hers. and her testimony was not that she was slipped a drug. her testimony was not that she was forced to take anything. her testimony was not that -- >> her testimony was that she thought it was herbal. i want you to listen to something that bill cosby said on cnn in 1991. >> there's a thing about spanish fly. you know anything about spanish fly? >> when we were kids -- >> there you go. there you go. that's all. i just wanted a recognition. >> yeah. >> spanish fly. spanish fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to
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death we will still be searching for spanish fly. >> that's right. >> and what was the old story? the old story was if you took a little drop -- no, it was on the head of a -- >> pin. >> and put it in a drink sglsh coca-cola, doesn't matter. >> and the girl would drink it and -- >> she's yours. >> hello, america. and there's a story in there about spanish fly. so i think that everybody, any guy picking it up will just have a ball reading it. >> so he was flip then about this concept of giving a woman a drug that was notorious for being used in sexual contact. are you saying that he has changed his opinion on that? that he doesn't -- you said that was some time ago. he doesn't believe that anymore? >> you asked me a question about whether what someone thinks three decades sooner informs upon or is the same as what they think now. but what i'm saying to you is
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that what mr. cosby thinks about giving drugs or what mr. cosby thinks about administering them is not what this charge is about and is not the facts of this case. and what the district attorney has to do in montgomery county, which is what i'm here to discuss, the charge of yesterday, is prove of the facts of this case. prove that what happened on whatever day they can actually figure out if they can prove what date it happened and prove that the statute of limitations hasn't already expired, they've got to prove then the facts that belong with this one charge. there are three counts under it, but it is a single charge. and that is not the obligation of me on behalf of mr. cosby. that's the obligation of the prosecution. >> there are more than 50 women now accusing him of improprieties at this point in time. and i think what we're expecting from what legal analysts are saying, they're expecting that the prosecution is going to
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bring a number of those women forward to try to establish a pattern of behavior in bill cosby. in his defense is his wife going to testify? >> i think that what they'll try to do is get a judge to agree to what's called evidence. i don't know that this will make it to a trial and who our witnesses will be at that time. >> will his wife back him up on the stand? >> like i just said, i don't even know if this is going to make it to a trial. we have some big hurdles to cross and so do they. and i'm not certainly at this time going to give you the witness list for who will or will not testify if these allegations that are now a charge go all the way to a trial stage. i don't know if we'll even get there. i certainly don't think it will be justified. >> all right. monique pressley, thank you so much for being with us. we appreciate it. >> thank you for having me. we are following some deadly floods as the mississippi river crests near st. louis. millions of people down river begin preparing for the worst.
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in politics donald trump returns to the campaign trail saturday, but he's been tweeting today among other things more insults aimed at jeb bush. trump defied expectations this year making and surviving controversial pronouncements about, well, pretty much everyone and everything. cnn political reporter sara murray covered many of trump's rallies, i think you even made it into a speech yourself. she also talked a lot about his controversies. tell us more, sara. >> that's right, brianna. donald trump ends 2015 as the undisputed republican front-runner in the six months since he got in the race he's incited controversy after controversy. none of those seem to be slowing his rise in the polls. >> i'm really rich. >> reporter: donald trump isn't talking like a traditional candidate. or drawing a typical campaign crowd. >> i am wearing trump. i have my trump purse. all about trump. >> reporter: from the moment he entered the presidential race it
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was clear the billionaire businessman was playing by his own rules. >> when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. they're rapists. and some i assume are good people. >> reporter: trump hurdled through 2015 sparking controversy and rampant speculation that his presidential bid could end at any moment. he insulted party leaders, like former prisoner of war john mccain. >> he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured, okay. i hate to tell you. >> reporter: even insinuating former president george w. bush carries some responsibility for 9/11. >> when you talk about george bush, i mean, say what you want, the world trade center came down during his time. >> reporter: and trump went to war with the media. >> you haven't been called -- go back to univision. >> reporter: making crude comments about fox host megyn
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kelly. >> you could see blood was coming out of her eyes. blood coming out of her wherever. >> reporter: and reportedly mocking a "new york times" reporter's disability. >> you got to see this guy, i don't know what i said, i don't remember. he's going like i don't remember. maybe that's what i said. >> reporter: but instead of going down in flames, trump blazed a path to the head of the gop field. using current events like the terrorist attacks in paris and san bernardino to appeal to anxious voters and launch contentious policy proposals. >> donald j. trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. >> reporter: and rallying crowds with his signature call to build a wall along the southern border. >> build a wall. we're going to build a wall. we're going to build a wall. >> reporter: trump was no less
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controversial when it came to his political rivals. >> and i found the card -- >> reporter: releasing senator lindsey graham's personal cell phone number. >> 202-228-0292. so, i don't know, give it a shot. >> i think women all over this country heard very clearly what mr. trump said. >> reporter: in facing accusations of sexism for criticizing carly fiorina's appearance in a rolling stone interview. saying look at that face. can you imagine that, the face of our next president. those criticisms not stopping trump from calling hillary clinton out for taking a bathroom break during a democ t democratic debate. >> sorry. >> where did she go? where did hillary go? they had to start the debate without her. phase two. i know where she went. it's disgusting. i don't want to talk about it. >> reporter: and using vulgar language to describe clinton's 2008 loss to barack obama.
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>> she was favorite to win and she got schlonged. >> reporter: now trump faces his first real test from voters, the iowa caucuses, just weeks away. >> february 1st. get out and vote. thank you. >> reporter: he's made comments that could inspire a double take from iowa's evangelical voters. >> when i drink my little wine, which is about the only wine i drink, and have my little cracker, i guess that's a form of asking for forgiveness. >> reporter: and tried turning iowans away from ben carson by mocking his claims of childhood violence. >> somebody has to the belt going in, it moves this way, it moves that way. he hit the belt buckle. anybody ever imagine -- want to try it on me? >> reporter: at one point trump even knocked voters intelligence. >> how stupid are the people of iowa? how stupid are the people of the
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country to believe this crap? >> reporter: and true to form, trump ends the year warning voters to make the campaign worth his while. >> if i don't win, i will consider this, and i mean this, a total and complete waste of time. >> reporter: now, 2016 kicks off an entirely new phase of this campaign. it's when voters actually head to the ballot boxes. and trump has made it clear he does not want to take any chances. he wants to be sure he can turn those big crowds and poll numbers into voters. he says he's going to spend a lot of money trying to do that. brianna. >> all right. sara murray, thanks so much for that report. and now that donald trump has changed the political landscape, we want to look ahead to 2016. joining me now in "the situation room" we have cnn political commentator and atlantic media contributing editor peter binart. we have cnn senior political analyst ron brownstein, also editorial director at the national journal. and "the washington post" assistant editor david
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swirdlick. we'll be covering it right after a quick break.
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we are back now with our political experts and following a major shakeup in dr. ben carson's presidential campaign. three top officials, big ones, campaign manager, deputy manager and communications director quit today. ron brownstein, you're reaction to this? >> well, not the first time that we've seen kind of the formal structure of the campaign at odds without side advisors in a campaign, which seems to be the situation here. look, i would say ben carson is
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in a position where he is probably already had his biggest impact on the race. he continues to raise money in large amounts, which is unusual for a candidate slipping in the polls but i think he had his moment where voters were looking at him in the fall and did not kind of stand up to that scrutiny in terms of appearing ready for the big job in the big chair and i think his impact at this point is going to be sec d secondary and this is confirmation of that. >> carson's campaign released a statement saying it is necessary to invigorate my campaign but i want to read between the lines here because it seems like just before christmas, he -- carson said to bob costa he was looking at a shakeup and back peddled and said no, no, no my team is spectacular. awkward on the carson campaign with top officials saying hello, what were you talking about? do we read what is going on behind the scenes here?
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>> i don't frankly know what is going on but i think the big winner is ted cruz. ted cruz is taking a lot of web carson's falling evangelical support and the good news is carson continues to fall, i think you see then especially with mike huckabee not getting a chunk of the vote ted cruz could go up even a few more points and one of the key dynamics here now is to see whether cruise will be able to pull away from donald trump in iowa and i think carson's continuing collapse makes that more likely. >> what do you think, david, about this sort of thing we're seeing trump do? he's taking aim at ted cruz, who could be a threat to him clearly. the jeb bush one i don't get quite as much because he's farther down in the polls but continuin continuing. chris christie, marco rubio, do you think he's a threat? >> in terms of candidates further down in the polls like christie, like bush, i think trump is just, he has succeeded in insulting them and keeping
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them down in the polls thus far. with cruz, i think he sees a rival in iowa and with iowa coming 3 two days from now, the caucuses, that is, he needs to secure his place at the top of the polls. i don't think people in the trump camp have forgotten that senator cruz is the guy who beat all expectations in 2012 and won his texas senate race against lieutenant governor david dewhurst who was the establishment favorite. cruz knows what he's doing. >> i remember when he won. it was like ted who for so many people and they quickly learned who ted cruz was. david, thank you so much. peter and ron thank you. happy new year and we do have breaking news next. a new york man arrested, charged with plotting a terror attack. prosecutors say he was following instructions from isis. now one city is cancelling tonight's celebrations. looking for 24/7 digestive support?
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happening now, breaking news. an imminent threat issued overseas. train stations are being cleared and we'll tell you what we're
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learning this hour. isis plot foiled, federal authorities charge a new york man with planning to kill innocent people celebrating at a bar tonight. was he inspired by isis terrorists or did they order an attack? tower of fire, flames engulfing a hotel. what caused this disaster in major international city. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off tonight. i'm brianna keilar and you're "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. we have breaking news tonight out of germany. two rail stations are being evacuated and train service stopped because of concerns about a new years eve terror attack. we're getting new information about this situation. stand by for those details and also breaking, federal authorities say a 25-year-old
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man now is in custody and he was planning an attack tonight at a bar and restaurant in upstate new york. we just learned that fireworks have been cancelled in the city of rodchester because of that arrest. and officials say this suspect received direction from isis members overseas that allegedly planned the attack and that he planned the attack in order to join this terror group. tonight, 6,000 police officers are being deployed to times square to guard against terror. president obama has been briefed on potential holiday threats to three u.s. cities, new york, los angeles and here in washington and i'll be asking congressman what he's learning about terror threats tonight. he's a member of the armed services committee. our correspondents and analysts are also standing by to cover all of the news that is breaking right now and we begin with breaking news in germany. police warning of an imminent threat and ordering two of the
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city's train stations evacuated. frederick is working the story for us. what are you wearing? >> brianna, it's a very urgent warning from the munich police. they have credible information there was possibly an attack planned for tonight. now, they are urging people to stay away from larger crowd gatherings. it is interesting because actually right at this moment of time, it's midnight in munich. this would be the main time of celebrations in the city. the other thing they have also done is evacuated the main rail way station, the munich central rail way station and another in the west of munich and stopped all rail traffic from those places. they have not given details at this point in time as to what exactly this threat was, where they got this information, who might be behind this but saying they don't want to take any sort of chances and treat this as a credible threat and from reading the press releases in german,
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they are a lot more urgent than you would normally find from german authorities. they also say that while they have the celebrations under way, they have put additional police officers on the ground to try and come to terms with this as fast as possible and also try to find whoever might be behind this, brianna. >> fred, thank you so much for that report. i want to go to talking about this threat of terrorism on this new years eve in this country. federal authorities foiled an attack planned for tonight in the name of isis but the city of rodchester new york cancelled fireworks because of this plot. cnn justice reporter evan perez has more on this. what are you learning, evan? >> brianna, just what happened in munich, officials in rodchester new york, 100 miles north of where we are here were very concerned about this arrest. emanuel, 25 years old was plotting to carry out an attack at a restaurant bar club in
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rodchester. the idea was to attack it with bombs and knives and to kidnap a couple of people and kill them. now this is all according to the fbi and they say that he was plotting to do this on behalf of isis. that he was in touch with someone overseas who was a member of isis and that he was being directed to do this, sort of a way to prove his worth to join the group. now this is a person who has a criminal history in new york. he served five years for robbery, and he also had mental health problems, but really what this case illustrates and what munich illustrates is really what i'm told by u.s. officials to be an extraordinary, almost unprecedented set of threats. we've been following them from brussels to turkey, to switzerland to munich and indones indonesia. u.s. officials were aware of the munich threat for instance and they say they are very concerned about this and many others they are following, brianna.
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>> and you have 6,000 officers, right, to be deployed to protect one of the biggest, i would say the most iconic new years eve celebration in the world, new york city. >> that's part of what this warning or threat that president obama was briefed upon before he left for his vacation in hawaii, brianna. there was a threat that came from an overseas source, it was a single source but it is one of those things. you have to take seriously the threat mentioned los angeles, new york, and washington, of course, in new york. the immediate concern is the times square celebration in los angeles tomorrow. the concern will be the rose bowl. you'll see a lot more security there and really what i'm told is this kind of caps an extraordinary year in terrorism with the justice department has done about 60 prosecutions this year alone. that breaks all records. it's worse than anything even that these officials saw right after 9/11. people who've been in the
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counterterrorism game say they never seen a year like this. >> yeah, it is -- everyone feels it on a very real level. evan perez, thanks so much. i want to get more with former fbi assistant director and enforcement analyst tom fuentes. when we look at that threat in munich where we have officials closing two train stations, it is a very busy time. what kind of information would they have gotten that would have prompted them to do that? >> i think in this case, p brianna, it has to happen tonight, name names who is going to do it and maybe they went out to look for individuals, maybe find them and believe they might be out in the street on the process of carrying out an attack. that's major concern. one of the biggest difference is why this year is so much different is that we've had al qaeda issue over the years, okay, followers do an attack and isis over the last couple years do an attack. wherever you are not world, go ahead and attack. what is different now is that
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isis has a couple thousand zombies all over the world that when they get these things they go out. who would have expected san bernardino. who would expect rodchester new york. you might expect times square or washington d.c. could be anywhere and could be any one of these zombies that listen to the orders and decide i'm going to go do it. >> it seems more now than any time and you see when evan is talking about statistics, it's a very real verifiable thing but also seems to be this thing in the consciousness of so many americans and people around the country in brussels. they are cancelling new years celebrations. paris scaled down. we're really seeing changes when it used to be the mentality of don't let the terrorists win. we're seeing people change the way they operate and big cities change. >> because they actually carried out attacks and it's been from lone wolves of a pair of people that couldn't be tracked or
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couldn't come up on the radar to be tracked. that's the difference. how many flights have been landed because of a bomb threat to the flight? a terror threat. how many events cancelled like we're seeing tonight on several parts of the world cancelled because if they receive the slightest threat, it could happen. in the past they thought it wouldn't happen here or rodchester new york and here they make this arrest and yes, it was going to happen in rodchester new york. >> it's amazing. tom fuentes. thank you so much for that. joining me, congressman of california, a leading democrat on the armed services committee. congressman, thanks so much for joining us today and let us know if you have any information about this possible terror threat in munich. what are you hearing? >> what you've heard. we've seen the clear accounts. we've seen some of the translated press releases from the munich police. of usually, they are very, very, concerned and it's 12:00 in munich. that city and i think most every
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city around the world is experiencing much higher level of potential threat and much more awareness of it and we certainly are here in the united states, not just the big cities, new york, chicago, l.a. but also smaller cities. all of us on alert. all of us paying attention and hopefully, all of us going to enjoy a great new year's celebration. >> what's your biggest concern in terms of potential terrorist threats or is that really your biggest concern that you can't pinpoint where the terror threat would be? >> well, i think that's obviously everybody is looking over their shoulder and that's good but at the same time, this is a huge country. we're a very, very successful country and we've had extraordinary law enforcement, if you put aside the san bernardino issue and other domestic shootings that have occurred, we're basically a safe country. and so our police are out there. our fbi and security agencies
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are watching doing their job, obviously they found somebody in rodchester and they found, as we said, 60 others across the nation this year doing what they need to do, ramping up, paying attention and we're looking for these kinds of one off incidents where someone is brought into the isis orbit and encouraged to commit some sort of terrorist act. the neighborhood, the neighbors, all of us need to be aware and reporting what we see. this is new years and all across this nation, it's our opportunity to celebrate this nation celebrate our family, celebrate the success that we have and look forward to a much better year next year. >> can i ask you something? you said we all need to be vigilant and this is really, this is a line of defense in this is people paying attention. this man in rodchester who was arrested and charged got through a walmart checkout purchasing
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zip ties, a ski mask, ammonia, rubber gloves. is that -- i mean, when you hear that, that he without anyone noticing or raising any red flags, what do you think about that? >> well, i think it's worth worrying about. i think it's worth the police in that city apparently he was, has a criminal record. whether he's out on parole, probation, we don't know yet, nor do we know how the police agencies discovered him. what mechanism did they use to find this individual? that's going to be a very, very important piece of this puzzle somewhere, somehow, the security agencies in this country discovered this individual before he could do anything except buy some stuff at walmart, which in and of itself may have meant nothing but we need to watch closely and we really need to support our police agencies as they go about
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their very difficult task trying to keep us aware and to keep us secure and safe. it's difficult. you have millions of people out in the street gathering, watching fireworks, celebrating, the bars are busy. the restaurants are busy. so there is a lot of potential for problems but there is also even greater potential for celebration for happiness and for really the reality of america. and that we are really in good shape in this nation. a lot of things need to be done. we have a lot of work out ahead of us. hd a productive year in congress. hopefully have an even more productive year next year as we deal with this issue of isis, the war in syria and all of the issues of our economy, getting people back to work. getting the middle class wages up. it's our task so we all have a piece of this puzzle but hey, it's new years. it's new years eve and we ought
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to be celebrating but at the same time, cautious and careful. >> that's right. there is a lot to celebrate and a lot to be concerned about as well. happy new year to you. >> and to you, happy new year. just ahead, a fiery new years eve disaster that sent luxury hotel guests running for their lives and donald trump explains why he's bothering to attack jeb bush in the closing hours of the year. you both have a
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we have more breaking news in the wake of a major fire at a luxury hotel. the u.s. consulate general in dubai suggesting u.s. citizens avoid this area of the fire at dubai's address hotel. reports say at least 20 floors of the 63 story hotel burned. this is a fire that started about 2.5 hours before midnight and witnesses tell cnn they heard explosions as flames took this hotel. dubai officials say that 16 people were injured. i want to turn to presidential politics here in the united states. donald trump is wrapping up 2015 in familiar fashion. he's on the attack.
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as republican candidates gear up for the first real votes in a few weeks, some of trump's rivals are dealing with shakeups in their campaigns. three top officials in ben carson's camp just called it quits. cnn political reporter scary murray is covering the gop race. this is a rough time and rough day for the carson campaign. >> you're right, brianna. shakeups happen in campaigns but not right before iowa. it turns out ben carson isn't the only candidate whose going to kick off 2016 on rocky footing. as 2015 comes to a close, several campaigns are ending it in disarray. >> everything is on the table. we're constantly looking at everything, looking to see if there are ways to improve things. you know, if there are personnel changes that need to be made, everything is on the table. >> okay. >> every single thing is on the table. >> reporter: today ben carson losing three of his top aids. his campaign manager, deputy
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campaign manager and communications director resigning. wishing him the best of luck and saying we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status. that top tier status now in jeopardy as carson's poll numbers slide. jeb bush is muddling through his own campaign shakeup. cancelling pricey ads, moving staff to early states and insisting voters flirtation with donald trump will soon come to an end. >> we're living in this reality tv kind of political environment where he fills the space by saying outrageous things. i think the emotion of the here and now will subside. >> reporter: trump, the candidate known for biting insults firing his parting shots of the year at bush. launching a twitter assault saying people ask why do you tweet and retweet to millions about jeb bush when he is so low in the polls? because if his big dollar hit ads on me. those ads starting to irritate
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trump. >> it bothers me seeing a guy spend $60 million on ads against me a lot of it, right? >> reporter: for his port, tart gop front runner looking to 2016. >> they will show these words, if i come in second by two points they will say oh, this was a terrible defeat. not terrible. >> reporter: a sharp shift from just a month ago. >> i don't like being second. second is terrible to me. >> reporter: trump vowing to start spending millions a week to ensure victory. >> we're going to start spending a lot of money because i don't want to take chances. >> reporter: and reminding losers he doesn't take kindly to losing. >> if i lose i'll consider this a total and complete waste of time. >> so over the next couple weeks, we'll get a sense where donald trump says what he means. right now political operatives on the ground in the early states say there is no sign of this huge advertising blitz that donald trump says is coming.
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>> sara is going to stick around as we bring in rebecca burg, we also have david swerlick and cnn senior political on list ron brownstein, the director for the national journal. we're hearing donald trump here, ron. he's saying this is war. going after enemies and doing well right now but do you see any vulnerabilities for him as we get into the home stretch towards iowa? >> sure. before we get to the vulnerabilities, though, the use of the word war is extremely revealing about why donald trump is doing so well because i think donald trump is appealing to the portion of the republican base that really does feel fundamentally that the country is slipping away from them. they feel economically marginalized and eclipsed and what made trump so attractive to the voters is that he seems to be willing to say and do anything to restore what they feel is being taken from them and so the more outrageous he
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gets, the more he attacks, the more he kind of barrels through the boundaries of dialogue the more he affirms their believe this is someone that will go to war. him using that language is very, very revealing. the risk is this consit wtit co is not enough to win. he'll have to reach beyond it and the question for donald trump has always been whether the extreme things that bind him to the voters most attracted him also push away the voters he will need to win the nomination and ultimately, if he is the nominee, the general election. >> rebecca, where do you think other candidates are seeing there may be an opening? sometimes i look at donald trump to answer that question. i saw him. he pulled out his bible the other day and said, eluded that ted cruz isn't really an evangelical, even though he's baptist, is that right? i think he is. i think he is an evangelical. where do you see candidates
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driving in his armor? >> so far we haven't seen attacks on donald trump work and so what we're starting to see among some of the other candidates is a new attack, not attacking donald trump as much and focussing on the candidates not in direct computation with them. jeb bush and marco rubio and chris christie and john kasich going at each other instead of going at donald trump as much because their realize his voters aren't likely going to come over to them, at least not until the very end of this race so they are really focussing on the more immediate threats. ted cruz focussing on marco rubio and maybe at some point donald trump but it's a race right now with many lanes and that's what makes this very complicated. there are a lot of moving parts and voters to sway. >> do they have to stay away from hitting donald trump? do they veeventually have to? it's going to be awfully tempting but he hasn't done anything at least publicly to ding him at this point.
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>> it worked well for cruz to hug donald trump early in the race and now that they are coming up on the iowa caucuses, we're seeing separation and computation and jabs. for the other candidates, it hasn't worked and discovering too late that you have to take swings back at donald trump. jeb bush has taken some jabs at him since the last debate. for him now it's too little too late. >> he's not doing too well and saying that jeb bush, jeb bush is saying that donald trump's appeal is going to fade soon but bush obviously struggling and pulling back on advertising buys and redeploying his staff to early voting states and check this out. this is a moment when he referred to a south carolina official as hurricane katrina. >> i don't know why your great state senator reminds me of a hurricane but she does. she's strong and she's fierce and she is solving problems for you at the state capital.
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you should be honored to have her as your elected official. i hope you agree with that. [ applause ] >> that's your new nickname, the bush family gives out nicknames, yours is now hurricane katrina. >> oh, that -- okay. that's a tough -- that's a sore spot for anyone in the bush family to be making a joke about hurricane katrina. >> yeah, it's a jeb moments where you're just like why? why did you do that, jeb? why did you go there? that's the thing that dogged jeb as a candidate and even as people sort of look at him, even as people take -- if they want to take a second look, there are still moments like that and that seems to be who he is and that's what his campaign struggled with is look, you can build whatever operation you want but comes down to the candidate and you need to have a candidate good at campaigning but someone who can attract voters and whether your last name is bush and when you fall over yourself like that it's a little tougher. >> is he toast do you think?
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>> it doesn't look good. this latest move to cancel ad buys in iowa and a little by in new hampshire to move his staff from miami to the early states and mostly new hampshire, it shows a campaign that is on life support and the problem for jeb bush is no matter how much money he spent, no matter how many resources and he himself has been there, it hasn't made a difference and in many cases has gone done in the polls and sara is right, it comes down to the candidate himself. >> his super pact has a boat load of money and talk to jeb folks prior to this and they say, they say you know what? he can stay in this money-wise until april but at a certain point just having the money to stay until april really isn't enough, right? >> it's not. i think the money will propel him until the march primary and he'll be able to stay in the race. he has the name id and people want to see him do well but
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hasn't succeeded and has too many of these jeb moments. at first he was too timid and now he's trying a little too hard to have these glib comments and it's not working for him. hasn't found his campaign niche in the campaign where donald trump is taking up all the oxygen. >> what do you think, ron? >> brianna, since the modern primary began in 1976, republicans have never nominated someone that did not win either iowa or new hampshire and one thing we'll see this year is whether that pattern is broken. republican races usually reduced to two candidates quickly. this time a lot of people expect a three-way race with trump having a solid hold particular on blue color republicans, 50% of them. ted cruz, evangelicals and stonch conservatives his sweet spot and then the question of whether anyone can consolidate that white collar, center right that picked the nominee and marco rubio, chris christie, jeb
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bush, john kasich treading water trying to emerge from the group in new hampshire. the question is, though, whether anyone can consolidate that. most people assume that marco rubio will but if he finishes behind chris christie in new hampshire in particular that could remain fragmented and you you would imagine a world now where ted cruz and donald trump are the two finalist and outcome that many republican strategists in washington are reluctant to envision because they enview them as the most difficult to elect in a general election. >> fascinating. ted cruz is bringing in, he's bringing in boat loads of money $20 million in the fourth quarter, the expectation. you see ted cruz really being the one taking on donald trump here? >> well, for the time being absolutely and so ron mentioned the outcome in new shahampshire potentially being a one, two finish and moderate candidate, as well but until then, ted cruz has one of the strongest campaign infrastructures. he's obviously appealing to a sector of the republican party that has grown very strong and
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has a very strong message for that group. i see him going very far. what will help him in this election is the map because after these first few primaries that establish the last three people in the race, we go to a number of southern states and that's where ted cruz is very, very strong including texas, his home state and he could get a lot of momentum from that and that is what he sees as his path to the nomination. >> how worried is the republican establishment when they are seeing the path to the nomination for these candidates but they are not necessarily seeing the path to the white house, right? >> right. i think that's exactly true and i think, you know, there are a number of them deiluting themselves thinking they couldn't make it to the nomination. they think that donald trump will just go away somehow on his own -- >> little magical thinking, perhaps. >> right. if you are an establishment republican, you look at the coalitions you need to win the white house and how badly you've been beat by barack obama and looking at someone like ted cruz and donald trump who alienate a
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lot of voters, especially talking about trump and the controversial comments he's made and that's a worrisome moment. they don't know how ted cruz or donald trump can build the coalitions to win a white house. >> you guys stick around. we have more to talk about politi politics. our last little discussion of 2015. we'll be back in a moment. oh no... (under his breath) hey man! hey peter. (unenthusiastic)
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political experts and a new response by president obama to deadly gun violence across the nation. he's getting ready to announce action to expand background checks on gun shaales and jim acosta is in hawaii with the president with the details. this is a big deal, jim. >> reporter: a very big deal, brianna. during his vacation president obama has been working with top aids on his upcoming state of the union address. it's expected ambitious tone and at the top of the agenda is gun control.
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for president obama, the final round is about to begin. [ applause ] >> in 2016 i'm going to leave it all on the field. >> reporter: up first in the president's eighth and last year in office, mr. obama's long promised response to mass shootings in the u.s. sources familiar with the plan say it will be a package of executive actions on gun control. [ applause ] >> reporter: expected before the january 12th state of the union and aimed at the gun show loophole that allows firearm sellers to conduct background checks on customers. >> so the beginning of this year? >> i think that would be fair, yes. >> reporter: the white house argues the president's actions will be within his executive authority and in line with polls that show broad support for tightening background checks. >> unfortunately, congress hasn't shown the courage to do so the president looked what to do administratively. >> reporter: vowing to fight the move, the nr sarks says the president is doing what he always does when he doesn't get his way, defying the will of the people and using executive
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action. another controversial proposal coming in the new year, the president will ask congress to shut down the terror detention center at guantanamo, facility mr. obama may close on his own. >> it will be an uphill battle. >> reporter: the president hopes to travel to cuba and perhaps more than a dozen other countries in what is shaping up to be a global farewell tour but the president's agenda could be up ended but setbacks in the war on isis. a foreign policy crisis that could complicate white house plans to have the president campaign heavily with the 2016 democratic nominee, a prospect that may well put him and hillary clinton on the trail together again. >> i think we will have a strong democratic nominee. i think that democratic nominee will win. >> reporter: but first the president will layout his plans for the final year in office at the fast approaching state of the union address, less than two weeks ago.
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don't expect a long list of propels in part because the president is running out of time but brianna, getting back to the ex executive action on gun control, i think the white house wants to set the agenda out on the campaign trail. >> good point there. jim acosta in hawaii. happy new year as you celebrate in a beautiful, beautiful place. let's get back to the lovely political panel to talk about this. ron, what do you see going on where the president is taking this executive action on an issue that congress has been and he -- they have been unable to do anything on but americans are so in favor of this? >> right. it really is the converging of two important strains in his party and his party and presidency. the first is his increasing relying on executive action on number of issues, immigration held up in the courts, climate, health care bill. he pushed the boundaries of executive power and congress and especially the courts to stop him. the other big change is in the
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democratic attitude toward gun control. after 2000 when al gore lost, gun control was deemed radio active in a point where they needed a lot of blue collar whites, rural whites, counting on the states like west virginia, tennessee, arkansas, the democratic coalition has evolved. those voters are now republicans ex you can see they are the same voters powering donald trump's rise. instead democrats relying on a different coalition and urbanized coalition, younger minorities, social liberal whites more receptive to gun control. it's the rare issue that activates both bases. hillary clinton embraced it in a way no democratic candidate and barack obama kept his distance because she recognizes within the voters, the democrats need to win it is largely a winning issue. the price is it does energize and antagonize the voters that moved away from them, the same voters powering donald trump's rise. >> it's new years eve so time to
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add levity to the evening, if we can. this is sort of unscripted president obama that i want you to check out. he had an appearance with jerry seinfeld on comedians in cars getting coffee. here it is. >> we're just going for quick coffee. we'll be right back. i do this show "comedians in cars getting coffee". >> you're not going anywhere. back it up. >> yes, sir. >> don't you think every american child is a president, then you grow up loving the president? >> i do really well with the zero to eight demographic. >> oh, really? >> yeah, they love me partly because my ears are big so i look like a cartoon character.
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this is just a little one i take midday. you asked what part of the day. >> that gives you a little zip. >> if i slid open your underwear drew, one brand or a number. >> one brand. >> one brand, one color? >> yeah, of course. this is a critical concept. >> what sport is politics? is it chess? is it liars poker? >> that's interesting. that was a good question. it's probably most like football. >> football. >> yeah. >> because a lot of players, a lot of specialization, a lot of -- >> right. >> a lot of hitting. >> a lot of attrition. >> a lot of attrition but then every once in awhile you'll see an opening. >> how many world leaders do you think are just completely out of their mind? >> pretty sizable percentage. and at a certain point your feet hurt and you're having trouble
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and have absolute power. >> does it help with your stress level? this son of a [ bleep ]. this rat [ bleep ] comes in here. [ laughter ] >> really, blow off a little steam, huh? >> yeah, bad stuff or stupid stuff is happening constantly, right? every day. so you have to be able to just make fun of a lot of that. >> of course. >> that was even dumber and more annoying than usual. that's when cursing is really valuable. >> right. >> all right. we -- >> are we done? >> we're about done. >> the only problem is i didn't work in obamacare. >> please try obamacare today. >> what's your most embarrassing president moment? >> this may be it. [ laughter ] >> i don't know that that actually is. i found that to be really fascinating. at one point he talks about how one of the things he likes least about being president and he's talked a little bit about this
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but losing an themty. he wishes he could go on a walk and bump into a friend. he says do you ever touch the thermostat? he said no, i make a call. you get insight of his day. do you think we'll see more of this. do you think this is beneficial? >> i feel like president obama is the one whose always trying to escape from the white house grounds to go out and get coffee and talk to people and the secret service is like please don't do this. i think between this, he was on the bear grills show and out in the wild eating salmon by a bear. i think this is the year where obama really feels like he can leave whatever he can left on the table, whether that's his personality, whether gun control initiative. that is your last shot. you kind of want to go out on a high note one way or another and doing things like this, that's one way to do it. >> do you think we take this at face value what we're seeing, that he seems unguarded here and you think this is calculate? >> i think he's a funny guy and likes talking to people outside of the political spear.
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he did with zack and i liked the walk about, the bear is loose video that he did last summer. he enjoys doing those things and it's been an effective messaging tool for them. sometimes a lot more effective, brianna, than what they have gone to the east room or oval office, frankly. >> ron, final thought to you. >> i agree. it's striking how much he's been trying to reach americans not paying attention in the political channels and does matter, brianna, his approval rating may be the single most important number in shaping the 2016 election. >> ron brownstein, sara murray, david, thank you-all for being on tonight. i want to shift gears to this big moment that is on most people's minds right now, it's the countdown to midnight on and the party is getting started. there is really no better way to celebrate that than with the dynamic duo with anderson cooper
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and kathy griffin. this is the show that i watch because it is fantastic on new years eve and anderson is joining us live now from new york. anderson, what do you have in store for us and honestly, do you even know? >> reporter: i really have no idea. by the way, i don't know in the dynamic duo, if i'm batman or robin but i'm guessing i'm robin in this situation. i never know what kathy is going to do and every year, you know, people in management talk about her not coming back because she's done something to, you know, shock people, but she makes people laugh. she makes me laugh more than anybody else out there, and i'm looking forward to spending the night with her with no guilty feelings the next day. [ laughter ] >> i don't know -- well, i guess she would probably feel the same way about that. we have a clip i want to show. this is looking ahead to your special. let's watch this. >> anderson cooper and i are here together in new york city -- we're not. this is like a green scene. i'm in los angeles in a hotel
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room. cut, cut, cut. i need my anderson. you know what? i'm going to new york. >> she's hilarious. in one of these promos she's in your bed in your apartment getting close to you and you're sort of like rolling your eyes at her. -- >> i'm away, yes. >> what are you looking forward -- >> she's actually up in a hotel room right now and i've got to try to get her to come down here so i'm hoping when we start at 8:00 tonight because last time i saw her, she was wearing leopard print pajamas. >> really? she can just wear those on tv, right? that would be -- >> she is rocking it, yeah. she looks very good. that's true. >> anderson, i cannot wait to check this out at 8:00. thanks so much for giving us a preview. anderson will be back with kathy griffin a little over an hour from now. their new years eve special beginning at 8:00 p.m. on cnn. i will certainly be watching and wherever you celebrate new years eve tonight, chances are you'll have your smart phone close by to snap a photo, maybe you're
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calling a loved one so as we head into 2016. cnn's tom foreman looks at the influence of iphone technology on our everyday lives. when the ball comes down, the phones will go up as millions take pictures to welcome the new year. and in many ways, each click is testament to the earth-shaking impact of one product. to understand you have to go back to 2007 when the cell phone industry was exploding. >> everybody loves chocolate. >> reporter: and everybody thought it might be a big mistake for computer giant apple to get in on it. but when steve jobs unveiled the iphone, it was different. >> an ipod, a phone and an internet communication. >> reporter: despite growing pains, it was a game changer as
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music player, the iphone took the best elements of the ipod as an internet link it was elegant, as a phone it was fine, and as a camera, it had everyone snapping. and soon the release of each new generation was spurring another long line of eager fans. >> i got to keep up with the latest technology. >> reporter: certainly the rise of social media platforms have helped the iphone prosper and undeniably, many other phones now do many of the same things. but the iphone remains iconic, one of the most popular ways for us to capture and share popes, presidents, puppies, preschoolers, private moments, and public amazements. whenever is at hand or foot, no matter what the new year brings. tom foreman, cnn, washington. >> well, for more on the man behind the iphone, be sure to check out this cnn film "steve jobs, the man in the machine"
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airing sunday night at 9:00 eastern only here on cnn and you are right now looking at a live picture of times square where all of the excitement is building. we have more news ahead and we'll be right back. ok, we're here. here's dad. mom. the twins. aunt alice... you didn't tell me aunt alice was coming. of course. don't forget grandpa. can the test drive be over now? maybe just head back to the dealership? don't you want to meet my family?
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as we end a very busy and tumultuous 2015 we want to recognize the thousands of cnn employees worldwide who worked tirelessly to bring you the news every day. there are too many to name here but we want you to know that we are very thankful for all that they do. and as we bring in the new year tonight we also want to show you the celebrations that are
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already happening around the world, as well as some of the names of those here behind the scenes who get "the situation room" on air each night. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪
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>> thank you so much for watching. i'm brianna keilar and all the best, all the worst, 2015 is coming up next. and anderson cooper will be back with kathy griffin at 8:00 p.m. eastern, live from times square. from all of us here at cnn, we wish you a very happy new year. "ow..." "are you okay?" "yeah, i just got charged for my credit monitoring. that's how i know it"s working." "ah. you know you can go on creditkarma.com and check it out there. it's completely free." "really?" "yeah" "oh, that didn't hurt at all."
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(ding)ocket blasting off (dong) (ding) (ding) (ding) (ding) (ding) (ding)
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sfx: (countdown) 3, 2, 1 (ding) (ding) (ding) rocket faster than a gyro copter, more powerful than pizza rat, and hitting harder than holly holm. this year countless victims in politics, sports, pop culture, music, movies and we will take them on with our league of super heroes. actress, melissa joan hart from cnn's quest means business, richard quest. model and reality tv star carmen carrera. actor and singer titus burgess. from t

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