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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump's New Warnings to Clinton; Rand Paul: I Won't Participate in Second-Tier Debates: Iraqis Continue Fight for Ramadi; British Politician Questions Iraqi Family Banned from Flight; Christmas in the Holy Land; Deadly Tornado Hits Deep South. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 24, 2015 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ana, I think you're with it now. The war on women argument has worked against Republicans in the past. Do you think Bill Clinton is the best defense against it?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. Frankly, Kate, I can think of few things to kill the Christmas spirit that would be better than, you know, dragging decades of Bill Clinton's sexual history on national TV today.

So Merry Christmas to our viewers.

(LAUGHTER)

No, you know what, leave it alone, for god's sakes. If Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton has worked out their marriage and have worked out their situation, that's their business, not ours. I think there's plenty, plenty to pick on, plenty to scrutinize her on, plenty to ask her about, that are policy-related issues. We don't have to get into these sordid issues, sordid affairs that have been litigated so many other times in the past. I, frankly, don't see the purpose of it.

BOLDUAN: As a Christmas gift to you, Ana, I'm going to ask you a question that does not involve Bill Clinton at this moment. So, merry Christmas to you.

NAVARRO: Thank god.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: On another Republican candidate, Rand Paul, not mincing any words, when he declared yesterday, he said this, "I will not participate in any kind of second-tier debates." Reminder to all of our viewers, he's right now at 4 percent in the latest CNN poll, national poll. Can Rand Paul afford to potentially yank himself off the debate stage?

NAVARRO: Being on the debate stage hasn't made that much of a difference. He really fought hard to be on the CNN debate stage a couple weeks ago and we didn't see it did anything for him. His campaign is in real trouble. You know, he's going to have to take a good look at whether he should continue running very soon, particularly if he's not on the debate stage. Now, I will tell you, as a Christmas gift, folks, go follow Rand Paul's Twitter from yesterday, because he was celebrating Festivus. It's one of the funniest things. The entire day he was airing out grievances. It's not the kind of guy you think has a sense of humor. But somewhere deep inside there, there's one line inside the man.

BOLDUAN: Oh, how much I love you.

Jeff, if you're advising Rand Paul, do you advise him maybe not the best thing to already say you won't go on -- you won't take part in the undercard debate?

LORD: Yeah. To the point here, really, I think we're beginning to see the winner of the field. Rand got out, proceeded by Governor Walker, and Governor Perry, and Governor Jindal. When you're running at 4 percent in the polls, as Senator Paul said, he's a good person, but I think this means political reality is beginning to catch up with him. Eventually, we'll see a withdrawal there as well.

BOLDUAN: Guys, it has been an unforgettable year --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Let's remember, Kate, that he is --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

NAVARRO: Let's remember that Rand Paul is also running for re- election in Kentucky at the same time. So, you know, he's got a day job he's really got to attend to.

(LAUGHTER)

LORD: Right.

BOLDUAN: There's that attack line I was looking for, Ana, supporter of Jeb Bush.

It has been an unforgettable year in politics. In 2016, let's hope it's just as wild of a ride, no doubt. I want you guys to give me a look back that's been the biggest political surprise to you, people who have been in politics for years in the year 2015.

Jeff, first to you.

LORD: I would say the uproar in the House. The resignation of speaker bonier, the implosion of his designation. I bet when Paul Ryan started out he didn't think he would be speaker of the House at the end of it. I think it's a big story and I think it's tangential with what's going on with the whole Trump situation because there's a lot of upset and anger at the base of the Republican Party. I think it drove the speaker to his resignation, made Paul Ryan speaker and fueling the Trump campaign and, to some extent, the Cruz campaign as well.

BOLDUAN: I'm so surprised your biggest surprise is Paul Ryan, not Donald Trump.

Ana, what do you think are the biggest surprises of the year?

NAVARRO: Donald Trump. I think it's been a huge surprise, number one, that he ran. Number two, that he's led in the polls for six months. Despite the fact that about every six hours he finds a new group to offend. He goes on and he offends someone and his numbers go up. That's even more surprising. So, we've now done Muslims, Mexicans, women, Megyn Kelly, POWs, a reporter with a disability. The list is endless. And yet he keeps going up. I find that very surprising. Obviously, normal rules of the game do not apply to him.

BOLDUAN: And what that means for 2016, only we can guess.

Jeffrey, Ana Navarro, thank you. Merry Christmas.

LORD: Merry Christmas, my friend.

NAVARRO: Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

LORD: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

[14:35:14] BOLDUAN: They just don't want to go home, even though they do.

(LAUGHTER)

Still to come, a British Muslim family is demanding answers after being barred to the United States moments before they were to board their flight. The family says they were going to Disneyland and they are victims of U.S. profiling. Officials say there is more to it.

Also door-to-door fighting, booby traps set by ISIS. The battle intensifies in Ramadi. We'll have an update.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: AT THIS HOUR, a key Iraqi city is under siege. Iraqi forces clearing out Ramadi. The critical city ISIS has controlled since May. Iraqi forces say they are making progress. One official predicting the city will be cleared by the end of the week.

Let's bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, for much more on this.

Barbara, we've heard the progress is slow going due to the IEDs being plant, they said almost everywhere throughout the city. What are you hearing today?

[11:39:35] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. I think when you look at that video, you begin to see just the start

of the devastation that is Ramadi now. Remember, there are civilians trapped inside that devastation, inside that city. What the U.S. and the Iraqis do know is that after all these months, ISIS very well dug in, has planted bombs, obstacles, roadblocks, IEDs everywhere. I mean, whole entire buildings wired to blow. The Iraqis are making very slow progress through all that.

Why is it different this time than it was back in May when the Iraqis ran from the fight? The U.S. has spent months training the Iraqis, even getting them ready with very specific technology and skills to make their way through these obstacles, through these fields of IEDs, mines and bombs. That part of it appears to be going well. But it is just the beginning. There is still a significant number of ISIS fighters in the city, according to the Iraqis. The Iraqis believe most of them are foreign fighters that will have to be dug out and gotten out of there.

And then, you know, if they can take Ramadi, the big challenge, as always, remains holding onto it. Providing security, getting people back into the city and making it a functioning place to live again. Then the Iraqi forces have to turn their eye to whatever their next objective may be, and it may be Mosul, in northern Iraq, Iraq's second-largest city under ISIS control.

BOLDUAN: Which will be a huge and even more complicated battle to retake that city. How do they build on this momentum, when and if they retake Ramadi?

Barbara, great to see you.

STARR: Sure. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: New this morning, the British Muslim family prevented from boarding their flight to Los Angeles, they are demanding answers answer. They believe they were barred because of their religion. The family of 11 say they saved up $14,000. The father says the kids are devastated. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMAD TARIQ MAHMOOD, BANNED FROM U.S. FLIGHT: He didn't give us an explanation as to what was the problem because the kids were asking me, what is the problem, why are we not going? We asked them, what should we tell our kids, what's going on?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now a British politician is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to find out what happened. U.S. Officials categorically deny religion was behind the decision to block the family from making the flight.

Let's discuss this more, though.

Let's bring in CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, and also a top official at Department of Homeland Security.

You worked for DHS for years. From what you've heard about this incident, do you think this is an overreaction? Do you think religion had anything to do with it?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I have to admit I don't think we know right now. I'll tell you, what's interesting, knowing airline security as I do, the family was able to get their visa, so they went through some process there. They also got their boarding passes at the airport, which is also a security process, and they got through security so this is have you unique to have a family removed at the gate. We don't know if something was trying in terms of their concern about some of the family members, but what we do know is if this was a mistake, the department would be better off admitting the mistake because this is becoming an international governmental issue.

BOLDUAN: What do you think is behind that? I found -- that's one question I've had lingering in my mind. Why didn't this come up before?

KAYYEM: That's what we don't know. That's the rarity of it. Most checks would have occurred at one of those other three places I just described. We don't know if something was triggered, say, at the -- which they got their boarding passes and they stopped them before the gate. Some information, if there was information, and this is where airline security is complicated, it's very over-inclusive. You'll get false-positives. Those are corrected rather quickly. This was not corrected and yet the family was told, can you just go home. It's not like they were an immediate security threat. There is some explanation required by the department at this stage, as part of the holiday spirit, but also because this story line is getting elevated to the prime minister level in England. And the changes that are going to be occurring with the visa waiver program have a lot of our European allies very concerned and we need to make sure it's rigorous and accurate as much as possible.

BOLDUAN: To your point, no arrests have been made. DHS may never reveal publicly while this family was barred but will the family ever find out themselves?

KAYYEM: They may not, unless the department decides to say, look, this was an error or there is reason for it. We may never know. That's the nature of security. I will say I got a lot of calls yesterday from European media. They're on it. They call it, was the family Trumped, because they view our national dialogue now in terms of not letting Muslims in and all this sort of political rhetoric going on as having an influence on policy. So, the Europeans are viewing this very differently than us. We have to think long term. We need the Europeans engaged with our own airline security, just given the number of flights between Europe and United States on an hourly basis.

[11:45:15] BOLDUAN: Right.

Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. KAYYEM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still to come for us, Christmas in the Holy Land. We'll take you there live.

Plus, a very different story. From the Duggars and Ashley Madison to journalism's naughty list, we have a look at the biggest scandals of 2015.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Christmas Eve celebrations are under way around the world. You're looking live at the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Christians from all walks of live travel to mark the birth of Jesus.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Bethlehem.

Oren, that is a beautiful scene.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a beautiful night. A bit chilly but that's expected. It's been a beautiful day here. A bit empty. Certainly, the political situation, everyone is well aware of it and it's scared away, talking to some vendors and tour guides, many tourists, Americans and westerners. But I'll tell you, on this night, they're missing out. It's a beautiful night here, a beautiful tree and wonderful surroundings here in manger square behind me, the Church of the Nativity.

Everyone waiting for Midnight Mass, about five hours away or so at this point. It was a couple hours the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem came here. That's a big event. Since then, there have been shows, performances. The crowd filling out slowly. Not the crowd that's been in previous years here, but they're coming out. They're here to celebrate Christmas Eve and make sure that tonight, even with the political situation here, the tension, the violence, that it is a very merry Christmas here. Of course, one of the holiest places for Christianity, the place where Biblically Jesus Christ was born.

You should join us, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I could, I would, but I don't think a plane can get me there fast enough.

Oren, thank you so much. Great to see you.

Ahead for us, corrupt CEOs and politicians in trouble. We'll look at the biggest scandals and controversies of 2015. Don't want to miss that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:53:10] BOLDUAN: From the drug company executive who became the poster child for corporate greed, to a famous realty show star's fall from grace, and how can we forget Deflategate, scandal and controversy, two things not difficult to find in 2015. Yes, there are still time for a little more. There's still a few days left. In our top-10 of 2015 series, Joe Johns is looking at this year's most jaw-dropping scandals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Number 10, most hated. Pharmaceutical company CEO, Martin Shkreli, really makes our list because it took too long to top stalking or tweet, making his case to people like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton who did not want to hear it. He was indicted for unrelated fraud and resigned before the end of the year.

Number nine, state of denial. 2015 was yet another banner year for Illinois politicians in big trouble. Dennis Hastert got caught in sexual misconduct and hush money allegations and Aaron Shock (ph) resigned after misusing taxpayer money, including to redecorate his office in the style of the Downton Abby TV show. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on the ropes for his city's handling of a police shooting video that somehow didn't go public until after the mayor got re-elected.

RAHM EMANUEL, (D), CHICAGO MAYOR: I'm responsible. I don't shirk that responsibility.

JOHNS: Number eight, the year of family values.

UNIDENTIFIED REALITY SHOW STAR: This is a story of my family. We're the Duggars.

JOHNS: Conservative family man and reality TV star, Josh Duggar, quit the Family Research Council after admitting while in his teens he molested four of his sisters. And he popped up when the Ashley Madison hackers started naming names. And 32 million people buying into the slogan, "Life is short, have an affair."

Number seven, black like me. The story of Rachel Dolezal was hard to watch but - impossible to turn away. President of Spokane's NAACP outted as white by her parents.

[11:55:23] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you African-American?

RACHEL DOLEZAL, IMPERSONATED A BLACK PERSON: I don't understand the question of --

JOHNS: No crime, of course. In a color blind society it wouldn't matter but this is not that America. The telling part was the overheated reaction to Rachel's story that said more about our times than she ever could.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's out of her mind to be quite honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At first I thought maybe this is a psychological disorder, now I'm convinced she's a con artist.

JOHNS: Number six, at least they are consistent. The U.S. Secret Service, guys who protect the first family, stay in the spotlight and not always for their heroics, sometimes not even their fault. This year, a rocket scientist flew a drone over the White House that crashed on the lawn. What are you supposed to do about that? In March, two senior agents drinking crashed a car into the White House barricade. So there's that.

Number five, journalism's naughty list is anchored this year by former "NBC Nightly News" anchor, Brian Williams.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, FORMER ANCHOR, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire --

JOHNS: Who somehow managed to turn his credibility into a late night comedy routine.

Not to be forgotten, "Rolling Stone" magazine this year had to retract a story, taking a serious issue of national concern and changed the focus on the deeply flawed sexual assault at the University of Virginia.

Number four, no sense of humor. Three top officials of FIFA, the governing body of professional soccer, all traveling in a car. Who's driving? Answer, the police. It's almost not a joke considering so many officials who control the world's most popular sport have been implicated by the Justice Department for allegations of bribery, fraud and money laundering. That joke was so not funny to FIFA, that when one of its pr guys told it in public, he quit his job.

Number three, and speaking of sports scandals, we can't forget Tom Brady, of the New England Patriots, who faced down allegations that make a joke and punch line, grown men accused of playing with deflated balls.

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in. To me, those balls are perfect and that's what I expect when I show up on the field.

JOHNS: Number two, I'm Alice in Wonderland and approve this message.

ANNOUNCER: It's a place like no place on earth. Some say to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter.

JOHNS: When Lewis Carroll wrote this fantasy classic, he could not have foreseen what was coming forward by candidates coming from candidates in both parties in the presidential race.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Everything was permitted by law and regulation.

JOHNS: Where being a leader can mean insulting millions.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: They are rapists.

DR. BEN CARSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: I would not advocate we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. JOHNS: Even billions of people.

TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

JOHNS: And the great thing is the general election is still more than 10 months away.

And finally, number one, policing in the age of "Candid Camera" phones. It has dominated the headlines for more than a year, separating the vast majority of officers just doing their jobs from those who abuse their power. Nowadays, if the police report says a guy got locked up or beat up or worse was resisting arrest, pictures sometimes tell the rest of the story.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Joe, thank you so much.

With that, we do want to leave you with this, the beautiful live pictures of Christmas Eve celebrations underway right now in Bethlehem. What you're looking at again is the Church of the Nativity and crowd is waiting for Midnight Mass to begin, which is about five hours from now.

Wherever you are, if you are celebrating, we want to wish you a very, very merry Christmas. Thank you for spending the hour with us.

"Legal View" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[11:59:41] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Alison Kosik, in for Ashleigh Banfield. Welcome to "Legal View."

We have breaking news across the southeast today, a wave of violent, deadly weather.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(WIND BLOWING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: These incredible pictures you're looking at. This is Como (ph), Mississippi, an hour south of Memphis. People in these cars and trucks were powerless against a tornado that suddenly appeared cross the highway, pushing over these --