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Four Soldiers Among Dead In Massive Storm; Storms in Texas Kill 24; More Severe Weather On The Way; Deadly Twisters Level Hundreds Of Homes; Blizzard And Flooding Follow Deadly Tornadoes; Rahm Emanuel Under Fire For Vacationing During Turmoil In Chicago; Police Shoot And Kill Student, Unarmed Grandmother; Trump At War With Members Of Own Party; Iraq: Terror Stronghold Ramadi "Liberated" From ISIS; French President Labels Ramadi "Most Important Victory Yet"; Poll Shows 40 Percent Of Americans Believe Terrorists Have Upper Hand; Trump Slams Virginia GOP Over Loyalty Pledge. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[10:59:58] DEBORAH FEYRICK, CNN GUEST HOST: Twisters, floods, blizzards, four soldiers among those who have died in massive and dangerous storms across America. See where the extreme weather is heading next.

Is ISIS getting weaker? Breaking now -- Iraqi forces raising their flag over one of the terror group's strongholds, but the fight may not be over.

And Chicago on edge, Rahm Emanuel taking heat for his vacation as police shoot and kill an unarmed college student and grandmother. Moments from a march against the mayor begin.

Hello, everyone, I'm Deborah Feyerick. John and Kate are off today.

Well, a deadly storm is sweeping much of the country's spawning rain and snow storms, floods and tornadoes, flooding streets, sweeping away cars and, as you see there, destroying homes reducing them to tinder. It's already killed 24 people. More dangerous conditions are on the way. The Dallas, Texas area has been hardest hit so far. Eleven people there have lost their lives. Several tornados struck the area this weekend. Eight people were killed by one tornado in Garland, Texas. Dozens of others in the area lost their homes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sound, I just can't get that sound out of my head. You hear some wood, buildings cracking, ripping stuff up. And all we could do is run to the closet and pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stepped out because I heard the roaring, and that's when I saw it. It seemed like about 20 seconds it lasted. And then it got real quiet, I stepped out and saw this and that was -- at that point trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FEYRICK: And CNN Correspondent Nick Valencia is joining me now from Garland, Texas, where residents are, looking at all of the damage and already bracing for more bad weather.

Nick, what describe the situation there? Describe what you're seeing? What you're feeling, even what you're smelling?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, just in one word, it's just heartbreaking here, Deb. It's just been really difficult to talk to some of these residents and hear their stories of survival. I just spoke to one resident named Josh White, who says that he had no indication that there was anything wrong, the sirens didn't go off, he said he couldn't hear them. The only indication he had was that his house started shaking. And that's when, just moments later and he was hit by that tornado.

He lived in this apartment complexes here right behind us, and you could just see the force which this tornado came through here. This is a direct path that this tornado took, taking out large swaths and sections of this apartment complex. Many people were home, like Josh White, who I just mentioned. Many of those families don't have renters insurance. We understand that many of them had to spend the night in shelters that have been established by the American Red Cross.

The mayor pro tem here in the city, I just spoke to him a little while ago, he tells me that at least 3000 people are still without power. So many people displaced. And getting back to incredible stories of survival, people that we've seen, residents for the last couple of hours come and try to pick up what little is left of their lives.

You know, the story of Josh touched us. He was riding out the storm with his wife and his 5-year-old. They ran into the bathroom taking shelter. And that's when they were hit by their tornado. That's actually what's left of his house, if you could see that over there, if we could have the cameraman mark yellow pen over there. That blue section there of the home and that wall were -- once was the wall I should say, has completely torn off.

The debris from this, it's just an extraordinary debris field about a quarter mile when we got here yesterday. We were a quarter mile away on the other side of the interstate, debris from this area actually landing in the spot that we're at yesterday. People here are going through just really -- they only describe it as the worst, their worst fears realized.

I spoke to another survivor here who said he was on the interstate watching cars flip over watching people -- some of those that perished in the storm. He said he actually saw that people trying to revive those people that were on the interstate with no luck. And just really in the last 48 hours, this community has gone through so much, the anxiety and stress, still a very real issue here in Garland, Texas, Deb.

FEYRICK: And Nick, very quickly, yesterday, the governor Greg Abbott, he was telling people that they should shelter in place and that they should be very aware of rising tide waters, rising waters. Is that a concern still?

VALENCIA: Right now, the weather has let up, that's the good news. If we could say anything at all, any -- deliver any good news is that the rain has stopped and it's been that way for the last couple of hours. So -- and we can only imagine that flash flood warnings, those flash flood watches aren't going to be a real issue going forwards. But of course, metroplex, Dallas area, our meteorologist can tell you a lot better than I can, but they're expecting some snow around that area, so the severe weather threat, far from over here, Deb.

FEYRICK: All right, Nick Valencia, stay safe out there and thanks for that reporting, we appreciate it. And millions are still at risk for severe weather.

Joining me now is meteorologist Jennifer Gray with details.

Jennifer what are we looking at, what can we expect?

[11:05:00] JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have into that severe threat for the Dallas area which is good. They still have that flooding threat, though, there were water rescues going on earlier today. We do have snow and icing of threat for today into this afternoon for let say the Oklahoma City area and the Kansas City area.

We still got flood threat for the middle part of the country. And even a winter storm watch for the northeast. And in fact, it is going to be the first snow of the season for a lot of folks in that area. So the current radar, all of this rain, the heavy rain, the thunderstorms pushing to the east, and you can see that snow in Northeastern Oklahoma, a little bit of a wintry mix there. Even a little bit of a changeover in Chicago, you're going to get a wintry mix. I was going to see quite a bit of snow and that's going to pull into the great lakes area as we go into the afternoon and overnight hours.

So, your main threat today in the south will be that severe weather threat, damaging winds, a possibility of isolated tornados, Birmingham, Montgomery, even Memphis included in that. We do have that tornado watch in effect currently for places like Birmingham that does include Mobile.

We have seen a couple tornado warnings across the western panhandle of Florida, still ongoing as we speak. Those are pulling into southern sections of Alabama. So, be on the lookout if you're on the Florida panhandle. Take cover.

We are seeing that rain, that wintry mix as well pushing into portions of New England as we go through tomorrow morning. And we are expect a little bit of snow even in the Boston area, not a lot but we could see an inch or two and we are going to see it quickly change over in the net rain pulling in shortly after it's been so warm. The past couple of weeks that were not expected -- expecting it to really stay there long because it's going to melt quickly, but all of that is going to push out quickly as well and clear out by the time we get to Wednesday.

But that icing threat is going to be a huge concern around Oklahoma City, as well as Kansas City. And then pulling into the Chicago area, we could see a quarter inch, half an inch of ice, and Deb, we know that just a little bit of that ice can bring down streets and power lines. So we're possibly going to see power outages. So a lot of this is going to disrupt travel as well across the country.

FEYRICK: And it's really incredible just seeing how large the swath of this violent weather is cutting across the southeast there. Jennifer Gray, thank you.

And for more on how you can help the victims of these deadly storms, log on to CNN.COM/IMPACT. . And protesters in Chicago are demanding the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel after Chicago police shot and killed two people. One of them a 19-year-old man who may have had mental health issues, the other, a bystander who was opening the door for officers arriving on scene.

19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier's father called police because LeGrier had threatened his dad with an aluminum bat. Antonio LeGrier also called, Bettie Jones. The father calls his downstairs neighbor to ask her to open the door for police once they arrived. But police opened fire, killing LeGrier who was carrying an aluminum bat, but they also killed Jones, that grandmother.

LeGrier's Mom is asking for answers and action from Rahm Emanuel.


JANET COOKSEY, MOTHER OF QUINTONIO LEGRIER: No mother should have to bury her child, and especially these circumstances. You call for help, the police supposed to serve us and protect us. It's a badge to kill? I mean, where do we get our help? When is the mayor going to step-up?


FEYRICK: And joining me now with more is CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores, Rosa good to see you.

Mayor Emanuel has issued a statement from his vacation in Cuba. He said this was pre planned. And he did it pretty quickly releasing the statement after the shooting. What is he saying today?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mayor in that statement saying that he is asking IPRA, that's the Independent Police Review Authority which is the agency that investigates all officer-involved shootings and the Chicago Police Department to check their training to evaluate specifically the crisis intervention training, and this, involves calls involving mental health crises. So the mayor wants them to re-evaluate and to make changes to make sure this doesn't happen, again.

Now, I should also add, that in recent weeks, the mayor replaced the heads of both of those agencies, and this was following the Laquan McDonald shooting and the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video. And so, there are many changes here in Chicago, Deb. The big question, of course, from these families that you just described, the chain of events leading to these two killings, is that these families are asking why? Why was lethal force used? Why were not tasers used, for example, and those are very good questions. Now, we should add that the police officer in this case is on administrative duty for 30 days.

We should also add that this is another policy change. The interim superintendent, John Escalante making that announcement saying from now on, that's going to be the policy whenever there's an officer- involved shooting that officer will be out of the field and on administrative duty while they assess if that officer is fit to go back into the field and work as a police officer, Deb.

[11:10:22] FEYERICK: All right Rosa Flores, thank you, we will continue to monitor this.

Obviously, calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign are growing louder and louder. He was already under scrutiny after delaying the release of the video of the Laquan McDonald shooting. He fired his superintendent Garry McCarthy who you see there and he also revamped the city's independent review board.

Justice department is reviewing the Chicago police operations now. Emanuel is calling for changes in police training, but will it be enough to satisfy residents calling for a change in the administration all together?

Joining me on the phone form Chicago is Reverend Marshall Hatch. And sir, you are the pastor of the church that Bettie Jones attended, the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church of West Garfield. You're also co-chair of the Leaders Network of Chicago.

First of all, let's talk about how the family members of Bettie Jones are doing. Her neighbor had asked her for help to open the door when police arrived, and she was shot.

REV. MARSHALL HATCH, PASTOR OF CHURCH THAT VICTIM ATTENDED: Yeah, well, obviously, the family is absolutely devastated. And the fact of the matter is Bettie Jones was simply being a good neighbor.

And that the preliminary evidence suggests that the first bullet went through the door before the door was open. So there was no irate young man with a bat to be confronted when the first shot was fired. And the evidence suggests also that Bettie was shot first. And this is now become unconscionable death. We would have the police acting this recklessly when we have the Department of Justice in town overseeing policies and practices. It suggests that the whole situation relationship with the police and the community is out of control.

FEYERICK: And a preliminary autopsy has been done and they're waiting for further results, the same with the forensic evidence. But let me ask you, you met Reverend, with Mayor Emanuel before vacation. He is under siege. You can see how much anger and rancor there is in the community calling for the mayor to step down.

What is his perspective are you -- in this one-on-one that you had with him? What are his views?

HATCH: Well, I mean obviously, he's under a lot of pressure and I suggested to him privately and publicly that the only way out is total and complete transparency.

And apparently, I said the mayor took some offense to my suggestion that we have a full airing of how Laquan McDonald case was handled before the election, because this mistrust is going to be very unhealthy for our city going forward. I mean, he may hang on to the job and not be effective when you don't have a trust of citizen.

And now here were having the case of Bettie Jones, was several days later and the community still does not know the name of the officer who shot and killed Bettie Jones, an innocent good neighbor who was opening the door to assist the police. And that name has still not been released and so we have the same processes of cover-up here in Chicago that just totally making this situation here, the chaotic and it has a feeling of being under siege in some of these communities.

FEYERICK: And what you're referring to in terms of Laquan McDonald, the city paid him $5 million -- the family $5 million even before the video came out during Mayor Emanuel's re-election campaign. So that is what you're asking for. But let me ask, do you think that the mayor should resign? Do you think he's trying to do a good job, or do you think it's time that he should go because he said he's not going to do so?

HATCH: Yeah, some of us may be interested in calling for his resignation if we thought he would retire. I don't know that he would, but I think that what the mayor is going to have to consider, what we're going to have to consider here in Chicago, is if he hangs on, how effective is he going to be? Unless there's a total transformation in the way this administration conducts business.

That's number one, change should be total transparency. I mean, that initial reports about what happened to Bettie Jones, were totally misleading from the police department. It had them showing up, confronting an irate person and officer discharged his weapon, and two people are killed.

[11:15:05] FEYERICK: Yeah, they were starting to call an emotional disturbed person. Very quickly, the mayor has not come back from vacation in Cuba. Do you think he should, yes or no?

HATCH: Yes, I think he should come back to Chicago, absolutely. There is a crisis in his city. And, you know, all chief executives have to delay their vacations. This would be the one I would suggest that he gets back here.

FEYERICK: All right, Reverend Marshall Hatch who knew one of the victims Bettie Jones. We thank you for your insights and we thank you for your time.

HATCH: Thank you so much.

FEYERICK: And a new warning that ISIS could attack European cities in the next few days. It comes as the group appears to have lost one of its strongholds.

Plus, moments ago the only other woman running for president says Hillary Clinton calls everyone a sexist. Hear why Carly Fiorina agrees with Donald Trump that Clinton is playing the gender card.

And Donald Trump at war with members of his own party. One says, Republican Party wants voters to sign a loyalty pledge. And now both sides are calling each other bullies. So who wins this fight?


FEYERICK: Iraqi security forces are declaring a major victory over ISIS claiming never captured a key government facility from ISIS in Ramadi and raising the Iraqi flag on top of the building.

The Iraqi military along with the help of U.S. air strikes insist they now have taken control or taken back control of the city which fell under ISIS' control in May.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Nima Elbagir joins me from Iraq with the very latest.

And Nima how sure are Iraqi forces, are they convinced that they've driven out ISIS and that those fighters simply won't go and establish themselves in other cities?

[11:20:06] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, that is absolutely the question we're hearing from counter terrorist sources here in Iraq that they've already started see that. They started to see a withdrawal back towards that major ISIS stronghold of Mosul. In fact, they say they've been clashing with them just for the last two -- another -- of another strategic town of Baiji.

So they are aware. They know that this is just the beginning. And in spite of that, back and forth between them and even the Pentagon who are congratulating Iraq over continued successes in Ramadi. Not quite ready it seems themselves to call it liberated. There is absolutely no underplaying how strategic even getting this far in Ramadi is. This is a town who is full to ISIS. It wasn't just humiliating for the Iraqi forces.

We saw pictures of fleeing in front of those ISIS-advancing troops, but also to some extent for Washington because it really meant they had to re-evaluate everything that they believed needed to be done in terms of working alongside the Iraqi government to push back ISIS after they broke the borders coming in from Syria. So this isn't just about the Iraqi government. This about is a reinvigorated U.S.-led coalition. And what it means now for those other cities in ISIS- control.

We're expecting that over the next few days, we will get a final clear from the Iraqi government. But it is understandable, given how tough it was for them when Ramadi fell that they might be calling it just a tiny bit too early. Deb.

FEYERICK: Yeah, not just a victory for Iraq, but also victory for the U.S. As you say, U.S. air strikes were involved. U.S. trained, Sunni tribesmen are now holding that town for what understand. And also you've got the fact that the Sunni civilians who were there have -- on some levels been liberated. They have to piece everything back together. But still something it can to liberation.

All right, Nima Elbagir, thank you so much. We appreciate your insights and your reporting there for us, from Ramadi and from Baghdad.

Let's talk more about this with CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Kimberly Dozier.

And Kimberly, we've heard Iraqi forces say that, you know, they've taken a town. But then all of a sudden, a couple of weeks, a couple of months pass, and then those victories are exaggerated. Can we trust what the Iraqi military is saying, and that their assessment that ISIS has been driven out? Or have they just created a different problem in a different city?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, they've had a few false starts over the past 48 hours, declaring the town taken. And then saying, OK, there are still a few pockets. They have caveated their announcement today saying we have the government center, but there are pockets of resistance that the army will now have to clear out throughout the rest of this, what is a really densely packed town.

They also have to figure out how to declare a neighborhood safe enough to bring Sunni families back. A lot of them have fled. And they destroyed much of the town in the taking of it. They took out a lot of the bridges. And those air strikes were devastating, when you look at the video from street to street.

You know, it took them -- the Iraqi government, months to get the electricity back on and water flowing in the town of Tikrit, which was another Sunni area. So, now the town of Ramadi will be a new test.

FEYERICK: And what's also interesting about this is the impact of Sunni tribes. This was not the Shia militias that are sort of working in conjunction with the Iraqi government. But the Sunnis were brought into this as critical players to hold these areas and to fight ISIS. It seems sort of a broadening and perhaps the diminishment of sectarian tensions. Is that an overstatement?

DOZIER: Well, my understanding is that as you said, the Sunni militias that are U.S.-trained have been brought to the area. But they haven't been able to fan out through the whole town yet. This will be a test of their capability to keep the peace. And inspire confidence. And also, to in terms of taking authority to prove that they, too, can have a role in governing.

Long-term, though, the Iraqi government hasn't proven very good at bringing in its different ethnic parts. And what ISIS, I think you're going to see doing, what -- they're just going to evolve back into a mostly insurgents terrorist force. We're already seeing car bombs strike Shiite areas and civilian areas across Iraq. It's just not getting as much air play because we're focused on the fight for this town.

FEYERICK: And so, final question that is in a new CNN/ORC poll, more Americans believe that the terrorists are winning their war against the United States.

How significant is this defeat in Ramadi? Could it give Americans hope that the U.S. is in fact winning the war, at least making gains?

[11:25:06] DOZIER: It's not enough, not yet. You're going to have to see the town of Fallujah fall. That is right now encircled by Iraqi troops. And you're going to have to see real progress made to drive the ISIL forces out of Mosul. But I've had estimates from U.S. officials that it could take as much as a year to take on the City of Mosul, so, a long way to go.

FEYERICK: All right, Kimberly Dozier there. Thank you so much for those insights. It's going to be interesting to watch. Appreciate that.

And Donald Trump is in a fighting mood, attacking everyone from the Republican Party in Virginia, to Hillary and Bill Clinton. Should the former president be fair game?

Plus, new help for Marco Rubio. Congressman Trey Gowdy giving the Florida senator his full support, but not an endorsement, so, why not?


FEYERICK: A new battle is under way between Donald Trump and State leaders from his own party. The GOP front-runner is now slamming a new move by the Republican Party of Virginia, which requires primary voters to sign a statement confirming that they are Republican.

In typical Trump fashion, he took his fight to Twitter, first saying, "It begins. Republican Party of Virginia controlled by the RNC is working hard to disallow independent, unaffiliated and new voters. Bad!" Also, "the Republican Party of Virginia has lost State-wide seven times in a row. Will now not allow desperately needed new voters. Suicidal mistake. RNC must act now!"

[11:30:01] Well, CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson joins me now.