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Latest on San Bernardino Attack Investigation; Bush Hits Trump, Hopes for Boost; Trump Insider Speaks Out; FBI, U.S. Marshals Join Hunt for "Affluenza" Teen. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 17, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening, I'm John Berman in for Anderson tonight.

We begin with breaking news. The first arrest in the San Bernardino terror attack and chilling new details about the attacks. That is attacks, plural, that one of the killers planned with his friend years before this month's deadly shooting.

Enrique Marquez, he is the guy that bought the guns for the husband and wife terror team used to kill 14 people and wound nearly two dozen others. Tonight, he is in custody and facing three charges. The shooters, as you know, were killed as they fled from police. What we are learning tonight from court documents deeply disturbing.

Justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now with more.

Pamela, these attacks that Enrique Marquez is being charged with helping plan with Syed Farook a few years ago, what are you learning about these attacks?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And we first talked about these attacks last week that Marquez and Farook wanted to launch, do something back in 2012. Now we are learning just how disturbing these plots were. The criminal complaints say that Syed Farook and his long-time friend, Enrique Marquez who is arrested today, planned to use pipe bombs for an attack at riverside community college where they were both students, specifically targeting the library and the cafeteria area because they wanted to maximize casualties. And they allegedly also planned to start the attack by throwing pipe bombs into the cafeteria from an elevated position on the second floor.

And in a separate plot, John, Marquez told investigators he and Farook planned a rush hour attack on a major highway without exits where why would throw pipe bombs in the cars. And then Farook would allegedly shoot his rifle into the stopped cars and kill people while Marquez would shoot law enforcement people who came to assist. It's very disturbing.

BERMAN: And Pamela, I understand there was a dispute within the DOJ to even bring this particular terrorist charge, right?

BROWN: That's right. My colleague, Scott Lever (ph) and Even Perez have been speaking to officials within the department of justice. And we were told that this debate of whether or not to bring the terrorism charge today went into late last night. In fact, it wasn't even on the table 24 hours ago. Then then within the last 24 hours it was included in this criminal complaint and there was some dispute about whether or not to wait on the terrorism charge, perhaps bring it later, whether to bring it at all. After all, this was an attack that Marquez backed away from. This was around the time that he turned away from radicalization and distanced himself from Farook, John.

BERMAN: Just this morning, I was talking about this with Evan. And we are under the impression that we are only going to be these weapons charges. What are those exactly? Purchasing the two assault weapons used in the San Bernardino shooting?

BROWN: That's right. We know he purchased these, the AR-15s that were used in the shooting back in 2011, 2012. And he told investigators he bought those guns so that Farook could avoid attention, which is a violation of federal and state law. You can't buy a gun for someone else so that they can avoid a background check. So initially, the thinking was they were going to focus on that charge.

What's interesting is if you look through the complaint, John, Marquez called 911 after the attack telling the operator that his neighbor was responsible for the San Bernardino shooting and that Farook actually used his gun. But he said in here that he gave his gun to Farook for safe storage, John.

BERMAN: And that's not all. On top of all of this, Pamela, there's a charge about a sham marriage with a member of Farook's family.

BROWN: That's right. So we know that Marquez was married to a woman who is related to Farook's brother as she was a sister of Farook's brother's wife, if you can follow me here. And according to this complaint, he married her to that he would get $200 a month in exchange for her being able to stay in the U.S. because she was here on J1 visa. She was from Russia. And if she didn't get married to a U.S. citizen she would have to go back to Russia. So that's also a charge that he faces.

BERMAN: All right, Pamela, so many concerns obviously around the country about terror right now. We're learning that a teenager in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged for supporting ISIS. What details do you have on that?

BROWN: That's right. And this really goes to the heart of the terrorism threat right now, this case. There is a 19-year-old named Jalil Aziz. He was charged with the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. The complaints says he tried to communicate through encryption with other ISIS supporters who want to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight with the terrorist group. And he tried to help others we believed were terrorists trapped in Syria.

It also alleges he had a technical to go -- tactical style to go bag that was discovered during a search of his home that had high capacity weapons, magazine, ammunition, knife and other survival items. Authorities believe he potentially wanted to launch an attack here in the U.S., John.

BERMAN: A lot of new electronic leads, perhaps to follow there as well.

Pamela Brown, thank you so much. A lot of reporting right there.

A lot to talk about with our panel. Joining me now former FBI counterterrorism agent, Tim Clemente, also CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen has upcoming book, "United States of Jihad." CNN counterterrorism analyst Phillip Mudd who has been a senior official at the FBI and CIA. And senior legal analyst for CNN Jeffrey Toobin who was also a federal prosecutor. Esteemed panel to say the least.

Tim, let me start with you. A lot of planning. A lot of preparation seemed to go into these two attacks that thankfully did not take place a few years ago. What do you make of all of this?

[20:05:17] TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: Well, John, it's pretty customary for Al-Qaeda and ISIS as we have seen in the past couple of decades to over plan things. 911 took five years in planning and I don't believe that that was absolutely necessary to execute the type of attack they did. In this circumstances, it's a much, much simpler attack going in with pipe bombs, off the shelf items you can get in any home depot or any hardware store and a little bit of black powder. And you have some pipe bombs.

So I think they try to over work these things in their mind where they are planning these attacks, and thankfully they are. Because those are the types of things that lead to them stumbling. The more preplanning they do, the more preparation they do, the easier it is for law enforcement to find out about the plot and disrupt it. In this case thankfully at least one of the alleged assailants or the planning assailants decided to give up the plan and disclosed it to law enforcement after the San Bernardino attack instead of before.

BERMAN: You know, Phil, it's interesting. You just heard Tim talking about the idea that usually what happens or often what happens with this much planning, is something goes wrong and something leaks. It did here. The only reason we know about this is because a terror attack took place a few years later. And now this guy is singing. You know, what does that tell you? That two guys can do this kind of planning for so long.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This is confusing me. You would think with this much time and the investigation that the questions, John, would start coming off the table about motivations, about acquisition of weapons. But there at least three to me that -- we went through a process of target selection. In those three years between 2012 and 2015 the subject never thought about another target? I don't get that.

And finally and most significantly, as Pamela was saying, they were looking at those targets in 2012 to maximize casualties. Why then three years later do you pick a target that resulted in significantly really fewer casualties at that county building. There are these questions still that I think are unresolved and may never be resolved, John.

BERMAN: You know, Jeffrey, at least some of those questions might have to do with the way that the fed is going about prosecuting this right now, at least the charges they're levying. You know, what kind of legal jeopardy is this man under? What are they trying to do at this point with him? Find out if there was anyone else involved?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He is going to say, look, I came forward. I talked to the authorities and told them about these other plans. I was not involved in the -- in the actual shooting. The response to that legally from the prosecution is going to be, you know what, when you get involved in a terror plot and you give another terrorist a machine gun, an assault rifle, you are responsible for the foreseeable consequences, which means his using it.

So I think legally he is in a world of trouble. Now, he is going to -- the question is, can he cooperate.

BERMAN: What can he give them?

TOOBIN: Well, that's the question, if anyone else was involved. I mean, the thing they certainly are going to want the most is the name of other co-conspirators. At the moment we don't know of any of co- conspirators. But if there are any, he would be in a position to get some benefit from that. If the only one he can cooperate against is dead, that doesn't really help him very much.

BERMAN: All right. Peter, I want to ask you this. Today's criminal complaint says that at one point Farook wanted to pledge allegiance to AQAP collect. That is in Yemen. It is interesting because at least for a while, it didn't seem to matter which terrorist network he could identify with or work with. He seemed to be shopping in a way.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that's exactly right, John. And you know, at the time that he was shopping for Al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula based in Yemen, that of course was the most virulent anti-American jihadi group in the world. ISIS wasn't, you know, it was two years in the future that ISIS would be - even be sort of come to the fruition.

So, you know. But I think one of the interesting things about the complaint is how much Al-Qaeda or the Yemen is mentioned? How many times "Inspire" magazine is mentioned? And clearly, has some impact on the way that they constructed pipe bombs because the recipes in "Inspire" magazine calls for Christmas lights detonators for some bombs. And we see that in what they were doing in San Bernardino in the garage behind their house. Building those kinds of bombs.

So I think part of this also, I think is an epic -- if the federal prosecutors, if you are going to say that this guy, Marquez, was conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization. You got to establish that there was a terrorist organization at the time in 2012 when they were thinking about this attack. And that you could make the case from a prosecutorial point of view that this was an effort to sort of do something on behalf of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. [20:10:09] BERMAN: Tim, we are learning about this arrest tonight of

a teenager in Pennsylvania, who apparently had some kind of go bag filled with some ammunition. A lot of activity online. Is this just one now of you think many arrests like this that will happen and put new focus on possible activity in the U.S.?

CLEMENTE: John, I think we are going to see this kind of arrest for the foreseeable future. Obviously, ISIS is much more of an online entity. Their recruiting efforts are very, very widespread throughout all the social media. But it's also the fact that they are currently the winning team in that regard. They are the winning Islamic extremist organization on the planet. And so, anybody that has the ideology like Farook did wants to go to the winning team. So they are going to attract more people. They are going to attract a lot of these losers that are home alone on the Internet. And I think this is the, you know, the great ideology of the future. This is the, you know, the '60s radicals are now the 2015s radical terrorists.

BERMAN: And Phil, last question to you. What does your gut tell you about the investigation in San Bernardino right now? You have been part of this type of thing before. Do you think it stops with the dead terror couple and Enrique Marquez? Or do you think there was a possible connection to anyone else out there, whether it just be perhaps a financial connection.

MUDD: I think -- this is where I would be salivating to see that hard drive. I want to know who they talked to. I think that the prospect in the years between 2012 and 2015, not a single other person had an inkling of information. I'm not talking about co-conspirators. That nobody knew, for example, that a bomb was being built. I don't buy that, John. It doesn't make sense to me.

BERMAN: And quickly, Jeffrey, would that be a crime if someone knew? What crime would that be if someone is out there?

TOOBIN: It depends what they did. If they simply knew and didn't do anything to advance the conspiracy, that's not a crime. Morally certainly very indefensible. But simply knowing is not a crime. But if they bought something for them, if they help them get ought a visa, any sort of assistance that's not necessarily criminal on its own but is just helpful to a conspiracy, that includes you in a conspiracy and you could be prosecuted.

BERMAN: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, Tim Clemente, Peter Bergen, Phillip Mudd, thank you all, gentlemen, for being with us. Appreciate it.

MUDD: Thank you.

BERMAN: Coming up next for us, Jeb Bush, one on one. He took aim at Donald Trump in the debate. Now the hits keep on coming. Can the former Florida governor capitalize on this in his campaign? Some much needed momentum. Can he rise above the Trump frenzy? We are going to ask him that and much more. Speaking of Donald Trump, the current front-runner, he got some unsolicited praise from maybe unlikely corner, Vladimir Putin. And now, we have a new statement for Donald Trump about what he thinks about this Putin kind of endorsement. Stay with us.


[20:16:12] BERMAN: The Jeb Bush we saw in Tuesday's Republican debate was not the Jeb Bush who showed up to earlier debate. That's what a lot of people are saying tonight. Some of the heated exchanges were between the former Florida governor and Donald Trump including this one.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, I think Jeb is a very nice person. He is a very nice person but we need tough people. We need toughness. We need intelligence and we need toughness. Jeb said when they come across the southern border they come as an act of love.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You said in September 30th that ISIS was not a --

TRUMP: Am I talking or are you talking, Jeb?

BUSH: I'm talking.

TRUMP: You can go back. You're not talking. You interrupted me.

BUSH: September 230th.

TRUMP: Have you apologized yet? No. Am I allowed to finish?


TRUMP: Excuse me, am I allowed to finish?


BERMAN: Governor Bush has not let up on Mr. Trump. He keep it up on the attacks on the front-runner. The question, is it too late to make up lost ground? Poll numbers remain in the low single digits. And today, Russia's president Vladimir Putin had some unsolicited lavish praise for Donald Trump. In another bizarre turn of an election like none we have ever seen, the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush joins me now from El Paso.

Good evening, Governor.

BUSH: Good evening. How are you doing?

BERMAN: Great. Listen, I want to start with your reaction to reporting from the Russian news agency. They quote Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that "Donald Trump is a bright and talented person without any doubt and the absolute leader of the presidential race." Tonight Donald Trump has responded. He says it's, quote, "a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond." So what do you think of all of that? BUSH: I don't respect Vladimir Putin. He is the leader of an

important country, certainly not a regional power as Barack Obama called him. But to get praise from Vladimir Putin is not going to help Donald Trump. He is not a serious candidate. And he would bring chaos to the presidency just as he has done to this campaign. It's entertaining. But the simple fact is we're at war right now with Islamic terrorism and he has not offered one compelling specific thing to do to keep us safe. It's all high volume, lots of talk but nothing specific because he hasn't taken the time to learn the issues. And I think we need someone with the steady hand in the presidency and we are never going to beat Hillary Clinton with grandiosity with big language without anything to back it up.

BERMAN: You say he's not a serious candidate. You say he is a candidate of chaos. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Your campaign, Tim Miller said, you guys are doing due diligence looking in to whether you could pull out of that pledge you signed to report the Republican nominee, whoever it is, including Donald Trump. Why? Why are you doing that due diligence?

BUSH: Well, because Donald Trump had threatened to go once again to become a third party candidate. And so, I didn't know they were doing this. But, that's a smart thing to do in the campaign is to determine exactly what the consequences are for making that kind of decision.

Look, my intention is to win the nomination. As we get close to the caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Donald Trump will begin to fall because he's not a serious candidate. Listen to his comments as related to the nuclear triad for crying out loud. This is the pinnacle of our deterrent, to be able to be kept safe since the post- World War II era. He had no clue when asked in that question. If he's going to be president of the United States, he needs to be a serious person, not someone who views this as some kind of an entertainment show.

BERMAN: To be clear, your campaign was doing due diligence to see if you could pull out of the play. If you could get out of having support the ultimate Republican nominee if it was Donald Trump.

BUSH: Yes, no, exactly. That's right. It was related to his threats to leave - to leave the party. This guy is not going to win the nomination. That's the basic point. He is not going to win the nomination because he is not a serious candidate. And all the other candidates seem to be intimidated by him, but I'm not. He is a bully. He's not a serious candidate. He's not offered compelling alternatives to the path that we're on. We desperately need have that.

[20:20:13] BERMAN: Do you wish you could pull out in the pledge right now and support him if you want?

BUSH: Look. What I'm focused on is how do we create a strategy to destroy ISIS and the caliphate? We need to create a safe zone. We need to create a no fly zone. We need to make sure that we are in bed with the Iraqi military, that we armed directly the Kurds. And what Donald Trump is suggesting we ban all Muslims which we would make all of that impossible to do. That's my point. My point is that we're at war right now with radical Islamic terrorism. The president of the United States refuses to acknowledge it. And Donald Trump does as well.

BERMAN: You know, you spent a lot of time on the campaign trail the last couple of months saying you were sick of talking about Donald Trump. Now your super Pac went up with an ad today praising you for going after Donald Trump. You do seem much more willing on the debates and on the stump to talk about Donald Trump. Why is this now a good strategy for your campaign?

BUSH: Well, my strategy is to talk about my plans and when you can compare it to Donald Trump's, it makes it even more vid that long before the attacks in Paris and the tragedy in San Bernardino, I laid out a specific proposal to be able to destroy ISIS, which is exactly what we need to do. And it requires America's leadership in the world, it requires building an army, Sunni-led in Syria, and getting back in the game as it relates to Iraq and without American leadership this isn't going to happen. We can't do it alone. And when you compare that to Donald Trump who late September said that ISIS was not a threat, and says let Russia take care of Syria, when their interest is to prop up one of the brutal regimes in the world. It shows the lack of understanding of where we are in the world today.

BERMAN: Would he make a better president than Hillary Clinton?

BUSH: I don't think Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president of the United States. She is not trustworthy. And her proposals are not much better.

BERMAN: You didn't answer my question. Would he make a better president than Hillary Clinton?

BUSH: No, I have learned not to answer questions. That's one of the things that you do now in political discourse. You answer what you want to say.

BERMAN: Wait. So you're just not going to answer it outright? Don't Republican voters deserve to know? You're attacking Donald Trump every day now which is something you got into reluctantly. But he is that part of your campaign? So, do you think he would make a better president than Hillary Clinton?

BUSH: I don't think that he is qualified to be - absolutely. I would be a better president than Hillary Clinton. That's why I'm running for president.

BERMAN: No, does Donald Trump.

BUSH: And my point is -- my point is he is not qualified to be commander in-chief of the United States of America's greatest fighting force. And he has had a chance to bone up. God willing he will start to do it. But it looks like this is all about him, not about creating strategies to keep us safe. And the world right now has been turned asunder, turned upside down because of lack of American leadership. We don't need another version of that as the Republican nominee. BERMAN: Has the Republican primary process been hurt by his presence?

BUSH: Hurt, no. I mean, look. We still have a long way to go. He is a gifted politician. He consumes all the news space. He is pretty effective at that. But to have these subjects be brought up at a time of great national security concerns I think is appropriate. And I'm going to do my best to be able to give people a sense that I have a steady hand, that I have a plan to keep us safe and that I will rebuild our national security apparatus so that Americans can go back to their business.

BERMAN: Talk to me about where your campaign is right now. Because I know a lot of people who work for you, they were pleased after Tuesday night's debate. Some cases relieved after Tuesday's debate. They see this as an opportunity to perhaps improve (INAUDIBLE) that has been tough until now. Reading today in "the New York Times," you have a project in New Hampshire. You may spend more than half your time between now and the New Hampshire primary up in the granite state. How is this goings to work?

BUSH: Well, we have always intended starting in January to spend a disproportionate amount of time in the four states in February starting with Iowa. And of course New Hampshire is really important. So nothing has changed in that regard. There is more intense effort to do that for sure.

Look, as the circumstances change, you adjust. And that's exactly what we are doing. I feel good about where we are in the early states. We have a great organization. And I'm going to focus on the message and I'll let the pundits opine and I'll let our campaign do the operational side of it.

BERMAN: You don't think you can win Iowa anymore if you spend more than half your time in New Hampshire?

BUSH: No, I'm looking to run it. That's - look, you cannot be a candidate and say I'm going to sixth place or something like that. That's not how campaigns are run. I'm just saying my focus is on offering a hopeful optimistic message about high sustained economic growth for our economy with detailed plans to do it and showing that I have the proven leadership skills to be able to keep us safe as a nation.

[20:25:03] BERMAN: Governor, can you keep up the Paleo diet through the holidays?

BUSH: No. I cheat. M&Ms is my best recourse to cheat once in a while. I can't afford to keep having to change my pants and clothes. So I'm cheating on a pretty regular basis. Don't tell anybody though.

BERMAN: We won't. We'll do our best not to tell anybody.

Governor Bush, thank you for being with us. Happy holidays. I appreciate it.

BUSH: Likewise. Thanks. BERMAN: All right. Ana Navarro and John King, they are going to

weigh in on Governor Bush's message coming up.

Plus, reaction from inside the Trump campaign to what Governor Bush just said. You will notice Jeb Bush just refused to say whether Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton. What do Trump supporters say about that?

Also ahead, more breaking news tonight. Federal authorities joining the hunt for this Texas teenager. He was given probation after killing four people while driving drunk all because his lawyers argue he was so rich he didn't know right from wrong. Now that same kid appears to have skipped town. Stay with us.


[20:30:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we just heard from Florida Governor Jeb Bush before the break. This is what Governor Bush said about Donald Trump.


FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This guy's not going to win the nomination. That's the basic point. He's not going to win the nomination because he's not a serious candidate. And all the other candidates seem to be intimidated by him, but I'm not. He's a bully. He's not a serious candidate. He's not offered compelling alternatives to the path that we're on. And we desperately need to change directions as it relates to our national security.


BERMAN: He also covered a lot of other grounds.

Joining me now to talk about this, CNN political commentator and Jeb Bush supporter, Ana Navarro. Also, CNN chief national correspondent, anchor of "Inside Politics," John King.

John, it was really interesting there. I mean, clearly, Governor Bush has decided finally just to go after Donald Trump a lot. It's happening in Super PAC ads. It's happening on the stump. It's happening in the debate. We just saw it there, too, but there seems to be a line as well.

I pressed him pretty hard on it. If he thought that Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton, and he refused to answer. He said he's learned not to answer questions.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, he's no fan of Hillary Clinton. I think if you put him on truth serum, his answer would be -- he would probably say on truth serum he would -- even though he would like Hillary Clinton as president, he would sleep better than having Donald Trump as president. But he's not going to say that when he is running in a Republican primary.

Look, Governor Bush, as you know, you pressed him on an interview, John, very well, has made the tax code decision after trying to ignore Donald Trump and saying I'm going to be the guy who takes him on. And he's trying to actually get toughness points from Republican voters who don't like Trump by saying the other guys seem to be intimidated by him, I'm not. Will that strategy work? You know, TVD. We are 45 days from Iowa. At the moment, it looks like Ted Cruz would win Iowa. And Donald Trump is a very close second.

So at the moment, you would say, you know, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump is going to win Iowa. The question is, does Jeb Bush compete there. Does he try to be third? Does he try to pull up some miracle in Iowa? Or does he concentrate more on New Hampshire. Does he try to do a little bit of both? We're in the chess phase of the campaign. Because campaigns, number one, even though they may have a Super PAC supporting them, none of the guys running second, third, fourth and fifth. And Jeb Bush now is fifth nationally, fifth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, fifth in South Carolina. You notice a pattern there?

BERMAN: John -- refresh your memory, John, you know, how many Republican nominees have lost in both in Iowa and New Hampshire?

KING: It's almost impossible. It is not -- look, I would also refresh your memory and say this, though, that at this point in 2003, on the Democratic side Howard Dean was way ahead. He didn't win. John Kerry was in single digits in Iowa. At this point in Rudy Giuliani was still leading the national polls. I forget, I missed that convention, I think, where Rudy Giuliani was the nominee.

So a lot can change. And so you can't count Governor Bush out. However, "The Hill" gets steeper almost by the day. There's no question he had a better debate this past Tuesday and I think his donors are happier to see that fight. That the scene of fighting him, the donor say, OK, Jeb's got some energy. Jeb is in the fight. The question is, do voters reward him for that, John? And we'll have to watch in the next week to ten days to see if the numbers move in the key states.

BERMAN: Ana, you're one of those donors that John King is talking about there. You're one of his supporters. You like the tougher Jeb Bush we saw in the debate. You like the Jeb Bush attacking Donald Trump we just saw in this show a few minutes ago?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I love that Jeb Bush. That's the Jeb Bush I have known for 25 years. And I've been wondering where he is. So I'm very glad to see this Jeb Bush who's willing to fight, who's willing to show the hunger, who's willing to show the thirst, the commitment to be in this fight. I never doubted it. But I'm glad that now America is getting to see it.

I think from a tactical point of view going after Donald Trump is brilliant for Jeb. First of all, because I know that, I know a lot of the people on that debate stage and frankly other than Lindsey Graham, Jeb is the only one showing the guts to go after Donald Trump despite the fact that I know so many of those other people on the debate stage think that Donald Trump is a bully and what Donald Trump is doing is hurtful to America, hurtful to the Republican Party. Yet they're not willing to take him on because they don't want to antagonize his supporters. Jeb Bush is doing that. It's brilliant. He's got nothing to lose. Nobody that's a Donald Trump supporter is going to vote for Jeb Bush. He's doing what he thinks is right. He's showing principled conviction. He's showing guts. He's showing leadership. And, you know what, it's a wide open lane for him because nobody else is taking it on.

So I'm very happy to see it. I also am very happy to see that he wouldn't answer your process questions. Whether he prefers Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton doesn't have a damn thing to do with it.


BERMAN: But Ana, but Ana, you know, it does.


Wait a second, Ana -- Tim Miller, the Bush campaign is all over the newspapers talking about how they're doing due diligence, they're doing due diligence --


NAVARRO: Oh, no, no, no. John, I'm more interested --


BERMAN: They're doing due diligence whether they get back out of the pledge. You have to ask the question right now. He signed a pledge to support the nominees. Campaign is looking in and getting out of it. And so, you know, he should be willing to answer that question.

KING: Well, clearly, he should have a campaign that doesn't --


NAVARRO: Well, clearly, he doesn't even know that. And I, frankly, I'm a -- I'm a -- I'm a hell of a lot more interested in knowing what the Paleo-friendly liquor is, that he is going to stay on for Christmas than I am on knowing whether he thinks who's worse? Hillary Clinton or, you know, Donald Trump. I mean, do you prefer for me to cut off your right arm or your left arm, John.

[20:35:15] BERMAN: I think tequila, by the way, is Paleo-friendly.

John King, final word right here, if you will. Talk quickly about the Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz spat that's been going on right now about affirmative action. Is there a way to win this for either of them?

KING: Immigration. And Ted Cruz just put an ad up in Iowa that shows a picture. I was waiting for this to come. He calls it a national security ad. It's an immigration ad. And it shows the picture of Marco Rubio at the press conference with John McCain and Chuck Schumer. Two very good friends of the Republican base, right, on immigration issues. And Ted Cruz is trying to cement -- Ted Cruz is trying to cement his momentum in Iowa because he knows Ted Cruz knows Iowa is the spring board for him. If he wins Iowa, then he tries to prove he's not Rick Santorum or not Mike Huckabee. That he is the evangelical candidate, the Tea Party candidate who actually has the resources to go on and win.

And if Ted Cruz gets momentum, John, they've change the Republican calendar this year. This is a calendar the party built, hoping they'd get a nominee early and they thought it would be an establishment nominee. If Ted Cruz gets momentum, this is a calendar that could well be built for Ted Cruz.

BERMAN: Look at March 1st, everybody. Those are big for him.

Ana Navarro, John King, great to have you with us, guys. Thanks, guys.

Up next, what the Trump camp has to say about what Bush said to me moments ago.

Also, we have breaking news in the growing hunt for this teenager. He's the kid who killed four people while driving drunk and avoided prison after his lawyers argued he was too rich and spoiled to know right from wrong. Now he has slipped town and federal authorities, they have join the hunt.


[20:40:00] BERMAN: Donald Trump as you heard earlier is facing new criticism from Jeb Bush. He's also getting a big virtual hug from Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Sort of an unsolicited endorsement of sorts. Apparently, Putin is a big fan.

Joining me now to talk about this, Sam Clovis, co-chairman and policy adviser for the Trump campaign.

Mr. Clovis, thank you so much. I think you might have just heard Jeb Bush speaking to me moments ago. He said multiple times that Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He is not qualified to be commander-in-chief and Jeb Bush flat out would not tell me if he would support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

What do you make of that?

SAM CLOVIS, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR & POLICY ADVISOR: I think it's probably (INAUDIBLE), you have a desperate candidate. And I'll leave the major commentary to Mr. Trump. I don't think I need to sit here and fill the audience with our thoughts about a person who is a 3 percent when my candidate is at 42.

BERMAN: He called your candidate a chaos candidate. You know, Donald Trump last night with Jimmy Kimmel said, yes, he's been, you know, disruptive at times, a little dismissive of the other candidates. Is that one and the same thing? CLOVIS: I think what has really been going on here is the dynamic of a race where we have 15, 16 people that started in this. I think what we're really seeing is things are starting to settle. We're starting to see, it was like a bicycle race, we're starting to see a breakaway coming with that four or five people that are breaking away from the rest of the pack.

I think that's going to settle. That will probably crystallize as we get closer and closer to February 1st and the Iowa caucuses. And I'm pretty comfortable that Mr. Trump is going to come out on top here in Iowa and certainly in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

BERMAN: I want to talk about what Russian President Vladimir Putin said today. He said Donald Trump is, quote, "The absolute leader of this presidential race. A bright and talented person without any doubt."

How will that praise from Vladimir Putin play in Iowa?

CLOVIS: Well, I think people will put it in context. I think they'll take it seriously as they need to. And I think President Putin probably had the comments to make there. You know, he is a very calculating individual. I'm sure he said those things with intent in mind, that particular intent. And I think Mr. Trump's supporters will take them in the context they were awkward and we'll probably leave it at that.

BERMAN: Well, but Donald Trump himself said it's great to receive praise like that from someone like that from someone who's so respected in his own country and around the world.

You know, Mr. Clovis, you've been around a long time. You know, you're respected in your state.

Do you think that Vladimir Putin's the kind of guy you want saying nice stuff about you?

CLOVIS: Well, I think he's certainly a leader and he's a pivotal person. And I think what it may be is the fact that maybe Mr. Putin is showing respect to a person that he understands has the strength to match him. And I think when you think about the Russian mind set and Vladimir Putin is certainly the personification of that, I think it may be is reflective of the fact that there is a respect there that perhaps, Mr. Trump, is the only person in this race that can stand up to Mr. Putin. And I think he's maybe acknowledging that.

BERMAN: Maybe the strength, but what about the knowledge? You know, it came up in the debate the other night, the nuclear triad and Donald Trump --

CLOVIS: John --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

CLOVIS: I've talked to a lot of people about that. And I don't think -- you should have seen my text explode on that. You know, I'm 29 years in the military. I spent my time working on planning for the nuclear triad. Nobody probably knows that better than I do in a lot of areas here. And I guarantee you, there weren't three people on that stage that knew what the nuclear triad was.

BERMAN: All right, let me ask you one last question in the Cruz-Rubio battle, right now? Who do you think is winning this battle over immigration and amnesty in Iowa between the two of them?

CLOVIS: Well, I really think it comes down to where we see the American people. I'm with the American people. They're very, very strong about the notion that immigration is a very important issue to them. And anybody that is supporting path to citizenship or amnesty is probably not going to do as well out here as a person who hasn't.

And so I think that if you take a look at that, I think that Senator Cruz has been very strong on immigration and Senator Rubio probably not so much.

BERMAN: Sam Clovis, always great to speak to you. Thank you so much.

CLOVIS: Thanks, John, and happy holidays.

BERMAN: You, too, sir.

We have more breaking news tonight. The FBI and U.S. marshals joining the search tonight for the so-called "Affluenza Teenager." He was the kid who drove drunk, killed four people and avoided prison time with the defense that he was too spoiled to know right from wrong. At this point, he is missing. An arrest warrant is out. Details are ahead.


[20:48:48] BERMAN: More breaking news. The FBI and U.S. Marshals have joined the search for a Texas teenager who famously avoided prison for a deadly drunk driving accident two years ago by claiming he suffered from "Affluenza." The judge sentenced Ethan Couch to probation and rehab.

Tonight, though, an arrest warrant is out for Couch after he didn't check in with his probation officer.

Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look closely at this video. That young man with the blond hair may be Ethan Couch. And if it is, he could be in big trouble. That's because Couch is on probation and isn't supposed to be drinking alcohol. Two and a half years ago at sixteen, Couch drove in a drunken haze, crashed and killed four people.

CALLER: We need some ambulances, it's bad. We flipped and -- oh, God.

KAYE: Someone posted the beer pong clip on Twitter earlier this month and the county D.A. got wind of it. They went to talk to Ethan Couch about it, but it seems his disappeared. His probation officer hasn't heard from him in days. No one knows where he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

KAYE: The county sheriff wanted Couch locked up back in 2013, but one defense witness changed that.

[20:50:00] KAYE (on camera): In one of the most bazaar defense strategies we've ever heard of, attorneys for Couch blamed the boy's parents for his behavior that night, all because of how they raised him.

A psychologists and defense witness testified that the boy suffered from something called "Affluenza," a lifestyle where wealth brought privilege and there were no consequences for bad behavior.

KAYE (voice-over): The so-called "Affluenza" defense touched off outrage around the country. After all, Couch's blood alcohol was three times the legal limit and four people were dead. But the court bought it. Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter. But instead of going to jail, the judge sentenced him to alcohol rehabilitation and ten years' probation. His father agreed to pay $500,000 for his son's pricy rehab digs. Victims' families were horrified.

ERIC BOYLES, LOST WIFE AND DAUGHTER IN CRASH: We had over 180 years of life taken -- future life. Not 180 years lived, but 180 years of future life taken, and two of those were my wife and daughter.

KAYE: ABC News obtained these deposition tapes from one of the victim's civil suits against Couch. Listen as Ethan Couch's mother admits letting her son drive illegally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understood if he was at any time he was under 16 he was never to be driving by himself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nevertheless, you allowed that behavior to happen, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When's the last time you recall disciplining Ethan for anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't remember.

KAYE: And now the authorities think Couch might have fled the country with none other than his mother. The boy's attorney would not discuss the case.

If authorities do find Couch, a judge will decide if he violated his probation. If so, this time Ethan Couch could end up behind bars for a decade. Randi Kaye, CNN, Miami.


BERMAN: Joining me now the sheriff you just saw in Randi's report, Sheriff D. Anderson of Tarrant County, Texas and back here in the studio, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Tobin, a former federal prosecutor.

Sheriff, when you learn that Ethan Couch's probation officer could not reach him this week, what went through your mind?

SHERIFF DEE ANDERSON, TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS: I was not surprised. I predicted two years ago that something bad was going to happen with this. It didn't shock me at all. I wasn't surprised at all that he ran, particularly in light of the video that had surfaced. I'm sure he believed that his probation was getting ready to be in jeopardy if not completely revoked. So I wasn't at all shocked. I've been expecting something like this for the last two years.

BERMAN: You say you're not surprise. Were you upset?

ANDERSON: I was upset. I was upset at the time. I'm frustrated to have done what he did. Take four instant lives, impact those families in a way that none of us can fathom and not ever express one sentiment of remorse. Not ever have any guilt feelings or bad feelings. It was all about him. What could he do to get out of it? And so I'm frustrated. I was frustrated then. I'm frustrated now.

I want him to be held accountable once and for all. Those families deserve that. He deserves that and society deserves that. So we are frustrated. The nation is frustrated. I'm bombarded with people that are just outrage that he is now on the run and being held accountable yet again.

BERMAN: Jeffrey, you follow this case from the beginning. You were surprised when he got just ten years probation for this. Are you surprised now that he could be on the run?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, Berman, it's a polarized season in the United States. It's politics. This is finally a story in the holiday season that we can all come together on because this is so awful. This is so horrible.

This is so outrageous that no one, you know, the sheriff, of course, because he has to live with this, but no one can look at this story and be anything but horrified at, you know, what wealth and privilege got this kid and have gotten that incredible ridiculously undeserved gift of probation and to use it to play beer pong and disappear, you know, only proves how awful the case was.

BERMAN: The sentence was in the first place. And they are still using it to go on the run because, Sheriff, you think he may be out of the country.

ANDERSON: I wouldn't be surprised. They had a good head start. And he reported to his probation officer and hasn't been seen since. I don't believe they're the kind of people that would have ran a short distance. I believe they plan this. I'm not going to be at all surprised if they're out of the country. I don't have any intelligence information telling me that, but my gut feeling said they've gone a long way. They have the money. They have the ability to disappear and I'm fearing that they have gone a long way and may even be out of the country.

BERMAN: Sheriff, do you know if he has a passport?

ANDERSON: I do not know for a fact if he does or does not. No. He very well may.

BERMAN: Jeffrey, did the FBI and U.S. Marshals now joining the search for him. What does that mean?

[20:55:00] TOOBIN: Well, it means, they're searching for him, but, you know, he's had -- several-day head start. And, you know, in an age where you can just get on an airplane and there's nothing about him, there's nothing on him, he's not on ankle bracelet or anything like that would say he's a felon and he's not a household name, so if he went to most airports in the United States, he could take off with no problem.

BERMAN: Jeff, what's next? In the legal process.

TOOBIN: Got to find him first. That's the only thing that -- you can't have a legal process without a defendant. And, you know, the good news is if there is any good news is that the longer he stays away, the more he's going to be punished for this.

BERMAN: And, Sheriff, any last word, any message you would send to Ethan Couch and also the families that he hurt?

ANDERSON: Well, my sympathies continue to go to the families he's hurt. And for Ethan and his mother, you can run, but you're always going to be looking over your shoulder. We're not going to give up. We're going to come after you. We're going to find you wherever you are. The FBI, the U.S. Marshals and us are all going to be looking until we find you. You won't rest easy. You'll always be running and we're going to come get you. And we're going to do everything we can to hold Ethan, find him accountable.

BERMAN: Sheriff Anderson, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much. We'll be right back.