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Lakeisha Holloway Faces Judge; Trump Still Tops Polls. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 23, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is getting a much-deserved day off today.

We have very big political news this hour.

But first, we do need to head to Las Vegas where any moment now, the woman who police say intentionally drove her car into dozens of people along the Las Vegas Strip, she is set to face a judge for the first time. Lakeisha Holloway, you see her right there on the left side of your screen, she faces three felony charges including murder. And prosecutors say more charges, they're likely to be added as the investigation unfolds. One person is dead after all of this. 37 others injured in that horrific scene Sunday night.

Let's get straight to Ryan Young who's outside the courthouse in Las Vegas right now. So

Ryan, what are we expecting to happen this hour?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. We're hopefully going to hear more charges and maybe some of the details that we haven't learned yet. Everyone wants to know what the motive is in case and maybe some of the details that she shared with deputies once she was arrested. Look, 37 people were injured in this. So many people witnessed what happened when that car kept going from the roadway to the sidewalk, back to the roadway, to the sidewalk. But the details in terms of what she said to officers afterwards, that's something that people want to lock in on and try to figure out exactly what was going through this woman's mind as this was going on. A lot of talk just in the last few days, one about the child that was in the car. That 3-year-old, we know, was in protective custody. We do know her family was traveling to town to get custody of the child. What happens from there? We talked to family members yesterday who said, look, this is not the Lakeisha they now and they plan to talk after court today, after figuring out exactly what she faces. You can obviously understand with court getting ready to start, a lot of people are nervous in terms of her family members in terms of what she'll face. She turned her life around. And at some point she was homeless and she talked about the idea of taking a step forward and changing her life. Now that all seems different with her facing these serious charges after running a lot of people over including killing that mother of three.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Not only such a sad, horrific story that played out Sunday fight, but two very conflicting stories about who this woman is, coming out from police and from her family. And as you mentioned, we do expect to hear from family members. Do we know whom after this court appearance?

YOUNG: Look, they have a family spokesperson, but that's the thing that everyone's been talking about, those conflicting stories about her life, the fact that she changed her life and had a promising future, and then now what's going on here. The sheriffs talked about the idea that maybe she was having a dispute with the father of her child and that she was trying to drive to wherever he was and stopped here to get some rest. And unfortunately she was pushed away from several different parking lots because obviously her car didn't belong there as she was trying to sleep. And as she pushed that car out of those parking lots, she then turned her car onto the Las Vegas Strip. But no one knows the motivation for why she turned her car from the roadway onto the sidewalk, and that's what everyone's been focusing on hoping that more details come out in this case because you've got to feel for the families -- the victims, obviously, the people who were just standing there minding their own business when this car comes careening off onto the sidewalk. The family members we talked to yesterday was so shocked. They wanted to get in front of her to glean something from her. They say at the end of the day, the only person knows exactly what was going on in that situation was Lakeisha Holloway.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

As Ryan's been speaking, you've been seeing on the other side of your screen, everyone, just to flag for you, that's this promotional video that Lakeisha Holloway filmed a few years ago, talking about how she had turned her life around and how she had overcome adversity, to become the woman that she was then.

That was just three years ago. Such a very different woman.

YOUNG: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: And very different story from what we're seeing right now.

YOUNG: Yeah, the first woman in her family to graduate from high school, then to go on to college, then to get a job with the federal government. Everything seemed to be online. And I remember yesterday we had someone from that organization talking about her life and the idea they hadn't had contact with her for years. When I was talking to the family members, they said, look, she has a nice support system around her. They had no idea that anything like this would ever happen. Of course, they're concerned with her mental state. We do know she was put on suicide watch, so you obviously understand this is one of those situations where they're worried about the mentality of the person who was involved in this.

But at the end of the day, when you think about the victims who were all walking along that sidewalk on busy Las Vegas downtown strip who never knew this woman, never saw that car before, all of a sudden it starts hitting women, children and kids, you can understand why people want to know exactly what's going on here.

[11:05:46] BOLDUAN: Not just once but over and over again. It just absolutely makes no sense.

Ryan Young is outside the court for us.

We're watching right now for this court appearance to begin. When it does, we will take you inside the courtroom so we can all watch these proceedings together to find out what will happen.

Meantime, let me bring in CNN commentator and legal analyst, Mel Robbins; as well as Laura Coates, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

Mel, as Ryan was really laying out, there's so much that doesn't make any sense in terms of the stories that are coming out from the sheriff's office, from the authorities in Las Vegas and coming out from this woman's family. But take me first inside the courtroom and what you expect, how much or how little do you expect for us to learn in this first appearance?


Good morning, Laura.

I think that we're not going to learn all that much. This is the first court appearance. They're going to be talking, I'm sure, about remanding her. I highly doubt you're going to see any bail in this situation. The prosecutor is still investigating. As we heard in the report earlier, I am certain that there are going to be more charges brought in this case. And then there's also the really interesting question around whether or not once she is given a public defender, which is what I used to do in New York City, I would be assigned cases when people can't afford their own attorneys and defend them, whether or not this could be an insanity defense in this case. And the law in Nevada is very tricky and very different than a lot of states -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's fascinating.

Would that come up right now, though, Laura, in your experience? Is that something -- that's not going to come up now, right?

LAURA COATES, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, what would come up now is whether she pleads not guilty or guilty by insanity right now. That's an available offense in Nevada now. It usually happens about 21 days before the trial and you have time to develop your case theory. You're very far away from that. But the real crux of the issue is what she did may have been crazy behavior. But that is not legal insanity. Nevada is very tight. It's very narrow. You have to both think that what you're doing was not wrong and also not know what you're doing. And her account from the police officers in her investigation and interview all suggest she was not intoxicated. She was rational enough to drive herself to a hotel and ask for security to have her arrested. This is somebody who was going to have an unbelievably -- unbelievably not possible insanity defense. She is going to get a conviction.

BOLDUAN: And, Mel, Laura brings up an important point that I actually wanted to ask you about. The detail that after running over all of these people, she drove away -- this is according to the police report -- then stopped, found a security guard, told the security guard to actually contact police because she had just hit a bunch of people. The fact that she basically admitted this, admitted to all of this, how does that play into her prosecution?

ROBBINS: Well --


BOLDUAN: Pause real quick. I'm so sorry.

Let's go inside the courtroom because Lakeisha Holloway is entering the courtroom right now.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: You stand right there. Do you have a copy of the criminal complaint?


UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: All right. And would you like a preliminary hearing set for 15 days?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Actually, Your Honor, I think as Your Honor probably knows, there's going to be a number of additional charges that we anticipate. The state is still investigating. Obviously, we'd like to run some independent investigation. We're requesting a 30-day status check for the purpose of setting a preliminary hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: OK. Ms. Holloway, do you understand and agree with that?

You have a right to a preliminary hearing within 15 days of today's date. However, Mr. Booten (ph) has told me due to the case, that you're willing to waive that 15-day period and instead set this for a 30-day status check and then we'll set your preliminary hearing. Do you agree with that?

OK. Here's a 30-day status check and we'll set preliminary hearing at that time.


UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Yeah, that's fine.

January 20th, 8:00 a.m. OK?




UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: One thing for the record.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Yes? UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: The original report had the victim's name

wrong in the count. We were able to confirm her last name. We did file an amendment this morning but I wanted the record to be clear.

BOLDUAN: All right. So quick and fast, but some details coming back.

Let me bring back in Mel Robbins and Laura Coates.

As you both heard and anticipated, it was going to be short. It was going to be brief.

We did hear, as you suspected, Mel, though, that they said that they do anticipate a number of additional charges, and they're asking if they want a 30-day status check before they kind of move forward January 20th it was set for. And very little emotion or anything that you heard from Ms. Holloway in this, just simply answering the questions of the judge, "yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am" is all I saw a couple of times, Mel?

[11:09:52] ROBBINS: Yeah, not surprising at all because as you heard, you know, the prosecution side, they're still investigating this case. This is a woman that was killed. You've got 35 people that are hospitalized. You've got her driving on the sidewalk for more than 200 feet. You've got this added piece that Laura talked about where after she had killed somebody and sent all of these people to the hospital, she pulls up to a hotel and turns herself in, essentially. And so this is a complicated -- it's not a complicated case necessarily to try, but given the number of victims in this case, the police want to be very thorough in investigating and bringing the number of charges.

And on her side, we still don't know -- while Laura wants to think that this is an absolute slam dunk, we still don't know the story about her mental health background. We don't know if she was delusional during the time that she was driving the car. I'm not suggesting that she was. But there's still a lot more to learn. I'm not surprised, though. I hate to say this, Kate. Everyone's focusing on the fact that she had turned her life around, and how could she spiral so quickly? Three years is a big amount of time in somebody's life, particularly if you end up homeless and you end -- and other things end up happening to you. So that doesn't justify what she did, but this is a story, as a former public defender, that you hear a lot.


BOLDUAN: Well, and you've also heard kind of how it's difficult even for the sheriff's department involved to really grapple with what they're looking at here. I mean, they say they think -- they believe it's an intentional act. But she wouldn't say why -- why she ran into these crowds of people, only saying that she does remember seeing a body bump up against the windshield or against her window at one point. So it seems clear that they themselves are grappling with what could possibly be the motive behind this.

Laura, I want to get your final thought as we go to break. But can you also answer me this. She had her 3-year-old daughter in the car. What happens to that child?

COATES: That child is removed from her care and her custody. And I believe her family will take custody if there's not a more viable solution for her.

But to Mel's point, the reason that delusional behavior is important in Nevada that means she had to actually believe that what she was doing was in self-defense and protecting her in some way. We don't have any information about that. What we have is somebody who people were trying to stop on the Las Vegas -- they were trying to pull her out of the car to stop the car as she repeatedly rammed into those people. You do have a case where somebody appears to have done intentional behavior and so far I have seen nothing to legally justify her actions. She's to be charged with murder and at least 30 counts of attempted murder.

BOLDUAN: One person is dead. 37 others injured, some of them this critical and serious condition, still in the hospital. A very long way from -- from trial, obviously, and we are just looking at the very beginning. A 30-day status check. We just saw Lakeisha Holloway really for the first time in person as she headed into that courtroom for her first appearance.

Mel, Laura, thanks so much.

COATES: Thank you.

ROBBINS: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, surprising new insight into Donald Trump's dominance over the GOP presidential race. What Republican voters have to say about Trump's style, leadership, and his chances now of winning the White House. That's next.

Also ahead, another black eye for the U.S. Secret Service. An agent is robbed in broad daylight. What the thief made off with and what the Secret Service is doing about it now.


[11:16:52] BOLDUAN: Brand-new CNN/ORC polls out today showing Donald Trump's demise not even close. Trump is dominating with 39 percent support among Republican voters in the new national numbers. That's more support than Cruz, Carson and Rubio combined in this poll. Still, Ted Cruz is seeing a bump in second with 18 percent. Then both Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have seen a drop down, now in a tie with 10 percent. Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush are all behind that.

Senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, has all the details.

So, Joe, take us behind the numbers. There's a lot to chew through here today.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Kate. And I think the first thing you want to talk about, really, is the favorability ratings which is interesting. Ted Cruz is actually on top of the field, at 74 percent favorability. He's seen a big increase in the last few months. And he's followed by Marco Rubio, Donald Trump is in third place in favorability, but even there, Trump has seen a 20 percent jump since September, suggesting Republican voters are getting more comfortable with him. And there's also a question in the poll I want to show you about how the respondents view the Republican field which we think tells us something about the voters now starting to narrow their choices. 60 percent of Republicans said they prefer one or two of the candidates compared with only 48 percent who said the same thing back in July. And then there's this. 40 percent said the field is wide open, down about 11 percent from the summer.

Our political director, David Chalian, compares this to the holiday shopping season. I think it's a good comparison. That to you it's starting to get late in the season, and the voters are starting to figure out where they're going to put their money.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. There's a lot of money to go around.

Joe Johns, thanks so much. Great to see you, Joe.

JOHNS: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Let me bring in CNN political commentator and political anchor at Time Warner Cable News, Errol Louis; CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter; as well as Republican consultant, Bruce Haynes; and the often-mentioned CNN political director, David Chalian.

David, let me start with you.

This is not just Trump winning. He has seen, if you look -- let me throw up this one poll about his handling of things, candidates handling of things. He's seen as far and away the most capable candidate in fighting illegal immigration and the fight against is. It's not just his brand. They like his policies, too. Doesn't that spell even bigger trouble for the other Republicans in the field?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it does, Kate. And look at those numbers. They all exceed his actual level of support in the horse race. So he is winning over, some Republicans who say they're with Cruz or Rubio or some other candidate, but they still think Trump is best equipped to handle is or immigration and certainly the economy. And this is clearly part of the fuel behind his dominance in the polls, as is this notion that Republicans are growing more and more -- they are coming around to the idea that maybe they're best positioned in the general position with Trump as their nominee. That is a new thing because we all know he's a vulnerable general election candidate, and yet Republicans, part of him closing the sale with them right now is that, I mean, eight points more now from -- I think it was, like, 38 percent to now 46 percent of Republicans say they're better off with Trump as the nominee than without.

[11:20:23] BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Let's throw that number up, Errol, because this is amazing when you

look at it. This gets to the other point that we hear over and over again. Trump as a nominee would mean that Republicans are handing the White House to Democrats. Well, it seems that Republican voters are not so convinced of that argument that folks are making.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. He is starting to convince some people that, you know, maybe this is what politics is. And that, I think, is one of the most interesting aspects of this entire race so far, which is that somebody who does what he does, who insults candidates to their face, who tells potty jokes and does all of this kind of stuff --


BOLDUAN: Potty jokes.


LOUIS: Absolute fabrications, you know, when it comes to thousands of Muslims in Jersey City. He not only skates past that, but he's now starting to convince part of the Republican electorate, it seems, that this is the way to win a national election. Now, there are many of us who don't think that that could possibly be true for a lot of different reasons, but some voters are starting to maybe sort of waiver on that.

BOLDUAN: It's getting closer and closer to first votes.

Brian, I want to bring you in on this. In talking about the other person who would like the numbers in these polls, Ted Cruz, he saw a bump in these polls, but we have to talk about this uproar over a "Washington Post" cartoon. The quick back story, and let's show video of this, Ted Cruz, he cut an ad -- a parody ad that ran on "Saturday Night Live."


BOLDUAN: That's not it, but you will see it. In the parody, the kids are in it with scripted parts. Afterward "The Washington Post" put up this cartoon mocking the ad and mocking the fact that he uses his kids as political props in the ad.

STELTER: Showing them as monkeys.

BOLDUAN: Showing them as monkeys. "The Washington Post" took it down. Ted Cruz, outraged, now fundraising off of it. What do you make of it?

STELTER: Cruz again this morning saying, don't mess with our kids whether they're my kids, Hillary Clinton's kids or Trump's kids. The cartoonist here is offending her cartoon. She had Cruz put his kids in his ad so don't start screaming when cartoonists draw them as well. There's free speech and free cartooning. It's fine for her to draw it but it was wrong for "The Washington Post" to publish it without even looking at it first. The editor admitted he did not review it before it went online, and that was a mistake.

BOLDUAN: Bruce, you're an ad guy. Was this genius or is this dangerous, using his girls in an ad after the up -- and then after the uproar fund-raising off of it? What do you think?

BRUCE HAYNES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, he's probably fund-raising off of it he's probably thinking, you know, a full-page ad in "The Washington Post" costs over $100,000. I'm going to need this to defend my family's reputation. I think it is a double standard. The Republicans oftentimes say there's a double standard in the media. And people roll their eyes. And all the Republicans, they hate the media. Well, guess what? Here's exhibit A of why there really is a double standard. You know, last year we had a Republican house staffer that was fired because she said something impolitic about what the Obama girls were wearing at a Thanksgiving press conference. Now they're saying Ted Cruz's daughters are mindless monkeys that obey the organ grinder. Sometimes we complain about our politics. If the media doesn't like our politics, then the media has a role in leading us away and not driving us down into the gutter with stuff like this.


STELTER: To be fair, this is not the media, this is one cartoonist, and the "Post" did take it down.

HAYNES: It is.

BOLDUAN: To Bruce's point, you bring up a good example on the other side.

And, Errol, there was a staffer fired for commenting on the Obama girls' outfits. Is there a difference when a cartoonist is commenting when the daughters are used in an overtly political ad -- this was a political ad -- versus the Obama daughters being at an event that they were told they had to be at?

LOUIS: I agree with Brian, there's rough and tumble and there's free speech. Frankly I know some political cartoonists, and they're not doing their job unless somebody howls in pain and they've gone too far. That's their job.


But somebody has to make a decision. And one of the grown-ups really should have looked at that and said look, portraying a child as a monkey, you know, a child who's old enough to have classmates, to have feelings, to have an understanding of what's going on here, that's just -- that doesn't serve anybody's purpose.

BOLDUAN: David, does it surprise you at all that he -- that Ted Cruz is fund-raising off of it? I mean, the fund-raise e-mail went out immediately, and it included "The Washington Post" cartoon in his fund-raising e-mail.

STELTER: Right. CHALIAN: Well, right. That's just smart politics right there. I

mean, he knows that this battle with "the Washington post" will certainly excite his base. He's a master at fund-raising e-mail, low- dollar donors, grass-roots donors, and this will play into that. I'm also not surprised, Kate, that almost every candidate has come to Ted Cruz's defense. This is sort of one of those no-brainers for politicians --


BOLDUAN: What's the other side as a politician, right?

CHALIAN: Yeah, like let's just keep the kids out of this.

[11:25:13] BOLDUAN: Yeah, yeah.

So we're talking about Ted Cruz. He definitely saw a bump here, David. Quick final question to you on this. He saw a bump if had these new polls out by CNN/ORC. So does this mean, when you see that he has a bump, Marco Rubio, he's down, does this mean that this is now a two-man race as Ted Cruz says it is?

CHALIAN: I think it's too soon to say that this is a two-man race because we've got lots of voting to come, coming up in February. And there will still be lots of candidates in the field, Kate. But what I do think that it says, remember, polls are a snapshot in time. Ted includes, clear winner against Rubio in their battle that began an hour debate stage in Vegas over immigration. His immigration numbers about how to handle it have gone up, and he was seen more -- by more Republicans as doing well in that debate than they thought of Marco Rubio. When immigration is front and center as it was in that battle between Cruz and Rubio, Cruz emerged the winner.

BOLDUAN: And that favorability rating is something that everyone in this race should be paying attention to, if they're coming up and want to take on Ted Cruz now.

Thanks, guys. Great discussion. Errol, Bruce, David, Brian -- I think I got them all in, Kate included. Thanks, everybody.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a badge, a gun and much more stolen from a man responsible for protecting the president. The White House's response to the robbery of a Secret Service agent. That's coming up next.

Plus, new details about the six American servicemembers killed in that latest suicide attack in Afghanistan. One was a mother, partner and advocate for equal rights in the military. We're going to bring you much more of some of their exceptional stories. That's ahead.