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Manhunt for Berlin Attacker Ends in a Shoot Out; Hijacked Plane in Malta with 111 On Board; Engelwood Angels Starting to Find their Wings. Aired 7:30-8a ET.

Aired December 23, 2016 - 7:30   ET


[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.

How do you interpret that?

DAVID DRUCKER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: How do I interpret that? I have no idea how to interpret that. Let me tell you what it could mean. It could mean we need to upgrade our nuclear arsenal and make it more modern. The infrastructure has had a -- huge problems and has been lagging behind. We know that from a lot of reporting -

CAMEROTA: But, we're in the middle of that. And as David Swerdlick just said, we're already doing that, yes?

DRUCKER: Right. Right, but I -- I mean you're asking me basically to shrink the president-elect and I'm not inside of his head. I'm not sure if he is trying to send a message to Putin or to North Korea or to China about the fact that we're not going to back down and we will continue to use our nuclear arsenal as a deterrent. Doing so has worked very effectively over -- over years in American history.

It's one of the reasons we won the Cold War. We were able to outlast the RussIans, both militarily and financially, because they could not keep up. It could mean all of these things. The reason we're all in -- you know, sort of trying to figure this out is the president-elect has been on every side of this issue throughout the campaign and even up until now.

At times, he's talked about allowing other countries to have their own nuclear arsenals, countries that currently do not. And as a matter of policy both Republicans and Democrats have always found it better for us to be in control of nuclear weapons and not even other democracies that we deal with.

And now, he's talked - and he's talked about wanting to get rid of nuclear weapons; now he's talking about a build up. This is the sort of thing that would be helpful for our allies and even domestically our policymakers to understand exactly what he's talking about. There could be positive aspects to this. There could be negative aspects to this. We just don't know.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And again, as this gets out that he said on the phone, let it be an arm's race, we'll outmatch them at every pass. Let's wait until we hear from his people what the context was because, again, sometimes even a president-elect or a president can speak one way to a friend on the phone and not mean it as a policy statement.

We don't know yet, so we'll have to learn more about that. Here's one that's more clear, where you don't have to shrink his head, as you say, David, but you can go on facts. He sent a couple tweets about his son and his son's charitable efforts in the context of what was just revealed as -- I don't know -- a potential sham around the inauguration.

My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with my presidency, isn't this a ridiculous shame? He loves these kids, raised millions of dollars for them and now must stop. Wrong answer.

This is untrue on its face. One, there is no possible conflict of interest, there are real conflicts of interest. And what was revealed by the Center of Public Integrity about this invitation saying $500,000 to hunt with the boys, $1 million to get to meet the president is not about raising money for kids. It was supposed to go to conservation charities according to the invitation.

What do you make of these Tweets? Defending the son, of course. But this way.

DAVID SWERDLICK, WASHINGTON POST: Right, so it's understanbable that Trump is going to, sort of, lash back at the criticism that these conflicts of interest exists and that the press is following up on these. I think here is the bigger picture challenge for the Trump transition, the administration, and the Trump kids.

When Donald Trump was campaigning for president, he pointed -- he put out there a very basic idea that I think most people can go along with. He was going to run the country, his kids were going to run the Trump organization, there was going to be separation.

But when you have the instances where the Eric Trump Foundation is raising money, you know, say, for instance, auctioning off a coffee with Ivanka Trump or some of the other instances that you pointed out, this blurs the lines, as you said, there are not just, sort of, pretend conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest are real and this presents a problem for them and they're now trying to push back --

CUOMO: You can raise money for kids all day; it's a beautiful thing to do. You just don't want to do it by selling access to the president.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, very quick thought?

DRUCKER: Yes, look, this is one of my favorite games. What if Clinton did it? This was the argument that the Clinton Foundation and their supporters made, and Trump, of course, was quick to point it out and call it pay to play, it's all a sham. And everybody knows that Trump's kids are not just his kids. They're grown adults, number one. Number two, they're among his key

advisors; his closest advisors. People are going to give to anything they do because they want access to the president. And to try to sell it as otherwise is just disingenuous. His supporters will buy it, it just simply isn't true.

CAMEROTA: David Swerdlick, David Drucker, thank you very much. All right, coming up, we are monitoring two big breaking stories. The suspected Christmas market terrorist has been killed in a shootout in Milan. We'll tell you what happened and how police finally zeroed in on him. Then we're also watching this apparent plane hijacking. A plane leaving Malta -- no, it's been diverted to Malta, I should say --

CUOMO: It's a Libyan flight in turn(ph) to Libya, was diverted to Malta by hijackers.

CAMEROTA: This is live on the tarmac in Malta. We'll tell you what we know about what's happening on that plane, next.


[07:35:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CUOMO: All right, we are staying on top of breaking news. There's a manhunt that has been going on for the Berlin Christmas market attack suspect. It has ended with a shootout near Milan in Italy. Investigators say Anis Amri pulled a gun when asked for information and opened fire, hit a police officer -- we are told -- and then the officer shot and killed the suspect.

CNN Foreign Correspondent Ben Wedemen joins us live in Rome with what we've learned. This is part, ItalIan authorities say, of a broader investigation. We are thinking at this point that involves, who did he know in Italy where he had been in jail for some time, how did he get there and who else may have been involved. What are you learning on the ground, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're getting more details about what exactly happened at around 3:00 in the morning in this suburb -- this working class suburb of Milan. Know we understand from the head of the police in Milan that this was an ordinary, routine just check for papers outside this train station.

Now, when they thought he was reaching for his I.D. or his passport, he pulled out a .22 caliber pistol, open fired, shooting one of the police officers in the shoulder. Then he ran behind a car and continued to fire on the ItalIan police officers there. But one of the officers managed to get behind the car, shot Amri twice; once fatally in the chest.

Now, they say that they found on his body not only only the gun itself, they also found a small knife as well as several hundred euro, which at the exchange rate is several hundred dollars. Now, the Italina police stress at this point that when he was stopped by this police patrol he was by himself. But the question is, what was he doing in this suburb of Milan because he took this train from Germany through France to Turin and then to the central train station in Milan, and then to this suburb, Sesto San Giovanni, which is a working class neighborhood. They want to know why he specifically went there. But at this point, they're not saying what they think.

[07:40:00] CAMEROTA: That's right, there's still so many questions. Ben, I'll take it, thank you much for your reporting. We have more breaking news to follow. This one out of Malta.

There's a hijacked plane sitting on the tarmac there with 111 people onboard. Let's bring in CNN Foreign Correspondent, Ian Lee. What have you learned, Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, right now, they're trying to figure out what are the demands of the people who hijacked this plane. As you said, 111 passengers onboard; there's 82 males, 28 females and 1 infant according to the Prime Minister of Malta. This was an internal Libyan flight going from Sabha in the south of the country to Tripoli, the capital in the north, when the hijackers took it.

Now, we're hearing from Reuters that the pilots wanted to land the plane in Libya, the hijackers refused and the plane was diverted to Malta. An airbus A-320 Afriqiyah airplane right now on the tarmac. There is security forces, they're trying to determine the best way to move forward. Obviously, we're hearing from politicians from Malta saying that they hope this ends peacefully.

That is the main goal right now. But they want to figure out what these hijackers want. And I think it's important to point out that these are people who have demands, who have -- want to use them to get what they need. This is not what we've seen in the past where you have terrorist acts where people are just trying to commit mass casualties.

So, that is what these officials right now in Malta are trying to determine what these people want so it can end peacefully.

CUOMO: Ian, thank you very much. Please stay on that situation, come to us whenever there are developments. We'll watch it throughout the morning. All right, big story back here at home. It's a video that has gone viral and for good reason. A mother calls 911, says that the neighbor just assaulted her 7-year-old boy. The boy, why? Well, supposedly the neighbor was upset about the kid littering on his lawn.

The officer gets there, talks to the neighbor, goes to talk to the mom, winds up arresting her. Here's what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you ask me why don't I teach him? You don't know what I teach him. And, you know, whatever you teach your kids don't mean that they go by your rules when they're not in your sight. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you keep yelling at me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you just pissed me off telling me what I teach my kids and what I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) piss me off, I'm going to take you to jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no you're not, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) we are on live. Don't grab her. Don't grab her.


CUOMO: Obviously, somebody there was with a cell phone video. The mother and two of her daughters were all taken into custody have since been released from the jail. Let's bring in Retired NYPD Chief of the Department, Philip Banks.


CUOMO: Chief Banks, good to see you. We hear the officer is on administrative leave, Internal Affairs is investigating. What is your reaction to the video?

BANKS: When I first saw the video, shocking, disgraceful, deplorable, I could go on and on. Police officers, when they respond to the scene -- they are trained at our core to de-escalate a situation. They're expected to go to situations where tensions are going to be very high.

CUOMO: What's he not doing right, Chief?

BANKS: He escalated it. I mean, I thought the situation was under control. I thought the mother was articulating the reason why she was calling. I think that he brought a partisan mindset and an attitude to this particular scene and he took a routine assignment and he completely escalated that situation.

CUOMO: Does training involve in this type of allegation situation, especially where a kid's involved, questioning why the kid wound up in that situation?

BANKS: I never heard of a situation where you would challenge a parent about why don't you teach your children not to litter, or some sort -- none whatsoever. It doesn't happen in New York, I doubt very seriously if it happens in Texas, as well. So, no, not at all.

CUOMO: Now, one of the important things is you don't judge all by some. That happens a lot in policing situations. What is your worry(ph) about what needs to be done here to enforce the proper police procedure and also to deal with the community policing aspect?

BANKS: See, what happens is that the leaders in law enforcement has to understand one thing. When you have situations like that, what goes through the mind of the community is that what were the actions that took place prior to this because this officer was in many situations before. And the attitude that he brought, and his whole demeanor and his whole actions, this is not the first time he did it.

So, the question becomes what was done before and what check and balance systems are in place to determine and detect that type of attitude. We have these predictive policing, we have these broken windows type of theory; all types of methods to determine crime before it happens, before it escalates.

And I think we need to take some of those models and put it into actually policing our own. And not only the 7-year-old and the mother and her daughter are(ph) victims, but the police officers who go out and do their job every single day they become victims, as well, because they're lumped in with an officer who certainly did not perform his job as expected.

CUOMO: Do you agree with and think that the department there is doing the right thing in terms of how they're addressing it?

BANKS: Well, what I'm understanding what they're doing is what I am reading in the paper. If that is accurate, per se, it looks like they are. But I would just caution them is that people have heard all the time we're doing an investigation, wait until the investigation is over. And to a lot of people's minds, that's a code word for saying, Give us time so we can find our department as less at fault as possible. So, my advice to them I would do a thorough investigation, but certainly do it as expeditiously as you possibly can.

CUOMO: And that's why we cover these stories. Hopefully the light creates an urgency and comes out the way justice demands. One other quick thing about this is that in this kind of situation you're going to see black and white and that is going to trigger something. What is your -- your perspective on that? When people want to judge this situation on the basis of race, what do you say?

BANKS: You know, that's just the norm we live in. We live in a racist society, and it's not what we germain(ph) into law enforcement, it should remain(ph) to all industries. But I would say to a lot of individuals -- and I may take some water(ph) into that -- bad policing is bad policing, and it happens to all people regardless of their color.

Do I believe that it happens a lot more to African-Americans and Latinos? Absolutely. But bad policing is bad policing and certainly has to be rooted out.

CUOMO: All right, Chief, we'll stay on this story. Thank you for that perspective.

BANKS: Thank you.

CUOMO: The best to you and your family for Christmas.

BANKS: Absolutely, happy holidays to you as well.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to take a break. When we come back, all the talk during the election was about truth. We post truth and all that other kind of spin. PolitiFact will reveal its picks for the biggest lies of the year, next.


[07:50:00] CAMEROTA: Three youngsters known as the Engelwood Angels, they were found living in squalor, and now they are starting to find their wings. Police and the community coming together to raise more than $100,000 to give these girls a fresh start and a brighter future. Ryan Young explains in this edition of Beyond the Call of Duty.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three young girls from Chicago are getting a fresh start at life. They're known as the Engelwood Angels, and the love they received now is all thanks to one 911 call.

SGT. CHARLES ART, CHICAGO POLICE: I get notified that we have a situation where there's some children left alone inside this abandoned building.

YOUNG: Inside the home, the Sergeant Charles Art(ph) says the girls then 7, 2, 1 sat together with nothing but each other.

ART: They're all huddled up together in a -- in a bedroom, on a -- on a very dirty mattress that's inside the -- inside one of the bedrooms there. The whole house was very uninhabitable. There was no running water, no heat, no electricity. Dirty garbage spread throughout the apartment.

YOUNG: The father was accused of striking his children, and charged with eight counts of battery. He has pleaded not guilty. The mother's role in the children's lives is unclear. It's also not clear how long the girls had been abandoned. But officers found the girls' grandmother Dolores Anderson, who hadn't seen her grand kids in years. Anderson says she quit her jobs to take full-time care of the girls.

DOLORES ANDERSON: They was very small. They was dirty, like I said, because they hadn't been bathed in awhile. They wasn't used to real food at first.

YOUNG: Despite finding a loving home, officers wanted to help even more. So they started stopping by the apartment to check on the children, bringing furniture and other donated items. A GoFundMe page they established raised over $100,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two daughters myself. So it just -- it was heartbreaking to see them and the conditions that they were living in. So, yes, so we just knew that we needed to do something more for them.

ARTS: Well, we initially started bringing over some milk and some diapers.

YOUNG: The oldest child, who is now eight, had never, ever attended school. The officers helped to get her enrolled. A Christmas blessing that doesn't know color or rank but just love and lots of caring.

ANDERSON: I never thought there was still so many people out there in this world that care. There's no love anymore. And for everybody to reach out to donate what they can, food, money, clothing for the girls. And they try to help me, too, but I don't want anything. Knowing my babies OK, and I got a roof over their head, I'm fine.

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.


CUOMO: Important story our thanks to Ryan Young. All right, you're going to want to stay with us this morning because there is new information coming out of that hijacking in Malta. There's word that there may be people getting off that plane. We're going to get to it in just a moment.

Right now, we're going to get back to American politics with fact checking website PolitiFact has revealed its biggest lies of 2016. Talking about a tough thing to condense. You may be surprised what made number one. It wasn't anything from Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Joining us now to explain and reveal the choice is John Greenberg, staff writer for PolitiFact.

All right let's put up the list of the big five. Please. Now. Would be nice. There they are. Fake news. Trump, large scale voter fraud exists. Trump, I opposed the war in Iraq. Clinton, Comey said I was truthful. Clinton, I'm the only candidate Wall Street attacks. So tell us Greenberg why did fake news get number one?

JOHN GREENBERG, POLITIFACT: Fake news got number one because it really was the most insidious. And it was a new phenomenon. This is something that we haven't seen before on this scale. I mean, we've got, you know, the origins of all of this stuff, things that are floating around on the web. But, this was the season when it really took off, and it was crazy stuff.

I mean, you've got Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop down the block from where I live in Washington, D.C. You've got the democrats who want to impose Islamic law in Florida. I mean, crazy stuff and it was just everywhere. We said this is pretty important, lie of the year, fake news.

CUOMO: The whole phrase bothers me. I think it empowers and gives false dignity to b.s. and it gives an excuse to people who don't like whatever they see in the news they can always say it's fake now. But a strong choice for number one. Let's cherry pick a couple of these. I think in terms of impact you have Trump large scale voter fraud existed. Why did you pick that one?

Because there's a lot of layers to that, right? During the campaign he was saying there's going to be a lot of fraud. Then after it he said millions voted illegally. Then when they started to have all the discrepancies between the popular vote and the electoral vote he started saying this was a clean election stop talking about any distinctions.

[07:55:00] GREENBERG: You know, the reason this was a close runner-up for lie of the year is it goes to the trust that we have in one of our most basic institutions. I mean, if we can't trust the founding principle that our elections allow us to choose our leaders, then

we're pretty broken down so when Trump kept on saying there is massive voter fraud.

And by the way, there is zero evidence for massive voter fraud. I could go into all the details but I'll spare you. There is no evidence for this. It will happen from

time to time. I mean by one study 31 instances out of a billion votes cast over a period of time. But you just go around talking about a fundamental institution this way, it's not a good idea.

CUOMO: Especially when it's done for political expediency. And then you have Clintons. Let's use the Comey one. Comey said I was truthful. This was big because it wound up being contradicted by the head of the FBI, and then he qualified that contradiction, but that was it. Once the bell was rung, she had trouble. She said, the FBI agrees with me and they said no we don't.

GREENBERG: You know, what she specifically said that got her our famous pants on fire rating was that she said the FBI affirmed that what I told the public was truthful. Specifically about there were no -- her repeated claim that there were no classified details in her e- mail exchanges. Well, the problem was that Comey was directly asked has she been truthful with the public.

And he says I haven't looked into that. And then the FBI report itself said that, yes, there was classified material, in fact, three instances of -- that were marked with a C as classified within those e-mails. So flat-out contradicting one of her fundamental

assertions throughout that whole dispute.

CUOMO: John Greenberg, this is a good list. This is going to get a lot of buzz. People will say these shouldn't be on it; these should. And I guess that's what you want out of it in the first place. Accountability, fact checking, as important as ever. Thanks for being with us. Best to you and your family for the holy days.

GREENBERG: Happy holidays.

CUOMO: All right, we're following a lot of news. There is an active plane hijacking. There is a development in the German terror investigation. Let's get right to it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. We do have breaking news for you at this hour. First in Malta. That's where some passengers appear to be getting off a hijacked plane.

CUOMO: Now this is good news, if true, because the hijackers said they were armed with grenades. To just remind you how we got here. This plane took off in Libya, was supposed to stay in Libya, was diverted to Malta -- an island off the north coast of Africa. Let's get the very latest, bring in CNN Foreign Correspondent, Ian Lee.

Is it true that people are getting off that plane and they are the passengers/hostages?

LEE: Well, Chris, that's what we're seeing on live pictures. That the stairway is next to this Airbus 320 passengers are coming off now. We don't know how many

passengers, who are these passengers coming off. I spoke with a spokesman from the foreign ministry who said that they are two hijackers on this plane.

They are armed with grenades. They're threatening to blow it up. So far the foreign ministry spokesman hasn't been able to give me what the demands of these hijackers are. Also, we don't know the nationalities of the -- of the people who are on the plane. But right now there are negotiations under way conducted by the Maltese Armed Forces.

Their main goal right now is to get, as we've seen, all those passengers off that plane, and for this to be resolved peacefully.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Ian, we're watching this live. Do we see a man coming in and out? Are we to assume that that airport -- an airplane officer? Or a hijacker?

LEE: Right now we don't know. But, we do know that they are very active in trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to this. I think it's important to note that when you look at this sort of situation -- and we've seen terrorist incidents in the past -- terrorist organizations tend to blow up their planes in midflight to make the most amount of casualties.

So the fact that these men landed this plane at the airport indicates that they are willing to negotiate, that this could end peacefully, and right now, that is the goal of the Armed Forces, is to get everyone off that plane, and make sure that no one is killed in this operation.

CUOMO: All right, Ian, we know you're staying on it. We're watching those live pictures. Do us a favor. Monitor the picture. See if you can get some assessment and reporting of what this procedure is that we're seeing here, come back to us and we'll get to you, OK?

LEE: Sounds good.