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Trump Slams CIA Over Russia Hacking Intel; ExxonMobil CEO Speaks Out On Relationship With Putin And Russia; Thirty Million People Under Winter Weather Advisories; Alleged Church Shooter's Chilling Confession; Airman's Remains Returned 10 Years Later; Army versus Navy in Football; Frosty the Snowman Stabbed by Masked Assailant. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 10, 2016 - 08:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- cyber-attack, ordered by senior Russian leadership on the U.S. election. Trump repeatedly praised Russia during his campaign.

[07:00:07] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two of Trump's most high profile and loyal supporters, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuiliani, are no longer in running for jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps the most significant development here, something that many people have been waiting for, that confession video of Dylan Roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to that church in Charleston. I did it.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you. Happy Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for waking up with us. I'm Victor Blackwell. We'll get to those stories in a moment, but also ahead, the big Army/Navy game is today.

PAUL: And our Coy Wire is already on the field there in Baltimore.


PAUL: Hey, Coy.

WIRE: I'm here in Baltimore at the Army/Navy game. This is a special place. I want to introduce someone really quick. Sir, your name and tell us something special about this game.

BOB KESSEL, SUPERINTENDENT, WEST POINT: My name is Bob Kessel. I'm the superintendent at West Point, and we are going to break history today and we are going to beat the Navy for the first time in 14 years. You got to see it.

WIRE: Today is the day. You heard it. We're going to have more coming up for you later in the show.

PAUL: Coy, thank you so much. Good luck to you. That's a lot of faith there. Going to do it.

BLACKWELL: He's calling it. Let's begin with this really stunning rejection, though, from the president-elect of America's top intelligence agencies. Donald Trump's transition team after the reports from the CIA that Russia hacked the election to help win the election for Trump sent out this really interesting message, just three sentences.

PAUL: Basically saying that the team is -- wait a minute. Let me get it here. He said, "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and make America great again."

Now here is the thing, when you look at the timing of it, because this is coming as President Obama orders a full review to investigate the influence of Russia hacking on our elections.

And overnight, Trump's transition team is invoking, as you just heard me say there, one of the most infamous intel flops in the buildup to the Iraq war.

BLACKWELL: This is now coming and threatening potentially to fuel an early feud between the U.S. intel community and Trump's White House. Let's begin this morning with CNN's Kristen Holmes on Trump's new reaction to these reports of Russian interference in the election. She is outside Trump Tower in New York for us this morning. Kristen, good morning to you.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: Good morning. Well, you know it should be noted this isn't the first time that Donald Trump has dismissed this idea that Russians were involved in the hacking. Just earlier this week in an interview with "Time" magazine saying that he wasn't sure that they were involved. It could have been them. It could have been China. It could have been someone in New Jersey.

But as you mentioned, you read that statement out loud, that comes from his transition stationary, from the office of the president-elect, and he's essentially attacking, insulting the intelligence community.

We have to keep in mind, these are the people that are on the ground, that's sole job is to inform the president of anything that is a threat to national security, anything that needs to be watched. This is unprecedented behavior to go after this community.

And as we did see all throughout the election, Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, saying he wanted to work with him. It's not the first time that happened. But we have to wait for a reaction from these intelligence communities and from the White House to see what's next.

PAUL: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

I want to get reaction now from CNN political commentator and host of CNN's "SMERCONISH," Mr. Michael Smerconish. Good to see you this morning, Michael. What's your reaction?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning. My reaction is that if you ask police officers what are the most dangerous circumstances that they have to react to, they will often a domestic disturbance because you arrive on the scene where you have two spouses who are fighting and all of a sudden they unit in opposition to the police.

Why do I bring that up? Because Americans used to be that way. We would have our disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, but we would always unit against a common enemy, like in this case Russia.

And I just think this is horrific, that all of a sudden partisan politics now has seeped to a level where it jeopardizes national security. I couldn't disagree more with President-elect Trump. This is not a case for partisan politics.

If the Russians were hacking an American election, regardless of who won, we need to investigate that and we need to hold them accountable. And if he's right, that this is bad intel, then we Americans need to know that, too.

PAUL: Well, the thing is the intel folks who were in charge at that time during this big blunder going into Iraq, they're not the same people who are in charge now.

[08:05:08]SMERCONISH: And to your point, Christi, these are his people. By the way, I would feel more comfortable if I knew that the president-elect was availing himself of the opportunity to take a daily briefing like the president does.

All that information is made aware -- is made available to him now and reportedly he's only getting a briefing once a week. So I'm increasingly alarmed by the possibility that he's totally out of the loop. But that was not a typical press release last night, I'm on that list. You're on that list.

You know, routinely we get notification of an impending announcement of someone else joining the Trump team and when that thing came in at 9:34 p.m. last night, it set off alarm bells at least to me.

PAUL: I know that this is part of what you're going to talk about on your show in the next hour, but what else have you got today?

SMERCONISH: So something else of interest is the fact that fewer and fewer Americans are achieving the American dream, if the American dream is to be defined as, are you doing better financially than your parents did.

We'll talk about that finding with great guests and portrayed against the backdrop of the electoral map from the recent election. It should be a good program.

PAUL: All righty. Always is. Michael Smerconish, thank you so much. Good to see you.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

PAUL: Be sure to catch "SMERCONISH" next hour right here on CNN, of course.

BLACKWELL: All right, developing news in Syria now, fierce clashes and ground fighting taking place right now as the Syrian regime battles rebel forces in Aleppo, but Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the U.S. will soon be sending help to the region.


ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I can tell you today that the United States will deploy approximately 200 additional U.S. forces in Syria, including special operations forces, trainers, advisers and explosive ordnance disposal teams. These uniquely skilled operators will join the 300 U.S. special operations forces already in Syria to continue organizing, training, equipping and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces to take the fight to ISIL.


BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is joining political leaders from around the world in pairs today talking about the bloody civil war in Syria. The secretary says that the Syrian regime and Russia need to provide guarantees to opposition fighters in Aleppo that they won't be marching into a massacre if there is a cease fire.

The president-elect tweeted this morning that Rudy Giuiliani is no longer in the running for secretary of state. So who is now being added to this list for consideration? We'll talk about him after the break.



BLACKWELL: The search for secretary of state still on. Rudy Giuiliani is out. We know that. Donald Trump tweeted this morning that, "Rudy Giuiliani is one of the finest people I know and former great mayor of NYC, just took himself out of consideration for state."

PAUL: Now, according to "New York Times," Donald Trump may be seriously ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in digital reporter for CNN Politics, Eric Bradner, and Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News. Good morning to both of you again.

Tillerson appears to be -- let's start with Russia, on pretty good terms with Russia and Vladimir Putin, receiving the ordinance of friendship -- order of friendship decoration from the Russian government. Let's hear his description of his relationship with the Russian president --


REX TILLERSON, CEO, EXXONMOBIL: My relationship with Vladimir Putin, which dates back almost 15 years now -- I've known him since 1999 and I have a very close relationship with him. I don't agree with everything he's doing. I don't agree with everything a lot of leaders are doing, but he understands that I'm a businessman. And I've invested a lot of money. Our company has invested a lot of money in Russia very successfully.


BLACKWELL: So this continues, Errol, a theme, a common denominator amongst many of Donald Trump's picks, pretty friendly with Russia, pretty friendly with Vladimir Putin. Does this single element potentially elevate him on this list?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it certainly couldn't hurt, Victor. The other pattern that we see emerging is that if you are a senior military leader, preferably a general or you are a corporate titan, a CEO preferably, you seem to have a leg up with the Trump transition.

In fact, if you look at somebody like a Rudy Giuiliani, who is a career prosecutor and a politician, and frankly a Chris Christie, sort of the same deal, they didn't seem to get nearly as far as some of these other people with a slightly different profile.

BLACKWELL: Eric, what's the reporting on why Rudy Giuiliani is now off the list? Just a couple weeks ago, he was not so subtly hinting that he wanted the job and that he thought he was at the top of the list potentially?

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL REPORTER: That's right, Rudy Giuiliani has been sort of letdown slowly at this point. Donald Trump has tweeted that he took himself out of the running, which is not entirely true, but there are a lot of potentially problematic elements to a Giuiliani nomination for this role.

He has some serious financial, potential conflicts of interests and deals that would be heavily scrutinized in confirmation hearings. As Errol said, these corporate titans are really being elevated in Trump world right now.

He is looking at someone in an energy CEO who has been dealing with countries that are sort of problematic spots for the United States for a period of decades. So, he's really looking to these people who might not have experience in government the way someone like Giuiliani does.

But who do have periods of time in their lives working with foreign leaders in terms of the bottom line dollars and cents. That's something Trump seems to recognize. BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here and we can listen to Tillerson himself just a couple months ago from the same event at the University of Texas talk about his role as a businessman and at that point and still today not a member of the U.S. government. Let's listen in and we'll talk about it on the other side.


TILLERSON: Host governments, resource owners and whether it's Russia or Yemen or, you know, wherever, the Middle East, make sure they understand that I'm not the U.S. government. I am an American company and I will be bound by the laws of the United States and other countries and I'm going to follow those laws.

[08:15:01]But I'm not here to represent the United States government's interest. I'm not here to defend it nor am I here to criticize it. That's not what I do. I'm a businessman.


BLACKWELL: Errol, there will obviously be some maybe conflicts that have to be sorted out. The Trump team obviously sees this business background not just at state potentially but other departments and agencies as a plus, as a benefit.

LOUIS: Absolutely. For state in particular ExxonMobil had something like $268 billion in revenue last year. This is not a small company by any means. They're in some ways bigger than many local governments, right?

So if he had been the governor of Rhode Island or something like that, he would not have had the kind of experience that Rex Tillerson brings to the table as far as dealing with multiple governments, dealing across all kinds of different lines.

So, it's not sort of a crazy choice to imagine that somebody like this could pick up sort of a new client, a new orientation and work as hard for the United States as he has worked for ExxonMobil. That seems to be the logic of the Trump transition.

BLACKWELL: Eric, beyond specifically Russia and what appears to be a shared philosophy on Vladimir Putin, there seems to be some daylight between Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson as it relates to climate change, as the present CEO of ExxonMobil admitting and saying explicitly there has been a change in the climate over a period of time, that cannot be refuted.

The question he says is the human involvement and influence on it, but we know from Donald Trump and his tweets he says that climate change is a hoax that the Chinese came up with.

BRADNER: That's right. You know, Democrats had some hope after Trump -- the interview with the "New York Times" after the election where he acknowledged that human activity plays some role in global warming and when he met with Al Gore, there was sort of a little bit of hope that he might be moving past his campaign position that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese for business purposes.

But now he's picked Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma who is known specifically for being a climate change denier and for his lawsuits against the EPA to head the EPA. And so, it's clear the direction the Trump administration is going.

Tillerson has been the head of a company that sort of in part for PR reasons has done a lot of research on climate change. It's not clear whether that's sort of a company PR position or something that he personally believes. And so that's an area to watch in terms of policy development early on.

BLACKWELL: All right, Eric Bradner, Errol Louis, thank you both -- Christi.

PAUL: So have you looked out your window or even gone outside because the arctic blast is here for the season. There are winter storm watches, there are warnings in effect for more than 30 million people this morning. We're going to tell you what's ahead.

Also -- Chicago, one of my favorite cities, how about you? It may be known as the windy city or the second city, but for a talented local artist, it's more like the city with a muse. He gives us a tour in this week's "Around The World."


MATTHEW ADAMCZYK, BALLET DANCE/ARTIST: My name is Matthew. I'm a dancer with the Jeffrey Ballet as well as a painter. I want to show you some of my favorite spots in Chicago. I want to take you to tweet, it's where I usually come before a show to get a hearty, healthy breakfast.

When I came in, I noticed that they were offering a gluten free option and a regular option. What brought that about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Demand. People really are very conscious of how they eat these days. They want it gluten free and we said we can do it.

ADAMCYZK: We're here at the Art Institute of Chicago and the sculpture court. I love to come here and see the human form depicted. It really inspires me to create art both on stage and on canvas. Chicago offers some great venues for live music. So tonight, I want to take you to one of my favorite, The Green Mill.

Nicole, this place obviously has a great history and I understand we're sitting in the actually Capone booth.

NICOLE BERG, MANAGER, THE GREEN MILL: Yes. This is where Al Capone would sit when he came in. You could drink for free, but no one was allowed to leave. That's how he stayed alive being paranoid and controlling.

ADAMCYZK: So now you've seen what I love about Chicago. Come visit me. See you soon. (END VIDEOTAPE)



BLACKWELL: OK. So if you check your calendar, we're still a few days out from the official start of winter, but you go outside, it feels like we're already there, yes.

PAUL: By far, I mean, look at the temperatures, 27 degrees here in Atlanta this morning. Woo, I was feeling it. I thought I was back in Ohio. In fact, this is how it is across the country as you can see there. So let's get to Allison Chinchar because a lot of people wondering am I going to get my white Christmas -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It depends on whether or not this can stay on the ground for at least a couple more weeks and in some places that may be the case because we'll go through multiple rounds of cold weather keeping that snow on the ground.

But the snow has to get here first and it's going to start in the western half of the country. We are talking the Pacific Northwest into the plains. That's where the main portion of the snow will take place this morning and into the afternoon.

Then it begins to shift over to the Midwest this afternoon and into this evening and then the great lakes region into the northeast will be tonight and into tomorrow. We're not just talking small amounts of snow.

Some of these areas are going to pick up pretty significant amounts, in fact, much of the Midwest could see 8 inches to 10 inches of snow, even some pockets of 12 inches. And then farther east, say especially around Eerie, Pennsylvania and some areas just south of Buffalo, because you're going to have that lake effect enhancement, we could be talking in excess of 20 inches of snow.

Again, an incredible amount of snow. One thing to consider tomorrow, the Bangles versus the Browns game, we're forecasting 3 to 5 inches of snow. This could go down as the snowiest game in their history because the previous record was about 3.7 inches.

[08:25:11]So again fans in Ohio, they know how to bundle up for the games and they're certainly going to need to do it tomorrow.

PAUL: That always makes it a fun game to watch.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Yes -- to watch.

PAUL: Slipping and sliding and moving around. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: From inside watching on television it's fun, but if you're sitting out there, not as much fun.

PAUL: You're not fun, come on.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's move to a serious topic here, this disturbing confession of an accused mass murderer. Dylann Roof admitting to the FBI that he purposefully murdered black church goers. The bizarre confession tape, we're going to show this to you, and why he says somebody had to do it.


[08:30:15] PAUL: 8:30 on a Saturday morning and we're glad to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Yes, let's talk about something that's very disturbing for a lot of people. In fact it's been described as eerie, bizarre, evil. These are some of the words used to characterize the disturbing confession of accused gunman Dylann Roof.

BLACKWELL: Yes. This alleged mass murderer wasted no time, flat-out admitting to slaughtering a group of nine parishioners at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

You see the surveillance video here from June of 2015. It shows him walking into bible study with a gun on his waist and here slowly leaving with the gun in hand. The jury heard his confession for the first time in court and specifically why he chose Charleston and that church.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the reason why you chose Charleston as your location? Why that particular area there?

DYLAN ROOF, ACCUSED MURDERER: It's a historic city, you know. One time I think it had the highest ratio of black people to white people in the whole country when we had slavery, you know. And the other reason is just because that AME church was historic, too. I guess that's pretty much the reason.


BLACKWELL: Our Polo Sandoval has been at the Charleston courthouse covering this trial at the courthouse covering this trial.

And Polo, it's eerie and I think Christi used the right word there to hear him explain this and from his perspective he thinks what he's saying is logical, it makes sense.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And to a certain extent, too, Victor, to make it even worse, there is that slight giggle or a chuckle if you will when he says, I did it. And I can tell you being in the court, it was very difficult for many of the individuals that were present to watch this interrogation video. It is by all accounts and as you're about to see and hear was a confession of a cold and calculated killer. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROOF: I went to that church in Charleston, and I did it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did what? Did you shoot them?

ROOF: Yes.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The confession video was overexposed but Dylann Roof's motive is crystal clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your deal -- so is it like --

ROOF: To agitate race relations.

SANDOVAL: Seemingly consumed by a racist fury, Roof told officials he researched black-on-white crime on the Internet during the George Zimmerman trial. It was then he started down a path toward hate crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you consider yourself a white supremacist?

ROOF: I do consider myself a white supremacist, sure. White people are superior, if that's what you mean.

SANDOVAL: Church surveillance video released this week shows Roof entering the house of worship in June of last year. He was inside for about 45 minutes. Then he Roof peeks his head out. A Glock 45 caliber pistol in his hand. He then slowly walks out of the door of the church.

ROOF: I was in absolute awe that there was nobody out there after I shot that many bullets. When I walked out that door, you know, I peeked out the door. So I thought there was going to be somebody there ready to shoot me.

SANDOVAL: Roof was prepared to kill himself but didn't when he saw no flashy lights, he told officials. In the video confession Roof laughs occasionally and when agents tell him that he murdered nine people, he appears shocked.

ROOF: There wasn't even nine people there. Are you guys lying to me?


SANDOVAL: Dylan Roof also wrote a 2,000-word statement with photos and posted it online the afternoon of the shooting. In it, Roof said he thought black people were stupid and, quote, "inferior to whites," and violent. He goes on the say, "We have to skin head. No real KKK. No one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well, someone has to have the bravery to take to it the real world. And I guess that has to be me."

Charged with 33 federal counts including hate crimes, Roof's defense team has conceded that he committed the slayings and has, instead, focused on trying to spare him the death penalty. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: That last part of the piece there meant to answer that question that we've heard here in the community, if there is a taped confession, then why is this trial even happening? Well, the defense clearly hoping to save their client's life. They've offered a plea deal. The government declining that. So at this point it's not a matter of there's a conviction but when there's a conviction and the question is what kind of sentence will a jury eventually hand down. Guys?

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

We want to now talk with Laura Coates. She's CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Laura, thanks for being with us here.

[08:35:01] This video that we're seeing now, as we've said, it's disturbing and it's hard to even comprehend what is in his mind. What was your initial reaction when you listened to it, when you saw his demeanor?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I think I had the same visceral reaction that everyone had of this very eerie, monotone man who thought that he was justifying a horrific, disgusting tragedy by trying to agitate race relations. And I think one of the things that was so shocking to people was the idea that the Trayvon Martin case with the trial of George Zimmerman seemed to -- was such a polarizing aspect of our country and really I thought was one that was going to quell some racial tensions.

And in fact in his mind, it actually served as an impetus behind this act. It was very, very heartbreaking to hear that there was this particular person who had no remorse, no expression of remorse and a very, very quick confession in this case.

PAUL: And because of that, what does that tell you about his mental capabilities? I mean, we know that he is capable enough to stand trial, but he's representing himself.


PAUL: There are a lot of questions and it seems like the defense, as I understand it, is not going to call a lot of witnesses initially. They are banking on his mental health getting him off of death row. Do you think that's possible?

COATES: You know -- no. And the irony of that is that he has opted to have his defense attorneys help him with the guilty phase of the trial and for himself to be able to cover for the penalty phase, which is very shocking because the guilt phase, one you'd expect him to make a defense here. They've already conceded that he, in fact, is guilty of these crimes. And the irony here is that a man who massacred nine people in this church wants his own life spared to be able to serving a life sentence without parole. But the thing is, the mental health is no longer really an issue.

I know we look at this case and say obviously this man is insane to have committed this type of crime, but legally speaking he is competent to stand trial and even has had evaluations to suggest that is actually the case. But remember, death penalty cases, especially at the federal level, are, in fact, very rare to bring and even when you actually do get a conviction and try to implement and follow through on the death penalty itself, it's very, very hard because it takes very many years.

Tsarnaev, the Boston marathon bomber, is still on federal death row as are at least I think 50 or more other inmates on death row on the federal level. And so it's hard to carry those penalties out. This will be a long, drawn-out process and it will be heartbreaking to see it go through appeals.

PAUL: I want to talk about the makeup of the jury, 10 women, two men, three are blacks, so this is primarily a white female jury, may have some moms in the mix there who may look at this kid and think, gosh, where did things go wrong. Do you think he should die and what do you think they'll be able to reconcile themselves?

COATES: I think that they are absolutely entitled to pursue the death penalty in this case for this particular individual. Death penalty cases are reserved for truly heinous crimes and truly heinous individuals who act on particularly bigoted motivations and other motivations. And this is that prime example of somebody who, in fact, followed through with a heinous crime.

Having said that juries still do not like to enforce the death penalty. They twice as often institute a life without parole possibility when they do the death penalty. And that's the reasons you just said. You've got people who are heartfelt and have a different issue with the death penalty and obviously the community themselves. Remember when he was first arraigned, the survivors and the families of the victims came forward and said, I forgive you, and have not been very, very vocal about wanting the death penalty to be enacted in this particular case. So that's going to have a very big impact.

PAUL: Yes. No doubt. I mean, this community is so full of compassion. No doubt about it.

Laura Coates, thank you so much for your expertise.

COATES: Thank you.

PAUL: Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Rudy Giuliani out of the running for secretary of State and an ExxonMobil CEO is in. Up next, we get a comedian's take on Donald Trump's Cabinet selections process with Maz Jobrani.


[08:42:48] BLACKWELL: Well, this morning, we are saluting an American hero, Major Troy Gilbert, an Air Force fighter pilot who died 10 years ago protecting American troops in Iraq.

PAUL: Over the years the U.S. military could only recover some of his remains. Well, now the rest of his remains were finally found and returned to the people who love him so much.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports this family is finally learning how to reconcile all of this.



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Ginger Gilbert Ravella, mother of five, has been an Air Force widow for a decade. Now 10 long years after her husband, Major Troy Gilbert, died in combat in Iraq, his body has come home.

GINGER GILBERT RAVELLA, MAJ. TROY GILBERT'S WIDOW: I've been waiting for that homecoming for 10 years, and I got it.

STARR: A heartbreaking 10 years during which Troy's body was used in propaganda videos, then a call to Ginger last August.

RAVELLA: And he said Troy's -- Troy has been found. And I was -- I was blown away.

STARR (on camera): This summer, an Iraqi tribal leader approached U.S. forces in Iraq. His tribe had the flight gear and body of Troy, and they wanted to give it back.

(Voice-over): His F-16 crashed on November 27th, 2006. At the time, U.S. Special Operations Forces on the ground were in imminent danger.

RAVELLA: He was singlehandedly taking out the enemy and saving our guys.

STARR: General David Goldfein, currently head of the Air Force, headed the investigation into Gilbert's death 10 years ago.

DAVID GOLDFEIN, AIR FORCE GENERAL AND CHIEF OF STAFF: He was so intensely focused on taking that target out, saving American lives that he didn't give himself enough room for recovery.

STARR: Ginger received this photo. It's an image taken from a drone watching the battle just 30 seconds before he crashed.

RAVELLA: You can see him in this, right here.

STARR: The investigation found Gilbert was flying low using his guns to make sure he didn't inadvertently bomb the U.S. personnel on the ground.

RAVELLA: He took out the first truck. And on the second pass flying, you know, maybe 500, 600 miles per hour, 250 feet above the ground, crashed. [08:45:12] STARR: Among Gilbert's personal items returned, knee pads

with dirt from Iraq still on them. A barely recognizable digital camera with a pristine memory card. On it, this final photo taken long before anyone heard of selfies.

RAVELLA: I do believe that he knew he was risking his life, and I believe he wasn't thinking about his own life at that point. I believe he was solely focused on saving theirs.

MAJ. TROY GILBERT, U.S. AIR FORCE: I love you guys. Sorry I can't be there.

STARR: This video recorded just before he died.

GILBERT: I can't wait to get home. I know it's going to be just a couple more weeks before I'm there. So I will stay safe and I will stay healthy and I want you, guys, to do the same.

STARR: There have been two funerals already. One in 2006, one in 2013, when Gilbert's small portions of remains were returned. Now a chance finally to lay him to rest properly.

Some of the special operators Troy saved are expected to attend a final funeral. So will his five children, including twin girls who were just six-months old when he died.

RAVELLA: What greater gift could we be given this Christmas than to have their dad home. That's all -- that's all we needed.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.


PAUL: Such a strong family. We thank you for the sacrifice and for the service of the service of your husband and your family. We'll be right back.


[08:50:18] PAUL: Listen, it's one of the oldest, most storied rivalries in college football, Army versus Navy meeting on the gridiron for the 117th time this afternoon.

BLACKWELL: And Coy Wire is in Baltimore, excited, already there ahead of the big game.

Hopefully it's warming up just a bit there for you, Coy. What do we have in store for us?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's warming up and it's starting to get a little more lively here, Victor, Christi. Hello to you.

The Army-Navy game, it's the only game on today and it's highlighting men who committed their lives to serving our nation and who dream of playing the game they love in front of the nation. Third-string quarterback string from Navy who is going to be making

his first career start ever in those game, game of his life, is going to be trying to help keep his Navy midshipmen alive in a 14-game win streak. Here he is on what he had to say about how he's feeling?


WIRE: I played in the NFL, played in a lot of rivalries but none like this one. I can only imagine how you're feeling right now. How nervous are you?

ZACH ABEY, NAVY QUARTERBACK: I'm pretty nervous. There's a lot of pressure on me, but, I mean, at the end of the day, you know, it's just a football game when you get out there. The biggest thing Coach Niumatalolo told us all is this week of preparation, you know, how we prepare for this game and once we get on the field Saturday we should have a clear mind. We know the game plan and just play, play the game we've always played.

WIRE: What's going to be going through your mind when you run out on to that field?

ABEY: I mean, it's going to be -- it's a dream come true. I've always wanted to run out on that field with Navy on my chest, America's game. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be something I remember for the rest of my life.


WIRE: President-elect Donald Trump is looking forward to it. He'll be here today. And in keeping tradition with presidents who've honored in the past, he will spend one side -- half of the Navy's side of the field, the other half on Army so as not to choose a favorite.

This game, guys, represents all that is good about college athletics because the leaders in training who are playing it they exemplify teamwork, commitment, integrity, respect. Lon this field where I stand today, you're going to see some of the tradition that has taken place since 1890. You have the game ball delivery that the West Point Parachute team will deliver from about 4,000 feet in the sky.

You have the fly-over that one player told me he's been watching since he's been coming to this game with his father who also served our country. The national anthem will bring the players to tears before the game. It's a must-see event every year on one Saturday afternoon. Army and Navy with the deepest level of respect will stair each other down and fight for victory that will earn them bragging rights for a lifetime.

Guys, it's Army-Navy game, America's game is today at 3:00 p.m.

PAUL: OK, so, Coy, you had somebody on earlier who was convinced Army is going to win. Army is going to win this one. What makes him so confident? See anything different this year than we have in the last 15? WIRE: Well, you would think that, you know, it's not going to go

well. They've lost 14-straight times, Army has, but as we just mentioned, we heard from Zach Abey, he even said he's nervous. He is starting at quarterback for Navy for the first time ever because of an injury last week's game in the biggest game of his life. This is the Army-Navy game, all eyes on this young man. But he seems calm. He seems poised. So Navy does have that fighting chance. We'll see.

It's going to be all the good that is what college football can be. We're going to watch it today in the Army-Navy game, guys.

BLACKWELL: And I love that you're there in my beloved hometown of Baltimore there at the stadium where the Ravens play. I see that (INAUDIBLE) behind you. Got excited. I'm looking forward to this game myself. I really typically don't watch football --

PAUL: You watch this one.

BLACKWELL: I will watch this one. I will watch this one.

Coy Wire, thanks so much for bringing it to us. Bringing us the energy this morning.

PAUL: Have fun.

WIRE: You're welcome, guys. Thank you.

PAUL: He's got a good ticket there, already on the field.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Good spot.

PAUL: Nice.

BLACKWELL: So real-life Grinch spotted in this neighborhood in St. Louis after someone stabbed Frosty the Snowman. Stabbed a snowman.

PAUL: Yes, but you know that those security cameras are going to get you every time and they did it this time. A masked assailant did get away but the owner put this video on YouTube, put it on blast.

CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us what happened here.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's kind of chilling to hear that -- has been stabbed?

JEFF DIGS, ST. LOUIS RESIDENT: It's just mean spirited. I mean, it's silly vandalism.

MOOS: St. Louis resident Jeff Digs discovered the diabolical attack on his inflatable snowman when he came home from work.

DIGS: That's when I saw the big hole that had been gashed in his side.

MOOS: He immediately checked his surveillance camera video.

[08:55:05] At 11:22 p.m. a masked passenger jumps out of a pickup and makes a beeline for Frosty, viciously stabbing him, then trying to cut the rope and finally escaping in the getaway vehicle.

What could be sadder than watching Frosty slowly, slowly, ever so slowly deflate? The good news --


MOOS: But he did require extensive surgery.

DIGS: I put nine stitches in him. And he's doing well.

MOOS: To pay Frosty's medical bills, Digs jokingly set up a go-fund me page. The modest proceeds will actually go to charity. And he used "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" to attack the attacker by posting the surveillance video with a sound track.

(On camera): Digs didn't bother to call police figuring they have more important things to investigate, so the Frosty slasher remains at large.

(Voice-over): And you can't blame Frosty for being nervous after experiencing this.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Here is what I want to happen, I want these jack wagons to start talking now.

BLACKWELL: Jack wagons.


PAUL: Because you know they're out there. They're probably bragging about it. Somebody is going to turn them in.

BLACKWELL: You know, I got to listen to some Jimmy Durante today, listening to that "Frosty the Snowman." I prefer his version.

PAUL: I know. It's good, isn't it?

BLACKWELL: But a lot don't it. All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 a.m.

PAUL: "SMERCONISH" is with you now.