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FBI Warns Of New ISIS Threats To U.S. Churches; Italy Official: Amri Was "On The Run Alone"; Moments Ago: Victim's Body Repatriated To Italy; Carrie Fisher In ICU After Cardiac Arrest; U.S. Abstains In U.N. Vote Against Israeli Settlements; Vikings' Plane Skids Off Runway At Snowy Airport. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 24, 2016 - 06:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Alison Kosik. I'm sitting in for Christi Paul. Happy almost Merry Christmas.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Christmas Eve, indeed. Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell. This morning, the feds are warning about new ISIS threats on American soil, churches, holiday gatherings being potential targets.

KOSIK: The FBI and Homeland Security issuing a bulletin telling law enforcement agencies to be on alert for suspicious activity. This coming in the wake of that terror attack this week at a Christmas market in Berlin.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this for us and to tell us more about this new warning, Polo, for the United States.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Victor and Alison, there is one key take away this Christmas Eve, which is that federal officials say that there's no credible threats against any specific targets here in the U.S. But it doesn't necessarily mean that officials aren't on high alert, especially after this brand-new bulletin was issued by the feds yesterday.

After pro-ISIS websites posted a list of several churches in the United States. This was a list that's available publicly. So (inaudible) have issued an alert for state, local federal law enforcement agencies to be on high alert this Christmas eve.

They know that this is a time of year where large crowds will be gathering and of course, with the busy travel season as well, airports will be packed there. So they are asking not just law enforcement officials, but also the general public to be on high alert as they head out and about.

Again, the main key take-away here is that there are no known specific threats against any targets in the U.S. We have seen this before after different holiday seasons. But again, it's just a reminder as we heard before from several officials and previous holiday seasons, they'll be afraid as you are heading out about to meet your loved ones to simply be on high alert -- Victor and Alison.

KOSIK: So Polo, you talk about no credible threat specifically. But then again, you look at this time of year, the holidays as you mention, this seems to happen every year, but what is different about this time?

SANDOVAL: Right. We have seen before that they have specifically targeted -- at least we have heard about different threats against certain law enforcement agencies, as well as for example, some military bases. What's different here is that this bulletin here makes mention of what appears to be a list of churches in the U.S.

This is something that has been posted on several pro-ISIS websites. As a result, officials here in the U.S. have flagged that. They want several organizations, law enforcement organizations across the country to be aware of that.

Of course, as we continue to get ready not just for Christmas, but also, for example, New Year's Eve, New York City, expect officials there in the big apple to keep a very close eye on the crowds as millions of people are expected to gather.

And of course, when you look back to the attack in Berlin just last week, it just shows that the potential there when we see these kinds of attacks, as a result, this bulletin has been issued -- Victor and Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much for your reporting on that.

BLACKWELL: Breaking details this morning in the Berlin Christmas market terror attack, a senior Italian counterterrorism official tells CNN the attacker had, and this is a quote, "Hallmarks of being on the run alone" when he was killed in a shoot-out with police in Milan yesterday.

KOSIK: This new information emerging as new video of Anis Amri pledging his allegiance to ISIS as that video begins to circulate. So in this video, Amri says he would serve ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi and vowed to slaughter the, quote, "crusaders" who are shelling the Muslims every day. But he doesn't refer to Monday's attack that left 12 dead and injured 48.

The body of an Italian woman killed in the attack has just been transported to Rome. Our Nina dos Santos joins me now from Milan, where the gunman died. So Nina, I understand you were actually right next to an anti-immigration rally?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right. Let's just show our viewers what exactly is going on here. As you can see towards my left here, there are flags of the Northern League. This is the Northern Italian, very anti-immigration party here.

I've just been speaking to the leader of that party who is among the crowd, though, with the loud speaker. Again, he's made these repeated calls for all immigrants to be expelled from Italy, as a result of this suspect having been apprehended here about 30 hours ago.

Just about five meters from where he is speaking is where Anis Amri was actually gunned down by two police officers who seemingly stopped him at random and he pulls a pistol. He immediately began firing. They returned fire and within two shots he was dead.

I've also been speaking to a taxi driver who witnessed the immediate aftermath of that shooting of this main suspect saying that emergency services tried for 30 minutes to resuscitate him and eventually gave up when they realized that he had passed away.

[06:05:04]Now as you quite pointed out as well, Victor, there have been new developments here, senior counterterrorism forces telling me earlier today from Italy it seems as though the suspect, Anis Amri, had been on the run alone with only a few scant belongings.

He was said to be wearing all three pairs of trousers on his person on top of each other and he had only over $1,000 in his backpack, a toothbrush, some shaving foam, no I.D. and no cell phone.

So for the moment, they're trying to piece together why he was coming here. Was he heading from this train station where buses go to the Balkans and Southern Italy? Was he heading east, to the south of Italy, or perhaps North Africa where he was originally born? That's the line of the investigation today.

BLACKWELL: Nina, I wonder, this may not be a question that could be answered at this point. But if they now determine he was on the run alone, does that lead them to believe that this was an attack that was launched as a lone wolf or he'd been abandoned after his name and picture were released this week?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, it's hard to make those kind of conclusions, Victor. What we do know is that he did have links with the number one ISIS recruiter in Germany. So that is still a significant line of investigation that German authorities are going to be having to look into over there in Germany.

By the way, a German counterterrorism official was working with an Italian team. We have German agents here on Italian soil, as we speak, pursuing any kind of links that there may be between organizations, jihadist organizations operating in Italy and those north of the border in Germany.

But remember that this is an individual who is well-known to Italian authorities. His brother had told a TV station two days ago back in Tunisia that he thought he was radicalized in an Italian jail cell because he spent four years in jail here in Italy.

The big question is why did he come back to Italy after becoming the main suspect in that deadly attack over in Germany? And speaking of which, also this last hour, as you pointed out, we have had a repatriation of the victim, Fabrizio Delorenzo, who was killed in that truck attack. Her body arrived in Rome and will be heading to the south of Italy where she comes from later on today.

KOSIK: All right, Nina Dos Santos, thanks so much for the latest on all of that.

BLACKWELL: New York State Department, let's turn to that now, has issued a travel warning for Jordan and Egypt. They caution U.S. citizens to be vigilant traveling to and from these countries amid the ongoing terror threats and recent attacks. Particularly in Egypt, the U.S. mission prohibits diplomats from traveling to the western desert and to the Sinai Peninsula.

KOSIK: ISIS claims responsibility for a deadly attack on a popular tourist attraction in Jordan just last Sunday. They're also responsible for a bombing in Egypt that killed 25 people earlier this month.

OK. An update for you on "Star Wars" actress, Carrie Fisher. The actress - his brother has told CNN she's in stable condition, but still is in the ICU. Fisher suffered a full cardiac arrest while she was on board a flight that was going from London to Los Angeles.

BLACKWELL: Her "Star Wars" co-star, Mark Hamill tweeted in support of her recovery saying this, "As if 2016 couldn't get any worse, sending all of our love to Carrie Fisher." CNN's Stephanie Elam is following the story for us.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Victor, from what we understand, Carrie Fisher had a cardiac event close to landing at Los Angeles International Airport on her United flight coming in from London. From what we understand, people on the plane did come to her aid. Passengers and also folks working the flight coming to her aid.

And they also called in, you can hear it on air traffic control, they call in making sure that there was EMTs waiting at the gate to receive her. We know that she was taken to a local hospital. Her brother, Todd Fisher, telling CNN that she was moved to intensive care unit and that's where she is.

But obviously a lot of people tweeting out their support and love for Carrie Fisher hoping that she will make a full recovery from people who are just deep fans to her co-stars like Mark Hamill also tweeting out.

So a lot of people very concerned about the health of Carrie Fisher here, the 60-year-old actress. Still very busy, still keeping a very full plate, and obviously, just way too young to die -- Alison and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

The U.S., some say, put their thumb in the eye of Israel and now the Israeli prime minister is pushing back.

KOSIK: We're going to get the latest reaction from Jerusalem on this unusual and controversial move by the U.S. That's next.


[06:12:39] KOSIK: There's new diplomatic fallout this morning after the U.S. refused to veto a highly controversial U.N. resolution defying pressure from Israel and even President-elect Trump. Israel says it will not comply with the new resolution which condemns the reception of Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

And now Israel is retaliating against two of the countries that sponsored the measure. It's also offering sharp parting words for the Obama administration.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has the latest from Jerusalem. You know, Oren, when you think about who is living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, half a million people are settled there with their families, 60,000 of them are Americans. What is their reaction to this resolution?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no doubt that they are furious, just like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is furious. Not only at the Security Council resolution, as you pointed out, Netanyahu promising he won't abide by it. Perhaps something that he intends soon to build in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

He is also furious at President Barack Obama. We have never seen criticism like this from an Israeli government of an American administration. Here's part of what Netanyahu's office had to say.

It says, "The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang up at the U.N., it colluded with it behind the scenes. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution."

Netanyahu leaving practically no doubt there that he's done working with Obama. He's done playing nice and he is already looking forward to Trump. Perhaps predictably the Palestinians celebrating this resolution saying it's long overdue.

It was long overdue for President Obama to leave his mark on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Palestinian leaders say to hold Israel accountable for settlements in the West Bank.

KOSIK: You know, you think about the words that Netanyahu said, he called a gang up against Israel. You think about what went down at the United Nations yesterday. When this resolution passed, there was applause in the chamber. You know, the reality is, though, this really could be non-binding and you've got Netanyahu saying he's not going to follow it.

LIEBERMANN: Exactly. It's a non-binding resolution, from that perspective, it's almost more of a guideline or recommendation. And with President-elect Trump in office in just a few weeks it may not have practically no effect for the next four years. It requires essentially follow-up action at the U.N. to hold Israel accountable and to implement the other steps of the resolution. [06:15:10]And President-elect Trump has promised that he'll protect Israel at the U.N. So although it's virtually impossible to revoke or repeal this resolution, it may not have any effect here as long as Trump is in office.

KOSIK: So not practical, but certainly, the Obama administration sending a very strong and controversial message. Oren Liebermann, thanks so much.

LIEBERMANN: Absolutely.

KOSIK: Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you so much. Live pictures from Bethlehem as we approach the Christmas holiday here. You see the crowds there, beginning to prepare for some religious ceremonies there. We'll continue to keep them here and some of the other celebrations going on around the world.

Let's continue now with the conversation that Alison has just had with Oren about this U.N. resolution. We've got with us political commentator for CNN and Spectrum News anchor, Errol Louis. Errol, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk about domestic politics, what this means for the incoming Trump administration, what this means for the political parties here. Is there some impact beyond January 20th for the relationship between the U.S. and Israel after this abstention?

LOUIS: Absolutely. I think there's a profound shift in policy that has now been signaled. And let's be clear what the Trump administration is saying they plan to do breaks with the policy of the United States, with every president since Lyndon Johnson. All of them, Nixon, Carter, Ford.

It's been U.S. policy to abide by international law and to say that land that has been seized in warfare as is Israel did after the '67 war cannot be turned into a place where you put permanent settlements. That's really what lies at the heart of all of this stuff.

Donald Trump has been saying, well, no, we're going to disregard that and do what the wishes of the Netanyahu government wants to do, which is to sort of fight against the United Nations and fight against international law and fight against almost five decades of U.S. precedent.

And say, you know, somehow we'll get peace even as we allow this major impediment to a possible two-state solution to move forward. So yes, that's what it looks like is going start happening after January 20th.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you started to list off the presidents, Samantha Power yesterday was very careful in her explanation of the abstention to go through every single president's name coming up through Barack Obama, she explained all of those presidents had at least one resolution passed through, except for President Obama, as she read off why the U.S. was abstaining.

Let's talk about domestic politics now and even in the president's party on Capitol Hill, we had this tweet from Chuck Schumer, a senator from New York, soon to be the minority leader in the Senate where he said "Extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding that the administration has failed to veto the U.N. resolution."

In what position does this put Democrats like Schumer when this incoming administration has already cast the president and therefore, Democrats as being as they call them anti-Israel? What position does it put those Democrats?

LOUIS: I mean, you know, calling it pro or anti-Israel, depending on what the particular sitting government in Jerusalem wants the United States to do is good domestic politics. That worked for Chuck Schumer in New York in a big and always has.

What it means for a peace process however is something entirely different. And if you go and you look at how close all of these boundary lines are, how antagonistic and unworkable the situation is, how dangerous to the prospect of permanent peace the current situation is, you take a slightly different approach.

It's very easy to sit in New York and sort of tweet different arguments or from Mar-a-Lago or anywhere else, it's very different when you get there and actually see what people are dealing with on the ground.

So Chuck Schumer, yes, he's always pro-Israel in the way that he has always been. What it means for the president of the United States, who presumably wants to take a bigger view, perhaps play the honest broker role that only the United States can play.

If Trump wants to sort of abandon that and just be sort of a partisan in the way that Chuck Schumer and others have been, it just doesn't bode well for the peace process. In effect, make it go to a halt for the next few years.

BLACKWELL: Yes, getting to the process, we also saw from another Democrat, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, sending out a statement where she supports the abstention saying, "President Obama's refusal to veto today's U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements sends a strong message that the United States still supports a two-state solution."

[06:20:00]There was a spokesperson on, I think it was the deputy national security adviser who was on yesterday here on CNN who said that this was absolutely not an attempt to get back at Netanyahu, maybe for that address to Congress about a year ago. Is this how that is received? And is there some element here that could be the president quote/unquote "getting back at Netanyahu?" LOUIS: I think we all know President Obama enough to know that if there's anybody who would have a cool, calm, detached, almost maddeningly detached approach to this sort of thing and focus on policy rather the personality, I think President Obama has established that he's that kind of a guy.

Again, you know, look, Victor, it's interesting to talk to your colleagues and have them talk about what it takes to go from Israel over to major square and look at Bethlehem. And the fact there are multiple visas. That Israelis are not allowed to cross over into the West Bank to go to Major Square.

The level of poverty, the level of tension and level of unsustainable walls and guards and checkpoints everywhere killing both economies in the process. It's simply not sustainable. I think that's something that every administration has seen and recognized over the last half of century.

It's hard to imagine what will happen when the Trump administration comes in and decides to overturn all of that and say, you know, we're just going to let the settlers do whatever they want. Disregard any hope of a two-state solution. It's really striking.

BLACKWELL: Yes, having spent two months in Israel, I know the political and logistical challenges there for myself. Errol Louis, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Victor, a plane full of NFL players gets stuck on the runway in Wisconsin and with no equipment to get them off the jet. The airport actually had to get creative. We'll explain after this.


BLACKWELL: It's 24 minutes after the hour now. This could have been a nightmare travel scenario. A plane caring the Minnesota Vikings skids off an icy runway. The airport has to use a fire truck ladder to get them off the plane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did this ever happen?




BLACKWELL: Apparently, a little chilly up there. As you can see here, instead of starting a nightmare with angry social media folks, the players seemed kind of excited, sharing the video on the team website. A few other players on their personal Facebook page. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just so y'all can see what's going on here, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing down there?



KOSIK: Way too much fun.

BLACKWELL: Well, they're safe, which is good. This happened at the Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin. The jet was taxiing to the gate when a rear wheel slid off the runway got stuck. They didn't have the large equipment to get the team off the plane. They called the fire department. The Vikings will take on the Packers today.

KOSIK: More than 20 million people could see snow, freezing rain or ice this weekend. Dual storms are sweeping the west and northeast today, just as millions are trying to get home for the holidays.

Joining us now to talk about what's ahead in the weather, CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar. Good morning, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Alison. Yes, we're talking about a dual threat here because not only where we are likely going to have some air delays or cancellations, we are also talking the roads and even if you fly, you still have to get on the road somewhere to be able to get to your end destination.

We are looking at forecast delays in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. for today. In fact, at Newark, right now, just to the northwest, we're already seeing that changeover from rain into snow.

We have winter storm warnings out for much of the western half of the country. We also have blizzard watches and warnings for the central region as well as freezing rain advisories and ice storm warnings.

And then over towards the northeast, we also have the winter weather advisories, and this includes Interstate 91 and Interstate 80, both very heavily traveled highways that are going there.

Now, the rain again is expected to be very heavy, stretching from Boston all the way down towards Nashville through the day and it remained that way through much of the southeast as we get into the evening hours.

But the real threat is going to be the snow. You heard us mention the threat for blizzards. But you have to understand the actual definition of this because to be truly considered a blizzard, you have to have winds sustained meaning constantly at 35 miles per hour or higher.

And visibility of a quarter mile or less and that has to last for at least three hours. And we are going to have conditions like that across the northern plains, but even areas outside of that may have two out of three of these but not all three.

And another threat that we are unfortunately keeping an eye on is a typhoon, a super typhoon barreling towards the Philippines. Unfortunately likely to hit on Christmas day. This is not a good thing for these folks.

This is expected to be a very intense storm. We still expect slight intensification just before it makes landfall. But the one thing to consider, this is going to be a very big rainmaker for these areas.

We're talking a lot of regions, they could be looking at eight- plus inches of rain. Now the winds for this are 240 kilometers. To put that in perspective, that's 150 miles per hour, Victor and Alison. That's a high-end category four.

Only seven miles per hour off from what will be a Category 5 hurricane and it's expected to make landfall on Christmas day.

BLACKWELL: There is no good time for this, but this is especially bad time. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

KOSIK: All right, next, as 2016 winds down, we're looking back at the top 10 list for the business stories this year. That's coming up.



ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik in for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, good morning to you. Just days before Christmas the FBI is issuing a new warning about the possible ISIS attacks right here in the US. Potential targets this time, churches and holiday gatherings.


KOSIK: Now this bulletin was sent out on Friday to law enforcement. After pro ISIS websites had published a publicly available list of churches in the United States. Now, right now there are no specific or credible threats, but authorities are on high alert in the wake of that terror attack this week at a Christmas market in Belin.


BLACKWELL: Powerball, Apple, Brexit, and of course the president- elect Donald Trump, it's just a few of the business stories that had a lot of people talking this year.

KOSIK: CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans and the host of CNN International's "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS", Richard Quest. Looking back at the top 10 money stories of 2016.


QUEST: Bank account faking, smart phones exploding

ROMANS: Markets tanking then rallying

QUEST: And a billionaire businessman winning

ROMANS: Here are the top 10 money stories of 2016

QUEST: Number 10, the biggest jackpot in history. Power Ball mania spread as the prize climbed past the billion dollar mark. Then on January the 30th


UNIDENTIFIED Male: Three winning tickets in the record $1.6 billion Power Ball drawing


QUEST: That's about $187 million for each winner...don't forget after taxes.

ROMANS: Number 9, the Donald Trump stock bounce nobody saw coming, the market gyrations began as Trump's victory looked more certain election night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: US stock futures are down nearly 500 points


ROMANS: Dow futures kept sinking, then Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech. Promising to heal wounds, futures bounced off the lows and by the end of the trading day, stocks were rallying. The Dow hit a record high the next day and surged more than 1,200 points in the month after the election.

QUEST: Number 8, the crash in oil prices. A global supply glut drove crude to $26 a barrel in February, a thirteen-year low. By the summertime gas was the cheapest since 2004. Oil prices eventually found their footing and then surged because of an OPEC deal in late November, the promises to cut production.

ROMANS: Number 7, Apple versus the FBI. The government ordered Apple to help it break into the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple CEO Tim Cook refused, arguing it would compromise security for all iPhone users. A showdown in court loomed, until an unnamed 3rd party helped the Justice Department crack that phone, but it won't be the last clash between tech and the law. QUEST: Number 6, the conflict of interest battle. Trump Inc. versus President Trump, with stakes in more than 500 companies, Donald Trump has more potential business conflicts than anyone ever elected president. He has promised to address the issue in January, but ethics experts say anything short of selling his businesses and putting the proceeds into a true blind trust don't go far enough.

ROMANS: Number 5, exploding Samsung phones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely disastrous for Samsung.


ROMANS: The Company forced to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7's after some caught fire while charging. The fiasco could cost the company $10 billion in sales but Samsung's pain, was Apple's gain, it released the iPhone 7 and even without a headphone jack, demand was brisk.

QUEST: Number 4, Donald Trump breaks with forty-year tradition by refusing to release his tax returns. The GOP nominee blamed an audit by the IRS for keeping them under wraps. Then after pages of his 1995 tax return was leaked, Mr. Trump seemed to confirm what many had suspected.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN MODERATOR: Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?


QUEST: Presidents of course are under no legal obligation to release their tax returns, so we might still never see.

ROMANS: Number 3, scandal at Wells Fargo. 2 million fake accounts secretly created by employees facing unrealistic sales targets. The bank was fined $185 million, fired 5,300 workers and dropped those sales goals fueling all that bad behavior. CEO John Stumpf was hauled before congress in September for a tongue lashing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your definition of accountable is to push the blame to your low-level employees is very gutless leadership.


ROMANS: A month later he was out. Now Wells Fargo is trying to repair its shattered reputation, even if it faces a series of class action law suits and investigations.

QUEST: Number 2- Brexit. Investors around the world are in crisis mode after Britain in June voted to leave the European Union. The decision stunned the global markets. The British Pound plunged to a 30-year low and the Dow dropped more than 600 points.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the vote, as you might expect, is having an immediate impact on markets throughout the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...a lot of fear and uncertainty...


QUEST: Stocks stabilized a few days later, but Brexit won't be cheap. Businesses are already reporting their cutting investment in the UK. The country is facing a $31 billion budget shortfall. Questions about just how Britain will leave the world's biggest trading block are still largely unanswered.

ROMANS: Number 1, the deep economic anxiety threatening to end globalization. It powered Donald Trump's victory, energized Bernie Sanders on the left, drove Brexit and is spreading across Europe, but even as the working class revolts against free trade there is a disconnect.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big headline though, I would tell you here, is the unemployment rate 4.6 percent.


ROMANS: Unemployment at a nine-year low, home prices back at all-time highs, growth picking up, the middle class even got a pay raise. The gulf between those doing well and those left behind is widening. The question in 2017? Will populous prescriptions rescue the economically displaced or just deepen the divide.


KOSIK: OK, you want my prediction for 2017?

BLACKWELL: Give it to us.

KOSIK: If the Dow hits 20,000


KOSIK: That will be one of the top 10 stories for 2017.

BLACKWELL: Unless it hits another landmark.

KOSIK: Now everybody is estimating by the end of 2017, even 2018, they're saying it's going to hit 25,000.


KOSIK: Nice round number, that really doesn't really mean...

BLACKWELL: You know what's interesting here, is that you at home know the top money stories of 2016 is. Our producer starting talking to us as Christine started telling us what the story was. I still don't know what the top money story was.

KOSIK: We'll play it again in the next few hours.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, I'd like to hear it this time. Alright...


BLACKWELL: Donald Trump, the president-elect gets a Christmas letter from Vladimir Putin. It's not a set up for a joke, really. And the Trump transition team has released the letter and their response. We'll tell you what it says about Putin's hopes for the New Year and what the transition team is saying.




BLACKWELL: Alright, forty-two minutes after the hour, President Obama versus president-elect Trump. A White House official says there's one president at a time and President Obama is the President of the United States.

KOSIK: So all of this coming as Donald Trump continues to speak out on a number of international issues contradicting the President. Tom Foreman has the story.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Presidents-elects are expected to make headlines with their cabinet picks, but Donald Trump is going a lot further. Issuing statements on trade with China, talking about renegotiating government fighter jet contracts and calling the recent attacks in Europe terrorism even before investigators or the White House confirmed it.


DONALD TRUMP:'s got to stop (ph).

FOREMAN: Inauguration is still 4 weeks away, but if President Obama is feeling hurried out the door, team Trump does not seem concerned.

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If the president- elect wants to get things done, he is going to get things done.

FOREMAN: The latest example, Mr. Trump tweeted "the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability".

That prompted a swift outcry from nuclear weapons opponents and a strong reply from Russian President Vladimir Putin.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today the Russian federation is stronger than any potential aggressor. If someone accelerates and speeds up the arms race, it's not us.


FOREMAN: The president-elect did not back down a bit, indeed a co- host of Morning Joe says he told her off camera, "Let it be an arms race, we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all".


SPICER: What it means is that he is not going to sit back and let another country act. He needs to send a clear and concise message, which he's done, if he is going to be a president that defends America's interests and defends the American people.


FOREMAN: And on it goes. At the United Nations the president-elect urged the White House to veto a resolution to stop Israeli settlements. Instead the administration abstained the measure passed and a frustrated tweet quickly followed. Things will be different after January 20th. Political historians note outgoing and incoming presidents often clash, but rarely so openly and it could be risky.


JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: If you hear two different voices, especially from people with two different perspectives, countries overseas or interests here in the United States might not know exactly what's going on.


FOREMAN: The White House really hasn't pushed back against this publically a whole lot, realizing that Donald Trump's power politically is growing every day, but they did say... there's only one president at a time and at least for now it's still Barack Obama.


BLACKWELL: Alright from President Vladimir Putin to president-elect Donald Trump, warm Christmas greetings and a wish list for the New Year.


Sounds like a script for a television show, but the Kremlin confirms sending the letter to president-elect Trump. In the letter Mr. Putin writes this, "The warmest Christmas and New Year greetings," he also urges Mr. Trump to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation. Joining us now to talk more about the letter and Donald Trump's response to it CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance. So Matthew, tell us first about this letter. We understand was actually dated several days ago, more than a week now.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTL CORRESPONDENT: It was dated on December 15, it was only yesterday that it was made public by the Trump transition team in Florida. And it was surprising to us because we had not heard anything from it, about it from here in Russia, from the Kremlin. We spoke to them about what contact they have had with the incoming Trump administration on several occasions, but reading the text of that letter they are talking about more constructive dialog and all these kinds of positive issues that the Kremlin, or Vladimir Putin was putting into that letter. It really does fit into a pattern of the kind of dialog that the Kremlin is hoping to have with president-elect Trump when he takes the White House, when he becomes President Trump. He wants to see a C-Change in the relationship between the Kremlin and the White House. That relationship has been very rocky over the past couple of years, it has been pushed almost to Cold War lows over a whole range of issues like the war in Syria, the annexation by Russia of Crimea from Ukraine and like NATO expansion. These are all areas now that the Kremlin hopes, and has good reason to hope, that a deal can be done with the White House, which would be a real C-Change in this important geopolitical relationship between the two former Cold War rivals.

BLACKWELL: And while there's the reporting on this letter and this response from the Trump transition, there is this competing narrative here about Donald Trump reportedly telling MSNBC, let there be an arms race. How was that received by President Putin?

CHANCE: You know I've been listening to that narrative very closely. I'm not clear, maybe some other reporters can clarify this, I'm not clear that Donald Trump was talking specifically about Russia when it comes to this. Certainly I didn't hear the word Russia mentioned. It's my impression, I think this was clarified by his spokesperson as well, Sean Spicer. He was talking about rogue states, countries that have an emerging ambition when it comes to nuclear weapons. Those are the nations, I think, that he was referring to though of course it's so difficult isn't it, to try and interpret from these off the cuff comments what president-elect Trump really means. Certainly here in Moscow, the Russian president swept it to one side, he downplayed it saying it's perfectly reasonable for the US to want to improve its nuclear arsenal with them here. So he is not seeing it as something particularly significant.

BLACKWELL: Alright, Matthew Chance for us. Thanks so much.


KOSIK: OK next, an update on the college football player who was caught on camera punching a woman in the head. CNN's Coy Wire has a preview coming up--Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys. A disturbing video released just 8 days ago and now the player who committed this incident is going to talk about it. We're going to hear an emotional apology. We will show you that and some of the video that everyone is talking about in the college football world.


BLACKWELL: Star college football player makes an emotional apology more than 2 years after punching a woman in the face.

KOSIK: Corey Wire is here with us with this morning's Bleacher Report, tell us more.

WIRE: Good morning guys. Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, he said he wanted to address this issue earlier, but his legal team advised him not to. Now this incident happened 2 years ago, but this heinous video was released just 8 days ago.


WIRE (voice-over): It shows Amelia Molitor shoving and slapping Mixon, but we won't show you what happened next. Mixon punched Molitor so hard he broke her nose and cheekbone, fractured her jaw and orbital bone near her eye. Mixon issued a formal apology last month, but in the wake of the video's release he spoke publicly to say he's sorry.


JOE MIXON, OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL PLAYER: I'm here to apologize to Miss Molitor, I apologize to Coach Stoops, to President Boren, the AD and my teammates. Most of all to my family, I let a lot of people down. It is never okay you know, to retaliate and hit a woman the way I did.


WIRE: Now Mixon who's been the star of the team for the past 2 years didn't serve any jail time, didn't lose his scholarship. He was ordered to do 100 hours of community service, get counseling and he was suspended from the team his freshman year.


WIRE (voice-over): But here's one of the problems many have with this punishment; it's that most first year football players guys, they red shirt anyway. That means they take a year to get acclimated to the college life, they get bigger, they get stronger and also in the wake of the video release Mixon is as of now, still allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl, as number 7 Oklahoma takes on number 14 Auburn on January 2nd.

WIRE (voice-over): Let's move to the NFL where the NY Jets might not have their head coach for their game today. The Jets released this statement saying that Todd Bowles was in stable condition after he was admitted to the hospital with an undisclosed illness. The team said if Bowles were unable to make it to the game, assistant head Coach Mike Caldwell would take over. We wish coach well, he is a tough cookie though, he played 7 years in the NFL himself. His (4-10) Jets have a tall task of playing the (12-2) Patriots today, who are playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Alright now for some fun, it's Christmas Eve and the spirit of giving is in the air. But wait until you see what Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott got his offensive line for Christmas. $25 thousand custom camouflage John Deere ATV's. This is Victor's dream ride.


This is more than a brand new Honda Accord, we looked this up. Ezekiel's offensive line has not been naughty this season, he's the leading rusher in the league. He made it to the Pro Bowl, so the rookie wanted to let the big boys know that he made the nice list. The Cowboys don't play until Monday night against the Lions in Dallas, so they have some time to play with their new toys.

Finally, Victor, this is for you.


A fashion icon here and across the land. The Tennessee Titans wore these Christmas themed outfits to travel to their game in Jacksonville and I have to get your thoughts, and pick your brain. You are a fashion ado, would you rather wear this if you had to go through an airport or dress up as Santa Claus?

BLACKWELL: I'd wear the blue one, third from the left.



WIRE: There you go.

BLACKWELL: I like that one.

WIRE: You're not mad at it.

KOSIK: He was wearing a Christmas sweater, but I had to tell him to take it off and put on his suit just for this.



BLACKWELL: Thank you Coy.

BLACKWELL: Alright, unwelcomed guests forcing Paris to shut down popular tourist areas.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Christmas weekend, we've got the city of lights fighting off a rat infestation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but visitors heading to Paris this Christmas may notice some unwelcome residents there.

KOSIK: Little furry ones. Millions of rats have infested parks and streets and some of the most popular tourist areas. CNN correspondent Melissa Bell shows us how the city is working to control the problem.



MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He became a star for Disney back in 2007, with his charm and French flair, Remy was an instant hit. Less charmingly though it turns out Paris' most famous rat is very far from alone.


Real life rats have become the French capitals latest headache. There are now more than 3 million of them and their numbers have pushed them above ground. Not exactly the cosmopolitan image the city wants worldwide publicity over. Gerard Simonet has been a sort of pied piper.

GERARD SIMONET, PARIS RESIDENT: Well as you can see this part is a little garden and it's now some months ago, I noticed the presence of rats just in the middle.

BELL (voice-over): So he called the authorities who say they are taking the issue very seriously.

GEORGES SALINES, HEAD OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, PARIS TOWN HALL: We face a bit of a crisis, an emergency so we have unfortunately we have to kill the rats. I don't like it, we try to do it in a most humane way possible, but we have to do it because when there are too many rats in a park, they get too close to people, to children and they can transmit diseases.

BELL (voice-over): Across Paris traps have been laid, the exits of city's sewer system blocked and parks are being closed to the public. Among them the Champ de Mars, home to Paris' most famous symbol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rats enjoy fancy neighborhoods too and they can be found around the Eifel Tower. BELL (voice-over): Here (ph), one of Paris' rat catchers' lays special environmentally friendly traps. Business she says has never been better.

So the rodent comes in he is attracted and climbs through this opening and then walks toward where the food is, then falls through the hatch.


BELL (voice-over): This is the window that so worried Remy and his father a very real shock confronted with a very real problem.