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New Security Warning for U.S.; New Details on Death of Berlin Terror Suspect; New Diplomatic Fallout After Highly Controversial U.N. Resolution; Trump Shaking Up U.S.-Russian Diplomacy; Top Stories from Around the World. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 24, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:20] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik, and I'm sitting in for Christi Paul (ph).

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Christmas Eve, good morning to you, I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you. This morning, the Feds are warning about new ISIS threats on American soil with churches and 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 all of this for us.

Polo, good morning to you. Tell us more about this new warning for the U.S., and the timing of it.

PAUL SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys. Well, this bulletin was issued by the FBI, they're counterpart Department of Homeland Security. And the bulletin, it's very clear that there's no specific, credible threat against any targets in the U.S.

But, nonetheless, it's calling for state and (ph) local Federal law enforcement agencies to increase their level of alert, particularly after this week's deadly marketplace attack in Berlin. Officials there, the Intelligence Community, has specifically called out what they believe is chatter on several law enforcement agencies. So as a result, they are really encouraging people to remain on high alert.

There's also what they believe to be a posting of several -- on a pro- ISIS website, which includes the names of several churches across the country. So there is essentially a call for attacks on churches. But, again, the main point to their -- officials are stressing that there is no credible threat against any of these locations. These bulletins, not really anything new during the holiday season; we have seen these happen before.

What is different here, though, is that this specifically calls out churches, which would be the ultimate in soft targets. Victor and Alison, typically what we see from these kind of bulletins -- or, some of these threats are flagged by officials against, for example, a -- military, or perhaps law enforcement institutions. But, again, the main point that officials are making this Christmas Eve is, don't necessarily be afraid; just be on alert as you head out to meet up with the locals, guys.

KOSIK: All right --

BLACKWELL: All right, thanks, Polo

KOSIK: -- Polo, thanks.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

BLACKWELL: Our breaking details this morning in the Berlin Christmas market attack, a senior Italian counterterrorism official tells CNN the attacker had hallmarks of being on the run alone when he was killed in a shootout with police in Milan yesterday. This is new information emerging --


ANIS AMRI, BERLIN TERROR ATTACKER: (speaking in foreign language)

BLACKWELL (voice-over): -- as new video of Anis Amri pledging his allegiance to ISIS begins to circulate now.

Now, in this video, Amri says he would have served ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and "vowed to slaughter the crusaders who are shelling the Muslims every day." But he doesn't refer to Monday's attack that left 12 dead.


BALCWEKLL: One of those victims, the body of an Italian woman, has just been transported to Rome.

Nina dos Santos joins us now from Milan where that gunman died. And I understand that you spoke with counterterrorism officials. How did authorities conclude that he escaped alone, or that he was on the run alone?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't know for definite whether he didn't have any help. What they are saying here, Victor, is that they don't have any evidence of him having any help. And they're basing that on CCTV footage that they've found from him passing through two major Italian train stations on his way towards this suburb in the Northeastern part of Milan.

So what they've said is, they've seen him alone, passing through the stations of Turin, and then, through the main central station in Milan from where he managed to -- seems to catch a bus, and end up in this rather random carpark outside another local train station. The big question from here is, where was he heading from here.

Well, we know that buses do depart from this carpark towards the Balkans. We know that there are jihadist networks operating in the Balkans. But they also leave for Southern Italy. And remember that Anis Amri arrived in Southern Italy when he first stepped foot in Europe. He spent four years in a jail in Sicily, and members of his own family had speculated that he might have been radicalized in that very jail in the South of Italy.

So was he heading south? Was he heading back to his native Tunisia? We don't know that either.

I can tell you that buses depart for places like Algeria and Morocco from this parking lot. I saw one depart yesterday evening. Those are the kinds of lines of investigation that authorities will be trying to piece together from here. But no evidence at the moment that he had any help.

When it comes to what he had on his person, they also say that his belongings were rather scarce. He had three pairs of trousers, one on top of another, and he had a backpack. Inside that backpack, he had no cell phone, no credit cards -- just over $1,000 in local currency, in euro, in cash.

And so, they're trying to figure out where was he going, had he just managed to grab those belongings, and headed on the run.

BLACKWELL: Hmm. Nina, we know that Anis Amri's mother is speaking exclusively with CNN.

What are we learning from that conversation?

SANTOS: Yes, she spoke to CNN yesterday in the immediate aftermath of learning that her son had died in this gun battle with two Italian officers. And she said that she didn't believe that he was a terrorist. She said the authorities apprehended him, but not killed him, because then, they would have had more information as to exactly whether he was radicalized, what he was doing.

Let's have a listen to what she had to say.


NOUR ELHOUDA HASSANI, ANIS AMRI'S MOTHER (through translator): I want the truth about what happened to my son. I want the Tunisian and German government to tell me what happened to my son. We want the truth about my son who died as a suspect, and the truth died with him.

They think he was a terrorist? No, my son was not a terrorist. They should have arrested him, and conducted an investigation.


SANTOS: Members of Anis Amri's family have said they haven't actually had contact with him for several years since he left his native Tunisia for Europe. But in the mean time, you heard that, the mother talking about how German authorities should give her some information. Well, German authorities are here on Italian soil working with Italian agents to try and piece together how he made it from Berlin to Italy.

Back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nina dos Santos for us there in Milan, thank you so much.

KOSIK: There is new diplomatic fallout this morning after the U.S. refused to veto a highly controversial U.N. Resolution, defying pressure from Israel, and also from President-elect Trump.

KOSIK (voice-over): Israel says it will not comply with the new resolution, which condemned the construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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

CNN Oren Liebermann has the latest for us from Jerusalem.

So, Oren, what are you hearing? What's the reaction from Israelis, especially the half a million or so who are -- who are settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 60,000 Americans in those areas as well?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're furious just like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is furious, not only at the U.N. and security council members who introduced this resolution, but also, at President Barack Obama for not vetoing this resolution.

We have never seen criticism like this coming Netanyahu aimed at President Barack Obama. We knew these two didn't get along, but this is a deterioration -- a rapid deterioration -- of that relationship in its final days.

Listen to this statement from Netanyahu's office. "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's saying that Israel won't abide by the resolution, and also making it very obvious he's done working with Obama, and he's already looking forward to President-elect Trump.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leadership's -- is rejoicing at this resolution, very happy it went through. They say it is long overdue to hold Israel responsible for settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

KOSIK: All right, CNN's Oren Liebermann, thanks so much for that report.

Let's continue the conversation now with CNN Politics Reporter Eugene Scott.

Good morning, Eugene. EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Hey (ph).

KOSIK: You know, you look at the Obama Administration, and its relationship -- specifically President Obama's relationship with the -- with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It hasn't been good over the past eight years, and this is just kind of an end. It -- this if ending on an ugly note.

The perception here is that President Obama did pretty much make a parting shot, kind of giving Netanyahu the finger on his way out the door.

SCOTT: Yes, based on what you just shared, this is not that big of a surprise. I think people would have liked to have seen things end more positively, those who are more sympathetic to conservative movements in Israel.

But President Barack Obama has made it known repeatedly that he would prefer a two-state solution to what we have happening right now. And this is not a position that Prime Minister Netanyahu has shared.

KOSIK: OK, you look at what U.S. Ambassador of the U.N. Samantha Powers said after abstaining from the vote. Listen to this.


SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 undermines Israel's security, harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome, and erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region.

Today, the security council reaffirmed its established consensus that settlements have no legal validity. The United States has been sending the message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades.


KOSIK: OK, so she says that the vote was consistent with president -- the president's positions in past past years, going all the way back at least to Ronald Reagan. So many people are saying, well, why the backlash now?

SCOTT: Well, the backlash now, I think it's in part because we do have a new president-elect in control, or will soon be, in about four weeks -- and Congress as well -- that it's definitely more sympathetic to what we are seeing coming from the Israeli government.

President Barack Obama as his split (ph) -- as -- has -- was just mentioned, hasn't done anything significantly different from what past U.S. governments have done. But I think there are people who got behind Trump who would like to see a more right turn in Israel, and would have liked to see President Obama and the U.S. government be sympathetic to that as things -- and towards the end of the year.

KOSIK: Many are wondering, you now, after watching what happened in Syria, in Aleppo specifically, why the U.N. went ahead and took this action. And took it in such a way that, you look at the Chamber applauding when this resolution passed, but why the U.N. didn't take action, any condemnation about Syria. It could be part of the reason why you saw President-elect Trump jumping in, and tweeting this yesterday, saying, "As to the U.N., things will be different after January 20th."

Do you think this is a warning that Trump may pull financial support from the U.N.?

SCOTT: I think it's possible, based on what we has campaigned on in the past. He's given reason to believe that he definitely thinks the United Nations is not spending money in the way that he thinks best benefits American interests and allies. He's also called on people to his team, especially his nominated ambassador to Israel that would be more sympathetic to a more right shift.

And he thinks the direction in which Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to take the country, it's more consistent with his ideas for not only the U.N., but U.S.-Israeli relations as well.

KOSIK: All right, Eugene Scott, thanks so much for waking up early with us, and giving us your perspective.

SCOTT: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right, nice letters, some tweeting nods of agreement, and threats of boosting nuclear capabilities. President-elect Donald Trump is shaking up decades of U.S.-Russian diplomacy, and, you know, he's still got weeks until he's in the office.





KOSIK: And you are looking at live pictures from Bethlehem's Manger Square. Looking at some Christmas celebrations as they get underway. Look at those crowds.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're going to continue to watch that throughout the morning.

President-Elect Donald Trump released a letter that he received from Russian president Vladimir Putin a week after it was written. But in this letter, President Putin's hopes to restore U.S.-Russian relations, to which Trump wrote, "very nice."

KOSIK: This on the heels of Trump calling for a nuclear arms race and boosting U.S. nuclear capabilities.

So what does all of this mean for the future of nuclear policy?

CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash has more details.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Alison, anyone watching the to-ing and fro-ing the last day or so between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump about nice letters but then threats and a nuclear arms race could and should rightly not know what's really going on but that could be the point, each trying to keep the upper hand.

It's one thing, though, doing that negotiating business deals, it's quite different when talking about nuclear arsenals.


BASH (voice-over): A "Dear Mr. Trump" letter from Russia's Vladimir Putin released this morning by the transition.

"I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America, we will be able, by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner, to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation."

Today, Trump called it "a very nice letter" from Vladimir Putin, "his thoughts are so correct." The date on Putin's letter: December 15th, more than a week ago; releasing it now could be designed to lower the temperature after his own explosive comments hours earlier, threatening to engage in a nuclear arms race.

During a commercial break, Trump called a pajama-clad MSNBC host, sitting on an oddly cozy set, to report something alarming.

"Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

Trump's incoming White House press secretary explained it.

SEAN SPICER, RNC SPOKESPERSON: There are countries around the globe right now that are talking about incorporating their nuclear capacity. The president is going to put our nation's security and safety first. And he's not going to worry about how he's going to do it.

BASH (voice-over): An unorthodox approach to just about everything should be a surprise to no one. It's what Trump's campaign was all about.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Things have to change. And they have to change right now.

BASH (voice-over): Now that change means threatening to roll back decades of diplomatic work on nuclear arms control and shaking things up on the domestic front, too. Trump sent Lockheed into a momentary tailspin by tweeting about cost overruns for the Pentagon's new F-35 Strike Fighters.

TRUMP: These are crooked people.

BASH (voice-over): But some of Trump's harsh campaign rhetoric feels different now that the shoe is on the president-elect's foot.

TRUMP: You look at that foundation, it's pure theft and pure crookedness.

BASH (voice-over): He relentlessly attacked the Clintons on allegations of pay-for-play with their charitable foundation, which does good works like global health initiatives.

Now his son, Eric, suspended his own foundation to avoid allegations of pay-for-play, which Trump lamented on Twitter, saying, "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 is a ridiculous shame? He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them and now must stop. Wrong answer."

And then there's how Trump spent his morning, on the links with Tiger Woods, an enviable outing for any golf enthusiast yet curious since Tiger was a regular part of Trump's anti-Obama campaign riff.

TRUMP: He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. No, think of it. We don't have time for this.


BASH: Now to be fair, since becoming a candidate, Trump has not spent that much time playing golf, especially considering his website lists 17 Trump branded golf courses around the globe.

But Trump also said during the campaign, he loves golf, he thinks Tiger Woods is one of the greats but he doesn't have time to play. Maybe now that he has the weight of being president-elect on his shoulders, Trump is realizing that even presidents need a mental break from time to time -- Alison and Victor.


BLACK: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Coming up, we have an update on "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher's condition after she suffered an in-flight cardiac arrest.




BLACK: Some breaking news in the Berlin attack investigation. Tunisian state TV is reporting there have been three arrests connected to Berlin attacker Anis Amri, who killed 12, injured 48. The three men, between the ages of 18 and 27, they're described as terrorist elements. We're going to have more for you as soon as we get it.

KOSIK: All right. We have an update for you on "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher. The actress' brother told CNN she's in stable condition but she is still in ICU. Now Fisher suffered a full cardiac arrest when she was on a flight from London to Los Angeles. This happened last night.

Her "Star Wars" co-star, Mark Hamill, tweeted this in support of her recovery.

"As if 2016 couldn't get any worse, sending all our love to Carrie Fisher."

BLACK: A plane carrying the Minnesota Vikings skids off an icy runway and the airport is forced to use a fire truck ladder to get the players off the plane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This ever happened to an NFL team?





BLACKWELL (voice-over): They seem to be enjoying this. Some of the players thrilled, maybe, even sharing the video on their team website. This happened at the Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin last night. Good news here: no one was hurt.

But here's what happened: the jet was taxiing to the gate when a rear wheel slid off the runway, got stuck and then all of this happened. The Vikings are in Wisconsin to take on the Packers today.

KOSIK: Glad they're OK.

All right. This is terrible timing for the Philippines. A super typhoon now bearing down on the island nation. It is set to make landfall on Christmas Day, when many Christians in the Philippines will be celebrating the holiday. It's currently the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane and it is expected to strengthen even from here.

Right now, we're seeing winds at 150 miles an hour and up to 8 inches of rain could hit certain areas.

BLACKWELL: All right. When we come back: corruption, a failed coup, a civil war --


BLACKWELL: -- and terror attacks. We're going to count down the top stories around the world -- next.



KOSIK: On the eve of Christmas, the FBI is issuing a new warning about possible ISIS attacks right here at home. The potential targets: churches and holiday gatherings.

BLACKWELL: The bulletin was sent Friday to law enforcement after a pro-ISIS website published a publicly available list of churches in the United States. Right now, there are no specific or credible threats. But authorities are on high alert in the wake of that terror attack this week and the Christmas market in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Tunisian state TV has just announced three arrests connected to Berlin attacker who killed 12 and injured 48. The three men between ages of 18 and 27 are described as terrorist elements.


KOSIK: From scandals, political chaos and heartbreak, CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward has a look at the top 10 international stories of 2016.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We begin our top 10 with Brazil, the country whose roller-coaster scandals and triumphs made news the world over. A mosquito-borne Zika virus outbreak leading to a spate of rare birth defects.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brazil is losing the battle against this virus.

WARD (voice-over): Then a political crisis that rocked the corridors of power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The senate removed Dilma Rousseff as president.

WARD (voice-over): All of this a backdrop to Brazil's moment in the sun...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world will be watching Brazil as it hosts the Olympics.

WARD (voice-over): -- which, despite a few setbacks, was widely considered a success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Turkish military announcing it has taken over the country and imposed martial law.

WARD (voice-over): In the dead of night, machine gunfire rings out as a coup attempt takes hold. And almost as quickly as it began, it was over. The president survives the coup attempt but some 290 others would not. Seeking retribution, President Erdogan would go on to detain and dismiss tens of thousands of people.

A diplomatic thawing sees a U.S. president touch down on Cuban soil for the first time in 88 years, infuriating Fidel Castro. Eight months later...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news out of Cuba: Fidel Castro has died.

WARD (voice-over): For some, grief for the loss of a revolutionary; for others, celebration for the death of a ruthless dictator.

Cuban exiles thrilled as they remember a tyrant who imprisoned and executed his opponents and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

A migrant global crisis worsening by the minute, 65 million now displaced.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2016 has been the deadliest year ever for refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Among those rescued, this 5-day-old infants peering out of his pink blanket.

WARD (voice-over): War, terror, poverty, seeing migrant camps across the world swelling to unsustainable levels, one camp in France bulldozed to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What is this life?

Have mercy on us. Have mercy.

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): I wanted to tell you that you're not alone.

WARD (voice-over): Coming in at number six, seismic stations around the world pick up on the unmistakable signs of North Korean aggression -- but this time it's different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea exploding its most powerful nuclear warhead ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The equivalent of at least 10,000 tons of TNT detonated deep underground.

WARD (voice-over): The question now, will the next warhead be mounted on a missile?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have this many tests, you're eventually going to get it right.

WARD (voice-over): Unimaginable acts of terror in the name of ISIS leave a bloody trail beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two explosions rocking the main terminal at Brussels airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across town, in the center of the city, a bomb exploded on a Metro train.

WARD (voice-over): Those three suicide bombers killed 32 people. Three months later, another airport is hit.

Three men wearing explosive vests, carrying AK-47s, exiting a taxi curbside, shooting at panicked travelers before blowing themselves up; 44 people would never make it out of that Turkish airport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About six to eight gunmen have taken over this bakery restaurant in Dacha in this more affluent, posh area of the city in Bangladesh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Military commandos moved in; the siege ended with 13 hostages saved but 20 others dead at the restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're following breaking news out of France.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than a mile of carnage, as the truck drove down the beachside promenade, killing as many people as the driver could.

WARD (voice-over): A day of celebration for French independence, ending with the slaughter of 84 people. While the so-called soldiers of ISIS waged war in cities across the world, back in Iraq, the land they once laid claim to was being taken back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Iraqi city of Fallujah, we understand, has been liberated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iraq's military is claiming victory in Ramadi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news in to CNN, in Iraq, an offensive to retake the key city of Mosul from ISIS is now underway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's with much international support, a lot of coalition planning, American airpower -- one came right at me.

WARD (voice-over): CNN's own team would later make it inside the city limits of Mosul and very nearly would not make it out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We realize, we're trapped. Our MRAP takes a direct hit. (INAUDIBLE). We need to move but every time we try, gunfire drives us back.

WARD (voice-over): Arwa Damon and her team would spend 28 hours trapped. An estimated 1 million civilians are still within this embattled city.

Across the border in Syria, another hellish landscape unfolds; its biggest city, Aleppo, the epicenter of this horror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what hell feels like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Syrian regime's latest aerial assault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Gallon drums filled with explosives and shrapnel, shoved out of helicopters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're racing frantically to pull what they say are nine people still stuck under that rubble.

WARD (voice-over): A dazed and shell-shocked boy pulled from the wreckage of his home would become the bloody face of Syria's suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's only cried once. This is Omran. He is alive. We wanted you to know.

WARD (voice-over): Coming in at --


WARD (voice-over): -- number two, Russia flexing its military muscle at home...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vladimir Putin moving nuclear-capable missiles to the border with Poland and Lithuania.

WARD (voice-over): -- and on a global stage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. is blaming Russia for bombing a humanitarian convoy in Syria.

WARD (voice-over): Moscow using its superior arsenal to turn the tides of war in favor of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told us that Russian and regime forces target hospitals cynically and deliberately,

WARD (voice-over): The diplomatic vacuum between the U.S. and Russia intensified with accusations of hostile acts, still shrouded in mystery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A series of cyber attacks on Democrats indicate Russia is trying to sway the election for Donald Trump.

WARD (voice-over): And in our number one slot this year, the surge of populism across the West, as voters rejected the establishment, many feeling ignored by politicians and left behind economically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people have voted to leave the European Union.

NIGEL FARAGE, UKIP: Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.

WARD (voice-over): It was a vote that took the world by surprise; one of the main forces behind Brexit, danger over immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): "They should go back to where they came from," this man says, "before we rip their heads off."

WARD (voice-over): And of course, in the U.S., where President-Elect Donald Trump capitalized on the issue...

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

WARD (voice-over): -- the rejection of globalization resonating with voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN projects Donald Trump wins the presidency.

WARD (voice-over): Will the march of populism continue?

With elections in Germany and France coming up, 2017 promises to be an interesting year.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, indeed. Thanks to Clarissa Ward for that.

The Obama administration wants the Trump team to wait until inauguration day before weighing in on policy, especially foreign policy. But with weeks to go before his term officially begins, the president-elect has shown no signs of holding back.





BLACKWELL: Twenty minutes until the top of the hour now. President- Elect Donald Trump is not waiting until Inauguration Day to weigh in on the top issues. He's even been willing to contradict and pressure the sitting president.

And while the Trump team says they respect the transition's goals, they make no apologies for Trump's timing. Here's what White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, says.


SEAN SPICER, RNC SPOKESPERSON: If the president-elect wants to get things done, he's going to get things done.


BLACKWELL: Joining us now to discuss, Danielle McLaughlin (ph), Democratic strategist, and Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show."

Good morning to both of you.




BLACKWELL: Merry Christmas Eve as well.

Let me start with you, Ben.


BLACKWELL: During the primary, you were not shy about criticizing then-candidate Trump. You then supported him when he became the nominee; you support him now as president-elect. But I wonder your take on, when the Israelis -- and we learned this in the leadup to the U.N. vote -- called upon president-elect Trump to try to influence the Obama administration, to veto this resolution, should he have obliged?

FERGUSON: Absolutely. Because they're our biggest ally in the Middle East. And some people have said, well, Donald Trump being involved right now is, quote, "unprecedented." It's also unprecedented to throw Israel under the bus in this way at the United Nations, a place where the entire -- it seems the entire Middle East is anti-Israel, celebrating anything that they can do to slap down Israel while not even really condemning with the same type of force any of the terrorist nations in the Middle East, including the actions of innocent people being killed in Syria.

So I think it was appropriate for him, in a moment here, where it was very clear Barack Obama was not going to stand by Israel, that this is, I guess, part of what he wanted his legacy to be leaving the White House, that he is not a friend of Israel. And I think it was important for him to have a voice in this and to let Israel know, when I get there, things will be different. And you are still our ally and I'm not going to let you get treated this way at the United Nations by other nations.

BLACKWELL: Danielle?

MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's helpful to think about this by taking it out of the partisan realm. Going back to 2008, when President Obama was president-elect, it also felt like the world was burning down.

We were losing 500,000 jobs a month in the last quarter of 2008. And actually George Bush invited President-Elect Obama to join with the G20. Obama exercised restraint in terms of not going to the G20 meeting, not talking about the fairly unpopular stimulus package that the Bush administration was putting together.

We haven't seen this kind of discussion of a president-elect or an insertion of a president-elect into world affairs since 1968, when President-Elect Nixon sent Henry Kissinger to the Soviet Union to discuss nonproliferation. So I think even taking partisanship out of this, we're a country of

laws but we're also a country of customs. And the American people elected Barack Obama who will serve through January 19th and I think it's important to respect that.

BLACKWELL: You know, Danielle, the preparation for this conversation, I went back and looked at then President-Elect Barack Obama in late 2008, early 2009 to determine if there was anyplace here where he entered into the political conversation prematurely potentially.

I want to take you to George Mason University, January 8th, still weeks before his inauguration and, yes, he stayed in the background as it related to foreign policy matters but here's what he said about the economy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why I'm asking Congress to work with me and my team, day and night, on weekends, if necessary, to get the plan passed in the next few weeks.


BLACKWELL: So this is a president who is still weeks out from inauguration, saying I'm going to Congress. I want you to work with me. He's not talking about George W. Bush.

Is he guilty of the -- breaking the one-president-at-a-time rule that now some around him are criticizing Donald Trump of breaking?

MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're right, Victor. I think that he was talking about things that a president ultimately has power to talk about. I'm not sure that there was a lot of daylight, though, because of course the stimulus package was -- the genesis of which was in the Bush administration.


BLACKWELL: But he's saying work with me. He's not saying work with George W. Bush. He's saying work with me.

MCLAUGHLIN: I agree. I do agree. But I think there's a difference between saying work with me and then tweeting out things about foreign policy as it relates to nuclear weapons or other things that are not only out of line with what Obama thinks but 30 or 40 years of American --

BLACKWELL: Then how about that?

How about that difference between domestic policy and foreign policy, though?

FERGUSON: This is total hypocrisy. It was very clear in the statement that you just played there that he was trying to undermine the deal that was being done at the last moment. It was very clear that surrogates around Barack Obama at the same time were -- [07:45:00]

FERGUSON: -- sending a very clear message in 2008. I was a part of those debates that he was going to do something completely different and did not support what Barack -- George Bush was going to be doing there.

So you have to look at this in the context. Israel is our biggest ally in the Middle East. This president has not been a friend of Israel. And his lasting legacy is on when he's walking out is, hey, I'm going to let them hang out to dry here. I'm not going to support them. I'm not going to protect them. I'm not going to defend our biggest ally. It would be unprecedented for Donald Trump to not comment about our biggest ally historically --


FERGUSON: -- in the Middle East.

BLACKWELL: Quickly, Ben, get to the point of the difference between discussing domestic policy, which Barack Obama was then in 2009, and foreign policy, when we see the tweets from Donald Trump about China and this drone and about this vote in the U.N.?

FERGUSON: Look, I think you have to look at what the news is of the day. The domestic issues were the news of the day in 2008. Why?

Because we had the massive issue with housing and the massive issue with our financial system. So it would make sense that that would be a domestic issue.


BLACKWELL: -- talk about then?

FERGUSON: Well, but I think it's very clear now the issues that he's going to be walking in dealing with on day one that are going to be the news items of the day, aren't going to be these international issues.

Whether it be trade, whether it be Israel, whether it be Russia, those are the issues right now that are in the news. So I don't think it's so much of, hey, I can or cannot talk about domestic or foreign policy issues.

I think it's an issue of you're allowed to talk about the issues of the day, whether they're in this country or internationally. And Donald Trump is not going to stop. And, more importantly, he's not going to allow Israel to be treated this way.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ben Ferguson, Danielle McLaughlin, we got to leave it there. Thank you so much.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

FERGUSON: Thanks, Victor. Merry Christmas. BLACKWELL: All right.

To you, too.

To both of you.

A woman calls police for help. But she's the one who ends up in jail. What the officer says that has a lot of people across the country outraged. And how police are responding to the video that shows how this all went down.




BLACKWELL: Rude but not racist: that's the word coming from the Ft. Worth Texas police chief after one of his men is caught on tape arresting a mother, who called 9-1-1 for help.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look now at this three-way altercation with the officer. Jacqueline Craig (ph) says she initially called police because she says her neighbor grabbed and choked her son. The neighbor's reason: he says the 7-year-old boy littered. All right. Look at what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Why don't you teach your son not to litter?


JACQUELINE CRAIG, 9-1-1 CALLER (from captions): I didn't -- he can't prove to me that my son littered but it doesn't matter if he did or he didn't. It doesn't give him the right to put his hands on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Why not?

CRAIG (from captions): Because he don't.

KOSIK: OK. As a result, the officer wound up arresting the mom and her two daughters but did not arrest the neighbor. So he has since been placed -- the officer has been placed on restricted duty as outrage surrounding this video, it continues to grow. Now the mother did speak to CNN, saying she felt powerless.


CRAIG: The way I was treated, I felt like, was unfair. He made me feel less than a mother, not being able to protect my kids at the time they need protected (sic). So I mean, it was just unfair, totally.


KOSIK: All right. I want to talk about this more with criminal defense attorney Yodit Tewolde (ph).

Thanks so much for joining us to talk about this, Yodit (ph).


KOSIK: So you look at the officer's actions. They're under investigation right now.

But what will become of Craig's initial complaint?

Can her neighbor still be arrested and charged because he was left standing there?

TEWOLDE (PH): Absolutely. This video is so incredibly hard to watch. Tarrant County is about an hour away from me but, yes, it's so ironic that this officer was called by the mother about an alleged assault. This officer appears on scene, interviews the neighbor.

The neighbor actually confirms that, yes, he did grab the 7-year old's neck. When he goes and talks to the mother, he turns it from what started as an alleged assault to now questioning her parenting skills, asking her why she doesn't teach her child not to litter.

And the mother was dead on when she said, look, it doesn't matter whether he littered or not. My child should not be touched by anyone.

And then he asks, well, why not?

That is so insulting. He was so offensive. The lines were clearly drawn. You knew exactly whose side this officer was on and then ends up arresting the mother and two daughters without any probable cause at all. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely absurd.

KOSIK: OK, so the police chief at this point is asserting that his -- the actions by this officer, he asserts, yes, they were rude but this police chief says these actions were not racially motivated.

What do you think?

Is there anything based on what you know now that suggests otherwise?

And how can it be proven, keeping in mind that the video that we're seeing is only a portion of the video and we're yet to see if there was any kind of bodycam video as well.

TEWOLDE (PH): That's exactly it. They're doing an internal investigation right now. And from the video, you do notice that the officer does have a bodycam. So that is still to be revealed. There could be some important conversation on the bodycam such as the conversation that the officer had with the neighbor that can actually go and tell the public whether this officer was being biased in the first place.

And I don't know if it's a police chief's position to say whether this was racist or not. I mean, we see the video just the same as he does and we have our opinions. But all you can do is judge by the officer's conduct. And what you see is the officer tackling a mother, tackling a daughter, pointing a gun, a Taser gun at the other daughter.

This is absolutely insane. And then charging them with resisting arrest when an arrest should have never been done in the first place. And then to charge one of the daughters with interference with public duty, well, what duty was he actually carrying out?

There was no interference. The daughter was actually trying to help the police officer by trying to calm the mother. This entire thing is so disturbing. This officer does not deserve to put on a police uniform or a badge ever again.

KOSIK: All right, certainly a lot of outrage and as this investigation continues, we will continue to follow this story. Yodit Tewolde (ph), thanks so much for your analysis.

TEWOLDE (PH): Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Here is a story that maybe you heard of and really haven't seen the details of. We'll have them for you.

This terminally ill "Jeopardy" contestant powering through the pain wins more than $100,000 on several episodes. We now know which charity will receive that money. We'll have her story for you -- next.





KOSIK: The winning streak of a terminally ill "Jeopardy" contestant has come to an end but her message of charity and perseverance continues to inspire people around the world.

BLACKWELL: Cindy Stowell won more than $100,000 on the show and she donated it to the Cancer Research Institute. She passed away earlier this month before her "Jeopardy" episodes aired. CNN's Rachel Crane has more of Cindy's journey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cindy, congratulations, young lady, you're now a six-day champion.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cindy Stowell did not live to see her episodes air but her "Jeopardy" journey and winning streak has captivated the nation.

CINDY STOWELL, "JEOPARDY" CONTESTANT: You know, when you think the odds are completely against you, somehow, you know, via luck or something, things can all work out. CRANE (voice-over): Stowell left behind some inspiring words in a video that "Jeopardy" released on social media. Stowell also emotionally reveals her illness and her last wish.

I wanted to donate a lot of the money to cancer research partly because -- this is hard and I'm sorry. Maybe I should pause or something like that -- but I'm dying of cancer and I really would like the money that I win to be used to help others. And so this seems like a good opportunity.

CRANE (voice-over): Stowell lost her battle with stage IV cancer at 41, just eight days before her episodes started airing. But her legacy includes leaving her winnings, over $100,000 to cancer research.

STOWELL: I'm overwhelmed by the amount of support that they've shown me.

CRANE (voice-over): Stowell, a science content developer, was a lifelong "Jeopardy" fan.

STOWELL: I remember, when I was in 9th grade, I tried out for the teen tournament and I didn't pass the written exam.

CRANE (voice-over): But flash forward decades later and Stowell passed the online test to become a contestant. She reached out to producers, knowing that her time was limited.

In an e-mail she wrote, "Do you have any idea how long it typically takes between an in-person interview and the taping date?

I ask because I just found out that I don't have too much longer to live."

Producers were able to expedite her taping. And just three weeks later, Stowell was on set. During that experience, Cindy had a fever and was on pain pills, yet she persevered and managed to keep her condition hidden from her competitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the lights were on, I think, call it a surge of adrenaline or what, she was able to fight through all that was going on.

CRANE (voice-over): Host Alex Trebek paid tribute to the champ after her seventh and final appearance aired.

ALEX TREBEK, GAME SHOW HOST: So from all of us here at "Jeopardy," our sincere condolences to her family and her friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do sort of have a legacy of her and it's really kind of a great way that she was able to leave something to be remembered by.

CRANE (voice-over): Rachel Crane, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KOSIK: So bittersweet, so inspiring.

BLACKWELL: Well done. Well done.

KOSIK: All right. There's a lot of news to tell you about this morning --

BLACKWELL: Next hour starts right now.