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Trump Aide: Obama Trying to "Box In" Trump; Major Security Preparations Across the U.S. for New Year's Eve; Winter Storm Batters Northeast; Russia, Turkey Broker Syrian Ceasefire; Amazon Echo at Center of Murder Mystery. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 30, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Alice, he's saying he's going to get the facts of the situation in an intel briefing not today, yesterday or the week before. Next week.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's doing things on his time. As he gets into being sworn in -- and he will set his own agenda on his own timetable. It will not be influenced or dictated by Barack Obama and his last-minute sanctions and action on Russia. That's something we can certainly be clear. To say he's not going to do anything or he's going to be a puppet for Putin I think is extremely premature. And when he sees if Russia is pushing back on us and taking action on us, he's going to use the muscle and might of the presidency to respond. But to say that he's not acting is not accurate. He will do it on his own timetable and following his own agenda as he sees fit.

BOLDUAN: I do wonder, and I wonder this aloud, because we have to wrap, if Donald Trump would change his position on this, would Democrats here in the United States allow for that evolution of a position, or would they jump on that very quickly for political purposes?

Think about it. We'll discuss it later.

Great to see you all. Thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, massive sand trucks, extra police, major preparations under way right now to protect Times Square and cities around the world from potential attacks on New Year's Eve. How to stay safe when you are ringing in the New Year.

Plus this. As the ball gets ready to drop, mother nature may be dropping something else. Heavy winter storms across the northeast. We track the weather that could impact your New Year's weekend. We'll be right back.


[11:34:54] BOLDUAN: This just in. Amid the rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the sanctions the president just slapped on Vladimir Putin's government, the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senator John McCain, has just announced that it will hold a hearing next week on basically exactly this, cyberthreats including election hacking. This will be just as Congress returns from their winter break. This will be a very important moment and will set the tone, I can venture to guess, of how the Senate, the Republican-controlled Congress will be dealing with this issue. Major issue going forward.

Also, we are watching right now major security preparations under way in cities across America as they get ready for New Year's Eve celebrations. Thousands of officers are on alert here in New York City. A new layer of security has been added, massive sand trucks, enhancements over heightened fears after a truck attack on a Christmas market crowd just days ago.

Let me bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras in Times Square.

Brynn, you have been watching all of this. The NYPD held a briefing yesterday. Where do preparations stand?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we are talking about multi- layers of security that the NYPD puts in place really as changing situation across the world evolves. They have to continually adjust their plan.


GINGRAS (voice-over): New York City is on high alert in anticipation of one of the biggest New Year's Eve celebrations in the world. Securing it takes an army. 7,000 police officers are just one part of the enhanced measures being taken to protect the city.

JAMES O'NEILL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: This is where everybody's got to be on their toes. I know it's complacency can set in at times, but certainly not at an event like this.

GINGRAS: In the wake of the ISIS-inspired attacks in Berlin and Nice, 65 sand trucks and 100 blockers will be stationed around the city. Most being used as a protective barrier around the perimeter of Times Square to ward off a truck-style attack.

O'NEILL: We live in a changing world now. As I said before, it just can't be about what happens in New York.

GINGRAS: The NYPD is in constant communication with foreign departments gaining intelligence and sharing police strategy with cities abroad.

In London, there's added security at the changing of the guards. Heavily armed police were unavoidable in Berlin as they stood post behind concrete barriers at a Christmas concert. Czech holiday markets were heavily patrolled. In France, the government announced a boost of 10,000 soldiers on the streets over the holiday period, adding to the officers working around the clock.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: We are really giving of ourselves, of our time and at a cost to us and our families. GINGRAS: Nearly two million people are expected in Times Square t

extra police presence a noticeable addition to keep New York City safe.

O'NEILL: If you are coming down to Times Square, rest assured it will be a safe venue.


GINGRAS: We know, just in the last few weeks, members of the department have been visiting truck rental companies, securing parking garages in this area, and also going to area hotels and talking to managers, keeping their eyes and ears open for anything suspicious.

Kate, we should mention, NYPD says no credible threat against the Times Square celebration.

BOLDUAN: Amazing the operation that needs to be put in place just to keep people safe during this wonderful holiday and celebration.

Brynn is watching that.

Thank you so much.

We are going from security preps to preparations of a very different kind, preparing for weather. A strong winter storm is battering the northeast. Some areas have been slammed with strong winds and a whole lot of snow. Thousands are without power in Maine.

CNN's Meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking it all for us.

Chad, what are you watching at the moment, what will New Year's bring?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: New Year's will bring snow to upstate New York and New England, one to three inches. Maybe a mist, drizzle around midnight for New York City. Thunderstorms from Birmingham to Montgomery and New Orleans. Then rain to L.A. That's in a nutshell. Here's where we are right now. Cold air coming across the great lakes. That's what we expect the next couple of days. It will be chilly in Times Square but like 40, so not minus-20 wind chills. There's the rain across parts of Texas and more rain heavy rain into L.A. right now. We will take that rain in L.A. because it has been so very dry across all of California.

Now let's get to the night, one night at a time. One city at a time. Las Vegas, mostly Cloudy and 47. Pretty nice night there. Cooler than maybe where you want to be this time of year but a light jacket will do just fine. Dallas, 51 degrees, clear skies, no real threat here. Closer to New Orleans to Birmingham and Montgomery, we talked about this a second ago, 69 degrees but a chance of a thunderstorm. Some of those storms could be on the heavy side. We have a crew in Nashville. 45 and a couple showers. But closer to the east coast, nice in Miami, 72 degrees for the afternoon high. Then temperatures don't go down very much through the night. It will be very pleasant.

Focusing in for our Anderson Cooper, 40 degrees somewhere around 8:00, 41 around 10:00, then the mist and drizzle may start somewhere around midnight and last until 1:00, 2:00, 3:00.

But I'll tell you, I have seen a lot worse New Year's Eves all across the country. This doesn't shape up to be too bad across the U.S. -- Kate?

[11:40:13] BOLDUAN: Good news there. I'm jealous. I did not know you were able to pull off fireworks and a confetti drop in your studio.


BOLDUAN: We need to step it up in 2016.

MYERS: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Do not forget to tune in to CNN's special New Year's Eve coverage, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, live from Times Square. It all starts tomorrow night, 8:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

Coming up, is a popular new smart device holding the key to a mysterious murder? That's what investigators are asking Amazon, the makers of the Echo, but the company isn't giving Alexa up so easy. Details ahead.


BOLDUAN: Fragile but holding. Despite reports of clashes, a nationwide ceasefire in war-torn Syria remains in effect. Russia and Turkey helped negotiate the truce in the six-year war that's left some 400,000 people dead.

CNN's Muhammad Lila is live in Istanbul, Turkey, with the very latest.

So, Muhammad, what are you hearing from the ground? We all know multiple ceasefires, attempts at ceasefires have fallen in the past. Does this one seem different to those on the ground?

[11:45:46] MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does seem different, Kate, but you know, I don't think anyone's under any illusions at how difficult this process is going to be. Everybody has said even before the ceasefire began that this was going to be very fragile and very difficult to monitor. There are so many different groups on the ground. You have groups that are designated as terrorist groups by the U.N., then other sort of quote, "moderate" rebel groups. Then you have weird alliances between all of them. It's very difficult to determine who might break the ceasefire, whether the Assad regime might break the ceasefire.

The good news so far is that it appears as though despite some skirmishes in some parts of the country, the ceasefire is largely holding. The question is how long will it hold. That's something only time will tell. But we are not even 24 hours into this thing yet. And, of course, sometimes the first 24 or 48 hours are critical to see which groups sign on to the ceasefire and which groups back down.

You talked about the role of Turkey and Russia in this. The role that no one is talking about is the role of the United States, because they didn't have a role as far as the ceasefire agreement was concerned. They weren't invited to the discussions. They weren't involved. They didn't participate. This was done entirely by Turkey and Russia getting together with, of course, involvement from Iran and Syria, and saying what can we do to sort of put some sort of nationwide ceasefire on the table. In fact, there are going to be peace talks a month from now, as long as the ceasefire agreement holds, that will take place in Kazakhstan. Again, you will see Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syria at the table.

The Kremlin sort of offering an olive branch to the United States, not to President Obama shall mind you, but President-elect Trump, saying when he's elected, they would welcome him to have a seat at the table as well. Take that for what you will.

BOLDUAN: A different conflict but the very same position we are now hearing from Vladimir Putin to the United States, specifically to the next president, here again.

Muhammad, thanks so much.

The popular -- coming up for us, a popular new smart device now at the center of a murder mystery. Investigators are asking Amazon to turn over the data from a suspect's Echo. What do they think is inside? Details ahead.


[11:50:56] BOLDUAN: One of the most popular holiday gifts of the year. It has all of the answers to your questions. What it's the weather? The news? It plays your music. Could it also hold the answer to a murder mystery? That's what investigators in Arkansas want to know right now. A prosecutor is hoping a murder suspect's Amazon Echo holds information that will shed light on the case before them. So far, Amazon has refused the prosecutors' requests.

Now, more from Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alexa, what did you hear?

ALEXA: Hi, there.

SAVIDGE: Is it possible the digital assistant in Amazon's popular Echo device witnessed a murder inside this Arkansas home? That's what police in Bentonville are wondering.

But they're not asking the device. They're asking Echo's maker, Amazon. So far, the tech giant is saying no to a police warrant seeking data and recordings the always-on gadget may have picked up.

NATHAN SMITH, BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, PROSECUTOR: It was a lawfully issued search warrant by a judge. Amazon's position, they simply don't have to comply.

SAVIDGE: 47-year-old Victor Collins was found dead face down in a hot tub late year. Authorities say there were indications of possible foul play, arresting 31-year-old James Bates on suspicion of murder.

Bates' attorney says the death was nothing more than a tragic accident, and her client is innocent. She applauds Amazon's refusal to comply with police demands, calling it chilling that a Christmas gift could be used against people.

KIMBERLY WEBER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR VICTOR COLLINS: It scares me, our criminal system is coming down to technology that's supposed to help our daily lives, and now used against us for an innocent crime.

SAVIDGE: In a statement provided to CNN, Amazon seemed to imply it could change its willingness to cooperate, saying, "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us." The company went on, "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

Amazon did give police Bates' subscriber information and authorities have analyzed the information contained on the device itself but believe more Echo evidence is stored in the Cloud, controlled by Amazon.

The case calls to mind the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, pitting Apple against the FBI, as authorities wanting to access information contained in the locked iPhone of one of the shooters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, what time it is?

ALEXA: It's 1:56.

SAVIDGE: The always-on voice-activated technology is showing up more and more in our lives, from thermometers to cameras, even toys. But the modern wonders are also creating some modern worries over private, suggesting what happens at home may no longer stay at home.


SAVIDGE: It's important to note, Kate, Amazon claims Echo only stores less than a minute of recorded sound in the storage buffer. The old sound drops off as new sound comes in. The only audio Echo stores outside of that buffer, according to Amazon, are requests triggered with that Alexa key word or other designated command -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Martin, thank you so much. Fascinating.

With me now is CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Paul, if you're faced with this case, something similar, would you want the data from the Echo?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANAYST: Am I a prosecutor of a defense attorney? If I'm a prosecutor, yes, I want all information, because the Alexa command, when given to the Echo, gets recorded in the Cloud. So, for instance, if you were to ask for a song to be played, that's permanently recorded. It you ask for what the weather, permanently recorded, and the time the request was made. So, would know, were people awake at the time we think the person died? I would know circumstantial things that might be helpful in the police investigation.

If I'm the defense attorney, I absolutely do not want this revealed and would say it's an invasion of privacy.

By the way, in the absence of a very specific search warrant, specifying what you're looking for, it is a violation, in my opinion, of the Fourth Amendment. The police can't say, give me everything in your house, we're investigating a murder. Well, that's kind of what they're asking for here, because anything that was recorded by her, by -- I'm calling her "her" -- by the Amazon Echo --


CALLAN: I have two or three around the House. So, I talk to her all the time.


Anyway -- so my point is, you need a specific search warrant, based on probable cause, looking for specific things. Then Amazon has to give it up.

BOLDUAN: Do you think they can get that warrant?

CALLAN: I don't think the police have enough specific information yet. I'm thinking they don't have probable cause for that kind of an expansive search.

BOLDUAN: Bottom line, if this is -- what's top of mind for everyone when they hear this unfortunate case is, how concerned do you think people should be that these things are generally calmed always-on technology. These devices. That -- how much they're gathering, listening, the fact they're around? How concerned should people be?

CALLAN: People should be very concerned about their privacy rights. We're getting to a point where these electronic devices are all around us. And the easiest ones to use are, say, Siri -- most people are familiar with. Say, Siri, it activates, up to the Cloud goes Siri. Well, if you're requesting to purchase an A.R. 15 rifle, that may be in the Cloud as well. So, cops would know about that and it easy to investigate you. Most don't ask for things like that.

My point is, privacy concerns are paramount here. Police will love this stuff, because you're being monitored. Big Brother's watching at all times and recording you inside your house.

[11:55:40] BOLDUAN: Paul, this is yet again another situation where the technology has outpaced the law?

CALLAN: It's far outpaced the law. Frankly, I think most people don't even know how these devices operate. People would be astonished at things this Amazon Echo can do. By the way, Google has come out with similar device that started marketing this year. And, of course, Apple has been out front on this technology overall.

Privacy rights need to be looked at carefully and the courts have to learn how to apply probable cause standard to these electronic devices.

BOLDUAN: Does it surprise you at all that Amazon refused to offer it up?

CALLAN: No. I think they're doing the right thing. Because if you, as an Amazon customer, thought that just because the local cops would like to find out what's going on in your house and all they have to do is call up Amazon and they're going to reveal the information, you'd be appalled. It's different if there's probable cause and there's reason to believe a crime was committed. Then a judge gives a search warrant and we do this in an orderly process.

BOLDUAN: Gets you thinking.

Thanks, Paul.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a stunning new development in the Obama administration's battle now with Russia. Russia's President Vladimir Putin said he will not offer up a tit for tat. He went as far as inviting children to their Kremlin for a New Year's celebration. What's going on here? That's ahead.