Return to Transcripts main page


Putin Congratulates Trump In New Year's Statement; Officials: Russia Allegedly Hacked U.S. Utility Company; Kennedy Cousin's Murder Conviction Reinstated. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 31, 2016 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, and happy New Year to Auckland, New Zealand at least. We're so glad to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. How many times did I want to say happy New Year, Auckland. That's how we start with the fireworks there. Let's take a listen and enjoy.

PAUL: That's the way to make sure that you are up this morning.

SAVIDGE: They're already in the next year. We're still here.

PAUL: We're waiting, but we're on our way out, aren't we?

SAVIDGE: Yes, we're well on our way. Throughout the day, we're going to be bringing you the scenes of celebrations just like this one, from all around the world.

PAUL: We certainly are. There is certainly news, though, to get to as well. We want to begin with what we're learning this morning, new allegations of Russian hacking U.S. systems, this time the target is of a Vermont utility company. It's called Burlington Electric.

They say they found a company laptop with the same malware Russian hackers allegedly used to meddle in U.S. elections. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy say hackers could disrupt vital U.S. systems.

SAVIDGE: The state sponsored Russian hacking is said to be a serious threat and this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter. That's what we're hearing.

All of this as Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated President-elect Donald Trump in his earlier statement. Earlier, he said that Moscow will not expel American diplomats. That in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia prompting this tweet from Trump, Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart."

But lawmakers from both parties are backing President Obama's sanctions against Russia especially Senator John McCain, who has scheduled a hearing next week on foreign cyber threats to the United States.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: When you attack a country, it's an act of war, and so, we have to make sure that there is a price to pay so that we can perhaps persuade the Russians to stop this kind of attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy.


PAUL: Now what remains to be seen is what Donald Trump will do about the sanctions once he becomes president on January 20th.

SAVIDGE: CNN's Sunlen Serfaty takes a look.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT: Good morning, Martin and Christi. President-elect Trump has not yet said what he will do with the U.S. sanctions on Russia whether once he takes office, he'll reverse them or keep them in place. But the tone of the statement and the tweets coming from the president-elect is certainly sending a very distinct message.


SERFATY: President-elect Donald Trump is out with new phrase for Vladimir Putin applauding the Russian president for withholding retaliatory sanctions on the U.S. Trump tweeting "Great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart."

But as the president-elect determined his next move responding further to Russia and the new U.S. sanctions, his advisers are calling out the Obama administration for what they see at politics at play.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP TRANSITION SENIOR ADVISER: We've been talking about this for a while. I think that, you know, all we heard through the election was Russia, Russia, Russia, whenever it came to anything Donald Trump said or did it seemed most days. Now since the election, it's a fever pitch of accusations and insinuations.

SERFATY: Trump transition officials are speculating that the administration sanctions against Russia are a distraction to undermine his win and tie his hands on Russia before he becomes president.

CONWAY: I will tell you that even on those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did that today was to, quote, "Box in President-elect Trump." That would be very unfortunate if that were the moti -- if politics were the motivating factor here.

SERFATY: Since the sanctions were announced Trump himself has only issued a two-line blunt two-line statement Thursday night saying in part, quote, "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things." A posture he has taken publicly in recent days.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on.

SERFATY: But the president-elect has now agreed to sit down with the intelligence community.

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING CHIEF OF STAFF: We just need to get down to a point ourselves where we can talk to all of these intelligence agencies and find out once and for all, what evidence is there, how bad is it.

SERFATY: That closed-door meeting will likely take place in New York next week where Trump will be presented with the evidence the intel community says points a finger at Russia for the hacks.

[06:05:04]PRIEBUS: Maybe at that time or maybe later, he'll have a response. But right now, we're just not in a position to sit here and respond to all of the details before we have a full blown intelligence report on this particular matter.

SERFATY: In the past, Trump and his aides have publicly been skeptical of the intelligence community's conclusions.

TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

SERFATY: And have attempted to deflect blame away from the Russians vowing during the campaign to improve the relationship with Russia.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia and these other countries? Wouldn't that be a positive thing?

SERFATY: Once sworn into office in January, Trump has the power to reverse the sanctions or keep them in place. That decision still hanging in the balance.


SERFATY: And all of this continues to play out over Twitter after Trump posted that tweet last night. It was only a matter of minutes before the Russian Embassy and the U.S. retweeted that tweet. Of course, that being praise of the Russian president -- Martin and Christi.

SAVIDGE: Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much. To discuss the Russian hackings and what this means once that Donald Trump takes over as president, let's bring in Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News. Good morning, Errol.


SAVIDGE: So Donald Trump and V. Putin seem to have this mutual admiration for each other. That is very, very clear. So what do you think this means for U.S.-Russian relations once he becomes president?

LOUIS: Well, it has been to their mutual advantage, up until now at least, for them to have that friendship. For Putin it's kind of obvious, the oil and gas sector, which is a vast majority of the import revenue that Russia gets and is really key to their economy has really suffered quite a bit.

And so he wants better deals with western companies with lifting of the sanctions, with the easing with the pressure that the Obama administration has placed on them.

For Trump, of course, it was a handy way to sort of beat up on the Obama and Clinton foreign policy over the last eight years. Things will in fact start to change, however, because there's a lot more on the table than just cyber security.

There's a whole question of what to do about terrorism and Russia has an alliance with Iran. You know, I think the incoming Trump administration is going very quickly find that they are enmeshed in a web of different kind of statements and commitments and obligations.

And it won't be quite as easy as it has been up until now to prettily sort of pat Putin on the back, do a little bit of his bidding, take some praise from Putin in return, and say that things are going to be better. Well, things are going to be a little more complicated than that. I think he'll find that out on January 20th.

SAVIDGE: We're already getting a hint. I mean, Putin's decision to not react to the U.S. sanctions signaling that he would wait until Trump takes office. Is that really a smart move as Trump tweeted?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, look, it's smart for Putin, I would imagine. It makes him look diplomatic and statesman-like. It further sort of creates in this triangle this notion that it is Trump and Putin versus Obama. And that Obama the lame duck who is going to leave office in a couple weeks is the odd man out.

Here again, you know, once you sort of lay all of the pieces on the table, and again, that Iran nuclear deal, the Russian alliance with Iran in Syria, you start to put some of these other pieces on the table.

And it starts to look a little bit more complicated than simply refuting charges about the espionage and the meddling in our election that the security agencies say took place.

I think the president is also going to find that when Congress sits down, when John McCain and others start holding hearings and start sort of pressing these issues, it's not going to be something where he can sort of say, oh, it's time to move on.

Let's get on with our lives. Let's move to bigger and better things. Keep in mind, Martin, that it wasn't just the presidential race but up to 12 congressional races were also sort of targets of Russian meddling.

And the members of Congress are not going to overlook that. There's nothing bigger and better to a member of Congress than making sure that his or her election is handled in a free and fair way without outside of interference.

SAVIDGE: Then let me ask you this, say that Congress does bring up this issue and actively goes after even tougher sanctions for Russia, many people who voted for Trump, didn't vote for a battle with Russia.

What they voted for was this new administration to focus internally, to focus on things like jobs or keeping jobs or improving the economy. So isn't there a chance that Congress could now get off on the wrong foot not just with a new administration but an electorate?

LOUIS: Well, you know, it's interesting there may be blowback, you're right, Martin. But it's not -- it won't be for economic reasons. We do very little. The United States does very little trade with Russia. There's not very much that would happen if relations were further strained.

[06:10:09]So, I don't think anybody is going to feel it on Main Street in America if we happen to have bad relations with Russia. I think it's really been more of a political issue that the president-elect has really sort of fought for, for months now.

Saying that it was kind of a way for him to critique Hillary Clinton, his main opponent, as somebody who was not really good at maintaining international relations, which as former secretary of state, it was sort of a potent weapon to wield against her.

And then I've got to say it because it keeps coming up and we don't want to overlook it, because we never saw his taxes, because we don't know the extent of the Trump Organization's financial relationships with Russian businesses and indeed with the Russian government, we really can't say what else might be lurking out there.

You know, there are screen caps of it, you know, the Trump Organization said it was planning a major push into Russia, this is during the campaign. That it had a lot of different business interests. We don't know what those interests are. We don't know who he might owe money to. What kind of deals they might be planning. So, that's also lurking in the background.

SAVIDGE: There's a lot lurking back there and it's only a couple of days until the new administration takes over and then it becomes front and center. Thanks, Errol, very much. Good to talk to you this morning.

PAUL: Also breaking overnight, a massive manhunt underway right now in Pennsylvania after a state trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty. Authorities are searching for this man. I want to show you his face, Jason Robeson is considered armed and dangerous.

State Trooper Landon Weaver was responding to a domestic related incident when that suspect opened fire. The Pennsylvania governor issued a statement saying in part, quote, "I have full confidence that the person who committed the senseless act of violence will be captured and brought to justice." Two people meanwhile were shot and killed this morning after

Rapper Meek Mill's concert in Connecticut. Two other people in fact were injured. This happened in a parking lot outside of the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. Connecticut police are investigating. The victims haven't been identified just yet.

SAVIDGE: A member of the Kennedy family could be headed back to prison. The Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the murder conviction of Michael Skakel. The question now is what did one judge see that another did not?

PAUL: New Year's celebrations already starting around the world. This is a short time ago. A few minutes ago, in fact, Auckland, New Zealand, where the fireworks show just ended. I wish you a happy New Year, everybody. Thanks for spending it with us. We're back in a moment.



PAUL: Well, a Kennedy cousin could be heading back to prison for murder after a Connecticut judge overturned an earlier ruling in a pleading.

SAVIDGE: In 2002, Michael Skakel was convicted of killing Martha Moxley (ph), that's his 15-year-old neighbor in 1975 when the murder occurred. Skakel is the nephew of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. He was released in 2013 when a judge ordered a new trial saying that Skakel's lawyer hadn't represented him well.

Well, now that's been overturned by a judge who disagreed. Skakel has always maintained his innocence. His current lawyer sent a statement to CNN that reads, quote, "We haven't had time to fully digest the opinion at this juncture, but of course, it's a setback. We're going to be dealing with other legal procedures that are available to avail Michael of any and all of his constitutional rights," unquote.

PAUL: Now Michael Skakel was sent to prison more than 20 years after the murder of Martha Moxley (ph).

SAVIDGE: And while there was plenty of forensic evidence left behind after the gruesome murder, none of it links Skakel to the crime. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye with a look at part of what the jury saw.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the first pieces of evidence that police find at the scene of Martha Moxley's murder is part of a stainless steel golf club shaft about a foot long. Another smaller piece of the blood stained club is also found along with the head of the 6-iron all covered in blood.

Investigators also find several patches of blood in the area. The medical examiner determined Moxley sustained five to ten blows to the held and at least four stab wounds from the broken golf shaft.

DOROTHY MOXLEY, MARTHA MOXLEY'S MOTHER: They hit her so hard that the golf club broke and then they took the shaft and stabbed her with it six or seven times.

KAYE: But if Michael Skakel murdered Martha Moxley where is the forensic evidence linking him to the brutal crime? There isn't any, no finger print, no footprints, not even his blood was found at the scene. Also there is no trace of defense wounds on Moxley. This is Skakel's defense attorney the day he was arraigned in March 2000.

MICKEY SHERMAN, SKAKEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There is no scientific evidence or anything that links Michael Skakel to the crime.

KAYE: This affidavit reveals prosecutors relied mainly on the word of witnesses, a challenge because of the more than 20-year gap between the murder and the trial. One witness tells police Skakel brought up the murder telling her he had been drunk at that time and might have committed the murder during a blackout.

Another witness reports he broke down in tears crying I don't know if I did or didn't. I don't know. Finally, a third witness claims Skakel admitted murdering Moxley with a golf club when she, quote, "Did not submit to the advances." The same witness says Skakel told him because he was related to Ethel Kennedy he could get away with murder.

(on camera): TruTV reports other evidence collected at the scene includes a human hair belonging to a white male, but it doesn't match any of the suspects. The single hair belonging to an African- American male found on the blanket used to wrap the body is dismissed as belonging to one of the first officers at the crime scene.

(voice-over): And there's this, a composite sketch of someone witnesses saw in the neighborhood. Skakel believes it could have convinced the jury he didn't do it if only the jury had seen it. His defense attorney never showed it during the trial.

The unused sketch is one of the key reasons Skakel argued his defense lawyer was incompetent and that he deserves a new trial. At hearing to push for his client's freedom, Skakel's new lawyer presented the composite sketch along with a picture of Kenneth Littleton, who worked as a tutor at the Skakel home.

He had also been questioned at the time of the murder. Littleton's lawyer has told reporters he's innocent. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is Skakel's cousin.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., MICHAEL SKAKEL'S COUSIN: Michael was 11 miles away with five eyewitnesses at the time that the murder was committed. He has an airtight alibi.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


[06:20:06]PAUL: OK, after more than a year, Ronda Rousey returns to the octagon. Andy Scholes, it was not good.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It was not good for her, Christi or her fans. Rousey's comeback didn't even last one minute. The question now, will we ever see Rousey fight in the octagon again?


PAUL: So, Ronda Rousey's UFC comeback, it didn't last a minute.

SAVIDGE: Even a blink. You did not want to blink.

PAUL: Andy Scholes, obviously has more than a minute.

SCHOLES: yes, right. It had been more than a year since she lost to Holly Holmes. That was last November. We're wondering which Rousey is going to show up, is it the one that nominated the UFC for so long or the one that got beaten easily by Holly Holmes.

We found out that answer pretty quick last night in her return to the ring. You know, leading up to this fight, Rousey did not speak with the media at all, instead, spending all of her time training for the comeback.

But as we can see that comeback was short lived. Rousey just got pummeled by Amanda Nunes right from the start. Took multiple shots right to the face. The ref had to jump in and stop the fight just 48 seconds into it.

Rousey, though, guaranteed $3 million for this fight compared to just $200,000 for Nunes. So for Rousey that means she made 63,000 bucks a second to stand there and get punched in the face. So not bad.

Now Rousey did not speak with the media again after the fight. UFC President Dana White said he doesn't know if she'll ever fight in the octagon again.

All right, the college football playoffs are finally here. The top four teams are going to square off later today. In the Peach Bowl, we have Alabama, they're the favorite taking on Washington. The undefeated Crimson Tide have won four of the last titles. Two touchdown favorite over Washington. Nick Saban says he's not looking past the Pac-12 champ.


NICK SABAN, ALABAMA HEAD COACH: Well, I think that this is, by far, the best all-around team that we've played all year long. They scored 44.5 points a game on offense. They've got a really good quarterback. They've got skilled players on offense and receiver and running back positions. They've got lots of speed. They make a lot of explosive plays.


[06:25:05]SCHOLES: All right, the other playoff game, we'll see number two Clemson taking on third-ranked Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. This one is one of the most anticipated bowl games. Clemson with offense and taking on Ohio State's ferocious defense. Both sides hungry for a shot to play for the national title.


DESHAUN WATSON, CLEMSON QUARTERBACK: At first, it's a bowl game, you say you want to have fun. But at the same time, it's a business trip because you want to get yourself to the national championships. You know, whenever it gets to that crunch time, the details come in handy.

PAT ELFLEIN, OHIO STATE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: That's why you come to Ohio State to win championships and to play for championships. So, it's just another great honor to be a part of the playoffs. And this is going to be fun with my teammates.


SCHOLES: Most people think we're going to see Alabama taking on Ohio State in that championship game. I don't know. I think we could see some surprises today. I don't know about Washington beating Alabama but that Clemson/Ohio State game is going to be pretty good.

PAUL: We'll see. Andy, thank you.

So our criminal justice system took center stage in a lot of headlines for 2016.

SAVIDGE: We're going to take a look at some of the crime and justice stories that helped shape our world, after this.


PAUL: It's 28 minutes past the hour right now. Officials say Russian hackers are at work again, this time, targeting a Vermont utility company.

SAVIDGE: Burlington Electric said that it found a company laptop with the same kind of malware that Russian hackers allegedly used to meddle in the U.S. elections. Of course, that's raising fears that hackers could disrupt vital U.S. systems.

PAUL: All this as Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated President-elect Donald Trump in his annual New Year's statement. Earlier he said Moscow will not expel American diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia. But Senator John McCain and lawmakers from both parties are backing those sanctions and slamming the Moscow attempts to hack U.S. systems.


MCCAIN: When you attack a country, it's an act of war.


PAUL: Now for decades, they have been planted all around us, Russian spies. Their goal to influence events in order to benefit Russia. CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr takes a closer look.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FBI cameras captured Russian operative, Anna Chapman, and a federal undercover agent meeting in a New York coffee shop in June 2010. Seventeen days later, Chapman and nine other Russian sleeper agents were arrested in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, charged with conspiracy to act as unlawful agents of Russia; spies who had burrowed deep into American society for years, trying to steal secrets and recruit agents.

The FBI had watched chapman and the others for months, recording drop- offs of packages, meetings on staircases, even one meeting just yards from CNN's offices in New York. The U.S. believes the group never got its hands on classified information, but the Russian infiltration into the U.S., a classic Moscow move.

STEVEN HALL, FORMER CIA OFFICER: What they do is more than just collect; they actually try to influence events to the benefit of Russia, all over the world. And this is something that they have done for decades.

STARR: Within days, at the airport in Vienna, an elaborately choreographed transfer. The ten Russians traded back for four other Russians charged with being in touch with western intelligence services.

Now, the state department is expelling 35 Russian officials it says violated their diplomatic status. This, after the U.S. claim of interference in the presidential election and harassment of U.S. diplomats overseas. Vladimir Putin, of course, a former Russian intelligence officer, well acquainted with the so-called illegals program, putting agents into U.S. society.

HALL: The fact that they would continue to do that to establish these American, you know, legends and cover story for the people trying to pose as Americans in the United States, shows how serious they are.

STARR: But the U.S. has also been caught in the act. In 2013, Ryan Fogle, a political secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was arrested. The Russians claim they caught him with wigs, dark glasses and cash, trying to recruit a Russian agent. Fogle was expelled. It was never clear if he was set up by the Russians. Earlier this year, a U.S. diplomat was tackled and beaten by a uniform Russian police officer, as he tried to enter the American embassy in Moscow.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The action was unprovoked and it endangered the safety of our employee.

STARR: And in that latest incident, the U.S. wound up expelling two Russian diplomats. This type of cat and mouse spy activity has been immortalized in TV and movies for years, but the reality can be vicious and very dangerous.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the pentagon.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Yeah, we're talking about terror attacks. There was so much going on -- even the capture of the drug lord, of course -- a big drug lord. And we want to talk about what happened in 2016 -- what has shaped this interesting year for crime and justice.

Here's CNN's Jean Casarez.


UNKNONW MALE: We are not going anywhere. We're here to do a job.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A 41-day occupation at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon ended when four remaining protesters finally surrendered. One of the leading occupiers was killed the month before, heightening tensions. The armed occupiers, frustrated with the feds over land right issues.

UNKNOW MALE REPORTER: The world's most wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman captured.

CASAREZ: Mexican Navy Special Forces captured notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a pre-dawn raid. Six months earlier, he broke out of a Mexican prison through a hole in a shower stall that led to a tunnel. This was his second escape.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Heroin is the devil.

CASAREZ: Law enforcement facing a national heroin epidemic. Ohio police posting this picture to demonstrate the devastating impact on families.

JOHN LANE, CHIEF OF POLICE, EAST LIVERPOOL, OHIO: People don't understand what this drug is doing and how it affects families overall and the little kids that get caught up in this.

CASAREZ: And the video of a couple overdosing going viral.

UNKNOWN MALE: I found myself unable to put the heroin down -- it's devastation, it's pain, it's anguish.

CASAREZ: The addiction beginning, for some, with prescription drugs; the crisis made even worse this year by deadlier drugs. 2016 showed an increase in Fentanyl related deaths and overdoses.

UNKNOWN MALE: We could make a billion gun arrests a year and it's not going to make a difference.

CASAREZ: More than 700 homicides in Chicago as of December, the worst year for murders in two decades. There are an average of 82 shootings per week.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger.

CASAREZ: Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, was released from prison after three months. He was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The move angered the public, and the victim's heart wrenching statement, seen by millions.

Apple refuses to comply with a California judge's order to help the FBI retrieve information from the iPhone of San Bernardino gunman, Syed Farook. The phone was unlocked by a third party, but Apple's refusal set a precedent for future cases that tech companies asserting their constitutional right may refuse to comply with a court's subpoena power. UNKNOWN MALE REPORTER: There's been an explosion that's taking place

in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

CASAREZ: The act of a lone-wolf terrorist.

UNKNOWN MALE: Everybody get off of the street!

CASAREZ: Twenty-nine injured; no one was killed. Two other devices found in New Jersey; this one detonated by the bomb squad. Twenty- eight-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahimi was captured after a shoot-out, days later, with police in New Jersey.

In February, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the outspoken conservative voice, the longest serving justice, died in his sleep. Who would appoint a replacement, and what impact will that have, became front page news in this election year. President Obama's attempt to replace him blocked by republicans. The next justice will be appointed by President-Elect Trump.

UNKNOWN MALE POLICE OFFICER: I told him to get his hand out.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Please don't me he's dead.

CASAREZ: Police shootings and race relations dominated the conversation, reaching a crescendo for four days in July. Alton Sterling, shot by police in Louisiana. Philando Castile, shot by police in Minnesota. Both died from their wounds.

UNKNOWN MALE: There's four cops down.

CASAREZ: And then, in Dallas, in the evening hours of July 8th, 12 police officers shot, five killed during protests as a gunman ambushed police. It ended when a bomb squad robot killed the gunman after negotiations failed.

DAVID BROWN, FORMER DALLAS POLICE CHIEF: This must stop. This divisiveness between our police and our citizens.

CASAREZ: It was the deadliest single incident for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11. Other shootings of and by police officers would follow, reigniting the national debate about law enforcement in the U.S.

UNKNOWN MALE: I can hear the shotguns closer, and I look over and he shoots the girl next to me. And I'm just there laying down; I'm thinking I'm next, I'm dead.

CASAREZ: The deadliest mass shooting in America. Forty-nine killed, 53 wounded during a gunman's rampage inside Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in June. Killer, Omar Mateen, telling police he was a soldier of ISIS, was killed after a three-hour standoff with police.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Most of the victims who died were under the age of 40; young men and women full of dreams and full of plans.


PAUL: Well, he thought it was a simple case of the flu and then friends found him dead just a couple of days later. How two Ohio parents are on a mission to make sure what happened to Kevin Houdeshell doesn't happen to you. Their story is next.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: A young man in Ohio thought he just had the flu, but it was actually something far worse.

PAUL: Yeah, the fatigue and the stomach pains were actually a sign that his body was literally shutting down, and he had no idea. What was happening was killing him.


DAN HOUDESHELL, FATHER OF KEVIN HOUDESHELL: He just said, "Kevin died". I just screamed and couldn't believe it.

PAUL: It was Christmas 2013. Dan and Judy Houdeshell didn't realize it, but they just spent the very last holiday with their son, Kevin. What made it worse? They had just arrived in Florida and were hundreds of miles away when they checked their phone.

JUDY HOUDESHELL, MOTHER OF KEVIN HOUDESHELL: And there were all these voice mail messages, and text messages, and -- from all of our children -- all of our kids; just said, "call us, call us, call us."

PAUL: They tried desperately to get home. But it took three days.

J. HOUDESHELL: It was a horrible, snowy, deep frigid winter, and we couldn't get a flight out because the previous days, everything in and out of New York, Cleveland, the whole northeast was all cancelled.

PAUL: When they finally got home, Kevin's death still felt like a mystery.

J. HOUDESHELL: When they said he died of Ketoacidosis -- and I said, "what?", he said I have no explanation for that other than he was noncompliant -- that he wasn't taking his medication.

PAUL: You see, Kevin had diabetes, but Judy said he was faithful about taking his medication. The news made no sense to his big sister, Amy, either. Every day she says she feels a part of her died with him. AMY HOUDESHELL, SISTER OF KEVIN HOUDESHELL: We were just so much

alike. Everybody says that if they didn't know better, they would think we were twins. And he -- he -- my soul mate. He's my other half. He's -- he got it -- we got each other.

PAUL: She remembers Kevin, the runner; the kid who loved to fish.

A. HOUDESHELL: He would walk down to the end of our street, without a pole, and come back with, you know, four or five fish -- caught them all by hand.

PAUL: The truth that's so hard to reconcile is that, when Kevin got sick that day, he had no idea his body's organs were shutting down -- no idea he was dying.

J. HOUDESHELL: That's the devastating part, is that he thought he was coming Down with a stomach virus because he had cramps and he was vomiting. And he was at work. And, of course, he can't be a bar manager and have this condition. And they said, "You need to go home." So, he went home thinking that he had a stomach virus. And I didn't know the symptoms of ketoacidosis, but I do now.

PAUL: Why was his body shutting down? His family said they learned he had run out of insulin, but it was the holiday season. His calls to his doctor's office weren't returned and when he went to get more of this drug he needed to survive, he was denied.

D. HOUDESHELL: I'm going absolutely insane. How can my son, or anybody, be standing in front of a pharmacy and be turned away?

PAUL: That's when Dan and Judy's mission to take on the system and save other people is just getting started.


PAUL: Now, in full disclosure, Kevin Houdeshell is my cousin and there's so much more to this story that affects anyone who depends on life-sustaining drugs like insulin. So, next -- next hour here, we're going to tell you what the Houdeshells discovered that could have saved Kevin's life, certainly -- it can save anybody else's life -- and how they're taking action to get legislators in Ohio to listen. They actually already did that, all the way to governor Kasich's office, even as the governor was on the trail campaigning in the primary election. He took note of what was happening; they passed a law there, and we'll show you what it's doing now around the country.

But, a lot of -- there's so many people I've talked to who said "I had no idea that the -- the symptoms of ketoacidosis mirrored the flu."

SAVIDGE: Yeah, and I am among those. Such a painful story. Thank you, and we'll look forward to the rest of it.

Well, there's supposed to be a national cease-fire in Syria, but the fighting there has not stopped all together. We'll look at what comes next in this shaky world if that cease-fire holds.


PAUL: I want to share something that's just coming in to CNN with you here. ISIS is claiming responsible for a pair of suicide bombings in Baghdad in a statement that was posted on twitter -- they claimed responsibility. Now, we know at least 28 people have died; more than 50 others are injured and police say two bombers detonated their vests on a very busy street near a market earlier today. Those blasts destroyed businesses in a historic part of Iraqi capital as well.

SAVIDGE: The latest attempt at peace in Syria is off to a rocky start. Opposition groups say that the new cease-fire was violated more than 30 times in the past 24 hours. CNN correspondent Ian Lee is live in Istanbul and, Ian, does it look like the cease-fire is falling apart, or is this just to be expected?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, I think the best way to classify it right now is shaky at best. As you said, there was over 40 violations. The rebels saying that the government -- Syrian government violated it 30 times. And, then, on the other side, you have the Russians and the Syrians saying the rebels violated it 12 times. The Free Syrian Army -- the rebels that came out and said that if these violations continue, that they're going to stop adhering to the cease-fire. But, to go to your question, violations of cease- fires are pretty much par for the course.

We've seen this in previous cease-fires; but, this time, they want this to stick so that, next month, they can bring both sides to the negotiating table and try to find some sort of solution to this Syria almost civil war that's killed hundreds of thousands of people. But again, that's a long time between now and then.

SAVIDGE: The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution backing the cease-fire today, so what effect might that have?

LEE: Well, this gives it more international support. This cease-fire was pretty much led by the Turks with their allies and the rebels; and, then, the Russians with the Syrian regime and their allies -- they've been leading it, but they want to give it more international support, so they are -- the Russians are taking a resolution to the U.N. Security Council. They're also hoping that, with the passing of this resolution, that they get more humanitarian aid to the people who desperately need it throughout Syria.

But that would be -- that could be very difficult if this cease-fire doesn't hold, which, right now, it does look quite shaky.

SAVIDGE: Yeah, and we know the history of cease-fires in Syria is not good. All right, Ian Lee, thank you very much for that.

Well, you didn't imagine it, 2016 was the warmest year on record. We'll take a look at how changes in climate have made life on earth a little hotter.

PAUL: And I know a lot of you are probably wondering what is it going to be it like for me tonight as I out New Year's Eve. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray -- she is here so you can go there; wherever there might be for you. Hi, Jen.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Christi. Yeah, we are talking everything New Year's Eve. In fact, the weather should cooperate for the most part, but we will have some trouble spots. We'll talk about where those are, after the break.


PAUL: Oh, my goodness, we've had ice storms in Oregon; blankets of snow taking down buildings in Maine. No so pretty heading into the new year.

SAVIDGE: No, it is not. But I know, where I'm going to be, it is going to be dry and about 71 degrees New Year's Eve -- my living room. Jennifer Gray joins us now from Atlanta and the weather center there. And Jennifer, how are we looking for New Year's Eve?

GRAY: I like that plan, Martin. I think I'll be doing the same thing at my house. Perfect conditions and I probably won't make it to midnight, just saying. Yeah, we are going to have really nice weather across much of the country. I can tell you, in years past, it has been much worse. So, we're actually pretty good for New Year's Eve. But, this is the trouble spot. Look at the South, anywhere from New Orleans all the way to Atlanta, we are going to see the possibility of rain. This is the future radar that you can see by tonight -- 8:30 -- some possible thunderstorms in New Orleans. We could see rain in places like Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson. And, so, look out for that if you are planning on heading out.

The other big story, we are going to stay dry and not so bad as far as temperatures go in New York City, but the winds will be an issue. Twenty to 25-mile-per-hour gusts by midnight. At 7:00 p.m., we could see wind gusts as high as 35 and 40 miles per hour. So, while temperatures will be in the low 40s, that wind-chill is really going to make it feel much cooler.

So here are temperatures across the northern tier of the country. This is at midnight Eastern time. Chicago, wind-chill, feels like 18 degrees. It will feel like 13 in Minneapolis. New York, it will feel like 37. Of course, we have seen much worse in years past. Thirty- three in Boston. So, really, not bad at all. By the time we get into Sunday morning, temperatures in New York will feel like 34; 30, in Boston. Actual temperature in Chicago will be at 24.

So, let's look at the forecast for New Year's Eve, if we can, on the floor. You can see for New York City -- a lot of people heading out to see the ball drop -- temperatures around 10:00 p.m., 43 degrees. Midnight, 43 as well. But look at the wind-chill -- that's what you need to focus on. That's what it will actually feel like -- 37 degrees. And I can imagine, at times, it will feel even cooler with those winds really whipping. New Orleans, one of the trouble spots. Temperatures not bad at all -- 67 degrees for New Year's Eve, but we could see heavy rain and possible thunderstorms, so be careful.

Nashville, another fun spot -- 45 degrees, showers in the forecast, so we are going to see the potential for rain. Miami -- can't beat it; 73 degrees, mostly cloudy skies there. So, guys, really not bad, except If you are in those cities in the South, you may have to dodge a few showers. Otherwise, though, it's really not a bad New Year's Eve.

PAUL: So, when you said 71, I thought you were going to get on a plane and go to Miami.

GRAY: Tempting. Tempting.

SAVIDGE: no, no, I'm not.

PAUL: Just in my living room.

SAVIDGE: I'm going to be a couch potato.


SAVIDGE: Jennifer Gray, thanks very much.

GRAY: Thanks.

PAUL: And, listen, you don't want to miss our CNN special tonight. You know you don't.

SAVIDGE: It's our New Year's Eve extravaganza. Expect the unexpected with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin (inaudible) Year's Eve.

PAUL: Oh yeah.

SAVIDGE: It's live and it begins right here, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on CNN.

2016 has been the hottest year on record.

PAUL: Yes. CNN's John Sutter was in Alaska to take a look at how climate change has affected the world this year.


JOHN SUTTER, CNN REPORTER: In 2016, it became stunningly clear that we are warming the climate and there are dire consequences. I'm in a tiny village in Alaska, about 30 miles from the arctic circle, and I'm sure it looks cold out here, but locals are actually complaining about the heat. The arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And, in mid-November, this entire region was 35 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. It's not just here. This is happening all around the world and 2016 is actually expected to be the hottest year on record.

This spring, a drought in India was so intense that it reportedly led some farmers to commit suicide. In May, monster wildfires forced 88,000 people in Canada to flee. In July, a city in Kuwait hit a stunning 129 degrees Fahrenheit, or 54 degrees Celsius. That month was named the hottest ever, until August tied it. Scientists are getting better at tying these events to us. A flood in Louisiana killed 13 people in August. Scientists say that event was made 40% more likely because of climate change.

Here, in Shishmaref, locals voted that same month to abandon their village, which their ancestors have lived in for 400 years. The permafrost is melting and the coast is crumbling. Are we causing all of the bad weather? No, but we are burning fossil fuels, which is heating up the planet and that puts our fingerprints on the extreme weather than ever before.


PAUL: All right, we've got a lot of news to talk to you about this morning.

SAVIDGE: The next hour of "New Day" starts right now.

PAUL: Take a nice deep breath, it is Saturday morning. Hope you're getting a little R & R before you get the party on tonight. I wish you good morning. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

Right now, Vladimir Putin is congratulating Donald Trump on Russian television and giving President Obama the cold shoulder in his New Year's statement. This, as new allegations have surfaced of Russian hacking in U.S. systems. This time, the target is a Vermont utility company. Burlington Electric says it found a company laptop with the same malware Russian hackers allegedly used to meddle in U.S. election.

PAUL: Meanwhile, Donald Trump is praising Putin's decision to not expel American diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions against Russia.