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Key Vote Tuesday On Republican Tax Cut Bill; Washington Post: CDC Gets List Of Banned Words For 2018; Trump Lawyers Set To Meet With Special Counsel Next Week; Trump Calls FBI Handling Of Clinton Probe "Disgraceful"; Republicans Vote Tuesday on Historic Tax Reform; Kentucky Voters Still Betting on Trump. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 16, 2017 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, what everybody's been waiting for now for weeks. There's a final bill, there will be no changes.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know about me personally, but for the country as a whole it's going to be a good thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sources tell us that the president's lawyers are planning to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, we are told, as soon as the coming week.

BOLDUAN: When Bob Mueller picked his team, he was fishing in the never-Trump aquarium.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When you look at what's going on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is way, way beyond the pale of his criticism of the FBI and the DOJ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drum beat of war against North Korea growing louder by the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States must protect itself if there's an immediate threat against our security.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. After months of negotiations, the Republican Party has finally reached a deal on tax reform. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: The key vote set to happen on Tuesday and if it passes, it is going to be President Trump's first legislative achievement just in time for Christmas as he promised.

BLACKWELL: Within the last 12 hours, Senate leaders were able to win over two key Republican holdouts, but it is not a done deal.

PAUL: Three senators have yet to say yes. Two other senators including Senator John McCain battling some health issues here that may prevent them from voting at all. With no Democratic support, Republicans cannot afford to lose more than two votes. That's what it's up to, two votes. So, we do know this morning the final details for you. I know that you are sitting there wondering what does this mean for me?

CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, explains it to us.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 503-page, $1.5 trillion Republican tax plan, it's out officially. Republican lawmakers can now read the thing they're likely going to vote on as soon as Tuesday next week. The key provisions, we've known a lot of them.

The corporate rate dropping from 35 percent to 21 percent. The child tax credit boosted from $1,000 to $2,000. Individual rate cuts across the seven brackets. A lot of things that Republicans have said would be crucial not only to economic growth but also as they say, helping middle class families.

This is something that Democrats dispute say that this bill is far too tilted towards the corporate side. The idea that on the individual rate cut taking the top income earners down to 39.6 percent to 37 percent is just nonsensical.

But here's the rub. Republicans both like this plan and at this point want to vote for this plan. Take a listen to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady.


REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS: We took the best of both ideas and in many cases because we had a deliberate timetable. We had announced half a year ago to get this to the president's desk. We took the text that was closest to where we thought we would end and from that standpoint it's sorts a sort of a mix of the House and Senate. It's the way it should be.


MATTINGLY: Now, what's amazing is on Thursday of this week, Republicans were scrambling particularly in the Senate, they weren't sure how to deal with Senator Marco Rubio, who came out as a firm no. Senator Mike Lee, who is with Senator Rubio on his concerns about the refundability of the child tax credit, didn't know where Senator Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, were going to end up. That is no longer a concern. Senator Rubio coming out as a yes because of changes mae to that refundability piece. Senator Mike Lee not a full yes yet, but definitely headed in that direction. Senator Susan Collins as well.

And what stunned some people on Capitol Hill, Senator Bob Corker, who was a no the first time around, he became a yes even though no major changes were made to get his vote. That gives Republican leaders in the Senate a lot of breathing room.

They have two ill senators right now who missed votes throughout the week, Senator John McCain, Senator Thad Cochran. The reality is, at this point in the Senate, they can actually not have those senators attend and still pass this bill.

As for the House, they feel very good about where they are as well. What does that all mean? On Tuesday of next week, the House will vote on this plan. Shortly thereafter the Senate will take it up as well assuming the votes stay where they currently.

The president will have the first overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 31 years on his desk by Wednesday. Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.

BLACKWELL: Phil, thank you very much. Let's talk now to Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News is with us as well as Hugo Gurdon, editorial director for the "Washington Examiner." Gentlemen, good morning.

All right. So, we just put up the five to watch. We know that we have two senators with health concerns. Also, three others with at least undeclared on this bill. Errol, do they have the votes?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My sense of it is that they do frankly. I mean, Senator Collins has been sounding very, very friendly as if she's ready to sign this bill.

[06:05:04] I think a lot of Republicans -- you know, the momentum itself starts to tell the story. Unless they have some compelling reason, these are not the kinds of senators who were likely to sort of try and stick up the whole process in order to get one or two favored projects approved.

If they do that, they are going to get a lot of heat not just in Washington but also back home.

BLACKWELL: All right. To you, Hugo, let me broaden this out to an editorial perspective. What's the verdict on what this means for the president? Eleven months in, first legislative win of his administration, big legislative win.

HUGO GURDON, EDITOR DIRECTOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It's a huge legislative win and it comes on top of other wins too that he just -- obviously very early in his administration, he got a nomination to the Supreme Court. He's just -- his deregulation program has culminated just recently in changes to net neutrality, the roll back of net neutrality. He's heading into Christmas actually with a great deal of momentum and this tax bill is a huge win for him and for Republicans on the capitol.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol to you, I want to switch gears to something else that the "Washington Post" is reporting is this list of seven terms that are forbidden in their request for the budget next year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Let me read off the words that according to the "Post" reporting have been banned for any requests coming to the administration, vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence based, and science based. Is this something that we've seen before, Errol?

LOUIS: No, I certainly haven't outside of fiction. There's a wonderful line from 1984, the novel about a dystopian future that has somebody saying it's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words, you know, and it gets into what I think is going to cause a lot of discussion here, which is, what kind of power play is involved in trying to abolish a word or sort of take it out of circulation?

The reality is, however, there are about 12,000 workers at the Centers for Disease Control. Many of them are scientists. I've a lot of scientists in my family. My sister in fact is a trained chemist. They are not going to take this lightly.

You know, there's research going on for example on the effect of the zika virus on fetuses. It's really important. It's literally life and death. Those folks are not going to sort of change their research, change their discussions, tiptoe around these kinds of politically loaded terms. I would expect this to get rolled back in short order.

BLACKWELL: Here's the suggested replacement for evidence based and science based. Let's put it up on the screen, "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes."

Wishes, Hugo, are not a replacement for science based. I get the political angle of six of these words, evidence based, science based, transgender, fetus, but vulnerable? I mean, if you want to tell a population that they're not a priority, take the characterization of them out of your budget documents. What's the political calculation of removing vulnerable?

GURDON: I don't know about vulnerable. I think some of these are more understandable than others. I mean, for example, entitlements, that's a very interesting one because both the president and the Republicans at the capitol have indicated that once the tax reform has gone through the next look is going to be at entitlement reform.

And the word entitlement obviously means it's something to which people have a right and one of the things that they probably want to do is to stop calling them entitlements and calling them benefits or that kind of thing.

BLACKWELL: I get that one, but vulnerable?

GURDON: Vulnerable, I don't even know who that applies to. You know, it may be that they don't want to refer to vulnerable communities or some such phrasing which kind of bakes in certain policy ideas. I mean, I think that that's probably the case with some other words like transgender, for example.

It's a very controversial issue at the moment. There are those who say that transgender is a kind of left wing phrasing for something which is actually a psychological problem.

It may well be that the government -- I mean, you know, Errol I think very absolutely right when he was talking about the power of words and he referred to 1984. A lot of -- language changes all the time and we are constantly obliged to change the phrases we use.

And I think that probably what you're seeing here is the administration saying right, stop here. We're not going to have these words which imply certain policy prescriptions and attitudes which are from the left. We're going to have those become the new normal and force our hand on policy.

[06:10:09] BLACKWELL: OK. And again, most of the words I understand agree with the perspective or not, you can understand or hear at least the argument for or against these terms. Vulnerable I don't get and for an administration that's already facing a narrative, Errol, to eliminate the term diversity from any budget requests in 2018 from the CDC is questionable as well.

LOUIS: Well, yes. I mean, look, if nothing else, it gives you a pretty good road map about what they're going to try and defund, right? I mean, if they're saying we don't want to hear the word diversity, if you were engaged in for example disease prevention strategies that involve going into a community and making sure you were talking to a minority community or dealing with language issues or cultural issues.

You know, what they're letting you know is that, you know, forget it. That we are going to deal with wishes and we don't want to hear about diversity. That is as clear of a road map as you could possibly imagine.

Now, is there going to be a pushback from within the agency? I'm sure there will be because there are career professionals who have dedicated their lives to serving the public by having a free exchange of information.

You know, this is what scientists do. This is what saves lives and so, if this doesn't -- if they are serious about this, this will certainly end up in court where judges and lawyers are not going to be as likely as some of these political folks to want to just abolish words.

BLACKWELL: The response was described by "The Post" as many people who were incredulous. I don't know how you control and prevent diseases without science based evidence, evidence based results as opposed to wishes. Errol Louis, Hugo Gurdon, thank you both.

PAUL: This morning an aggressive warning from North Korea to President Trump. State media calling the president a, quote, "old lunatic" and saying his administration needs to be prudent if they want to avoid, quote, "disgrace and destruction."

These comments are coming just hours after Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed that North Korea's weapons are not a capable threat to the United States, and he says, the regime's current missiles cannot reach the mainland U.S., but encourage President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to continue diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang.

BLACKWELL: President Trump's lawyers are scheduled to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller next week and hopes that the Russia investigation is coming to a close. We've got detail about the next steps.

PAUL: Also, they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump a year ago because he brought them hope. CNN returns to Kentucky to ask how people feel about the presidency thus far and see if their lives have changed.



PAUL: Well, a mystery in Canada where police are investigating the suspicious deaths of a billionaire and his wife.

BLACKWELL: Government officials confirm that Barry and Honey Sherman were found dead in their mansion. This was Friday afternoon. Police say that now the deaths are just suspicious, not homicide, but that could change.

CNN affiliate CTV reports that Barry Sherman was the founder of the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company. A friend described the couple as incredible philanthropists, great leaders who made their community a better place to live.

PAUL: New developments in the Russia investigation, President Trump's lawyers set to meet with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, as early as next week hoping that the investigation is coming to an end.

BLACKWELL: CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez, has details on the next steps.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sources tell us that the president's lawyers are planning to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team we're told as soon as the coming week for what the president's lawyers hope will be a chance to find out the next steps in the Mueller investigation.

The legal team led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow is hoping that they can see signs that the end is near in Mueller's investigation. Now, they've had other meetings, but here's why this one is of significance. The White House says that everyone who works there and who Mueller has asked to interview has now gone in for an interview. One of the last happened earlier last week when White House Counsel Don McGahn sat down for his interview.

The White House has also finished turning over documents requested by the special counsel. There's been no request to interview the president or the vice president, we're told.

Now we have a statement from Sekulow and he says, quote, "We do not and will not discuss our periodic communications with the special counsel." And of course, Trump lawyers know that Mueller could still come back to ask for more interviews and for more documents.

And it's important to note that there's no requirement for Mueller to give them any information. They're hoping he's going to show his cards and there is a chance he won't do that. The Mueller investigation is actually moving relatively quickly compared to typical white collar criminal investigations that often stretch into years.

He's been on the job seven months or so and already Mueller has brought charges against four people including two who have pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. But that's not fast enough for the president and his supporters. The bottom line is that the president and Republicans want the cloud of this investigation lifted. Evan Perez, CNN, New York.

PAUL: CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, with us now. Tom, good morning to you. What will those discussions look like behind closed doors with the attorneys and the Mueller team?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good morning, Christie. Well, I think the White House lawyers would like this to indicate that it's close to a finish, that all of the documents have been turned over, all of the interviews of all of the staff at the White House and campaign members have been concluded.

And now that just leaves whether or not they want to talk to the president or not, and go through a discussion about whether that's going to happen or could happen. So, I think it would indicate that this is getting close to the end and they want to expedite this process from both sides.

PAUL: I want to listen together here to what President Trump said late yesterday regarding the FBI and he said this right before he was going to give a speech at Quantico.


[06:20:06] PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a shame what's happened with the FBI, but we're going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever, but it is very sad when you look at those documents and how they've done that is really, really disgraceful and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: What's your reaction to that as a former FBI agent?

FUENTES: Well, I think first of all, the idea that the FBI needs to be rebuilt is false. I think that the only rebuilding needs to be in the executive suite at FBI headquarters where Director Comey at the time and Deputy Director McCabe and then we hear about all the antics of Agent Strzok.

Those three have done tremendous damage to the reputation of the FBI, possible tremendous damage to ongoing investigations at the time that this was occurring a year ago and that part is true. The part that the FBI itself needs to be rebuilt, I don't think it's necessary.

I think's it's one of the most effective organizations in the U.S. government. Its reputation worldwide is very important and I'm not saying that because I had 30 years in the FBI, although, I'm partially saying because of that.

Because I know the inner workings and the personnel that have been there all along and it's not an organization in tatters, but the executive level has been very problematic and actually their activities have been disgusting.

PAUL: what about the change in leadership that's already taken place with the new Director Christopher Wray?

FUENTES: Well, part of the problem is that Director Wray is really -- his hands are tied in some of the most key aspects of what's going on. You have past investigations, such as the Clinton e-mail investigation under inspector general's scrutiny.

You have current things like what's gone on with Strzok under inspector general scrutiny and several other cases. The inspector general, I think a lot of people don't realize, the inspector general's office does not work for the Department of Justice.

It's not under the control of the attorney general or deputy attorney general or anyone else within the DOJ, it's really a separate entity and independent entity and everyone wishes that they would expedite what they're doing and get these investigations.

They've been hanging like a cloud over the presidency, but now hanging like a cloud over the FBI, and it's very damaging. These things need to be resolved fairly and quickly.

PAUL: OK. Real quickly, want to listen here to Representative Jim Hines who's on the Intel Committee.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HINES (D), CONNECTICUT: Look, the FBI has a story in history. They haven't always done exactly the right thing, but when you were attacking the mechanism of justice of the United States of America, you are setting this country up for a place where no facts are true or false. Anybody can get away with any behavior at all, and we will have something that doesn't look like in any way shape or form like the democracy that has been such a gift to all of us for a long period of time.


PAUL: Is there a larger consequence to President Trump's words as he's suggesting there?

FUENTES: Yes, I think so. I think that, you know, the FBI relies on much of its success based on a deserved reputation for fairness and excellence and being able to conclude investigations in an expeditious manner and this applies to whether it's the FBI responding to a civil rights investigation after there's rioting in certain cities.

This is worldwide on other nations trusting the FBI on citizens and law enforcement officials within those countries especially if they don't trust their own government coming to the FBI, so the reputation matters.

The ability to gain cooperation within the United States and around the world is really contingent on the fact that the FBI's success of having concluded such cases in the past and having been seen to do it properly.

PAUL: OK. Tom Fuentes, we always appreciate your input. Thank you, sir.

FUENTES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The final version of the GOP tax plan is out. No changes will be made but will it be passed? The brakes, the brackets, and if it will make a difference for you.



PAUL: Good morning to you on this Saturday. We're always glad to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you along.

After months of negotiations and the dueling tax bills in each House of Congress, a key vote is coming on Tuesday.

PAUL: And that means President Trump could be days away from delivering on his promise of tax cuts before Christmas. Within the last 12 hours here, Senate leaders won over key Republican holdouts. It's not a done deal just yet. The White House is not sitting on the sidelines though.

CNN White House correspondent, Abby Phillip joins us. So, Abby, the president called Senator Rubio after the bill -- after Rubio flipped from a no to a yes vote. Do we know what they talked about? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. It was a big day at the White House yesterday where the president working the phones on the bill trying to get over and make sure that those last-minute senators were on board.

He's spoke to Marco Rubio briefly on the phone yesterday after Rubio indicated on social that he was likely to vote yes. Thanking him for his support. We also saw Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, who had been working with Rubio on the issue of child tax credit thanked him on social media.

[06:30:08] The White House making sure that they give some positive reinforcement to these senators to make sure there are no last-minute holdouts that will prevent this bill from being done before he leaves for Christmas.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: What's your take on the White House's degree of confidence that this will pass?

PHILLIP: I think you can safely describe it as cautious optimism. The White House believes that House and Senate leaders have the votes to get this done but at the same time there are some worries in the back of their mind. There could be some procedural issues that pop up particularly in the Senate and there's also the issue of the health of two senators who are out right now, John McCain and That Cochran. Both of those senators, their staffs are saying they expect to be here for the bill next year, but just the indication from the White House is right now that there is some concern that in particularly John McCain's health is not great right now.

The president yesterday making a phone call to the hospital where John McCain is being treated and speaking to his wife Cindy McCain in an attempt to speak actually with John McCain but he couldn't get through for whatever reason. An indication from the White House, from the staff, from press secretary that the White House is praying for John McCain and his family and is hoping that both his health will improve and also that he will be present for this vote next week.

BLACKWELL: All right. Abby Phillip for us there in Washington. Thanks so much.

For the full text of the tax bill you can go to

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And Republicans are on track to seat a number of federal judges. A record number, we should point. Not all of President Trump's nominees are sailing through unscathed, though. The American Bar Association has rated 8 percent of the president's nominees as not qualified. That is the highest percentage for any president since the early 1960s and Republican Senator John Kennedy is now calling for one nomination to be withdrawn. That is the nomination of Matthew Peterson who struggled to answer basic legal questions asked by the senator during his hearing this week.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Have you ever tried a jury trial?




KENNEDY: Criminal?




KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: I've heard of it but I again --

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I heard --

KENNEDY: You're going to see that a lot in federal court. OK.


PAUL: Yes, earlier this week the White House said two nominations will not go forward after both were criticized for past controversial comments.


KENNEDY: I will say that I did raise objections on two of the president's other nominees. Once again they're done in his name but I don't believe for a second President Trump interviewed them. One of his nominees for example didn't tell us, it was revealed by the press, one of his nominees was caught blogging in support of the early Ku Klux Klan. And again this is American, you can do what you want but I can do what I want and that's why I'm not going to vote for him and they pulled him down.


PAUL: President Trump has nominated 62 men and women thus far to fill several judgeships.

BLACKWELL: Voters in Beattyville, Kentucky, were hoping that a Trump White House would help turn things around.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: He is billionaire from New York City.

PHILLIPS: He's a billionaire from New York City. He's not a politician.

HARLOW: He is. He's the president.

PHILLIPS: And he's the president, but --

HARLOW: He's a politician.

PHILLIPS: You know good and well he don't act like one.


BLACKWELL: So what do they think of the president now? One year later CNN goes back to Beattyville, a struggling town, to see if their votes brought the change they needed.


[06:38:29] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. Almost a year ago we took you to Beattyville. Kentucky. This is the heart of Trump country. More than 80 percent of the people there voted for the president and they had really high hopes that he could bring some change.

PAUL: Well, today unemployment in Beattyville is still nearly twice the national average. More than half the population lives below the poverty line and a majority of residents in the county are on Medicaid. So our Poppy Harlow went back to ask if they still believe the president can help turn things around for them.


HARLOW (voice-over): Welcome back to Beattyville, Kentucky. President Trump won 81 percent of the vote in this county.

(On camera): When we came here right after the inauguration, there was a lot of hope. People were betting that President Trump could turn things around for them here, bring back jobs and prosperity.

LEIGHANDRA SHOUSE, BEATTYVILLE, KENTUCKY TRUMP VOTER: The day of the election, everybody was excited. Fresh meat in the White House.

HARLOW: So we've come back a year later to find out if the president has lived up to their hopes.

Are you getting that change you voted for yet?

L. SHOUSE: I am seeing an attempt at change. I'm still hopeful. I mean, I don't think any of the problems that we have is going to be quick fixes.

HARLOW (voice-over): Harold and Leighandra Shouse live in Beattyville, Kentucky, with their three daughters. Leighandra's an artist. Harold is a mason. He drives two hours each way to and from work because the best paying job he could find around here only paid $11 an hour. It's steady work but he's making less than he was a year ago.

[06:40:08] They invited us to this family meal, nearly a year after we first met them following the election.

L. SHOUSE: We were the ones that kind of fell in the crack.

HARLOW (on camera): Can Donald Trump help you?

L. SHOUSE: We'll see.


L. SHOUSE: He don't have insurance. I don't have insurance.

HARLOW (voice-over): Now she's still hopeful but still without health insurance.

(On camera): Did you try to sign up for Obamacare this year?

L. SHOUSE: Yes, I checked, and it was like $600.

HARLOW: Obamacare's too expensive for you.


HARLOW: But you guys make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

L. SHOUSE: Mm-hmm. I'm stuck in the middle.

HARLOW: And you got pretty sick recently.


HARLOW: Did you avoid going to the doctor, checking it out for a while because you didn't have health insurance?

L. SHOUSE: Absolutely. I've lost like 60 pounds in the last six months.

HARLOW: If nothing changes on health care by 2020, does he get your vote again?

L. SHOUSE: There would be a really, really good possibility because I see Congress standing in the way more than him.

SARA SHOUSE, DAUGHTER OF LEIGHANDRA AND HAROLD SHOUSE: I've worked six shifts this week so I'm pretty tired. And it's paycheck to paycheck every time. HARLOW (voice-over): Their 22-year-old daughter, Sara, makes them

immensely proud.

(On camera): Your hope for them?

L. SHOUSE: That they can find happiness without having to just break their backs like so many people have.

HARLOW (voice-over): She and their two other daughters are a big reason why they voted for President Trump. They want their children to be able to find good work.

S. SHOUSE: I have a degree in public health and a degree in human services.

HARLOW (on camera): You tried to get jobs in the town with your degree.

S. SHOUSE: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: And what happened? What were you offered?

S. SHOUSE: Everything was like $8 or $9 an hour.

HARLOW: But you have thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

S. SHOUSE: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: So the system isn't working for you.


HARLOW (voice-over): Sara didn't vote, she says. No time because she was working three jobs. But she has been hoping for change, largely for her parents.

(On camera): Here you are watching your mom go through this, not knowing what's wrong. And she doesn't have the healthcare she needs.

S. SHOUSE: It breaks my heart. I could cry talking about it. My mom is the best person. She would give anything to anybody. And she can't get the help she needs. And it's not her fault.

HARLOW: And you can't -- you can't help her?

S. SHOUSE: I can't do anything to help her.

HARLOW: You don't make enough to pay for that?

S. SHOUSE: Nope.

HARLOW: Beattyville is a community that is struggling. According to the most recent data, more than half of the people here live below the poverty line and a majority of the people in this county are on Medicaid.

Beattyville has been home for you since you were born?

PHILLIPS: Home sweet home. If you want to get back to nature, Beattyville is where you want to come.

HARLOW (voice-over): Larry Phillips is trying to tap into that, building cabins for tourists.

PHILLIPS: We have the best geological rock finding area pretty much in the world.

HARLOW: His auto shop is struggling.

PHILLIPS: It's been a steady decline. You've lost some oil. We had a lot of coal mining.

HARLOW (on camera): Is that part of why you voted for President Trump?

PHILLIP: Yes. That was a lot.

HARLOW (voice-over): This coal facility, people kept telling us, reopened after the election. It's nowhere near big enough, though, to turn this economy around.

(On camera): How has the president done one year in?

PHILLIPS: He has done -- or tried to do more of his promises than any other president.

HARLOW: He's tried. But has he succeeded?

PHILLIPS: No. He's not been able. I mean, it's been one stumbling stone.

HARLOW: Who do you blame for getting into his way?

PHILLIPS: A lot of the politicians. The way I see it, he is a normal person like myself. Not a politician. He don't talk like a politician.

HARLOW: He's a billionaire from New York City.

PHILLIPS: He's a billionaire from New York City. He's not a politician.

HARLOW: He is. He's the president.

PHILLIPS: And he's the president, but --

HARLOW: He's a politician.

PHILLIPS: You know good and well, he don't act like one.

HARLOW: What will it take for President Trump to win your vote again in 2020?

PHILLIPS: All he's got to do is run again, honey, he's done got it.

HARLOW: That's it?

PHILLIPS: That's it.

HARLOW (voice-over): But that's not it for this David Coomer. After voting for President Obama twice, he cast his ballot for President Trump.

DAVID COOMER, VOTED FOR TRUMP, VOTED FOR OBAMA TWICE: He's not the man I thought he was. He's not. He's not. He just -- he's overbearing. And he's not getting nothing done.

HARLOW (on camera): But he says he's accomplished more than any president.

COOMER: He has not. He talks a good talk, but can he walk the walk? He said that he'd put everybody back to work.

HARLOW (voice-over): Jobs with a living wage. That's what Coomer says would lift Beattyville up, not government assistance. For now, he relies on its father's V.A. benefits to get by as he takes care of his aging mother.

COOMER: I'm not -- if I went to find work I'd have to leave here.

HARLOW (on camera): If you look at really how much of the population that could be working but it's not working, what would you say it is in this town?

COOMER: At least 30 percent, 35 percent.

[06:45:03] HARLOW: That's scary.

COOMER: It is. It is. And it's that way all over these towns.

HARLOW (voice-over): Something else ripping at the foundation of so many communities, including this one, the drug epidemic.

CAMERON BROWN, BEATTYVILLE, KENTUCKY RESIDENT: The drug epidemic in our county leads back to jobs, because if there were jobs people, wouldn't feel forced to do bad things such as drugs.

HARLOW: 18-year-old Cameron Brown knows all too well.

BROWN: Last summer, there was a bunch of drug-related murders that happened and (INAUDIBLE) getting killed. It bothered me real bad, so I wrote a song about it.

There's plenty of people just sitting at the house right now praying for a job. You know, it's killing them. They want to work and they want to provide for their families but they don't have the means.

HARLOW (voice-over): Kentucky's crackdown on the opioid crisis has landed more people behind bars. So many more while we were here in town it was announced a big employer will reopen. (On camera): It's the private prison right down here. So, yes, it

means more jobs here. But it's because of the heartbreaking impact that drugs are having here and across this country.

Does President Trump get credit for the prison reopening?




HARLOW: The prospects for future generations of Beattyville right now, what are they?

CHUCK CAUDILL, VOTED FOR TRUMP : They're grim. They're grim because right now, we're clinging to the past. The only way we're going to fix eastern Kentucky is get entrepreneurship, is create jobs by people creating businesses.

HARLOW: And some are.

CAUDILL: And some are.

TARA NEWMAN, OWNER: It's time that our community is seen in a more positive light. And I think that's what my generation and the current leaders of Beattyville have decided to do.

JESSICA MIRACLE, MANAGER, ART FACTORY COFFEEHOUSE: We want to have a community that our children don't have to graduate and leave. We want them to see that you can live here and be happy and successful.

HARLOW: Did you think about leaving?

S. SHOUSE: I have, but I love this town. This is more than just where I grew up. Like this town is my family.

L. SHOUSE: We have to learn to support each other. We can't wait for, you know, somebody to pull us out of a hole.

HARLOW: Eight-one percent of the people here voted for President Trump. What has he brought to Beattyville?

PHILLIPS: Well, he brought hope. Without hope, you have nothing.

BROWN: People have been optimistic because they wanted Trump to win. They've actually put in an effort. And once they seen he won, they took the initiative, you know, and done something. We're poverty stricken but happiness is rich here. And if you're happy you're rich.


BLACKWELL: All right. Our thanks to Poppy Harlow.

Let's go now to Christina Fitzpatrick here with sports and all eyes on an NBA thriller last night. CHRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, this

one had everything you want in an NBA game. Back and forth trash talk all night long, free basketball. We have all the highlights coming up on your "Bleacher Report" this morning.


[06:52:56] BLACKWELL: An NFL owner is under investigation this morning.

PAUL: Christina Fitzpatrick has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning to you.

FITZPATRICK: Good morning to you, guys. Yes, another situation involving controversy in the NFL. It's the Carolina Panthers. They've announced an internal investigation after owner Jerry Richardson was accused of workplace misconduct. The 81-year-old is a former NFL player and the only owner in the Panthers franchise history. The team says the investigation will be led by an outside international law firm and that they can't comment on the specifics of the allegations because there is an ongoing legal review.

The team released a statement saying the Carolina Panthers and Mr. Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct.

Well, it was a fun night for NBA fans watching this one in Philly as the 76ers hosted the Thunders. Things got heated in the fourth quarter when a fired-up Joel Embiid went jaw-to-jaw with Carmelo Anthony. Then he tries to get the crowd emotionally invested. And the next thing you know this game is going to overtime.

Now everybody is watching. LeBron is out there tweeting, "Man, this game is nuts." Dirk's watching, too, tweeting simply, "This game, dot, dot, dot." In the first overtime it was Embiid again with a huge block on Russell Westbrook. Westbrook fought back, though, going coast to coast, and throwing it down. He ended up the night with a triple double and an OKC win ultimately giving Westbrook the go ahead for that final wave good-bye to Joel Embiid.


RUSSELL WESTBROOK, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: I was telling him to go home. You know, he was talking mess, waving to the crowd which is unnecessary. You know, now it's time for him to go home.

JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Told him to go home and this is my home and I ain't going nowhere.


FITZPATRICK: And there you have it. So Under Armour will be using drones today to deliver signed Steph

Curry shoes to fans in what's being called an interactive scavenger hunt. Under Armour is using Instagram to post maps and drop zones for fans to go and find the shoes.

[06:55:03] So fans in the Bay Area, if you want to get in on the Curry 4 drone drop, start following Under Armour basketball Instagram and look for a post at 10:00 a.m. -- Pacific, rather, to get the hunt started. Fans outside of the area can also play along using the digital maps for a chance to win some prizes.

That will be interesting to see how it goes when they start dropping free things out of the sky by drones, guys.

PAUL: I think I see chaos.

BLACKWELL: That's right.

PAUL: I'm just saying.

BLACKWELL: Shoes falling out of the sky.

FITZPATRICK: Also dangerous but --

BLACKWELL: Nobody sees the problem with this?

FITZPATRICK: It might work.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: We'll see what we had tomorrow. Thank you so much, Christina.

BLACKWELL: All right. So almost a year since leaving the White House, President Obama, I guess he needs something to do so he's picked up some seasonal work as Santa Claus.

PAUL: And he doesn't look like the typical Santa Claus for this. Yes, he's got the red hat and a leather jacket.

BLACKWELL: And a leather jacket. Yes.

PAUL: Yes. And of course a big smile as Santa always does. He surprised kids at a Boys and Girls Club in Washington yesterday, it's what you're looking at here. They were no less thrilled when the 44th president just handed each of them and of course you see that sack on his shoulder, he bearing gifts of course.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and this message from the former president on Twitter, "There's no better time than the holiday season to reach out and give back to our communities." And the kids are excited. You can see them there.

PAUL: Taking pictures. Look at the little -- we have little ones taking pictures.

BLACKWELL: Yes. PAUL: Here we go.

BLACKWELL: Hey, we've got a lot more to discuss this morning.

PAUL: Yes. Your next hour of NEW DAY WEEKEND starts in a moment.