Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Completely Power Outage at Atlanta Airport; Putin Thanks Trump for CIA's Help; Trump Says He Is Not Considering Firing Mueller; Senator McCain Will Miss Vote on Republicans' Tax Bill; How To Repatriate 15,000 Displaced People From Libya; Prince Harry Interviews Obama For Radio. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 18, 2017 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Lights out in the world's busiest airport, stranding travelers for hour. We will have a live report.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus, President Trump and Russian President Putin sharing not one but two phone calls in the space of a few days. Why Mr. Putin thanked Mr. Trump.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for joining us.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHURCH: The world's busiest airport had its lights back on after a power outage crippled Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta for 11 hours. But thousands of travelers are still stranded. Their flights were canceled. And passenger planes are not yet flying in or out of the airport.

VANIER: Officials say the power went down because of an underground electrical fire and apparently, the fire wasn't deliberate. Still, though, the blackout prevented flights from coming or going. And passengers were stuck on the tarmac for hours inside planes.

At one point, 92 planes were just sitting there. When people were finally allowed off, they had to navigate through this: crowded, dimly lit terminals. And the stunning thing here is we're talking about the busiest airport in the world.

So why wasn't there a backup power system?

Or if there was, why didn't it work?

Atlanta's mayor explained what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASIM REED, MAYOR OF ATLANTA: I certainly understand the frustration throughout the day. With this said, the busiest passenger airport in the world should certainly have a redundant system.

The straight answer to that question is that we absolutely do. But because of the intensity of the fire, the switch which accesses the redundant system was damaged, which caused damage to two systems rather than one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And our George Howell joins us now from Hartsfield Jackson Airport.

George, so many questions about the cause of the fire, the response, why the backup system failed to work. But until their answer, the main concern now is all those people stuck at the airport, what happens to them?

When do they start to get moved out to their various destinations?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Rosemary, those questions are the questions that so many people certainly have. There are no answers really. Some people are starting to get initial suggestions that perhaps they can catch a flight tomorrow or maybe much later today.

But when you consider how long these people have been waiting at this airport, there is a great deal of frustration and anger. There are some who are taking it in stride. But you consider the time of the year, the holiday season here in the United States. And a lot of people trying to reach their destinations.

Right now, they don't have those answers.

VANIER: George, I was with my family at the airport earlier today. So I was in the same situation as people who were there. We spent hours. And one of the stunning and most annoying things, I have to say, to me was we were getting no information. I mean, none at all on what was happening and what would happen and how would it get better and what we should do about our flights, et cetera.

So how are people now getting their updates, their information on what to do and where to get their flights?

HOWELL: From me, quite frankly, at least when. We're getting some indication about when the airport will get back to full operation, maybe over the next several hours. That's the best I can give them, Cyril. But the same frustration you felt, I spoke with people inside and, look, a lot of people, their cell phones are dead. They can't get information there.

You go to the ticket counter. You ask the customer service representative, when can I get on a flight, they can't give you a firm answer. So again, a great deal of uncertainty at this hour. What we do know

and as you can clearly see, the lights are back on. That's the good news. I can say that about an hour ago, a little more than an hour ago, we heard the first flight take off. We can't confirm whether that is cargo or commercial.

But the first flight that took off from this airport since this power outages, from what we've been able to hear. So things are getting back to some level of operation.

But again, the thousands of people in this airport, waiting for some indications, some firm answer about when they can leave onto their destinations, it's not clear.

CHURCH: And, George, you had an opportunity to talk to quite a few people there who were stranded, some being told they would have to purchase more tickets and that they wouldn't get to leave until later tonight, which, for a lot of people, would be unacceptable.

Once those people are moved onto their --

[02:05:00]

CHURCH: -- destinations, the focus is going to come back to the mayor of Atlanta and the question will be, how could this have been so chaotic?

Why did people not deal with this better?

And what answers can he come up with?

HOWELL: And when you consider the scope and scale of what happened at this airport, the world's busiest airport, some 270,000 passengers traveling through this airport per day, 2,500 flights per day. We understand that at least 1,000 flights canceled, Rosemary. Yes, there will be a lot of question for the City of Atlanta, for the mayor and also for Georgia Power.

We understand that this power outage was caused by a fire at a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, a fire that also affected backup system as well. That's what we've been told so far. There will be an investigation into this.

But there are certainly a lot of questions about how this could have happened at such an important airport, for the United States and the world.

Let's get some context on this now. Let's bring in Alan Diehl (ph), he is a former U.S. NTSB human performance expert, also and the author of "Air Safety Investigators: Using Science to Save Lives One Crash at a Time."

Alan, thank you so much for being with us. I don't know if you got to hear just a bit of the exchange that I had with Rosemary and Cyril about this but, you know, the big question right now, how do you get an airport like this back up to full operation? ALAN DIEHL, FORMER NTSB EXPERT: Well, a lot of things are going to have to happen and it probably won't occur in an hour or two. We're talking about a lot of things that have to happen.

Obviously, the FAA will reestablish what they call flow control; they're I'm sure beginning release aircraft from ground holes. But for all the failures and problems and expenses that will be incurred because of this and hopefully lessons learned, in many ways this was a success story.

We didn't see any examples or air rage, or I guess you'd have to call it ground rage. From what I've heard, so from a psychological standpoint it seems like most of the people, while inconvenienced and some of them angry, stayed calm, cool and collected. Now clearly there's a lot of things that could be addressed and should be addressed; for example, battery powered public address systems and also a better use of the Internet to at least keep the people informed as to what the officials were trying to do.

So I think in many ways, this was a success story amongst a series of failures -- George.

HOWELL: Alan, it is important to point out, from what we understand from city officials, no one is injured, no one hurt. When you consider how many massive planes come into this airport, so many coming in, the simple fact no one injured, no one hurt and, right now, people stranded, that's the good news, that no one was hurt.

But let's talk about the cause. As we understand it at this point, a fire, a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, what do you make of that?

And the fact, Alan, that this affected these redundant systems?

DIEHL: Clearly, Georgia Power overlooked what system safety engineer engineers call a single-point failure. Because the fire spread to the backup, as I understand it, switching system. And so they (INAUDIBLE). That should never happen. Clearly there was a failure on the part of, I think, the designers of that system.

So hopefully there is a lesson learned there. And I'm sure they'll move quickly to remedy this. But there's probably similar situations or maybe in many other airports. So hopefully this will lead to a review of all these power systems and their backups.

HOWELL: Alan, my colleague, Cyril, touched on this just a moment ago. But the uncertainty: you go inside the terminals to check into your flight, they're blank. Many people, their phones are dead. You go to the ticket counter to get information. They don't have information.

What do you suggest?

How does this airport move forward to get information to people, who just want some indication of what's next for them?

DIEHL: Well, (INAUDIBLE) hit the nail on the head. There are some things that probably need to be addressed, like, potentially, battery powered backup systems, just like we have emergency lighting. Maybe we need battery powered public address systems to people can be reassured that the problem is being worked; stay calm and so on.

But in spite of not having that it's thing like, for the most part, people were, as I said, calm, cool and collected. And as far as I know, there are no reports of anybody being injured or any sort of rage breaking out --

[02:10:00]

DIEHL: -- from some very understandably angry people, eager to get on with their journey, certainly this time of year people are eager to get home. So I have to see this as partly as a success story -- George.

HOWELL: Part is a success story. But I don't want to underscore the fact, no, there are some pretty angry people in there. They may be sleeping right now. But they're some pretty frustrated people about the fact that they're waiting to get back home or onto their travel destinations and they don't know when that will happen.

But of course we'll stay in touch with you as we try to understand what happens next, Alan. Thank you.

Rosemary, Cyril, so that's the situation here. We see the lights back on. But as far as any information, concrete information. about what's next, that's still unclear.

VANIER: And of course it is not the best hour to be getting concrete information, it is 2:00 am on the U.S. East Coast where we are and where you are, George. All right. We'll keep getting information from you throughout the night. George, we'll come back to you in a moment. Thank you.

CHURCH: Thank you, George.

VANIER: Let's cross over to U.S. politics. Russian President Vladimir Putin picked up the phone to thank U.S. president Donald Trump.

CHURCH: After the CIA alerted Russia to a terror cell planning an attack on St. Petersburg. This comes just days after Mr. Trump called Mr. Putin to thank him for his praise. Nic Robertson has the details now on this latest call.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The very latest that we have from here is that it was President Putin who initiated that call to President Trump to thank him for the CIA's assistance with the Russian intelligence services, helping them trace, detect and arrest an ISIS terror cell in St. Petersburg who were planning an attack there Saturday.

Now this attack was around the Kazan (ph) cathedral area. This is a popular tourist area in the center of St. Petersburg. There's a major subway station nearby. There's a major shopping and a popular shopping mall nearby and also an international hotel used by tourists.

So this would potentially on Saturday have been a very busy area. Now this attack appears to be related to what Russia's federal state security services described when they talked about a major terror arrest in St. Petersburg on Friday.

They said they arrested seven men. In the apartment where they arrested them, they discovered explosives, ammunition, automatic weapons and what they describe as extremist literature. And they said at the time that the men were planning a suicide bombing and IED attack in the center of St. Petersburg.

So this all appears to be one and the same attack. Now very interestingly, Russia's security services said that this ISIS terror group in St. Petersburg were being directed from outside of the country through the Telegram messaging application.

Not clear how the United States was able to generate their knowledge, precisely how they were able to help Russia's intelligence services. But Vladimir Putin very clearly thanking President Trump and committing Russia to doing the same in a similar situation.

He said that Russia would unconditionally provide the United States with intelligence if the United States was threatened and Russia was aware of this terrorist threat -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: We're joined by conservative CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson and Democratic political strategist Mac Zilber.

Ben, two phone calls in three days -- four days now -- between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Does that qualify as at least a beginning of the kind of rapprochement that Mr. Trump wanted with Russia?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know. What I do know is any time that a country has information that can lead to the arrest of people that are trying to kill innocent people in another country it's always good when leaders like this talk.

This is a great thing that we have this type of conversation and there's multiple conversations about it and that you have both countries saying that they're willing to communicate on these issues.

Remember, Russia gave us information about the Boston Marathon bombers before they actually did those atrocities. So what I would say is, I don't think this should be looked at, at all, in a political way.

I think what this does show is both countries are committed to protecting each other's innocent people, if they know about terrorist activities in the other country. That is good foreign policy. That's good foreign relations. And those are conversations I'm glad. Because it saved people's lives. Clearly, you want any president to have with a foreign leader when this type of information comes out, no matter what party they are or who they are, whether it's Obama or Clinton or Bush or Donald Trump in this situation.

VANIER: Pivoting now to domestic politics, there's still a connection with Russia obviously because the Russian investigation is going on and there's been this cloud over the last few days with Democratic voices voicing concern that Mr. Trump --

[02:15:00]

VANIER: -- was perhaps getting ready to fire the special counsel, who's looking into him and investigating him. Mr. Trump addressed that matter. He said, no, I'm not going to fire Mr. Mueller.

Are you satisfied now, Mac, about this and that there won't be any impediment to the investigation?

MAC ZILBER, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Cyril, Donald Trump has never said that he is not going to do something and then gone ahead and done it. No, I'm still quite a bit concerned that as this investigation gets further, that at a certain point, Trump will have his propaganda arm build the argument to fire Mueller and then say that he has to go ahead and do it because he's seen all this evidence build up.

The reality is that this has to be the red line for House Republicans. They didn't do anything when Trump fired Comey. They didn't do anything when he endorsed Roy Moore. But if he gets rid of Mueller, at that point, you have to act or you have to wonder, is there a line at which they won't let him cross?

VANIER: Ben, same question to you.

You satisfied that Mr. Trump is committed to not firing Mueller?

FERGUSON: Look, I'm exhausted from having to talk about this for so many months. There's been so many, just bad information out there from so many people implying that the president will fire Mueller and he hasn't.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Isn't the question a fair one after he fired James Comey?

FERGUSON: I think it's a fair question right when Mueller went off the reservation and started investigating things that have nothing to do with anything to do with collusion. Look at all the indictments that have come down. None of them have the word collusion. None of them talk about collusion.

In fact even those on Capitol Hill, Democrats, senators have said they found no collusion, either. So I do believe that Mueller's gone off the reservation. I think just the fact that he got all these emails, which many are asking, were they taken illegally from the transition team shows -- (CROSSTALK)

VANIER: -- problem --

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: -- why is that a problem?

FERGUSON: It's a problem because it's illegal. That's the reason why it is a problem. It is illegal. It is not legal to do it the way that he did it. That's my biggest thing about it. But I'll go back to what the president said today. Democrats --

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: -- actually, let the president do your work for you. Let's listen to Mr. Trump when he was asked that question.

(CROSSTALK)

ZILBER: If this were illegal then the proper channel --

VANIER: Just a second. Let's listen to Donald Trump when he was asked that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you believe your transition team emails were improperly taken?

TRUMP: Not looking good. It's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. My people were very upset about it. I can't imagine there's anything on them, frankly, because as we said, there's no collusion. There's no collusion whatsoever. But a lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: So, Ben, to your point, the president was asked. He could have said it was illegal. He didn't.

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: In fact, he stayed clear from calling that illegal.

FERGUSON: And I think the reason why is because he's not worried about anything in these emails. I think it just shows another example of how far Mueller has gone off the reservation with this investigation using taxpayers' money. Not one Democrat, including senators who cannot stand Donald Trump have said they've seen anything close to collusion.

But I'll go back to what I said a moment ago. The reason why the president has not gotten rid of Mueller is because there's nothing here and, at some point, you just shake your head and you say, this guy has gone rogue. He's completely out of bounds on what he's supposed to be doing.

He's gone after things have nothing to do with collusion but I have nothing to worry about. So you want to keep crossing the line, knock yourself out. But he's not going to fire him.

VANIER: Mac, real quick on this e-mail question, because there is something you want to say?

ZILBER: Yes. Two things. First of all, if this were illegal, the proper channel to go through would be to actually file a complaint and not litigate via press release. They're litigating via press release because they want to distract.

As far as Trump's comments --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: From what?

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: What are they distracting from?

What are they distracting from?

You said distract. From what?

(CROSSTALK)

ZILBER: -- investigation that has already initiated more indictments than almost any special counsel case by this phase. We have --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: No, none of them are connected to collusion. They're --

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Hold on; let him --

(CROSSTALK)

ZILBER: None of the (INAUDIBLE) were specifically mentioned collusion. We are six months into a special counsel investigation. The --

FERGUSON: And there's still no collusion.

ZILBER: -- (INAUDIBLE). In six months. The average special counsel investigation goes for seven years and we already have over 30 meetings between Trump officials and the Russians. We already have half a dozen Trump administration officials lying about contacts with the Russians.

If nothing amiss happened, then they're sure doing a great job of making it look like there is. (CROSSTALK)

ZILBER: If nothing has happened, they should say, great, go for it.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: And that's exactly what the president's doing. The president has made it clear he's not firing Mueller, which is what Democrats are hoping he's going to do because then somehow they can use it for political gain in the midterm elections. And so the president's being smart. He's saying look, keep doing your thing. There's nothing there.

Keep crossing the line, keep going out of bounds.

[02:20:00]

FERGUSON: Keep wasting taxpayers' dollars on a witch hunt where there's still been not one single bit of evidence to show collusion. And the word collusion has not come down in any indictment or even implied in indictment. And so keep wasting the taxpayers' money and Democrats keep doing it.

VANIER: All right, gentlemen, listen, thank you both for your time. You both said what you had to say but we'll get you back on. Obviously, this conversation will continue. Thanks a lot.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

ZILBER: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we'll be back in just a moment.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(SPORTS)

VANIER: And we want to welcome all our viewers joining us here in the United States and around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. We want to update you on the main stories we are following this hour.

(HEADLINES)

[02:25:00]

VANIER: John McCain's doctor said the Republican senator is responding positively to cancer treatment. McCain is currently home in Arizona, recovering from chemotherapy for a brain tumor.

CHURCH: He is expected to return to Washington in January. So he will likely miss this week's vote on tax reform. But the Republican bill can probably still pass without his vote. The president said he spoke by phone with John McCain's wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I did speak to Cindy McCain and I wished him well. I wished John well. They've headed back. But I understand he'll come if we ever needed his vote, which, hopefully we won't. But the word is that John will come back if we need his vote. And it's too bad. He's going through a very tough time. There's no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote. Thank you very much, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: McCain's daughter wrote on Twitter, her father is doing well and that the family is looking forward to spending Christmas together.

We'll take a short break here. But coming up, power is restored to the world's busiest airport. But air travel chaos continues.

VANIER: What's next for passengers stuck in Atlanta because their flights were canceled. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:05] CHURCH: Well, updating our top story now the world's busiest airport is starting to recover from Sunday's virtually complete power outage. Power has now been restored at Atlanta Harstfield-Jackson. But passenger planes are still not coming or going.

VANIER: More than a thousand flights have been canceled leaving thousands of travelers stranded for the time being. Now the power went down because of an underground electrical fire but officials don't believe that that was started deliberately.

CHURCH: And CNN's George Howell joins us now from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Good to see you, George. What's the situation on the ground right now? And of course the big question. What are stranded travelers being told about what happens next? When will they get out of there and get to their destinations?

HOWELL: There are so many questions, Rosemary. First to give you an explainer, where things stand right now. You see the lights here on behind me. That is the good news. We understand that power has been restored to this airport. A very important function for sure, power. When you -- when it comes to getting the world's busiest airport back up fully functional and functional -- functional and operating. The other thing when it comes to people, people that were stranded here really, there are no answers. We took a snapshot of the before and after. So before the power on, you get to see the uncertainty, the questions and how people are coping with their newfound situation. And then the after when the power came on, how people tried to get in line to try to get some answers. Take a look at this. The only light in the terminal right now is by generator and you see

that there are crews here on the ground doing their best to distribute water. Water very important because people cannot buy, they can't get water, food, the necessities. So this work continues until power is restored. And also I want to show you over here. Just look at all of the baggage. People obviously have to reclaim their bags but this is a sense of what it will be like when this airport gets back up and running. Again getting water to people very important. So you see water cases throughout the airport and this is where many people are staying the night, people who have been stranded here for hours at a time unsure of what happens next. One person that I spoke with just a moment ago, Mary headed to Jacksonville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.

HOWELL: Well, tell me what it's been like for you so far?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we've been here - I've been here since about noon. We were just about ready to board. My hop down to Jacksonville and power went out. So we were just kind of waiting around and we were in C Concourse and I guess they had some kind of small fire over there. So they evacuated everybody over here. And here is it.

HOWELL: Do you have any indication of what happens next for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't -- my family is in Jacksonville. I'm from Phoenix. So I'm just trying -- my phone is dead so I'm trying to see what southwest does. How I ended up over here I don't know. I've never been to Atlanta Airport before.

HOWELL: And there are thousands of people around you in the same position.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there are. I know some had gone to hotels, some are waiting for people to pick them up but for me I'm not sure. I'm just kind of waiting to see what happens.

HOWELL: Again people are just trying to get in position again sleeping at the ticket counter but I can tell you this as of 11:16 Eastern Time, the lights flipped on here in the baggage claim and the check-in terminal here at the Atlanta Airport again you do see the lines starting to form. Many of these passengers trying to figure out what their next steps are. A lot of uncertainty about the hours ahead, you guys mind if I just chat with you. Victoria and Ganzie, you guys are traveling but first of all tell me what have you been told about when you can get back to your travel plans?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are telling me I can't leave until 9:45 tomorrow night.

HOWELL: Tomorrow night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow night. And people have work like myself. And I can't go because well, I'm trapped in an airport where I don't live and I'm unfamiliar to the area. So what do I do? HOWELL: What about yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I called Southwest. And the best they could do 9:452 flight Victoria. But they want to charge me for a new airline ticket just to get out here tomorrow night.

HOWELL: Charge you again you say. And to leave tomorrow night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. To leave tomorrow night.

HOWELL: What did you guys think about how this was handled so far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no communication from the airport or TSA or Southwest. It was horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Everyone was scattering around and every time you try to approach somebody you get the same answer. I don't know. What do you know?

HOWELL: And that's where we are right now. Let's talk about the context. Monday morning a vvery important travel day, the holiday season for many people headed to a holiday destination, some people headed to work. Why is this such a big deal? Well, this is the busiest airport in the world. What that means this airport averages some 275,5000 passengers per day.

[02:35:03] Some 200 -- 4500 flights per day. It is the world's busiest airport since 1998. So it's definitely a very important piece of the transportation puzzle, Rosemary. So that's what we're seeing right now. People just waiting to see when this airport will get back to operation so they can get home and there's a great deal of frustration.

CHURCH: I can totally understand that. And of course the big question is going to be how is that even possible for power to go down for 11 hours at the world's busiest airport? And how much pressure do you think this will put on the mayor to come up with some answers about that and of course the cause of this fire.

HOWELL: I think that will be certainly the Monday morning questions that the City of Atlanta, that this airport will have to face. We understand again from the city that this due rather from Georgia power. It was due to a fire at an underground electrical facility. That's all we know at this point, we know that that fire also affected the back-up systems that should have been in place to prevent something like this from happening. So yes, a lot of questions, a lot of major questions that have to be answered how this could have happened at such an important piece of the transportation puzzle

CHURCH: George, thanks for being there. Thanks for keeping us all up to date. Because our viewers certainly across America and indeed beyond are very interested in some answers themselves. George Howell, many thanks. I appreciate it.

VANIER: Yes. And we'll keep crossing back to that airport story and whether people are getting the information on their flights throughout the night, throughout the morning. For now though, something a little more about entertainment. Star Wars The Last Jedi is shattering box office records.

CHURCH: Yes, the film raked in an eye popping 450 million dollars in global ticket sales and its opening weekend. Director Rian Johnson thanked fans in a tweet says, ''The movie had the second biggest opening on record with 220 million dollars in ticket sales.''

VANIER: All right. Rian Johnson there, the director of this latest chapter of the Star Wars saga. Chris Brennan joins us now from Melbourne, Australia here. He is -- listen to this. Director of the Star Wars Appreciation Society of Australia. Chris, I'm so happy to talk to you. I wanted to talk to a super fan and boy oh boy did guest booking deliver. Thank you for being on the show.

BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE)

VANIER: So first of all. You've got the coolest title in the world. Second of all, you have the coolest backdrop in the world. Third of all what did you think of the film?

BRENNAN: Well, I think the film has been a bit polarizing the fans here in Australia. You've got two camps, you got the love it and the hate it. And it seems to be a lot of the older fans in the -- well, I'm not really sure how I feel about camp at the moment. So the younger fans are loving everything about it, loving the characterization, loving the effects, everything. But the older fans are a little bit slower to warm up to it I think.

VANIER: That's really interesting. And I heard that from some of the fans here in the newsroom when I was preparing the interview and preparing to talk to you. What about the -- and by the way no spoilers, please because obviously a lot of people haven't seen it yet. What about the humor in the film? I understand that could be one of the more contentious sides of it as well.

BRENNAN: I think there's a lot of humor in the Star Wars films any way. And that's always an underlying bit of humor and some of the bits in The Last Jedi feel a little bit forced if anything. And some of it may be in the wrong place. But -- the jokes are really good jokes, don't get me wrong but they just may be need to be rehearsed a little bit more maybe.

VANIER: But big picture, does it live up to the original trilogy? I mean I think your group is one of the -- one of the - if not, the oldest Star Wars Fan Clubs. Does it live up to the original trilogy?

BRENNAN: It's a new Star Wars and Rian Johnson said that he said that he's taking Star Wars in a new direction to his film and he wants the fans to not going expecting the standards of the Star Wars. They want them to go expecting something new and that's what he's delivered. I think Mark Hamill said that he trying to mentally disagree with everything that Ryan was doing with Skywalker. But Ryan is the director --

(CROSSTALK) VANIER: But he went along with it, right?

BRENNAN: He did, he did. And I think in the end he's coming and he's looked at the film and he's looked at the final cut and said, yes, I can see where you're going, I can see where Star Wars is going to hit and well, the franchise needs to be refreshed for the younger fans and it needs to be something that can go on for years to come.

VANIER: Look, is there a red line for you, you know, something that would kind of tarnish this saga where you would think, well, it's just not what I've been a fan of all these years?

BRENNAN: I think with the changes as it comes along, you've got to look at them and say, well, I can accept this and move forward with it. And it's not my film, it's not any of the fans film, although the fans been around for decades supporting it. It's -- Rian has made this film and it's a Disney creation, so we have to sit back and see where they're going to take it.

[02:40:05] VANIER: All right. Chris Brennan speaking in front of (INAUDIBLE) I can't quite see it. Thank you so much for joining us here on the show. And I love what you were saying that the fans -- there you, we see it now. The fans, you know, you have some who are against and some who are for it. Really splits the fan-based. All right. Chris, thank you very much.

BRENNAN: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Some Aussie feedback there. And we will be right back after this quick break. Don't go anyway.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: The international organization for migration is set to repatriate 15,000 displaced people to their home countries from Libya. Now this follows explosive reporting by CNN which exposed a modern-day slave auction in Libya.

CHURCH: CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team witnessed people being sold for as little as $400. Many were migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe. Our colleague Amara Walker spoke earlier about the IOM's efforts with its spokesman, Leonard Doyle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARD DOYLE, SPOKESMAN, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: This was a really important report. I mean, indeed, IOM, the U.N. migration agency, we did break the story if you will back a couple months back. But just putting out a press release and describing it isn't really good enough nowadays. What it really took was extraordinary bravery by CNN's reporters going into Libya witnessing an auction of human beings and then broadcasting it. I mean, it was just seminal and it's important and it took -- it transformed the debate which has been a bit toxic to say the least about migration. Many people bit negative on migrants to say the least blaming them for the problems they get into. I think when we saw people being sold as pieces of commerce, it changed everybody's mind and it brought the Africans and the Europeans together in a way I haven't seen before.

[02:44:55] CHURCH: Tell me more about that because you're -- now the IOM is going to help repatriate 15,000 displaced people/migrants back to their home countries from Libya. What kind of conversions had to take place for that to happen?

DOYLE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) has been working in Libya for a long time in the detention center helping migrants, making sure that they're safe, keeping women separated from men and trying to improve there a lot and advocating strongly for them to be released from these detention center. Now the difficulty is that that's not been happening. But once this slavery issue came to the floor, we were getting phone calls from the Director-General. I got a phone call from the African Union and from the European Union and that's what led to this happening.

CHURCH: Was this a matter of getting those home countries to help in the repatriation process?

DOYLE: It was really -- I mean, I think it was -- first of all, everybody had to see that it's a disgrace for this to be happening. So let's try and fix it. Let's try and get these people to safety. And I think once they recognized it, everybody was going to blame if you couldn't fix it quickly. They quickly found the solution.

VANIER: Up next after the break, Prince Harry delivers as a Guest Editor of the BBC. We'll have a preview of his interview with former U.S. President Obama. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:50:00] VANIER: So these two have had a transatlantic bromance for several years. And now Prince Harry is showcasing his friendship with former U.S. President Barack Obama by interviewing him for BBC Radio 4.

CHURCH: Yes, and they recorded t the interview in September in Toronto and the Invictus Games. Before the interview started, there was a little bit of joking around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do I have to speak faster? Because I'm a slow speaker.

PRINCE HARRY OF WALES, MEMBER OF THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: No, no, not at all.

OBAMA: OK. Do I need a British Accent.

PRINCE HARRY: But if you start -- if you start using long pauses between your answers, you're going to get the face.

OBAMA: OK. I'm ready when -- you guys have sound?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're sounding great.

OBAMA: You all good?

PRINCE HARRY: You're excited about this, I'm nervous about this. That's what quite funny.

OBAMA: That's just -- that's fun. I'll interview you if you want.

PRINCE HARRY: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Great back and forth. CNN Royal Commentator is here. Kate Williams joins us now from London. Kate, great to have you with us.

WILLIAMS: Good morning.

CHURCH: And you can see the chemistry between them, can't you. So how much excitement is there in Britain right not -- the news of this interview and how is Prince Harry able to make it happen?

WILLIAMS: You're absolutely right Rosemary. I mean, you really see the chemistry between Obama, between Prince Harry. We -- they've been really very good friends for quite a long time now and you really see this with easy chemistry. What's happening is this -- Prince Harry is going to be the Guest Editor of the Today Program, the Radio 4 program on the 27th of December and this really is our major news radio program here in Britain. It sets the agenda, all the politicians talk to the Today Program. It breaks big stories so it's very important news program here. Prince Harry is chosen to be the Editor really set highlight the importance of questions of mental health. He's been discussing it over the last few years. But the fact that he's in interviewing Mr. Obama, well, none of us knew that. So it's a big surprise to us, the news came out last night, a big surprise and very exciting. And I do think makes a lot of big implications about Prince Harry's aim make a wide influence on the world stage.

CHURCH: Yes, interesting. And what do they end up talking about in the interview? Of course, they would cover a lot of areas presumably. And what are they hoping to achieve with this?

WILLIAMS: Yes, well, what Kensington Palace has said is that he -- Mr. Obama talked about some more personal memories. He talked about his memories of his last day in office. But most of them really -- most of what they're talking about really is focused on the future. They're both talking about on the building together platforms for the future generations of new leaders. So Obama, of course, has the Obama Foundation that is generating leadership. But and he Prince Larry are saying how they want to work together to create the leaders of the future. So that's fair shared aim here and it really does I think give the interview a focus.

CHURCH: And of course, people have got to wait until December 27th as you said to see the full interview. How many more interviews like this might Prince Harry do for BBC Radio or is this just a one-off?

WILLIAMS: Well, it's fascinating Rosemary because Obama says how excited he is. Prince Harry says how nervous he is and he's obviously a little bit nervous about interviewing because Prince Harry really historically has been someone who doesn't like the press. He's very nervous with the press. He blames them for what happened to his mother. And we've really see the C-change in the last couple of years. He's much more open about talking. He's been very, very open about his own feelings, about his feelings of grief and he really is moving towards seeing the press as someone he can work with in ways in which he can work with the press about getting his message out there.

And I do think that Miss Markle is part of this. She is a lady who's very familiar press. She can use the press. She sees them as friends. And I think Prince Harry and Miss Markle together, they really are going to have this new effort towards world -- to really working on big world charity, big world interventions. And certainly, I think Prince Harry is going to want to do more of these type of interviews with other world leaders. So I don't know whether he's going to interview Mr. Trump but that will be an interesting conversation.

CHURCH: We just have to stay tuned and see what happens, right? But everyone is looking forward to that interview. Kate Williams, thank you so much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: We appreciate you coming on the show

VANIER: Just before we leave you, a new record. Around the world in 42 days, Frenchman Francois Gabart is back on land after smashing the record for sailing around the world by himself without stopping. (INAUDIBLE) escorted the sailor to shore in France as the crowd cheers him on. Gabart is just 34 years old. He didn't just sort of beat the previous record, he obliterated it coming in more than six days earlier than the previous record holder crossing the virtual finish line in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, 35 seconds. That's going sailing around the world in 42 days.

CHURCH: Very impressive.

VANIER: All right, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier and I'm Rosemary Church. We'll be right back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:55:00] VANIER: The light's out and back on now in the world's busiest airport stranding thousands of travelers for hours. We'll have the latest from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

CHURCH: Plus U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sharing two phone calls in just a few days. Vladimir Putin is thanking President Trump.

Hello and welcome. To our viewers joining us here in the United States and of course all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for joining us. CHURCH: The world's busiest airport has its lights back on after a power outage crippled Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta for 11 hours. But thousands of travelers are still stranded. Their flights were canceled and passenger planes are not yet flying in all hours of the airport.

VANIER: Official say the power went down because of an underground electrical fire. Now apparently the fire was not deliberate, still, the blackout prevented flights from coming or going.