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Passengers Stuck up in Atlanta Airport; Putin and Trump Talk Twice in Three Days; Miss Universe Contestant Getting Death Threats Because of a Selfie; South Africa's Ruling Party to Choose its New Leader; Repatriation of 15,000 Displaced People in Libya; Austria Only Country With a Far-Right Party in Government; Prince Harry Interviews Former U.S. President Barack Obama; "The Last Jedi" Blockbuster Opening Weekend. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired December 18, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Officials say the power went down because of an underground electrical fire. Now apparently the fire was not deliberate. Still the blackout prevented fights from coming or going. Passengers were even stuck on the tarmac for hours.

At one point, 92 planes were just sitting there. When people were finally allowed off those planes, they have to navigate through this, crowded dimly lit terminals. And what's really surprising here is that this is the busiest airport in the world, so why didn't the backup power system work? Atlanta's mayor addressed that very question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASIM REED, MAYOR, ATLANTA, GEORGIA: I certainly understand the frustration throughout the day. They said that 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 a damage to two systems rather than one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: George Howell is our eyes and ears on the ground at the airport. And it's 3 a.m. here on the U.S. East Coast. It's the middle of the night. George is soldiering on.

George, you know, there's something I want to share. When I was there earlier this afternoon and my family was supposed to fly out and by the way, they didn't and won't be able to fly for another 48 hour at least, honestly, I have no patience for this but the attitude of the people in the room, and it was packed, everybody was really patient really civil and really felt OK about it. So what's the attitude now at 3 in the morning?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you do find a mixed bag, Cyril. You find those people who are patient who are, you know, taking this in stride. Certainly this is an unexpected event, though. You find people who are livid about this. People who had travel plans, important meetings, important functions or events that they had to, maybe they had to get to work. Now they won't be able to get to work.

Certainly what we're seeing here at this airport is a multiday event. We understand the power has been restored. You see the lights on but now really the questions remain, when will this airport be fully functional.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And George, so many questions, of course, about the cause of the fire, the response and why the backup system failed to work. We don't have answers to that right now, but the mayor is going to be put under a lot of pressure to come up with some answers in the next few hours. What are people saying about that, and when will some of these people get moved out?

HOWELL: Well, that will be, Rosemary, a very important question that will be post to this outgoing there, Kasim Reed. Certainly, a very big responsibility for the incoming mayor to have a better plan in place given what we understand.

This fire that affected the redundant systems that should have prevented an event like this from happening.

Now as far as when people will be moved along, you know, I went inside and spoke with people earlier one person told me a suggestion, not a firm hard quote but a suggestion that she got from a ticket counter representative. She could leave tomorrow or maybe even late, late tonight.

But that certainly just adds insult to injury when you consider that many of these people trapped on planes for some time until they could deboard and then waiting, sleeping on the ground doing their best to cope with the uncertainty.

I went into the airport just a short time ago to give you a sense of what's happening right now. There's so many layers to this, of course people checking into their flights. Security. How do people get through security, and then the simple question, when can people.

Here's how people are dealing with it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The lights are back on, but when this airport officially gets back up to full operation, that's still unclear. The one thing we do know, people are trying to get in position, take a look over here, in the security lines. People are already queuing up.

But again, it's unclear exactly when security will actually open. So in the meantime, people just wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm like -- it's like I had enough of this. I just need to go home. So all the flights are delayed, and I cannot find the flight to Phoenix. I searched through every other option, through every other airport but I cannot find a flight. All flights are booked; otherwise it's like $1500 for a flight. So I certainly cannot afford that. So let's see what happens.

If I get a flight it will be around 5 in the evening. So I have to wait until 15 hours for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told that there isn't a flight for me until Tuesday, but I'm going to try to get another one tomorrow, so hopefully it works out. I mean, I'll miss meetings and there's a lot of things, you know, but life is life. So you have to make it work.

[03:04:59] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not giving any information out yet. They keep telling us to wait until maybe four tonight, and just have to sit back and wait. I have no idea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And you certainly feel for people. You know, many of these people, their phones are dead. Just now able to recharge them but quite frankly, they've been waiting for so long for so little information.

Let's bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri at the National Weather Center. Pedram, you've been following the flight tracks, of course, Atlanta a very important center when it comes to travel. And what does the day look like? What's it shaping up like?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's going to start off on a rough note here. Because of a couple of elements we'll touch on that. Even weather perhaps playing a little bit of factor, even if things get back it's a smooth sailing.

I want to talk about this of course. Because we had the most delays of any airport in the United States. And Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport on Sunday the most cancellations of any airport in the world in Atlanta as well.

And look at the peak travel periods. Back in late November, of course, you have one round of it. For Atlanta in particular between the 17th of December of to about the end of the month there that's when the highest travel and as far as highest volume is expected.

So of course, we knew already traffic was going to be an issue for air travel. And this is what it typically looks like out of Atlanta. But of course, at this point very little planes to no planes across this region. So the perspective has changed dramatically.

But 2,500 flights impacted. So a tune of 275,000 people, 2,500 I should say on a daily basis of what you see across Hartsfield-Jackson, 275,000 passengers. Of course we know the cancellations and the delays, roughly 60 percent of those flights were impacted after the 1.30 power outage across the region.

But there is a cause associated with this as well. We know for the aviation industry, that's about $6,000 cost per plane when a flight is canceled. And for passengers accumulatively we're talking about 60,000 lost. About $300 a person or so when you consider lodging, food, missing work as well.

This data coming in from mass flight that tracks and analyzes aviation data as well. I want to show you something though. We do have a dense fog advisory

for 30 million people across the Southern United States. Visibility down as low as a quarter of a mile across some of these regions. So even if we get some flights back up in the sky I think it might be a slow go because of the low clouds beginning to set up.

And I saw that and, George, in the background there where you're standing, the fog is beginning to settle in. The city in fact, it kind of shows you exactly what we're talking about, because the area indicated in red right there at Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta has the misery index as it's called the flight aware aviation tracking website. They put it as the worst one in the United States.

But notice as you travel up toward Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, make your way towards Dulles and off to New York about 10 or 20 percent of every single major airport flights have been impacted as a result of course, the ripple effect of what's happening in Atlanta.

So, again, even if this all gets back to smooth sailing, George, I think the fog will play a little but of role in getting things back up in the sky early in the morning hours at least. George?

HOWELL: Pedram Javaheri, thank you so much. And to give our viewers, again, the scope and scale of why this Atlanta airport is so important, take a look at these statistic from the city of Atlanta. It gives you a picture of this -- at this airport average some 275,000 passengers per day. Twenty five hundred flights per day in and out of this airport.

It is the busiest airport in the world since 1998. Serving 75 international destinations and 150 U.S. destinations. So Atlanta is a very important center when it comes to the transportation puzzle.

Let's now bring in our guest, Captain Desmond Ross. Captain Ross, the principal at DRA Professional Aviation Services joining us via Skype from Abu Dhabi. Thank you so much for your time today to talk about what's happening here in Atlanta.

And look, I want to ask you this from the perspective of a pilot. We heard a flight take off about two hours ago. I'm not sure whether it was a commercial flight or a cargo flight, but certainly a flight that took off. That's good news.

But from a pilot's perspective, how difficult is it for crews to get back into business, get back, you know, in the air after a delay like this?

DESMOND ROSS, PRINCIPAL, DRA PROFESSIONAL AVIATION SERVICES: Good morning to you. The difficulty, of course, is in the airport infrastructure. The aircraft itself are not affected. But unless you get the scheduling and the computers and everything else that relies upon the electricity to operate, the runway lights, the aircraft control systems nothing is going to happen.

And the big issue now not only what's happened there at Atlanta, and we sympathize obviously with all the passengers who were stranded and stuck and getting fed up with the whole thing but there's a lot of other issues downstream. All the other airports where flights should be arriving and departing, connecting to Atlanta are going to be disrupted as well.

[03:10:01] So, we're talking possibly millions of people disrupted over the next few days and certainly not going to be fixed in one day. It will take two, three days before things get back to normal.

HOWELL: And again, you have to put it all into context. This is the holiday season. Many people are reaching some pretty important destinations now having to factor this into their travel plans. Let's also, if we could, just talk about what it means for international travelers. You know, people who may be stuck here, who have to go through security again. They will certainly face long delays.

ROSS: Yes, they will. Think back to what happened in the U.K. a couple of years ago. It was terminal three, I think it was the New York terminal open and the baggage system ran into difficulties. That took weeks to sort out.

And at Hartsfield either in Atlanta you've also got issues of baggage, baggage are going to be delayed. Flights, again the flights of people are going to be separated and their luggage.

The international flights, in particular, Atlanta does have (Inaudible) than Australia and many, many other countries and Africa or whatever, there's going to be disruption at all airports as well. Schedules affected in both directions and passengers affected. There are passengers going to be stuck at other airport waiting to try to go to Atlanta.

HOWELL: I don't know if you got to hear the exchange between myself and my colleague Rosemary earlier, but the question was, there will be some major questions to be had for the mayor of the city, for the airport officials here and for Georgia power given what happened.

But looking at what happened in this instance, what would you surmise, what could officials do differently moving forward to make sure that situations like this don't happen again? I mean, hour, hours of delays and thousands of people that don't have information about what's next for them?

ROSS: It's a little difficult to understand an airport which is the world's busiest airport at this point. It's difficult to understand why a backup system didn't cut in almost immediately. I understand there was a fire. I understand all of that. But the backup systems if they're probably constructed in modern infrastructure or well separated from the main fire systems.

I can think of a couple of cases where in the old standards for people who really thought about it. You know, you have a backup power line running basically along the side of the main power line but it doesn't work very well.

If the main power line blows up of is cut out the bomb or any other way, fire, the backup power line is also going to go out. And I suspect that's what happened here. I don't know. I don't know how all the infrastructure is.

But in modern infrastructure your backup systems would be well separated from the main supply so that if something happens the main supply it doesn't take out the back out system as well. So that means that needs to be--

(CROSSTALK)

HOWELL: Desmond Ross, there are certainly a lot of questions. People want some answers about what's next. Right now they don't know. But we appreciate you giving us some insight and your thoughts about how this is all playing out. Thank you for your time.

I'd like to also just take a moment. Orlando, if you could just pan over here. I want to give you a live look inside the airport so you can get a sense of exactly what's happening now. You can see that are people some sitting on the wheelchairs there. That's where people, some people chosen to sleep for the night.

Look at the ticket counter back there. The ticker counter there are a few officials. I think one person there speaking to customers. There is a queue, there's a long line of customers waiting. And that line is sure to grow.

But, again, people are just waiting. They're getting into this ques. That's the best they can do right now, Rosemary, Cyril, because there are no real answers, there are no firm answers until we at least see this airport get back to its full capacity. And that has not happed as of yet.

CHURCH: George, it say miserable situation for those people.

VANIER: Yes.

CHURCH: Eleven hours without power. And now goodness knows how many hours waiting to see whether they get a flight out to wherever they're heading to.

VANIER: Yes. It's three in the morning right now there and so they'll probably not going to get an answer right now.

George Howell at Atlanta Hartsfield international and domestic terminals at the airport here in Atlanta. Thank you very much, George. We know this is going to affect people not just today, not just in the hours to come but there's going to be knock on impact for days.

We have one of our producers walking to the show saying her friends they're driving back up to, I think Washington or Virginia.

CHURCH: Yes.

VANIER: Thirteen-hour drive and this is going to be happening to a lot of people.

CHURCH: Yes, it is. We'll keep an eye on it, though. VANIER: Russia's president makes a call to the U.S. president. We'll see what Vladimir Putin had to say to Donald Trump ahead. Stay with us here on CNN.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Russia's president is thanking President Trump for help in heading off a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. The two leaders spoke by phone Sunday for the second time in three days.

Elise Labott has the details.

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Vladimir Putin called President Trump to thank him for a CIA tip that helped stop a terrorist attack in Russia. And the CIA had information on an ISIS-inspired plot to blow up a cathedral in St. Petersburg.

U.S. official share that information with Russia and, as Russian authorities said they were able to capture the terrorists just prior (TECHNICAL PROBLEM) President Trump stressed the importance of intelligence sharing, especially on terrorism.

And both leaders cited this as an example of the benefits of more cooperation between the U.S. and Russia.

Now it's worth noting President Trump called Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA, to congratulate him and his team for a job well done here. Even as the president continues to cast doubt on U.S. assessments saying Russia interfered in the U.S. election.

Now the two leaders also spoke on Thursday. They talked about North Korea. President Trump would like more help from Russia in combating the North Korean nuclear threat.

[03:20:03] But President Trump really initiated the call to thank Putin for some comments he made at a press conference praising Trump's efforts to grow the American economy. Now President Trump has shown in his first year as president that he thrives on public praise, and it seems President Putin got the message.

Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

VANIER: We're joined by conservative CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson and democratic political strategist Mac Zilber. Ben, two phone calls in three days, in four days now between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Does that qualify as the at least the beginning that rapprochement that Mr. Trump wanted with Russia?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know. What I do know is any time 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.

I mean, this is, 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 the all in a political way. I think what this does show is both countries are committed to protecting watch other's innocent people if they know about terrorist activities in their -- in the other country.

That is good foreign policy, that's good foreign relations and those are conversation I'm glad because it saved people's lives. Clearly, that you want any president to have with a foreign leader when this type of information comes up. 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 but still a connection with Russia obviously. Because the Russia investigation is going on and there's been this cloud over the last few days with democratic voices saying -- voicing concern that Mr. Trump was perhaps getting ready to fire the special counsel who is 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, Max, about this and that there's not going to be any impediment to the investigation?

MAC ZILBER, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Cyril, Donald Trump has never said that he's not going to do something and then gone ahead and done it. Now I'm still concerned that this investigation gets further that at a certain point Trump is going to have his propaganda arm essentially 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 he gets rid of Mueller, at that point you have to act or you have to wonder ask, is there a line in which they won't let him cross?

VANIER: Ben, same question to you. Are 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 because there's been so many bad just information out there from so many people implying that the president is going to fire Mueller and he hasn't. He said that, a, he's not going to--

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Wait, hold on. In fairness, in fairness, 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. I mean, look at all of the indictments have come down. None of them have the word collusion. None of them talk about collusion.

In fact, even at -- even those on Capitol Hill, democrats, senators have said they've found no collusion either. So I do believe that Mueller has gone off the reservation. And just the fact that he got all these e-mails which many are asking were they taken illegally from the transition team?

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: So what kind of problem? I was going to ask you about the e- mails?

FERGUSON: It's a problem because it's illegal. That's the reason it's a problem. It's illegal. It's 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: Yes, actually, let the president do your work for you.

FERGUSON: Sure.

VANIER: Let's listen to Mr. Trump when he was asked that question.

ZILBER: If this were illegal, then the proper challenge--

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Mac, just a second, let's listen to Donald Trump when he was ask that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not looking good. It's not looking good. It's quite sad to see that. So 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. In fact, he stayed clear from calling that illegal.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Sure. And I think the reason why is because he's not worried about anything in these e-mails. I think it just shows another example of how far Mueller has gone off the reservation with this investigation using taxpayers money.

[03:25:04] 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 hasn't gotten rid of Mueller is because there's nothing here at some point you shake your head and 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 that have nothing to do with collusion but, I have nothing to worry about. So you want to keep crossing the line, and knock yourself out but he's not going to fire him.

VANIER: All right. Mac, real quick on this e-mail question because there's 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 file a complaint and not litigate via a press release. They are litigating via press release because they want to distract. As far as Trump's comments--

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: From what?

ZILBER: -- the not in good comment--

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: What are they distracting from? What are they distracting from? You said distract from what? The fact--

ZILBER: They're distracting from the ongoing investigation that has already initiated more indictments than almost any special counsel case by this phase.

FERGUSON: Are any of them connect to collusion? No. None of them are connected to collusion. They're all out--

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Hold on. Let him talk. Let's hear him out.

ZILBER: None of the indictments specifically mention collusion. We are six months in to a special counsel investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: And there's no collusion.

ZILBER: The average special counsel investigation goes seven years. Just 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 are sure doing a great job of making it look like there is.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Again.

ZILBER: They should say, great, Mueller, just go for it. Investigate what you want rather than continue--

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: And that's exactly what the president is 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 that for political gain in the midterm elections. And so the president is being smart.

He is saying, look, keep doing your thing. There's nothing there. Keep crossing the line, keep going out of bounds. 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 taxpayer's money.

VANIER: All right.

FERGUSON: And democrats keep doing it.

VANIER: All right. Gentlemen, listen, thank you both for your time. You both yet have something to say, but we'll get you back on, obviously. This conversation will continue. Thanks a lot.

FERGUSON: Thank you.

ZILBER: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we'll take a very short break right here. But coming up, South Africa's ruling party looks to replace Jacob Zuma as its leader. How his controversial legacy could impact the vote, just ahead.

VANIER: Plus, CNN is honoring this year's heroes for making extraordinary contributions to their communities. Next, how the top winner was inspired by her two children with downs syndrome. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:00] VANIER: Welcome back everyone. Good to have you back with us. I'm Cyril Vanier.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we're watching at this hour. Power is now restored at the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, but most planes are not moving yet and thousands of travelers have been stranded for hours. Officials say an underground electrical fire caused Sunday's massive power outage, but they don't believe it was started deliberately.

VANIER: Russian President Vladimir Putin is thanking the U.S. for its help in preventing ISIS-inspired terror attacks in St. Petersburg. Mr. Putin spoke by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday and thanked Mr. Trump for the CIA's information on the planned attacks.

CHURCH: Meanwhile, President Trump says he is not considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He did say that his transition team was upset about Mueller's request for thousands of their e-mails. Mr. Trump again says there was no collusion with Russia.

VANIER: And the contestant in last month's Miss Universe pageant says she's been getting death threats all because of a selfie. Ms. Iraq's Sarah Idan took a picture with Ms. Israel, but those countries have now formal ties and Idan has faced international backlash. She says it's been so bad that her family had to leave Iraq.

CHURCH: South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, is voting to choose its new leader. Delegates have gathered to pick a replacement for President Jacob Zuma. There are two candidates to take over from him.

VANIER: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a former cabinet minister and headed the African Union. She is also Mr. Zuma's ex-wife. Her rival is the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa. The next party leader will likely become the nation's president after the 2019 elections.

CHURCH: And CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg with the very latest on this. David, it is down to these two front-runners, both of them linked to Zuma in different ways. So, how do they make a clean break from the embattled leader and which one is likely to gain the most support? Do we have any idea at this point?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Rosemary, certainly Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president came into this vote with more branches, local branches supporting him, but it's really a close race is the feeling. And this decision could be really critical for South Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): ANC delegates pray for unity before welcoming the president central to their party's decline.

(CROWD CHEERING)

This is the public face of a bitter battle. The ANC has lost supporters as Zuma faces hundreds of allegations of corruption and fraud. So delegates hope this crucial vote for his replacement as party leader will signal the rebirth of their once proud ANC, sending a message to South Africa and the world.

They're openly disagreeing with the party's leadership, so this is democracy in action. But less than 5,000 people will make a choice for more than 3 million South Africans. Just down the road in (INAUDIBLE) on the street where Nelson Mandela lived, South Africans died in the struggle against apartheid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't know what is it that we're going to meet when we arrive at (INAUDIBLE) street.

MCKENZIE: The survivors are disillusioned

[03:35:00] with the party of Mandela. (INAUDIBLE) says the ANC has lost its way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's painful seeing you really have a question (INAUDIBLE) do these people know how much we have sacrificed for this country?

MCKENZIE: He says whether the deputy president or a former minister and Zuma's ex-wife win, the ANC must still reckon with the rot and the woman perhaps most responsible for exposing the allegations agrees.

THULI MADONSELA, FORMER PUBLIC PROTECTOR IN SOUTH AFRICA: So, a lot of it is about President Zuma. But is it only about President Zuma? No, that would be a mistake because I think the waters have been poisoned.

MCKENZIE: Zuma denies all the charges of corruption, and he's famous for surviving scandals. Will the ANC overcome his legacy?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: The lead-up to this vote has been very contentious with multiple court cases affecting who actually casts their ballot. So the question will be when the vote or the result is announced, perhaps later today. Will the losing side accept it? It's a key test of the ANC and a key moment in South Africa's Democratic history. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And we know you will be watching this very closely and reporting back to us here on CNN. David McKenzie in Johannesburg where it is 10:36 in the morning. Many thanks.

VANIER: All right, CNN's 2017 Hero of the Year was inspired by her two children with Down syndrome to advocate for people with disabilities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: People whose disabilities have been in the shadows for too long, but no more. Thank you CNN for this incredible honor. To my two youngest children, Bitty and Beau who are my inspiration, I want you to know because I know you're watching at home tonight, Bitty and Beau, that I would not change you for the world. But I will change the world for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Amy Wright employs dozens of people with disabilities at a coffee shop in North Carolina.

CHURCH: And through her non-profit she helps them show they can contribute and participate in the workforce. Visit cnn.com/heroes to support this year's top 10 winners. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of 50,000 for each.

VANIER: Austria's new government is raising concerns in Europe about a far-right coalition partner. We'll have details on that after the break.

[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. The International Organization for Migration is set to repatriate 15,000 displaced people to their home countries from Libya. This follows exclusive reporting by CNN which exposed a modern day slave auction there.

VANIER: 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 VIDEOTAPE)

LEONARD DOYLE, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: This was a really important. I mean, indeed, IOM, the U.N. migration agency, we did break the story if you will back -- a couple of 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 in its importance, and it took -- it transformed the debate which has been a bit toxic to say the least about migration. Many people a 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 brought the Africans and the Europeans together in a way I haven't seen before.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Tell me more about that because now the IOM is going to help repatriate 15,000 displaced people/migrants back to their home countries from Libya. What kind of conversations had to take place for that to happen?

DOYLE: Well, IOM has been working in Libya for a long time in the detention centers 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 release from these detention centers. Now, the difficulty is that that's not been happening.

But once the slavery issue came to the fore, we were getting phone calls from -- the director general of IOM got a call from the African Union and from the European Union. And that is what led to this happening.

WALKER: Was this a matter of getting these 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 recognize that everybody was going to be blamed if you couldn't fix it quickly, they quickly find a solution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Leonard Doyle from the International Organization for Migration speaking to my colleague, our colleague, Amara Walker earlier.

CHURCH: Well Austria is poised to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government. The Conservative People's Party is forming an alliance with the far-right Freedom Party.

VANIER: Both parties took a hard line on immigration in the October elections. Incoming chancellor Sebastian Kurz, that's him here, has called for limits on the number of refugees entering Europe and for cuts in benefits to migrants living in Austria. Journalist Chris Burns joins us now live from Berlin.

Chris, during the campaign, the far-right really had a radical agenda. They campaigned against mass migration. They warned of an invasion, they warned even of a civil war in Austria, all of this because of immigration and migration. Now that they're in power, what are they going to do with this power?

CHRIS BURNS, JOURNALIST: A very good question, Cyril. And what we're seeing in this 180-page agreement between the Freedom Party and the People's Party that was reached over the weekend is that the -- they're not saying any numbers. They do want to limit immigration. They want to speed the deportations of illegal immigrants but there's no talk about closing the border. In fact, that's what the previous government had said, that they might do if things got worse.

Now, Austria took in some 90,000 people in 2015. That's about one percent of the population, which did get a lot of people worried and fearful. But this vote, this

[03:45:00] election back in October, was also a taxpayer revolt. In Austria, you're paying up to 55 percent of your income tax and more than 50 percent of the government spending is to the state. So the intent behind this government is also to slash spending including benefits for immigrants, Cyril.

VANIER: The far-right in Austria has already been in government and that was in the early 2000s. At the time the European Union, I mean, the institutions of the European Union imposed sanctions on them. How is the E.U. reacting this time around?

BURNS: Yes, there are those sanctions, they lasted a few months. They were sort of put on probation, the Austrian government at the time and the E.U. officials decided, well, they are Europeans. Now, the prime minister to be who was going to be sworn in shortly, the chancellor to be, Kurz, has said that he is a European. He wants to be pro-Europe. He wants to work with Angela Merkel here in Berlin.

And in fact, his first trip is going to be tomorrow to Brussels to meet with the E.U. officials. So, he says that he's very much pro- European. Now, we will see really in the actions what they do and keep in mind that Austria is going to have the rotating E.U. presidency in the second half of next year. We have to see what they do.

VANIER: Yes. They're really raising eyebrows within the institutions of the European Union. They just, let's say, just do not like them and do not like to see the far-right in power anywhere in the E.U. Chris Burns reporting to us from Germany. Thank you very much.

BURNS: Thank you.

CHURCH: And let's take a short break.

Still to come, Prince Harry snags an interview with an A-lister for his upcoming guest position at the BBC. What they discussed. We'll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAVAHERI: Thank you for joining us on CNN. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, watching the pattern across southern United States here with a lot of wet weather in recent days but worked your way towards portions of the Deep South here. We have dense fog advisory in place for several million people because of very low clouds that have set up here across this region.

So in Atlanta, 17 degrees, some morning fog. Afternoon sunshine is in store. Work your way toward Chicago, seven. New York around six, and the warmth still in place around southern California. Up to 22 degrees there in Los Angeles. But notice the trends been kind of bit moderated here. In fact, parts of the northern United States really not getting much snowfall. Much of it being confined into southern Canada and parts of the higher elevations still getting snow. But notice this, as we go in from Thursday to Friday and into Saturday here, big time

[03:50:00] cold begins to really dive south into the central United States. That could be the big story as we approach Christmas weekend, of course, Christmas day next week. But across the western U.S., notice the cooling trend that's in store, 16 eventually, 18 degrees there across Los Angeles. That means we're getting little marine influence and that's great news for the firefighting efforts across that region.

Mexico City very comfortable reading, 23 degrees and should be mostly sunny. In Kingston, sunny skies should make it up to around 31 degrees. And travel farther south going to (INAUDIBLE) looking at thunderstorms possible, 29, (INAUDIBLE) around 29 degrees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: They have had a transatlantic bromance for several years. Now, Prince Harry is showcasing his friendship with former U.S. President Barack Obama by interviewing him for BBC Radio 4. CHURCH: Yes. They recorded the interview back in September in Toronto

at the Invictus Games. Before the interview started, there was a little, joking around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Do I have to speak faster because --

PRINCE HARRY: No, not at all.

OBAMA: OK. Do I need the British accent?

PRINCE HARRY: But if you start using long pauses between the answers you'll probably going to get like the face.

OBAMA: Let me see the face. Oh, OK.

I'm ready. You guys have sound?

PRINCE HARRY: You're sounding great.

OBAMA: You're all good?

PRINCE HARRY: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It's fun. I'll interview you if you want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And there it is. CNN royal commentator Kate Williams joins us now from London. Kate, great to have you with us again. We can see the chemistry. We talked about that last hour. How was Prince Harry able to make this interview happen and what all do we know about their friendship?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is -- Prince Harry is a guest editor of the "Today" program on BBC Radio 4 on the 27th. So this is our key flagship news program. It's where all the big political stories are broken. It really is to set the agenda. And as part of his work a guest editor, he clearly asked, really when he was in the Invictus Games, asked Mr. Obama for an interview and clearly, Obama and Prince Harry are good friends.

We've seen lots of photos of them together. They get on. It was obviously a winner. But we've learned in the interview, which we haven't yet heard, we won't yet hear until the 27th and then we'll hear it in full in a podcast. It's going to be a lot about leadership. So, they share these joint ambitions to foster the leaders of the future.

CHURCH: And what other things do they end up talking about in he interview? What are they hoping to achieve with this? WILLIAMS: The interview is going to be personal. Mr. Obama has talked

about his last days in office, his memories. Also, his hopes for the future, what he hopes to do post presidential. And also the two of them wanting to talk about creating platforms. We don't know what kind of platforms yet. I'm sure we'll find out, but creating platforms for the leaders of the future.

Perhaps scholarships, perhaps (INAUDIBLE) all linked to the Obama Foundation. And this really does show how Prince Harry does want an international stage. That was very obvious in his engagement interview with Miss Markle. They talked about the international work.

It seems like interesting here that Prince Harry, he's not going to be king of England but what he wants to do is create this international stage for really making the world a better place and working with the most influential people you could imagine and one of those is Mr. Obama.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And wow. What a first interview for Prince Harry. Is this just a one-off or can we expect more of this?

WILLIAMS: It doesn't seem like Prince Harry was a natural interviewer. Mr. Obama was saying how excited he was. Prince Harry said he was a bit nervous, but obviously, there are lots of exciting things said. It was very detailed. I don't think that we're going to see an awful lot of Prince Harry doing media interviews.

But in terms of creating partnerships, creating networks, making -- working with people like the Obama Foundation and really pushing forward his own agenda about leadership, about veterans, about charities, and about conservation. I think now Prince Harry is married, we're going to see him moving to the next stage. And that is the next stage, really, of not just British royalty. Not just English royalty but an international player, and an international humanitarian which with Ms. Markle will be a pretty powerful twosome.

CHURCH: Indeed. Kate Williams, many thanks to you joining us from London where it is nearly 9:00 in the morning. Thank you.

VANIER: The "Star Wars" franchise is still a powerful force at the box office.

CHURCH: Yes, "The Last Jedi" brought in a staggering $450 million globally in its opening weekend.

VANIER: Earlier, Chris Brennan, the director of Australia's Star Wars Appreciation Society -- real title -- told us how the Aussie fan base is reacting to the latest episode.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS BRENNAN, DIRECTOR, STAR WARS APPRECIATION SOCIETY OF ASUTRALIA: You've got two camps. You've got the love it and the hate it.

[03:55:00] And it seems to be a lot of the older fans in the, well, I'm not really sure how I feel about it camp at the moment. So, the younger fans are loving everything about it. They're loving the characterization. They're loving the effects of everything, but the older fans are a little bit slower to warm up to this 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. 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 anyway and it'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 that are there are good jokes. Don't get me wrong, but they just maybe need to be rehearsed a little bit more maybe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: All right, Chris Brennan there from the Star Wars Appreciation Society in Australia.

CHURCH: And they know in Australia, too. All right, before we go, we have been covering the impact of that power outage at the world's busiest airport. Thousands are still stranded but earlier in the day, travelers at Atlanta's airport found ways to amuse themselves.

VANIER: One traveler posted this video on Instagram, and this is how one staffer at the airport chose or maybe had to come down the elevator. He probably didn't have much of a choice given how many people were walking up.

CHURCH: Right. It looks like he actually works there. He's got all of the tags. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Rosemary Church.

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. "Early Start" is next for our viewers here in the U.S.

CHURCH: And for the rest of you, the news continues with our Max Foster in London. Have a great day.

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