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Trump Tweets About McCabe; Trump Wants Credit for Accomplishments; Hazardous Travel Conditions; Many in Puerto Rico without Power; Silence from FBI Director. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 25, 2017 - 12:00   ET



[12:01:43] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and Merry Christmas. I'm Dana Bash in Washington.

President Trump is keeping a low profile so far on this Christmas Day. He is spending the holiday with his family at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The president and the first lady attended Christmas Eve services at the church where they were married. On the political front, Mr. Trump kept up his Twitter tirade targeting the FBI.

CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray joins us from West Palm Beach, Florida, with the details.

Sara, taking aim at the FBI and the deputy FBI director in particular. Fill us in.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana, and they're hardly the usual activities of a Christmas holiday. But when it comes to Trump, certainly not out of the ordinary. The president spending the weekend and the run-up to Christmas Day taking aim at the news media, also taking aim at the FBI, in particular the outgoing Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Now, the president also aired his grievances about the fact that he feels like he has had a very successful, very productive year and doesn't believe he's getting enough credit for it. Clearly he needed to get all of that out of the way and out on Twitter before he headed to his Christmas Eve dinner last night, Dana.

BASH: Sara Murray, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it. Merry Christmas. Enjoy that nice weather down there.

President Trump is touting his accomplishments as he approaches his one-year mark in office. And he says he deserves more credit than he's getting.

Let's discuss that with our panel, CNN political commentators Ben Ferguson and Keith Boykin.

Merry Christmas to you both. Thank you so much --


BASH: Thank you. Thank you so much for being here to both of you.

Let's just start with the tweets. The president tweeted over the weekend about the tax cut/reform bill, important, including massive Alaska drilling, the repeal of the highly unpopular individual mandate and he brought it all together as an incredible year. Never mind the fake news. We won't even talk about that right now.

But in terms of what the president is tweeting, that he is trying to tout -- you know, blow his own horn, which he's not alone. I mean politicians do that all the time. But is he right, Ben Ferguson, that he's not getting as much credit as he might deserve on the issue of keeping campaign promises that he made?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think early in the year that would probably not be an accurate statement. They had a lot of things, a lot of tough issues that didn't get done. But towards the end of the year, I agree with him on this one. I think that he's done an awful lot of the things that he promised he was going to do. Whether it be going after ISIS, whether it be lowering taxes, getting the economy moving the way it is.

And I also think that there had been a lot of people that downplayed the incredible economic success through his leadership and policies that he has had when many of those same people were saying this was going to be dooms day this exact time last year for Wall Street and the economy because they weren't going to trust the president, that he was too erratic for Wall Street's tastes and likes. I mean I literally remember sitting a year ago having that conversation.

So I think overall, if you're someone that voted for Donald Trump, you're pretty happy with how the year ended. I think you're hoping for more successes early on next year, not having to wait till the fourth quarter to kind of get some of these big runs on the board. But, overall, I understand where he's coming from.

[12:05:08] BASH: And, Keith, let's just take a look at the specifics here of what the president calls major accomplishments. Congress too. The tax bill, the Obamacare mandate repeal, although we have to have a very large asterisk there, that the repeal and replace promise that Republicans have been promising for almost a decade didn't happen. But he did get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, a record number of appellate judges, a huge rollback to regulations, which was a big promise, drilling in Anwar.

Now, elections have consequences. So if you're a Democrat, this is your biggest nightmare, not your biggest list of accomplishments. But when you're looking at a midterm election where getting the base activated and excited as -- are Democrats worried about the fact that he has those accomplishments and they have those accomplishments to bring back to the base?

BOYKIN: No, I don't think Democrats are worried. I think Democrats are motivated. We're on a winning streak. We won in November almost all the elections that were up for grabs that were important. We won again in December in Alabama. We won in Atlanta. Democrats feel like they have the wind at their back going into 2018, and the polls reflect that.

If you look at the accomplishments -- or so-called accomplishments for the past year, I mean Neil Gorsuch and tax reform are the biggest achievements the president can point to, but there's a long list of promises he didn't keep. He said he was going to build a wall. He didn't do that. He said he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare. He didn't do that. He said he was going to drain the swamp. He didn't do that. He said he was going to make America great again. That's debatable whether that's happened or not. And he said he was going to lock up Hillary Clinton. None of those things ever happened.

And so it's like he made a list of promises. Now all he's got to say is that he lowered taxes for the rich people, like himself. That's not really the thing that he ran on. He ran on something completely different from what he actually has gotten up here (ph).

FERGUSON: And some people that don't have a lot of money.

BOYKIN: And so I think he should be ashamed of himself for accomplishing so little with having a Republican Congress, Republican president, and a Republican Supreme Court.

BASH: You're laughing, Ben.

FERGUSON: I am. I am because this is when I know that Democrats are truly nervous that the president's really starting to get his footing on some issues when they start listing the things that Donald Trump didn't accomplish, when many of them are things that many conservatives are still looking forward on.

Look, I'll agree with Keith on one thing, there are some other promises that have to come forward this year. But, overall, again, if you're a conservative, you like the way this year ended. If you voted for Donald Trump, you like the way that this year ended with some big victories.

And there's one thing that people -- even Keith there didn't mention it because it's a huge problem for Democrats. The economy right now is in incredibly good shape.

BOYKIN: Oh, no.

FERGUSON: Unemployment rates are at a 17-year low.


FERGUSON: And consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.

Keith, as much as you say no, that's reality on a page and it's bad news for you guys.

BOYKIN: Can I tell you why it's not bad news, Ben?

FERGUSON: I'm sure.

BOYKIN: Because the economy actually performed better under President Obama. Well, it's true, Ben. Look at the facts. I wrote a piece about this for just a couple of weeks ago.


BOYKIN: We got -- listen. Just listen. Hear me out and let's get some facts for a change, Ben.

FERGUSON: All right, I'm listening.

BOYKIN: The economy actually performed better -- better under President Obama. The job market, we actually are creating fewer jobs this year than we did last year. We had the lowest monthly job growth this year than we've had in five years. That's a fact.

Secondly, the stock market, although it's up considerably, 25 percent this year, the Dow, it actually was up higher in President Obama's first year, 31 percent.

FERGUSON: Twenty-five percent. Enjoy it, Keith.

BOYKIN: It was up -- it was up 31 percent in President Obama's first year.

FERGUSON: In the spirit of Christmas, enjoy the success.

BOYKIN: Well, let me just say --


BOYKIN: There was a president before this guy and there was somebody who let us say Merry Christmas before Donald Trump, believe it or not.

FERGUSON: I know. Believe me.

BOYKIN: He likes to take credit for everything.


BOYKIN: But he doesn't do everything.

FERGUSON: Hey, believe me --

BASH: Ben, I want you to listen to something.

BOYKIN: And Merry Christmas to you.


BASH: I'm glad that we're all -- I'm glad that we can all do this in the holiday spirit.

Ben, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who is retiring, he paints a really bleak picture of your party, of the Republican Party.


BASH: If it continues on its present course. I want you to listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans sometimes. You look out there and you say, those are the spasms of a dying party when you look at the lack of diversity sometimes. It depends on where you are, obviously, but, by and large, we're appealing to older white men. And there are just, you know, a limited number of them.


BASH: Now, Ben, Jeff Flake has been making a case along these lines, but that turn of phrase, spasms of a dying party, quite vivid. Do you agree?

FERGUSON: Yes. That's what a guy would -- that's what -- exactly what I would expect a guy to say that probably couldn't even win reelection in his own state. That's the reason why he's walking away from politics. The same with Bob Corker from Tennessee, where I am today. Bob Corker couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee as much as he wants to act like he's walking away under his own terms, both of these guys are walking away because they knew they were in real trouble. So --

BASH: But does he -- OK, maybe -- they were in trouble and they admit that. But is he raising an alarm --

FERGUSON: I mean they're in big trouble. I mean that's the --

[12:10:13] BASH: No question. But is he raising --

FERGUSON: No, it's not a -- no, I mean, look --

BASH: Is he raising an important alarm that you and fellow Republicans should heed about the demographics of the Republican Party?

FERGUSON: The answer I would say is, absolutely not. I never listen to people that are losing when they played their game and clearly they walked away from where the party was going, which was more conservative and not big government. I mean you're looking at two guys that are pretty much, you know -- and I throw Corker in there because it's another great example. These are guys where the party left them, not the other way around. They're the ones that made promises for certain issues that were true conservative values and they abandoned those and that's the reason why they both have very high unapproval ratings in their own states. That's why they're leaving Washington because the people of their state wouldn't send them back. So I'm not going to listen to his advice or take it or even worry about it because these are two guys that couldn't even get elected in their own state, much less nationwide.

I mean someone said Flake might run for president. I beg him, please run, because it would be hysterical to see, I think, how bad the rest of the country would reject him when his own state doesn't even like him.

BASH: Keith.

BOYKIN: Dana, can I just say that the demographics are not on the Republican Party's side. That's why you're seeing this spasm, this orgy, if you will, of conservative movement because this is their last gasp, their last opportunity that the Republican Party has lost six --

FERGUSON: We just won a presidential election.

BOYKIN: The Republican Party has lost six out of the -- six out of the last seven popular vote elections, national presidential elections, and they know the demographics are not in their favor. By 2044, whites will no longer be a majority of the population. We have the Latinos, which are growing rapidly. The Asian-American population is the fastest growing segment of the population. Women are the majority of the population. And we're starting to see more and more women run for office. And all these young people, the millennials, are voting overwhelmingly against Republicans, especially with people like Doug Jones -- I mean with people like Roy Moore who are up there as a symbol of the Republican Party. That's having a negative impact on the GOP for decades.



FERGUSON: I'm glad he lost, by the way.

BOYKIN: And that's going to have a -- that's going to have a lasting, enduring, negative impact.

FERGUSON: Look, I'm glad he lost. You -- Keith --

BASH: Keith.

FERGUSON: You and I agree on Roy Moore. If there's anybody that I'm glad lost this year, and this may be our takeaway of compromise for the whole year, you and I both are very happy men that Roy Moore lost. I couldn't stand him as a candidate. He was a terrible candidate. But he does not define the Republican Party because, guess what, in a hard core Republican state like Alabama, they rejected him. So don't act like that's the Republican Party. Even Alabama said no to the guy.

BASH: All right, everybody, we're going to have to leave it there.

BOYKIN: The majority of white people voted for Roy Moore.

BASH: Keith, we're going to have to leave it there.


BASH: Thank you for that spirited discussion, almost in the spirit of Christmas.

BOYKIN: Merry Christmas. I can say that again now.

FERGUSON: Merry Christmas, everyone. Merry Christmas. BASH: A little bit of, you know, in -- off the rails there, but we came right back. Thank you both so much.

And coming up, the pope defends immigrants in his traditional Christmas message and broaches the topic of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Also ahead, Hurricane Maria making this Christmas a tough one for many Americans, but one man, seen there, he's making sure holiday cheer survives in hard hit Puerto Rico.


[12:17:09] BASH: In his annual Christmas message, Pope Francis calls for peace as the, quote, winds of war are blowing in our world. He singled out many global hot spots, including Yemen, Myanmar and North Korea, and he weighed in on the dispute in the Mideast.


POPE FRANCIS (through translator): On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the holy land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached. One that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized orders (ph).


BASH: During Christmas Eve mass, the pope issued a strong defense of immigration, saying faith demands foreigners be welcomed.

From Europe to the U.S., where frigged temperatures have descended over much of the nation. While it's picturesque, it looks like a white Christmas, the snow and rain and ice are creating hazardous road conditions from coast to coast. Millions are under a winter weather alert. And this is just the beginning.

Meteorologist Chat Myers is in the Weather Center with more.

Hey, Chad.


If it's snowing where you are now, it is not going to melt any time soon because the grip of this cold air is going to be with you. So not for D.C., not so much for New York City. It kind of got passed on by. But it did snow in Boston. Certainly now snowing a lot in Maine and also downwind of these lakes.

There's the lake effect snow we're expecting now from Buffalo to Southtowns, Chautauqua County going to pick that up as well. And even along the lakeshores of Michigan. But it's the wind chill out there. We added together the wind and the temperatures and it feels like 29 degrees below zero in Sioux Falls. To the pets, too. Maybe not to the car, but to the pets. Bismarck, look at that, Rapid City, all 20 or so degrees below zero

with the wind chill factor feel. Even for \New York City it feels like four below. Yes, we will still see temperatures. We will still see them cold. We will still see those warnings possible for the rest of the day as the snow continues for some spots.

Let's now get to our snow globe. This is here. Our big cities can pop out of our snow globe. New York City, today you get all the way to 36. And enjoy that because it's going to be much colder with the wind chill factors all the way through Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. You are not going to get above that freezing mark at all. Boston, not above freezing at all for the rest of the week.

So, take care of the pipes. Take care of the pets. You know how those things go. When you don't get a warm up, things kind of go bad, especially even the Chicago temperatures. Those were highs around 10 for the next couple of days. I can see temperatures in about seven days, almost a week from today, in places like Iowa, the high in central Iowa may be 25 degrees below zero. That's not a wind chill. That's the high temperature for the day. That's what this week is going to shape up like across the country.

[12:20:02] Miss Bash, back to you.

BASH: I'm just -- I'm cold thinking about it. Just hearing those numbers.

MYERS: I know. I know.

BASH: And I have I mentioned, I like that snow globe a lot. Very cool.

MYERS: We worked on it very hard for you.

BASH: Chad Myers. Chad, thank you so much.

MYERS: Thank you.

BASH: Now, what you're doing right now, watching CNN, many in Puerto Rico still cannot do. Three months after Hurricane Maria crippled the U.S. territory, the power is still out for families across the island. The government says about 70 percent of the grid is operational.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan for us.

And, Leyla, many people are celebrating Christmas in the dark, without power. When does the government expect the power will finally be fully restored?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Dana, you ask a Puerto Rican that and they'll tell you, not soon enough given that it's been three months without power for so many people. You ask the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and they'll tell you that the majority of the people without power right now will have it back by March. But there will be some that it could be until May because they are in remote areas that are just tough to reach, especially when you have a vulnerable power system. And so that explains why so many are overwhelmed and frustrated this

Christmas. I spoke to one woman in the interior part of the island this week and she told me that this is just another day. It doesn't feel like Christmas.

But last night, I tell you what, we caught up with the big man himself, spent all night with him, and what we learned, in some parts, the Christmas spirit very much alive.


SANTIAGO (voice over): Even for Santa --

MANNY RIVERA, "SANTA": Merry Christmas!

SANTIAGO: This Christmas just hasn't been the same this year.

RIVERA: The devastation in Puerto Rico was at another level.

SANTIAGO: For many, the magic of Christmas has been overshadowed by the daily struggles of life after Hurricane Maria.

RIVERA: A kid yesterday asked me to bring back his house the way it was before Maria.

SANTIAGO: As he's done for the past five years, this Santa is gathering his elves to make sure the children of Puerto Rico know Santa is still watching.

RIVERA: I'm going on my sleigh, my personal sleigh, and even though Maria banged it up a bit.

SANTIAGO: This year Maria has forced some of the same kids he visited last year to move in with relatives in homes powered only by generators.

RIVERA: This part over here was hit pretty bad also when Maria --

SANTIAGO: Other children are in homes without water. And Santa can relate.

RIVERA: I don't -- I don't have power. Still don't have water. And still got to fix the roof to the house.

SANTIAGO: Maria destroyed his home, too. But when Santa visits these children, they forget, even if just for a moment, about the challenges of the last few months, the concerns for the future.

SANTIAGO (on camera): She says this year, because the children lost everything, they were concerned, not just about life, but also about Santa coming. But that's what makes this so special, that he did come this year.

SANTIAGO (voice over): For this moment, six-year-old Alejandro forgets he doesn't get to spend Christmas in his own home.

SANTIAGO (on camera): He says this is what he put on his list for Santa to bring him. And he's just grateful he got it this year.

SANTIAGO (voice over): And 7-year-old Jamelle forgets he even doubted Santa finding him this year. Enough proof for at least a few families on the island to believe Santa is real.


SANTIAGO: A very refreshing thing to see given that the Christmas season here has been a bit muted on the island. A very different tale when you're in San Juan, where the mayor tells me about 70 percent of the people do have power versus when you're in (INAUDIBLE) or (INAUDIBLE), where you saw in that story, that in the interior they have such a different impact. No water and still no power.


BASH: So many acts of kindness that you brought us over the past months since you've been covering the horrible hurricane there. But this is really special to see, especially for the children who have not had a lot of reason for hope.

Thank you so much for that report, Leyla, appreciate it and Merry Christmas.

And President Trump is celebrating his first Christmas as president at Mar-a-Lago. His Christmas weekend agenda included a church service, sending holiday greetings to troops abroad and launching new attacks against the FBI deputy director. Now, many are wondering why the FBI director isn't responding. We'll discuss.


[12:28:54] BASH: Welcome back.

Sometimes silence can sanction and that's what many Democrats are wondering this Christmas morning, why the FBI director hasn't responded to the latest attacks on his top deputy. They came from the president of the United States on his Twitter account on his holiday weekend. The president railed against the number two at the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

Joining me now is former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore to talk about all of this.

Now, what the president railed against McCabe for is his wife, who was running a couple of years ago in 2015 for state senate in Virginia, allegedly getting money from the Clintons. First, let's just start with a reality check. The fact of the matter is that that money came from the governor of Virginia, right, Terry McAuliffe. He is a close ally of the Clintons. But it didn't come from the Clintons. So let's just start with that face check right there.

But more broadly, what do you make of this kind of an attack? It's not new to attack the FBI and even some top officials, but this personal, erroneous information at all coming from the president of the United States tells you what? [12:30:06] MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know let me -- let me say first, in complete disclosure, that I've signed a letter encouraging Chris Wray's confirmation as FBI director.