Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Most Legislation Since Truman (Not); President Trump Hopes for Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal in 2018; President Trump Tweets "FBI Tainted". Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired December 27, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:04] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Good evening. Jim Sciutto here, sitting in for Anderson.
We begin tonight keeping them honest. Even as the White House tries to play hide and seek. For a second straight day, the president went to his golf course near Mar-a-Lago. Unlike yesterday, though, when we managed to get exclusive video of the president playing a rounding, instead of getting back to work as he promised, we got a very different view today.
Apparently in response to our footage, someone put a big truck between our camera, which was on public property, by the way, and the links. When we moved, the truck moved. The Secret Service says it wasn't behind it. The Palm Beach sheriff's department also denying responsibility.
Now, remember, during the campaign, Mr. Trump said he would not have time as president for golf. This was, however, the 87th day that he has spent at one of his own golf properties since taking office.
The president did have at least one official function today, visiting a fire station in nearby West Palm Beach where he talked about upcoming legislation for first responders and also boasted about his legislative accomplishments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have more legislation passed, including the record of Harry Truman. I broke that record, so we have a lot done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Keeping them honest again, the president has rolled back plenty of regulations and he did sign a deal of executive orders and he does have the tax bill to his credit. However, when it comes to the number of bills passed, the president is not in fact the best since Harry Truman, he is the worst, in fact, since Dwight Eisenhower, the worst in half a century. That said, he is trying for something big next year.
CNN's Phil Mattingly joins me now with more.
Phil, the president said today he broke that record for signing legislation. I mean, is there any way, any sort of technicality where he could make that argument?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, the short answer is no. The 96 bills that he signed into law in his first year in office falls far short of his predecessors going back to at least Dwight Eisenhower.
But also, it's worth noting, it's an odd metric to fixate on, right? He has done things that are major accomplishments for conservatives. You can talk about the tax bill which also repealed the Obamacare individual mandate, which also allowed drilling in the ANWR reserve up in Alaska. He's got 12 circuit court judges, a Supreme Court justice, that have all been confirmed.
These are things that Republicans would like to focus on, not necessarily the numbers, particularly when they fall short. But by any metric you look at, Jim, if you want to talk about bills, and keep in mind, these aren't all major legislation initiatives for any president, let alone President Trump, by the sheer numbers, 96 bills that he signed into law so far certainly don't measure up to his predecessors up to this point.
SCIUTTO: It raises question why bother when it's so easily refutable. Now, the president, of course, did have a major legislative achievement. The tax bill, as you mentioned, with a lot of things in there that have been Republican priorities. Looking ahead to next year, though, what are his big priorities and will he need Democrats this time around with just a 51-vote majority in the Senate?
MATTINGLY: Yes, he's definitely going to need Democrats. And I think that's why you're seeing White House officials now starting to focus on infrastructure. Look, for years, for multiple administrations, the idea of fixing bridges and roads and airports. LaGuardia, if you're Vice President Joe Biden, has been something that on the bipartisan level, at least on the top line, people agree to, and that's something or agree should be done.
And that's something the Trump administration has actually talked about for months behind the scenes I'm told. Top Trump aides have been meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill. While it hasn't been fruitful in terms of legislation up to this point, they believe there's an opportunity there.
Here's the rub. Right now, the Trump administration is focusing on $200 billion in federal funding, hoping they can lever that up to about a trillion dollars with state and local funding as well. Two hundred billion dollars is not enough for a lot of Democrats who think maybe a trillion dollars should be a number or right around there that the federal government kicks in. And on the other side of things conservatives say $200 billion in federal funding may be too much.
So, there's a line that the president and his team are going to have to walk if they try and push this forward. But it's worth noting, Jim, there are ten Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 that come from states President Trump won. None of them came to the Republican side of the aisle throughout 2017 despite what I think a lot of people predicted. They are in play for something like infrastructure. The question is,
can President Trump and his team and Republican leadership on Capitol Hill thread that needle on an issue that may be on the top line everybody agrees to, but when you get into the weeds becomes significantly more difficult, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yes, those 2018 elections looming large.
Phil Mattingly on the Hill, thanks very much.
Perspective now from former Obama senior adviser and "Axe Files" host, David Axelrod.
David, always good to talk to you there.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy New Year.
SCIUTTO: The president has a long list of accomplishments that he could tout, including the tax plan. Just not far in the rearview mirror, judges, et cetera. It's almost like he can't help himself on putting out what are easily refutable claims about being the most legislatively successful president in office.
AXELROD: Yes, it's really peculiar. He feels -- he feels a compulsion to claim that his is the biggest, the best, the largest, record breaking, on almost every subject and it's unnecessary.
[20:05:10] And as has been pointed out, it's easily refuted.
And the truth is, look, I don't particularly agree with the direction that he's leading, but he has been very impactful in terms of very, very rapid deregulation in the environmental area, deregulation in other areas, you know, certainly taking over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and sending Mick Mulvaney over there is a big change of direction that's going to be meaningful, pulling out of the global agreements, the Paris accord, TPP.
I think these are wrong decisions for the country, but they're certainly meaningful decisions. And if you're on the other side of that discussion, there's something that he can -- there are things that he can point to. Why he gets caught up in these things I think is a subject that I'm not qualified to discuss. You'd have to get experts of a different kind to untangle that for you.
SCIUTTO: The president entering the New Year, wind at the back from the tax bill, I wonder, in your view, how long does political capital like that last? I suppose the Obamacare legislative victory for Obama, which is something you were involved in, it also has some cautionary tales to it, right, because that like this tax bill was not very popular and that lost seats for the incumbent in -- for Obama then and may lose seats for the president this time around?
AXELROD: Yes, I mean I think it's a little early to talk about political capital because this is one of the most unpopular major pieces of legislation a president has passed in his first term. The Affordable Care Act was actually more popular than this tax bill. There's a widespread belief, I think based on some evidence, that most of the benefits of this tax bill are not going to go to the middle class and the working poor but to others at the top and to corporations. This has been a source of great consternation to voters, so it's not clear to me that he's going to be rewarded for this in any way.
Now, the argument the administration would make is once people start seeing this in their paycheck, but I will tell you that President Obama passed a major tax cut for the middle class as part of the Recovery Act and people did get some reduction in their taxes, and their paycheck. It didn't redound to his political benefit in the midterm election. There's a larger dynamic at play here, Jim, and it has nothing to do with any particular action, or any one action. But it's the president's persona himself, his style of leadership.
This is the complaint that you see in research and polling, people complaining about his tweets and his acid style and his divisive nature and the kind of thing we were just talking about at the top of this discussion, this need to exaggerate his own accomplishments and belittle everyone else in order to try and enlarge himself. Those kinds of things have created enormous problems for him. And they will dog him going into the midterm elections.
SCIUTTO: So once again, this idea, the possibility of bipartisan legislation comes to the fore, and again it's infrastructure. I remember -- I'm old enough to remember January of this year when it was talked about how the Democrats and Republicans might be able to work together, and infrastructure was one of those.
Do you see that as a possibility in this divisive environment in light of all the things you just cited with the president? Can they work together on something like this?
AXELROD: Well, it is possible, but the environment has been so poisoned by this first year. And now, we're headed into a very competitive election year in which I'm sure Democratic leaders are not eager to hand victories to the president. They also remember that for six years, President Obama proposed major investments in infrastructure and for six years, the Republicans refused to do so on the grounds that they said it was unaffordable.
And now, having passed their tax bill that added $1.5 trillion to deficits, that will be ringing in people's ears and you'll find Republicans on their side arguing that now having done this on the tax bill, we certainly can't move forward on infrastructure. So, there are a lot of obstacles here.
There's also a question of what kind of infrastructure investment will it be? Will it be to reward investment bankers doing private infrastructure investment or will it be actual direct investment in public works which is what Democrats favor?
So, I think there are a lot of -- there are a lot of hurdles to cross here.
[20:10:01] SCIUTTO: No -- it's a good point there, that the two parties have a very different vision of what an actual infrastructure plan to be.
David Axelrod, happy holidays to you and your family.
AXELROD: Same to you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, a question: how do you reconcile current GOP claims that the FBI is biased against Trump in the Russia probe and even during the campaign, while Clinton claims that it worked against her and the e-mail probe? Keeping them honest. Plus, what's shaping up to be a great conversation with a former FBI senior official. Also joining us, someone raising questions about the bureau.
Later, what former President Obama told Britain's Prince Harry and the potential storm brewing over whether he will be denied a wedding invitation to avoid offending President Trump.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
A look now at the president's expanding and somewhat alarming attack on the FBI and its handling of the Russia probe. Keeping them honest, it raises a question that many critics of the investigation ought to be able to answer but so far has not.
How do you reconcile Republican claims that the FBI is biased against President Trump on Russia with Clinton campaign claims it worked against her in the e-mail probe? Did the FBI, DOJ, deep state, whoever you blame, have it in for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton or did one side battle the other with the pro-Trump side winning out?
What are the facts? What is the logic behind what the president and his supporters are claiming?
Here is one of those supporters, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
[20:15:01] SEN. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: You had, I'm convinced now, the FBI actively seeking with intent, with a plan, actively trying to stop Donald Trump from being president of the United States.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So what exactly is his evidence?
Exhibit A is a series of text messages sent by FBI counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, and lawyer Lisa Page, disparaging candidate Trump during the election. They refer to then-candidate Trump as a, quote, idiot using words as well we won't say on TV while fearing that his potential victory would be, quote, terrifying.
Early this month, however, we learned that special counsel Robert Mueller had Strzok removed from his team after an internal investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general. Now, the president, as you know, has been going after the Mueller probe from a number of other directions and has recently singled out one other top official in tweet after tweet.
Here's one of them. How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge along with leaking James Comey of the phony Hillary Clinton investigation, including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton puppets during investigation?
All right. This particular tweet stands out for many reasons. First of all, McCabe's wife, Jill, got the campaign donation for a Virginia Senate race from a PAC for a Clinton friend and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in late 2015. Now, she lost.
It was not until three months later that Andrew McCabe became the FBI's deputy director. And that, according to an FBI statement to "The Wall Street Journal" was the first time that McCabe had any oversight whatsoever over the Clinton case. So, the president's claim there is based on the facts is false.
And as for his claim that the Clinton investigation itself was somehow, as the president claims, phony, well, candidate Trump did not seem to think so, especially not in late October when Director Comey reopened the probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new e-mails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's investigation.
I have great respect for the FBI for righting this wrong. The American people fully understand her corruption and we hope all, all justice will finally be served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So, there's candidate Trump applauding the FBI for the very decision that many Clinton supporters say tipped the election in his favor. The same FBI he is now today disparaging for what he claims to be its anti-Trump bias today, the same FBI that his supporters, including Republican lawmakers, are even accusing of being pro-Clinton and anti-Trump during the campaign. Both sides making allegations, but both sides can't be right.
And absent the kind of extraordinary evidence that extraordinary allegations like these demand, it is more than likely that both sides in fact are wrong and that the FBI, the DOJ and all the rest simply were and still are professional but sometimes flawed human beings trying to do the best they can pursuing investigations that they are undertaking, which brings us to a conversation with a former FBI and CIA senior official, that is Phil Mudd, and Matt Lewis of "The Daily Beast".
Matt, I want to begin with you because we had a conversation on this last night. But how do you reconcile Republicans' claims today that the FBI is biased against President Trump and, of course, the Hillary Clinton camp that the FBI was biased against her in the e-mail probe. Both of those things can't be true.
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Look, no, they probably can't be except I would say two things.
One, James Comey had promised Congress that if he found new information, that he would have to reopen the case. He was sort of bound to do it. It was going to come out eventually. And, of course, it was very public. Anthony Weiner's laptop had these e-mails on them from Huma Abedin so that's one explanation.
The other one is frankly by the time James Comey in October comes forward and reopens the investigation into Hillary's campaign, I think we all assumed that Donald Trump was going lose in a landslide, that Hillary Clinton was going to win.
Now, I'm not saying, I don't even frankly believe this to be true, but if you're looking for a conspiracy theory, I think you could easily say of course James Comey opened up that investigation. He never thought looking into Hillary was actually going to hurt her. Everybody assumed she was going to win.
SCIUTTO: Yes. But that doesn't answer, Matt, what is the fundamental charge here from the president. He is alleging that the entire bureau somehow, its leadership, is biased here. And, of course, some of his supporters go further to a deep state conspiracy, extending in intelligence agencies. It's not just about one person or one day or one revelation of a step in the investigation.
[20:20:06] They're making a much broader charge here.
LEWIS: Yes, right. And I think it's unclear. I mean, it's unclear to me whether or not there are some bad apples in senior positions that have done some very questionable things or whether there's something more systemic involved.
I will say that today I think was a turning point. Up until now, it's been really Donald Trump and Trumpian fans that have been trying to delegitimize the FBI. I noticed today, a couple of examples of people who do not fit that description.
One is James Gagliano who is a CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI agent who wrote today that the president, along with innumerable others, are fairly alarmed at what may be occurring on the seventh floor executive suites in the FBI headquarters. He writes that changes need to be made at FBI headquarters.
LEWIS: And the other is that CNN legal analyst Paul Callan who today really came down and said originally he thought these -- the president's attacks on the FBI were wrong. He's looked into this and, you know, he told Poppy Harlow today, boy, there's some really disturbing stuff here. SCIUTTO: OK. You've got a couple of quotes there, no question. We
have the advantage of having a live former FBI and CIA official here, Phil Mudd.
What's your view of all of this?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: This is pretty simple. Let's deal with facts and not with speculation.
First of all, the seventh floor of the FBI is not critically involved in the investigation. The FBI director isn't. The deputy FBI director isn't. The special counsel is. He's the former FBI director.
So, don't tell me the seventh floor of the FBI is tainted. They're not conducting the investigation.
Let me give you a couple of facts if you want to argue that this is some sort of deep state Democratic conspiracy. Number one, a Trump nominee and appointee, the deputy attorney general, says this is an appropriate investigation. He nominated a former Republican FBI director nominee, Robert Mueller, to run the investigation. That's two for two senior Republicans who say the investigation is appropriate.
Four indictments have come out of this, two of those have resulted in guilty pleas from people who said yes, not only did I do wrong but I lied to the FBI.
So, we can have all this conversation about conspiracy at the FBI, but I'm going to say if you think this is a bunch of Democrats conspiring, Republicans run the investigation. The FBI leadership doesn't, including the FBI director nominated by the president of the United States.
And number two, there are four indictments, two of which have already resulted in guilty pleas.
What do you want?
SCIUTTO: Matt, how do you responsible to that? The other point I would note, Robert Mueller himself, a lifetime Republican. When Mueller was chosen, you'll remember, many Republicans were singing his praises.
LEWIS: Yes, it's really hard to argue with that.
And, look, I'll tell you where I kind of come down on this. I think that very clearly, President Trump is attempting to delegitimize this institution. And it's perfectly logical and obvious why he would want to do that, it would benefit him in terms of this investigation looking into him.
I do think, however, that the FBI and the Mueller investigation, the Clinton and Trump investigations, have aided and abetted Donald Trump in this effort. I think that the FBI comes out of this looking really bad.
The problem is there's so many examples. You've got the fact that so many people in this investigation contributed to Hillary Clinton. You've got the fact that McCabe's wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Terry McAuliffe organization and then he becomes --
SCIUTTO: If you listened to our lead-in, that was before McCabe was the deputy director, before he was in charge of the investigation.
LEWIS: I think that makes it worse. I think that makes it worse. Why would you promote somebody to be in this position of investigating the Clintons if you knew their wife was given like $700,000 by their best friend?
LEWIS: It looks really bad. It looks really bad.
SCIUTTO: No, you made your point. And I want to make sure Phil gets in before we run out of time.
Phil, you served, you're a CIA official but you served in the FBI as well. I imagine there are people with party affiliations in those buildings, people who vote, people who have donated to those campaigns, might be guilty of having a partner with different political views other than their own.
Phil, in your experience, do folks separate those political leanings or leanings of their partners from the counterterror and legal work they have to do?
MUDD: I spent four and a half years with Director Mueller, maybe 2,000 meeting. I never heard the dude make a political comment ever.
And let me ask a couple of simple let's be clear because I'll tell you where I standing yes or no questions. If your spouse participates as a politician in an election, should you never be promoted in a federal government institution?
[20:25:01] Are you kidding me? What are you supposed to say? Sweetie, you cannot participate in the American democratic process.
Secondly, if you are an investigator in a political investigation, are you supposed to certify that, A, i.e. they support President Trump or, B, I'm neutral. Is that how we do politics in America? I didn't realize that we had to have political certification before we participate --
LEWIS: I would just say --
MUDD: Excuse me, before we participate in an investigation.
If that's the case, there should never be a congressional investigation because every single one of them is a political partisan. So get out the Senate and get out the House investigations because they all contributed. Get them out.
SCIUTTO: Folks, we have to leave it there but I appreciate both of you taking part in a sane, reasoned conversation about this. Seriously. And we're going to keep it up.
Phil Mudd, Matt Lewis, happy holidays to you and your families.
LEWIS: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: When we come back, this was the moment Democrat Shelly Simonds thought she won the recount for a seat in a Virginia House of Delegates and thus control of the entire house for the Democrats there. But it wasn't that simple.
Now, she is filing suit to prevent election officials from choosing the winner by a random drawing instead. She's going to join us live. That's next.
[20:30:09] JIM SCIUTTO: We've all heard the old adage that every vote counts. For our next guest and the Virginia district she is hoping to represent, that is quite literally true. After a recount, it appeared that Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates by just one vote. At least until a panel of judges awarded her opponent, the incumbent David Yancey, one last last-minute ballot. That left the election in a tie.
Thousands voted and this election was almost decided today by putting the candidate's names on slips of paper in film canisters and picking one out of a hat. It still might be decided that way. That process was delayed, however, because Simonds filed a motion to ask the judges to reconsider their decision on that final mystery ballot. To be clear, this race and that one vote is not just about this one delegate. If Simonds wins, the Republicans lose their majority and control over the House of Delegates and that would be for the first time in 20 years. Shelly Simonds joins me now.
Shelly, it's a remarkable story from the beginning, and one sort of, you know, twist at the ending here. I'm sure there are twists to come. Let's take a look at this ballot that kind of came out of nowhere that tied it up again, because I want to get your thoughts on it. Here it is. And if you look down there, we'll get a little closer, I hope, to see that what happened is that this voter filled in the bubbles for both you and your Republican opponent. Now, to be clear, they then put a slash mark through your name and then the question I suppose is whether they meant you or the other guy. But tell me your view with this and where this ballot came from.
SHELLY SIMONDS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES: Well, you know, in Virginia we have very clear rules. And I'm sure most other states do too about what ballots can be counted and what ballots are considered over votes to be thrown out. And there's a handbook with very clear rules about this. And that gave me a lot of confidence going into the recount. But I'm afraid that that ballot really is not in the handbook and it should have been thrown out. And it really saddens me that the judges didn't feel the same.
SCIUTTO: So you're taking this to court in effect, and the judges will have to decide whether this is a spoiled ballot or should be counted for the Republican?
SIMOND: You know, I think the judges are going to have several options. One option is since the ballot does not appear in the handbook for the state board of elections, they can actually refer it to the state board for guidance, which I think would be a really good option for them. The other thing that they can do is they can decide not to count that ballot and change their opinion that it is an over vote.
SCIUTTO: This is remarkable from the beginning, almost regardless of the turnout. More than 23,000 people voted in this election. Did you ever imagine that this would all come down to one vote and a potential tie-breaker?
SIMOND: I knew it was going to be close, but I never imagined that it would be tied. And honestly, I think the process for the recount went really smoothly. And if -- during the recount if they had said, OK Shelly, it's a tie, I would be much more accepting of this coin toss game of chance conclusion. But the end of the recount, I was ahead by one vote. And so it would be really disappointing for the story to change. Instead of every vote matters, you can win by one vote in Virginia, to have the story turn around and be like, oh well, kids, let's draw a name out of a hat.
SCIUTTO: Just very quickly, does part of you worry that someone is trying to take this away from you?
SIMOND: I think clearly my opponent's team did not play by the rules of the recount. We actually had a court order that said any ballot that was to be contested had to be marked on the recount day, on Tuesday. So they did not follow the rules of the recount.
SCIUTTO: Well Shelly Simonds, it's a remarkable story. We're going to continue to follow it. Thanks for joining us this holiday week.
SIMOND: Thank you so much for having me.
SCIUTTO: And coming up, an interview fit for a prince and a president. Former President Obama's chat with Prince Harry hit the air waves today. He talks about life after the White House and a little about its current occupant without mentioning him by name. That's next.
[20:38:35] SCIUTTO: It was the prince and the president. A wide- ranging conversation between former President Obama and Prince Harry aired on British radio today. It was recorded in September before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement but there was still plenty to talk about, including the current president, although his is name was never mentioned. The interview also included a good old-fashioned lightning round. Melissa Bell reports.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first official public appearance together as a couple. But behind the scenes, the Invictus Games held in Toronto in September also provided a rare opportunity. The interview of a former president by a prince.
BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Do I need a British accent?
BELL (voice-over): The 14-minute interview of Barack Obama by Prince Harry was aired on British radio Wednesday. Among the topics discussed, the role of social media.
OBAMA: All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet. One of the dangers of the internet is, is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.
BELL (voice-over): President Trump, who is known to tweet regularly, was never mentioned, and with politics largely avoided, the interview allowed an insight not only into Barack Obama's mind but also into the mind of the man who is fifth in line to the British throne behind his brother William, and William's children.
[20:40:02] PRINCE HARRY, BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: Harry or William?
OBAMA: William right now.
PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Bodyguard"?
PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife"?
OBAMA: "Suits" obviously.
PRINCE HARRY: Great, great answer. Cigarettes or gum?
OBAMA: Gum now, baby.
PRINCE HARRY: Gum. White House or Buckingham Palace?
OBAMA: White House, just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow.
PRINCE HARRY: Lot of upkeep. Fair enough.
OBAMA: Lot of upkeep.
PRINCE HARRY: Queen or The Queen?
OBAMA: The Queen. BELL (voice-over): The Queen's grandson was then interviewed himself and asked about his forthcoming wedding. Would the man he had clearly enjoyed interviewing be invited?
PRINCE HARRY: I don't know about that. We haven't put the invites, all the guest list together yet so who knows whether he'll be invite or not, whether we'll be not surprise.
BELL (voice-over): Which means the British will continue to wonder whether the former American president will be invited to the UK for a royal wedding before the current American president has had a chance to make his first visit to the country since taking power.
Melissa Bell, CNN, London.
SCIUTTO: Let's get some more now from CNN royal commentator Kate Williams.
So Kate, interesting question there. Is there a real possibility the Obamas could be invited to Prince Harry's wedding and not the current president of the United States?
KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it's quite unlikely that President Trump and Mrs. Trump will be invited. I think that's unlikely, even though Prince Harry had a very cordial meeting with Mrs. Trump at the Invictus Games. Ms. Markle has been very critical of President Trump, she's called him a divisive misogynist. Prince Harry had said to be critical of President Trump in (INAUDIBLE) to the Kensington Palace had deny that.
So it's unlikely that they'll be invited, but there is this question about whether or not the Obamas will be invited. He and Prince Harry are clearly great friends. I think probably in the ending the Obama daughters will be invited and not the parents to get around this question, but it certainly is a very complicated question the British government already getting involved. They don't want to be embarrassed.
SCIUTTO: Interesting. You mentioned the role of the British government. I mean theory Prince Harry's wedding is not a full state occasion, meaning that he should have more control over his own invites, or is it possible that the British government might try to intervene to avoid a diplomatic kerfuffle as you had said?
WILLIAMS: The diplomatic kerfuffle is exactly what we will get if there is the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Obama and not Mr. and Mrs. Trump. Of course Mr. Trump has not congratulated the couple on Twitter. Ms. Ivanka Trump has done it and there was some criticism of her for doing that. And what I think the governments are very concerned about, they're very worried about offending Mr. Trump. They know that he wants to come over for a state visit and that state visit will be very importantly circled around The Queen.
Mr. Trump is a great fan of The Queen, he likes the whole family. And so he will see it to the personal slight if he is not invited to the wedding at all and certainly if Mr. Obama is invited. Yes, it's not a state occasion, Prince Harry is not going to be king. He is fifth in line for the throne as Melissa was saying, about to drop to sixth when Prince William has a baby in April but still it is one -- the government are looking at the guest list, and Prince Harry, I think there is a guest list, I think there already has been one drawn up and the government is reviewing it and this is a big question how do they get around the problem that Prince Harry is friends with the Obamas, wants to invite them. He and Meghan want to work with them in the future but that will really offend Mr. Trump and he will not sit quietly and nurse his wounds in private.
SCIUTTO: You do see that rapport there between the former President Obama and Prince Harry there. What's the origin of the friendship?
WILLIAMS: They have been very good friends for a long time. They have been particularly good friends over the Invictus Games. And that really has cemented the friendship. And I really think it's also a marriage of minds. Prince Harry was asked later on the "Today" program, the radio program, he was a guest editor (ph) by the presenter about it and he said we have a similar kind of outlook, a similar kind of mindset about the charitable sector. We both see young people as inspiring. As Prince Harry is much younger than Obama, they have very different lives. Prince Harry was born into privilege, Obama was not, and yet they do seem very much to have this very close chemistry to enjoy joking around and want to work together in the future, particularly as Prince Harry is keen to make a name for himself not just in Britain but on the international stage.
SCIUTTO: Interesting one there. And of course Prince Harry a veteran himself as well. Kate Williams, thanks very much.
WILLIAMS: Thank you so much. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: And coming up next, a CNN investigation uncovers multiple allegations of sexual harassment on commercial flights. Why victims say airlines just aren't doing enough about it. That's next.
[20:48:33] SCIUTTO: The latest #metoo moment, this time in the skies. A CNN investigation is highlighting the problem of sexual harassment on commercial flights. Some victims say the airlines just don't do enough to handle the allegations.
CNN's Rene Marsh has that story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gentleman?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man arrested last week, accused of fondling two female passengers onboard a United Airlines flight from Newark to Buffalo, New York. Katie Campos was one of them.
KATIE CAMPOS, PASSENGER, UNITED AIRLINES: He grabbed my like upper thigh, like, like in my -- like the crotch area and he grabbed me pretty forcefully.
MARSH (voice-over): A police report says that the man told the other woman that he would like to kiss her. When she declined, he started stroking her leg. The man now charged with disorderly conduct. United Airlines told CNN we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and our pilot requested that local law enforcement meet the aircraft on arrival.
Not enough for Campos, who tweeted, do better, United Airlines. She says the flight attendant did not offer her to switch seats. She had to demand it. She was then placed directly behind the harasser. The airline says because there were few empty seats, the touching continued.
CAMPOS: At the end of the day, they didn't protect my safety or those around me. And I don't think that that's a good excuse.
MARSH (voice-over): Like Campos, these three women tell CNN they were sexually harassed or assaulted on commercial flights and all of them complained the flight crew did little or nothing to help.
[20:50:05] AYANNA HART, PASSENGER, DELTA AIR LINES: He grabbed my arm and my side, right under my left breast, right next to my left breast.
MARSH (voice-over): Ayanna Hart was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Denver in May, she said the flight attendant was of no help.
HART: The flight attendant said, oh don't worry about him, he flies with us all the time, he's Delta platinum.
MARSH (voice-over): Hart has a pending lawsuit against Delta for failing to intervene and continuing to serve him alcohol. The airline would not comment on this case, citing pending litigation. But said it takes these incidents seriously and with law enforcement investigates them.
ALLISON DVALADZE, PASSENGER, DELTA AIR LINES: I was dozing off when I felt a hand in my crotch and realized that the man next to me was holding -- was grabbing my crotch.
MARSH (voice-over): Allison Dvaladze filed a complaint with Delta after her flight from Seattle to Amsterdam.
DVALADZE: There was not a clear procedure for what they should do. They asked me what I wanted them to do.
MARSH (voice-over): A month later, she received an e-mail, saying it's not fair when one person's behavior affects another and as a goodwill gesture offered her 10,000 miles. DVALADZE: If somebody reports a crime to an airline that it should be flagged. It should not be treated as if it's lost luggage.
MARSH (voice-over): The airline told CNN, we continue to be disheartened by the events Ms. Dvaladaze describes.
JENNIFER RAFIEYAN, PASSENGER, UNITED AIRLINES: He started to touch my legs, stroke my leg, take a lift.
MARSH (voice-over): Jennifer Rafieyan was on a flight from Newark to Phoenix, she too says the flight crew did not move her away from her harasser. Instead, the airline made an offer.
RAFIEYAN: He gave me four $100 gift certificates for travel on an upcoming United flight. And he refused to let me talk to a manager.
MARSH (voice-over): But shortly after a news article about her ordeal was published, United management called to, in their words, check on her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This message is for Miss Jennifer Rafieyan, this is (INAUDIBLE) calling from the United Airlines executive office. I can't even imagine, you know, what you went through when you were on the flight with the gentlemen seated next to you.
SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: At thousands of feet in the air, you can't call for help, you can't remove the problem.
MARSH (voice-over): Sarah Nelson is president of one of the world's largest flight attendant unions.
NELSON: In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation in training or otherwise about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault.
MARSH (voice-over): The union surveyed nearly 2,000 flight attendants. One out of five say they have received a report of a passenger sexual assault, but law enforcement was contacted less than half the time.
CNN reached out to all of the major U.S. airlines and the industry trade group that represents them. None agreed to go on camera, but all released statements with a similar message. Passenger safety and security is their priority and they say flight attendants are trained to handle these incidents. But none gave a detailed explanation of the policies or guidelines. No federal regulatory agency tracks how many mid-air sexual assaults happen nationwide. But the FBI does track how many it investigates. Federal data shows a 66% increase from 2014 to 2017. The FBI says its unclear what's behind the rise, but what is clear for these women, flight crews need to do more, because at 30,000 feet, there's no escape.
MARSH: Well, I want to thank all four women for sharing their stories with CNN. The four women in this piece say they want three things. One, the flight crew should always separate the victim from the harasser. Don't allow drunk people on flights. Alcohol played a role in a lot of these cases, and third, call law enforcement to report these cases upon landing every time.
They also advise, try to avoid the middle or window seat if possible. Sitting in the aisle allows an easier getaway if necessary. And we also want to point out, there were several lawmakers, Jim, who have been pushing for legislation that would beef up flight crew training and mandate better tracking of these incidents. Jim?
SCIUTTO: That's an alarming story, Rene Marsh, thanks very much.
And coming up, after a really white Christmas in some parts of the country, they are getting ready for a blast of cold air. Even colder than usual in most states. We'll get an update from the weather center, that's next.
[20:58:17] SCIUTTO: Parts of Pennsylvania are ending the year under a massive pile of snow. In Erie, they got, check this out, they got more than 60 inches of snow, 5 feet. And now a huge chunk of the country is about to get hit with a blast of record-low temperatures. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us now from the CNN Weather Center from Atlanta.
Allison, our numbers, I guess, 17 million people under a windchill advisory right now. That number expected to rise by tomorrow. What should people be expecting?
ALLISON CHINCHA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, so they should be expecting both incredibly cold temperatures, but also strong winds. 20 to 30 miles per hour to go along with it. The main focus is the northeast, where you have your windchill advisories and your windchill warnings. Here's a look at those temperatures, though. Take Boston, for example. Tomorrow morning, when many folks wake up, the temperature, we're talking minus 13, is what it's going to feel like, minus 15 by Friday. So a lot of these areas are going to be worse, even Friday into Saturday. That's why we expect to have even more numbers go up in those windchill advisories.
But here's the thing you have to understand. We're going to get another blast of cold air. Here's the one currently for today, but notice as we get into Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, that next round begins to push back through. Here's the thing with that. That may actually be a good thing for all of those folks in the great lakes region that have had so much snow. Here's why. This is a current look at Lake Erie, only 9% of it is covered by ice. By the time we get to Monday, thanks to these incredibly cold temperatures, it's likely to be 40% covered in ice. This is actually a good thing. Because in order to have lake-effect snow, you have to have a huge temperature difference between the temperature of the lake and the air temperature directly above it.
So if the lake freezes over, you don't have that temperature difference, Jim, to trigger a lot of that lake-effect snow. The problem is, this likely won't occur until Monday, which means any moisture that comes in until that point is going to add to that snow they already have.
[21:00:09] SCIUTTO: Allison Chinchar, thanks very much. Thank you for watching 360. The CNN Special Report, Late Night in the Age of Trump, starts now.