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When Harry Met Obama; Syria's Horrible Civil War; Love In Conflict; Russia, Main Battle With ISIS In Syria Is Over. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 10:00   ET




[10:00:15]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry or William?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suits or a good wife.

OBAMA: Suits obviously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, great answer.


HALA GORANI, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: That is it for kidding around. A warning, Barack Obama told Prince Harry without mentioning any names we

should be careful about how some people use the internet to divide up. Also coming up. Living through scenes like that but facing death from

their own bodies, children riddled with cancer, kidney failure, blood disease, finally being led out of rebel held areas in Syria. Why is it so

few and why so late? That and more coming up this hour.

Welcome everybody todays is Wednesday, December 27, I am Hala Gorani, well White House plans to unveil a multibillion dollar infrastructure plan in

just a few weeks. You probably wouldn't know that from looking at President Trump tweeter feed. You are thinking of his two favorite

targets, the FBI and Hillary Clinton once again over the investigative dossier that Mr. Trump says it quote, bogus and a pile of garbage.

Now that is a tweet that echoes comments made by the president over the last few months.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Didn't you spend $12.4 million on a dossier that was a total phony? I think it is very sad what

they had done with this fake dossier, I think it is a disgrace, it is a very sad commentary on politics at this country. When you look at that

horrible dossier which is total phony, fake deal like so much of the


GORANI: And that is Donald Trump over the last several months, now we should note, he is attacking the dossier and its contents, but U.S.

investigators have corroborated parts of it. None of the charges relate to the dossier and that is something obviously we should point out as well.

Let us bring in CNN Jessica Schneider, she is in Washington with more on Donald Trump and what he is choosing to share with the world via Twitter,


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is right Hala, you saw it there the president has repeatedly railed against the Russian dossier,

yesterday he tweeted that it was bogus, but I want to break it down for you, the bogus claim is not entirely accurate so first of all, it is true

that the most salacious allegations contained in dossier, those had not been verified however the broadest in the dossier that Russia waged the

campaign to interfere in the U.S. election 2016. That is accepted as fact by the U.S. intelligence community, plus it was CNN that reported earlier

this year that other aspects of the dossier like communications between senior Russian officials and other Russian mentioned in the memos, those

two actually took place. So, it is important to note that the FBI, I has not relied on the dossier entirely and its own investigation into Russian

meddling in possible collusion with the rump campaign, in fact as you noted there, four of the Trump associative that had been charge so far they

included, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and former national security advisor Michael Flynn in all four of their indictments

there's been reference to the dossier or its findings.

However special counsel Robert Mueller's team did meet this past summer with the author of the dossier, that is former British spy Christopher

Steele, and Hala it is possible that any information that Mueller's team may have gotten from Christopher Steele, that could be used as the probe

continues here but we haven't seen any evidence of it in the indictments in those four Trump associates and we do know from our reporting that parts of

this dossier you have been corroborated. So the president claimed Hala that this is completely bogus, well it doesn't exactly went through. Hala?

GORANI: Now, I got to ask this question though, the tax legislation the President Trump promise did go through, there is a plan to unveil and

infrastructure spending plan, why is the president choosing to focus on the dossier on his old rival and opponent Hillary Clinton over twitter rather

on what he said or his achievements?

[10:05:01] SCHNEIDER: If I knew the answer to that question Hala, I will be a (inaudible) woman, that had been the continued question, that has been

the criticism of this president throughout is administration, we are going on a year now and the president continues to go back and turned the focus

on Russia. To tweet about the Russia probe, to downplay the Russia probe, to call it a witch-hunt, the question is with all these legislative

priorities up until really on the tax bill that had stalled. Why doesn't the president pour more of his muscle and more of his focus into his

legislative priorities, perhaps we will see that turn of the focus in 2018, but yesterday's tweet, if any indication Hala, he will continue to stay

focused on the Russia probe. In fact our CNN team did some reporting just about a week ago were the president firmly believes that he will be

exonerated in this probe and he believes not only be exonerated but he thinks he will actually get a letter from the FBI or from special counsel

Mueller or from this congressional committees specifically clearing him in black and white, that likely will not happen since usually if you aren't

indicted or clear in a criminal probe they don't usually send you a letter saying so, but the president, you are right Hala, continues to stay focused

on it despite a lot more legislative battles to come in 2018, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Jessica Schneider thanks very much reporting from Washington. Now the investigation to whether Moscow was involved in the

U.S. election is dragging into 2018 which is just a few days away. The Russian military from pushing ahead its maneuvers are becoming increasingly

bold and as Barbara Starr tell that Washington is watching closely.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A British royal with a helicopters infrared camera tracks the Russian warship Christmas Day is itself close to

U.K. territorial waters the latest in what the British government is calling an upsurge in Russian warships to close to its coastline. It is

all part of the message from Moscow to Washington the Russian military will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian are certainly pushing the envelope, a lot of their activities in the naval and aerial arena are certainly hardedge to

their design to push us to the limits.

STARR: The question now, how much confrontation will President Trump risk? He has taken an unexpected step allowing the export of anti-tank weapons to

Ukraine to fight Russian back rebels in a country where pro Russia rebels frequently clashed with Ukrainian armed forces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important for the United States to tell the Russia that we will support Ukraine's ability to defend itself.

STARR: But it's also a risky step.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Putin decides that this is sort of a hostile act and a new U.S. policy to push back on Russia, Russia has everything from covert

operatives across the region in Ukraine and they're able to push back and escalate very significantly.

STELTER: Vladimir Putin's military has also flown aggressively against U.S. pilots in Syria. The Pentagon openly calling it a deliberate

violations of an agreement to prevent accidents. After that Moscow appears back off a bit. Putin personally challenging the President's new national

security strategy.

TRUMP: We also face rivals powers, Russia and China that seek to challenge America's influence values and wealth. We will attempt to build a great

partnership with those and other countries but in a manner that always protects our national interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Diplomatically speaking, if I can put words, it is then an attacking nature, and if we used military terms, is no

doubt aggressive. We need to take that to account in our practical work.

STARR: There is some U.S. leverage. Moscow may be nervous that new back sanctions could be strengthened even further. Barbara Starr CNN Pentagon.


GORANI: Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow following this for us and Fred, this reset that people are anticipating and friendlier relationship between

President Trump and President Putin, hasn't materialized. It doesn't seem like its going direction in 2018 necessarily.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No, I don't think it is going in that direction in 2018. One of the interesting things

about what the Trump administration has done vis-a-vis possible interaction militarily with the Russians is that they really had an approach that was

different as far as different theaters are concerned. One of the things that Barbara that report is that the U.S. has now said it will sell for

instance anti-tank weapons to Ukrainians which is something that the Russians heavily criticized, obviously didn't like it at all.

[10:10:09] On the flip side of that, the Trump administration also decided not to back moderate Syrian rebels anymore which is something that the

Russians do like. It certainly seems ashough it's not clear what exactly America's policy is towards the Russians, whether there's going to be a

hard line. On the other hand, though, I think it is absolutely correct to assume that the Russians are going to continue to be very assertive and in

fact are going assertive than they were before. Ukraine, but one of the things we all need to be looking out for and the U.S. will be looking out

for is Russia's moves in the Middle East. If you look at Russia trying to get into bases in Egypt, trying then some of the things we've heard in the

past couple days in Syria as well, that is something I think you are going to see the Russian army become more professional but also more assertive in

the next year.

GORANI: Certainly, that is a very good observation. They're signing commercial deals with Egypt. A lot going on with Russia. Thank you very

much we will get back to you very soon Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.

The former American President Barack Obama has given his first interview since leaving office, he is getting the royal treatment literally taking

questions from Prince Harry on BBC radio's today program. Up for discussion, politics whether the President referred "good wife" or "suits."

Very crucial question, the TV show suits star the Prince fiancee Meghan Markle and the power of social media was also a topic of discussion. Let's

take a listen.


OBAMA: The question I think really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a what way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows

diversity views, but doesn't lead to a balkanization of our society but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground. I'm not sure

government can legislate that. But what I do believe is that, all 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 that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information

that reinforces their current biases.


GORANI: Anna Stewart joins me live in the studio. He didn't mention Donald Trump by name. He was obviously referring to him. There were

questions as well asked of Prince Harry about this upcoming wedding that everybody's talking about to Meghan Markle. What did he say?

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: This interview was filled with light and fun as well as you had there on the social media. They spoke about Obama's

career. He misses and doesn't miss. He misses the motorcade and traffic. He doesn't miss the early morning get out. After the interview today when

Prince Harry was being interviewed he asked will he be inviting President Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well enough to invite him to your wedding?

PRINCE HARRY, OF WALES: I don't know about that. We haven't put the invites or the guest list together yet. Who knows whether he is going to

be invited or not.


STEWART: So diplomatic.

GORANI: They haven't put the guest list together? I don't know.

STEWART: T minus five months.

GORANI: Diplomatic about it. How did this come about? This interview was conducted a few weeks ago.

STEWART: the interview with Obama was conducted in September. That was before the engagement. A media storm about whether or not the Obama would

be invited. It is not a state wedding. We are not expecting heads of state to be invited. We are not expecting President Trump to get an

invite. They are friends of the Obamas. Will that be a snub to President Trump?

GORANI: Right, especially if President Trump is not invited, but not being an official state event means there no obligation to extend an invitation

to heads of state, correct?

STEWART: Absolutely. No one would ever pressure Harry to invite or not invite anyone. This is his wedding it is his Meghan. This is all about

them this will be very important driven. It's not a state wedding.

GORANI: Why did they hold on to it for so along if it was conducted a few weeks, months ago in September?

STEWART: We're not quite sure. They had teased ahead. We've been waiting for this for weeks. But we'll have to wait for the wedding.

GORANI: It was a fun listen. That rapid question -- rapid fire section.

STEWART: What are you going to say?

GORANI: I know really. He should have said the good wife just to figure the reaction.

Anna thanks very much, still to come, Syria's civil war, Russia is claiming victory over ISIS while opponents of the Syrian President are suffering

under a siege. We'll have that also.


[10:15:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We felt lonely. We were afraid of losing the fight until you showed up in our life.


GORANI: War, a battle field devoid of hope. Anything but the birth place of love. Next a story that defied all the odds, we will be right back.


GORANI: Russia now said that it was -- it has won the fight against ISIS by a decisive stroke, but the main battle has been brought to its end. The

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says the next target is the rebel group that is group. Russian media report Lavrov made the announcement in

a meeting that the leader of Syria's pro-democracy tomorrow opposition movement. Meanwhile the people of Syria are still living with the horror

of war on a daily basis. Eight agencies say the first batch of critically ill patients has been allowed to leave Ghouta. Two dozens more expected in

the coming days. The U.N. says children are suffering the worst outbreak of malnutrition since the Syria civil war began. The international

committee of the Red Cross has helped move people out. Spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk joins me now from Geneva, could you tell us how the

evacuations are going. Just paint a picture of the situation in eastern Ghouta.

ANASTASIA ISYUK, SPOKESWOMAN, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Last night the Syrian and my colleagues have indeed started medical

evacuation of critically ill people from eastern Ghouta to Damascus. It's the first positive step and we do certainly hope in the coming hours and

days we will be able to do more.

[10:20:01] GORANI: But this area has been besieged for a very long time and we're talking here about a handful of people when many, many more need

help, why so few?

ISYUK: Indeed. You see in this situation we as the FFC, we play humanitarian role on neutral and impartial grounds. It's the parties to

the conflict had to come to an agreement which they have done and we are facilitating it in a purely humanitarian manner. Therefore, we fully

understand, and it has been in the eastern Ghouta last time, and it has been clear that the situation is critical and there are any more people who

are in need of assistance and overall these people need access to humanitarian aid on a regular basis and we do hope that the parties to the

conflict will prioritize the need of Syrians and let it happen.

GORANI: You do need an agreement it goes without out saying, but it is an area besieged by the government, is it not?

ISYUK: Well, eastern Ghouta is one of those examples where indeed there are different elements in place. Our role is to be able to negotiate with

all sides that we our able to fulfill our humanitarian mandate. It shows that they are able to come and evacuate critically ill patients and it's

ongoing these days and we hope that it will succeed.

GORANI: But you're getting the assistance you need from government authorities to gain to the suburb of Damascus?

ISYUK: The moment both sides agreed to the operation and we do certainly hope that they continue to support this operation. As we said the needs

are critical, you know people who are affected by diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, they are very vulnerable because they don't have

medical supplies. There's also a shortage of food and basic necessities. It's difficult situation. More than difficult. It's a critical situation

in eastern Ghouta and we do hope that humanitarian aid can come through.

GORANI: Where are they being taken to?

ISYUK: The patients who were taken last night were being taken to hospitals in Damascus.

GORANI: You describe a critical situation where levels of malnourishment, with disease. Why has it gotten so bad?

ISYUK: Well, as we have seen in ix years, it is civilians who pay the price of this conflict. It's true that our appeal to all sides is to put

civilians first. It's not the first time we have seen civilians suffer. We do hope that this plea for assistance and the need of the people can be

put as an utmost priority to all fighting parties.

GORANI: As we mentioned in the beginning, this is still a very all number of people. Have you received any assurances, have you seen any plans that

suggest that this could be replicated on a wider scale because the need is so great?

ISYUK: As you say it is the first step. We are going along with the separation. We do hope that the sides continue to support it and we do and

that we are able to provide lifesaving support to people who need to leave eastern Ghouta, because they have critical medical conditions and otherwise

people who are inside could receive humanitarian aid without conditions on a regular basis.

GORANI: I know that is your hope, but have you received assurances or seen any plans to suggest this will happen in short order? The time is of the

essence here patients.

ISYUK: Time is of the absence and it is difficult to talk about assurances at this point when we are in the middle of situation that is happening at

the moment. Our focus is for it to come, you know to come to its full success.

GORANI: Anastasia thanks so much, joining us from Geneva. The spokesperson for the international committee of the Red Cross. We

appreciate your time.

However Syria's war plays out now, the scars inflicted on its people will last for generations. Over the border in Iraq that tragic legacy is shared

by countless others. Imagine you are one of those victims and that war is a constant in your life. Each time the phone rings you're worried it could

be that call, the one that will turn your biggest fears into reality. It will bring out loss, loathing. But maybe when you least expected and it

can bring out love. This is the story of Nahla and Aqeel.


[10:25:25] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To my sweetheart Aqeel, remember the first time we met? I was in black holding the hand of my 7-year-old boy. At

that time both him and myself were miserable people after we lost his dad in a bombing. Tens of people were killed on that day. This is not the

only reason we miserable. Remember Aqeel how Baghdad is bad at that time and how it entered into an era of violence. The street had turned into

cemeteries with dead bodies thrown everywhere. Amongst all of this I was going through a journey of struggle against autism with my son. We felt

lonely. We were afraid of losing the fight until you showed up in our life you embraced me with passion, gave me energy to love again. You were a new

father. Gave him confidence and took him from childhood to adult hood. I understand the core of love is bigger than individuals and love stories,

but it can be expressed tough their experiences. Our story could be one many of my expressing love and its warmth. My love to you will continue



GORANI: I absolutely love those stories, you can watch CNN's full feature "Love and conflict" hosted by Christiana Amanpour, catch it on Friday at

1:45 p.m. if you are watching here in London. Still ahead, CNN Jake Tapper runs through the top seven American political stories of 2017. And here's

a hint. Most of them involve, guess who President Donald Trump. We'll be right back.


[10:30:00] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Donald Trump has been in office for nearly a year now but his predecessor remains the most

admired man according to a survey of Americans.

Barack Obama has held the top spot in the gallop poll for ten years running. President Trump came in second. As Democratic challenger in the

2016 election, Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman.

Once again, she's held the top spot for 16 years. Polls aside, President Trump spent his first year in office slamming the door hard on the Obama

era. Here is CNN's Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gather round, family and friends. You'll be talking about 2017 for generations to come. The first year of the Trump

presidency shattered the status quo.

Cultures of harassment were exposed, travel bans were debated, protests erupted. And I seem to recall something about Russia. Here are, in our

view, the top seven political stories of 2017.

TAPPER (voice-over): President Trump signed executive orders banning U.S. entry from seven Muslim-majority nations which sparked worldwide protests

and disagreement among the courts before a revised version was upheld.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.

TAPPER: The administration also ended the DACA program affecting some 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The DACA policy, produced by the last administration, could not be sustained.

TAPPER: The fate of these so-called Dreamers was left in the hands of Congress.

TRUMP: Hopefully, now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Mr. President, I will not be complicit or silent.

TAPPER: In 2017, some Republicans went rogue, openly displaying disdain for the president of their own party.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think the debasement of our nation will be one he'll be remembered the most for.

TAPPER: Critics such as Jeff Flake of Arizona and former Trump supporter Bob Corker of Tennessee announced they would not seek reelection to the


FLAKE: It's not enough to be conservative anymore. It seems that you have to be angry about it.

TAPPER: Both will remain in office until November working with Republican Senators John McCain, Ben Sasse, and Cory Gardner, who have expressed

condemnation of Trump at different times, as well.

TRUMP: We're going to get a health bill passed. We're going to get health care taken care of in this country.

TAPPER: Republicans tried to repeal and replace Obamacare, received insufficient support, removed the bill, regrouped, and were left reeling

after repeat defeats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion is not agreed to.

TAPPER: The most dramatic courtesy of Republican John McCain.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We promised to repeal and replace Obamacare and we failed.

TAPPER: The GOP had no major legislative victory all year until December.


TAPPER: A $1.5 trillion GOP tax plan passed with a partial repeal of Obamacare, handwritten edits, and absolutely no Democratic support.

A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia began with a torch- lit march around a Confederate monument. One of these white supremacists rammed his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The

president initially failed to call out the white supremacists.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides.

TAPPER: Even strong conservatives condemned his response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.

TAPPER: Passionate demonstrations filled the streets.

PROTESTERS: Nazis are not welcome here.

TAPPER: And nationwide symbols of the Confederacy were vandalized or officially removed.

TRUMP: You're fired.

TAPPER: It was more than a catchphrase. Just ask press secretary Sean Spicer or communications director Anthony Scaramucci, or chief of staff

Reince Priebus, or chief strategist Steve Bannon, or national security adviser Michael Flynn.

[10:35:00] And, of course...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you believe you were fired?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.

TAPPER: The Trump administration had more than a dozen resignations, firings, and reassignments in its first year. The "MeToo" movement ushered

in an era of accountability, ending careers and launching a battle for moral high ground.

Allegations that Republican Roy Moore sexually assaulted teen girls as an adult led Alabama voters to elect their first Democratic senator in 25


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office.

TAPPER: Fellow Democrats forced Senator Al Franken to announce his resignation after several women said he acted inappropriately.

LEEANN TWEEDEN, AL FRANKEN ACCUSER: He just mashes his mouth to my -- to my lips.

TAPPER: Several others in Congress, including Trent Franks, John Conyers, Ruben Kihuen, and Blake Farenthold resigned or announced early retirements

after facing accusations of their own. But in response to questions about the president's past actions, the White House was defiant.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: That's the big news here is the Russian interference in our election system.

TAPPER: The leaders of U.S. Intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the presidential election, but did President

Trump's campaign help them in their effort?

TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia.

TAPPER: FBI Director James Comey was leading the investigation until he was fired. Now, an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is

digging deeper.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted.

The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned Donald Trump Jr. for hours about his meetings with Russians in Trump Tower. Is he being forthcoming?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: There are a lot of legitimate questions that this individual needs to answer.

TAPPER: All this as the president and his supporters playing defense, tried to accuse the Mueller investigation of bias.

(on camera): Those are our top seven political stories of 2017. But with the Russia investigation still ongoing and control of the Senate at stake,

2018 is sure to present unprecedented political headlines of its own. I'm Jake Tapper. Stay tuned.


GORANI: Thanks, Jake Tapper. I'd bet on that as well. Let's take a look back at the year of Trump with Larry Sabato. He's the Director of the

Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and he joins me now via Skype from Charlottesville.

So, Larry, when Donald Trump was elected, it was a surprise to many people. What did you find most surprising about the first year of the Trump

administration that you didn't expect after obviously, you know, sort of expecting the unexpected? What did you find most surprising?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA (via Skype): Hala, my assumption was that eventually, probably sooner rather

than later, Donald Trump would pivot toward a normal presidency in which he took a presidential tone that he was above some of the petty controversies.

Well, here we are almost a year in and it's never happened. To me, that's the greatest surprise. He is the most different modern president. I don't

necessarily mean that as a compliment.

GORANI: But why do you think it hasn't happened? Because he's making the calculation that all he needs to do is keep the economy running smoothly

and satisfy his base or because he can't control his impulses.

SABATO: I think a lot of it is the latter. You're wise to mention that. But if you're looking for some kind of rational calculation, it's that

Donald Trump may understand that people either love him or hate him.


SABATO: And there really is no in between. So, he focuses on his base, Hala, and he wants to keep that base activated.

GORANI: What about 2018 -- because satisfying his base and keeping them happy is not necessarily good for the Republican Party or Republican

candidates for Congress in 2018.

SABATO: It's certainly not good for the ones running for the House of Representatives. Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to retake the

House of Representatives for the first time since 2008 when they last won it.

So, if that happens -- if they can actually stoke the anti-Trump dealings to generate the enthusiasm needed among Democratic activists, there are

enough seats for them to actually win control. They need a net 24 seats. They could do better than that. And that would change the whole trajectory

of the Trump presidency.

GORANI: Would you have said that before Alabama? Because there was that surprise win for a Democratic candidate in Alabama.

SABATO: I actually would have. But I think what Alabama did was to stoke Democratic intentions to give money, to working campaigns and it has

stimulated a number of Democratic candidacies where they weren't expected to happen.

[10:40:00] Part of this is having enough candidates on the ballot to take advantage of a wave -- of a Democratic wave, if indeed that wave builds.

GORANI: And there's also a record number of women perhaps spurred on by the MeToo movement, also women who are standing in opposition to Donald

Trump as well. I wonder how would that change the politic landscape.

Let's assume the Senate stays in Republican hands but the House flips and becomes, and achieves a Democratic majority. How would that change the

Trump presidency?

SABATO: Well, one obvious is you will have a record number of women elected. That's already obvious because so many women are becoming the

Democratic nominees for the U.S. House -- all across the United States.

That alone, we have learned from state legislators, changes the kind and quality of legislation passed, and the stands taken. And let's be honest,

President Trump's great electoral weakness -- he has many weakness with minorities, but his greatest weakness is probably with women who are 53

percent of the electorate.

GORANI: And the minority vote as well in Alabama, and particular I'm talking about the African-American vote, helped defeat Roy Moore. This is

also a message sent to the Democratic Party not to take those voters for granted.

SABATO: They absolutely cannot take them for granted. They didn't show up in large numbers for Hillary Clinton. That's one of the reasons why she


As far as 2018 is concerned, I think Democrats understand that you see 98 percent of African-American women voting for a Democratic nominee for

Senate in Alabama, there's a tremendous opportunity there if you connect with African-Americans.

GORANI: All right. Larry Sabato, as always, pleasure talking to you, thank you very much. Have a great new year.

SABATO: Thank you.

GORANI: And you can find all our political stories in one convenient place. Just go straight to While you are there make

sure to read Stephen Collinson's essay, why Trump isn't getting the credit he thinks he deserves.

Coming up, Western Pennsylvania used to have still this time of year but never or very rarely like this -- a look at the snow emergency in the

region if you can see through that dense white snowstorm. When will it all end? We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, if you can't leave the house, you might as well get a head start on the shoveling.


GORANI: Oakley, the German Shepherd dug a path through the front walkway after record snowfall in Western Pennsylvania. His owner, though, got

stuck with shoveling the driveway. This is just unprecedented snowfall in a region used to heavy snow.

It's not like this is London where a few snowflakes sends everyone sort of running in panic. A 160 centimeters have fallen in Pennsylvania. The

state guard activated as police declare a snow emergency.


GORANI: Melissa Rainey has more.


MELISSA RAINEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Having a white Christmas took on a whole new meaning to the residents in Erie, Pennsylvania this year. The

lakefront town, 130 miles North of Pittsburg experienced not one but two record breaking days of snowfall.

On Monday, 34 inches of snow fell on the town. More than four times the previous Christmas day record and topping the city's single day record

snowfall by more than a foot. While it may have looked nice out the window, driving in it was a different story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden it has gotten really, really bad.

RAINEY: But some decided to brave it for fear of something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've just got to visit grandma, otherwise we're going toy be in big trouble.

RAINEY: There was no sight on Tuesday, another 20 inches fell by the afternoon covering Erie in 54 1/2 inches of snow in just two days. City

police declared a snow emergency, describing roads as dangerous and impassable, asking residents to stay off the roads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad is cross country skiing around the neighborhood.

RAINEY: According to the National Weather Service, the area can expect lake effect snow to continue through Wednesday. I'm Melissa Rainey,



GORANI: You heard, Melissa, there talk about that unrelenting lake effect snow. Our Meteorologist Chad Myers is here to tell us when this is all

going to end and what forecast we can look forward to, to that bitterly cold new year's and parts of the U.S. How is it looking from Pennsylvania

and it is -- correct if I'm wrong, it is much worse than usual, right?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. No question about it. I grew up right there in Buffalo, New York. And we always got snow. You know,

50, 60 centimeters not out of the question. You shovel it and you're done.

But 251 centimeters since December 1st and 160 just over three days, that's hard to get your handle on because you have to start shoveling the top,

then you get the middle, then you finally get to the ground. So it takes some time to get rid of the snow.

It's a phenomenon across parts of the U.S. called lake effect snow. It's because very cold air runs across the lake or lakes because we have all the

superior, we have Huron, we have Erie, Ontario, the great lakes, fresh water lakes, and when the wind comes across like this, it blows the snow

this way.

And if the wind would go the other direction, now that would blow all the way back toward Windsor, maybe toward Detroit, but the wind never really

comes that direction. It's usually from the Northwest.

So when it comes from the same direction for a very long time, the same areas pick up snow for a very long time. And you can be 15 kilometers away

from Erie, and you might have three centimeters of snow.

But it's that one place that just gets piled on and piled on. Now temperatures across the U.S. are bitterly cold. Not the West Coast, but

the eastern half of the U.S. bitterly, bitterly cold. And this is going to be with us now for the next, I think at least ten days.

It is significantly colder here than in most of the Northern Russia because the air -- the cold air mass is coming down from the Pole, from Santa Claus

land and it's ending up down here.

The high temperature in Chicago will be 12 degrees below zero and that's just during the daytime when the sun is out. And this is going to continue

for day after day. I believe likely the wind chills around New Year's Eve, and Central Park, and Times Square where they have it, will be 10 or 20

degrees below zero easy.

GORANI: Well, I feel bad for Anderson Cooper. He's going to be standing out there on New Year's Eve for us. Thank you very much. And I saw minus

21 in Fargo. My goodness. Do not go out if you don't have to. Thank you very much, Chad. We'll speak to you later.

MYERS: All right.

GORANI: You would expect terrible weather like that to make flying pretty hard at this time of year. But this has been all over the internet.

A flight from L.A. to Tokyo already several hours in had to do a U-turn over the Pacific Ocean for an entirely different reason.

[10:50:00] With an eight-hour L.A. to L.A. flight. We'll explain why they had to turn around over the water. We'll be right back.


GORANI: You can call it the flight to nowhere after nearly eight hours in the area, a Tokyo-bound All Nippon Airways jet ended up right back where it

started in Los Angeles. Model Chrissy Teigen and her husband, musician John Legend were among those on board.

She live tweeted the streams turn of events and tried to keep a sense of humor about it all. Rene Marsh is here to sort out this mid-flight mess

for us. I completely understand her frustration. You're on a really long flight. And in the middle of it pretty much the pilot turns around. What


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. I mean, really unbelievable. So this was an All Nippon airline flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. There

were 226 people on board. So imagine breaking the news to that many people.

As you mentioned, Hala, they were four hours into this 11 hour flight when the pilot told them that they needed to turn around. What you're looking

at there on your screen is really the flight path that they took.

They got that far over the water and then they turned right back to go where they were going. This morning the airline tells CNN that during the

flight, the cabin crew became aware that one of the passengers boarded the incorrect flight and notified the pilot.

As part of the airline's security procedure, the pilot in command decided to return to the originating airport where the passenger was disembarked.

Now a source is telling me that this was all due to an administrative mix- up.

But the airline is not giving a lot of information at this hour as far as what does that mean. Because the question that we all have is how in the

world does someone who does not belong on a flight get on this flight and we're now four hours into the flight before anyone realizes this.

As you know, Hala, when you travel, your boarding pass is scanned at the gate. We do have this tidbit of information. We know that All Nippon and

United Airlines, they have a co-chair agreement. So that flight, 175 -- That ANA 175 was also coded as United Flight 7925.

GORANI: Right.

[10:55:00] MARSH: There was also at the -- leaving at the same time from the same airport another code share with United and All Nippon. Possibly,

could that have been the sort of -- source of the confusion? Perhaps. But at this hour, the airline is just saying they, too, are trying to get to

the bottom of how this all happened.

GORANI: But I think the question everyone has is, why did the pilot turn around and not just keep going to Tokyo and sort it out there?

MARSH: Right. You know, that seems like that would make the most sense instead of inconveniencing everyone because all of those passengers had to

be rebooked and they didn't leave until this morning on another flight.

That, too, is another question that I have posed to the airline. When you look at their statement, they -- you know, they lead you to believe that

this is a part of their security protocol, but in fact many people are asking the same thing. Wouldn't it have just been easier just to continue

on to Tokyo.

GORANI: Well, I know at least 265 people think that way.


GORANI: Chrissy Teigen as well. Thanks very much, Rene Marsh, for joining us from Washington. That was Connect the World. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks

for watching. After talking about all that frustration, we leave you with something completely adorable.