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Trump's New York Times Interview; Trump: China caught red handed allowing oil into North Korea; Democrat Certified as Winner of U.S. Senate Seat; New York City and Mumbai Fire; Apple's IPhone Apology; New York Boosts Security; Trump Tweets East Coast Could Use Global Warming. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired December 29, 2017 - 03:00   ET




[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A surprising comment from the U.S. president on the Russia investigation this hour.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Fatal fire to tell you about in New York. A baby is among the dead and what the mayor is calling the city's worst fire tragedy in 25 years.

ALLEN: And Apple apologizes after all the outrage over the slowing down of older phones. Now the company's trying to make it up to all of you. We'll see what you think about what they're doing.

HOWELL: Let's see what's happening with that. It's 3:00 a.m. here at the U.S. east coast, live at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Our top story, a wide ranging, eye opening, and some would say surprising interview with U.S. President Donald Trump.

HOWELL: He sat down with The New York Times at his resort in Florida on Thursday. Perhaps the most interesting point, President Trump said that he believes that special counsel Robert Mueller will treat him fairly in the Russia probe, but the president was still defiant, insisting 16 times that there was no collusion between his team and Russia.

ALLEN: However, the president did say this, there was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign. He went on, I think I'll be treated fairly. Timing wise, I can't tell you. I just don't know, but I think we'll be treated fairly. And he said the sooner the probe is over, the better. Everyone will probably agree to that.

Scott Lucas is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham and founder and editor of EA WorldView, joining us from England. Scott, glad to have you with us. First of all, interesting that President Trump bypassed the traditional end of the year news conference.

He apparently said he wanted to have one, but his aides didn't want him to have to address a barrage on the Russia investigation, a barrage of questions. So he ends up sitting down with The New York Times and just talking freely about it. What do you make of that?

SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, Trump has done this before, though it's been several months. Remember back in the spring when everyone was saying that James Comey, the FBI director, would threaten the Hillary Clinton investigation.

Trump suddenly appears on TV with NBC and says, oh, no, no, no, it was all about Russia. What's happened yesterday? I think Trump is a little bit more relaxed. He's been away from Washington for a few days. I think in a way that means he can say, oh, I'm going to be charitable here. I'm going to say nice things about the special counsel Robert Mueller, at least saying he'll treat me fairly.

But make no mistake about this. This is still Trump saying, look, I'm going to be exonerated very, very soon. There's going to be no evidence against me. If that does not happen, Trump will resort back to the lines of saying this is an unfair inquiry, that in fact, it's the Russians and Democrats working together, which defies all evidence.

In other words, we'll get back to the angered Trump and the frustrated Trump once we get back to Washington and that investigation continues to go onto the spring and probably the summer.

ALLEN: Yes. Meantime, though, what does this mean to the Republican mood on Capitol Hill to undermine this investigation? Of course, Mr. Trump takes a lot of his cues from conservative TV that is calling for Mueller to be out of this investigation and to be over. What does that do to his support there? He's on a different page apparently.

LUCAS: No, he's not really on a different page. Here's the key thing here. All he said was that Robert Mueller will be fair to him. At the same time, he said that the Justice Department needs to listen to him, that he's the one in charge. Now of course the Justice Department does not operate at the command of the president. It is supposed to be independent.

So when the Justice Department and the FBI continue their investigations, when Mueller continues the investigations, you're going to get outlets like Breitbart and White House sources, you know, those unknown people who will say they still are being unfair, they still are trying to bring this man down unjustly.

It is only a couple of days ago that we have had Republican congressmen talk about a coup against the president. That language will not be stopped by what President Trump said yesterday.

And indeed, I think within the next couple weeks, we're going to get probably to a head as to whether Mueller will be allowed to continue this investigation or whether, let me be blatant with a word here, it is going to be sabotaged by the idea that it cannot reach Donald Trump, it must not reach him.

ALLEN: Do you think President Trump maybe has an insight that he's off the hook in this investigation?

LUCAS: No. What has happened for months

[03:05:00] is that White House lawyers will go in and tell Trump to try to calm him down, look, it's going to work out. It's going to be OK, Mr. President. They said at one point, oh, it's going to be over by Thanksgiving. Then they said it's going to be over by Christmas.

Now they're saying it's going to be over in early 2018. That's what you got Trump saying yesterday, that sort of optimistic side of him saying, I've survived. It's going to be the Democrats who are going to be the ones to take the fall. Now, we know that reality is a much more complicated proposition.

Donald Trump isn't operating with reality here. He's operating with the wishes in his head. When those wishes don't come true, then we're at another critical point.

ALLEN: He also brought up former President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder. When asked about his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recusing himself from the Russia investigation, here's the quote he gave to The New York Times on that topic.

I don't want to get into loyalty, but I will tell that, I will say this. Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. What's he getting at here?

LUCAS: That's such a revealing quote because it does two things. One is it says that Donald Trump blames Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation because Sessions had contact with Russian officials. He's saying, Sessions should have stayed there and he should have protected me.

In other words, the investigation should not have been independent. Why is that important? Because Trump has asked numerous officials, including FBI Director James Comey before he was fired, I must have loyalty.

That demand for loyalty could constitute, and I emphasize could constitute obstruction of justice. And that is precisely one of the lines that Robert Mueller is pursuing. So Donald Trump didn't get himself off the hook yesterday with this interview. He may have just added to his troubles.

ALLEN: He made some other comments. George is going to get into that now. Scott Lucas, thanks for joining us. I appreciate your comments.

HOWELL: It is important to point out it's not just about collusion, but also about possible obstruction of justice, so certainly a wide ranging investigation. The U.S. president raised some eyebrows as well, tweeting earlier in the day that China had been caught, quote, red handed, allowing oil into North Korea. That would be a violation of U.N. sanctions. He elaborated in The New York Times interview saying, quote, oil is going into North Korea. That wasn't my deal. If they don't help us with North Korea, then I can do what I've always said I want to do. We have a nuclear menace out there which is no good for China, end quote.

Let's bring in CNN's Alexandra Field following the story from the capital of China. It's good to have you with us there in Beijing. Let's talk about this very sharp accusation from the U.S. president. Has there been any response to the tweet or the accusation itself?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, officials here in Beijing, George, had already denied the accusations, those same allegations that President Donald Trump made in that scathing tweet that he issued in the overnight hours here in Beijing.

We know that China is key to the Trump administration's policy when it comes to dealing with North Korea, reining in the regime. The thinking of the Trump administration has been to gather international partners, to unleash the wave of sanctions in response to all the provocations that you see from North Korea.

They want to cut off the flow of resources to North Korea. They want to cut off revenue streams which will push North Korea into more isolated place. To the Trump administration's thinking, that could be the thing that brings them to the negotiating table, putting those nuclear weapons on the table. That's the whole goal here.

It's why the Trump administration says that oil is so critical. We know that North Korea depends on foreign oil, particularly China. Their economy is dependent on it, their military is dependent on it.

So the wave of sanctions that we've seen in recent months and really over the course of this entire year has been aimed at stopping that flow of oil, not entirely but largely.

The international community is now keeping its eyes on how North Korea can skirt these sanctions by using an illegal network of ships. South Korean authorities have been raising red flags about this.

In fact, authorities in South Korea are now saying that back in November, they seized a Hong Kong-based ship that had left port in South Korea carrying oil that it used to make an illegal transfer to a North Korean ship. That's a blatant violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Earlier this week, we had more reports coming from South Korea media about this network of ships. They said there were satellite images that showed that Chinese ships were being used to make these oil transfers to North Korean ships. Again, a violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Beijing was asked about those reports earlier this week even before that tweet from President Trump. They denied the accusations. They denied the allegations.

They said that China remains committed to upholding all tenants of the U.N. Security Council sanctions and that if there was ever evidence that Chines ships were involved, that these companies would be dealt with.

That's the last we heard of from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when they were asked directly. But again, these are scathing words from President Trump, who is counting on cooperation from the Chinese.

[03:10:00] That has been his position throughout his tenure in office since really over the course of the last year. We have seen him take a sharp tone with China before, particularly on Twitter, but we know at the same time that he relies on a close personal relationship with President Xi Jinping.

He's really trying to create some cooperation with China when it comes to dealing with North Korea, at the same though taking a tough approach at least on Twitter. George, Natalie?

HOWELL: We know that China does typically have measured responses with regards to some of these fiery tweets, but the question, what impact do these tweets have in that relationship between the president and Chinese leadership? Alexandra Field live for us. Thank you so much.

ALLEN: In the U.S. state of Alabama, Judge Roy Moore still will not concede the U.S. Senate race that he lost earlier this month, but it doesn't matter now. Democrat Doug Jones seen here on the right has been certified the winner and will be sworn in early next year.

HOWELL: Roy Moore's last legal ditch effort here to challenge the election. It was tossed out one day after he filed it. The Alabama secretary of state said there was no evidence of election fraud or voter irregularities as Moore's lawsuit had claimed.


JOHN MERRILL, SECRETARY OF STATE OF ALABAMA: I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that has followed this election objectively that this election has been conducted with the utmost integrity. That it's been safe, secure. It's been credible.

The results have the kind of integrity and credibility that the people of Alabama expect and demand. And that the people of the United States of America know has occurred in our state.

And if there's ever been a doubt as to whether or not the people of Alabama are given the opportunity to participate at the level that they choose to and that they have been able to do so without any hindrance whatsoever, that's all been eliminated.

And anybody else that continues to perpetuate that myth is doing just that.


HOWELL: All right. The Alabama secretary of state saying, look, there is no fraud to talk about here. But even after that lawsuit was tossed out, Moore's team was still reluctant to give up. It claims to have experts who can prove the voting machines were rigged.

ALLEN: But at least one of those so-called experts has dubious credentials. Here's an exchange between Moore's spokeswoman and CNN's John Berman.


JANET PORTER, SPOKESWOMAN FOR ROY MOORE: They dismissed it without -- I don't even know if the secretary of state read the 84 pages of evidence. That's what really is screaming from the pages of this complaint. And what it said -- let me finish if I may.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's not evidence. It's an argument citing four election experts, people you call election experts.

PORTER: I know. You're trying to say, I mean, maybe the guy got a C- minus in spelling in the fourth grade. Well, you can discount anybody you want.

BERMAN: No. Excuse me --

PORTER: Four math degrees --

BERMAN: One of them said the holocaust didn't happen. He said --

PORTER: By the way, that's not true. Let me refer you to an internet blog, Abraham Lincoln's internet blog. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

BERMAN: Does it concern you that your election machine expert, Jim Condit Jr., is a man who said there's an evil shadow Jewish government and claims --

PORTER: I certainly don't believe that. And you know what? I don't believe that's true. I'm going to tell you, he didn't say that. He didn't say that. What he knows about -- we had him on the case. We submitted an affidavit. The guy is an expert, an undisputed expert in the election software program.

BERMAN: He absolutely said there's --

PORTER: I don't believe it. Sorry. I don't believe it.

BERMAN: Do we have the tweet? Do we have the tweet? Here it is. Evil Jews in the Jewish shadow government must be highlighted even though of course all Jews are not in that.

PORTER: By the way, John, you know what you're not putting up on the screen?


PORTER: Oddly enough. You're not putting up his 39 years experience in election machines.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Those pesky facts. Despite the ongoing objections of the Moore campaign, Democrat Doug Jones will be sworn in as the next U.S. senator of Alabama in January.

ALLEN: We have a tragedy to tell you about from New York City. At least 12 people are dead after a fire swept through an apartment building. Four people have been critically injured there. The fire minister says flames erupted Thursday evening on the first floor and spread fast.

HOWELL: The youngest victim in that fire, a 1-year-old baby. The mayor of New York described this disaster as dismal, the worst in 25 years.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: This is the worst fire tragedy we have seen in this city in at least a quarter century based on the information we have now. This will rank as one of the worst losses of life to a fire in many, many years.


HOWELL: Terrible tragedy there. We want to tell you more about this fire from CNN affiliate reporter Jay Dow with affiliate WPIX, the latest from the scene.

[03:15:00] We do want to warn you though that some of the images you will see in Jay's report are disturbing.



JAY DOW, REPORTER, WPIX-TV (voice over): Residents stood in 13-degree weather Thursday night and watched as firefighters frantically wheeled one unresponsive victim after another, performing chest compressions along the way, away from a burned five-storey building at 2363 Prospect Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last I heard was my mom text my sister that they were trapped in the room.

DOW (voice over): Christine (ph), she declined to share her last name, stood in shocked at the corner. Her mother's last text message, she was trapped in the third floor apartment with her 8- month-old granddaughter with no way out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked if the third floor was cleared and I just -- they just looked at me and looked away.

DOW (voice over): Residents recall climbing out of their apartment windows to escape the fire.

What floor do you live on?


DOW (voice over): Third floor?


DOW (voice over): You saw the smoke coming in your apartment?


DOW (voice over): And that's when you left through the back window?


DOW (voice over): You climbed out the fire escape?



HOWELL: That was Jay Dow reporting. Again, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

In Mumbai, India, a fire there. You see in the images. The fire that killed 14 people. Most of the victims were women attending a birthday party. This started at the rooftop restaurant of the building before engulfing the whole building. Police say the establishment's owner and manager could be held responsible for homicide.

ALLEN: New year's eve is right around the corner and New York City is preparing to make it a safe one. Just days away from what will be there for the people in Times Square. We'll tell you about that coming up here.

HOWELL: Plus, Apple apologizing over slowing down the speed of the its older iPhones. What the company is offering to accommodate its customers and the apology they have, stay with us.


ALLEN: Apple is scrambling to counter customer outrage and multiple lawsuits after it revealed it deliberately slowed older model iPhones. Apple says chemical aging and batteries could be one reason behind the lower performance of iPhone 6 and 6S devices. They say they'll cut the price of battery replacement and issue a software update to help monitor battery.

HOWELL: My wife has always thought that something was happening with those phones. The company issued a letter to customers stating this, in part, quote, we know that some of you feel that Apple has let you down. We apologize. We have never and would never do anything intentionally to shorten the life of any Apple product or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.

ALLEN: Let's bring in tech reporter -- CNN tech reporter Heather Kelly. Heather, nice to see you, but Apple did say it deliberately slowed down the iPhone's operation, so what's up here? HEATHER KELLY, CNN TECH REPORTER: It did, and it's important to note if you actually read the letter today, it's not actually apologizing for slowing them down, it's more apologizing for how it's communicated or, rather, not communicated at all to customers.

And it's going to keep on doing it going forward. It just going to try and be a little more transparent with what it's doing with this update that is going to roll out soon in IOS and it's going to help people get up to the full potential with cheaper batteries.

ALLEN: So, the apology seemed a little bit less than sincere. So, what's up here with Apple? Is it losing its way sort of?

KELLY: Oh, I don't think it's less than sincere at all. I think it's just they're being very careful about what they're apologizing for.


KELLY: It's actually a pretty clever work around on the tech side as a way of stopping these phones from shutting down automatically because their batteries are old. You know, I think it's kind of clever, but it's obviously angered a lot of people, hence the many lawsuits which I'm sure Apple is not pleased with.

I mean, it will be seen as taking over this loss of trust. This letter shows they're definitely a little panicked about that.

ALLEN: And how will people -- people that have been kind of curious about their iPhone and what it's been doing, George's wife is one of them, what's wrong with my iPhone, how will you know if this is how you're being affected, if this is the situation?

KELLY: Well, it's only certain iPhones. They're looking at iPhone 6 and later. If you have an iPhone 7 and later, you shouldn't really be experiencing too much of this problem, at least not yet. It could come up in the future.

You can definitely go to an Apple store and ask them to check, you know, the life of your battery, how many charges it has on it, what percentage it's at. They can tell you if it's time to pay that $29.00 for a new battery.

ALLEN: Beats the 70 something dollar charge. Do you think this will do anything to customer loyalty or tarnish Apple's integrity?

KELLY: We have like a little Apple scandal maybe once a year. We usually put gate after it. I don't know if this is battery gate. It doesn't really seem to have a lasting impact. I mean, in the end, iPhones are often a superior product to competitors. You know, doing clever things like this might be one of the reasons why, but they definitely need to work on communication about these kinds of issues.

ALLEN: In this era of apologies for other things we've been seeing, Apple needs to get its apology straight and learn how to apologize.

KELLY: Big year for apologies. ALLEN: Heather, thank you.

KELLY: Thank you.

HOWELL: All right. New year's eve in New York City. The city is gearing up for it. Hundreds of thousands of people are set to gather right there in Times Square, but police will be out in force.

ALLEN: And the city has been the target of several recent terror attacks and authorities say they are not taking chances, of course.


JAMES O'NEILL, POLICE COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: You'll see a stronger police presence out there than we have seen even in recent years. And that's prudent given the terror events we've seen and studied around the world, as well as the three incidents here in New York over the past 15 months.

DE BLASIO: We understand why we are a target. Unfortunately, it's a sad reality, but we understand it and bluntly it is because of our values as New Yorkers, because of our success as a pluralistic city.

[03:25:00] Terrorists regard New York as the exact kind of place they want to disrupt and New Yorkers respond consistently with strength and resiliency.


HOWELL: The police will be out in force. People will be wearing their coats, too, there as well. It's very cold.

ALLEN: Always so happy.

HOWELL: Cold and happy, right? Many parts of the United States bracing for the coldest new year's eve on record. The forecast prompted the U.S. president to tweet this. In the east, it could be the coldest new year's eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming, the president says, that our country, but not other countries, was going to pay trillions of dollars to protect against. Bundle up, says the president.

ALLEN: The tweet puts Mr. Trump's climate policy further out of step with the majority of scientists worldwide, who say climate change is real. It's actually kind of happening now and of course, very dangerous to all of us in this world.

So, with that, we turn it to Derek Van Dam for more on Mr. Trump's assessment.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: He definitely got one thing right. It's going to be cold on new year's eve in New York City.

HOWELL: That's true.

VAN DAM: Good for him. But he did confuse, kind of muddle the lines, between climate and weather. There's a big difference between the short-term, short-lived cold snap of air that we are going to experience which is weather, and a long-term average which is climate and climate change.

Let's kind of break it down because Noah (ph) is just coming out with some interesting news that 2017 is set to be one of the top three warmest years on record across the entire planet. In fact, only one percent of the world right now as we speak is below average climatologically speaking and that is the Eastern United States.

Just as Donald Trump tweeted, it is going to be cold in the Eastern U.S. for new year's eve, but that is not representative of what is happening across the rest of the world right now. But then you see pictures like this, and you go, OK, well, global climate change, global warming, is it happening?

Water falls are freezing in Minnesota. Well, there is a marked difference between weather and climate. This is the point that I'm trying to make. Weather is measured in minutes to weeks. There's a specific event taking place at a specific time.

Whereas climate is how the atmosphere behaves over a long period of time, at least 30 years. It's averaged over that period of time. So you can see the difference between that short-term event being weather and the long-term event being climate.

But the short-term event here that's taking place is the jet stream dipping south. That's pulling the arctic blast of air that is going to bring record-setting cold temperatures to places like Boston, New York City and Philadelphia just in time for new year's eve.

Seven degrees, that's even gone down a degree from our computer model since the last time I reported on this about an hour ago. So, it's getting even colder, but this still doesn't rank up there as the coldest yet for New York City by the way. If the forecast holds, it will be the coldest since 1962, but that will round up in the top three, of course.

But it's still dangerous out there. We start talking about hypothermia when temperature dropped that cold. I got to end with this video. You got to check this out, Natalie and George. This time of year, people start throwing boiling water in the air. And it freezes instantaneously. Well, it makes for good video, I guess. And this is a TV medium that we work in, so we want to see these pictures, right?

ALLEN: I want to do that sometime.

HOWELL: Throw that water.

VAN DAM: You got to have the perfect set of conditions. We definitely do not have that here in Atlanta.

ALLEN: Thank you, Derek.

VAN DAM: Joke's on you, right?

HOWELL: I guess. Thank you, Derek.

Still ahead, the Russia investigation has been a thorn in the side of the president from day one. And it's bothered the other implicated party, the Kremlin, just the same. The latest from Moscow, ahead.

ALLEN: Also ahead, residents of coastal U.S. cities are already feeling the impact of melting arctic glaciers. Speaking of climate change, we've got a report coming up here on CNN Newsroom.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Almost a year into his presidency -- presidency, the U.S. President Donald Trump has given a revealing interview to the New York Times. There were some surprising quotes. On his state of mind that included the Russia probe that hang over his White House.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: He said in stark contrast to his supporters that he expects Special Counsel Robert Mueller will treat him fairly.

But he also said the investigation makes the country look very bad and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it's worked out, the better it is for the country.

HOWELL: CNN's Fred Pleitgen following the story live for us in Moscow. Fred, good to have you with us. The Kremlin shares that opinion lamenting that the damage is done to U.S.-Russian relations.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, the Kremlin from the very beginning has essentially been saying two things.

They've been saying, look, there's no evidence that the Russians were involved in any sort of election hacking or support of the Trump team, what people in America obviously call collusion. And the Russians have been quite angry about this probe going on.

At the same time they have actually been saying exactly the same thing that the president said in the interview. They think or they say they think that they believe that the probe into all of this is an embarrassment for the United States.

Not just the probe itself but the whole discussion that's going on around and about collusion, all of the things that you're hearing in public. And so the public comments to even hearing as well.

At the same time there has been a bit of a shift it seems to us of the Russian position while for a very long time, they seem to believe that relations between the U.S. and Russia would improve under the Trump administration.

You could really tell that in public comments where they were criticizing some of the things that were coming from the U.S. -- From U.S. politicians but always making sure not to criticize President Trump. And it seems as though that's changed a little bit, especially over the last couple of weeks, maybe the last couple of months, especially this past week where there's been some very heavy criticism by the Russians of the United States.

And only a few days ago, there were actually some pretty revealing comments from Vladimir Putin who was offering an amnesty to the Russians bringing their money back from abroad here to Russia.

And one of the things he said -- they said look, he believes that a lot of the restrictions on Russian money obviously referring to those sanctions by the United States and by other countries as well seem to be getting more rather than getting less.

And Russia seems to be gearing up for that. So, yes, the Russians seem to share President Trump's opinion. At the same time, they don't seem to believe that any of this is going away any time soon, George.

HOWELL: All right, Fred Pleitgen, following this -- following this story live for us in Moscow. Fred, thank you.

ALLEN: Well, a few moments ago, we mentioned President Trump's tweet still denying that there is a thing called global warming, but in the arctic melting glaciers are becoming the largest source of sea level rise around the world.

[03:35:00] It's affecting the coastal U.S. CNN's Clarissa Ward traveled to Miami Beach, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia, two cities impacted by this change. Here's her report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So how high does the water get here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far, the water has come to just here, which is eight feet.

WARD: We're talking like a few more inches and it's coming...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly, yes. That's our worry. Right.

WARD: That must be a big worry.


WARD: Flooding now consumes her neighborhood, up to 10 times a year during high tides or after a big storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We move the outside furniture indoors and put the sofa up on them and move everything that's soft up to the second floor and take the books out of the bookcases and get them upstairs.

WARD: So you've like devised a drill by now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. Exactly. Melhuish (ph) bought her dream home here 35 years ago, but since then the water and flood insurance prices have soared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I gave my husband waders for Christmas.

WARD: Very practical.


WARD: Does he get good use out of them?


WARD: Let me ask you this. If you had known when you bought this house everything that would come with it in terms of the tides, the floods, the power outages, would you have maybe looked for somewhere else to live?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe, but it really was my dream house. And it always has been. So -- but I can certainly see it becoming unlivable, and that does worry me.

WARD: For Norfolk, the problem has added significance. It hosts the largest naval base in the country. Sailors are coming home from long deployments to a base threatened by encroaching seas, made worse by natural phenomena that caused the land here to sink.

This base is uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise, and that potentially makes it a very expensive headache for the military. To replace just one of these piers would cost roughly $100 million. Ray Mabus is the former secretary of the Navy.

RAY MABUS, FORMER SECRETARY, U.S. NAVY: If we don't arrest sea level rise, if we don't reverse this or slow it down, Norfolk is going to disappear. That naval base will go under water.

And, you know, I represented the Navy. Our bases tend to be on the ocean. And so you're going to see these bases being more and more at risk.

WARD: So it sounds like you're saying that climate change does not only have an impact on national security, that it's vitally important to national security.

MABUS: It's one of the biggest risks we have in national security. It's one of the things we've got to plan for the most in national security.

WARD: But America has been slow to wake up to the threat posed by climate change, in part because it has become a politically charged issue with the Trump administration actively dismantling legislation by President Obama to curb the use of fossil fuels. Does it frustrate you at all that this has become a political issue?

MABUS: This notion that climate change is a partisan issue is just nuts. You can see it happening. You can see it out there. And when the military is telling you in unequivocal terms this is it happening, it's having an impact on us as a military but it's having an impact on this country in security terms, to not listen to that is just foolishness in the highest order.

WARD: It's a sentiment Phil Levine shares.

PHILIP LEVINE, FORMER MIAMI BEACH MAYOR: Well, that's a little ridiculous. Can you imagine debating gravity and debating, you know, the theory of relatively and all the other proven scientific theories? The ocean is not Republican and it's not Democrat. It just knows how to rise. I think we have to understand that quickly.

WARD: So what can be done? Most scientists agree that carbon emissions need to be cut to zero within the next few decades to stop temperatures rising to dangerous levels. Is it too late?

MICHAEL MANN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: It's not too late. The good news is, it's not too late. The laws of physics tell us there's still time to prevent catastrophic warming. The only obstacle is our will -- our will power.

WARD: The changes that are happening in America and the challenges they present are real. The question is, what will we do? Clarissa ward, CNN.


[03:40:00] HOWELL: Two Romanians have been charged in the United States with a bold plot to hack police surveillance cameras. Authorities say they infiltrated almost 2/3 of the outdoor police cameras in Washington last January just days before the inauguration of the U.S. president.

ALLEN: The suspects were arrested in Romania earlier this month. They allegedly hoped to use the computers behind the cameras to spread ransomware.

HOWELL: Still ahead this hour, it's been 100 days since hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and the island, still has a long way to go of it regards to recovery.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She has no idea when she'll get power back. But I still ask her. (Speaking Foreign Language). I'm asking her if she thinks it will be soon?





ROSE MARIE, SINGER: That's my request, as long as he's breathing, he passes the test. Forget the fancy paper and the pretty bow, just wind him up, Santa, let him go.


HOWELL: Rose Marie died at the age of 94-years-old.

ALLEN: Fans will remember her as one of the wise cracking stars of the 1960s Dick Van Dyke Show. The actress and singer played the whitey Sally Rogers on that sitcom. Her trademark black bow and her hair always, in her character she was just sipping there, always searching for a husband.

HOWELL: Born Rose Marie Rosetta. She was first a child star, baby Rose Marie, who began her nine decade career just three-years-old. Besides numerous acting and night club gigs, she became a fixture on game shows. Rose Marie, again, died near her home -- yet, at here home in Los Angeles.

ALLEN: And how many people can say she had a nine decade career.

HOWELL: Yes. Yes.

ALLEN: How about that one? All right. To Puerto Rico where many residents will start the New Year in the dark, 100 days since hurricane Maria struck the island and much of it still does not have electricity.

[03:45:05] ALLEN: CNN's Leyla Santiago, reports that's unlikely to change any time soon.


SANTIAGO: It's more than just the flip of a switch. Finally, a hint of what life was like before hurricane Maria. After more than three months without power, Aida is one of the lucky few who just got power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)

SANTIAGO: Hot water. I want to take a hot shower. That's what she's excited about, a hot shower. Yabucoa, in southeastern Puerto Rico now has a massive generator to power its substation.

It's enough to power part of the town, not a permanent solution, not enough to turn the lights back on for all 38,000 people. It's always been known for its agriculture.

Now it's over that area where hurricane Maria came in with a 155 mile per hour wind, knocking out electricity immediately. The mayor said he doesn't know when power will be restored.

So, he believes they were the first to deal with Maria and they could be the last. The Mayor Rafael Surillo was born and raised in these mountains near the coast. He calls Maria a monster that destroyed them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language) SANTIAGO: He's saying the urban area could get power very soon but this area -- the mountainous area, he says, it could be summer before they see it, which take note, summer is when the hurricane season begins.

Miles away from town high up in the mountains where the power lines are harder to fix, Cheryl De Jesus (ph) has little hope her home will be back to normal soon.

Maria rushed in through the windows and doors and it ruined more than furniture. It ruined her life. For now, new paint is all she can afford to fix any of it.

She has no idea when she'll get power back. But I still ask her. (Speaking Foreign Language). I'm asking her if she thinks it will be soon?


SANTIAGO: Without power, Cheryl (ph) and her children lost more than the lights. Without power they don't have water. The mayor says the problem, constant bureaucratic delays.

For a month they had power workers here but not enough materials to actually carry out the work. Mayor Surillo calls this a start. He says they need more generators, power poles, cables.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers admits a shortage of supplies stemming from other natural disasters is part of the reason why it took so long to get power back to people like Aida (ph). She doesn't have to wash clothes by hands anymore.

Back in town, Aida (ph) will spend time in a home overjoyed. Power is the best Christmas gift they could ask for, but for the families up in the mountains, the sun sets on another night as they wait for their gift to arrive. Leyla Santiago, CNN, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.


HOWELL: She has really shown us the relief by so many people, the frustration by others though still waiting for power. Leyla Santiago, thank you for the report. Still ahead, we take you to the box office for a sneak peek at movie releases for 2018. Stick around.


ALLEN: Well, Hollywood looking ahead to 2018 with a new crop of big budget science fiction, action and animated films.

HOWELL: As our Sara Sidner reports, many of the movies seem very familiar.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The movies in 2018 might sound a bit like the '90s. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will roar into theaters in June starring Chris Pratt and the snarky hero, and Jeff Goldblum reprises his role from the original Jurassic Park. The film enjoys a flurry of blockbusters spin-offs and sequels. The Star Wars franchise will release Solo this summer.

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: Can we even say the name of the movie? I'll see you next year.

SIDNER: That's director Ron Howard. The film is part of Disney's strategy to appease voracious Star Wars fans year after year. Marvell Studios will release a new Avengers film and the Black Panther will get his own spin-off.

LUPITA NYONG'O, ACTRESS: You get to decide what kind of team you are going to be.

SIDNER: Starring Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o, movie studios are going all in with sci-fi films in 2018. Like a wrinkle in time based on the young adults book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard a cry out in the universe.

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: We believe he is.

SIDNER: Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon make up this All-Star Ensemble. Only to be rivaled by the cast in Ocean Eight where a crime ring featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Rihanna try to steal Anne Hathaway's necklace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over $100 million.

ANNE HATHAWAY, ACTRESS: It's $150 million actually.

SIDNER: On the animation side, Disney Pixar will release The Incredibles 2 more than 13 years after the original.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have powers! Yes, baby.

SIDNER: You may have noticed Disney will roll into the new year with its name on some of the biggest money making franchises. Perhaps no surprise since Disney holds the top two highest grossing films of 2017 in the United States. Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. About a billion dollars combined. Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


ALLEN: All right. Sounds good to me.

HOWELL: Totally. Totally. All right. So if you're cool with cold weather, there is an art expo on display in China you've got to check out.

[03:50:04] ALLEN: Yes. It's packed with some unique creations all made of snow and ice except for the penguins. Here's Amara Walker with the story.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A dazzling 3d light show complete with polar bears, tigers and melting ice effects debuts in Harbin, China. The lights adorn a model of the Saint Sophia Cathedral made completely of snow.

This is the first time a 3d light show has launched at the 28-year-old international snow sculpture art expo known as a Global Leader of Snow Sculpture Art.

The main sculpture this year is shaped as a skier with angel wings atop a snow mountain anticipating the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

The annual exhibit is a main feature at the famous Harbin ice festival, luring curious sites from all to the globe to a series of enchanting winter activities, competition and glittering light shows. There are penguins that slide, Siberian tiger sightseeing and palaces fit for a snow king.

A wonder land saturated with rainbow colors sure to bewitch any adventure seeking traveler willing to brave the cold of the frosty months ahead. Amara Walker, CNN.


ALLEN: Well, thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. Early Start is next for viewers here in the United States. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers around the world, we'll be back with your world headlines. You are watching CNN.