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Colorado Police Officer Killed, Four Others Wounded. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 31, 2017 - 15:00   ET


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT:... Boris Sanchez in for Fredricka Whitfield. And we begin this hour with breaking news out of Colorado. A sheriff's deputy has been killed, four other law enforcement officers wounded after a gunman opened fire at an apartment complex in a Denver suburb.

Two nearby residents were also shot, and according to the sheriff's office, the suspect was shot and killed. A procession was held for fallen officer 29-year-old Zackari Parrish earlier today. He's survived by his wife and two young children. The Douglas County sheriff spoke about the death of Officer Parrish just last hour.


TONY SPURLOCK, DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF:I spent some time with his wife. I can't tell you how difficult it is for a leader to sit down with the spouse of an officer who was killed in the line of duty. They had many hopes and dreams. And he was doing his job and he was doing his job well. And his life was taken from us this morning.


SANCHEZ:CNN Scott McLean is there in Highlands Ranch. Scott, I think what really stands out about this is that Deputy Parrish had only been with the force for seven months before this tragedy happened.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:That's right. With this particular force for seven months, Boris, and then he was with another nearby force in Colorado for two years prior to that, so this was a relatively experienced deputy here, certainly not a new law enforcement officer. As you said, he leaves behind a wife and two very young children, which is the real tragedy in all of this.

You know, we've got a lot of new details in this press conference, but it still does not answer the question of why this all happened. We know the deputies were called out to this condo complex and very suburban Denver here on Highlands Ranch. It is a complex where there's two-storey walk-up, a series of them, maybe 15 or 20 of them.

And deputies arrived at one for some type of disturbance. When they got there, there were four in total, they were able to go inside, they were let in by one of the other men who was at that apartment, there were three in total, including the suspect. And then he at some point barricaded himself inside of a bedroom and

then at some point after that, he fired upon those deputies and that other police officer from Castle Rock one was killed, four were injured. We believe that at least one of those officers was released from the hospital, so three are still in there. We know that one was brought out of surgery.

But this went on for quite some time. As the sheriff describes it, this was a long period of time between when deputies first arrived and from when ultimately a regional task force was brought in to take out the suspect. And one other point, Boris, we know that the suspect had a gun, the gun was a rifle, but the sheriff didn't elaborate on what kind of rifle, but you have to imagine it was a high-powered one considering that he shot over 100 rounds just on his own, Boris.

SANCHEZ:A heartbreaking situation out of Highlands Ranch. Scott McLean, thank you so much for that reporting. Meantime, security is at an all-time high for New Year's Eve celebrations. And cities across the country, in Las Vegas, where there was a horrifying shooting just about three months ago, there is going to be police sniper set up on rooftops. Officials there even bringing in the National Guard.

Mean time in New York, barricades are up, officers are on patrol, also taking special precaution near Times Square. That's where we find CNN's Polo Sandoval right now. Polo, some unprecedented security efforts and precautions being taken for New Year's Eve this year.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT:Yes, you sort of touched there, Boris. The New York's police commissioners called the security measures in place today unprecedented. You're looking at really millions of people who are (inaudible) into Times Square and the crowds are only getting bigger. They have been coming in since early this morning, people from all over the world, who want to take part of this massive celebration, already getting ready, including two brothers, Austin and Cal. You're a local, you are not, and you are ready tonight. First, let's start -- let me start with you. You and the eyewear, getting ready for tonight.

CAL ADOMITIS:So, I just thought, you know, didn't want the eyes get a little cold, especially the wind coming down the street, just thought that'd be a good idea to keep my eyes from freezing, you know.

SANDOVAL:And you're also getting some tips and recommendations from your brother, Austin. This will be the -- and for your brother, it's his first time here for New Year's Eve. For you, this will be the second. You learned the last time when it was a mild, what, 50- something, not tonight though.

AUSTIN ADOMITIS:Yes, tonight is a little different story, with the wind chill down to one or something. I credit Cal with the eyewear, but I learned the first time how to get here, how to get in the right spot, you know, got the gloves and the hand warmers and we've got the view of the ball, so we're ready.

SANDOVAL:It's going to be a little while though. AUSTIN ADOMITIS:Oh, a little while but we can wait. We'll wait.

SANDOVAL:Austin and Cal, good luck tonight. Stay warm. Police recommending that people bring layers and a lot of patience. For me, it took a really long time just to get here. Each individual, Boris, is getting essentially wanted down by metal detectors here. Officials are taking a close look at each and every person who's making their way in here. No backpacks, no large bags, no coolers, no umbrellas. There are a lot of items that these folks are having to do without, including, of course, bathroom breaks. These folks are going to wait here until midnight and then finally make their way home, but it's going to be extremely cold, but officials here in New York saying, it be extremely safe as well.

SANCHEZ:A serious endurance effort there. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for reporting from Times Square for us. Stay warm.

To discuss these security measures and more, let's bring in CNN law enforcement contributor and retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Steve Moore and CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He is also a former Washington D.C. Police Chief, the former Commissioner Philadelphia Police. Thank you, both, for joining us.

Steve, to you, one of the biggest concerns this year is that we might see some kind of copycat-style attacks copying the methods used in the Las Vegas shooting in October where you had a sniper set himself up at an elevated position. Is there anything that security personnel can do to prevent that kind of attack?

STEVE MOORE, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT:Oh, there are lots that they can do when they are doing it. One of the things -- I went to sniper school, and one of the things they teach you in sniper school is how to hunt down and kill another sniper.

So, these national security events which have been designated this way for a decade or more, they've already had snipers on the roofs and things like that. Now, they're going to take it to the next level where they have sniper set up, not just for the areas in the venue but the buildings around the venue and you're going to have two men sniper-observer teams, probably dozens, and they are going to be able to pick out and they probably been there for a week memorizing their territory and sighting in. So, anybody who comes up shooting from one of those buildings is going to be engaged.

SANCHEZ:And Charles, when it comes to the Las Vegas trip, officials there are expecting some 300,000 visitors, there is going to be roughly 5,000 local and federal law enforcement officers on hand. That makes it out to be about one officer per person there. Is that enough from your perspective?

CHARLES RAMSEY, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST:Well, I mean they're taking extraordinary measures. You can't be everywhere at the same time and you have to remember, you have a large part of the city that has nothing to do with the celebration that's going on, you still have to respond to calls for service. So, yes, I think departments across the country have beefed up

personnel. There are a lot of things that you'll see. There are a lot of things that you wouldn't see, a lot of plainclothes officers, there'll be sensors in crowds to measure the atmosphere to make sure there's no radiological or biological contamination taking place. So, there is an awful lot going on in cities across America and I think it's the right thing to do, no question in my mind.

SANCHEZ:Now, Steve, I asked Charles this in the previous hour and I was interested in getting your take. There's often a conflict, right, between respecting people's privacy and ensuring public safety. So, when you have a special circumstance like New Year's Eve and law enforcement is trying to prevent somebody from using a hotel or high- rise as a launching pad for an attack, how do they strike that balance and how much is really in the hands of the hotel or the building to monitor the people that are there?

MOORE:Well, the hotel is going to have a lot to do with this. They are going to be working with law enforcement and security, all the hotels and venues around the area. And, you know, I would use the analogy with TSA. We've all given up a little bit of privacy to get on airliners. And so, the people in Times Square are going to give up a little bit of privacy. It's a different thing when you talk about hotel rooms obviously.

So, where that security is taking place is actually in the lobby with plainclothes police with detect -- metal detectors you might or might not see. You might not see them in the floors. And so, what they're doing is making sure that before you get to your room, you're not getting there lugging 10 or 20 rifles.

SANCHEZ:Yes. Charles, we're discussing the Las Vegas trip, Times Square, the so-called soft targets. Where else should people be on heightened alert if they're going to be celebrating out publicly?

RAMSEY:I mean everywhere. You know, if you see something strange, grab a police officer, call 911, give them the opportunity to check it out. One of the issues that you have when you're trying to plan for these big events, the more you harden one target, the more appealing other places begin to look because they're softer.

And so, we have to be vigilant throughout, and not just on New Year's Eve, the other 364 days of the year as well. And so, you know, security has been enhanced. Security will continue to be enhanced at all these large events to take place whether it's New Years, 4th of July or what have you. It's the world that we're in now. It's the security that we have to put in place in order to keep people safe. But people, if they want to come out and celebrate, they should come out and celebrate, just be vigilant and be aware.

SANCHEZ:Charles Ramsey and Steve Moore, gentlemen, thank you so much for the time. Hope you have a happy New Year.

MOORE:We'll do.

RAMSEY:Same to you. SANCHEZ:I know you've got the champagne and resolution ready, but

whatever your plans are for New Year's Eve, you should share with us at CNN ring in the New Year with the New Year's Eve's Special hosted by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. It all starts at 8 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN. And before we head to the break, I just wanted to share with you this. Dubai, United Arab Emirates celebrating the New Year with a spectacular fireworks show. New York City is going to show them what is up later tonight though. See you just after a quick break.


SANCHEZ:President Trump spending New Year's at what he calls the winter White House, Mar-a-Lago. And if you think Trump is solely focused on 2018, it seems like 2016 is still on his mind. The President going on a new tweet storm this morning targeting Hillary Clinton and other Democrats and looking to 2018 election races.

CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is live in West Palm Beach, you know, the President's vacation spot at Mar-a-Lago. Abby, how's the President spending the final day of the year?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:Hi, Boris. Well, the President have spent the morning getting quite a few briefings this morning on several issues both domestic and foreign about Colorado shooting and also the ongoing protest in Iran.

But he also started the morning by tweeting about Democrats talking a little bit about -- a little bit of a preview of some of the political arguments that you might be hearing from Republicans and from this White House in the New Year. He wrote, "Why would smart voters want to put Democrats in Congress in 2018 Election when their policies will totally kill the great wealth created during the months since the Election. People are much better off now not to mention ISIS, V.A., judges," referring to Federal judges, "strong border, 2nd A," for second amendment, "tax cuts and more?"

Boris, the President here is coming into the New Year really focused on that big midterm election that Republicans and Democrats agree it's going to be crucial. He's at his golf course today playing golf as he has been for the last six days or so, and he's also having lunch today with Florida Governor Rick Scott. He was someone who is a political ally of the President and is also a potential Florida Senate candidate in 2018. Republicans in the White House and outside of the White House have been urging him to run. Chances are the President's conversation with him today at his golf course is likely going to touch on some of these political topics including whether Scott is going to make a run for it in 2018.

SANCHEZ:Abby Phillip reporting from just outside Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach. Abby, thank you so much for that. Hope you have a happy 2018.

The White House is also trying to digest yet another bombshell report, detailing a key moment that may have helped launch the special probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign and Russia and a drunken conversation at a bar may have played a role.

The New York Times is reporting that former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos during a night of heavy drinking in May of 2016 told an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos has since pled guilty in the probe and is now cooperating with Robert Mueller's team. CNN's Kara Scannell is in Washington for us reporting on this. What is the fallout from this bombshell report, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT:Well, Boris, what this report tell us is it's another example of a contact between someone within the Trump campaign and Russians during the campaign, which alarmed U.S. intelligence officials. This detail about the drunken conversation with the Australian was not relayed to the U.S. until two months after it took place once the hacked emails became public.

But what this does tell U.S. officials is that, and at the time they told them that someone within the Trump campaign, at least the adviser, was aware that Russians had dirt on Clinton and, of course, the FBI was already aware of the hack, they had been following it and investigating it, but it provides -- it kind of raises more questions of, did Papadopoulos tell anyone else in the campaign about Russians having dirt and, you know, according to the New York Times, he did not relay that or they did not see any evidence that he had, but that's certainly a question that Robert Mueller has been asking him since he's been cooperating with the investigation. We should add that the White House has declined to comment saying that they will continue to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel's investigation, Boris.

SANCHEZ:Kara Scannell, thank you so much for that. Joining us now to discuss this and much more, Dave Jacobson. He's a CNN political commentator and a Democratic strategist. We also have GOP consultant John Thomas, and Jessica Levinson, she's a Clinical Professor of Law and Governance at Loyola University Law School.

Dave, let's start with you. George Papadopoulos has been described as ambitious, you know, during the campaign. He pitched several meetings between then candidate Trump and several world figures. If he was trying to make a name for himself during the campaign, is it really plausible that he have this information about the Democrats being hacked before it was public knowledge and kept it to himself and didn't tell anyone else on the campaign?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:Highly unlikely, and it's clear that this latest evidence shows that Donald Trump and his cronies who have been casting Papadopoulos as a coffee boy clearly is false.

And that is why you're seeing in poll after poll, Donald Trump's credibility being diminished. CNN put out a poll just weeks ago showing that 47 percent of Americans believed and approved of Mueller's handling of the Russian investigation and only 32 percent of Americans approved of the President's handling of the investigation. Moreover, a whopping 56 percent of Americans, according to that poll, say that Donald Trump has said things that are false as it relates to the investigation. SANCHEZ:John, one of the surprising aspects of this report from the

New York Times is that you had Australian diplomats approaching the FBI over this information that they had learned from Papadopoulos apparently that Russians had hacked American institutions, but no one on Trump's campaign approached the FBI.

JOHN THOMAS, GOP CONSULTANT:Well, I think it's -- what's surprising here is whether or not the FBI investigation was started because of that, you know, Clinton back dossier or this drunken conversation by an unpaid, low-level staffer in the Trump campaign, I mean it seems very thin that this was enough to launch the campaign.

I mean Papadopoulos is a guy, 29 years old, unpaid, I think he worked for Ben Carson's campaign for president for two months. The campaign manager says, he doesn't know what the guy did. He lied on his resume about interning at the Hudson Research Institute.

This guy -- it's just -- look, I do a lot of campaigns, Boris, and if I listen to every single intern and unpaid volunteer, you know, running their mouth, I would be doing nothing else in my day. And it's one of those things where you saw that Papadopoulos wanted to set up a meeting with the Russians and the Trump campaign even rebuffed and said, "We're not going to pay for that, we had no interest in this."

SANCHEZ:Well, John, it's interesting you say that because I have to push back. If this meeting in the U.K. with Australian diplomats happened in May and he had apparently learned about Russian hacking of the DNC in April, how is he just a low-level, nobody in the campaign to have that kind of information that might be able to help them?

THOMAS:It's a rumor mill. I mean we hear this all the time in campaigns. It seems like he had a meeting drunk in a bar. He met with a professor who claims that according to that New York Times' report who claims to be able to set up a meeting, the meeting was proposed to be with Putin's niece which turns out to be a lie. I think it's just rumor mills. And, Boris, in campaigns, rumors from low-level people especially swirl all the time.

SANCHEZ:Jessica ...

THOMAS:Well, Boris, if I could just jump in real quick, the fact of the matter is that same -- go ahead.

SANCHEZ:I just wanted to give Jessica a chance to chime in because she hasn't had one yet. Jessica, what do you make of his argument that it's the rumor mill versus, you know, George Papadopoulos who was just a coffee boy yet valuable information at the time that no one else did, how do you weigh those two?

JESSICA LEVINSON, CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE AT LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL:Yes, I mean, look, I know that it's helpful to use the words to describe him as coffee boy or volunteer or low-level employee, but the truth is in the evidence, and the evidence that has come out in this New York Times' report that looks to be very credibly sourced and the evidence that's continued to come out in other articles, and frankly, the fact that Robert Mueller has decided to use Papadopoulos, all point with specific concrete evidence to the fact that Papadopoulos is useful, and the idea that, as Dave said, that he would have this information and that he would be bragging about it in a drunken night in London and then not share it with the campaign. Frankly, it's a strange common sense. I mean there's a snowball's chance in hell, and then that's even greater than the idea that he didn't try and trump at the idea that he had this information.

So, whatever descriptors we try and use for him, the truth is, the emails indicate that he did have some sway over the campaign, he continue to have some sway over the campaign, he wanted a place in the White House, and this is part of the broader narrative that shows that there were connections, it doesn't mean that they're illegal connections, but it's very concrete evidence that there were connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

SANCHEZ:Now, I want you, all, to listen to Anthony Scaramucci. He sat down with Dana Bash this morning on State of the Union, had some interesting things to say. Listen.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:I think we've got to be very careful that people get intoxicated by power. Harry Truman once said that if you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. And my point about people taking the anti-friendship pill, I thought I had very strong alliances with people that, in fact, I did not have as a result of the fact that once they were in power, they were building borders to secure and protect their power.

I think that's very, very dangerous. I can tell you candidly that the President does not like that. The President likes a team-oriented collegial culture, that sort of inter-nest (ph) 00:04:31 and infighting which was taking place, I would say, through the period ending July 31, was something that he really didn't like, and he wanted to have, and frankly, I think I helped him put an end to that.


SANCHEZ:Dave, it sounds like Scaramucci is saying that he was betrayed by some of his former friends. Have you seen the White House in the past with this much of palace intrigue and divided sides with access to the President, duking it out for influence?

JACOBSON:We haven't seen it in modern times at least. I mean there is enormous chaos that goes on a regular basis in this White House. I know John is laughing over there. But there's no denying it. There had been more departures from the White House. I mean look at Scaramucci. He served a whopping 11 days in office. That's unprecedented. We've never seen ...

THOMAS:Because he shot himself at his own foot, Dave.

SANCHEZ:You'll have a chance to respond in a second...

JACOBSON:All I'm saying is there ... SANCHEZ:... let him finish. Go ahead.

JACOBSON:Yes. All I'm saying is there is incredible and enormous dysfunction in this White House unlike what we've ever seen before.

SANCHEZ:John, we have seen quite a few departures, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, the list goes on and on. I don't want to take up anymore time reading all the names. What do you make of kind of the first year of apparently chaos or at least turnover at the White House?

THOMAS:Well, it's not unusual for your average chief of staff to spend about a year there and switch, granted we've gone through a few. But remember, Trump came in here as a disruptor. So, with really not a lot of political allegiances, he didn't come in with an established longtime crew, so it's not unusual.

There has been infighting, but this happens in all White Houses. And in Mooch's case, I mean he got fired essentially because he thought he was off the record but he's exactly on the record with a reporter who burned him. The President had no choice but to fire him. Look, I -- there's been so much speculation about Rex Tillerson was gone and there's always -- it's just the fact is everybody likes covering this White House so we're paying attention to it, but this happens in every White House.

SANCHEZ:Jessica, does this happen at every White House?

LEVINSON:No, and I think it's really important to separate two things. One, John is right, there absolutely is always turnover in the White House. There is always a learning curve. I mean people have said, in a different branch of the government, in the Supreme Court, it took me three years before I even figured out what the job was.

So, certainly, let's acknowledge that it does happen that people change jobs in the White House, but let's not normalize the Trump administration. There are usual things that happen and then there's a level of dysfunction and lack of institutional knowledge and lack of experience that's happening in the Trump administration that is far and beyond what we should consider normal or accept as normal.

So, yes, turnover something that happens, let's not blame anyone for that, but let's do look at why that turnover is happening, when it's happening and whether or not there's any coherent policy message or politics that come out of the White House. Those are things that aren't happening.

SANCHEZ:And Jessica Levinson, John Thomas, Dave Jacobson, thank you, all, for joining us. Have a happy New Year's Eve and a successful 2018.

THOMAS:Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ:Thank you.

THOMAS:Thanks, Boris. SANCHEZ:More newsroom just ahead as many parts of the world are

already ringing in the New Year. Let's check out Sydney, Australia celebrations.


SANCHEZ:The political crisis in Iran is deepening as antigovernment demonstrators take to the streets for a fourth day.


SANCHEZ:Social media across that country is being choked off or shut down completely. The protests in numerous towns and cities across the country have also now turned deadly. CNN has learned that two antigovernment protesters were killed overnight and a local source tells CNN that at least five others were shot.

President Hassan Rouhani said in a prerecorded speech that protesters were being treated calmly but also warned that social disturbances were unacceptable. I want to bring in Majid Rafizadeh who is an Iranian-Syrian scholar and a columnist for the Harvard International Review. Sir, thank you so much for joining us. What stands out to you about these protests compared to previous unrest that we've seen in Iran like in 2009?

MAJID RAFIZADEH, IRANIAN-SYRIAN SCHOLAR AND COLUMNIST FOR THE HARVARD INTERNATIONAL REVIEW:That's a good question, Boris. You know, in 2009, I was actually in Iran when the Green Movement occurred. And people's demands were completely different from now. The demands then were about elections. They felt the elections were rigged and they wanted fair election. And their slogans were basically, "Where is my vote?"

But now, I see some people make analogy between Green Movement and this protest, but I think there is a big difference. What you see now in Iran is unprecedented. It's unique. And the reason I'm saying that is that the people are demanding regime change. They're going into the street and saying, "Death to Khamenei". They're going to the street and saying, "Death to Rouhani."

They are criticizing Iran foreign policy. So, they're not asking for reforms. They're asking for a change of the regime of their system. And I think this is very unprecedented. And also, you will hear people criticizing the foreign policy of the regime. People chanting, "Forget about Palestine, forget about Syria, think about us." So, there is the criticism of the foreign policy, of the system, of the economic mismanagement that the system has been carrying out. So, it's really deep and powerful protest.

SANCHEZ:Yes, people chanting death to Khamenei, death to the Ayatollah, tearing down billboards with the Ayatollah's face on them knowing that openly attacking the Ayatollah is a crime punishable by death. Do, you think we're watching the seeds of lasting change in Iran kind of being planted right now?

RAFIZADEH:I think this can I think provide the environment for a much, I think, bigger change in Iran. I think what you see people are completely fed up. When people go to the street, and as you mentioned, Boris, that this -- the penalty for saying death to Khamenei is death penalty in Iran. And when people are so fed up that they go to the street and chant death to Khamenei and death to Rouhani and others, I think they wanted change and without a change, they're not back home.

And I think what you've seen here is that there are two particular sectors, the youth which as you know, around 60 percent of the Iran population are under 30 years old. The youth are demanding jobs, they want freedom. And also, you'll find women also participating. We shouldn't forget about the women really playing exceptional role here.

So, I think what you're seeing is a deep frustration that if the regime does not handle and does not make fundamental changes, this can lead to what we saw in other Arab countries. It can be the next revolution in Iran. And the last thing I want to mention is that the Iran is not unfamiliar with revolution. There have been four revolutions in Iran in the last century. So, I think the regime should be very cautious about what's going in the streets.

SANCHEZ:Yes, it's interesting, you mentioned revolution, obviously, the last one in 1979 and people were revoking the name of Reza Shah, who was ousted from power. I do want to get to this though. Senator Lindsey Graham was on one of the Sunday morning talk shows and he said that he believes that a different Iran deal is needed today. Listen to what he said.


Lindsey Graham:Well, it tells us that the Obama approach of relieving sanctions, hoping the regime would moderate, has failed. The people are not getting the benefit of sanctions relief. They're more upset with their oppressors than ever. The money from sanction relief has gone into rebuilding the Iranian military, and they're destabilizing the Mideast. So, if I were President Trump, I would have a nationwide address pretty soon explaining why the Iranian nuclear deal is a bad deal for the world, what a better deal would look like, and urge Congress and the European allies to get a better deal with Iran before it's too late.


SANCHEZ:Correct me if I'm wrong, but the expectation for many Iranians was that after this nuclear deal went through that after sanctions were lifted, that Iran's economy would flourish, but that hasn't really happened. Do you think that the lifting of sanctions of the Iran deal has failed?

RAFIZADEH:You are absolutely correct. This is one of the main concerns in Iran. And their people are chanting and saying that they believe that Rouhani did not fulfill his promises. People are becoming more impoverished and they can't afford medicine, they can -- there is no job for young people.

So, they absolutely believe that the wealth, that billions of dollars of extra revenue that Iran has obtained from the sanctions really is going to the military. The budget that Rouhani has introduced which created a lot of TSA in Iran show that he increased the budget of the IRGC, the Revolutionary Guards and the military, why they cut subsidies for the people.

So, it has failed to provide benefits for that Iranian people. It might have helped the military of Iran. It had helped the Basij, militia in Iran and Iran proxies. And people are very angry that this money is going to Iran proxies, to Hezbollah, to Assad, but not to the Iranian people.

And also remember, this is also happening in cities that are bedrock of clerical rule like in Mashhad, in Qom. It's not only in Tehran, there is the working class, there is the middle class. Everybody is joining them. And the government response has been so far saying that they blamed the foreign forces or they blamed the opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and other players for creating this chaos. So, I think like you mentioned, it has failed, you clearly has failed to create economic benefits for the Iranian people.

SANCHEZ:Majid Rafizadeh, thank you so much for joining us and sharing perspective on what is a historic moment for Iran. We have much more ahead in the newsroom. And as we're counting down to New Year's to 2018, we're watching celebrations take place around the world. Check out Thailand, ringing in the New Year.


SANCHEZ:It's been more than 100 days since Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, knocking out power across the island. The government now saying that approximately 55 percent of the residents were able to receive electric power, have their service restored. Still, that leaves nearly half the island in the dark. CNN Leyla Santiago has more from San Juan.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT:It's more than just a flip of a switch, finally, a hint of life was like before Hurricane Maria. After more than three months without power, Ida is one of the lucky few who just got power.

IDA, VICTIM OF HURRICANE MARIA (through translator):Hot water, she's able to take a hot shower. That's what she's excited about, a hot shower.

SANTIAGO:Yabucoa in south eastern 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.

SANTIAGO:Yabucoa has always been known for its agriculture. Now, it's over that area, where Hurricane Maria came in with 155 mile per hour wind, knocking out electricity immediately. The mayor says 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. Mayor Rafael Surillo was born and raised in these mountains near the

coast. He calls Maria a monster that destroyed them.

SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (translating for Mayor Rafael Surillo):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.

SANTIAGO:Miles away from town, high up in the mountains where the power lines are harder to fix, Cheryl de Jesus 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.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Cheryl de Jesus):She has no idea when she'll get power back.

SANTIAGO:I'm asking her if she thinks it will be soon.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Cheryl de Jesus):No.

SANTIAGO:Without power, Cheryl and her children lost more than the lights.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Cheryl de Jesus):Without power, they don't have water.

SANTIAGO: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 it took so long to get power back to people like Ida.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Ida):She doesn't have to wash clothes by hand anymore.

SANTIAGO:Back in town, Ida will spend tonight in 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.


SANTIAGO: And Boris, we should know those two children you saw at the end of the story there, they actually have not had power since before Hurricane Irma, not just Maria. So, they are now 116 days without power. And I also wanted to actually note, on that number 55 percent of people who have power, who can get power, that means the authority is not taking into account that people who they can't get to because their homes have been destroyed, Boris.

SANCHEZ:Leyla, it's heartening to see people celebrating and playing salsa when they get their power back, but then you think there are so many that still lack basic needs and likely wouldn't get them until the spring or summer, that's harsh. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much. (Foreign Language).

We have much more ahead in the CNN Newsroom. But first, here's this week's edition of inspiring people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:What do you raise money for?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:It feels like -- I felt like such a bragging parent when I talk about him, but he's a really special, special kid. He really genuinely is happy when other people are happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Do you want me to put together a complete bag of toys for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:We were experiencing the devastating fires in Northern California and he starts to get very worried. "Mom, I'm worried about people who lost their homes." So, that clicked in him and he said, "I want to raise money for St. Anthony's Winter Shelter for when it gets cold." He said, "Because there's even more homeless people now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:I put it up on GoFundMe and there is a link to it then you donate. And the new grand total is $10,452. Mom and I (inaudible) shelter and more money to buy beds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:It's tremendously inspiring especially for someone so young to have that understanding that people need help. So, it speaks very well for our future. Do you feel like you're changing the world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Let's call that an even, 50/50.



SANCHEZ:While the President's national approval ratings are sitting at record lows, he still has strong support for many of those who make up his base. CNN's Gary Tuchman traveled to a Trump stronghold and file this report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):Dawson County, Georgia, is the heart of NASCAR country. It also happens to be one of the most Republican counties in a Republican state.

TURNER:Who did you vote for on Election Day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:President Trump. TUCHMAN (voice-over):In this Dawsonville poolroom restaurant where

every day they honor hometown NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, they also now honor President Donald Trump and his first year in office.

DALE CUMMINGS, TRUMP SUPPORTER:George Washington was the father of the country. Abraham Lincoln held it together. Ronald Reagan saved us from communism. And now, Donald Trump is going to save us from ourselves. He's going to build a strong economy.

SONNY SIMMONS, TRUMP SUPPORTER:He's done excellent as far as I'm concerned.

TUCHMAN (voice-over):Restaurant regular Sonny Simmons is like many people here in saying that good news about Donald Trump is getting swept under the rug.

TUCHMAN:What do you think that hasn't been reported that's been ignored?

SIMMONS:He has -- they asked him, sign, no telling how much legislation that never gets mentioned.

TUCHMAN:Well, then, you become a good point, Sonny, because he just said himself that he signed more legislation than any president since Harry Truman.


TUCHMAN:Well, here's the thing though, is that, objective people look at this and find out that he's actually signed less legislation than any president since Eisenhower. So, it's kind of the opposite. And the question is, why do you think ...

SIMMONS:How do you they figure that out?

TUCHMAN:Well, because it's easy. Just count them. That's pretty easy. And objective people count them and they say ...

SIMMONS:If it wasn't for that Democratic Senate we'd have some good stuff done.

TUCHMAN:But does it concern you when he kind of embellishes a little bit, when he kind of fibs?

SIMMONS:What? He kind of what?


SIMMONS:Doesn't bother me at all.

TUCHMAN:How come?

SIMMONS:Because every one of them is big liars.

TUCHMAN (voice-over):Many in the restaurants say the news media, Democrats and establishment Republicans have been working to keep the President down.

JOHN CARY, TRUMP SUPPORTER:I don't blame him for that though. In other words, he said what he could do. He's trying to do it, and like I say, politicians, you know how politicians are.

TUCHMAN:How come he doesn't get any responsibility for not being able to pull people together when he promised he would?

CARY:He's trying.

TUCHMAN (voice-over):For proof of that, many here point to the legislation the President just signed.

MARK WOODARD, TRUMP SUPPORTER:A poor man ain't going to create a job. You know, the rich people are what creates jobs.

TUCHMAN:So, you like this tax plan because of the benefit it gives corporations?

WOODARD:Yes. Oh, yes, definitely.

TUCHMAN:Do you think that will benefit a man like you?


TUCHMAN:How is that?

WOODARD:Well, it's just going to stimulate the economy. Everybody is going to be spending money. I mean, if they got money, you know, they're going to spend it.

TUCHMAN:So you have faith that these big corporations are going to take that tax savings and invest it in more workers and raise salaries?

WOODARD:Yes, I think so.

TUCHMAN (voice-over):And with 2018 now underway, here's advice for the president from his most loyal supporters.

MICHELLE EVERETT, TRUMP SUPPORTER:He could probably do better with his public relations.

TUCHMAN:But what would you advise him if you were his public relations expert?

EVERETT:Not to tweet.

TUCHMAN:If you can be talking to the President, what would you say he should be doing?

SIMMONS:I would tell him, whatever you want to.

TUCHMAN:One check with you.

SIMMONS:Yes. Whatever you want to do, you're the boss now. TUCHMAN (voice-over):Gary Tuchman, CNN, Dawsonville, Georgia.


SANCHEZ:Gary, thank you so much for that. And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right after a quick break. Happy New Year. Play safe, don't do anything I wouldn't do. Happy New Year.