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U.S. Government Has Dire Warnings about Climate Change; Murdered Journalist's Daughters Honor Their Father in Op-Ed; President's Call to U.S. Troops Turns Political; Conservative Writer in Plea Talks with Special Counsel; Spanish Prime Minister Warns E.U. Brexit Summit May not Happen; Chief Justice Speaks Out against Trump Remark; U.S. Says Kidnapped Journalist Austin Tice is Still Alive; South Sudanese Man Defends Child Bride Purchase; Stores Help Fire Survivors on Black Friday. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired November 24, 2018 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A dire warning: how a new U.S. government report contradicts President Trump's news on climate change and what you need to know about it.

The Russia investigation: is another controversial figure possibly ready to flip and help Robert Mueller investigate the Trump campaign?

Who he is and what he could know about the Russians.

And Black Friday: it's all about the deals and the blockbuster sales but you'll hear from one girl who used this shopping day to try and recover after losing everything in the California wildfires.

All these stories ahead here on CNN. Hello, everyone. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. Thanks for joining us.

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ALLEN: Our top story: a U.S. government report is full of bleak new warnings about climate change. And if drastic changes aren't made, it could cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars before the end of the century. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam checked it out.

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DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: For this analysis written by over 300 scientists is going to only contribute to the overwhelming evidence that global warming is happening, it is human caused.

ALLEN (voice-over): The report released by the White House directly contradicts the president's own words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does seeing this devastation change your opinion at all on climate change, Mr. President?

TRUMP: No. No. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate. We're going to have that and we're going to have forests that are very safe.

ALLEN (voice-over): The governor of fire-ravaged California, however, agrees more needs to be done.

JERRY BROWN (D), GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: But managing all the forests in everywhere we can does not stop climate change. And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies.

ALLEN (voice-over): According to the report, rising sea levels and storm surges threaten $1 trillion worth of real estate. Farmers will lose crops to droughts in some places and flooding in others.

Experts are also expecting worse allergies and an increase in tick- borne and foodborne diseases in the coming decades. While the report makes no specific recommendations on how to fix the problems, it does make clear the cause.

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ALLEN: Let's talk more about it now. Derek joins me.

It's hard to kind of just bear down on this report because it was massive.

VAN DAM: A thousand pages at least and -- but now that we've seen it, we've gotten to sink our teeth into it, we're finding out that this is one of the most meticulous, authoritative and comprehensive outlines of how climate change is threatening the United States, specifically our health, our well-being, the quality of our agriculture and food production going forward, the availability of fresh water, for instance, and even our economic growth going forward.

We'll talk about the details in the allotted time we have. The big, bold headlines at the top of the report, the Earth's climate is changing faster than at any point in history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activity, which, of course, is the burning of fossil fuels.

So this report broke it down regionally, even hyperlocally, talked about the extreme events tied to temperature warming, wildfires, degradation of air quality, even the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses thanks to a changing climate. This thing was comprehensive and here are some of the specifics, talking about agricultural losses in the Midwestern U.S.

Midwest farms will produce less than 75 percent of today's corn yields, right?

Think about that, staple diet. The region could lose 25 percent of soybean yields. Let's talk about wildfires. They could burn up to six times more forest area by 2050 than they do now. We already know this year we've burned over 8 million square acres across the Western U.S. from forest fires. That is going to double by 2050 over the Western U.S.

Major impacts across the U.S. and throughout the world, we've seen temperatures rising 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If emissions drop to zero, we still have a trajectory that will take us forward by another half a degree of warming at least.

ALLEN: All you have to do is make the choice away from burning fossil fuels, which is something this country hasn't done at scale.

VAN DAM: Right.

ALLEN: What is the single biggest takeaway for our viewers, do you think?

VAN DAM: Probably that this is harder and harder to be a skeptic these days. The mounting evidence that continues --

[04:05:00]

VAN DAM: -- to pile up. The thing that it did say in this report is that the future of these impacts are still within our own hands. We have the ability to change the outcome but we have to have grassroots efforts starting at home.

You and I could drive electric vehicles, for instance; we could put solar panels on our roofs as well. People will start to notice the economic impacts of that and make choices. It starts from home and we have that cascading effect throughout the culture and it spreads throughout the country.

ALLEN: Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Appreciate that.

ALLEN: One of the lead authors of the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, joins us now. She is also an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.

Thank you for joining us.

KATHARINE HAYHOE, TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me.

ALLEN: Well, this report issued by the U.S. Congress and released by the White House follows a 2014 Congress ordered report on climate change and that report made predictions. And it seems some of those came true, as indicated in this report that was just released.

Can you speak to that first?

HAYHOE: As climate scientists we look at both what's happened in the past and what we expect to see happening in the future. But today it seems like the future is happening almost overnight. Changes that we expected to see a decade or two or three or more from now, we're seeing already and not at the end of the planet but right here in our own backyards. ALLEN: Right. This talks about how it's encompassing the entire country. It doesn't just address, you know, sea level rise that will affect the coast, it encompasses the Midwest, the Northeast.

Can you speak to that?

HAYHOE: The reason why we care about a changing climate is because it takes the risks that we already face naturally in the places where we live and it exacerbates or amplifies them.

So if we do live in Florida or along the Gulf Coast, then we care a lot about coastal flooding, which is getting worse due to sea level rise, as well as stronger hurricanes with a lot more rain associated with them.

If we live in the western U.S. we care about wildfires. Wildfires are a natural part of life but, as it's been getting hotter and dryer, they're burning greater and greater area. As this report lays out, about twice as much area now is being burned than if we didn't have a changing climate.

In the Midwest and Northeast, we're seeing major increases in heavy precipitation, which, of course, has all kinds of impacts on our infrastructure, on our insurance costs, on our agriculture.

We're seeing invasive species moving north and all kinds of impacts on our health and our air quality. Wherever we live today, we are being affected by a changing climate today.

ALLEN: Today. And it also gives an economic calculation that the cost of doing nothing will be an enormous blow to the U.S. economy.

How so?

HAYHOE: Hundreds of billions of dollars a year before the end of the century if we continue on our current pathway, an amount that is equivalent to the GDP of multiple states.

But when we look around the world, we see other countries who will see even more devastating impacts. A key aspect of climate change is that it disproportionately affects those who are already vulnerable today.

It exacerbates poverty, hunger, lack of access or resources. So if we continue on our current pathway, many of the world's poorest countries could see drops in their entire national GDP of 20 percent to 25 percent or more.

Compare that to the cost of meeting the Paris agreement. It's just a small fraction of global GDP. It really is worth it to take action now. As our grandparents told us, a stitch in time saves nine.

ALLEN: Let's address the elephant in the room. President Trump will not acknowledge climate change and he has rolled back environmental protections. He says that will save money. But according to this report and global experts, if we innovate now and invest now to thwart these conditions, our air cleans up, our country is resilient and we lessen the impact and will even improve the economy.

So how in the world do we address this if President Trump is not on board?

HAYHOE: I think it's really important to talk about the economic impacts but also the economic benefits. This report doesn't talk so much about those. But we know just from looking around the world that China and India are investing huge amounts. China's investing hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy.

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ALLEN: -- China is putting more electric cars on the streets now; it's a huge goal to do that by 2020.

HAYHOE: Exactly. Even here in Texas, we have over 25,000 jobs in the wind energy industry. Across the whole U.S. there's more jobs in solar power than there is from power generated from all fossil fuels put together.

We really are living in changing times. The world is changing. And we have two choices, we can keep on investing in horses and buggies when Henry Ford is already producing the Model T --

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HAYHOE: -- Ford, essentially. Or we can say, no, there's a different way to get around today. Today, there's a different way to get our energy and we really can move into the future together.

ALLEN: And can cities and states and businesses innovate and prepare, even if the U.S. president isn't on board?

HAYHOE: They already are. And, in fact, this report does lay out some ways that many people -- cities, states, regions -- are already preparing to build resilience to a changing climate. But the report also concludes that it isn't enough yet.

We are still in movement across the U.S. has 40 percent of emissions in terms of the cities, the states, the organizations, tribal nations, even seminaries involved and we're still in on Paris.

But as this report lays out, we're moving in the right direction; we just need more in order to avoid the serious and really dangerous impacts of climate change that are still coming down the line.

ALLEN: So can we get there without the administration giving dollars to innovation in this area?

HAYHOE: We are already moving in the right direction but we really do need everybody on board. When cities, states, regions, businesses like Apple and Walmart going all in on clean energy, when we're moving in one direction and when the federal administration is moving in the exact opposite direction, it's like a tug of war. We need to be moving in the same direction together.

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ALLEN: Again, Katharine Hayhoe there, a lead author of the U.S. climate change report that just came out and released by the White House.

Other news we're following, the daughters of Jamal Khashoggi are speaking out about their father. "The Washington Post" contributor was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

In an essay for the newspaper, his daughters say he always thought of Saudi Arabia as his home.

They wrote, in part, "He also told us about the day he left Saudi Arabia, standing outside his doorstep, wondering if he would ever return. For a while, Dad had created a new life for himself in the United States. He grieved for the home he had left.

"Throughout all his trials and travels, he never abandoned hope for his country, because, in truth, Dad was no dissident. If being a writer was ingrained in his identity, being a Saudi was part of that same grain."

U.S. officials tell CNN the CIA has high confidence the Saudi crown prince personally ordered Khashoggi's killing. Saudi officials deny that.

Meantime, the U.S. House plans to look into the Khashoggi murder. Democrats, who are about to take control of the House of Representatives, say they're going to investigate U.S. intelligence assessments and President Trump's reaction to Khashoggi's murder. For more about that, here's CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House could be contending with another investigation, this time over President Trump's cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia.

TRUMP: I will say very strongly that it's a very important ally and if we go by a certain standard, we won't be able to have allies with almost any country.

ZELENY (voice-over): After the president contradicted the CIA's assessment that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of "The Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi...

TRUMP: They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways but they didn't have the report and you can ask -- they have not concluded. Nobody's concluded. I don't know if anyone's going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did it.

ZELENY (voice-over): -- Congressman Adam Schiff, incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is now promising a deep dive, telling "The Washington Post," "We will certainly want to examine what the intelligence community knows about the murder." The president is drawing new fire for repeatedly siding with Saudi

leaders over the U.S. intelligence community.

TRUMP: I hate the crime. I hate what's done. I hate the coverup and, I will tell you this, the crown prince hates it more than I do.

ZELENY (voice-over): Schiff said Democrats, after taking control of Congress in January, will explore any potential financial conflicts of interest between Trump and the Saudi kingdom.

At the White House this week, the president denying any such ties.

TRUMP: I don't make deals with Saudi Arabia. I don't have money from Saudi Arabia. I have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia. I couldn't care less.

ZELENY (voice-over): As the president spends the Thanksgiving holiday at his resort and golf course in Florida, he's fixated on immigration, tweeting today, "Republicans and Democrats must come together, finally, with a major Border Security package, which will include funding for the Wall."

The president even threatening to close the border with Mexico.

TRUMP: If we find that it's -- it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean the entire border -- ?

TRUMP: The whole thing. I mean the whole border.

ZELENY (voice-over): Immigration was only one of several issues the president touched on during a Thanksgiving Day call with troops, meant to show support but instead turning highly political and at times --

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ZELENY (voice-over): -- bizarre.

TRUMP: Large numbers of people are forming at our border and I don't even have to ask you, I know what you want to do. You want to make sure you know who we're letting in. We're not letting in essentially anybody because we want to be very, very careful. You're right, you're doing it over there, we're doing it over here.

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ZELENY (voice-over): He overstated the urgency of caravan immigrants heading to the U.S.

TRUMP: We have fencing and walls like very few people have. We've been able to do it rather quickly. Cozentina (sic) wire, cozentina (sic) wire and so many other things are there now that they didn't have. ZELENY (voice-over): That concertina wire strung by soldiers at the border illustrating the president's fixation on immigration. He also used the call to rail against some federal judges.

TRUMP: We get a lot of bad court decisions from the 9th Circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side.

ZELENY (voice-over): After spending Thanksgiving with his family at Mar-a-lago, the president was asked what he's thankful for.

His answer: himself.

TRUMP: I've made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn't believe it.

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ALLEN: Jeff Zeleny there reporting.

Another plea deal may be in the works as a result of the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. It involves this man, Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer and associate of long-time Trump ally, Roger Stone.

Corsi says he's in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller and expects to be indicted for lying. For more now, here's CNN's Alex Marquardt.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fact that Jerome Corsi is working on a plea deal is a possible sign that Robert Mueller and his team think Corsi has something quite significant to share. It is a big development that could give the Russia probe a crucial missing link in the investigation into collusion with Russia, specifically leaking WikiLeaks and the hacked Democratic e-mails that they dumped to the Trump campaign.

Corsi has not said anything more about his plea negotiations so we don't know where those talks stand. But this does come after Corsi himself said just last week that he expected to be indicted by Mueller for allegedly lying. Take a listen.

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JEROME CORSI, AUTHOR, "THE OBAMA NATION": The entire negotiations and discussions have just blown up. And now I fully anticipate that, in the next few days, I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other -- grand jury or however they want to do the indictment. But I'm going to be criminally charged.

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MARQUARDT: Now many people may not have heard of Corsi but the special counsel's office is very interested in him because of his friendship with Roger Stone and his possible role as an intermediary to WikiLeaks, which, of course, released the hacked emails of the DNC and then Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in the leadup to the 2016 election.

Corsi claims he came up with what he called a "prediction" that Podesta's e-mails would be hacked and released right before the election. That theory, he said, he shared with Roger Stone, who then tweeted something to that effect.

And that prediction turned out to be true. Corsi denies he has any ties to or any sources inside WikiLeaks. Roger Stone has also responded to news of this plea deal on the radio and denied that Corsi told him the Podesta e-mails would be stolen and then published.

ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: I'm unaware of any plea bargaining. I have no idea what this is about, other than to say that the assertion that Jerry Corsi knew in advance that John Podesta's e- mails had been obtained and would be published would be news to me. This idea that Jerry Corsi could implicate me, there's simply no evidence whatsoever.

MARQUARDT: Stone also said in that interview that Corsi is under a tremendous amount of pressure, as he put it, and is being asked over and over by the special counsel's office to say things he does not believe occurred -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Britain's prime minister heads to Brussels to put the final touches on the Brexit agreement. Coming up here, why the landmark deal could unravel over the tiny British outpost of Gibraltar.

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ALLEN: British prime minister Theresa May arrives in Brussels in the coming hours to attend an E.U. summit to approve the Brexit deal. But now there's a question on whether the meeting will even go ahead.

Spain's prime minister has snubbed the draft agreement, saying it doesn't recognize Madrid's role in future negotiations over Gibraltar. He said, if that dispute is not resolved, there will be no Sunday summit.

Let's talk more about this with CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas.

Dominic, thanks for joining us. We are one day away from a critical European Union summit on the Brexit deal, where we will learn if all 27 E.U. leaders will sign off on it but enter a new problem: Spain and the last-minute controversy over Gibraltar.

What's that about?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. If this is any indication of where things will stand, should the Brexit deal actually go through in March of 2019, we can see that it's going to be a very long transition period if individual countries start to air their particular grievances with the agreement.

In this particular instance, the Spanish prime minister is upset because the political declaration and the document, the agreement that they have signed that they are working on, does not specifically mention that, in future negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union over Gibraltar, that Spain would be at the table.

And the Spanish prime minister is insisting on that. He's insisting on that for a number of reasons. And as things currently stand, many people living in the border region with Gibraltar cross that and enter into what is, of course, the European Union.

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THOMAS: Should the U.K. leave the E.U., then, of course, the border situation will be different and Theresa May has been quite explicit in saying that E.U. citizens that previously were able to enter are going to have to, quote, "queue up" and demonstrate the skills-based litmus test to see whether or not they can come in.

Given the fact that there are regional elections coming up in this region, the Spanish prime minister is all the more eager to address these domestic issues and show that he's being tough on this particular issue.

ALLEN: So he says he will not even show up at the summit unless the issue is resolved.

Would Spain, Dominic, really want that on its shoulders?

THOMAS: It's really quite extraordinary because, of course, going back all the way to 1986, when Spain going the European Union, one of the particular clauses it had to sign off on was to agree to the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

It really is a no-go situation. I think that, in this particular instance, it points to the broader issue, which is that individual countries are going to be airing their particular grievances. But I think it's really a domestic political issue here, where he wants to show the Spanish people that he's going to be tough as we go into this.

But there is a real opportunity here, that he will derail this opportunity for the E.U. to show that it is a united group of 27 that is about to enter into some very serious negotiations with the United Kingdom. And that would be a problem. ALLEN: And Theresa May, the prime minister, has had something to say about that. Let's listen to her latest comments right now.

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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think that if this deal doesn't go through, what happens is we end up back at square one. I think, as Sarah's just said, what we end up with is more uncertainty and more division, frankly.

And so, I believe that, if we were do go back to the European Union and say, well, we didn't -- people like that deal.

Can we have another one?

We won't get -- I don't think they're going to come to us say we'll give you a better deal.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ALLEN: Dominic, Spain aside for a moment, does she have the backing from E.U. leaders?

THOMAS: Well, I think the position is -- and I think this fits in very nicely with our discussion around Spain and Gibraltar -- is that the E.U.'s position at this stage, they will be trying to enlist the Spanish prime minister in this, is that the best thing they can do is let Theresa May take this deal back to the United Kingdom because until she can get this through the British Parliament, there's no point further discussing this.

And the likelihood of that is not very good. There is extraordinary divisiveness over this issue within political parties, within the opposition and, of course, across party lines.

So the European Union, I think, would like to get this off its desk, focus on more important issues it has within the E.U. region, particularly upcoming elections in May next year, and let Theresa May see what she can do across the United Kingdom because, until that goes through Parliament, until Parliament has a meaningful vote on this issue, there really is no point in the E.U. discussing this further. And that's the crossroads we're it's at.

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ALLEN: Our thanks to Dominic, European affairs commentator, in our Los Angeles bureau.

As the details of Brexit become clear, some in Britain are having buyer's remorse over the 2016 referendum. But Prime Minister Theresa May says there's no going back and there will be no second referendum, as you just heard.

Some anti-Brexiteers are making a humorous statement on the troubles they see coming. A convenience store in South London, they call it an inconvenience store, is decked out with items like Brexit beef and "I can't believe the price of this butter." The shelves in the pharmacy were bare, highlighting the fear that some medicine may be in short supply after Brexit.

A new climate report published by the U.S. government tells a desperate story. Global warming is going to get worse and its effects will be felt far and wide. More about it coming up.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and all around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.

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ALLEN: Back to our top story this hour. Dire new warnings about the effects of climate change on human health and the health of the American economy.

A U.S. government report suggests drastic action is needed to cut fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions to save thousands of lives. But the report conflicts with President Trump's skepticism about the changing climate. For more now, here's Rene Marsh.

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RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well if you weren't paying attention to the climate change issue, this report could change that; it is frightening and screams serious action has to be taken now.

It is the work of federal agencies and the scientific community and the report makes it clear that we are already experiencing the dangerous effects of climate change.

It states that wildfire season is long now but will only get longer, burning six times more forest area per year by the year 2050; more people will be exposed to ticks that carry Lyme disease; and mosquitoes that transmits viruses such as Zika, West Nile and Dengue; allergy season will be a lot worse; higher temperatures will also kill more people, it specifically looks at the Midwest.

The Midwest is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature and according to the report it will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by the year 2090; oh, and the cost that's going to be a big one as well, the cost of climate change, according to the report, could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

And by mid-century it says -- [04:35:00]

MARSH: -- it is very likely that the Arctic will be nearly free of sea ice in late summer.

We should point out this was a congressionally mandated report. It was released by the Trump administration, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, when people were distracted and families are shopping and the release time really sparking controversy and speculation that it is being buried on a day when few people will be paying attention.

The report also came one day after the president tweeted -- and I'm quoting -- "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS. Whatever happened to Global Warming?"

That tweet illustrates Trump's continued skepticism when it comes to climate change and it directly contradicts the findings in this government report.

The tweet also illustrates the president's lack of understanding on the issue, as we know climate change is best exemplified by the consistent rise in temperatures, year after year, not extreme weather over a one-day period -- Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Political analyst Michael Genovese is with us. He's the author of "How Trump Governs."

Michael, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.

ALLEN: Let's discuss this government report just issued Friday about dire warnings of climate change and a president, Mr. Trump, who won't even acknowledge climate change.

What do you think about it?

It's bizarre.

GENOVESE: Well, it's congressionally mandated that this report come out and the president released it at a time when it could be all but buried under the avalanche of holiday travels.

It is something that his administration put out. It contains overwhelming evidence. It's inconvertible facts. The president rejects those facts. The president doesn't believe there is climate change. And so he rejects it's living in what is called his world of alternative facts.

And I think it would be an illusion to believe the president would change his mind based on this report. He lives in his own reality, a reality in which he finds comfort. It's a world where Russians have not interfered with American elections; a world where MBS and the Saudis did not order the murder and dismember a journalist living in the United States; a world where climate change is a Chinese hoax.

It's Donald Trump's world and it's a world that isn't always strongly connected to the reality that most people see on the ground.

ALLEN: But this is a congressional report released by the White House.

Will anyone from Congress speak up against this president not looking at this issue and taking some action?

GENOVESE: Well, in about a month, the Democrats will take control of the House. They will use this as ammunition. They believe, obviously, that it's an issue that not only is important globally but it's important politically for them as well. They'll use this report to beat the president over the head a few times.

ALLEN: We'll see what happens there. As you say, you don't think he's going to change even after this report.

I want to look at another issue now, Michael, that's emerging with this president. His fight with the judicial system, particularly the 9th Circuit when it does not rule in his favor. The chief justice of the U.S. spoke about that. We'll get to that in a minute.

But now the president is asking the Supreme Court to expedite cases to go around lower courts. On Friday, for example, he included a case regarding his attempt to block transgenders from serving in the military.

What do you make of what he's doing with the courts or trying to?

GENOVESE: Well, I think it's instructive that the military is also opposed to the president's position. They think that it's important that, for morale, that transgenders remain in the military, that they've served honorably.

The president, I think, believes that he's playing a losing hand. District courts and appeals courts may turn against him. I think he feels the one place where he has a fighting chance is in the Supreme Court, where he's appointed two members, where there's a solid Republican and conservative majority.

So I think the president is basically, because he's playing a losing hand, is a little bit desperate and is trying to go around the normal procedures. He's doing this to feed the passion of his base.

ALLEN: The chief justice of the U.S., John Roberts, publicly rebuked the president this week, saying we don't have Obama justices or Bush justices or Trump justices. The U.S. president hit back. Here's his tweet here.

"Justice Roberts can say what he wants but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster. It's out of control, has a horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, " he went on and on.

First of all, why do you think John Roberts took the unusual step to go public on this and say something about President Trump's stance?

GENOVESE: Well, it is highly unusual, because justices cannot get into the political fray. But I think, number one --

[04:40:00]

GENOVESE: -- presidents think that the justices they appoint are my justices, that they value loyalty over independence. But I think Justice Roberts is trying to play that fine line where he's trying to protect the very fragile authority that the courts have in the face of a president who's determined, through tweets and otherwise, to really push the envelope, to try to get them -- almost to beat them into submission.

And so if the courts are overtly political or are seen as overtly political, they undermine their authority. So Justice Roberts is trying to protect something that's fragile and that can easily be broken. So he's trying to walk a fine line here.

ALLEN: We'll have to wait and see how far this goes with the president's somewhat war on the judicial system. We appreciate your comments as always. Michael Genovese, thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

ALLEN: The details were shared on Facebook: a child bride sold. The husband defends the practice despite international outcry. We'll have the newest developments next.

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ALLEN: Welcome back.

The Trump administration has announced it believes an American journalist captured in Syria in 2012 is still alive. But as Barbara Starr reports, apart from that, the government is providing few other details.

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BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Six years after Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former Marine was kidnapped in Syria, the Trump administration publicly says tights is alive.

ROBERT O'BRIEN, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES: I want to make it very clear that the United States government believes that Austin Tice is alive. We're deeply concerned about his well-being after six years of captivity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar!

STARR: It's an extraordinary high-profile move by the White House to openly talk about a hostage who hasn't been seen since this video with his captors emerged five weeks after his disappearance in 2012.

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AUSTIN TICE, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus.

STARR: Tice had gone to Syria to photograph and report what was happening to ordinary Syrians as the conflict heated up. Journalists were in increasing danger.

TICE: You're just talking street fighting, you know, Molotov cocktails, any weapon you can basically imagine in an urban street fighting environment. It was pretty exciting but I was able to get some pretty good shots that way and tell a pretty good story afterwards that I think otherwise you know, never would have gotten told.

STARR: He was coming home for a final year of law school. In August 2012, he was south of Damascus planning to drive to Lebanon when he'd vanished before reaching the border.

O'BRIEN: We believe that he's being held captive in Syria. I don't want to get into anything further on that front either. I'm sorry.

STARR: But it's raising a crucial question, is there real progress in bringing him home.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: An American official doesn't come out and say that a hostage is alive unless they have really good intelligence. They know he's alive otherwise, they wouldn't go public.

STARR: CNN has previously reported Tice is believed to be in the custody of the Syrian regime even though it has denied it. His parents Debra and Marc say after several trips they will try to travel yet again to Syria.

MARC TICE, FATHER OF AUSTIN TICE: Each time we go we apply for a visa to enter Syria to get as close to Austin as we possibly can and to try to reach out to those holding him captive. We continue our relentless effort to find the key that will open the door for Austin's freedom.

STARR: The administration says it's spoken to Austin Tice's parents several times to brief them about the latest on his situation and, of course, Syria became such a dangerous place for journalists, especially freelance journalists working on their own like Austin Tice trying to bring that story out to the world -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

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ALLEN: The sale of a child bride in South Sudan sparked an international outcry after reports of the auction for her was shared on Facebook. But the man who married the girl said that's not the case. We learn more from our Farai Sevenzo in Nairobi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After much concern over social media about the fate of Nyalong Ngong Deng, the young south Sudanese girl who was married by a businessman from South Sudan who paid 500 head of cattle, three cars and $10,000 in cash for her hand in marriage.

The story came full circle again today when we spoke to the husband who won her hand in marriage beating four other suitors. Her husband flatly denied that this had been an auction. He told CNN that if there had been an auction, everybody would have been allowed to bid. He strongly defended what he called Dinka culture, Dinka ceremonies allow for negotiation of a bride's prize, of a dowry and he said everything had been done in the correct way.

When pressed again at what age Nyalong was when he married her, he flatly refused to acknowledge either way of what age she was. He felt very put on and hard done by the media and saying that they portrayed his culture in a very negative light.

Now, what is at the center of this entire story is what age young girls are getting married at. Remember, UNICEF in the 2017 November figures said 52 percent of the young girls getting married in South Sudan were under age, that is below the age of 18 and that is at the core of this entire story.

It hits right in the middle of Africa's modernity and what they do about their cultures which have not caught up yet to the rights of the child or indeed, the rights of women -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.

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ALLEN: More to what Farai just said, we want to add that child marriages in South Sudan, certainly nothing new. According to UNICEF, 52 percent of girls in South Sudan are married before they turn 18; 9 percent are married by 15 and the highest levels of child marriage are found in Africa.

Survivors of California's wildfires are slowly getting back on their feet and many businesses in the area are helping out. Next, we'll tell you how stores on Black Friday offered fire survivors much needed relief.

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ALLEN: It has been two weeks since California's deadliest wildfire ignited, killing 84 people. The historic fire is now 95 percent contained but the list of people who remain unaccounted for is still high; at least 475 names are currently on that list. More than 13,000 homes were destroyed. Many survivors, of course, lost everything. So on Black Friday, several stores offered help. Lemor Abrams from affiliate KOVR has that story.

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LEMOR ABRAMS, KOVR (voice-over): As shoppers descended upon the Roseville Galleria, we spotted Lily Higby looking for discounts in her pajamas. But it wasn't because she was waiting in a Black Friday line all night.

LILY HIGBY, CAMP FIRE VICTIM: I'm from the Camp Fire in Paradise. So I'm just trying to like get some deals.

ABRAMS (voice-over): And she wasn't the only evacuee here.

CAMILLE ROACH, MACY'S STORE MANAGER: We have seen a lot of our customers affected by the Camp Fire.

ABRAMS (voice-over): Camille Roach is a manager at Macy's where they're giving away so-called disaster assistance vouchers.

ROACH: Which ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent back for those that were affected by the fire.

REBECCA COLLINS, SHOPPER: Sure, yes, we'll do that for sure, definitely.

ABRAMS (voice-over): Rebecca Collins decided to spend the day shopping for a family that lost everything in Paradise. They're staying with her through the holidays so she thought she'd help them restock their closets.

COLLINS: They just came with the clothes on their back and that's it.

ABRAMS (voice-over): Black Friday may not be for everyone on Thanksgiving, but with deals so good, it's a chance for some to give back and an attempt for others to get life back to normal.

Did you see anything good?

HIGBY: Yes, I saw a lot of stuff at Apple.

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ALLEN: While that report focused on the big box stores --

[04:55:00]

ALLEN: -- most Americans kicked off their holiday shopping online and it isn't over. We're still waiting on the final numbers but here's a look at what was anticipated. According to Adobe Analytics, Americans were expected to spend nearly $4 billion at online retailers on Thanksgiving Day; on Black Friday the number was expected to jump up to $6 billion and this is all before Cyber Monday, when nearly $8 billion could be spent. Another interesting tidbit: more people are shopping from their

phones.

And what are they buying?

For gamers, the Nintendo Switch, the top tech gifts include laptops, Chromecast streaming devices and drones. This year kids are going crazy for the Fingerlings Hugs and the LOL Surprise. That sounds cool.

And if you want to go local, Saturday is considered Small Business Saturday. It's always a good excuse to put down the phone, leave the house and support your local businesses.

This just in to CNN, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning to move to Windsor as they prepare for the arrival of their first child. Prince Harry and Meghan will live at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate. They've been living within the grounds of Kensington Palace in London since their engagement last year.

Next, back to our top story. A dire warning from the U.S. government over climate change. We'll look at the report and the politics ahead as CNN NEWSROOM continues. See you in a minute.