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Macron Announces Concessions, Holds Crisis Meetings; Russia Sends Strategic Bombers to Venezuela; Flynn Asks Judge to Spare Him from Prison; Arctic Warming Unlike Any Period on Record; Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate Change after Deadly Wildfires; Pence Silent a Trump and Democrats Spar; Hunt For Gunman Who Killed 3 At Strasbourg Market; Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou Released On Bail In Canada; President Clashes With Democrats In Heated Exchange; Two Reuters Staff Among "Time Person Of The Year"; Philippines Targets "Rappler" Journalist Maria Ressa; Time Magazine Applauds Those Fighting For Truth. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired December 12, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hunt for a killer, hundreds of police and troops mobilized across France searching for a gunman who opened fire at a Christmas market and attack being treated as a possible act of terrorism.

Free on bail after being held for ten days. A Canadian court releases the CFO of China's tech giant Huawei but the legal battles for Meng Wanzhou have only just begun.

And who wants the government shutdown? The U.S. President says he'll own it if he doesn't get a deal on his border wall in Mexico. All part of the back and forth for senior Democrats in a made-for-T.V. meeting.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

France is now on its highest security alert and a massive manhunt is underway for the gunman who killed at least three people at a Christmas market in Strasburg. The shooter is known to police. 29- year-old man on a terror watchlist with the criminal past.


CHRISTOPHE CASTANER, INTERIOR MINISTER, FRANCE (through translator): Manhunt is underway to arrest the attacker. It is a man very well- known for many common law offenses for which he has already been convicted here and in Germany and for which he has already served his sentences. 350 people have been mobilized on the field to tried to stop his escape. 100 police personnel, two helicopters, the RAID brigades and services, the search and intervention Brigade, and also Sentinel troops are also on the field.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Witnesses say when the shooting started, shoppers rushed into nearby stores and restaurants to take cover.


ISSAM FARES, WITNESS (through translator): I was at the (INAUDIBLE) ground roof stop and I first heard several shots. I thought maybe it's firecrackers or they're attacking a store. I saw a lot of people running scared, crying kids, and all. Then I said in my opinion, it must be very, very serious. And then when I saw people crying and the crowd leaving, they said there was shooting right next door so I ran away. I went to hide in a restaurant not far from (INAUDIBLE).


VAUSE: The gunman was reportedly wounded during exchanging gunfire with police and soldiers but he still managed to escape. Earlier, I spoke with CNN's Law Enforcement Contributor Steve Moore, and asked him how in fact the suspect managed to get away.


STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know. He's either the luckiest man in the world or people weren't really watching carefully for him, John. I mean, look at what you've got. You know he's on the terror watch list. You went to his house to arrest him today or the day of the attack. He's not there but explosives are.

You've got to know at that point even if he hadn't planned on something this day and it's possible he hadn't planned on it for that exact day, but he knows -- he knows they're on to him so this will be the day he attacks whether it was planned or not. And maybe you know, I don't know what plans they had in place, but if they had any, they were inadequate.


VAUSE: The market will be closed Wednesday as well as some schools. A court in Canada has granted bail to the chief financial officer of Huawei, one of the largest telecom companies in the world. Meng Wanzhou posted a bond of $7.5 million with five guarantor promising she will stay in Canada ahead of the hearing for her extradition to the United States where she's accused of helping her Chinese company dodge U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Meng has also surrendered her passports, agreed to a curfew, as well as a 24-hour security detail. Her arrests though has sparked outrage in China. Delegations she's being used as a bargaining chip in the ongoing U.S. trade war. CNN's Andrew Stevens live in Hong Kong. And Andrew, China was already claiming that this is all part of -- this is all being staged by the U.S. you know, to use money as a bargaining chip during these negotiations. Trump is asked by Reuters if he actually believes Meng could be released if he'll intervene. Why is this?

"Well, it's possible that a lot of different things could happen. It's also possible it will be part of negotiations. But we'll speak to the Justice Department. We'll speak to them. We'll get a lot of people involved. It seems if the president there is actually referring to trade negotiations. It would be an indication that Meng's fate is linked directly to those trade talks."

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It would appear from what we've heard from Donald Trump that that is indeed the case. And we have to be careful here, John, that's the Chinese state media have been linking the two saying it is politicization the arrest from the first place. When the Chinese government is always steered clear of drawing that line between the trade talks and the arrest of Meng.

Donald Trump has just trampled right over that line wearing hobnail boots saying that yes he would intervene in the Meng case if it helped the what he describes is the biggest trade deal ever. The trade deal between U.S. and China. So Donald Trump is made absolutely clear this is about -- the Meng arrest will be used as a bargaining chip.

[01:05:13] Now, Meng is theoretically facing some 30 years, multiple years in prison for these accusations that she committed fraud by lying to financial institutions about the relationship with a company called SKYCON which was selling telecoms equipment to Iran effectively sanctions busting of busting U.S. sanctions.

So Meng -- there's 30 years potential jail time there. Remember she is the daughter of technology royalty. Her father started Huawei which is one of the favored companies in China. The outrage as you say has been very noticeable in China. There has been the arrests of a former Canadian diplomat on Monday night and many people are saying that's linked to the arrest of Meng.

The arrest, we don't know exactly what the charges are there. But certainly, this has been ratcheting up a lot and now Donald Trump has made it very clear that this issue -- these two issues trade and Meng are not going to be separated.

VAUSE: You know, at least once before Donald Trump has intervened on behalf of a Chinese company which has been penalized for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. He got a lot of flak for it but he's done it before.

STEVENS: Absolutely. The company you're talking about is ZTE. This was a company -- this is also a telecoms provider and it was also busting sanctions. It was supplying a telecoms both to North Korea and Iran. The U.S. found out they were doing that. They demanded that fines be paid and heads rolled. In fact, ZTE paid some minimal fines and gave bonuses to people who are involved in those sanctions busting. So the U.S. got tough and said right, we are banning the supply of all U.S. made components to ZTE which basically was as existential price that ZTE couldn't have survived that. In fact, they announced that they're closing down.

Donald Trump wrote in and said he would reverse that decision again all over trade, John. But I don't think we should be surprised by this. It's very, very clear that in foreign policy and trade, it's all transactional. Donald Trump is treating this as deals as he did with deals in in property, deals around the U.S. It's quid pro quo. I will give you something if you give me something back.

He's made no bones about that. This is just more a very, very clear examples of a foreign policy under Donald Trump. It horrifies diplomats. It's turning the system of negotiation on its head as far as International Affairs and geopolitics goes, but this is Donald Trump and he is plowing ahead on doing this. A one-to-one deals, I'll give you this, you give me that. And you know, it'll be all on personal chemistry why all this stuff we've known before, John, and he's going ahead with it. So I think in many ways he's running true to form on this.

VAUSE: OK, Andrew, thank you. Andrew Stevens live for us in Hong Kong. Donald Trump appear to be back starring his own reality T.V. show on Tuesday sparring with two senior congressional Democrats over his border war with Mexico and who was going to pay for it. Cameras were rolling for some must-see T.V. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has details.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will shut down the government. Absolutely.


TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I'll tell you what --

SCHUMER: We disagree.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A first look tonight at divided government in Washington.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The fact is you do not have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: Nancy, I do. We need border security. It's very simple.

ZELENY: A civics lesson short on civility, ending with President Trump's vowing to shut down the government if he doesn't get his border wall.

TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.

ZELENY: The President trying to gain the upper hand by inviting cameras in for his first meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, got something else entirely, ownership of a potential shutdown.

TRUMP: So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.

ZELENY: They talked past each other.

TRUMP: Then we have the issue on the wall. That'll be the one that will be the easiest of all. What do you think, Chuck, maybe not? SCHUMER: It's called funding, Mr. President.

TRUMP: And over one another.

PELOSI: I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shutdown. You have the White House --

TRUMP: Did you say Trump --

PELOSI: A Trump shutdown. You have the White House --

TRUMP: No, we don't have the votes, Nancy, because, in the Senate, we need 60 votes and we don't have it.

PELOSI: No, no, but in the House, you could bring it up right now, today.

TRUMP: Yes, but I can't -- excuse me. But I can't get it passed in the House if it's not going to pass in the Senate. I don't want to waste time.

PELOSI: Well, the fact is you can get it started that way.

TRUMP: The House we can get passed very easily, and we do.

PELOSI: OK, then do it. Then do it.

TRUMP: But the problem is the Senate, because we need ten Democrats to vote, and they won't vote.

PELOSI: But the fact is, is that legislating -- which is what we do --

TRUMP: Right.

PELOSI: -- you begin, you make your point, you state your case, that's what the House Republicans could do, if they had the votes. But there are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall no matter where you start.

[01:10:07] SCHUMER: That is exactly right. You don't have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them -- in one session, it would be done.

PELOSI: Well, then go do it. Go do it.

ZELENY: At times it seemed more like a New York Street fight playing out in the Oval Office. Taunts at all.

TRUMP: And we've gained in the Senate. Nancy, we've gained in the Senate.

PELOSI: The moral -- TRUMP: Excuse me, did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.

SCHUMER: When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he's in real trouble.

TRUMP: I did.

PELOSI: Let me say this.

TRUMP: We did win North Dakota.

PELOSI: This is the most unfortunate thing.

ZELENY: As Schumer confronted the President on exaggerations and mistruths.

SCHUMER: The Washington Post today gave you a whole lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much the wall is -- how much of the wall is built and how much is there.

ZELENY: But it came back again and again to border security and the wall.

TRUMP: We have to have border security. We have to have a wall as part of border security. And I don't think we really disagree so much. I also know that you know Nancy is in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now and I understand that. And I fully understand that. We're going to have a good discussion and we're going to see what happens.

PELOSI: Mr. President --

TRUMP: But we have to have border security.

PELOSI: Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the Leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory. But let me --

SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.

PELOSI: Let me just say --

ZELENY: Taking a page out of the President's name-calling playbook, it didn't take long for Democrats to brand a potential shutdown as Trump's.

PELOSI: The Trump shutdown is something that can be avoided.

ZELENY: Was it any more productive behind the scenes Madam Speaker? Was it any more productive after the cameras left?

PELOSI: We don't want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no reality to them, no basis in fact. I didn't want to in front of those people say you don't know what you're talking about.

ZELENY: A few hours later back in the Oval Office, the President called it a very good meeting, a rare view in Washington.

TRUMP: I don't mind owning that issue. If we close down the country, I will take it because we're closing it down for border security and I think I win that every single time.

ZELENY: So at the end of all that sparring and shouting here at the White House, one question remained. Which side will blink if either an avert a government shutdown. Of course, the government does run out of funding a week from Friday on December 21st at midnight. Now, it's unclear if Democrats will give the President more for his border wall. It's unclear if he will accept less as he has before in the past. The only certainty is you got a look inside what divided government will look like next year here in Washington. Jeff Zeleny, CNN the White House.


VAUSE: After a frenzied day at diplomacy, a promise of clarification but no renegotiation of Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May is back in London with widespread reporting of a growing momentum within our own party to dump her as leader. The Prime Minister met with European leaders on Tuesday hoping for reassurances on her Brexit deal but the answer from the E.U. was clear, there will be no renegotiations.

By delaying the parliamentary vote on her Brexit agreement, the Prime Ministers seemed to delay what many thought will be a cathartic moment for the nation and all this is leading to increased levels of Brexit fatigue, And as Nick Name reports, the whole ugly process is still far from over.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Long, long shadows on Westminster Bridge and with them an abiding sense of weariness and fracture. The last few weeks of British politics have been both divisive and interminable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of my constituents would like Brexit to be over and done way.

GLASS: The cartoonists have been predictably merciless. Theresa May on a march going her way. Everyone else in the opposite direction. Both cartoons from a conservative newspaper.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, U.K.: As I have made clear, my focus is on the vote that will take place in the -- on December, here in this house.

GLASS: And five days later --

MAY: This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics and life depends on compromise.

GLASS: The further six days later facing the prospect of a resounding defeat, she postponed the vote.

MAY: Does this house want to deliver Brexit?

GLASS: Those looks nothing else. Theresa May has been admired for her tenacity and resilience.

CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one!

GLASS: The week, as they say, is a long time in politics even at Christmas so the Lady is for turning exclaimed the Daily Telegraph. The fact as Britain still seems profoundly split over Brexit and so toxically are the two main political parties and tempers of praying.

[01:15:02] JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: The Prime Minister is trying to buy herself one last chance to save this deal. If she doesn't take onboard, the fundamental changes required. Then, she must make way for those who can.


YVETTE COOPER, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: We still even now don't even know when she wants to bring this vote back.


COOPER: Or even what she wants the deal to be. Does she not realize how chaotic and ridiculous this makes our country look?

GLASS: The Guardian cartoonist has persistently pinion Theresa May to Moby Dick in the water and at the cliff edge. Like good old John Bull, we're all now wondering what's going to happen next.

On Labour M.P., in this place of historic ritual simply vented his frustration by briefly grabbing the ceremonial mace, he was asked to leave the House.

Of course, as everyone is aware, this is only the beginning of the Brexit process, a trade deal with Europe has yet to be negotiated. Outside parliament, the flags have been out both British and European. Protestors for and against Brexit had been encamped for days.

Some political commentators proceed to Britain in limbo, teaching on the edge of a precipice. A constitutional crisis in prospect. Nick Glass, CNN, Westminster.


VAUSE: Up next, fighting against the war on truth. Journalists who risk everything to report the news and Time Magazine honors then, as Person of the Year 2018.

And two Reuters journalists among those honored by Time. Jail in Myanmar for reporting the truth about a range of massacre, leading a long agonizing day as their families wait for their return home.


VAUSE: Time Magazine has named a group of journalists targeted and persecuted for their work as the 2018 Person of the Year. They're calling the issue The Guardians and the War on Truth. Time has put together four separate covers featuring four journalists and one news organization.

On one of the covers, says, "Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar for investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims. For their families, it's a long, hard wait, agonizing days filled with uncertainty. CNN's Matt Rivers traveled to Myanmar to speak with them.


[01:19:54] MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thet Htar Angel is now four months old but she's only met her father a couple of times, so far. Because her dad is Wa Lone, one of two Reuters journalists from Myanmar sentenced to seven years in prison.

"I want my daughter to know how her father loves her, she says. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrested a year ago were convicted of possessing state secrets in a trial widely regarded as a sham.

AMAI CLOONEY, LAWYER FOR JAILED JOURNALIST: They have no evidence. I mean if you actually read the judgment, you'll see what a fast the whole trial was, and they had no intention to harm the state. They were not spies, they are acting as journalist.

RIVERS: Activists say they were targeted for investigating illegal killings in Rakhine State, implicating the military. It's an area where the U.N. says the Burmese army and others committed genocide against the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority. Seven members were later convicted and sentenced to 10 years.

CNN visited the village of Inn Din which the two journalists reported on. Now, only the remains of the Rohingya side at town are left. All the houses burned down.

But innocent or not, Wa Lone sits in prison. And his wife Pon Ei Mon sits at home. "I feel like this is the moment I'm struggling." Pon Ei Mon is stoic. She says she's proud of his defiance and his calls for press freedom. But her daughter's been sick lately and talking about the hospital trip she cracks.

"Others are with their husbands, but for me I'm alone." She didn't tell her husband, Angel was sick. Putting up the charade can be exhausting. Something Chit Su Win would know, her husband Kyaw Soe Oo is the other journalist in prison.

"I really want to tell him about my feelings, but I can't." She says. "I just tried to smile all the time." It's just her and her daughter now. She's three, loves mango. Her dad used to cut it up for her. And she saw him in court during the trial. She'd think her with his handcuffs.

"She used to use her fingers as a key to try and unlock the handcuffs." Myanmar's civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the pair's conviction. The U.N. and rights groups have called for their release. Both have lodged an appeal, while their families keep hope and focus on what's good

Moe Thin Wai Zin is a happy kid, she gave me some toy food. And baby Angel, Wa Lone's daughter is a joy even if she doesn't sleep enough. Her mom hopes that one day soon, after a nap like this one, her dad will be there when she wakes up. Matt Rivers, CNN, Yangon Myanmar.


VAUSE: Time's announcement that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were among the four journalists named Person of the Year, came almost a year to the day of their arrest in Myanmar. Accused of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says, 2017 was a record setter for a lot of journalists locked up worldwide. 262 in all. The final total for this year is expected to be higher still.

A former colleague from CNN. Maria Ressa was named by Time as one of the four Guardians. She's the founder of Rappler, a new startup in the Philippines which has been under attack by the president there who seems determined to muzzle any critical reporting.

Ressa has been charged with tax evasion, and it's also facing the possibility of jail time.


MARIA RESSA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RAPPLER: For every single time that it is so apparent that the charges are politically motivated. That we are -- that we are targeted precisely because we keep telling the truth. Well, then, that challenges us to keep telling the truth.


VAUSE: For more, Steven Butler with the Committee to Protect Journalists is with us now from Washington. Steven, good to see you. Thank you for coming in.


VAUSE: There's always a sort of cringe factor when journalists write stories about other journalists. But this seems different. It seems a lot of reporters are just trying to do their job day in and day out and now confronting very real dangers that was never there before.

And Time making this announcement of the four Guardians, you know, brings a lot of attention to this issue. Attention is good, but is it a solution?

BUTLER: Well, I have to say. I woke up this morning and saw that these four journalists had been recognized in this way. And I was very happy about this. Obviously, it's not a solution in itself to the kind of pressure that journalists are facing. But I hope it will encourage people around the world to recognize how valuable it is to have information sources that they can turn to that are reliable. And that's something that cannot be provided by government. It can only be provided by a free press. That is -- you know, free to do their job without intimidation. That's what we fight for it, Committee to Protect Journalists. And I think, it is what people at- large should be fighting for. It's very precious and this award underscores that.

VAUSE: And to do that reporting, journalists need to be on the ground, they need to see -- you know, the situation for themselves. Which is what these two Reuters reporters we're doing in Myanmar. Here's the editor of Reuters talking about their situation right now.


[01:25:03] STEPHEN ADLER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REUTERS: The fact that they remain in prison for a crime they did not commit calls into question Myanmar's commitment to democracy, freedom of expression, and rule of law every day they continue to be behind bars is a missed opportunity for Myanmar to stand up for justice.


VAUSE: Yes, all that is true. But then beyond that, it's incredible to think that someone like Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's civilian leader, a Nobel Peace laureate, once fated as a champion for democracy and human rights can simply ignore what is happening to these two reporters.

BUTLER: Yes, it's absolutely disgraceful. The evidence that was presented against these two journalists is so obviously fake, and so obviously planted. That it's really ludicrous. And for her to embrace the decision of the court and say that it's justified, suggest a level of personal corruption that no one could have suspected a few years ago when she was a human rights icon throughout the world.

VAUSE: And you know, the U.S. President Donald Trump, he has a bit of a thing for the Person of the Year Award. When asked about it last month, this is what he said. Listen to this.


TRUMP: That's up to Time Magazine. I've been there before. I can't imagine anybody else other than Trump. Can you imagine anybody other than Trump?


VAUSE: Yes. Well, we can. He was actually runner-up this year. But the decision by time to name these four journalists, it was a not so subtle rebuke of a U.S. president who routinely labels the media, the enemy of the people, a man who mainstreamed the term fake news. But if then, again, you know, brings attention to an issue doesn't necessarily resolve it.

BUTLER: No, it's going to take a long time. It will be a long political process. You know, part of the forces that are undermining the press have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with technology and the business models that have -- that have declined.

But, I would say what I said earlier. This award marks an important recognition of just how precious this is. And I hope the president feels stung by what's happened. That his enemies of the people have been -- and received the award that he wanted to receive.

VAUSE: Yes, I don't think Donald Trump feels any shame about anything, actually. To be honest, it seems impervious to all of it. We all said the situation with the late Jamal Khashoggi, making the list. He was the Washington Post journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate. His editors from the Washington Post tweeted out, "Gratitude at a Time". Also quoted Khashoggi saying, "Some depart to remain."

Time has never named someone who's died as their person of the year. But Khashoggi's death seems to have resonated with so many people around the world. Why is that?

BUTLER: Well I think, for one, it was the sheer brutality of what happened. And the fact that you had a government, the Saudi Arabian government denying and changing their story every couple of days to what happened.

And now, of course, you know, Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of having ordered this or have been involved intimately in it. And the fact that this is someone who appeared to be very genuinely reporting and writing about what was happening in Saudi Arabia, I just think it has struck a chord for that reason, and because of the preciousness of this kind of free thinking, and writing.

VAUSE: Steven, we leave it there, out of time. But thank you so much. Appreciate your insights. Thanks for being with us.

BUTLER: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. Does Emmanuel Macron happen in each problem? The French president has promised economic concessions trying to appease the angry protesters. But so far, just not going over well.

Also, a sandy beaches palm trees ended nuclear-capable aircraft. Russia's latest move in the Caribbean, coming up.


[01:31:09] VAUSE: Thank you for staying with us. I'm John Vause with an update of the top stories this hour.

A manhunt under way for a gunman who killed at least three people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. He's been identified by police and has a criminal past. The country is now on its highest security alert level.

British Prime Minister Theresa May back in London where she is reportedly facing a move to oust her as leader. British media, according to a variety of sources saying enough lawmakers from her conservative party have called for a no-confidence vote.

She spent the day earlier trying to win concessions from E.U. leaders on her Brexit deal only to be told there was no room for renegotiations.

And the U.S. President Donald Trump threatening a government shutdown if lawmakers don't approve funding for his border wall with Mexico. He had a heated meeting with senior Democrats on Tuesday and Trump says he will be proud to shut down the government for border security.

Students across France have joined the anti-government nationwide protest. On Tuesday hundreds have marched, angry over a proposed reform to the end of school exams and changes to the university admission system which critics say favors the rich.

Meantime President Emmanuel Macron is trying to appease protesters who've been angered by his economic policies. After a series of crisis meetings with government ministers, Macron has promised a number of concessions including an increase in the minimum wage and scrapping altogether a proposed tax increase on fuel.

Joining us now, Bruno Cautres of the Center for Research for Political Sciences -- I hope we got that right. Bruno -- good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

The bottom line here is that these concessions by the French president, according to some economists come with a pretty big price tag come with a big price tag -- $11 billion. On top of that the budget's down $4 billion dollars by losing the revenue from the increase of the fuel tax.

It will be tough to fight any budget savings especially if Macron is now risk-averse and reluctant to inflict pain. So the end result is the budget is going to blow out.

BRUNO CAUTRES, CENTER FOR RESEARCH FOR POLITICAL SCIENCES: Yes. It's going to cost a lot. The first as you mentioned I about 15 billion of euro, which is extremely high cost and it's really likely that France is going to get over the 3 percent of the European level. You know why this is.

So I would say, that it's really a set of such a measure that are going in the direction of where the Yellow Vest wanted but maybe it is not enough to fully count on and to satisfy the most radical part of them. So the problem of Macron I would say is that probably he waited too long, he waited too late to announce such measures.

VAUSE: And he's done all of these -- he's basically thrown his economic credibility out the window because the Eurozone has made it clear where fiscal limits are and Macron looks set to blow that out of the water for political reasons.

CAUTRES: Yes, and it is going to be extremely difficult for Emmanuel Macron to explain for instance to the Italian or to explain to the other European countries that France is really on the move of the European constraints. So I'm expecting some reaction from Brussels probably. Brussels looks to France since many years. Brussels expects that France is going to fully respect the European engagement of France. Emmanuel Macron put a lot of his credibility at the international level on that.

So let's see that the next reaction of Brussels and probably they're a little bit worried with France again.

VAUSE: You know, the deputy editor of "Paris Match" was on CNN. He seems to think the issue here is that Macron has an image problem. Listen to what he said.


REGIS LE SOMMIER, DEPUTY EDITOR IN CHIEF, PARIS MATCH MAGAZINE: The problem with Macron is Macron has been perceived by these people and this is the core of their movement, as somebody who is making gifts to the rich and who's given the burden of paying the debt and, you know, on the little people.

[01:35:01] If that perception doesn't change, I'm afraid the movement is going to keep going on.


VAUSE: And given all that, it would seem the decision to address the nation on Monday from one of the most lavish and opulent rooms in the Elysees Palace surrounded by gold may not have done him a lot of good to try and convince those protesters that he can relate, that he's just an ordinary guy really.

CAUTRES: Yes, we -- the first polls, shortly after the declaration of President (ph) Macron, the first polls show that the French are divided. Less than half of the French are convinced by the announcement of Emmanuel Macron. And especially about the sincerity of the apologies, the sincerity of the excuse.

It is likely that Emmanuel Macron is still going to be considered by many French as the president of the rich and someone too much arrogance. Emmanuel Macron tried too many times to turn the tonality (ph) of the message but you know, the dominant perception is still Emmanuel Macron needs to get down on earth, needs to think about the actual problem of the ordinary French. And Emmanuel Macron, yes, still has a big image problem.

VAUSE: What does it say about French politics. This guy comes in, campaigned as centrist. Overwhelmingly elected. It was overwhelming and despite everyone (INAUDIBLE) who controls parliament and yet, now after a very short period in office, he is incredibly unpopular and everyone seems to be talking about him in the past tense like his time is up.

CAUTRES: I think that it's not a problem really of the French. It's a problem of French institutions. We have the defeat (ph) the framework in France. You know, that we have the majority system with two rounds. On the first round of the Presidential election Emmanuel Macron got 24. On the second round he got 66.

So when you go from 24 to 66 there is probably something that you missed which is the popular (INAUDIBLE) of people working for you on the second round, not for your policies. Emmanuel Macron has been elected against Marine La Pen and maybe got past on the first round voted Macron just not to get Marine Le Pen. That's the problem.

VAUSE: Yes. I remember that night in the election there's this huge sigh of relief around the world that La Pen, you know, didn't make it. So I guess he didn't actually win the election. She lost it -- I guess in some ways.

Bruno -- thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

Well, Russia has sent strategic bombers to the Caribbean in what looks to be a clear message to the United States. CNN's Brian Todd reports now from Washington.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Russian bomber with an impressive wingspan touches down at America's doorstep. The TU-160 has to deploy parachutes to slow down. Russian pilots decked out in helmets in orange jumpsuits climb out to a hero's welcome. Two of these bombers nicknamed Black Jacks, are now in Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin has deployed these war planes along with two support aircraft to conduct exercises over the Caribbean with Venezuelan forces, a worrisome development for Washington, considering the capability of the Russian bomber which can fly twice the speed of sound.

LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER (RET), FORMER U.S. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE: This bomber was designed to do both high altitude and low altitude penetration of airspace with nuclear weapons, to deliver nuclear weapons on target. This aircraft was designed to be an offensive capable weapon to get into our airspace during the Cold War.

TODD: The deployment comes on the heels of Putin's recent military aggressions against Ukraine on land and sea and countermoves by U.S. forces. Analysts say Putin is sending an unmistakable signal to the United States.

DEREK CHOLLET, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: He's clearly trying to send a message to the United States that he can play in our backyard. And that Russia maintains significant military capabilities.

TODD: Another concern is the Cold War style alliance of two strongmen who are both antagonists of the U.S. -- Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who visited Moscow just last week.

Experts say U.S. military and intelligence officials are closely watching the Putin-Maduro partnership and how it may work against American interests close to American shores.

CHOLLET: They have a close military relationship. Russia does provide Venezuela with significant military support. Usually with these close military relationships, a close intelligence relationship is part of that.

TODD: The Russian deployment comes as Venezuela is deep in crisis, triggered by plummeting oil prices, crippling economic mismanagement and violent protests against Maduro.

U.S. officials are skewering Putin and Maduro. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeting, "The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is -- two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer."

Putin's spokesman fired back.

[01:39:59] DMITRY PESKOV, SPOKESMAN FOR VLADIMIR PUTIN (through translator): It's probably not very appropriate to make such statements. When you are a country with a military budget so big that half of it could feed the whole continent of Africa.

TODD: Analysts say none of this will stop Vladimir Putin from once again trying to gain a Russian foothold in America's hemisphere.

SHAFFER: Putin has made it very clear through his actions and through his commentary that he intends to reestablish Russia to the level of influence of the Soviet Union.

TODD: Analysts say we can expect these cat and mouse games to continue while the Russians and Venezuelans are conducting those exercises involving those two Russian nuclear capable aircraft. They say U.S. forces will likely send out planes, possibly vessels to shadow the Russians and Venezuelans and learn what they can. Pentagon officials won't comment on that.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Former national security advisor Michael Flynn is asking a U.S. federal judge to keep him out of prison. Flynn cites cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. In a memo to the Judge Flynn writes the cooperation was not grudging or delayed. He met 19 times with Mueller's team and Mueller himself who told the court that Flynn provided substantial assistance and should be spared prison time.

Last year Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russia ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen called up Kislyak and had this conversation.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: General Flynn is filing his plea today. Do you have any comment on it.


PLEITGEN: How do you feel about the -- where the Mueller investigation is going forward? Are you still following it. Do you think it's a big hoax?

KISLYAK: I certainly think that I've (INAUDIBLE). That's about it.

PLEITGEN: How do you feel that you've been treated in the whole thing?

KISLYAK: Very disappointed. I think we could have done better in our Russian-American relations. I would say that Russian-American relations have become hostage of your internal division (ph). And that's disappointing because we're losing a lot of opportunities to work on issues that are important to you and to us.


VAUSE: Flynn will be sentenced next week and is asking for probation.

After a quick break -- what starts in the arctic does not stay in the arctic. Yet, another warning about climate change and how it's transforming the world we live in.

Also how climate change is likely to mean to wildfires which recently swept across California are likely to keep happening for years to come.


[01:45:05] VAUSE: 1.5 degrees Celsius -- scientists warn if the earth's temperature rises above that threshold the results could be disastrous.

The COP 24 conference in Poland is now in its the final days and ministers as well as heads of state from dozens of countries are working to draft a rule book on how to enforce action to limit global warming.

In the Philippines, a commission is investigating some of the world's biggest energy companies for alleged human rights abuses because of their contribution to climate change. More than a dozen organizations including Green Peace are focusing on 47 giant companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total. The commission's finding are expected next year. It could lead to further legal action.

The Secretary General for Amnesty International is expected to testify shortly about these alleged abuses.

A new report says temperatures in the Arctic have been warmer over the past five years than any other period in recorded history. Government scientist blame human caused climate change with transforming the arctic both physically through the reduction of sea ice and biologically as wild life dies and toxins and algae spread in the oceans.

This marks the second study from the Trump administration in recent weeks warning about the dire consequences of climate change and yet, the President himself remains a climate change sceptic.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more on all of this.

It's just -- there's not a week that goes by now without some report saying hey, this is serious. You've got to take notice.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Every single report, exactly. You know, we're talk about hundreds in some cases of scientists and some of the smartest people on our planet working with nations day in and day out in these last several weeks and coming in with a very identical report as far as a breakdown and the significance of what is happening. Not what is going to happen again in the next five, ten, 50 years but what has been happening in the last couple of years in particular.

In this particular study looking at the 2017 year and also with 81 scientists involved, working with the governments of 12 nations, peer- reviewed study all involving this.

And especially what they're saying is the arctic is transforming at an alarming rate here with both physically meaning less sea ice is prevalent across the arctic. But also biologically as well as wild life is being disrupted and reduced across that region. And all of this directly associated with human-induced climate change.

And when we take a look at the temperatures across the arctic, they are significantly warmer than any other place on our planet.

We often use that threshold 1.5 degrees Celsius -- that is what we want to limit it to. Well, across the arctic in the past three decades, not only is it warming at about two times faster than the global average but they're already above that 1.5 threshold in the past three decades. They are now 1.7 degrees above average -- 1.7 degrees Celsius above average.

And when you compare this side by side, the green line is indicative there of the global temperatures and kind of see that steady rise in the past 100 plus years.

The red line much easier to see -- you see that come on in directly above that. That's the arctic temperature running again two times above what is happening on a global scale.

And then you look at this. This kind of breaks down the marine species and their disruptions -- really fascinating because the red light here of 1980 moving to present time showed the distance that marine species have moved in the past 30 or so years.

And about 30 years or so, they were staying within a couple of kilometers of their point of origin. Now, you fast forward to 2018, they're moving at about 35 or so miles or some 50 kilometers away from their point of origin. And you notice they were near the surface in about 1980. Those same species are now moving to about 35, 40 feet or about 13 meters lower and that is essentially where you're going to finally see some cooler water. So all of this having significant impact not just on humans but, of course, on wildlife as well.

And look at the sea ice coverage there going from March of 1985 to present day, the size difference there was roughly 2.5 million square kilometers of sea ice, John, the size of Mexico and also Central America, what is left of that. In 2018 just the size of Nicaragua within Central America.

That is an incredible drop, 95 percent drop in sea ice coverage in the past 30 years. And scientists are saying that has never happened at that rapid of a rate in human history.

VAUSE: Yes. And you know, if we take action, if we do everything we can, it's still going to be bad, it just won't be catastrophic.

Pedram -- thank you.


VAUSE: Crews are clearing debris and rubble from California's deadliest wildfire in a century. The official death toll stands at 86. Scientists who study wild fires and climate say these times with intense and destructive fires could be the new normal.

We have more now from CNN's Bill Weir.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A month ago it was Paradise. But after the deadliest American wildfire in 100 years, it is now mostly ash and rubble and melted metal. With 85 souls lost and thousands homeless this camp fire is the costliest in California history.

[01:50:04] But if not for the pure heroics of helpers, both in and out of uniform, the death toll could have been so much worse. Like Butte County sheriff's deputy Palmer Lee who activated his body camera -- not sure he would even survive.

KORY HONEA, BUTTE COUNTY SHERIFF: He honestly believed that he was recording the last moments of his life. And in his mind he thought that perhaps the video would survive.

WEIR: But somehow all first responders survived.

CAPT RICK MANSON, CAL-FIRE, BUTTE COUNTY: I found an elderly woman standing on the side of the road. And I only found her because I got tangled in some power lines that I had to cut.

WEIR: And somehow they helped the city of 27,000 evacuate or shelter in place surrounded by blowing flames on gridlocked roads and thanks to melting pipes, no water. BATTALION CHIEF SIMS HAWKINS, CAL-FIRE BUTTE COUNTY: As I open my

door, the embers are blowing inside my truck and thinking my truck's going to catch on fire, shut the door. Run to the screaming I hear. It was an elderly couple cuddling each other.

WEIR: There are thousands of stories like this, making Paradise a symbol of community sacrifice and survival.

The biggest clean-up in state history is under way. And when the lines are up and safe, neighbors will be back helping neighbors sift through what is left.

But those who study fire and water, wind and climate say Paradise should be a warning. In fact on Black Friday, while this fire was still burning, the Trump administration put out the most frightening climate forecast in American history. Over 300 scientists from NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon, Smithsonian -- all agreeing that unless things change this is just the beginning.

But when asked about the report.


WEIR: And its prediction of economic devastation.

TRUMP: Yes, I don't believe it. No, no. I don't believe it.

DR. FAITH KEARNS (PH), UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: You know, climate change doesn't really care if you believe in it or not, right. It's reality. We have gravity, we have climate change.

WEIR: Dr. Faith Kearns is a scientist at the University of California.

DON HASKINS, TEACHER: Yes, we are seeing larger fires.

WEIR: And Don Haskins teaches the geography of fire at Cal State- Chico.

They both agree that California is also paying for the sin of building into the wilderness with no regard for natural cycles.

But I suppose the lesson is if you don't have a lot of little fires throughout the seasons, you're going to have some really big ones.

WEIR: That's right. That's right.

HASKINS: And the little fires, if you can imagine, checker-boarding a landscape with a lot of little fires could really do a lot to minimize those bigger fires later.

WEIR: There are around 143 million dead trees in California, controlled burning or cutting them would cost billions. Bu the risks of leaving them to burn wild is anyone's guess.

HONEA: One of the problems we have as part of human nature that one, we rely upon our past experiences to predict how things are going to go forward. And so I talked to a lot of the citizens who said yes, we were aware of fires but they were always able to stop them on the ridge before they got there.

And so I think it engenders this false sense of security.

KEARNS: A lot of natural hazards have been viewed that way. It's sort of through the lens of history. And now, it's much more like, we can't really rely on history as a guide anymore.

HASKINS: Yes. I believe that, you know, from when I started, the fires that we see on a regular basis are much more, they're larger and more destructive and the future generation moving forward, they have a very dangerous job ahead of them.


VAUSE: Still to come here, the nasty taunts and insults are flying back and forth between the President and senior Democrats. The guy who didn't open his mouth is now getting all the love from the Internet.


VAUSE: Season 3 of White House reality TV saw Chuck and Nancy return to the Oval Office for a heated exchange with Donald. The contempt and hostility, bases of must see TV but sitting quietly, not moving like Bernie from "Bernie's Weekend" was Vice President Mike Pence.

And as Jeanne Moos reports, he may have gone unnoticed by Donald, Nancy and Chuck but the Internet was watching.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It wasn't just what they said, it was how they looked, saying it.

TRUMP: I will shut down the government if I don't get my wall.

None of us -- you want to know something?



SCHUMER: -- you wanted to put that in mind.

TRUMP: I'll take it. Ok. Good.

MOOS: Anchors were agog.



ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: That was special. MOOS: Watch the President pull a special face at the mention of Pinocchios.

SCHUMER: The "Washington Post" today gave you a whole lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate.

MOOS: But the guy the President glanced toward, suffered the wrath of Twitter merely for keeping his mouth shut. Mike Pence looks exactly like our elf on the shelf during this discussion. Someone even emptied his chair and moved him to the mantle.

Vice President Pence seemed pensive and when he got that far away look in his eyes, the music mixes slowed.


MOOS: Parodies as if zenning out, saddled with curb your enthusiasm.

TRUMP: Because I'm not going to get the vote --

MOOS: Honorable mention -- to Pence for willing himself to blend in with the furniture. At times his head swiveled as if he were watching tennis. But when he blinked, he got taunted with "Pence has powered down to save electricity."

People put thoughts in his head about being president. "This rug is the first thing I'm getting rid of." Wishing perhaps that he were anywhere but here.

Senator Schumer wore the hint smile. But the guy who seemed uncharacteristically happy as the meeting broke up was White House chief of staff John Kelly after all, in a few weeks he's out of there.

But before the press is ushered out, we go live to Mike Pence. When you add a smack down, it pays to wear armor.

TRUMP: And I am proud and I'll tell you what --

SCHUMER: We disagree. We disagree.


TRUMP: -- I am proud to shut down the government.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


TRUMP: And it was "Weekend at Bernie's", I should say.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. Rosemary Church takes over for me right after a break.