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U.S. Federal Judge Strikes Down ObamaCare; Mueller Memo Says Flynn Chose to Lie to the FBI; Cohen Says Trump Directed Him to Pay Hush Money; Fifth Weekend of Yellow Vest Protests in France; European Commission President Says U.K. Parliament Builds Mistrust of E.U.; Death of Migrant Girl in U.S. Custody under Investigation; Australia Recognizes West Jerusalem as Capital of Israel; Dolphin Defender Hardy Jones Dies at 75. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired December 15, 2018 - 05:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A federal judge in Texas has struck down the Affordable Care Act, calling it unconstitutional. The ruling could impact millions of Americans. We'll have details.

Plus Robert Mueller slams the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for not admitting he lied to the FBI before trying to defend himself.

Also ahead this hour, Yellow Vest protesters on the streets of Paris for a fifth weekend in a row. We'll have a live report from Paris.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, thank you for being with us.

At this hour, the health care law that millions of Americans depend upon is in danger of being taken away. After a judge in Texas ruled the entire Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional.

If that ruling stands it would remove protections for those with pre- existing conditions and that's a key point that Democrats ran on in the midterm elections. As of now, Democrats, along with a group of several U.S. states, have appealed the ruling. Until the appeal is settled, the law remains intact.

Anyone wanting to sign up can still do so. But here's the thing. A deadline is looming Saturday night.

You'll remember the U.S. president promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It was one of his campaign promises. So as you see, he took to Twitter to celebrate the ruling and push Congress, to, in his words, pass a strong law that provides great health care and protects pre-existing conditions.

He also tells House leaders Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi to quote, "get it done." For her the part, the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, vows to fight for what she calls life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and promises to reject the Republican effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

I spoke earlier with David Katz, the former assistant U.S. attorney, who has insight on this and he explained what's going to happen next with the Affordable Care Act. Listen.


DAVID KATZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The House of Representatives, once its Democratic Speaker Pelosi -- to-be Speaker Pelosi -- has indicated that the Democrats will join the lawsuit, move to intervene in it, it already has 12 to 16 state attorneys general who will be appealing it including the state of California.

It is enormously important to the health of Californians that ObamaCare not be struck down by the higher courts. And then if it gets appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, everybody will be biting their fingernails to see what Chief Justice Roberts is going to do.

And there are ways to affirm the -- to uphold validity of the ACA even with the revisions that were made to it. I believe Chief Justice Roberts, will in the end, I don't believe that the ACA is going to fall. And in the interim until the U.S. Supreme Court might say that it is invalid, I don't see any reason why it is going to be changed.

I don't see that Democrats in the House agreeing to anything that the Republicans and Trump would want in the Senate. So as a practical matter, I think that it will stay in effect until and unless the U.S. Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Roberts casting the fifth vote, strikes it down. If that happens, all H will break loose.


HOWELL: My colleague, Cyril Vanier, is here with more on the Affordable Care Act.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: George, I just want to provide some history. This is the last step in a long and rich history of health care and health care policy here in the United States. Let's look at the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

It's considered President Barack Obama's signature policy achievement. It was signed into law eight and a half years ago, March 23rd, 2010.

The goals: lower the cost of health care in the U.S., provide coverage for people who were uninsured, improve the quality of care as well. President Obama had campaigned on this. So on reforming the health care sector, so when it happened, he celebrated.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, after almost a century of trying; today --


OBAMA: after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.


VANIER: And ObamaCare did reduce the number of uninsured in the United States; 42 million people did not have insurance in 2013. That's the year before ObamaCare came into full effect. That number was down to 29 million in 2015 just two years later.

But from day one, Republicans have opposed the law and they have tried to repeal it several times. In fact, repealing was one of candidate Trump's key campaign promises. Remember, it almost became a slogan, replace and repeal.

But it's not that simple. Over the last two years Republicans have, as you know, controlled the House and the Senate. They controlled all of Congress and still they could not muster enough votes to fulfill that campaign promise.

Still, though, the administration has taken several steps to weaken, dilute, hamstring ObamaCare. The big one: the tax bill passed in 2017 that eliminated the so-called individual mandate, a key part of ObamaCare, that's the part that obliged people to get health insurance.


TRUMP: ObamaCare has been repealed in this bill. We didn't want to bring it up. I told people specifically, be quiet with the fake news media because I don't want them talking too much about it.

But now that it's approved, I can say the individual mandate on health care, where you had to pay not to have insurance, think of that, you pay not to have insurance, the individual mandate has been repealed.


VANIER: And several thing are happening at once. The Trump administration weakening ObamaCare but, despite that, people are still enrolling in this program. According to the government, nearly 12 million enrolled in 2018; 27 percent of those were actually newcomers.

HOWELL: Cyril Vanier, thank you very much.

Now in addition to the health care news that we've been following, Mr. Trump has had a very busy Friday. He announced that the man you see here, Mick Mulvaney, will take over as the chief of staff starting at the beginning of the year.

He'll take over for the outgoing chief of staff, John Kelly. Also sources telling CNN Mueller still wants to interview the president about obstruction of justice, this despite Mr. Trump's answering written questions from Mueller. And President Trump's inauguration, that's also under scrutiny by a report from WNYC and ProPublica.

We understand -- they say that the Trump Organization was paid by the inaugural committee for hotel rooms and meals at Donald Trump's hotel. One person negotiating for the organization, according to the report, was the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Finally, Donald Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, after being sentenced to three years in prison, he says Mr. Trump directed him to pay hush money to two women who say they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

And another target of the Mueller investigation is General Michael Flynn. He's the former national security adviser who quit just days into Mr. Trump's term.

Michael Flynn admitted he lied to the FBI about communications with Russia's ambassador to the United States. Since then, he's been cooperating with the special counsel. And on Friday, Robert Mueller issued a surprising memo on Flynn. Our Pamela Brown has this story.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the special counsel is pushing back at Michael Flynn's lawyer's assertion that the former national security adviser wasn't appropriately warned about the repercussions of lying to the FBI.

In this new filing, Mueller's team says Flynn chose to lie weeks before the FBI interviewed him by claiming he did not discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Now Mueller's team made the case that his false statements were quote, "voluntary and intentional," and noted that the FBI gave him multiple opportunities in the interview to correct his false statements. And he only did so once the FBI used the exact language that he had used with Kislyak from that phone call.

While the filing notes the FBI didn't think that Flynn was being intentionally deceptive at the time, it does say he should know better, that lying to the FBI is a crime and he shouldn't have to be warned about it.

And what also stuck out to me is that the documents say Flynn told then deputy director Andrew McCabe before the FBI interview that McCabe probably knew what was said in his conversation with Kislyak. So it's unclear why Flynn would proceed to make false statements in his FBI interview if he thought they did know the truth -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Of all the people caught up in the various investigations, one of the more surprising figures has been President Trump's --

[05:10:00] HOWELL: -- former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. In his telling story to prosecutors, he's directly implicated his former boss in the hush money payments to two women before the election, a possible violation of campaign finance law here in the U.S. Here's CNN's MJ Lee with that story.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I am done being loyal to president Trump.

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He spilled his secrets to prosecutors. He begged for mercy from a judge and now, Michael Cohen speaking to the American people.

COHEN: And I will not be the villain, as I told you once before. I will not be the villain of his story.

MJ LEE: President Trump's former fixer and personal lawyer opening up for the first time since he was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday. In an interview with ABC, the 52-year-old convicted villain still agonizing over what he says was the toughest day of his life.

COHEN: I have to be honest, it's been very rough.

MJ LEE: Cohen pleaded guilty to numerous crimes, including tax evasion and making false statements to a bank. But it was his crimes involving the now infamous hush payments to two women that have directly implicated the president of the United States.

Trump lashing out on Twitter this week, saying he never directed Cohen to break the law. But Cohen, now telling a different story.

COHEN: He directed me to make the payments.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And he knew it was wrong?

COHEN: Of course.

MJ LEE: Saying the order to pay off former playboy model Karen McDougal

and silence her before the 2016 election came directly from his boss.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump.

MJ LEE: The president's former fixer also addressing Trump's biggest headache, the Russia investigation.

Cohen has already met with special counsel Robert Mueller's office for more than 70 hours, offering them information about his contacts with Russians and conversations with people close to the White House.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The special counsel did say that you were doing your best to tell the truth about everything related to their investigation, everything related to Russia. Do you think President Trump is telling the truth about that?


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a big statement.

MJ LEE: And he says he's not done talking.

COHEN: If they want me, I'm here. And I'm willing to answer whatever additional questions that they may have for me.

MJ LEE: Cohen says the person in the White House now is not the Trump he once admired.

COHEN: I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be.

MJ LEE: Cohen reports to prison in March and will pay more than $1 million in restitution, stunning fall from grace for a man who says he was loyal to Trump for too long.

COHEN: The man doesn't tell the truth. And it's sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.

MJ LEE: MJ Lee, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: MJ, thank you.

The legal challenges facing the Trump White House may have drawn many parallels to the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. A pivotal figure back then was John Dean, who was the White House counsel under the former president, Nixon. His damaging testimony during the Watergate hearings eventually led to Nixon's resignation.

But now 45 years later Dean says Watergate was small potatoes compared to what he sees happening around the Trump White House. Here's what he told my colleague, John Berman.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: About all of this today -- this is what you wrote, this what we're seeing today is much more damning than Watergate and it's just getting started. You believe this is already more damning than Watergate?

JOHN DEAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the few sentences that precede that, I noted how we have the president's campaign is under investigation. The president's -- his transition is under investigation. His inauguration is under investigation. His presidency is under investigation.

He and his family are under investigation for their foundation and other activities. That's far broader than anything that happened during Watergate. And those investigations are just starting.


HOWELL: Again that was former White House counsel, John Dean, speaking earlier with my colleague, John Berman.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, we're continuing to monitor what's happening on the streets of Paris, France, that nation bracing for another day of protest. When we return, why some protesters say the concessions made by the French president this week are still not enough.

Plus Australia's prime minister says the country now recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We'll have details and a live report from Jerusalem as NEWSROOM pushes ahead.





HOWELL: Live images in Paris, France. Again, we're seeing, for a fifth weekend now, these Yellow Vest protesters on the streets. Just moments ago we saw police officers there pushing back against some of these protesters. Things seem to be getting a little more intense on the streets.

These images from just moments ago, this is what we were monitoring. Again, keep in mind this started over rising gas prices and taxes. It has since broadened into a protest against the French president himself and his government.

Emmanuel Macron tried to make concessions earlier this week, including cancelling the fuel tax that sparked the protests but many say that's not enough; it doesn't go far enough. They plan to continue demonstrating.

Let's go now live to the streets of Paris. Our Melissa Bell is there.

Melissa, from your vantage point, what are you seeing?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would like to show you what's happening here on the Champs-Elysees. This is the fifth consecutive Saturday of this protest. You can see that the Yellow Vests and there are far fewer on Champs-Elysees than there were at this time last week.

Another interesting figure is the number of people taken in for questioning. We're at about 47 for Paris this morning. At the same time last week the figure was well more than 300. That's a fairly concrete measure of what we're witnessing, which is clearly the numbers are down.

That was the big question ahead of today.

Would those announcements made by Emmanuel Macron on Monday help to take the wind out of the sails of this protest?

Would the terror attack in Strasbourg earlier this week also help to take the wind out of the sails of this protest?

Apparently so far the answer to that appears to be yes. There are fewer people at least here on the Champs-Elysees this morning. As you can see, what we've just witnessed, those images you saw, the police managed to contain the numbers because they were relatively down.

They sort of boxed them in on the sidewalk, so much so that a while ago they reopened part of the Champs-Elysees to traffic. If that's not an indication of how different things are this week, I don't know what is.

Then the Yellow Vests pushed past, reached those police defenses, in fact, to make their way back up toward the Arc de Triomphe. The question is whether that changed ratio, they have the same number of police men and women on the streets of Paris as last week.

Fewer protesters, whether that changed ratio means whether authorities can contain the violence and make sure this Saturday is more peaceful than the last or the one before that.

HOWELL: Melissa Bell, monitoring what's happening on the Champs- Elysees there in Paris, we'll keep in touch with you.

Let's get some analysis from journalist --


HOWELL: -- Christine Ockrent, joining us from Paris.

Good to have you on the show with. Let's give our viewers a live look at what's happening in Paris. This is down the Champs-Elysees, thousands of police have been deployed in the French capital. Some 70,000 throughout the country.

On Friday the junior interior minister said this, we expect fewer people to show up but we expect the individuals to be more determined. Again, things are just picking up this day at 11:20 in Paris.

But what are your thoughts and expectations as this day continues on?

CHRISTINE OCKRENT, JOURNALIST: Well, as you just said, it's still early in the day. Usually later, in the late afternoon, that the most violent crowd tend to try and take advantage of the situation, to go and do some looting, just two weeks away from Christmas.

But as Melissa Bell said, there are fewer demonstrations, fewer demonstrators in Paris, less also in the provinces, that's two interesting phenomena. One is that those who are demonstrating today are the most politicized. And so you have the far right and you have the far left, united in

trying to shake up not only Macron himself but the government and, if possible, the whole republic. And then you have also the most violent ones, who need to have quite a bit of a crowd to operate more efficiently.

So it's probably too early in the day. But it does explain the importance of the police forces, that there are as many police in Paris in particular, in some strategic spots, ready to face the demonstrators if it turns violent.

But it certainly shows that the measures announced by President Macron last Monday are paying off, at least to those people who were really out in the streets to ask for specific measures to help them make ends meet.

Now what remains, again, is a sort of anger, which is very difficult to actually express in rational terms. But it does exist and, of course, the interesting phenomenon is that you have no political party so far taking advantage of it, except, probably in the medium or long run, the far right.

HOWELL: There had been a hope that the protests that we're seeing now, that the protests wouldn't happen, given the Christmas market attack in Strasbourg. As evidence from this tweet from the French interior minister, "Last night I was on the streets of Strasbourg, I saw the people of France applauding our policemen, I saw the inhabitants salute their exemplary action and tomorrow we're going to stone them?

"This I will never tolerate. #EuropeOne."

Again, these things happening within a week of one another.

Do you believe any of that plays factor into how this weekend's protests continue?

OCKRENT: Well, I mean, again, I think it's well known that the tragedy in Strasbourg is certainly a major element to bring, you know, most people back to more reasonable terms.

But you will never repress the most extreme parts of that movement, to try to take advantage of that surge. And that's precisely what's happening. It's interesting that President Macron himself was in Strasbourg last night, paying a tribute to the victims and he, too, got a lot of applause.

So it's not the whole country, the whole, you know, 64-65 million French in rebellion. It's a deep and very violent protest that's been happening now for five weekends, very much helped by Facebook and the social media.

But it is becoming more and more of a fringe phenomenon. And today, in particular, we have to wait until the end of the afternoon to really take the measure and to really check whether that movement is, indeed, cooling off. HOWELL: We continue to monitor these pictures in Paris. Christine Ockrent, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you for your time.

Again, protesters continuing, the number is smaller than we saw in the previous weekend but certainly continuing throughout --


HOWELL: -- the streets of Paris.

Now to Brexit, the European Union now preparing for the worst. A so- called hard Brexit without any deal, after a two-day summit in Brussels, E.U. leaders are skeptical that the British prime minister can get her Brexit deal through a hostile Parliament.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I was following, second by second, the debate in the House of Commons and I noted that there was a deep mistrust in the house when it comes to the European Union. That's not a good basis for future relations.


HOWELL: Jean-Claude Juncker there, also taking a swipe at the U.K.'s, quote, "nebulous and imprecise" goals for Brexit. Many people took it as a dig at Ms. May. But both of them that wasn't so.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: First of all, I had a robust discussion with Jean-Claude Juncker. I think that's the sort of discussion you are able to have when you've developed a working relationship and you work well together.

And what came out of that was his clarity, that actually he'd been talking -- when he used that particular phrase, he'd been talking about the general level of debate. And indeed, you know, I've had further conversations with him through the morning.


HOWELL: When we come back here on NEWSROOM, the future of ObamaCare is in jeopardy. We'll take a look at the health care law's troubled past and what might happen in the future. It's a future Donald Trump doesn't want to see.


TRUMP: Let ObamaCare fail. It will be a lot easier. I think we're probably in that position where we'll let ObamaCare fail. We won't own it. I won't own it. I can tell you the Republicans won't own it. We'll let ObamaCare fail and then the Democrats will come to us and then they will say how do we fix it?





HOWELL: Welcome back. Viewers here in the United States and around the world you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell.


HOWELL: On that topic, just a bit earlier I spoke with Natasha Lindstaedt, a professor of government at the University of Essex. And I asked her what happens if the Affordable Care Act is repealed after the appeals are exhausted.


NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: If it is just repealed and, of course, there is going to be a huge fight and appeals process and it will eventually go to the Supreme Court.

But if it is just repealed, then the Republicans promised that they would come up with some sort of replacement plan. But as Trump has even noted himself, health care is very complicated and it is not that easy to just come up with a replacement plan. It takes years and a lot of expertise.

And there is a real danger that, if this plan goes forward, you have over 130 million Americans that have pre-existing conditions. And ObamaCare was vital to ensuring that anyone that had a pre-existing condition would be covered.

You also had 20 percent of Americans that, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that weren't insured.

And so if the Republicans get their way and this gets repealed, they will be in more trouble because you have 75 percent of Americans that are in favor of some plan in place that ensures that anyone with a pre-existing condition is taken care of.

HOWELL: And this certainly, however you slice it, plays in to the president's campaign promise that he had. And, of course, he tweeted about it. Let's pull the tweet up if we have it.

He says, "As I predicted all along, ObamaCare has been struck down as an unconstitutional disaster. Now Congress must pass a strong law that provides great health care and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done," talking about the soon to be led Democratic House of Representatives.

With this Congress, under this president, is there a chance that this law might find a path forward, even as it faces these challenges in court? LINDSTAEDT: I don't think so. I mean the House Democrats have been very assertive with the fact that health care is the biggest issue over the midterms, it was going to be their big issue that they were going to campaign on.

And they want to keep the aspects of the Affordable Care Act in place and just improve upon it. They have no desire to repeal it and to start from scratch. It doesn't really make any sense.

What would make sense would be to work on improving the problems with ObamaCare that people have.


HOWELL: Now to this story, the Department of Homeland Security investigating the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl that died in U.S. custody. She died two days after being detained by Border Patrol agents for crossing into the U.S. illegally with her father.

The young girl became ill on her way to the border station and U.S. officials say she would have likely died in the desert had agents not intervened. The coroner has not ruled on the cause of death.


HOWELL: In the meantime, family members back in Guatemala are mourning her death. They say that she and her father had to go to the United States to support them.


CLAUDIA MARIBEL MAQUIN, MOTHER OF JAKELIN ROSEMARY CAAL MAQUIN (through translator): I would like my husband to stay and work in the U.S. because the resources are scarce for us to be able to pay the bills. It's not easy.

DOMINGO CAAL, GRANDFATHER OF JAKELIN ROSEMARY CAAL MAQUIN (through translator): I'm not going to speak that much because I can barely take it. It's difficult for us. This happened because we are very much in need.

The girl would jump in happiness that she would get to go to United States, very happy and content. But she didn't know. For us, it's very difficult.


HOWELL: The Trump administration is considering a change that would make it harder for low-income immigrants to achieve legal status. The proposal also discourages anyone applying for visas or green cards from using public benefits.

CNN correspondent Natasha Chen explains how this change could have broad implications even for children who are U.S. citizens.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The same month that Donald Trump was elected president, Au Nguyen came to the United States to join her husband.

AU NGUYEN, IMMIGRANT: I followed the love of my life.

CHEN: But it wasn't easy. When the couple found out they were expecting a baby, they were earning close to minimum wage.

NGUYEN: I was so sad that sometime I asked myself, why do I have to come here?

But I also tell myself just in the country apart.

CHEN: That was 2017. Now the department of homeland security is proposing a new policy for deter immigrants from using a wide-range of public benefits, like California's medical assistance program. A program Nguyen depended on it during her pregnancy.

NGUYEN: If I don't have that, maybe I am going to go back to Vietnam.

CHEN: American-born children like their son have access to such benefits regardless of their parents' legal status and that would not change under this new proposal from the Trump administration. But advocates say immigrant communities are already uneasy.

DR. HUGO SCORNIK, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: It's an impossible choice, right?

I mean, you either accept government benefits, health care for your child, or - but if you do that, you are putting your green card status or visa status at risk.

CHEN: Dr. Hugo Scornik is part of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a group that sent a strong message to DHS that this idea could harm kids.

As a doctor, would you be able to tell these families to stay enrolled because that is OK to keep their citizen children on these programs?

SCORNIK: Perhaps. But we don't know what the final rule is going to look like.

CHEN: The proposal so far says many factors would be under the green card approval including income and a potential for future reliance of public assistance programs.

DOUG RAND, CO-FOUNDER, BOUNDLESS: Unless you are making a comfortable middle class salary with perfect physical health, you could very easily denied a green card, even if you have a U.S. citizen spouse.

CHEN: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services says these proposed rules would clearly define longstanding law to make sure people coming here can support themselves and not rely on public benefits.

With this new proposal, the government is saying the applicant would have a better chance at legal status if a family of three, for example, makes at least $51,000 a year. In 2017 Nguyen and her husband didn't make that amount.

NGUYEN: And we are making about $15 per hour.

CHEN: But after a little over a year, things changed.

NGUYEN: And on December 2017, I got a job offer.

CHEN: As a business analyst, she and her husband now make at least $100,000 a year combined, enough to get off of public assistance. She says they are now proud to pay more taxes.

NGUYEN: That money can be used to help somebody like me.

CHEN: But if the new rules go into effect, the brief help they got from medical that gave them a boost, could be used to deny another person like her the opportunity to succeed.


CHEN: George, Nguyen's husband and baby are both U.S. citizens. Now she has gotten a green card. The couple was given two months to submit their comments to DHS. The department will now review those comments before making their decisions -- George, back to you.

HOWELL: Natasha Chen, thank you for the report.

Australia's prime minister says his government now recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Scott Morrison suggested Australia will move its embassy from Tel Aviv after Israelis and Palestinians have agreed on a final peace deal.

He added that Australia recognizes the aspirations of Palestinians for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem. Let's get the very latest live in Jerusalem. Our Ian Lee on the story.

Ian, what's the reaction to all of this so far?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, this announcement isn't --


IAN LEE: -- likely to make anybody happy. We haven't heard from the Israelis yet.

But we know that, for Israel, they see Jerusalem as their entire capital, not an eastern or a western side. A reaction is likely to come later today after Shabbat.

As far as the Palestinians go, we heard from the secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat. He also criticized this. Erekat put more criticism on Australia's role in the two-state solution, which they say Australia hasn't been a partner in.

But for the Palestinians, they say that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations although the Australian prime minister did defend his decision. Take a listen.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Fundamentally it's the right of every country to determine its national capital. That is why the government asked the question, it asked the question about the position we have long adopted in relation to Jerusalem.


IAN LEE: So George, the last time Jerusalem's status was really determined in an international body you have to go back to 1947, when the United Nations came up with the U.N. partition plan for Palestine. In that plan they designated Jerusalem an international city with the U.N. as part of its administration.

But since then, through different wars, Israel has now has control over the entirety of the city. But only the United States and Guatemala recognize the entirety of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But Russia, like Australia, also only view West Jerusalem as the capital. So this isn't likely to go away anytime soon -- George.

HOWELL: I don't think it will go away any time for sure. Ian Lee, life for us in Jerusalem, thank you for the report.

Still ahead, we continue to monitor the events in Paris, France these protesters, Yellow Vest protesters rallying for a fifth straight weekend. We'll take you live to the streets of Paris. Stay with us.





HOWELL: These images from Paris, France; moments ago, things becoming a bit more intense on the streets. You see some tear gas being used. But protesters, again, on the streets in smaller numbers than we've seen in recent weeks but certainly again out in force there.

These so-called Yellow Vest demonstrators are protesting now five weeks in a row. The protests started over rising gas prices and taxes but the protest has since broadened into a protest against the French president himself and his government.

Mr. Macron tried to make concessions earlier this week, including cancelling the fuel tax that started all the protests. But many people said that was not enough. And the protests you're seeing right now, we understand throughout France and even into other countries, the movement has spread.

We'll continue to monitor the events in Paris and bring you the latest as we see things happen there.

Many say the concessions are not enough. They plan to continue demonstrating. Our Ben Wedeman explains.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The honking is not Gallic annoyance, just a friendly show of support for the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vest protesters at Les Andelys roundabout in rural Normandy, northwest of Paris.

Jacques (ph), an 85-year-old pensioner explains why he backs the protests.

"Because my pension is melting in the sun," he tells me, "there's nothing left."

And what does he want from President Macron?

"To get lost," he replies.

WEDEMAN (on camera): This is the other side of the Gilets Jaunes protests. At hundreds of roundabouts across the country, every day all day long there are people out speaking to drivers, making their message clear. And there's none of the drama and tension of Saturdays in Paris.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The atmosphere is upbeat. They've put up a sign on their shelter, Elysee, after the official resident of the French president, and have draped yellow vests over a fence that surrounds a castle built by Richard the Lionheart 820 years that looms over the roundabout.

Supporters provide the protestors with food and firewood; lunch on this day is barbecued sausages and baguettes.

Thirty-three-year-old Amandine Laplanche lost her part-time job caring for handicapped children last August and spoke to us just before she headed out to join the protest. She's been a regular since they began a month ago.

"I think the politicians are truly disconnected from people of limited means and people in rural areas," she says. "We're really forgotten."

With the Gilets Jaunes, she's found solidarity, support and friendship.

"It really brings us together," says Amandine.

The protests were sparked by anger over proposed increases to fuel taxes, now scrapped. But they've taken on a life of their own.

Did President Macron's Monday speech make a difference? "He said crap," says Patricia (ph). "He said things that don't

interest us at all. We want him to reduce taxes, raise the minimum wage and pensions."

So they'll brave the cold and carry on -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Les Andelys, France.


HOWELL: Ben, thank you.

Remembering a filmmaker and conservationist. Hardy Jones dedicated his life to preserving the environment. We take a look at his lasting legacy.




HOWELL: Welcome back.

The award-winning filmmaker and environmentalist Hardy Jones has died after a long battle with cancer. Our Kristie Lu Stout looks back at his life, which was dedicated to protecting dolphins and whales.


HARDY JONES, FILMMAKER AND ENVIRONMENTALIST: I was just in their group. I was swimming for all I was worth.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The man known as --


STOUT: -- "The Dolphin Defender," Hardy Jones, died this week at home after a long battle with cancer.

The director of more than 70 documentaries that aired on National Geographic, PBS, Discovery and various foreign broadcasters, Jones focused all his energy on preserving the environment and the animals that he loved through video.

JONES: Dolphins are my life's work. In a very literal sense, they swept me out to sea and into another universe.

STOUT (voice-over): Swimming near Grand Bahama Island in 1978, Jones, then a CBS News journalist, encountered a school of friendly wild dolphins and fell in love.

Quitting his job at CBS News, Jones released his first film in 1979, called "Dolphin," where he followed and filmed a spotted pod of wild dolphins near Grand Bahama Island. Jones is well-known for his exclusive dramatic footage of dolphin hunting.

JONES: Three days later at 5:00 am in a driving rain, the fisherman began the slaughter.

STOUT (voice-over): His footage made headlines, sparked international protests and eventually shut down the slaughters on some islands of the coast of Japan.

JONES: I know that as the world sees these images, we're a step closer to ending this horror.

STOUT (voice-over): This footage aired on CBS globally as well as in his well-known PBS documentary series, "The Dolphin Defender," that featured the images he captured throughout this career.

With 40 years of experience, Jones increasingly served as an expert on the ocean and the growing concerns about the Earth's rising temperatures.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hardy Jones recently visited this area in Peru.

Do you believe it really could relate to some sort of contaminants in the water or in the food source of these pelicans?

JONES: Well, red tides are not uncommon in areas of water that are upwelling, such as this area off of Peru. Red tides are generated by warmer waters that may be the result of global warming.

TED DANSON, ACTOR (voice-over): In the tropical oceans of the world, there's a species of dolphins unlike any other.

STOUT (voice-over): In 2000, Jones partnered with actor Ted Danson to form Blue Voice, an ocean conservation organization. And a few years later was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

In 2006, he teamed with a researcher to look into a possible link of myeloma to the same chemical toxins found in growing concentrations of dolphin populations. He worked to curb the expanding toxicity in the oceans, something he worked on until his death -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.


HOWELL: Thank you for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. To our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "STATE OF AMERICA" is ahead.