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Colin Kroll, HQ Trivia CEO Found Dead; in Japan, At Least 42 People Hurt After an Explosion; China is Carrying Out a Religious Lockdown; Donald Trump Upset at Saturday Night Live Yet Again; Hillary Clinton Wrote a Letter to an Eight-Year-Old After Losing Bid to Become Class President; Top 10 CNN Heroes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 16, 2018 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00] ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. I'm Alex Marquardt, in this Sunday for Fredricka Whitfield.

The president is angry and on the attack today as legal threats continue to swirl around him. Nearly every aspect of his life under investigation, you can see it right there, his family members, his inner circle, his campaign, his administration. The list goes on and on.

The president is now lashing out on Twitter and we have a bit of a fact check. He calls his former attorney, Michael Cohen, a rat and said the FBI broke into his office. That's not true. The FBI executed a court-approved search warrants. And then Trump says that the Russia investigation was, quote, "illegally started." Also not true.

The Justice Department appointed and authorized Robert Mueller as special counsel along with four separate federal judges who upheld that. And this comes as the president tweeted amid a new NBC-"Wall Street Journal" poll that gives us a stunning look at what a majority of Americans think. 62 percent said the president has not been truthful about the Russia investigation.

And this morning the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is also trying to throw doubt unto all of these legal threats. So for more we go to the White House and check in with CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, Giuliani has been very vocal this morning.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Alex. Giuliani in full clean-up mode following the sentencing of Michael Cohen. He's saying of the former fixer for the president is a liar and pathetic. He's denying that those payments that Cohen facilitated to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were campaign contributions. He says he could line up 20 witnesses to give that testimony that the president didn't try to affect the campaign in 2016 by arranging those payments.

Further he says that the president didn't actually know about those payments about until much later on in the process. Keep in mind of course that two of the charges that Cohen pled guilty to in the Southern District of New York were for campaign finance violations for specifically those payments. Further Giuliani is trying to make the case that Cohen should not be trusted. He suggests that all of his claims about the president are false including this idea that there's only taking Cohen's word to corroborate the fact that the rest of his claims about the president are true.

That's simply not the case. We know that the Southern District of New York has corroborated some of Cohen's claims independently and further that AMI, the company that owns the "National Inquirer" or the paper that published or refused to publish these stories about McDougal and Stormy Daniels also corroborated some of Cohen's claims.

Listen to more from Rudy Giuliani now who's saying that a man that the president once said was a good person should not be trusted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: He's a lawyer. He's the guy you'd depend on to determine whether or not you should do it this way or that way, whether you're Donald Trump or you're me or you. I have lawyers --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABS NEWS HOST: But he's saying the president knew it was wrong and directed him to do it anyway.

GIULIANI: Well, the president says that's false and he said it was false. Under oath. He said it was false in his tape recorded conversation with Chris Cuomo. He said it was false on five other tape recorded conversations. He said on those tape recorded conversation that he did it on his own to start and then he brought it to the president, and then the president reimbursed him. Clear as a bell under oath, must have said 10 times.

OK. Now he says the opposite. You're going to tell me which is the truth? I think I know what the truth is. But unless you're God, this man, you will never know what the truth is. He lies to fit the situation he's in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: One more point, Alex. Giuliani was also asked about reporting from CNN that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still interested in interviewing the president one-on-one in spite of those written answers to questions that the president submitted last month. Giuliani said he couldn't comment on that situation specifically but he did leave the door open a bit suggesting that, according to an agreement that the president's attorney struck with the special counsel, there's still time to discuss the possibility of Robert Mueller asking further questions of the president.

I should note that in a later FOX News interview Giuliani was asked whether the president would actually sit down with Robert Mueller one on one. Giuliani's response, over my dead body -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Boris Sanchez, on the North Lawn of the White House, thanks very much. Now despite the sentencing some in Congress are calling for Michael

Cohen to testify on Capitol Hill. Here is what several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had to say on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: We should always reconsider laws and regulations. This is one we definitely should reconsider. But let me say this, too. I'm hoping that Mr. Cohen will come before the Congress where he can tell the American public exactly what he has been saying to Mueller and others without interfering with the Mueller investigation.

[16:05:05] I think the American people just voted for transparency and integrity in our hearings. They want to hear from him. And I certainly would like to see him come in the month of January to -- before the Congress and so that the people's representatives will have an opportunity to ask him questions.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Let me point out that there are a lot of unanswered ethical, legal and factual questions. But clearly this was not a good week for President Trump nor for his campaign or organization and these allegations are concerning. But we need to wait until we have the entire picture. And that's why it's so critical that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation unimpeded so that we can have the full picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: And joining me now to break this all down are historian and professor at Princeton University, also a CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Shan Wu, and politics reporter for the "Guardian," Sabrina Saddiqui.

Sabrina, let me start with you. You hear those calls from Capitol Hill for some of those Trump associates, whether it's Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, to testify on Capitol Hill. Why is it important for them to do that if they are already obviously cooperating extensively with the Mueller probe? And what could senators actually get out of that?

SABRINA SADDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, more than 200 witnesses have appeared before investigators in Congress. There are of course these parallel investigations that have occurred in both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees as well as the House Intelligence Committee, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has been less prone to some of the partisan bickering that you saw in the House.

And I think what they're really looking for is what statements have some of these witnesses made in the past that may not have been truthful especially as you've had some of these revelations that have come out of Michael Cohen's guilty plea.

Roger Stone, one of the witnesses, of course longtime associate of the president's, has already amended his original testimony before Congress. I think there are also a lot of questions about what Donald Trump Junior perhaps may have said that now you can look back and question if that was in fact accurate particularly around, I think, they're going to be interested in this Trump Tower project in Moscow. That was one of the revelations from the court filing around Michael Cohen.

MARQUARDT: Right.

SADDIQUI: That discussions around this project continued into the spring of 2016 well into when the president, then candidate Trump, was effectively the nominee of the party.

MARQUARDT: Right. Or whether Donald Junior says something different to Congress than Michael Cohen.

Julian, to you, we have this new poll from NBC and the "Wall Street Journal" saying that 62 percent of Americans believe that Trump is not being truthful about the Russia investigation. We've heard from the president that they're going to put out a counter report to the Mueller report if that is indeed the final form that it takes.

So given that the majority of Americans do not think that he's being truthful how do you think the American public writ large will receive those results from the Mueller investigation when the probe is finally over?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the poll is obviously a problem for the president. His major response to the investigation has been to look at it as a political question and to try to shake public opinion about who is truthful and what can be believed and what can't be believed. So here we have an indication it's not working. But when the report is out, if it's out, and depending what form it takes, if it's a bunch of facts or if it's more of a narrative that can then change public opinion again either way.

The president will offer a vigorous response I'm sure trying to argue that everything in it is not legitimate if it's damaging. But Mueller's report can have the potential power to move this in the House of Representatives. That's where this will ultimately be determined if anything is going to come of it in terms of impeachment.

MARQUARDT: And, Shan, the Russia probe is just one of the investigations around the president. We've listed them. There are at least six of them. When you look at that graphic right there and you're the president and you see all these balls around you and really every aspect of your life being investigated, how concerning should -- how concerned should the president be?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's clear that he's very concerned. He is a prosecutor's dream at this point. He's cracking under the strain. He is constantly talking. He is violating the first rule of colonel defense which is you tell your client keep your mouth shut. And he's looking like someone who's under tremendous strain. So he's always been very, very worried about the whole business issues. His business is front and center right now. He's worried about his family. They are front and center as well. And we don't know exactly what he submitted in terms of those written

answers. But I think it's quite possible that those answers were contradicted by the information that Cohen has put forth. And that could be a very serious problem for him.

MARQUARDT: And Sabrina, we know that the president has submitted written answers to the questions from the special counsel.

[16:10:02] There's a possibility that he may go back, Mueller that is, and ask another round of written questions. But then there's also this -- this possibility of a sit-down, one-on-one interview, which Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, today said, would happen over his dead body. So what do you think the likelihood is of the first the Mueller team asking for one and then the White House acquiescent to that?

SADDIQUI: Well, certainly I think that it would be ideal for the special counsel team to actually to sit down face to face with the president but the president's legal team has been stone-walling that request for some time now. You've had these negotiations around a possible interview playing out for the greater part of this year and ultimately there was one round of written answers. And we're still going to find out of course at a later point what may have been contained in those.

But what Rudy Giuliani's comment ultimately reflect is that the issue is not simply that they are concerned with putting the president in front of special counsel because they don't know what the special counsel already know from the cooperation of other witnesses. It's that Rudy Giuliani has called the special counsel's efforts part of a perjury part. So this is a legal team that simply doesn't trust their client, which is the president of the United States.

MARQUARDT: Right. Right.

SADDIQUI: To tell the truth. And that is why they do not want him to sit down for that face-to-face interview.

MARQUARDT: And remember just a few short months ago the president said that he was actually willing to sit down and answer those questions in person.

Julian, we have heard -- we have heard course language from the president in the past. And now we see him tweeting about his former lawyer, friend and fixer, Michael Cohen, calling him a rat, which has all sorts of implications both in pop culture and of course legally.

What do you make of that tweet?

ZELIZER: Look, presidential norms are now totally out the window. And here you have a president, he's responding using language that we hear in movies about the mob to describe someone who has in his inner circle of trusted advisers. It's not surprising. This is the kind of language that we have heard. And his basic response to any damaging information that comes our way as a nation is you can't trust the source of that information. But it's pretty damaging to have a president I think stoop to this

level in terms of how he talks about people and it could ultimately backfire.

MARQUARDT: Right.

ZELIZER: Because, look, a lot of people out there who work for him don't necessarily trust him anymore. And if the president can turn on you in public they might turn on him. And that's part of the problem he is now trying to contain. And he's not doing it very effectively.

MARQUARDT: We've also heard from former FBI director James Comey who responded to one of the president's tweets this morning where he made a false statement about the FBI and the Russia probe. Comey responded in writing saying, "This is from the president of our country lying about the lawful execution of a search warrant issued by a federal judge. Shame on Republicans who don't speak up at this moment for the FBI, for the rule of law and the truth."

Shan, do you expect to hear from any senior Republicans on Capitol Hill in response to that?

WU: That would be a day late and a dollar short. I don't think so. We haven't heard from them up to this point. I don't see any particular reason why they're going to change their tune. And frankly one of the difficulties for anyone trying to support the president's public statement is you can't keep up with them. They change all the time. I think you see a little bit of that strain showing in Rudy Giuliani at this point. He just can't keep up with it. His own story is flipping all the time, too.

MARQUARDT: All right. Thanks to all of you, Shan Wu, Julian Zelizer, Sabrina Saddiqui. Appreciate you joining me.

All right. Well, the family of a 7-year-old migrant girl is now speaking out after her death in U.S. custody. Why her father says he has no complaints about her treatment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:02] MARQUARDT: The father of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died after being detained by U.S. Border agents is now speaking out. He's saying that he has, quote, "no complaints" about his daughter's treatment. But the young girl's family is still calling for a thorough and objective investigation. Their lawyers say she was not suffering from a lack of food or water when she was taken into custody by U.S. authorities and saying she had also not been crossing the desert for days.

So for more let's go CNN's Ed Lavandera in El Paso.

Ed, we're hearing a lot more from the family now.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A clear picture of how all of this unfolded a little more than a week ago in a far remote area of western New Mexico along the border, with the country of Mexico. The father through his attorneys and the director of the shelter where he is staying here in El Paso say that he is grateful to the help of Border Patrol agents and medical personnel who treated his daughter as soon as she started showing signs of distress while in the midst of a bus ride from the border point of entry on the border and on this 95- mile drive up to the Border Patrol station along Interstate 10 before being airlifted to a hospital here in El Paso. He says he's grateful.

However, he also did go on to say that he felt that those Border Patrol agents and medical personnel did everything they could to save the young girl's life. However, the father and his attorneys are also saying that they take exception with the way Department of Homeland Security officials characterized early on in the initial statements that the young girl had gone days without food and water.

They say that is not the case, that they had traveled by bus from Guatemala all the way to the border and that she had been fed well and had plenty to drink along the way, and that she had not fallen ill until after she was taken into Border Patrol custody.

This is a little bit more from the director of that shelter where he's staying, who's speaking on the father's behalf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBEN GARCIA, DIRECTOR, ANNUNCIATION HOUSE: Prior to going into CBP custody and contrary to the report that Jakelin had eaten or had water for several days Jakelin had not been crossing the desert for days.

[16:20:10] Jakelin's father took care of Jakelin, made sure she was fed and had sufficient water. She and her father sought asylum for Border Patrol as soon as they crossed the border. She had not suffered from lack of water or food prior to approaching the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: There's been a great deal of criticism leveled at this father for bringing his daughter on this journey. Also from Trump administration officials as well as other people across the country. Immigrant rights activists and the director of the shelter really pushing back strongly and taking exception with that. They say that it is the Trump administration's immigration policy that is making it much more difficult, creating chaos at these legal ports of entry, and making it much more difficult for migrant refugees like this father and his young daughter to seek asylum, and that that is pushing them out into these far more remote and dangerous areas -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Ed Lavandera in El Paso. Thanks for bringing us that story.

Now the Trump administration is considering a change that would make it harder for low-income immigrants to achieve legal status here in the United States. The proposal also tries to immigrants from applying for visas or green cards from using a wide range of public benefits in even a limited way.

CNN's Natasha Chen talked with one immigrant mother about how this policy could change her and people like her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 sometimes I ask myself, why do I have to come here, but I also tell myself just (INAUDIBLE).

CHEN: That was 2017. Now the Department of Homeland Security is proposing a new policy to deter immigrants from using a wide range of public benefits like California's (INAUDIBLE) Assistance Program, a program Nguyen depended on 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're 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.

(On camera): 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 (voice-over): The proposal so far says many factors would be under consideration for once visa or green card approval including income and the potential for future reliance for public assistance programs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless you are making a comfortable middle class salary, perfect physical health, you could very easily be 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 long-standing 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: We're making about $15 an 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 $150,000 a year combined, enough to get off of public assistance. She says they're 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 Medi-Cal that gave them a boost could be used to deny another person like her the opportunity to succeed.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: All right. Our thanks to Natasha Chen.

The countdown to 2020, the presidential election has already begun. And now a new poll is giving us a hint at who the frontrunners for the Democratic ticket may be. A look at that list, that's coming up.

[16:24:53]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUARDT: The so-called invisible primary is a little more visible today with a new CNN and "Des Moines Register" poll that captures the early standings for Democrats in Iowa which is the first in the nation to hold a caucus in 2020.

Now look at these numbers. They look a lot like the national numbers right now with Joe Biden on top and pretty much everyone else well in the back of the former vice president.

Now a key factor for Democrats weighing what it takes to topple President Trump is experience.

[16:30:01] The early verdict from this poll is that Iowa Democrats want a candidate with a seasoned hand more than they want a new comer. So for more on this, let's with CNN Politics Senior Writer and Analyst, Harry Enten, he also hosts the Forecast.

Harry, if you're in the former Vice President's inner circle, and you look at these numbers, what are you thinking and what are you telling him? HARRY ENTEN, POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think

this poll is relatively good for him. It's not great, right? He's at 32 percent, which isn't running away with it. But he's very well liked with a favourable rating above 80 percent. It's very clear that Iowa Democrats want to seasoned hand. So to me, if I was looking at polling as to whether or not I was going to jump into this race or not, a poll like this suggests to me that yeah, I should run with the full expectation I might not win. But I got a pretty good starting point.

MARQUARDT: And -- but Harry, if we look back just a couple of weeks to the midterm elections here. Democrats elected a wave of really diverse lawmakers, a record number of women, of Muslims, of first time politicians. But then you look at the top three in the CNN Des Moines (Inaudible) poll, that doesn't reflect really any sort of diversity, because it is Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Beto O'Rourke. So what do you think of that?

ENTEN: I think it's interesting, right? And I do wonder whether or not this has a lot to do with name recognition, especially with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, both of whom have name recognition at 96 percent in this poll. Beto O'Rourke is more interesting. He's obviously a young hand. So that perhaps says something more about the electorate that he's been able to jump at least into the double digits.

But that of course, also is a warning sign that it is still very early, that a lot of these candidates are not well known. And we are still more than a year out from Iowa. So we should take this poll for what it is. And it is good news for Joe Biden. And we can perhaps into some other news and another question.

MARQUARDT: Dig down just a little bit more. I mean we attached so much importance to these polls. Can much be read into these now two years out, because when we do the same thing in looking at the same period ahead of 2016, President Trump wasn't even in there? He was well below the single digits.

ENTEN: He was. And even running at this point, no one thought he was going to run. I mean I certainly thought it was a joke at that point. So we don't know. There maybe a candidate we're not even thinking of. I should say if you go back to say 1980, and you look at the candidates who were first place at this particular time, you would in fact see that about 50 percent of the time they do go on and win.

Which may not seem very high, but in a field of 10, if you were to tell me hey, this one has a 50 percent chance of winning. That's something I would run with. So Joe Biden being at 32 percent, while again it is not a run away, it is not something you can take to the bank. It's certainly not bad news for him.

MARQUARDT: There is probably an argument to be made that you don't necessarily want to be at the top of the polls at this point given all the fluctuations that we can seen. But Harry, when you do look at these poll numbers and if you are very interested in getting into this race, let's say Elizabeth Warren. Who should be concerned by these numbers?

ENTEN: I think there are probably a few people who are concerned. I mean obviously Michael Bloomberg, a name we haven't actually mentioned so far. His unfavorable rating is very, very high. It's, I believe, at 31 percent in this poll. And, you know, he might be someone who appeals more to the media moguls in New York than he actually does to Iowa voters.

One other person I would be concerned about if I were thinking of getting in this race, Bernie Sanders, yes. He's in second place at 19 percent. But remember, he finished near 50 percent in 2016. He has about 30 points below that. And he has universal name recognition. And he is still double digits behind Joe Biden. So to me, even though he's at second, I would see this as a concerning poll for him.

MARQUARDT: All right. Harry thanks for breaking it down, putting it all in perspective. For more on those poll numbers, there will be more in just a few hours. So be sure to tune in at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. Now, a pastor is among 100 Christians detained in China in what is being called a religious crackdown, what prompted their arrest. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:35:00] MARQUARDT: The co-founder of one of the world's most popular trivia games has died. An official tells CNN that HQ Trivia CEO, Colin Kroll, was found dead this morning in New York. Police say was found unconscious and unresponsive in his bedroom. The police were called to Kroll's home by his girlfriend after she requested that someone check on him.

At least 42 people are hurt following an explosion near a pub in Japan. The fire after the blast caused a building to collapse. Officials the cause is still under investigation. According to local media, people nearby reported smelling gas after the explosion, and authorities have warned residents about the possibility of another blast in the area.

Now, staying overseas, there are growing concerns that China is carrying out a religious crack down on a large scale. Last week, 100 Christians were detained on allegations of quote, inciting subversion of state power. Among them was prominent Pastor Wang Yi. Now, civil rights advocates around the world are condemning what is widely believed to be a government agenda to limit independent religious practices in China. Here is CNN International Correspondent, Will Ripley.

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Alex, due to the secrecy of the Chinese legal system and the lack of transparency, it has taken us days to confirm this information. But here is what we know. Wang Yi, a high-profile pastor and former legal scholar in China, along with his wife, Jiang Rong, and 100 Christians were detained early last week in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

Now, Wang leads the Early Rain Covenant Church. This is an unregistered church in China, which is against the law there, because churches are supposed to register with the National Religion Bureau. And the purpose of that bureau is to essentially monitor what is being said in the church to make sure that it is in line with Communist Party rules.

And so when Pastor Wang does something like this, I want to show this picture. He's holding up a sign in Chinese. It says pray for the nation on June 4th, referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. That is a red line for the Chinese government, because Tiananmen Square is something that people in China are never supposed to talk about.

The Chinese government doesn't even acknowledge it happened. It is as if they erased it from history. And yet, here you have this pastor at an essentially underground church talking about these kinds of taboo subjects. And the concern amongst the Chinese Communist Party leadership is that churches like this could encourage people to go against the government. And any sort of political decent is quickly and swiftly stomped out when it comes to China.

[16:40:10] So while the police might say that Early Rain is violating a charge of operating without registering, really their crime is that they are not supporting the Communist Party ideal logy. And there is concern, growing concern that this crack down, a growing crack down on independent religious practice in China. And just Christians by the way, we're talking about allegations of systematic human rights abuse of hundreds of thousands of Muslim leaders.

China says they are fighting violent extremism. Critics say that they've created essentially an Orwellian surveillance state. Think about the Tibetan Buddhists as well and all the restrictions that they have to live under. The U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom has actually classified China as one of 10 countries of concern.

Because they feel that people there simply don't have the right to worship freely, even though under Chinese law, it is an atheist state, but people are supposed to have freedom of religion. However, in practice, many people say that's simply not the case. Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right, our thanks to Will Ripley there in Hong Kong. Coming up next, a little girl who lost out as class president is getting some encouraging words from former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. We'll be speaking with eight-year-old Martha Kennedy Morales.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] MARQUARDT: A furious President Donald Trump has ripped into Saturday Night Live yet again on Twitter, even going so far as to accuse them of collusion with Democrats. The President tweeted quote, a real scandal is the one-sided coverage hour by hour of networks like NBC, and Democrats spin machines like Saturday Night Live.

It is all nothing less than unfair coverage and Dem commercials. It should be tested in courts. It can't be legal, question mark, only defame and belittle. Collusion, question mark, now, what has him so mad? An SNL clip showing of what life would be like if Trump were never elected President. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is awful. Everything is falling apart. Sometimes, I wish I had never been President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A world where you were never President, eh. I think we can arrange that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone looks to different. What are those things on their faces?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are called smiles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Mr. Trump. I just waned to say Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's President Trump, Sarah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a good one. Now, seriously though, I just wanted to thank you for suggesting I go into PR. I have made so much money working for so many awesome companies like Facebook and Ashley Madison and the Romaine Lettuce Association, Merry Christmas, Don.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, Sarah, isn't my Press Secretary?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you, Donald. You don't have a Press Secretary, because you weren't elected President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellyanne, my God, you look incredible, so healthy and vibrant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hmm. Actually, that's because I am no longer eating from (Inaudible). After we lost the campaign, the devil did give me my soul back. So excuse me, I have to go find my husband who I do speak to now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. So Hillary is President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. In this reality, all she had to do win was visit Wisconsin once.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they find her e-mails?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did. They were all Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Now, back here in reality. Hillary Clinton of course, is not President and knows what it feels like to lose a hard-fought election. So when she heard about an eight-year-old girl in Maryland who lost her bid to become class president by just a single vote, Hillary Clinton decided to write her a letter.

Clinton told Martha Kennedy Morales in that letter quote, as I know all too well, it's not easy when you stand up and put yourself in contention for a role that's only been sought by boys. The most important thing that -- is that you fought for what you believed in, and that it is always worth it. So joining us now is that special third grader Martha Kennedy Morales and her father Albert. Welcome.

This is my favorite story of the day. Martha, how did this all happen? How did you get this letter?

MARTHA KENNEDY MORALES, THIRD GRADER WHO RECEIVED LETTER FROM HILLARY CLINTON: OK. So it started by my dad posting on Facebook about me running for class president.

MARQUARDT: Uh-huh.

KENNEDY MORALES: And then I guess somebody told Hillary about...

MARQUARDT: About the fact that you just lost by one vote?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah. And then she felt inspired to write to me.

MARQUARDT: What did you think when you opened this letter and saw what she told you?

KENNEDY MORALES: I thought like I didn't really -- I was just really surprised.

MARQUARDT: Are you a fan of Hillary Clinton's?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah.

MARQUARDT: Did you pay close attention to the race in 2016?

KENNEDY MORALES: Uh-hmm.

MARQUARDT: You were sad when she lost?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah.

[16:50:04] MARQUARDT: But then you lost by single vote to a boy who is now the president and you are the vice president.

KENNEDY MORALES: Yes.

MARQUARDT: Until the end of the year you said.

KENNEDY MORALES: Uh-hmm.

MARQUARDT: Are you happy being vice president?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah. I'm happy. I get to be the tie breaker on the house and the senate category of something. Then I have meetings with the president. Then we get to visit the committees and see what their bills are and give them suggestions about their bills. MARQUARDT: That's quite a school government. So what are the

priorities in your administration?

KENNEDY MORALES: So the priorities are probably -- well, I mean it's kind of like -- I don't know. I honestly don't really know.

MARQUARDT: Just listening to your fellow students and getting done with what they want, I'm assuming.

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah.

MARQUARDT: Albert, Martha touched on it briefly. I imagine there's quite a bit of a leap between word of her election -- this election getting out from your Facebook to the former Secretary of State. So how did that actually happen?

ALBERT MORALES, DAUGHTER RECEIVED LETTER FROM HILLARY CLINTON: I really don't know to this day. I know I have a circle of friends who have worked for the Secretary throughout their careers. So it could have been any number of people that are on Facebook and qualify as real friends.

MARQUARDT: Right.

MORALES: And it was just interesting the way it played out.

MARQUARDT: Yeah. It just -- an extraordinary example of viral social media, what does it mean to you to see the former First Lady, former Secretary of State reaching to your daughter?

MORALES: Well, as a father, my wife and I, you know, are thrilled, because she does look up to the Secretary. And we try to encourage her to learn as much about public figures as possible. She obviously -- I am in the political space myself. And she understands the work that I do plays a role in our democracy and the news of the day (Inaudible) work.

And it's just been really nice to see someone like the Secretary to take the time to actually write a little girl who, you know, lost an election by one vote, and -- but got back up and assumed her role, and is asking questions and going about the role as vice president.

MARQUARDT: How hard-fought was this campaign?

MORALES: Well, I think Martha could explain it better. But they had an election on one day, and I guess six -- was it six or seven votes that were invalidated?

KENNEDY MORALES: It was six.

MORALES: It was six. And so there was a revote. These six votes were -- I guess the six children that didn't fill out their ballot completely were asked to fill out their ballot on the second round. I think on the second round it is where the final number came through.

MARQUARDT: What was your reaction when you saw the final results? KENNEDY MORALES: My reaction? I mean I was pretty sad because I mean

it was disappointing. I mean like we knew that the runner up was going to get the vice president. But it's still disappointing to figure that you lost and that you fought really hard and you put a lot of effort into it.

MARQUARDT: I think we can all understand that. Are you going to run again for president next semester?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah, I mean if we do this unit again.

MARQUARDT: Does this mean that you think you a future in politics?

KENNEDY MORALES: Yeah. I guess.

MARQUARDT: What do you think you want to be when you grow up?

KENNEDY MORALES: I mean maybe I'll be a singer, and then I'm definitely planning to ride -- to keep pursuing my dream of riding horses.

MARQUARDT: Riding horses. That's a great dream to have. Well, I wish you all the luck in the world. And it's a very impressive and inspiring story from lots of young people, lots of young women out there. So thank you, Martha Kennedy Morales and her father Albert. Thanks for coming in.

MORALES: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right. And in this season of giving, we want to show you how you can help our 2018 Top 10 CNN Heroes continue their important work and have your donations matched dollar for dollar. Here is Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I am Anderson Cooper. Each of this year's Top 10 CNN Heroes really proves that one person can make a difference. And again, this year, we are making it easy for you to support their great work. Just go to CNNHeroes.com and click donate beneath any 2018 Top 10 CNN Hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fundraiser on Crowdrise.

You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States. No matter the amount, you can make a big difference in helping our Heroes continue their life-changing work. And right now through January 2nd, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $50,000 for each of this year's honorees.

CNN is proud to offer this simply to support each cause and celebrate all these every day people with changing the world. You can donate from your laptop, your tablet, or your phone. Just go CNNHeroes.com. Your donation in any amount will help them help others. Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [16:55:05] MARQUARDT: Such wonderful people who can use all of our help. And if you know someone who deserves to be a CNN Hero, nominations for 2019 are now open. You can tell us about them at CNNHeroes.com. That's going to do it for us. Thanks for joining this weekend. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom with Ana Cabrera continues right after this break.

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