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The Government Shutdown That Began At Midnight Will Not End At Least Until After Christmas; President Trump Lashed Out At His Acting Attorney General Over The Explosive Revelations Made By New York Prosecutors He Oversees; McGurk Resigns Following Mattis after Trump Decides to Pull Troops from Syria; Video Shows Slow Response After Jordan McNair Collapsed; Trump: Nobody Knows More About Anything Than Trump. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 22, 2018 - 17:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, HOST, CNN: You re live in the "CNN Newsroom," I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me on this Saturday. The government shutdown that began at midnight will not end at least until after Christmas. That's guaranteed now because the people with the power to restart the government have gone home.

The U.S. Senate adjourned with no agreement with the President to break their stalemate. So hundreds of thousands of Federal employees right now on Christmas weekend are either working without pay or staying home on furlough. It's what happens when Republican and Democrats in Congress and sometimes the President can't reach an agreement.

They threaten to shut down the government and three times in year, they have actually done it. Today, it's over the President's demand that Congress give him $5 billion to help build the Mexico border wall. No agreement, so hundreds of thousands of American workers are now paying the price with a shutdown.

This time, it's during Christmas. Don't forget, it's only the headache for the President. There has been a lot of them. His one- time National Security adviser told by a judge that he arguably sold his country out. His Defense Secretary says his view and Trump's view don't line up. So he resigned. The stock market took the worst beating in ten years and the worst may still yet to come.

CNN Sarah Westwood is at the White House, CNN's Kristen Holmes is on Capitol Hill. Kristen, the senators have now gone home, so that means no one is blinking. Is this a staring contest I guess between the Democrats and the President right now? Who is going to blink? What is going to happen next? Do we know?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, that's the big question now. SO this is a complete and utter mess. Not only do lawmakers go home without reopening the government. They went home without a plan to reopen the government when they get back on Thursday. So right now everything is up in the air. So if we break it down, here is what we know.

We know that Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor today. And he basically said, this isn't about Republicans. We're out of it. It's just about Democrats and the President, so if we look at that, if we look at the Democrats and the President, see where their mindset is that, the Vice President is here meeting with Chuck Schumer just moments ago, a very, very quick meeting. I want to read you the readout of the meeting from Schumer's office.

He says, "The Vice President came in for a discussion and made an offer. Unfortunately, we're still very far apart," so that does not sound like two people, two groups that are going to make a deal any time soon. But in addition to that, this meeting came after Chuck Schumer really weighed into the wall. He said no bill would ever pass in the Senate ever, ever, if it mentions a plan for the wall.

So where is the President? Is he going to blink? Well, if it's an indication from my inbox, the answer is no. I just got a fundraising e-mail from the Trump campaign that the title was, "Help build the wall." So this could go on for a very long time -- Ana.

CABRERA: Stand by, Kristen. Sarah, the President's original plan was to fly to Florida. He wanted to go to Mar-a-Lago, but he is at the White House during this shutdown. It affects so many people especially at Christmas. How does the President explain why he is sticking so firmly to his guns?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE REPOTER, CNN: Well, Ana, the President clearly sees this as a necessary fight for him and his base, even if it is not supported by polling or even some members of his own party. But White House officials say the President is standing firm on his demand for $5 billion in funding for the border wall and they say the President needs that funding to be for the construction of a physical barrier along the southern border. It can't just be used for general border security, which is one potential compromise that has been floating around the halls of Capitol Hill.

But despite that current hard line position, make no mistake that the President has been all over the map. When it comes to this funding fight, starting last week, when he said he would be proud to take responsibility for a shutdown if it was over a border wall. Earlier this week, his aides were signaling that the President may be inclined to sign that temporary spending bill that passed unanimously out of the Senate that would have kept the government open until February 8th, and then by Thursday, the President was rallying House Republicans a funding mechanism that contained $5 billion for the border wall.

Now, earlier today, the President hosted a lunch that was attended mostly by conservative allies like Congressmen Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, like top allies Senator Lindsey Graham. There were no Democrats in attendance. These are people who already agree with his plan to shut down the government for the wall and as Kristen mentioned, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has said this log jam won't be broken until the President huddles with Senate Democrats.

He needs ten of their votes to get the government reopened. But the lack of clarity from the White House on just what the President will and won't consider in terms of a deal has really created headaches throughout this process. Keep in mind that earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence was telling lawmakers that the President would sign the CR. Now, he is back on Capitol Hill negotiating on his behalf. And it seems both sides are still very entrenched, Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Sarah Westwood and Kirsten Holmes, thank you, ladies.


CABRERA: This weekend's government shutdown is all about billions of dollars in funding for President Trump's border wall. Remember the border wall? The one that Mexico was going to pay for? Here's what first candidate, then President Trump promised in speech after speech.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: it's going to be a very tall wall. A very strong wall. A very powerful wall.

It's going to be such a beautiful wall. It's going to be so big. It's going to be so powerful. It's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be. And who is going to pay for the wall? Who is going to pay for the wall?




TRUMP: Mexico is going to pay for the wall and they understand that.

We need security. With need the wall. We are going to have it all.


CABRERA: Mexico had a very different idea. Its current President who was just sworn in earlier this month says his country will not pay for the wall. His predecessor also said, nope. And here's how former Mexican President Vincente Fox put it when asked on CNN.


VICENTE FOX, FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT: Well, you can use my walls. We will never pay for that [bleep] wall. With that F wall, that makes it more clear.


CABRERA: To be clear, the former Mexican President says his country will never pay for that bleeping wall. Fast forward to last week when President Trump started talking about the possibility of a government shutdown. What we heard from him is that if Democrats refuse to use U.S. taxpayer money to pay for the wall, he, President Trump will shut down the government. Listen to this exchange with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.


CABRERA: And President Trump changed his tune about that yesterday after saying he would take ownership of a government shutdown. He is now saying it belongs to, drum roll, please, the Democrats. And he also made a slight switch in how he refers to what U.S. taxpayers are going to be getting for their money. He shifts from a border wall border security. Take a listen.


TRUMP: House of Representative voted 217-185 approving strong border security and the money necessary to take care of the barrier wall or steel slats, whatever you want to call it. It's all the same. Tremendous enthusiasm for border security. They want to see something happen on border security.


CABRERA: So now President Trump says Democrats won't pay for border security. He's substituting that term for a border wall. And guess what? Border security and a complete border wall are not the same thing. In fact, here's the kind of border security Democrats have already supported in 2013. Senator Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both were in favor of spending $40 billion on a border security plan that called for building 700 miles of new fencing and would have doubled the number of border security agents to roughly 40,000.

It got bipartisan support and it passed in the Senate but failed in the Republican-controlled House, because they wouldn't even bring it forward for a vote. So in the past, Democrats supported spending $40 billion on border security, but they made it very clear today that they will not spend billions of dollars to pay for President Trump's border wall.


CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: So, Mr. President, President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall.


CABRERA: The current funding bill President Trump is insisting on includes $5 billion of funding for DHS, which will be able to replace about 115 miles of existing wall and will allow them to build more than 100 miles of new linear wall or steel slats, that's his new go- to, along the southwest border.

Now, the U.S.-Mexico border is 1,954 miles long. So there are currently about, 650 miles of border fencing already built. You can do the math there. And that's really what this government shutdown is all about. Since Trump insists that this is what Americans voted for to build a border wall. Maybe Mexico will step up to help him keep that promise?


FOX: Well, you can use my walls. We'll never pay for that [bleep] wall.


CABRERA: And thus, that's here we are, at this shutdown with neither Mexico with its money nor the U.S. Congress ponying up your tax dollars to pay for a wall.

Now, last night President Trump tweeted a picture of the wall he's chosen. He's actually turned it into this fence, made of metal slats with spikes at the top.


CABRERA: This picture, however, doesn't look like any of the eight prototypes Congress set aside taxpayer money to have built. CNN has reached out to the White House about where the President got this rendering. We will let you know if we hear back.

Meanwhile, let's talk more about the shutdown we're in. With us, Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin, and CNN political commentator, host of "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered," here on CNN at the top of the hour, S.E. Cupp. Okay, so if I am sitting at home, guys, you know, maybe I don't care so much about the play by play, where we're at right now.

What I care about is how this shutdown is going to end, and perhaps there are three options. The President caves, the Republicans decide they pass this clean CR, that already made it through the Senate and then force the President's hand, or there is a shutdown at least until the Democrats take over come January. S.E., how do you see this ending?

S. E. CUPP, POLITCAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: It's looking like the last one. It's looking like a shutdown for at least the next couple of weeks and Nancy Pelosi, I think hinted as much. I think that's where she thinks this is going to. Earlier, she said, "Look, if we don't get this today or tomorrow, we should all go home, relax, be with our families." And we know for certainty - that the shutdown will end the first week in January, meaning when Democrats take control of the House. I think that's probably what we are looking at.

CABRERA: I see you shaking your head. You agree?

KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm not sure, but I think that's the most likely outcome because Democrats see no reason to change their minds. Trump doesn't have any real incentive to change his mind because his base doesn't want him to. And so we're at a stalemate, which means what do you do in that

situation? The problem is that the Republican-controlled Congress had two years, unified government in which to pass this border wall. They never did it. So here we are, the last few weeks of their control of the government and right before Christmas, Trump decides to shut down the government because he couldn't get this done during the two years when he had complete control of the United States government.

CABRERA: So who had the leverage in this situation? It's not clear to me, is it clear to you?

CUPP: Democrats.

CABRERA: They do.

CUPP: Yes, yes, to Keith's point, Democrats don't really have to change you know, Chuck Schumer getting out there and saying, there will be no wall. The government will reopen when you abandon the wall. I mean, that is throwing a significant gauntlet down for Trump. Who knows that he can't abandon the wall. He can maybe abandon policy. He can abandon it rhetorically, certainly. And Democrats know that, so they are putting him in a box, in a very uncomfortable box.

BOYKIN: It's a waiting game. Once January 3rd comes, when the Democrats take control of the House, then Trump can say, "I tried. She shut down the government, but there is nothing else I can do."

CUPP: It's out of my hands, right.

BOYKIN: Exactly.

CABRERA: And the "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman, also a contributor here on CNN said she noticed a major shift this week that the chaos has finally become just too much for some Trump supporters, including those that helped get him elected. Let's listen.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": The number of conservative who I have talked to in the last day who worked on the campaign, who supported the President, who now say you know what, I regret doing that, this was a mistake. This administration is, you know, off the rails, all of these investigations that are coming to a head are going to be a huge problem. They are disgusted for lack of a better word with what they have seen.


CABRERA: S.E., have you heard more sentiments with the Republicans that you know?

CUPP: Yes, yes. In particular, for House Republicans. This is a very local problem. House Republicans are going home to their constituents right now as we speak, and they are going to have to answer for what they did with two years of total control. Well, they're no closer to getting a wall, in fact, they are probably as far away as they have ever been. The government is shut down. Wall Street just had its worst week in ten years.

There is not a whole lot of progress to show for having total control. And now, those very same Republicans know their job is about to get infinitely harder because Democrats are going to take control of the House, so for those House Republicans, the problem is dealing with voters. The problem isn't the chaos and the insanity in Washington and how frustrated they are with the President. It's very real when they get home and they have to sort of explain what they've done.

CABRERA: Why aren't Republicans sticking up for I guess their own principles? We've heard so many times they talk behind the scenes. We have the anonymous letter, you know, that was written in the "New York Times." But then this week, things change as Maggie Haberman is reporting. As what we saw after Mattis decided to resign. After we saw what happened following Trump's Syria announcement. Keith, why do you think Republicans aren't digging in a little bit deeper this week, in particular, when it comes to the shutdown? At what point is enough, enough, following Trump?

BOYKIN: I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask that question because I'm not a Republican, but you know, my cynical analysis is they're afraid of their base and they are afraid Trump. And so they deep making these political calculations based on what they think will work at that moment.


BOYKIN: I did see a piece in the "New York Times" today, an editorial where they said that the chaos is actually not accidental. It is on purpose, and I agree with that. That Trump's actual strategy is to continue to create more and more chaos to divert from all the different crises going on.

I think the line they used was that, one scandal is an outrage, but multiple scandals is just a statistic. So you can't keep track of how many there are. What's going on from day-to-day, because you are here, you're there, you're everywhere, trying to keep up with all the craziness. That's Trump's goal. He wants us to be all over the map so we can't focus on the fact this is a colossal failure of a President.

CABRERA: So does the chaos get better or worse when Democrats take over the House?

BOYKIN: I don't see it getting better.


CABRERA: No? Your take?

CUPP: No, no, why would it? I mean, Democrats are going to be able to do a lot of things they haven't been able to do in the past. I think they are going to set their sights on Trump and aggressively go after some of the investigations in addition, ethical violation in his Cabinet. I mean there's a lot of real estate for Democrats, you know, coming into the New Year and so there's going to be a lot of sort of pushing back on Trump and Republicans are going to dig in and try to push back on Democrats. It's just going to be, I think another really rough year.

But I do think if there is any maybe silver lining, Republicans, what makes this week different, if Republicans had done better in the midterms, I don't think you'd be seeing Republicans coming out and saying, "Well, wait a second, Mattis is leaving. This Syria thing is a mistake. The shutdown is a mistake." I think they'd go along to get along because it had been working.

But voters really rebuked Republicans in the midterm elections. And so now I think they're getting a little nervous.

BOYKIN: Except that the Republicans who are still in power are the one who are not --

CUPP: Were not rebuked.

BOYKIN: Who are not rebuked, the ones who feel more emboldened to continue that Trump strategy.

CUPP: Yes, but for House Democrats, for House Republicans, I mean, you know, Republicans, voters sent House Republicans a message that was pretty clear. So I think for a lot of House Republicans, less so in the Senate is your point. A lot of House Republicans are feeling a little nervous about the next couple of years with Democrats having to share with Democrats.

CABRERA: Thank you both for being here.

CUPP: Thanks.

BOYKIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: S.E., we'll look for you at the top of the hour. Keith, always good to see you and really appreciate it especially on a holiday weekend to take the time and come on in. Again, "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered" right here on CNN at 6:00. We have new details today on how President Trump lashed out at his acting Attorney General over the explosive revelations made by New York prosecutors he oversees. Details on that, just ahead.

Plus the President's main man in charge of the fight against ISIS now resigning on the heels of James Mattis' resignation. Just the latest official to leave following the President's surprise move to pull troops from Syria. Live in the CNN "Newsroom" when we come back.


CABRERA: Here's something else to add onto the multitude of crises President Trump faces this weekend. Remember Matthew Whitaker? Trump passed over other top Justice Department officials to personally appoint him as acting AG. Democrats immediately cried foul when this happened, they accused President Trump of installing Whitaker to derail the Special Counsel investigation.

Well, CNN has now learned that at least twice in the last month, Trump has lashed out at his new appointee. The first time, after Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, and the second after Trump was implicated in some of Cohen's crimes. We are told that President Trump wanted to know why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors from bringing charges in the first place.

Now this revelation comes the very same week we learned that Whitaker is ignoring advice from an ethics official at the Department of Justice who recommended Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation. Instead, Whitaker is staying on.

I want to bring in former FBI supervisor and special agent and CNN law enforcement analyst, Josh Campbell. Josh closely worked with former FBI director James Comey. What does this new reporting tell you, Josh, about why President Trump maybe picked Whitaker to begin with?

JOSH CAMPBELL, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: So there were a lot of fears out there from people that were concerned about the rule of law, about why would you install someone who has been so critical about the Robert Mueller investigation in the past? And I think for that group, these fears are now being manifest because based on this new reporting, we know that the President was lashing out to his acting Attorney General, showing his frustration, venting about why the Justice Department wasn't controlling prosecutors in New York, who as we know, looking into his former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen.

It raises a lot of concerns on a couple of different levels. The first of which being we know that Whitaker has been on the record critical of the Mueller investigation. But beyond that, there has been this long held norm, this wall between the White House and the Justice Department when it comes to criminal investigations.

Now, it appears as though President Trump hasn't learned the lesson, when he has run afoul of that before. We know the reporting from the former FBI director James Comey about how he, the President, allegedly asked him to make the Flynn matter go away, for example. There was also reporting from the "New York Times" that the President was talking to his own lawyer about using the Justice Department to go after his political enemies, to go after Comey and after Clinton.

And so, again, there was obviously backlash whenever that reporting came out that shows that he still continues to push forward and isn't concerned by that norm that the White House should not be meddling in the affairs of the Justice Department.

CABRERA: So what can Robert Mueller do given Whitaker is technically his boss? He is overseeing his investigation?

CAMPBELL; So there is not a lot Mueller can do and I bet this is news to him and obviously, this has been something that we have all been looking at, was Whitaker brought in to make the Mueller investigation go away? Now, up to now it hasn't. He could if he want to. I think that that would have caused such public backlash.


CAMPBELL: We now know that House Democrats will be assuming power in the House of Representatives, so if he did act in a way that would make the Mueller case go away, obviously, he would have a lot to answer for to Congress. So that hasn't happened yet.

But nevertheless, if you are Mueller and his team, you are looking at these developments to include this latest reporting that we had where the official nominee, William Barr had actually written this unsolicited memo to the Justice Department critical of the Mueller case.

So a lot of people that are experts in law enforcement and our lay people that are looking at this rule of law issues are very concerned when you see these things lining up.

CABRERA: I understand, Josh, he has some new reporting about maybe where the Mueller investigation is headed?

CAMPBELL: Yes, it's very interesting. You know, they are lost in all the chaos from the last week and all the reporting on the National Security side was this secret court hearing that took place in the District of Columbia. We talked about it on our air. Where basically, it was this weird kind of bizarre scenario, where the court officers were locking down a floor on the courthouse. They weren't letting nobody in. There was something that was obviously very sensitive that was taking place in there.

And what we learned is that there is actually a grand jury subpoena that was issued, we presume by Robert Mueller's team, it's not listed by name, but a lot of the facts are lining up based on people we saw coming and going and the like. So we think this is coming from Robert Mueller and it is to this company that is owned by a foreign entity asking for records pursuant and applicable to a criminal investigation.

Now, what the company had said was, "Look, we're a foreign entity, we cannot comply with your laws without violating our own." Now, this went before a three-judge panel of appellate judges in the District of Columbia, who weren't convinced. They said, "No, you can't comply. What we are learning just actually minutes ago was that it appears as though that same filing is now being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court so that company that lost with the appellate court is now elevating that at an additional level.

We don't know what will take place from then if the Supreme Court would actually take that on and look at it. But again, this appears as though this might be the first instance where you have the Mueller investigation colliding with the Supreme Court and we will just have to stay tuned and see how they rule.

CABRERA: Glad we got that on. Thank you for being here. Josh Campbell, good to see you.

President Trump's announcement that he was pulling U.S. troops from Syria shocked allies and members of his own party? So how is the President now reacting to the fallout and the backlash? Plus, another high ranking official leading the fight against ISIS resigning today in the wake of the President's announcement. So is he making a mistake? We'll discuss, next.



[17:31:57] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We are just getting this news into CNN. President Trump is set to remain in Washington through Christmas due to the government shutdown, if that's an indication of just how long this shutdown can last.

President Trump's surprise announcement to pull U.S. troops out of Syria earlier this week stunned U.S. allies and even members of his own party. It is prompting his own top officials to now head to the door. We are learning Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy in charge of the fight against ISIS, is walking away, specifically because of Trump's Syria plans.

Trump's claim on Twitter that the U.S. defeated ISIS comes a week after McGurk said this.


BRETT MCGURK, U.S. ENVOY IN CHARGE OF FIGHTING ISIS: Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished. A collapse of the caliphate is one phase of a much longer-term campaign.

We are prepared to maintain the stabilization in Iraq and Syria. This will really take a period of years. We have obviously learned a lot of lessons in the past. We know that once a physical space is defeated we can't just pick up and leave. There are clandestined cells. Nobody is saying they will disappear. Nobody is that naive.


CABRERA: McGurk's resignation on Friday comes one day after secretary of defense, James Mattis, quit after unsuccessfully trying to change President Trump's mind on withdrawing from Syria.

Joining us now, CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

Elise, what do we know about McGurk's decision to leave?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Ana, he was going to leave at the end of the February. He was going to be taking up a position at Stanford University. He has been in government a long time and was going to spend some time out of government. But Brett McGurk, as you saw right there, talking about the U.S. policy to stay in Syria, not only defeat the remnants of ISIS but to counter Iran and Iranian proxies in Syria. He was, in fact, in the region meeting with Iraqi leaders, Ana, when President Trump made that announcement that the U.S. would be pulling out. He was actually telling the Iraqi leaders that the U.S. was prepared to stay. So he felt not only was his credibility on the line, but also that he was not the one to defend this policy, let alone, execute it. He thought it was sudden. He thought it was reckless. And people close to his decision-making said that he just thought that he couldn't serve any longer. Like Mattis, he was expected to leave at some point, but just felt like he couldn't continue to serve.

CABRERA: Elise Labott, thanks for your reporting. Happy holidays, my friend.

I want to talk to two people who know the Pentagon, top to bottom. Mara Karlin, professor of international studies at Johns Hopkins University, but perhaps more fascinating, is someone who held security and policy positions for five U.S. secretaries of defense under Democratic and Republican administration. And also with us, Rick Francona, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and former military attache in Syria.

First, Mattis out, now Brett McGurk, the U.S. front man in the fighting against ISIS, he is leaving, also unable to work with this president.

Mara, is this just the beginning of a potential snowball effect, in your opinion?

[17:35:05] MARA KARLIN, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: It's quite possible. I mean, frankly, the palace intrigue over the last few months has been the question of whether Secretary Mattis would choose to resign? Would it be the March, in springtime, over North Korea, over the border deployment, the Jamal Khashoggi affair, when the president chose a different individual to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs officer for the U.S. military? What would it be? We've seen one after another, after another. Clearly, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

CABRERA: Colonel Francona, do you agree? How difficult is it for the four-star commander, general, to flip the bird, albeit respectfully, on the way out?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Respectfully. He did make his points quite clearly in that letter about his disagreements. Not only over the Syria matter, the way we are treating our different series of alliances around the world. I felt it was a well-written, cogently prepared letter.

I agree with Mara. I believe this was the straw that broke the camel's back. What you are seeing with McGurk is probably indicative of what's going on throughout the Pentagon right now. I don't think you will see a lot of retirements, but you will see a lot of pushback on what's going on here, because -- and I agree with general -- I'm sorry, I agree with the secretary of defense, I agree with Brett McGurk -- this is the absolute wrong thing to do. We are repeating the mistakes in the past in Afghanistan and Iraq and I can't believe that President Trump is going down that same path. So I think he's going to get a lot of pushback. But he is the president and he will probably now surround himself with people who are going to go along with this. So I think we're probably not going to be able to reverse this awful decision. CABRERA: A defense official explained Mattis' resignation to CNN this

way: "The president was the only one elected and must execute his agenda. To do that, he needs people who share his points of view."

Mara, since you worked for five defense secretaries, are the conversations between a president and his defense secretary typically my way or the highway?

KARLIN: No. Traditionally, you have a dialogue one would outline a number of different options the pros and cons of those options, it is the president's choice and the appointee that is the secretary of defense has to decide, can they go along with this or not. I think what we have seen is Secretary Mattis saw he could not go along. What's extraordinary about his letter to the president is it's actually pretty obvious, it is saying things like we need to support our allies and partners, things that under regular circumstance would not be so astonishing.

CABRERA: We know that Syria was one of the last straws for, obviously, Secretary Mattis and now McGurk. McGurk saying ISIS is not defeated.

Colonel Francona, give us the best-case/worst-case scenario for what happens when the U.S. leaves there?

FRANCONA: I can give you the worst case, the fight against ISIS will slow down. It's going to have to. We know that Erdogan has designs on moving forces east of the Euphrates to the Iraqi border. He said he is going to do that. I don't know that the president has talked him out of that, maybe that's a part of the deal why we are going to leave. But if the Turks move in anyway against northern Syria, we're going to see what happened the last time they did this. The SDF, Syrian Democratic Forces, mostly made up of the Kurds, who the Turks believe are a bunch of terrorists, are going to stop fighting ISIS, they're the primary force on the ground against ISIS. They are effective. They will stop fighting ISIS. They will redeploy to their home areas to defend what they believe their family and their territory. The fight against ISIS will take the back burner. We can continue artillery and air. We will not be able to move on the ground. That's the worst-case scenario, the fighting with ISIS falls apart. The best-case scenario, there isn't one.

CABRERA: That's bleak.

Mara, before I let you go, I want to touch on the government shutdown at least. This is the third government shutdown in a year. What message does this send to the rest of the world? Does it expose a national security vulnerability?

KARLIN: Absolutely. Because we can't just see this shutdown outside of context. It's a week where the secretary of defense has resigned, where you see the counter ISIS-coalition leader resigning, the president deciding to substantially reduce the military pasture in Afghanistan, to pull the U.S. military out of Syria. It's one thing after another after another that is leading U.S. allies and partners around the world, America's comparative advantage to look around and say, wait a second, what is happening here? Is this still the team I want to be on?

CABRERA: This is an important discussion.

Mara Karlin, Colonel Rick Francona, I really appreciate you joining me this week, and especially around the holidays. Thank you.

[17:40:10] FRANCONA: Thank you.

KARLIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: We are learning much more now about the death of college football player, Jordan McNair. Some just-released body cam footage could reveal a lot about the slow response by paramedics after he collapsed from heat stroke. We'll have details just ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:45:02] CABRERA: Welcome back. The University of Maryland has finally released surveillance video showing the medical response to a football player who collapsed during practice and died. And 119-year- old, Jordan McNair suffered heat stroke during an off-season workout. The new footage raises more questions about the response by paramedics. An independent report found that more than an hour passed before a team trainer called 911 after McNair showed symptoms of heat stroke.

CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now with the details -- Nick?


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, for months, the media requested for this video to be released, but were repeatedly denied that request by the University of Maryland. They say they wanted to wait for the attorney general's office in the state to finish their investigation. Now, that's happened. Here we are, six months since the death of Jordan McNair, seeing these clips for the first time. What is evident in this video -- you can hear for yourself in a moment -- is frustration on behalf of the first responding officers, truly frustrated. It can only be described as a lack of urgency.

We want to be clear about one thing. According to an independent investigation, the paramedics, whose lag time was blamed in part for leading to the death of Jordan McNair, they weren't found entirely responsible.

That report concluded they weren't given proper instructions where that lag time happened.

But it is clear these officers in the clip are frustrated. McNair are not seen in the video. Large chunks are redacted. What is clear is that frustrating.


UNIDENTIFIED FIRST RESPONDER: Did they ever bring him inside? Still outside, Jesus.


VALENCIA: The first ambulance to respond has no paramedic. Now that is the standard in Prince Georges County. It took another seven to eight minutes for a second ambulance to show up with paramedics. But by the time Jordan McNair got to the hospital, that independent investigation concluded that too little was done too late.

If you remember this story when it happened, in late May, two weeks later, Jordan McNair died from that off-season workout. It led to the suspension of the coach, D.J. Durkin. He was eventually fired. The strength and conditioning coach also stepped down. Witnesses said that it was that strength and conditioning coach who continued to run McNair even though McNair complained of not feeling well. There was also ramifications for the university president, who is scheduled to step down from his post in June of 2019.

We did reach out to the family of McNair to try to get a comment about this video to see if they will pursue their own civil litigation. It's not clear right now. We are waiting on their comments -- Ana?


CABRERA: Nick Valencia, thank you.

With the government partially shut down, administration officials running for the exits, Wall Street having its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, the president still says he is better than everyone at, well, everything.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know words. I have the best words.

I think I have the best temperament.

Look, nobody has better toys than I do.



[17:52:24] CABRERA: According to Donald Trump, nobody knows more about practically everything than Donald Trump.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember how Muhammad Ali always used to call himself the greatest of all time? Well, now it's President Trump calling himself the greatest at all times.

TRUMP: I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do.

Nobody knows more about trade than me.

Nobody knows more about construction than I do.

MOOS: What field doesn't he excel in?

TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

Nobody knows more about environmental impact statements than me.

There's nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.

MOOS: It's enough to make your head explode.

TRUMP: Nobody knows the politicians better than I do, believe me.

MOOS: Even political opponents like Cory Booker. "I know more about Cory than he knows about himself."

TRUMP: Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.

MOOS: President Trump sure knows how to spew superlatives.

TRUMP: I know words. I have the best words.

I think I have the best temperament.

Look, nobody has better toys than I do.

MOOS: And from a guy who doesn't like to read, this --

TRUMP: And nobody loves the Bible more than I do.

MOOS (on camera): Thou shalt not exaggerate, Mr. President.

(voice-over): For years, journalists have been chronicling Donald Trump's breath-taking self-admiration, delivered in the third person, no less.

TRUMP: Because nobody's ever had crowds like Trump has had.

MOOS (on camera): Occasionally, President Trump has demonstrated a flash of humility, a moment of modesty.

TRUMP: I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone.

MOOS (voice-over): Almost anyone.

You mean someone understands tax laws better than he does?


MOOS: He can do better.

TRUMP: Get better leak than me? I have better everything than they have, including this.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --



MOOS: -- New York.


CABRERA: All right, from the "you have to see it to believe it" file, check this out. A BMW flies through the air. Terrifying video, really. A driver in Slovakia who fell asleep at the wheel drifts off the roadway and launches off a guardrail before entering a tunnel. He grazes the top of the tunnel there before landing. The craziest part, the 44-year-old driver walked away with just minor injuries.

London's Gatwick Airport is expected to be back on track after drones delayed nearly 150,000 passengers. Two people have been arrested in connection with criminal use of the drones. Airport officials say about 1,000 flights were canceled or diverted during the 32-hour shutdown. Officials say passengers should expect some delays and still some cancellations today as they continue to recover.

[17:55:08] Sentenced to death, racing against the clock. Was the trial fair? And what story does the evidence tell? Is the wrong person behind bars? The time for justice is running out. "Death Row Stories," the complete third season, airs tonight at 9:00 eastern here on CNN.

That does it for me for now. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I'll be back in just one hour from now.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage in the meantime of today's news right after a quick break.


[18:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.