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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Tsunami Slams Into Indonesian Beaches Killing At Least 222; Government Shutdown Likely to Continue After Christmas; U.S. Envoy in ISIS Fight Resigns Over Withdrawal from Syria; 8 for 2018: Top Trending Stories. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 23, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:00:19] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Leyla Santiago in for Christi Paul this morning.

BLACKWELL: We're starting this hour with a breaking news out of Indonesia. At least 222 people now are dead after a tsunami crashed into the region last night. More than 800 people have been hurt, dozens are still missing.

SANTIAGO: The tsunami slammed into residential areas, destroying everything in its path clear from the images there. Officials say there was no warning before it hit. It appears this was likely caused by underwater landslides triggered by a volcanic eruption.

So, take a look at this. It is the moment the tsunami crashed into a live concert.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

SANTIAGO: Seemingly out of nowhere there. Red Cross officials say they expect the death toll to rise.

CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is following the latest.

Ivan, what exactly is the latest right now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Well, this was supposed to be a holiday weekend in Indonesia, a time when some of these beach resorts were full of Indonesian tourists. Since it is the national holiday coming up, Christmas in Indonesia, and, instead, at around 9:37 p.m. on Saturday night, that is when a wall of water crashed into stretches of the coast of Western Java, of Eastern Sumatra, along the Sunda Strait.

There were no advanced warnings because this tsunami is believed to have been caused by an underwater landslide triggered by not an earthquake, as Indonesia has seen in recent months, but a volcano. Specifically, Anak Krakatau, that's the volcanic island in the middle of the strait, some of our viewers may recognize its origin. Krakatau, one of the most legendary volcanoes of the 19th century, erupted in 1883, killed more than 30,000 people and sent up such a big ash cloud that it's believed that world global temperatures plunged as a result. And this island sprung up a half a century later, it had been very active in recent months, but scientists in Indonesia believe that the tsunami was made worse because there was a full moon Saturday night and a high tide.

So, again, no warning at all and that is why you see images like that wall of water crashing through the stage as people are celebrating, partying on a Saturday night. Now, the president of Indonesia, he has expressed condolences to the country. We know that aid organizations and Indonesian emergency workers are rushing to the area as well. One of the main roads has been damaged by the tsunami. Indonesian authority say it was perhaps a meter and a half high and went in distances of about 500 meters inland and is just another terrifying natural disaster for a country that is still reeling from other deadly tsunamis as recently as last September -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ivan Watson for us there -- Ivan, thank you so much for the latest that is happening in Indonesia.

And let's show that video of the moment that the tsunami crashed into that band that was playing live.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

SANTIAGO: My goodness. And if you watch this video before even this, you see there are children in the crowd. These are families, adults. It was a gathering for an employer there at the lead singer of the band posted this video on social media just hours after the tsunami.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIEFIAN FAJARSYAN, VOCALIST, SEVENTEEN BAND (through translator): I just want to say that our bass player Banny (ph) and our manager Hokey Wejia (ph) passed away. I also ask for prayers for my friend Indy (ph), Harman (ph) and Hujan (ph) who are still missing at this time. Also my dear wife is still missing.

The rest of us have broken bones, minor injuries, including me, but we are fine. Please pray that we can find Indy, Harman and Hujan and my wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: This is a story that continues to develop and we will keep bringing you updates on the story throughout the morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Washington appears poised to enter what could be a lengthy shutdown.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: No further votes will occur until the president and Senate Democrats have reached an agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White House officials say the president is not budging from his demand for $5 billion for a border wall.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: As lawmakers battle it out over border wall budgeting, the showdown nightmare is likely to continue after Christmas.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the next formal session is scheduled for Thursday and still no deal in sight.

Senior correspondent -- congressional correspondent Manu Raju is there live in Washington for us.

Manu, good morning to you.

And we don't know how long this will go but we do have at least a minimum now based on what we are hearing from the majority leader on when senators will be back to hopefully vote on something.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Thursday is the earliest the Senate back in session and House too. If any deal is reached, members are supposed to be given 24 hours notice to return to town before voting.

The reality here, Victor and Leyla, is that the chances of a shutdown going for more than just days but potentially weeks is increasing significantly because of the fact that Democrats are regaining control of the House on January 3rd. There's little sensitive for Democratic leaders to go anywhere near the president's demand, not even -- not even talking about the $5 billion of money that he's demanding for his wall on the southern border, but even the 2.5 million that Vice President Mike Pence has been pitching privately, according to sources, to Senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer himself has rejected those demands in a meeting yesterday.

Democrats don't see any reason to budge beyond what Nancy Pelosi and Schumer have already offered, $1.3 billion for border security. They are saying that the wall should be completely off the table. The president showing no signs of giving up on that topic. Yesterday, rather than speaking to congressional Democrats, he had lunch with some of his closest supporters, Republican supporters on this issue, instead, dispensing Mike Pence on Capitol Hill to see if there was any resolution.

Well, the fact they are no closer to a resolution suggests this could go on for very likely days, if not weeks. And, Victor and Leyla, Chuck Schumer made it very clear on the Senate floor yesterday when he said, President Trump, at that time wall off the table. The president does not want to go there. So we could see a roughly a quarter of the government shutdown for some time, with no end in sight -- Victor and Leyla.

BLACKWELL: All right. Manu Raju for us in Washington, thanks so much.

SANTIAGO: And the White House isn't just fighting the budget battle. President Trump is also floating the idea of firing the Fed chairman he picked, announcing suddenly troop withdrawals and struggling to file cabinet vacancies.

CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles joins us live from the White House.

Ryan, the president staying in Washington for Christmas, and Melania is heading up there as well.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Leyla. And that is not normal for president of the United States and not just Donald Trump. You have to go back to Bill Clinton's administration to find a president who went somewhere other than Washington for Christmas, but that's exactly where President Trump will be, understanding the optics of this budget battle and the fact the government will remain shutdown over the Christmas holiday.

To Manu's point, though, it doesn't appear that the president has any interest in backing down from this position that he has taken that he wants some level of border funding in this package that will reopen the government. You have to remember that the president had cut a deal with both Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans, as well as members of the House to pass a clean continuing resolution that would keep the government open until February.

But at the 11th hour, after a lot of pressure from conservative leaders and particularly conservative media members, the president reversed course and, as a result, that has put him in a very difficult position. If he even bends a little bit to Senate Democrats, it will look as though he is losing this battle. So, the president seems prepared to dig in what could be a lengthy fight. The president will remain here in Washington the next several days.

But at this point, there isn't a ton of talking between either side, it's very difficult to see where the resolution comes in terms of the shutdown which means this will be a busy week in Washington when normally over the holidays, it is very quiet -- Leyla and Victor.

SANTIAGO: Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.

You know, one the president's most outspoken critics, Republican Senator Bob Corker, joining our Jake Tapper for an exclusive interview this morning.

[07:10:03] Be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, another administration official is leaving because of the president's decision to withdraw troops from Syria. Does the move make Americans less safe at home? The former assistant secretary for the Homeland Security Department joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANTIAGO: Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with murder of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco. Four of them suspected of carrying out the killings, the rest are alleged connected to the murder suspects. Officials are looking at terrorism as a possible motive.

Louisa Jespersen and Maren Ueland were found dead in the high Atlas mountain nearly a week ago. Authorities are reviewing a video that allegedly shows the murders and was uploaded to social media.

Another high ranking official in the Trump administration has quit over the president's sudden decision to pull out to U.S. troops out of Syria.

[07:15:04] BLACKWELL: According to two senior officials, Brett McGurk saw the situation as reckless and could not bring himself to defend or execute it.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: U.S. envoy in charge of the fight against ISIS has resigned. Brett McGurk told Secretary Pompeo on Friday night that he would be leaving his post on December 31st. Now, McGurk was expected to leave in February to take up a post at Stanford University, but his decision to leave early came on the heels of President Trump's sudden announcement he would be withdrawing all troops from Syria.

Now, McGurk just days earlier was talking to reporters about the new U.S. policy to stay in Syria, not only to defeat the remnants of ISIS but also to counter Iran. In fact, McGurk was in the region of meeting with coalition partners to discuss this policy and was sitting with Iraqi leaders, talking about the U.S. commitment to stay in Syria when President Trump tweeted that the U.S. would be withdrawing from

Syria. People familiar with McGurk's thinking saying that not only can he feel his credibility was on the line, but also he doesn't feel he would be able to defend, let alone execute that policy. McGurk has been the envoy dealing with the 70 plus-member coalition to fight ISIS since 2013, first serving as the deputy to John Allen and taking over as envoy himself, clearly has done a lot to reduce the presence of ISIS. But as he said, there are still remnants, and he said it would be reckless for the U.S. to withdraw precipitously.

I'm also told the decision by James Mattis, who he was very close to, affected his decision. McGurk saying that he could no longer serve the president in this policy against Syria.

Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLACKWELL: Elise, thank you.

Joining me now to discuss this, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette also served as President Obama's assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security.

Juliette, welcome back.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Good morning to you.

So, let's start the president's first official statement on this, a response typical on Twitter. The president tweeted yesterday, Brett McGurk, who I do not know -- we'll get to that in a moment -- was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The fake news is making such a big deal about this nothing event.

This is not a nothing event but frame for us why this is so significant.

KAYYEM: Well, I think it's significant, at least in the fight against ISIS and more generally the fight against terrorism for three reasons. I think, first, is ISIS is not dead. As you just reported about what happened in Morocco with these poor Scandinavian women. Westerners are targets of ISIS attacks abroad. Secondly, to the extent that the homeland threat tends to be, you know, these lone wolves or these people that are radicalized here and take out action here in the U.S. You know, a lot of what motivates them is a sense that ISIS is winning, sense that ISIS has strengths.

So, what has been beneficial the last couple of years, I'll give the Trump administration credit for this, is a sense that ISIS was on its knees. So, to vacate prematurely really is in the words of McGurk reckless.

The third area I think will impact us in the homeland and abroad is, of course, the sense that our word is unreliable. When you think about McGurk sitting there in Iraq saying we are here and the president tweeting, what is that going to say to our allies or a coalition that is so necessary to stop ISIS and to stop the terror threat? In the end, I think, the sense that we are unreliable, that our word doesn't mean anything, that the coalition does not stand, that in the end is the biggest threat to our homeland.

BLACKWELL: Independent of the allies, but the people who work for the president, those who work in the State Department, the Department of Defense. When you were sent out to sell the U.S. policy and while you're there, the policy takes a 180, what does that mean to the people who are trying to support this president?

KAYYEM: Well, I think it means that -- let me say we are seeing this in the same way with the shut down, that no word matters, except for President Trump's and that is no way to run a government. It's unsustainable. I think it will, obviously, undermine negotiations and diplomacy that go on across the world, not just with ISIS or Syria or Iraq, but, of course, in Europe, Latin America, China, or wherever else.

[07:20:04] The sense that whatever the diplomats or military folks are saying is not verifiable until President Trump validates it. We don't work that way in this country. We have cabinet members who set agendas and we have diplomats and, you know, government workers who then implement those agendas. So, I think it's sort of a disaster for our word in terms of government employees.

As you note in the tweet that President Trump sent out yesterday about McGurk, I mean, it's kind of a self-own. How can the president not know the lead person fighting the -- you know, fighting the ISIS threat? In the end it may Trump look completely out to lunch in terms of counterterrorism efforts.

BLACKWELL: That is what I didn't understand. The president claims he doesn't know or didn't know people and Twitter will be flooded with pictures of him with this person on several occasions. Is it even possible that the president could not know the U.S. enjoy in this fight against ISIS? I mean, is that realistic?

KAYYEM: Yes, I think it is with this administration. Most administrations would have -- I worked in an agency would have a process by which agency professionals and subject matter leads would brief the White House, either the principles of cabinet secretaries and in most cases the president, himself, because when you think about our foreign policy priorities, certainly the fight against ISIS is one of them.

And I think we have to view the McGurk thing in the context of Mattis. That one-two punch is really just a statement, not just to the world about the fact that the process is not holding, that there is no control over a president who does things like end the war on ISIS by tweet, but also I think internally, in terms of confidence that this president knows actually I'm going to be blunt here, knows what he is doing. I mean, it's just if he watches TV and he makes a decision about our troops as compared to taking the subject matter and expertise of people who actually know what they are doing.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the catalyst of these two departures and the decision to reverse U.S. policy in Syria and the commitment of this administration to fighting ISIS. I want to play for you something that senior policy adviser Steven miller said with our Wolf Blitzer. I don't think this is getting enough attention, but he really articulates the view of the work that Americans have done in Syria and the fight against ISIS. Listen and then we will talk.

KAYYEM: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let's defend our national security. Let's put America first and not spill American blood to fight the enemy of other can you see as in the case of Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The enemies of other countries, considering there have been Americans who have been beheaded, who have been killed by members or people who have been inspired by ISIS. Your take on that framework.

KAYYEM: It's just sort of remarkable. ISIS's sort of Philosophy is, obviously, to attack the United States and Western interests. We have seen not just occur, say, in Paris but other European cities but, of course, here in the United States with people inspired by ISIS. As I said in the beginning, ISIS gains its traction, not just by physical strongholds abroad in Iraq and Syria, not just by owning and controlling land, but also by being able to recruit others who view ISIS as the winning team.

And so, what's been beneficial and why haven't we had -- you know, as I said, to the credit of the Trump administration, what has been beneficial with this sort of destruction of ISIS, not the death of is, but destruction of ISIS is that it has stopped a lot of that -- of that sort of radicalization.

And so, this idea that ISIS had been a threat to Western Europe or the United States is just a hysterical factually inaccurate and assumes that ISIS can't reform. I think what people -- look, ideologies like ISIS, they don't die, right? I mean, they will exist. We still know they exist. But how we win is that that we make that philosophy not successful in terms of attacks, in terms of ownership of land, so that the ideology withers at the vine.

And that is what we were doing with ISIS and both, you know, Mattis and McGurk sort of are saying, you know, this sort of decision by the president is premature and reckless, and almost everyone agrees with that, including our allies.

BLACKWELL: One of their last joint media availabilities, Chairman Dunford and Mr. McGurk said ISIS is a clandestine organization and other cells popping up in the area that were cleared by U.S. forces but this ideology they still have to fight and the commitment of that beyond the commitment on the ground, we'll have to see how this administration holds to that.

[07:25:10] Quickly before I let you go. Mattis is now leaving. McGurk is now leaving. Would you expect because this is such a reversal there on to be more high-level departures specifically because of this Syria policy?

KAYYEM: Well, it may not be the Syria policy, but to the extent that this sort of recklessness and the tweets and everything going on with the White House right now is sort of this last week, as I would call it. The person I'm looking at right now is Gina Haspel, the CIA director. You know, we are starting to hear reports that the president's reaction to the Khashoggi killing and undermining the CIA's assessment that clearly the royal family and the Saudi prince were essentially -- it was a targeted assassination, I would look to members of the intelligence community getting some sort of support by what Mattis and McGurk are doing. So that's what I'm looking out for in the next couple of weeks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Juliette Kayyem, always good to have you.

KAYYEM: Thank you and happy holidays.

BLACKWELL: You too.

SANTIAGO: We continue to following breaking news this hour. New video of that deadly tsunami in Indonesia overnight. Hundreds are dead. The latest developments, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:31:03] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Leyla Santiago, in for Christi Paul. We are continuing to follow that breaking news out of Indonesia. Let's give you the latest. At least 222 people are dead after a large tsunami crashed into the region overnight. More than 800 are hurt and dozens still missing.

BLACKWELL: As in often the case with tsunamis, there was no warning before this. It slammed into residential areas, destroying everything in its path.

We have new video in that just came in. Let's look at this. This is aerial video. You're looking straight down here and you can see just the destruction everywhere.

SANTIAGO: And this is actually one of the hardest hit areas here. A big concern now will be getting the aid to come in to help people with really destroyed lives. There is debris everywhere. One of the main roads between the two impacted areas we are told is creating some issues. This video also new coming in.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is the second video. You saw there that there was a passable road in the last clip. But here, impassible. One person is just trying to step through here. What we don't know is how many people were in these homes, in these buildings. Of course, the rescue efforts have begun. Still, dozens of people missing.

The latest number we have, more than 800 people injured. We have got more video here of the destruction across this part of Indonesia from this tsunami.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIEFIAN FAJARSYAN, VOCALIST, SEVENTEEN BAND (through translator): The rest of us have broken bones, minor injuries, including me, but we are fine. Please pray.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): That water came so fast. So many people were running and were washed away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The eruption is less likely to be warned. It is quite sudden. Although it is not being -- whether it is due a volcanic eruption or -- some other movement in the ocean. But, yes, it is quite sudden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTAGO: I want to bring in CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Allison, the officials there are saying this was caused, or they believe it was caused by an underwater landslide. Not typically how it happens there. Break that down for me. What is this exactly?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a lot of people probably waking up wanting to know what is an underwater landslide? It's not a common term you hear.

So, here is what we know. The volcano erupted yet on Saturday. In doing so, you get a lot of the rock that's underneath the surface that gets displaced. It falls down to below the surface. In doing that, it pushes up that water, generating that tsunami wave.

Now, locally speaking, for a lot of those areas along the coastlines, this can be a very severe tsunami. It's a very localized tsunami, but even still, you have the two islands between Java and Sumatra. This is where the volcano, Anak Krakatau, exists between those two. So, both of those coastlines on those islands were affected.

Here is the thing, though. The volcano is not just going to standpoint because it erupted once. It is very still likely it will continue to erupt and subsequent underwater landslides could still happen. So, for a lot of these folks that live along this region, you will have to stay alert for any subsequent tsunamis that may take place.

Here is a look at the satellite imagery. You can even see the eruption plume as it took place yesterday.

BLACKWELL: Allison, typically, we have been on air together when these have happened in the past. You often go straight to USGS, you go to the local authority on matters like this. What are you getting from them? And I understand there's a link to the government shutdown in the United States?

[07:35:01] CHINCHAR: Yes. So, for example, the U.S. Geological Survey's website says they are dealing with limited support and put out limited products. They just don't have the staff nor are they allowed to put out stuff during this time of the shutdown.

So, your normal websites, U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and that center has not put out an alert since before the government shutdown took place. And again, the local agency that is here in Indonesia, the BMKG, their website has been crashing consistently over the last 24 hours just because they are the only agency that you can now get information from since the two U.S. agencies are no longer supplying enough information.

SANTIAGO: Tough situation made even worse. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: And take a look at this. I think if the control room can pop this up. Do we have full screen we can show people here? This tweet as well from -- just giving you an idea of how broad the government shutdown is and in incidents like this that happen halfway around the world, thousands of miles away, how it still impacts people there.

Look at this. This is a tweet from the U.S. embassy in Jakarta where people would be going for updates. Due to the lapse in appropriations, this Twitter feed will not be updated regularly. Please visit the State Department on Twitter for updates.

SANTIAGO: Right. And they have said don't believe there are foreigners involved but typically we would get communication on that from the U.S. embassy there.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

SANTIAGO: All right. Speaking of that shutdown, Christmas cancelled? Not really. But it is affecting the national Christmas tree site. We will explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:42:03] BLACKWELL: So, the partial government shutdown is affecting so much of the holiday season and one Christmas favorite is already feeling the impact.

SANTIAGO: We're talking about the national Christmas tree near the White House. You see, the park service shut it down Friday after a man climbed the tree and refuse to come down, and this, by the way, was over an hour. Now, they can't reopen it because there aren't any funds to fix the damage that the man caused to the tree.

So, a bit of a bummer there.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

SANTIAGO: But, you know, no worries. The government shutdown not putting a lid around here on the Christmas spirit, right, right?

BLACKWELL: Right.

SANTIAGO: OK, good.

BLACKWELL: Right, Leyla.

SANTIAGO: I thought I was alone on that!

BLACKWELL: Here is Decatur, Georgia, community choir to get you in the mood.

(OAKLHURT COMMUNITY CHOIR SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:49:13] BLACKWELL: 2018, I mean, this has been a busy, busy year. We are not just talking politics, sports, business, entertainment.

SANTIAGO: All over.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin takes a look at some of the trending stories that captured our attention in our "Eight in 2008 Series."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 2018 was the year of the social media activists. People across the country speaking out against sexual assault, gun violence, and racism. #Activism proved it's a force to be reckoned with.

Here are top eight trending stories of the year.

Times up in 2018.

[07:50:01] On January 1st, a group of women in the film industry unveiled Times Up as an anti-harassment action plan, a sequel to last year's #MeToo reckoning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just pushing the movement along and doing what we can in our voices and our solidarity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in solidarity with women everywhere, saying time's up. Enough is enough on sexual harassment, assault, abuse of power.

BALDWIN: The group created a legal defense fund to support women who encounter sexual assault, harassment or inequality in the workplace, especially those outside the entertainment industry who lack financial or legal resources.

OPRAH WINFREY, CELEBRITY TV HOST: And now that we've all joined as one voice, it feels like empowerment to those women who never had it.

BALDWIN: Number seven --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laurel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yanny.

BALDWIN: Do you hear yanny, do you hear laurel? Similar to 2015's great dress debate, a computerized recording of two seemingly unrelated words divided the Internet again in 2018.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says laurel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Play it again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yanny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yanny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

BALDWIN: It seems everyone had an opinion from law enforcement --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we've determined right now is that the audio sound you've been hear something actually the name "laurel."

BALDWIN: To Capitol Hill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It is "laurel" and not "yanny." All right? Come on. How many "laurel" fans here? Thank you.

BALDWIN: In the end, science called a winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you heard "laurel," you are correct.

BALDWIN: And like the dress, yanny or laurel served as proof it doesn't take much to break the internet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spiderman, as he was being dubbed.

BALDWIN: He was a young migrant from Mali living in the shadows. But in the span of 30 seconds, Mamoudou Gassama's selfless act of bravery captivated the world. Gassama scaled a four-story building in Paris with his bare hands to save a child's life.

For his heroism, French President Emmanuel Macron granted him citizenship. Gassama now works with the Paris fire brigade.

Number five, deep sigh of relief after 38 agonizing minutes. With nuclear tensions between North Korea and the United States running high, people in Hawaii got this text: Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediately shelter. This is not a drill.

An emergency alert that sent panicked families seeking shelter anywhere they could, some even putting their children in storm drains. Within 12 minutes, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that that this was a false alarm, but there's no word from the governor, who admitted that he forgot his Twitter password.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened today is totally unacceptable.

BALDWIN: It took 38 minutes for the emergency system to declare a false alarm.

Number four, a different kind of activism rocks the Internet. When dozens of viral videos exposing racism aimed at African-Americans. #BBQBecky, #PermitPatty, #PoolPatrolPaul, these women got the mean treatment after they called police on black people doing every day things in public places even Starbucks got its share of social media scorn after two black men were arrested for waiting at a store in Philadelphia. Starbucks later apologized for the incident, and launched employee anti-bias training.

Number three, Professor Christine Blasey-Ford, publicly accounting her alleged sexual assault. CHRISTINE BLASEY-FORD, PROFESSOR: It was hard for me to believe and I

thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

BALDWIN: Ford then accused then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were just teenagers, an accusation he repeatedly denied. President Trump mocked Ford's testimony during a campaign rally.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember.

Where was the place? I don't remember. How many years ago? I don't know. I don't know.

BALDWIN: In a series of tweets, Trump claimed that the attack Ford alleged, quote, was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities. The #webelieveDrFord, believe survivors, and #DearProfessorFord started trending as hundreds of thousands of women took to social media to express their solidarity and the #whyIdidntreport, after their own sexual assault experiences of no one believing them.

Number two, in Parkland, Florida, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school turned the worst day of their lives into a political movement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can say, yes, we're going to do all these things, thoughts and prayers. What we need more than that is action.

[07:55:01] BALDWIN: Students created the Never Again Movement, to prevent gun violence and help organize the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., which became the most tweeted about movement of all of 2018. More than $2.5 million was raised for March for Our Lives, Facebook fund-raisers and President Barack Obama's inspirational tweet about the march became the second most liked tweet of the year.

And number one, never before has a president used social media quite like this, communicating directly with more than his 57 million followers. From antagonistic tweets about world leaders and political foes to trafficking in half truths, @RealDonaldTrump helps set the day for the news coverage and political discourse. Whether he's blasting what he calls the rigged witch hunt of the Mueller investigation, calling the media fake news or heaping praise on allies and supporters, the president tweeted and retweeted more than 3,000 times in 2018 and is the most tweeted about political figure of the year.

TRUMP: Make America Great Again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SALVADOR: Big moments. Thanks so much for starting your moment with us.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" is up next.

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