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Wall Street on Edge; Stocks Stabilize after Drop; House Dems To Unleash Power; Mueller Report Release in 2019; 2008 Top Trending Stories. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 26, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Market territory. That's a 20 percent or more drop. That is -- that is still being identified as a lot of pessimism in the market.

Today we are seeing green arrows as that opening bell rings. The question is, will some of that downside momentum seep back into the market because the reality is political risk is a part of the trade now. It is a part of the playbook here on Wall Street. I'm talking about President Trump's tweet and the administration's move. Specifically Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, him calling up all those CEOs of banks and asking if they have enough liquidity.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Christine, so we know the president likes to find scapegoats. And we know how much he invests in the stock market as a barometer of his own success, taking credit for it when it's up, not talking about it when it's down.

The fact is, the market is falling for a whole host of reasons out of the control of the Treasury secretary. What's happening?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting because the president -- the president says the only thing wrong with the market is the Fed. And that's -- that's just not true. The Fed is raising interest rates, of course, and no president likes it when the Fed is raising interest rates because that can cool economic growth, and that's exactly what it's designed to do.

But you also have growth in China slow. And you have growth in Germany that is slowing. You have -- if you look at oil prices, you could see oil prices down substantially and some are saying maybe that's a proxy for the idea that the whole globe is going to grow more slowly next year and you won't need as much oil demand. So there are a lot of things happening here.

The president's attacks on the Fed do not inspire confidence. People around him, people who used to advise him and currently advise him have been saying we need to stop these attacks on the Fed. They're even working to get the Fed chief and the president together in a room to maybe try to talk things through here. And so the Fed chief can tell the president sort of clearly where they're going here. But for investors, Jim, this month, the Dow down more than $15

percent. The S&P down more than 15 percent. The Nasdaq down 16 percent. That is just a devastating movement for just one month.


ROMANS: And what we don't know yet is if the bull market is officially over. If you have a close today in the S&P below 2,344, that would spell the end of the longest bull market in history officially.

SCIUTTO: That is quite a moment. Quite a moment. We'll be watching. We know you'll be there. Christine Romans, Alison Kosik, thanks very much.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation brought President Trump a great deal of stress over the past year and a half. So what happens when the pressure becomes even more intense when Democrats take over the House next month?


[09:36:34] SCIUTTO: Some big changes ahead for the oversight of the president at the start of the new year. The Democrats, of course, seizing control of the House one week from tomorrow, ending Republican control of a whole host of investigations, many involving Russia. On the special counsel's side of things, this is where we stand with Robert Mueller's probe as 2018 winds down. Four prison sentences, one conviction at trial, seven guilty pleas, three dozen defendants charged, many of them Russians directly involved with interference in the elections.

I'm joined now by CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider and former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney Shan Wu.

Thanks to both of you.

We heard the president, Shan, yesterday, repeat a line that's become a favorite of his to dismiss all oversight really of his administration as quote/unquote presidential harassment. I mean you've got to look at that as a public messaging campaign here. But in terms of the progress of these investigations, it's going to be a very different position now with Democrats holding the chairmanships of key committees.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Jim. There's going to be a landslide of investigations that can potentially open up from the newly controlled Democratic House. I think it's going to be like a full employment act for D.C. white collar lawyers.

The Mueller investigation, you know, the greatest damage, holding aside the question of what the report may or may not say, is that it has been a genesis for all of these other lines of inquiry that has been unearthing so much damaging information about the president's behavior, about his businesses, about the potential links to his family members. That's really the big problem for him that is continuing to grow. There is the Southern District spin-off, there's the D.C. spin-off, there's the New York attorney general spin-offs. All of that just adds up to an amazing amount of bad news closing in on him.

SCIUTTO: Jessica, of many developments last week, it's hard for folks at home I'm sure to keep up. It's hard for us to keep up sometimes. With CNN's reporting that this president upgraded his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, for not protecting him in effect from federal prosecutors in New York who, of course, obtained a guilty plea from Michael Cohen on a host of criminal activity here. What do we know about what influence the president has over his attorney general to try to restrict these investigations? Because, of course, with the Southern District of New York, those federal prosecutors there, they proceeded, you know, and did their own thing. They did their jobs. Do we know yet if the president has been able to successfully push for a constraining of this investigation?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: All indications are, no, that we know of. I mean, you know, we know that he did lash out at Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker in the days following Cohen's guilty plea, in the days following the revelation about what Cohen told prosecutors. You know, but the Justice Department has come out defending Matthew Whitaker. Of course it was just in the past week or so that Matt Whitaker, we got that news that he was not going to recuse himself from the special counsel's -- or overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation. And in that, the Department of Justice sent that letter to Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi saying that Matthew Whitaker, though he did talk about the special counsel's probe in a derogatory manner before he came to the Justice Department as chief of staff for Jeff Sessions, they say that he hasn't made any comments about the special counsel's investigation, that he has talked about what an upstanding probe it is.

[09:40:10] So all indications are even though the president seems to be trying to put the pressure on Matthew Whitaker, it does seem like the acting attorney general has taken a step back, although he is not going to be recusing himself from overseeing the probe, all signs are that he's still letting it play out, that he hasn't put the stop on it.

But, of course, we'll see what happens when a report is eventually released from Robert Mueller, how much of that is released, if any. You know, if the White House exerts total executive privilege and decides not to release any of it. That's really when Matt Whitaker could come into play if William Barr isn't in before them.

SCIUTTO: Sure. We could have a revolt in Congress, particularly on the House side.

Of course, Shan, the president's choice for full-time attorney general, William Barr, he also publically criticized the Russia probe last year writing that his obstruction inquiry specifically, obstruction of justice by the president, quote, fatality misconceived.

I want to play for you, though, comments from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, responding to that because I think there -- it struck me that there was a message in these comments. First have a listen and then let's talk about it. This is Rod Rosenstein just a few days ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Lots of people offer opinions to the Department of Justice, but they don't influence our own decision-making. We have very experienced lawyers and obviously our decisions are informed by our knowledge of the actual facts of the case, which Mr. Barr didn't have. I didn't share any confidential information with Mr. Barr. He never requested that we provide any non- public information to him. And that memo had no impact on our investigation.


SCIUTTO: So in there, listen to those points. We have very experienced lawyers. Obviously our decisions, informed by our knowledge of the actual facts in this case, which Mr. Barr didn't have. Is he messaging there that once Barr sees those actual facts, if he were to be confirmed as AG, that even he would know that this investigation has turned up important things?

WU: I think he is. And I think also, from an institutional point of view, Rosenstein's laying the foundation for Barr to be able to back off those opinions so that there can be a reconciliation of his role as the attorney general, because they clearly expect that he will be confirmed.

I think it's very interesting because really, to me, both Barr, as well as Whitaker, the only reason they've been put there is because they're expected to do the work of Trump's bidding in terms of anything negative being quashed. I mean Barr's already been AG. I'm sure there are lots of other people that he could have selected. But that's why they're being put there.

And, of course, with both men, you may see both the political realities. And in Barr's case, he's been a former attorney general. Ultimately the weight of the institution may come back on his shoulders and he may hesitate to act in such an overtly political manner.

SCIUTTO: Well, history is watching.

Jessica Schneider, Shan Wu, thanks very much to both of you.

WU: Good to see you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: 2018 became the year of the social media activist. Our look at the top trending stories of the year.


[09:47:43] SCIUTTO: 2018 was filled was stories and social movement that caught fire online. Here is CNN's Brooke Baldwin with a look at some of the top trending stories of the year in our "Eight in 2018" series.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 2018 was the year of the social media activist. People across the country speaking out against sexual assault, gun violence and racism. Hash tag activism proved it's a force to be reckoned with. Here are our top eight trending stories of the year.

CROWD: Time's up.

BALDWIN (on camera): Time's Up in 2018. On January 1st, a group of women in the film industry unveiled Time's Up as an anti-harassment action plan. A sequel to last year's Me Too reckoning.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here standing in solidarity with women everywhere saying, time's up, enough is enough on sexual harassment, assault, abusive 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: And now that we've all joined as one voice, it feels like empowerment to those women who never had it.

BALDWIN: Number seven.


BALDWIN: Do you hear Yanny, do you hear Laurel. Similar to 2015's great (INAUDIBLE) debate. A computerized recording of two seemingly unrelated words divided the Internet again in 2018.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It literally says -- play it. Play it. Hold on.





BALDWIN: And it seemed everyone had an opinion, from law enforcement --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we've determined right now is that the audio sound that you've been hearing is actually the name Laurel.

BALDWIN: To Capitol Hill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It is Laurel and not Yanny, all right? Come on. How many Laurel fans here, huh? Yes, right? OK. Thank you.

BALDWIN: In the end, science called a winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you heard Laurel, you are correct.

[09:50:02] BALDWIN: And, like the dress, Yanny or Laurel served as further proof it doesn't take much to break the Internet.

Number six --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about this amazing case of spiderman, as he's 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, a 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 test inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill. An emergency alert that sent panicked families seek shelter anywhere they could, with some even putting their children in storm drains. Within 12 minutes, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that this was a false alarm, but there was no word from the governor who admitted he'd forgotten his Twitter password.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened today was totally unacceptable.

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

Number four, a different kind of activism rocked the Internet when dozens of viral videos exposed every day racism aimed at African- Americans. Barbecue Becky, Permit Patty, Pool Patrol Paula, these women got the meme treatment after they called police on black people doing everyday things in public places. Even Starbucks got a share of social media's 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 publically recounting her alleged sexual assault.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: It's hard for me to breathe and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

BALDWIN: Ford 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 is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know.

BALDWIN: In a series of tweets, Trump claimed that if the attack Ford alleged, quote, was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities. The hashtags we believe doctor Ford, believe survivors and dear Professor Ford started trending as hundreds of thousands of women took to social media to express their solidarity. And using the hashtag why I didn't report, countless more spoke of feeling of ashamed and powerless after their own sexual assault experiences of no one believing them.

Number two, in Parkland, Florida, the 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.

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 via FaceBook fundraisers. Even 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. At real Donald Trump helped set the tone for the day's 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.



[09:59:06] SCIUTTO: What's your favorite Christmas gift this year? This is the Christmas gift that so many people are talking about today. Brady Singer is a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. He got a $4 million signing bonus when he was drafted this year. He sent his parents a letter then thanking them for everything and telling them that he had paid off all their debts as a gift for Christmas.


JACQUELYN SINGER, MOM OF KANSAS CITY ROYALS PITCHER BRADY SINGER: The money you both spent on traveling, the gear, hotel, food and all of those Gatorades I drank is much more than I could ever give you. But there is something I want to give to you. I am paying off the loan from the bank. Also, I paid off all your debt, as well. What? Now instead of trying to save money every weekend to replace the savings account you drained on traveling to see me play baseball, you can spend it on yourselves.


[10:00:06] SCIUTTO: That is just quite a moment. His letter ended, your giving hearts