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Trump Misleads Again about Military Pay Raises; Flynn Asks Judge to Change Travel Restrictions; Court Docs: Police have Video of Alleged Assauly by Kevin Spacey; 8 in 2018: Top Health Stories. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 27, 2018 - 10:30   ET



REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET), FORMER PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: All of them have their own sort of predilections about this in their own leanings. I suspect some of them just blow it off. I know - I doubt any of them really believe it. They can see their pay stubs and they know exactly how much they're making. Some probably just laugh it off. Some are probably deeply offended by it. I mean I -- to have your commander in chief get up in front of you on live television like that and lie, it's just unconscionable.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Final question here, there was some news in this visit beyond the meeting with the troops. That's that the president said that he will not be pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. Of course, he pulled them out of Syria. He reduced them in Afghanistan.

KIRBY: Right.

SCIUTTO: But he says that that troop will then be used as sort of a police force to drop into Syria or elsewhere in the region where necessary. Does that work? Because my understanding from folks inside the administration is the reason the Syria fight had been working with the U.S. forces on the ground is precisely because they had forces on the ground fighting with partners, collecting intelligence, calling in airstrikes. Can you do it from afar?

KIRBY: Not as well as you can do it the way it is now, no. I mean, I can't see the military logic there. Look, the reason why those troops are in Syria in that number and have been so effective is because ISIS is now a different beast than it was in 2014-2015. There's not as many of them. Many of them have gone to ground. They're doing, conducting smaller type operations. And so having eyes on the ground allows you to better target them. And this is what we call time-sensitive targeting, dynamic targets, small in number, moving around, and so having boots on the ground to help you do that helps a lot in the targeting process. It also helps in advising and assisting of local indigenous forces, in this case, the Kurds, to go after them.

So, they're there for a reason and it has been working. And now, now when they're down to 1 percent of their territory, is the moment to press that advantage. Not to move the troops out of there. So I fail to see the military logic in that I don't see that it's going to be very effective, but again, I guess we have to see how it plays out.

SCIUTTO: Admiral Kirby, I know you're retired. I still call your admiral. I figure you earned it. Thanks very much.

KIRBY: My pleasure. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, federal judge has ordered Michael Flynn to stick close to D.C. But now, the former National Security adviser is hoping the judge will ease those travel rules so he can go home.


[10:36:50] SCIUTTO: Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has asked a federal judge to allow him to travel between Rhode Island, his home, and Washington, D.C., before his new sentencing date in March. Flynn will be required to stay within 50 miles of Washington under travel restrictions starting January 4th. The judge also ordered Flynn to surrender his passport, though he was given approval for a pre- planned international trip by Flynn. Joining me now, former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers. Thanks so much, Jennifer, for joining.


SCIUTTO: So this travel restriction around D.C. was part of the fallout, it seemed, from Flynn's lawyers pushing this idea that he was forced into lying and then the judge brought him before the court and had him say repeatedly, no, I was not forced. I take full responsibility. Is this the kind of thing that the judge might relent on?

RODGERS: I think he will. I think two things were going on here. One is that these travel restrictions are actually standard operating procedure. I think that Judge Sullivan was surprised to hear that they were not part of the initial bail restrictions that the magistrate judge put on Flynn. That is very common. So I think once he heard that the passport had not been surrendered and there were no travel restrictions, he felt that there should be as a matter of course as happens in essentially every case.

And then as you mentioned, you had a defendant here who appeared to be backing off of his acceptance of responsibility of these admittedly very serious crimes. So once that whole situation started to happen, I think the judge said, you know, wait a minute, we have someone who is backing off of this, who is trying to downplay his crimes, who is not necessarily accepting responsibility here, and he doesn't have any travel restrictions and still has his passport. So let's at least put the standard restrictions on and get that going. That said, I think that if there's a reasonable request, I think that the judge will probably grant it.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. What is next for Flynn? Because when he went into the court a couple weeks ago, he thought, many thought he was going to be given light sentence, no sentence at all, that's what the special counsel recommended. It appears his lawyers made a misjudgment here by floating this idea that he had been trapped into lying and then he -- his lawyers got scolded for it. What happens now? The judge also sent him away saying if you cooperate more, you might get better treatment. What happens next for him?

RODGERS: I think that Michael Flynn will continue to talk to Mueller's investigators, to the extent they wish to debrief him further. I think when he comes back in March he likely will get his sentence of no incarceration. The judge was understandably concerned and upset, I think, by the way that Flynn's lawyers tried to back out of this acceptance of responsibility and suggest wrongdoing on the part of the FBI, so that tongue lashing, I think, was not unexpected, and it was deserved.

But at the end of the day, the guidelines here are zero to six months. He has been cooperative, according to the Special Counsel's Office. They notably did not back off of their recommendation that no jail time should be imposed, so at the end of the day, I think he still will probably get no time in prison.

[10:40:01] SCIUTTO: So the special counsel leading up to that sentencing, it said that he's cooperated very well. Seeming to indicate at least possibly that he had given them all they expected to get from him. Is that an indication, and do you see other clues, signs from the Special Counsel's Office, that Robert Mueller is close to wrapping up this investigation, close to delivering his report?

RODGERS: Well, it's hard to say, of course, because Flynn was only one piece of the puzzle, and you know, notably, didn't have anything to do with, for example, the obstruction piece of the investigation, and all sorts of tangents that he wouldn't have known anything about. That said, it does seem to me like as we wrap up the remaining pieces with Roger Stone and his associates and the so-called secret subpoena that they have been in court over, I do think that things do seem to be wrapping up so we can probably expect a report in the next six months, but you know, we only know what the public knows, and the Mueller folks know a lot more. So of course, it's hard to say.

SCIUTTO: Like those promises, bring the troops home before Christmas, right?

RODGERS: Right. Very hard to say what will happen.

SCIUTTO: Jennifer Rodgers thanks very much.

Potentially a big development in the sexual assault case against the actor Kevin Spacey, a new criminal complaint says that police have video of the alleged attack. We have details on that next.


[10:45:48] SCIUTTO: Next up, just an alarming story. We do want to warn you that some of the details contain explicit language. The man who says actor Kevin Spacey assaulted him sexually two years ago has video of that assault, according to court documents. Massachusetts State Police said then 18-year-old victim snapchatted the video to his girlfriend because she did not believe him.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins me now live. So, Miguel, what do we know about this video? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a video of this young man who was 18 at the time that the alleged assault took place, but he told Kevin Spacey that night he was 23. Despite several hours of drinking, as he put it, in the complaint, that Spacey was plying him with alcohol, encouraging him to drink and he was enjoying hanging out with a mega celebrity. That the video, the frame of mind to take that video at one point. The allegation without getting into too much detail here is that during that period, this was in Nantucket during the summer in 2016, of drinking after hours, he had been a bus boy that night, then he changed clothes and was out there drinking with Kevin Spacey. He says that Mr. Spacey first put his hand on his leg and then put his hand into his pants and rubbed him in a sexual way, telling his sister later that night, say police, that Kevin Spacey raped me as the young man alleges. All of this was sort of unheard of for almost over a year, almost a year and a half until the young man's mother, a former Boston anchor, Heather Unruh, spoke publicly about it.


HEATHER UNRUH, MOTHER OF ALLEGED VICTIM: The victim, my son, was a star-struck, straight, 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator.


MARQUEZ: Now, it was after that protective mother spoke out and continued to make calls to people in the area herself that police began investigating this through the end of 2017 and 2018. Now bringing charges on Christmas Eve, the "Boston Globe" breaking that story and within hours, minutes perhaps, of the "Boston Globe" breaking that story, Kevin Spacey himself, who had been silent for over a year as he faced several allegations of sexual impropriety, released a video that in style, substance, form, and timing is noteworthy.


KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I know what you want. You want me back. Of course, some believed everything.


MARQUEZ: So in character as Frank Underwood from the "House of Cards" series that he had been fired from just previously, he makes this statement that doesn't address these charges but seems to suggest that people are out to get him and that it's all made up. It is odd, to say the least.

SCIUTTO: Bizarre moment, no question. Miguel Marquez thanks for following the story.

President Trump back in the White House after his surprise visit to troops in Iraq and he's wasting no time going after Democrats, blaming them for the shutdown. Stay with CNN for the very latest.


[10:53:49] SCIUTTO: From the growing availability of medical marijuana to a mysterious polio-like illness that has paralyzed thousands of children. CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta looks at the top eight health stories of 2018.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Without question, 2018 will be remembered as the year of the outbreak. The CDC investigated more than two dozen multi-state food outbreaks this year. E. coli in romaine lettuce, salmonella in pre-cut melon, cyclospora in fresh vegetables, all in all more than 28,000 people got sick. At least 10 died. Truth is 1 in 6 Americans gets some kind of food borne illness every year, growing, packing, transporting, storing, and serving. It's a lot of places where your food can get contaminated.

It's been more than five years since I reported weed, about marijuana as medicine. Not only can it work, sometimes it's the only thing that works, like it did for Charlotte Figi.

[10:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I measured it with a syringe and squirted it under her tongue. She didn't have a seizure that day. And then she didn't have a seizure that night. I just thought this is insane.

GUPTA: This year, for the first time, a medication derived from cannabis called Epidiolex became available by prescription in the United States. Approved by the FDA to treat two rare seizure disorders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the first time we had an EEG recording Tony (ph) that shows she was having over 100 seizures a day. The last EEG we did with NYU showed one seizure over a 24-hour period.

GUPTA: Last month, the medical world had its collective mind blown when a Chinese scientist said his lab had facilitated the birth of the world's first babies whose genes were edited using a technology you might have heard of called CRISPR.

HE JIANKU, BIOPHYSICS RESEARCHER: When Lulu and Nana were just in a single cell. This surgery removed the doorway through which HIV enters to infect people.

GUPTA: The hospital where the babies were born denied any involvement, and the Chinese government called for an immediate investigation. But the ethical question surrounding so-called designer babies are nearly endless. And will likely make this list again in the years to come.

Parents across the country were on edge this fall as a polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis or AFM paralyzed their children.

AFM is usually preceded by a respiratory illness or a fever, but the underline cause may be a virus. It attacks the spinal cord, affecting strength and balance. The CDC has been tracking AFM since 2014, but there were a record number of cases this year. In November, the FDA fast tracked and approved two new cancer treatments, Vitrakvi and Xospata. They represent a whole new way of looking at cancer and its treatment. Targeting tumors based on their gene mutations as opposed to their location in the body.

The FDA has declared e-cigarette use among America's youth an epidemic. Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors now admit to vaping, a substantial and significant increase from last year.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FDA COMMISSIONER: If these trends continue, the viability of the e-cigarettes and vaping products as an alternative for adult smokers could be lost.

GUPTA: Yes, e-cigarettes are quote/unquote "safer" than traditional combustible cigarettes, but contrary to what most kids believe, e-cigs contain more than just flavorings. They contain nicotine, a chemical called diacetyl, and sometimes toxic heavy metals, and nearly a third of kids who vape then go on to smoke traditional cigarettes within six months.

Life expectancy in the United States has decreased for a third year in a row. Driving the drop, record high drug overdose deaths, mostly opioids, and suicide rates, which have increased 40 percent since 1999. Collectively, they're called the deaths of despair. Two high profile deaths underscored the issue this year. Fashion designer Kate Spade, and here at CNN, we're still mourning the death of our good friend and colleague Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life at age 61.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": Amazing. Damn, that's good. I missed you. I missed you bad.

GUPTA: Rest in peace, Tony.

In November, a U.S. government report found climate change will result in the premature death of thousands of Americans, a startling conclusion. And you don't have to look far to see what they mean. From the wildfires in the west to the tick and mosquito born infections in the northeast to the droughts in the south, but there are climate change skeptics who dismiss the report.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe it. No, no. I don't believe it.

GUPTA: But look, seeing is believing. This is the elephant butte reservoir for the Rio Grande. It used to be brimming to the top. Now, it's only 3 percent full. Less and less snow melt is feeding the river, which is forcing some Texans to implement some drastic measures, including recycling sewage water into drinking water, toilet to tap. But with climate change affecting the future of clean water everywhere, I decided to give it a try.

GUPTA: All right, moment of truth. Just remembering how this whole process started. Clearly looks very different, smells very different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smells like water. Looks like water. Cheers.

GUPTA: Cheers to 2018.


SCIUTTO: Quite a year of health news. A massive winter storm is intensifying as it barrels towards the East Coast. Now, right now, the system making its way across the plains and upper Midwest with more than a foot of snow expected in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Kansas.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays.