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All Eyes on the Markets; Massive Storm Hits East Coast; Kurds Ask Assad for Help; Migrants Dropped Off in El Paso. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 28, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


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[09:30:11] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: One word best describes Wall Street this week, and that is volatility. And we could see more of it as the opening bell ringing just now on this shortened trading week.

Alison Kosik is live at the New York Stock Exchange with more.

Alison, looks like a positive opening, just as futures were telling us.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Come on, Jim, get back on the roller coaster with me. Let's do this again.

Yes, we are seeing the Dow begin with green arrows. Nasdaq, S&P as well. But you know how things are here at -- on Wall Street, things could just change on a dime.

Case in point, yesterday. You look at the Dow. It was solidly in the negative all day. Then the last 90 minutes of the trading day, it literally erases a 600 point loss and winds up higher by 260 points. It was nausea inducing and it really speaks to the volatility that's happening here on Wall Street.

Now, there's not one reason for all of this volatility. Yes, some of this is yearend positioning. You've got investors trying to get as much profit out of what's been going on all year before they close the books on 2018.

But there's also the realization that there's this cloud of uncertainty that is weighing on Wall Street. Pick your poison. There is uncertainty about global growth. There is the recent Federal Reserve moves. There's the unresolved trade situation. And then there's the uncertainty happening in Washington, specifically will Fed Chairman Jay Powell be able to keep his job in the new year? So you've got all this uncertainty weighing on Wall Street. It makes it difficult to trade.

OK, so where are we are -- where are we right now? We are two days to go before the end of the year. So two more trading days. Here's the thing, even with all the gains that we've had in the past couple of days, December has still been a really rough month. And if you're checking out your portfolio, still, all the major indices are in the red for the year. We will see how things shape up today, Jim.

SCIUTTO: That's a -- look at -- look at the long-term trend lines. That's always a smart thing to do.

KOSIK: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Alison Kosik, thanks very much.

Right now millions of Americans are bracing for a messy, potentially dangerous even day as a deadly storm trudges eastward, blizzard conditions crippling the Midwest. Poor visibility leading to a crash that killed at least one person in Kansas. And in the south, flash flood emergencies as more than 11 inches of rain fell there. One woman killed after a tree fell on her home in Louisiana.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray tracking the latest.

Jennifer, what should we expect? I mean it's raining hard here in D.C., but I know a lot of other parts of the country, the snow's coming down hard.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The Midwest, that is winding down a little bit. So I think the focus moving forward will definitely be the rain, Jim, as we go into the rest of the afternoon and into tomorrow.

Look at all this heavy rain. It stretches all the way from just east of New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, all the way up to the northeast, even across portions of Maine getting snow. But some very heavy rain. Cloud to ground lightening. We're seeing gusty winds. And it's going to cause major airport delays all across the eastern seaboard, including the big cities, like New York City, Philadelphia, D.C., could all see delays today. Atlanta as well. And you can see that line of showers and storms. Some of the heaviest coming through in the next couple of hours.

Ten or more inches of rain across portions of Mississippi yesterday. We have some video of that. This is what happens when a lot of rain comes down in a very short amount of time. And you can see that flash flooding there. And there's going to continue to be flash flooding in these areas over the next couple of hours. That's why we have flash flood watches and warnings all across portions of the south.

And that stretches even up into the northeast, New York included in that, 50 million people in a flood threat. And you can see that most of the rain will be around the Florida panhandle. We will get pockets of say two to four inches, this is through Saturday morning. But one to two inches is really what we're going to see. And it could put Atlanta as the wettest year on record if we meet that before the new year.

So these are the airport delays we can expect as far as today is concerned. New York City experiencing about two-hour delays. Atlanta, D.C. experiencing about 45 minutes to an hour. So if you are trying to travel, it is going to be very, very hard.

That system moves out. Next system moves into the northeast just in time for New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to have a lot of rain across the east to ring in the new year.

Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, good luck. Travel safe for all those folks.

Jennifer Gray, thanks very much.

Syrian Kurds turning to their former enemy, Syrian Dictator Bashar al Assad, for help now. How President Trump's decision to summarily withdraw U.S. troops is threatening the security of the U.S.-backed allies on the ground.

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[09:38:57] SCIUTTO: Syrian Kurds are now turning to the Syrian government for protection against a possible Turkish invasion. It's really remarkable considering that the Kurds once battled Syrian President Bashar al Assad's forces. But the U.S.-backed militia says that President Trump's decision to summarily withdraw U.S. forces has put several areas at risk for an invasion by Turkey. So they're asking the Syrian government for help.

Joining me now, CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks.

I mean let's start here with about -- with the threat to those U.S. backed forces on the ground. The Kurds, they've been fighting tooth and nail. They've been losing fighters by the hundreds in this. Did they get surprised by a decision by this president to pull out. Even the forces fighting alongside them were surprised about it.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Sure. (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: Are they safe?

MARKS: Are the Kurds forces safe?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARKS: Well, they've demonstrated an incredible level of competence. They're incredibly tough. I would say individually and as a group, they're incredibly well-trained. They are safe. However, they can't go it alone. And the United States has been there as a partner and the Kurds have done all the heavy lifting, vis-a-vis ISIS. So I do find it a -- more than ironic that they're now going to Assad's forces saying, hey, can you help us relative to the Turks.

[09:40:12] That's the big challenge that I see. I mean here's our ally. Turkey might be an ally. Erdogan is not our friend.

SCIUTTO: Right.

MARKS: And for the president to simply say, Erdogan, you got it? You're going to take care of the ISIS problem, great, you got it, I'll -- I'm out of here is really -- it's a snap decision. It's not apocalyptic. The United States still has incredible presence and the power to reach and to shape things on the ground. But the Kurds need the constant support the United States has provided and we're now putting them at risk.

SCIUTTO: How do they survive because they used to fight Assad's forces.

MARKS: Sure.

SCIUTTO: Assad's forces killed a lot of them. They're concerned that the Turkish forces are going to come in and kill a lot of them. I mean how are they not under threat now?

MARKS: It's the -- yes, well, they are. They are. It's the preverbal horns of a dilemma. Do you -- do you saddle up next to Assad? Do you saddle up next to Erdogan and the Turkish forces? Clearly the challenge that the Kurds have is the Turks are an imminent threat. They have to be prepared to fight that. And the United States has been a buffer between those two.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARKS: And bear in mind that with the United States on the ground in Syria, we always ran the risk of having a fracture site incident where the United States might be getting into a shooting fight, a battle, with our allies, our NATO allies, the Turks.

SCIUTTO: And war also with Russia, right? I mean there were concerns about that.

MARKS: A different issue completely, yes.

SCIUTTO: So, let's talk about what I imagine Americans at home are concerned about most. So there's ISIS. The president claims they're defeated. They're not. They're still in a pocket there.

MARKS: Correct.

SCIUTTO: A senior administration official described this pullback as being Tora Bora like. If folks remember, soon after 9/11, the U.S. had Bin Laden and his forces blocked into a little -- in the mountains there, pulled away, lost the chance to get him.

You know, they say that this battle was nearly won well and good. What happens to ISIS now?

MARKS: ISIS is going to regenerate. When you give any enemy space and you give them time --

SCIUTTO: That's alarming.

MARKS: And you haven't -- completely. And you haven't defeated their ideology, which we've not, that an intergenerational fight. Look, this is violent extremism at its worst. It's virulent. It gets inspiration and can grab recruits online and it can continue to spread its ideology. SCIUTTO: They're going to claim a victory against the U.S., chasing

the U.S. away.

MARKS: Of course it will. Of course it will.

SCIUTTO: So does that make Americans less safe if ISIS is regenerating in Syria?

MARKS: If we -- if we can -- the short answer, Jim, is, we will be able to keep our eyes on ISIS and how it develops over time.

SCIUTTO: How?

MARKS: And from -- through intelligence, through sources, through networks, through hopefully partners in the region that have not walked away from us. And that's the hard part because we didn't give our partners any head's up when we made this decision to leave Syria.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARKS: We have to be able to maintain access. We have to have access around the globe.

SCIUTTO: But they were beating them. These --

MARKS: Totally agree.

SCIUTTO: This partnership was working.

MARKS: Right.

SCIUTTO: It was about to decimate ISIS. Now you've backed off.

MARKS: Don't know that we were going to decimate ISIS. And, again, I'd be caution to say, you know, when --

SCIUTTO: Well, that's the way administration officials said, they said that the noose was tightening around them.

MARKS: Yes, and the military term is to defeat.

SCIUTTO: Right.

MARKS: And I don't know that we were ever going to defeat ISIS. We were going to (INAUDIBLE) ISIS. We were going to delay ISIS. We were going to --

SCIUTTO: Keep them under pressure.

MARKS: Keep -- complete pressure that would keep them boxed up and irrelevant in terms of a caliphate again that could spread their extremism online.

SCIUTTO: Has that changed now? Do they have a chance to come back?

MARKS: Sure they do. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Because Syria is, you know, in a very precise military term, Syria's a mess. It's a mess. You've got Russians. You've got Assad's forces.

SCIUTTO: Terrorists thrive in messes.

MARKS: Completely. It's ungoverned -- what we call ungoverned space. And that's the biggest concern right now. The United States, with this planned -- or at least acknowledged withdrawal -- is going to have to maintain a presence and hopefully Iraq will allow us to do that where we can keep eyes and ears on what's taking place in Syria and can launch operations from Iraq. Hopefully we'll be able to do that with the benefit of the proximity of the Turks. And the big concern that I have is that Israel is now in this operational gap.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARKS: Israel is going to fill the void.

SCIUTTO: Right.

MARKS: And you now have an opportunity for expansion and escalation.

SCIUTTO: That's another ally that's felt abandoned by this decision.

MARKS: Completely, yes.

SCIUTTO: Spider Marks, thanks very much.

MARKS: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Very happy holidays to you and your family.

MARKS: Yes, you as well. Happy holidays.

SCIUTTO: America's oldest World War II veteran and the oldest man in the United States has passed away. Richard Overton died just yesterday in Austin, Texas, after being treated for pneumonia. There he is. The 112-year-old had volunteered for the Army starting in 1942, served the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit that served on various islands in the battle in the Pacific. CNN would like to share our condolences to him, his family. Richard Overton, thank you so much for your service.

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[09:49:28] SCIUTTO: As questions swirl around the recent deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. custody, hundreds more migrants are being dropped off in Texas cities without notice. Nonprofit officials in El Paso say the migrants are arriving daily, unannounced and with little more than the clothes on their backs, creating chaos for those who are trying to help.

Joining me now is one of the people offering shelter to those migrants, the founding director of the Hope Border Institute, Dylan Corbett.

Mr. Corbett, thanks for taking the time this morning.

DYLAN CORBETT, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: Good morning. Thank you, Jim.

[09:50:00] SCIUTTO: So, first, I just want you to help explain to our viewers what happens when ICE drops hundreds of migrants off in a city like El Paso, really with no plan for their care. How does the community respond to that?

CORBETT: Yes, it sends ripple effects and shockwaves through our community. ICE has only done this on one other occasion, to drop -- to literally dump migrants in a downtown city, a major city. The first time they did it on December 23rd, just before Christmas, was after 10:00 at night, in the cold, cold temperatures. People who didn't have coats. Children who didn't have blankets. They weren't prepared for cold weather.

And so the community had to stand up and rally to make sure that people had a hot meal, had a place to stay, were able to get in touch with relatives. It was irresponsible.

The only other time that this happens was just before the elections, the last week of October. And so this was something, you know, we like to say there isn't a crisis at the border, there's a crisis that's here at the border that's been manufactured in Washington.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. As we've reported, and you're aware, two children have now died in U.S. custody in the last couple weeks. U.S. Custom and Border Patrol, their response to this is that, listen, the kids come here, many of them come here sick. They don't have medical care. And, after all, parents should know they shouldn't bring their children here. In effect, the onus is on them. I wonder what your response it to that.

CORBETT: You know, I think we need to push back against this narrative that it's the immigrants' fault. In her statement on the death of Felipe Gomez, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, she blamed everyone. She blamed migrants themselves. She blamed the judges. She blamed Congress. She blamed advocates. But she never took responsibility.

The fact is that these two children were in the custody of Border Patrol. They were in her custody. And Border Patrol was not capable of guaranteeing their safety and security.

The migrants who were dropped off here downtown in El Paso, Texas, they were coming from holding cells. They were telling us about the conditions, which were absolutely horrendous. Dogs in pet shelters are kept in better conditions than these migrants were being kept in. So it was bound to happen that folks were going to be sick.

One of the children who ICE dumped off the bus just the other day, on Christmas Day, I had to bring to get first aid from the local fire department. And that child was sent to the hospital. It was chilling because it came on the day just after Felipe had died. And he presented similar symptoms. He presented dehydration. He presented a fever, a high temperature.

These conditions are horrible. People are being packed in. They have little space. And they have little opportunity to go to bathroom in the bathroom, even in privacy, and they have little opportunity to have regular access to nutrition. So something like this was bound to happen, unfortunately.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. The president is tweeting this morning that he may shut the border, close the border, unless he gets his money for the border wall. From your perspective, what would this do to the migrant flow if the border were shut? What would happen to those migrants? What would the effect be if the president follows through?

CORBETT: Yes, I think this is highly irresponsible. What the president is doing right now, he's the one who instigated this government shutdown over the border wall. He wants a border wall. He's politicizing the border.

What we've seen, whether it's dumping people in the middle of the street, whether it's horrible conditions for migrants and CBP holding cells at the border, whether it's putting agents on ports -- at ports of entry and on the bridge to deny them their access to asylum so that like Jakelin Caal, the other migrant who died early in December so that she and her father had to travel to a more dangerous and remote part of the border in order to cross, which put her life in danger. These -- there's politicization of the border is putting lives in danger.

We cannot continue to criminalize migrants as the solution to this problem. We cannot continue to militarize the border as the solution to this problem. We need asylum officers. We need child welfare professionals. We need medical professionals to come down here and deal with the facts of the situation. The solution needs to be facts- based. The solution cannot be the continuing militarization of our border communities.

SCIUTTO: Dylan Corbett, thank you for joining us this morning.

CORBETT: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: President Trump, as we said, digging in when it comes to money for his border wall. He's now suggesting he will cut off aid to the countries in the name of security. The countries from where many of these migrants are coming. We're following it all. Please stay with us.

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[09:59:00] SCIUTTO: A guest at a Portland, Oregon, hotel says that he was the victim of racial profiling after hotel security called police on him while he was sitting in the lobby just talking on his phone. Jermaine Massey (ph) says that he was handling a family emergency Saturday night when staff members began questioning why he was there. He says eventually a security guard told him that police were on the way to escort him out of the hotel. Massey says he was doing nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had not moved. I've been sitting here the whole time. And they're calling the police on me because I'm taking a phone call in the lobby.

Did he ask any of those people that just walked by what room they were staying in? No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Police eventually escorted Massey to his room to collect his belongings. The hotel says it has reached out to Massey now to resolve the issue. No comment yet from the employees who were in the video.

[09:59:54] A quick thinking officer barely avoided being struck by a train in Illinois. Oh, goodness. Look at that. Watch as this dash cam caught the moment he swerved, seconds before the train barreled by. At least two other drivers were almost hit as well. Warning lights did not start flashing until after the train