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Trump Ramps Up Threats over Wall Funding; Partial Government Shutdown Threatens to Drag Well into 2019; More Arrests in the Killing of a California Police Officer; At Least Six Killed in Severe Storm System; Top Eight Weather Stories of 2018. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 29, 2018 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:10] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Martin Savidge, in for Fredricka Whitfield. Good to be with you this Saturday.

We are now eight days into this partial government shutdown and by all accounts, no closer to a deal than we were on day one. And as President Trump and leading congressional Democrats trade blame, more federal workers are sitting at home wondering when the next time they'll get paid.

The EPA, the latest agency to run out of money; 14,000 of those employees now joining the more than 380,000 people already furloughed. Nearly half a million other federal employees are working; they just aren't getting paid.

President Trump is also digging in his heels and is upping the ante threatening to shut down the entire southern border if Democrats don't fully fund his border wall.

CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joins me now from the White House where President Trump will remain until the New Year. Boris -- the President just tweeted again on this whole shutdown. What did he say?


We were waiting for it, eagerly anticipating the tweets that we know usually come when he is here at the White House alone. As you noted, the President deciding to spend the New Year's Eve holiday here and not with his family. The first lady Melania down in Palm Beach for New Year's Eve.

The President tweeted just a few moments ago, as you noted, about the shutdown. He writes, quote, "I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on border security. From what I hear, they're spending so much time on presidential harassment that they have little time left for things like stopping crime and our military."

Two quick points there. The incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney spoke with reporters here at the White House yesterday. He was asked specifically if there was any plan for Democrats to visit the White House. He said they were not invited. He made the case that Republicans presented an offer to Democrats and no counter offer was made. He said that they simply told him we're leaving and left for the holiday.

Republicans at this point believe that no common ground is likely to be found until after January 3rd. That's when likely incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to be sworn in.

In the meantime, as both sides are far apart, you have these 800,000 or so federal workers who are being furloughed or may face the New Year without pay. I want to point to this tweet and the letter that was sent by the Office of Personnel Management to some of those employees suggesting here that they write letters to their mortgage lenders, to creditors, to their landlords, and ask them for payment plans or installments, ways to defer payments that have to be made into the New Year because the government is shutdown.

For a lot of those workers, this is little help in the time during the holidays when many are in need of assistance. And obviously as I noted there is no indication that this shutdown will likely end soon, and the further it goes on more agencies have to shut down and likely more workers will be impacted -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, the pain is going to continue for some time, it looks like -- Boris.

Boris Sanchez at the White House -- thank you very much.

With congressional leadership gone until the New Year, both Democrats and Republicans have basically decided that figuring out how to fund the government is a problem that can wait until next year.

And even though it is not that far off, CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on the negotiations, if you can call them that, and where they stand.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As the partial government shutdown rolls into its first week of completion, the reality is this here on Capitol Hill, down at the White House -- there is no solution in sight. Democrats -- they firmly stand behind their position. They are not willing to give a dollar for the President's border wall.

The President has made clear the border wall or the fence or a structure of some kind is basically mandatory for him to sign off on any deal to reopen the government.

So where does that leave things? Well, at this point lawmakers and aides here on Capitol Hill say they're looking into next week. They're looking into 2019. They're looking into the moment on January 3rd where Democrats retake control of the House for the first action of any kind legislatively to try and reopen the government.

Here's the catch. That action doesn't necessarily portend a reopening of the government. Nancy Pelosi, the incoming speaker has made clear she's going to move several funding proposals to reopen the government, basically kick them over to the Senate.

But in the Senate where Senate Republicans still control things, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear, he is not willing to move forward on anything regardless of what House Democrats send over until he knows the President will sign it.

And the President has made clear what the Democrats are going to send from the House -- $1.3 billion in border security money, no money for a border wall -- is not acceptable to him. So where does that leave things? It really is an open question. Nobody has a great answer right now.

On the rank and file level, there are people talking about various proposals that might be able to get lawmakers and the President out of this. But until one or both sides moved off their currently entrenched positions, there is no end in sight.

And that matters because this isn't just lawmakers, this isn't just the President, it is also federal workers. 800,000 working would be working without pay or they will be furloughed. They will start missing their first paychecks on January 11th.

[11:05:05] That is real pain, that is a real bite to people. And that is often what triggers lawmakers to come to the table and make a deal. That said, everybody that I'm talking to on Capitol Hill says pretty plainly don't look at this as a days' long shutdown at this point. You might need to consider it a weeks' long shutdown.

Phil Mattingly, CNN -- Capitol Hill.


SAVIDGE: And Phil puts it very well, it is not just politics here, it is personal pain for a lot of federal employees.

Let's talk about this. And joining me now to do just that -- David Swerdlick, he is the assistant editor of the "Washington Post"; and Thomas Kaplan, who's covering Washington with the "New York Times". Good morning to you both.



SAVIDGE: David -- no signs that the Democrats or Republicans are really talking. And I'm wondering if this strategy on the part of Democrats of waiting until next year is really the best thing for them?

SWERDLICK: Yes. Happy New Year -- Martin.

I think the Democrats want to see how this plays out at least until, as Phil reported, they take over the House next Thursday, January 23rd. And they have the ability to move legislation which they'll kick over to the Senate, and then it remains to be seen whether or not Republicans in the Senate and the White House will try to strike a balance or try and meet them in the middle or if we will continue on this standoff.

We'll remind viewers that the Clinton-Gingrich shutdown of '95-'96 lasted almost a month. I think if you get into that territory, there's political peril for both parties because you have 800,000 government workers furloughed and you also have people not getting essential government services.

So at some point there will be incentives on both sides to come together. Right now though, I think Democrats are trying to show that they'll stand up to President Trump.

SAVIDGE: Jeff Flake, Thomas, is serving out his last days in office. He is the Republican Senator, of course, from Arizona. He predicts that this -- well, he talks about how long the shutdown may go on. Listen to what he had to say to Jim Acosta.


SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It is a bad thing. It shouldn't be happening at all. But my guess it will go until mid-January and then they'll settle on some figure close to $1.6 billion. What was offered or close to what was offered already and both sides will declare victory somehow and move on.


SAVIDGE: Thomas -- do you agree with that kind of scenario, first of all how long, and then also what may be a solution?

KAPLAN: I think that definitely could be how this plays out. At the end of the day chances are to reopen the government you're going to be looking at a deal pretty similar to what's been talked about the whole time, which is why a lot of people think this whole shutdown kind of doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to begin with.

You also see now the fact that there are now lawmakers who are negotiating, the legislative leaders aren't out there talking. It's just sort of a waiting game. At some point the government needs to reopen. President Trump is going to have to find some way to get a deal that, I guess, he can save face and say this does take a step towards border security, but in reality it's probably going to look pretty similar even to what was reached last winter to fund the government, money for border security, not to build the new concrete wall the President talked about but something that both sides can at least walk away and be satisfied with.

SAVIDGE: David -- the President is upping the ante. He's now threatening to shut down the southern border entirely if Democrats don't budge on providing money to finish this wall. He's made this kind of threat before but I'm wondering, do you think he really means it?

SWERDLICK: You never know with President Trump. But I think that there will be some hurdles if he was to actually carry through with this threat.

Number one, you can't shut out Americans from coming back across the southern border. People have the right if they are U.S. citizens to travel internationally.

The second thing is that in terms of our trading relationship with Mexico, we have an agreement in place. NAFTA moving into this new agreement where there are certain criteria for shutting down trade across the border, things like national security. And then President Trump well knows he keeps his eye on the stock market that if there is some kind of interruption to cross border trade, it could well rattle markets and that's not something the President looks favorably on.

You see that, you know, there was a lot of frantic tweeting in the last week or two as the stock market kind of see sawed up and down and sort of settled back down as of yesterday.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it's not like the markets need something else to worry about at this point.


SAVIDGE: Thomas -- the President has said that federal workers wants the wall but of course, we've got a CNN poll that shows 50 percent of people oppose a wall being built, only 38 percent favor it. And the President has dug in his heels here. And it seems like this is a campaign promise he believes he must keep, and that means this could go on quite some time as a result.

KAPLAN: Well, first I would wonder how the President has a sense of what rank and file federal workers want when it comes to this. But yes. I mean I think for the President obviously this was a central promise of his.

[11:10:03] And I suppose this is a terrible way of looking at it from his point of view. But you could argue that for him just to be fighting for the wall, to have forced a shutdown, to be able to say look what I did, I shutdown the government because this is so important. That I suppose for his base could be a useful thing.

Now, is it practical, obviously we're talking about the impact on hundreds of thousands of federal workers, but I suppose at least it shows him kind of going to the mat on an issue that was at the center of his campaign.

SAVIDGE: You know, the White House is taking active measures to try to shirk responsibility for the shutdown, even though the President said he was happy to own it. And it's trying to shift it really in the direction of Nancy Pelosi.

Take a listen to what the White House is saying about this.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: She's unwilling to actually do anything until she gets her speakership. MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR: This all comes down to Mrs. Pelosi's

speakership. I think left to his own devices, Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats probably would cut a deal, but they're protecting Mrs. Pelosi. She does not have the votes. And if she cuts a deal with the President of any sort before her election on January 3rd, she's at risk of losing her speakership. So we're in this for the long haul.

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi is calling the shots, not Chuck. And Chuck wants to have this done, I really believe that. He wants to have this done. But she's calling the shots and she's calling it because she wants the votes.

And probably if they do something, she is not going to get the votes and she's not going to be speaker of the House, and that would be not so good for her.


SAVIDGE: Clearly that's there (ph) David, to divide and conquer when it comes to the Democratic leadership and also go after Nancy Pelosi, of course. Is this strategy likely to work?

SWERDLICK: In the short term, I don't think so, Martin. Look, if this goes on long enough, there's political peril for both parties. But in the short term Democrats know, one, that they've already cut a deal for the Democrats to come together to elect Speaker Pelosi as speaker.

Number two, they've got that clip from December 11th of the President sitting in the White House with the Vice President, with the Speaker- elect and with majority leader, or minority leader rather, Senator Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office. And the President saying that he takes ownership of the shutdown.

He is willing to shut down the government over border funding. So as we head into next week, I think Democrats are going to point to that and say look, we're ready to pass something in the House, the Senate passed something at the end of last Congress, it is the White House that's stalling this out, and see how the White House reacts and then go from there in these negotiations.

I agree with Thomas that the ultimate solution is going to be a face saver for both sides, somewhere between zero billion and $5 billion for border security of some kind.

SAVIDGE: Yes, quite a spread there. The President has turned down funding for the border wall at least three times. And Thomas -- is really the President serious about border security or is he more focused on political advantage here?

KAPLAN: Well, certainly this is an issue. I mean just look at before the midterms and the closing weeks of midterms how eager the President was to talk about the caravan to talk about illegal immigration and to sort of stoke fears in that area. He certainly had an opportunity earlier this year to get as much as 25 billion for the wall in exchange for resolving the fate of the dreamers. That might have been the best chance to get a serious amount of money for the wall, and he was not -- he did not go for that in the end.

The other issue I would say with this is the wall as a practical matter, it was a campaign slogan. When you talk to experts, when you talk to lawmakers, the idea of a concrete wall sea to shining sea doesn't make sense in that way anyway, so it works more as a political issue than as something practical in this sense.

SAVIDGE: Well, whatever it is, it is going to have a long lasting impact, at least depending on how the outcome is.

David Swerdlick and Thomas Kaplan -- thank you both for joining me this morning. Good to see you. Happy New Year to you.

SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Martin. Happy New Year.

KAPLAN: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Still ahead, crisis at the border. Two children die while in border patrol custody. And hundreds of migrants are suddenly released in one city.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is in the region. So are we, we'll take you there live.


SAVIDGE: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is at the southern border today. The DHS secretary is visiting border patrol facilities one day after looking at conditions while she was in Texas. She is in Yuma, Arizona today -- I should preface that.

In Texas, she was looking at the medical screening processes. She was also looking at just the facilities themselves. Her trip prompted by the recent deaths of two Guatemalan immigrant children while they were in U.S. custody. We've learned one of those children, an eight-year- old Felipe Gomez Alonzo was suffering from the flu.

CNN correspondent Nick Valencia is in El Paso for us this morning. Nick -- good to see you. We know that part of Nielsen's visit included speaking with local officers and officials about the immigration concerns, right?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the biggest concern being the way the children are given health care. We understand that she's already coordinated with the CDC as well as the coast guard in preparation for a flu outbreak in these facilities. These facilities are just overwhelmed -- Martin. I talked to a Customs and Border Protection official with intimate knowledge of these facilities. He said that they were just bursting at the seams.

And they're having trouble keeping their head above water at full staff. And not only that, they're dealing with furloughs from the partial government shutdown.

Nielsen is here. Her visit happening during that time. And she had a trip to a variety of board of patrol stations, I should say, here in the El Paso area checking on those medical (AUDIO GAP) that she announced, part of her series of what she called extraordinary protective (AUDIO GAP) after the death of eight-year-old Felipe Gomez- Alonzo. And we expect her to do the very same that she did here yesterday in El Paso in Yuma, Arizona today -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: There's (ph) something else that I know you've been witnessing down there -- Nick. And that's hundreds of migrants suddenly released without warning. What is going on with that?

VALENCIA: It is incredibly frustrating, particularly to the charities that are helping out these migrants who were as you mention just dropped off with no plan and in some cases nowhere to go.

We saw that happen on Christmas Day. Nearly 200 migrants dropped off here without warning. And that's not typically how it is done. In the past, ICE would coordinate with these churches and charities that helped out migrants. But that's not how they did it this week.

It was earlier that I talked to a program director of a church who helps out migrants and he said he had contacted ICE and let them know that they had enough resources for as migrants as possible. But even still, ICE dumped them on the streets of El Paso without a plan anyway.


[11:19:51] ANSELMO DELGADO-MARTIREZ, COORDINATOR OF OPERATIONS, EL CALVARIO METHODIST CHURCH: We were ready, had staff all ready to take in refugees on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And the next thing we know, we're watching the news and watching them as they're dropping them off in the streets.


VALENCIA: It was earlier that I spoke to a volunteer who was here on that very day. He just described a scene of utter chaos. And we have been witnessing not so much the chaos but a steady stream of migrants being brought here by volunteers.

And these are migrants that are just desperate -- Marty. You know, 15 to 20 of them, we saw a group of them dropped off, including five to six children. One of them was just a baby being held in their mother's arms. It is an incredibly sad scene, especially around the holiday season -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Of course. And real quick, Nick, before I let you go. Where do they go once they're released?

VALENCIA: Well, some of them have gotten tickets bought for them by volunteers, others by family members and they're essentially in transit in various locations throughout the United States. Others, you know, really don't know where to go. And for right now, they're being housed either in local motels or as I mentioned, those charities and local businesses which have turned into essentially makeshift shelters.

SAVIDGE: All right. Nick Valencia -- thank you very much from El Paso.

Still to come, federal workers likely to begin the New Year out of work, and working -- or working without pay. President Trump claims that government workers are ok with that. But is it true? I will ask the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees Union next.


SAVIDGE: As the partial government shutdown drags into day eight now with no end in sight, the livelihood of more than 800,000 federal employees is threatened more and more of each passing day.

CNN's Ryan Nobles looks at how that shutdown is impacting government employees who suddenly find themselves without a paycheck.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With President Trump unable to secure funding for his border wall.

[11:24:58] TRUMP: I can tell you, it is not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. If you don't have that, then we're just not opening.

NOBLES: The government shutdown will likely continue into the New Year, affecting an estimated 25 percent of the federal work force. 380,000 employees are furloughed and another 420,000 are still working without pay, including the TSA, the Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo will be closing its doors beginning January 2nd, and even the panda live stream camera is going dark.

TRUMP: These federal workers want the wall.

NOBLES: The President said on Christmas that federal workers support the shutdown. But the shutdown is causing families we spoke, many who live paycheck to paycheck, to worry about when they may see their next one and they're fed up.

LOREEN TARGOS, AFGE LOCAL 704 UNION MEMBER AND STEWARD: I have two mortgages to pay. And so I haven't even looked at how my checking account is going to balance out. I don't even have children. For people who have kids in school, you know, extracurricular activities, putting food on the plate for their kids -- those are all things that, you know, make it even more disgusting what's happening with the federal government right now.

NOBLES: Loreen Targos is a local steward in a public sector union and a physical scientist with the EPA which shut down Friday at midnight. She like other EPA employees received this e-mail, referring employees to the Office of Personnel Management for additional guidance. The OPM Thursday tweeting suggestions for workers to send to creditors, landlords and banks if they can't make their payment on time, like trading maintenance work like painting and carpentry for rent payments.

TARGOS: That's absolutely unrealistic. Federal workers are going to be penalized for not paying their bills on time when we just want to go back to work and do the jobs we were hired to do.

NOBLES: Thursday the President tweeting without evidence that most federal employees are Democrats, but workers say their politics shouldn't even matter.

TARGOS: We are civil servants. We are hired to do our work. At the EPA, workers are hired to protect human health and the environment. If he wants to imagine that we are Democrats instead of us being human beings and civil servants, that's his problem, and I hope congress steps up and is able to be the adult in the room.

NOBLES: Ryan Nobles, CNN -- New York.


SAVIDGE: With me now with more on this is Randy Erwin. He is the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. Good morning to you -- Randy. Thanks for joining me.


SAVIDGE: Your union represents as far as I understand more than 100,000 federal workers. And I bet you've heard from a great many of them. How is the shutdown impacting them?

ERWIN: Well, it's impacting them in very bad ways, you know. And people have lost their paychecks. You know, it was around the holidays. So just the amount of stress level that it has caused was really bad for, you know, hundreds of thousands of people, ones that we represent and other federal employees across the country.

And they're worried. They don't know how long this shutdown is going to go. And the President is saying it's going to be a long shutdown. This is economic catastrophe for families. You know, a lot of them that make as little as $26,000 a year. And it is a serious situation for them.

SAVIDGE: The President says that federal workers have been telling him that they support the shutdown. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Many of those workers have said to me and communicated stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: So Randy -- my question to you, are federal workers telling you that they support the shutdown so the President can build a border wall?

ERWIN: I have spoken to dozens and dozens of federal employees across the country in the last several days. And no, I'm not hearing that at all. Federal employees do not support a shutdown. I can't say one or two didn't tell the President that, but by and large, the vast majority of federal employees are very concerned about this and don't want a shutdown or a furlough.

SAVIDGE: I would also like to get your reaction to this tweet that we know was sent out by the Office of Personnel Management suggesting that employees send letters to their landlords and even offered to maybe trade out services such as painting or carpentry in exchange for partial rent payments.

In your mind, is that a reasonable plan for most federal workers?

ERWIN: It is sad that it has come to this. I can't believe this is the guidance that's going out. But they shouldn't be sending letters to their landlords asking for odd jobs. They should be sending letters to Congress, particularly to Republican members of Congress that are standing with this president.

One thing that people don't realize is that in 2013 Standard and Poor did a review of how much it was costing the government shutdown that was happening in 2013. It costs about $1.5 billion per day, that's money that gets pulled out of the economy every day that we have a shutdown.

And let me tell you, the economy has been sputtering already, and this is going to impact people across the country. I'm very concerned that we are precipitating, you know, a recession in this country.

[11:30:03] So the letter-writing that should happen is people to the Republican caucus, getting them to have a backbone, stand up to this president, and don't go off the cliff with him by precipitating, you know, economic decline by this shutdown.

SAVIDGE: You know, in many ways Americans who don't have a job in federal government may not fully understand exactly what sort of jobs we're talking about. We think of the important or, you know, life- saving jobs, but there are many other jobs that are vitally important to the day to day of government. Just -- what are some of the people who you oversee as far as the union? What kind of jobs do they have and what do they do to help us?

ERWIN: Sure. Well, I mean one thing people got to realize that it is not a Washington thing. People think of federal employees in Washington but only 15 percent of federal workers are in the D.C.- northern Virginia-Maryland area. 85 percent are spread throughout the country doing work in every community across the country.

So no matter where you are, there are your friends and neighbors that are being directly impacted by this. And yes, what hasn't been discussed very much is how services that the American people benefit from are suffering.

We represent a lot of workers -- about 20,000 in the U.S. forest service. Last year we had the worst fire season on record, I mean entire communities were burnt to the ground. It was a very sad thing. We represent the workers that are supposed to be caring, tending to our national forests right now, clearing brush, doing all of the things to make sure that next year's fire season isn't even worse, and they're sitting on their hands.

Those people want to go to work so that we don't have, you know, a terrible fire season, and they can protect their communities. Those are the kind of things that aren't happening because of this ridiculous shutdown.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Randy Erwin -- thanks for reminding all of us. We appreciate it.

ERWIN: Thank you for having me.

SAVIDGE: Ahead, the manhunt for the man who killed this California officer. The manhunt is over, multiple arrests have been made. Now new details on those arrests and the emotional reaction from his community next.


SAVIDGE: We're following new developments this morning in California where more arrests have been made after a police officer, that is Ronil Singh, was gunned down the day after Christmas during a traffic stop.

Authorities there now are arresting the girlfriend and brother of suspect Gustavo Perez Arriaga. Police arrested Arriaga Friday. They say that he was in the U.S. illegally and might have been trying to escape to Mexico.

CNN national correspondent Sara Sidner has more on that arrest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: less than 48 hours after losing his brother, his hero, his friend Reggie Singh stepped to the mike. He had just learned his brother's suspected killer had been caught.

REGGIE SINGH, RONIL SINGH'S BROTHER: He's not coming back. There's a lot of people out there that misses him, and a lot of law enforcement people that I don't know who work days and nights to make this happen.

SIDNER: Ronil Singh came to this country as an immigrant from Fiji. He was living his version of the American dream. He wanted to become a police officer and he did just that.

He dreamt of a family. Five months ago, he and his wife welcomed their son into the world. But at 1:00 in the morning the day after Christmas, Singh's dream abruptly ended. CHIEF RANDY RICHARDSON, NEWMAN POLICE: I did not know Christmas

morning at 4:00 in the morning when I said good-bye to him and sent him off to his family that it would be the last time that I saw him.

SIDNER: Police say Singh was killed by Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who unlike Singh, had come into the country illegally. Deputies caught up with Arriaga at a home near Bakersfield, California after a massive manhunt.

SHERIFF ADAM CHRSTIANSON, STANISLAUS COUNTY: This criminal, Mr. Arriaga, crossed our border illegally into Arizona some time ago. He is a criminal. He has two prior arrests for DUI.

SIDNER: Several people were arrested, including Arriaga's brother and a co-worker, who were accused of lying to authorities and impeding their ability to find him faster. While Singh's family wept around him, the Stanislaus County Sheriff could not contain his outrage over California's so-called sanctuary law.

CHRISTIANSON: And under SB54 in California, based on two arrests for DUI and some other active warrants that this criminal has out there, law enforcement would have been prevented, prohibited from sharing any information with ICE about this criminal gang member.

SIDNER: Some law enforcement officials completely disagreed saying the law actually encourages people to come forward who would otherwise avoid helping law enforcement because of their citizenship status.

But the sheriff's sentiment has been embraced by others, including the man with the largest megaphone. President Trump tweeted about the case, using it in his pitched battle to build a border wall to keep illegal immigrants out.

No matter who wins the political battle, there is little that can ease the pain of the Singh family. Their one small solace -- Singh's canine partner Sam will simply become the family pet. The police department is retiring the dog because as the chief put it, the Singh family shouldn't have to lose another family member.

Sara Sidner, CNN -- Los Angeles.


SAVIDGE: Sara -- thank you very much for that.

Ahead a man claimed that he was racially profiled then thrown out of the Doubletree Hotel just for calling his mom in the lobby. Now just in to CNN, the employees involved in that incident have been fired. The details up next.


SAVIDGE: You probably know this story, but you may not know the latest. Just in to CNN -- two Doubletree Hotel employees in Portland, Oregon who were seen in a video asking a black guest to leave because he was talking on the phone in the lobby have been fired. The hotel saying the workers' actions were quote, "inconsistent with their standards and values".

Portland's mayor is condemning the incident, tweeting "No one should be treated this way and I hope it serves as a catalyst for necessary changes that address the systemic nature of discrimination of all forms."

CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen has the latest on what happened and the fallout from the incident.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jermaine Massey says he returned from a concert, went back to his Doubletree Hotel, found a quiet place in the lobby to call a family member concerning an emergency and then he says the security guard started harassing him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Portland police will be here in a minute.



MASSEY: They're coming why? Why are they coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To escort you off the property.

MASSEY: Because why? And I'm staying here.


VERCAMMEN: And Massey says he had the evidence that he was a guest. He showed them a card key envelope with the date on it and his room number. It didn't work. They still called Portland police. People escorted Massey up to his room and he was kicked out.

Now, Massey's lawyers say the next step will be a strategy that involves both a political possibility and a litigation possibility. They say their client is overwhelmed. And one thing, he does not want this to happen to anybody else.

Interesting in all this, the lawyers also say that Massey has Justice Department experience in both human resources with a specialization in discrimination. He also works for Amazon right now in human resources.

As for the hotel, it issued a statement, essentially an apology saying it was sorry and it wanted to sit down and talk to Massey about all of this.

Here at CNN, we also reached out to the two employees who were responsible for kicking Massey out, and they have not returned our phone calls.


SAVIDGE: And again the news this morning -- two hotel employees have been fired as a result of this incident. Paul Vercammen -- thanks very much for that.

[11:44:56] Coming up -- severe weather whips through the East Coast, killing at least six people. Now we're bracing for more. Details from the CNN weather center -- that's up next.

But first, a quick look at the new CNN film "LOVE GILDA".


GILDA RADNER, COMEDIAN: Hi, I'm Gilda Radner. And ok now --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to know what made you funny.

RADNER: From the time I was a kid, I loved to pretend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was the very first performer chosen for the cast of "Saturday Night Live".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They loved her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I basically stole all of my characters from Gilda.

RADNER: I can do almost anything if people are laughing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gilda was just not quite herself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One morning she just said I don't know what's wrong with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To a comedian, it's the most unfunny thing in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She felt that she could be of help and that's exactly what she did.

RADNER: How often do we get to know exactly how brave we are.

I always felt that my comedy was just to make things be all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "LOVE GILDA", New Year's day at 9:00 p.m.



[11:49:54] SAVIDGE: Six people are dead after a powerful winter storm tore through part of the country this week; parts of the plains and the upper Midwest hit by one to two feet of snow. That includes places like Duluth, Minnesota where people saw more than 12 inches in just one day.

That same system brought severe storms to the south dumping more than a foot of rain across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is live in the weather center. And Allison, no sooner than we see that system leave, a new front moving in behind it?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and that's starting in the southeast, where they really don't need any more rain.

So Here's a look at the system in question. That's that first system finally starting to exit. So most of the northeast and the mid- Atlantic are seeing an end to their rain.

You've got a few light snow showers still remaining around the Great Lakes region. But it's down south. This is where the focus now shifts to because you still have rain chances in the forecast down there after that system pushed through.

Look at the total of snowfall. Finland, Minnesota picking up 24 inches. Even portions of South Dakota picking up two feet of snow. But the southern side was all rain. And yes, a lot of reports of eight to ten inches but yes, even one report of 15.5 inches of rain in Mississippi.

So it's very obvious, they don't need any more rain. But unfortunately, you have rain in the forecast for the southeast for the next three days.

Now, today the focus remains this next system. The low pressure system is sitting over the Gulf of Mexico. That's where it just starts to surge more moisture up basically stretching from Texas all the way over towards Florida. Then that system -- what it does in the coming days, that's where it becomes important for areas say of the mid-Atlantic, the northeast and the Midwest.

Here's what we're talking about. There comes that low as it begins to push off to the north. Really ramping up especially with the moisture and the heavy rain on Sunday. Then by Monday, it pushes off to the east. Places like the Ohio Valley, into areas of the northeast.

And Unfortunately, say that you have plans for New York City on New Year's Eve, it looks like right as the ball drops, you're going to be looking at rain showers not only in New York but also cities like Philadelphia, Cleveland, Knoxville, stretching down towards Atlanta, and it's the southern cities where you're really going to have the bulk of that heavy rain.

Widespread (INAUDIBLE) about two inches of rain. But some locations could pick up an additional four inches of rain. Here's the problem. Even one to two inches of extra rain on top of what they've already had is likely going to trigger even further flooding for a lot of these areas that already have roadways under water and water coming in to homes. Especially for states like Alabama and Mississippi where they had widespread amounts of about eight to ten inches.

One of other concerns, too Martin, are the rivers because oftentimes this isn't where you get the flooding immediately. This is something that lasts for days. And right now, we have nearly 200 rivers that are above flood stage and many of them will not go down in the next week. SAVIDGE: We're not just talking about people getting wet for their

celebrations. We're talking about real danger here. Allison Chinchar -- thank you very much for that.

There's a new government finding on coal power plants and it could lead to more toxins in your area. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules on regulating hazardous air pollutants. The new rules would change how the EPA determines the benefits of limiting some emissions. And it could make it tougher for the agency to create new regulations.

Essentially, the EPA now says the current formula for the Obama administration just plain costs too much. Environmental activists say the dramatic change first reported in the "New York Times" could do irreparable harm to public safety.

Raging wildfires, debilitating blizzards and deadly hurricanes and floods -- you name it and 2018 had it, brutal in terms of severe weather events.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has a look back.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: 2018 brought another year of extreme weather and natural disasters to the U.S. Impacts of manmade climate change evident in every region of the country even as the U.S. takes a step backward in fighting this global crisis.

Here are the top eight stories for 2018.

Number eight, the Hawaii volcano. Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world lived up to its reputation. In early May, it came to life once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This really does look like hell on earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is as impressive, as mesmerizing and it's terrifying as it gets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lava which reach temperatures topping 2,100 degrees destroyed 700 homes.

MYERS: Number seven -- the Alaska earthquake. On November 30th, a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Alaska. It hit very near Alaska's most populated city of Anchorage causing roads to buckle, knocking out power to 10,000 people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the worst, most violent quake they had ever felt.

MYERS: The quake was considered the most significant for Anchorage since 1964. Fortunately, no serious injuries or deaths were reported.

[11:55:04] Number six, Florida red tide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an epic event of biblical proportion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the worst toxic algae bloom in recent memory wiping out dolphins, sea turtles, other marine life by the thousands.

MYERS: While the process that creates Florida's red tide and green slime are natural, many scientists say the increased agricultural runoff and pollution from the early season subtropical storm Alberto made the problem even worse.

Number five, the Maryland flood. On May 27th, storms pounded the Baltimore area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flash flooding has turned this Maryland town's main street into a raging river. Cars have been swept up by the roaring muddy water rushing through Ellicott City, Maryland.

MYERS: Many there were still rebuilding from their flash flood of 2016. It was considered a once in a thousand year event. It took only two years for history to repeat itself.

Number four, it's a term known to meteorologists but this year two storms got everyone talking about it.





MYERS: So what is a bomb cyclone? It's not just a nor'easter, it's a big storm that develops rapidly. There's warm air over the ocean. There's very cold air over the land. And there's a jet stream in between. That allows the storm to rapidly intensify, develop into a nor'easter but a big one, one that loses 24 millibars of pressure in 24 hours. That's a technical term. Certainly not every nor'easter is a bomb cyclone.

Two of these nor'easters struck this year. The first in early January, left 19 dead and caused over $1 billion in damage. As the storm worked its way up the coast, it brought the first snow since 1989 in Tallahassee, Florida. And Ice and snow to Charleston, South Carolina.

The storm hit the northeast very hard with nearly 9 inches of snow in New York City and a tide over 15 feet in Boston Harbor, big enough to break the record from the benchmark blizzard of 1978.

In March another coastal bomb left nine dead and $2 billion in damage knocking out power to over a million at the peak of the storm.

Number three in our list is Hurricane Michael. Michael made landfall on October 10th as the strongest storm to hit the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew. The category four hurricane was just one mile per hour short of being a Cat 5.

The storm claimed 46 lives, most of those killed were in Florida where the Florida Panhandle was devastated. The small town of Mexico Beach was ground zero.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We have just now flown over Mexico Beach and it's is gone, it's obliterated. It's awful to look at. I've never seen anything like this.

Number two is Hurricane Florence. The storm made landfall on September 14th along the North Carolina coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We notice that inner eye wall. There it goes. There goes the lights.

MYERS: And much like Harvey in Houston the year before, the hurricane stalled for days bringing historic rain, nearly three feet of rain impacted some areas of North Carolina. The storm dumped as much as 10 trillion gallons of water. As much as eight months' worth of rain fell in just a few days.

Many rivers in both North and South Carolina saw their all-time record crest. More than 50 people perished in the storm.

Increasingly, scientists are concerned that hurricanes like Michael and Florence could be the new normal. Increased heat especially in the oceans can potentially lead to stronger and wetter storms.

Perhaps no place in the U.S. has begun to see the consequences of climate change more than California. Years of record drought were replaced suddenly by historic flooding in late 2017. That yo-yo effect laid the perfect foundation for large and destructive wildfires and deadly mudslides.

California is number one on our list with floods and fires. In January of this year, heavy rains fell over the Thomas Fire burn scar bringing a wall of debris and mud to communities below. Areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties were the hardest hit.

This year's fires were the most destructive and devastating in California history.

And they burned in almost every month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The term, we hear, it's new normal. It's not new anymore. This is the normal. And it's not a season. It's year round.

MYERS: The Mendocino Complex Fire that started in July became the largest ever recorded for the state. But the worst came in November when strong winds pushed the Camp Fire into the town of Paradise.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is nothing like what we've had before.

MYERS: There was such panic. Some drivers abandoned their cars as they tried to flee on foot.

Some 40,000 people resided in the path of that fire. In the end, 85 died. And nearly the entire town of 14,000 homes burned to the ground.

[12:00:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A whole town was wiped off the face of the earth.