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Oscar Winner Accused of Groping Teenage Busboy; Trump: Child Border Deaths "Strictly the Fault of the Democrats"; Employees from Portland Hotel Lobby Incident Fired; Police Arrest Man Suspected of Killing Police Officer; House Judiciary Democrats Hire Attorneys for Coming Trump Investigations; Russian Company Says Nude Selfie Shows Mueller on Fishing Expedition; Trump Inauguration Committee Under Investigation; Top-8 Health Stories of 2018; Witches of World Have Beef with Trump. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 29, 2018 - 17:00   ET



JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm upset because I loved "House of Cards." He was great on "House of Cards." And it's unfortunate that he's embroiled himself in all of these shenanigans.





OGUNNAIKE: Robin Wright is fantastic.

JACKSON: She is. She is.

OGUNNAIKE: Claire did not need Frank.


OGUNNAIKE: So, trust me. You'll be fine. Netflix and chill this evening.

NOBLES: Joey thank you for being here. Lola thank you for being the rose between these two thorns, we appreciate it. Happy New Year to both of you, I appreciate it.

JACKSON: Thanks Ryan. Thanks Lola.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

NOBLES: You are live in the CNN newsroom. I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Ana Cabrera.

President Trump blaming the deaths of migrant children at the U.S. border in Mexico on Democrats in Congress. One more time, the president of the United States says that it is Democrats responsible when children die at the border. And that's not reading between the lines or interpreting something out of context. Those are his words directly.

This is the tweet from the president inside the White House from just a couple of hours ago. He wrote, quote, "Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can't. If we had a wall, they wouldn't even try."

That wall the president is referring to and arguing about the dollar amount he wants to build it is the reason the government remains partially shut down right now. With hundreds of thousands of American federal workers wondering when they're going to see their next paycheck. It's now been eight days. The New Year is about to start. There's no realistic end to the shutdown in view. And the president of the United States right now is out of sight inside the White House, tweeting that Democrats are to blame when kids at the border die.

Let's go to CNN's Sarah Westwood. She is at the White House. Sarah, the president and his political opponents, they've pointed a lot of fingers, but we've never heard the president blame anyone directly for the deaths of children. This appears to be new territory for President Trump.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It certainly is new, Ryan, and in fact, it appears to be the first time President Trump has acknowledged the death of two children at the southern border. And he chose to politicize them, blaming those who don't support his immigration agenda. And these tweets come as he's holed up at the White House. He's canceled plans to travel down to Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach for the holidays amid that partial government shutdown. And he's showing signs of mounting frustration with his inability to get money to pay for his promised wall along the southern border.

Now Trump has increasingly been blaming Democratic congressional leaders for the persistence of the shutdown. White House officials are pointing their fingers specifically at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She could soon be the next speaker of the house, and they're claiming that her bid for the speakership is the reason why she's unable to make a deal with the administration that could reopen the government, saying she doesn't want to risk the votes of some progressives within her caucus by striking some kind of deal with the Trump administration.

Now, that's according to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney slash also the budget director. He says that those Democratic congressional leaders haven't actually been invited to the White House for further negotiations. Mulvaney says the White House is simply waiting on a counteroffer from the Democrats at this point. Now, Mulvaney suggested that the president might be willing to back off of that $5 billion demand for funding for the border wall, but he wouldn't specify by how much.

CNN reported, though, that Vice President Mike Pence offered support for a $2.5 billion border security plus wall package, and Democrats rejected that. So talks do appear to still be at a standstill heading into the New Year with just about five days until Democrats retake the House. There appears to be no end in sight though, Ryan, as border security and wall funding both hang in the balance.

NOBLES: All right, Sarah Westwood with the latest from the North Lawn of the White House. Sarah thank you.

Let's go to the other end of the story now and take you to the southern U.S. border. That's where CNN's Nick Valencia is. He is in El Paso, Texas. Nick, where you are near the Mexican border is essentially the reason that the government is partially shut down heading into a second week. Are U.S. officials there taking a look for themselves, and what are they saying about the situation?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen making a visit to the border this weekend on Friday and Saturday, releasing a statement saying that this is her 16th trip in the last year to the southern border. And what she saw firsthand were border patrol station conditions in the El Paso area. As we understand it, she's moved on to Yuma, Arizona, where she's doing the same thing there. Another thing that she's checking on are these secondary screenings, it was part of measures that she ordered after the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo who is the second child migrant to die in less than a month in U.S. custody.

And she released a statement, saying in part, "This system," speaking about the immigration system, "is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis and protect vulnerable populations. We know that if Congress were to act or the courts were to enforce the law as written, we could address this crisis tomorrow. Instead we continue to do more with less. As I have said before, I ask Congress to please put politics aside and recognize this for the growing security and humanitarian crisis it is."

[17:05:13] And when you talk to people here on the ground, that is one of the first things they mention to you, Ryan. It is a growing crisis, one that seems to have no end in sight. And it's deeply frustrating to the charities that are helping out these migrants who have been dropped off here this week, in some cases with no resources at all. We've been here for the majority of the week and what we've seen with our own eyes is catch and release is still very alive.

Migrants being dropped off in groups, sometimes as much as 15 to 20 at a time, which includes children. Some of them just babies. And when you talk to them and you ask them, why were you told that you were released. They weren't given an explanation. They were simply in some cases, on Christmas Day, dropped off here with no plans, no tickets, no money, nowhere to go. These local charities caught off guard. They say they are strained by the influx of migrants, and that's exactly what you hear from the customs and border patrol officials that I've spoken to. They feel that this system is overwhelmed right now, and they're operating with fewer resources because of this partial government shutdown. Ryan?

NOBLES: Nick Valencia, live near the southern border there in El Paso, Texas. Nick thank you for that report.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein and Republican strategist and CNN political commentator, Doug Heye. Ron, let's start with you. The idea that the president says that Democrats are to blame for these young children dying, you tweeted a response to that. You said, "If this is Trump's reaction to these tragic deaths now, just try to imagine how enraged he is likely to be in a few weeks when House Democrats begin comprehensive hearings on them and the broader issues of how he's managing the border." Explain what you mean by that.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, both the - thanks, Ryan. Both the House Judiciary - the incoming chairs of the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees have already signaled that they intend to hold comprehensive hearings on the deaths of these two young children and the broader way that the administration has been managing the border. And this is going to be something that Trump has not seen in his first two years as president, meaningful oversight.

I mean the House Republicans made the decision that in the service of advancing their common agenda on things like cutting taxes, they were not going to challenge the way the -- they were essentially going to, you know, abandon the oversight responsibilities of Congress. All of that is going to dramatically change in just a few days. And I think, you know, you saw the president accelerating, intensifying this argument that conservatives have made for years that the laxness, the supposed laxness of American immigration policy is what encourages people to come north and try to cross the border. But I think he has going to be - you know he has not - he has been playing tennis without a net, and now there's going to be somebody serving back a different set of interpretations of what's been happening.

NOBLES: All right. Is there a role, Doug, here for Republicans, though? Should they be calling out the president for making a comment like this?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I think a lot of them do. The challenge that Republicans face is that Trump says things that are so inflammatory on purpose so often that Republicans get exhausted of having to come and defend or criticize every tweet that the president makes because as we know, he'll say something outrageous on a Saturday that will draw reaction. By Sunday morning, we may be talking about something else that Trump has sent us in a different direction of. Whenever there's bad news for Donald Trump, it intensifies his base and basically plays a Star Wars game at us and tells all of us and we always fall for it. These are not the droids you're looking for. So his ability to change that conversation is a very drastic one for Trump.

NOBLES: To that point, Doug, he has so focused on the wall. He's convinced a large section of the American public that the wall is the solution to all of these problems. Even if a wall was there, wouldn't there still be people trying to come to this country to seek asylum?

HEYE: Oh, absolutely. Obviously the issue of visa overstays from our northern border and from other countries is a huge issue as well. But this is an issue that galvanizes Republican voters. I don't agree with a wall, per se. I think in some places, it works. In a lot of places, it doesn't. Certainly Republicans who were concerned about eminent domain know that this is problematic in building a 3,000-mile wall.

But this galvanizes Trump's base. It's the one thing he always goes back to, this and tariffs. Trump may not be predictable on a lot of issues, but on immigration and on tariffs, he is rock solid. And that's why once he was cutting a deal and his base reacted to it, he cut right back on Senate Republicans and backed off the deal that he had initially supported, which is why we're here.

NOBLES: Ron, go ahead make the point.

BROWNSTEIN: Ryan, first, I mean it's important to understand that while this does activate a lot of Trump's base, overall in public opinion, the wall has been consistently, invariably unpopular. The last CNN poll, only 38 percent of the country said they supported the wall. That dropped to 33 percent when told that Mexico would not pay for it. There was another poll this week, a "Reuters" poll that only 35 percent wanted to see wall funding included in the border deal.

[17:10:00] And it's important that the groups that powered the Democratic gains in the House, that essentially created this Democratic majority, which were college-educated white voters, minority voters, young voters, they opposed the wall at rates of 60 percent or above.

And I think you probably saw the video released today by Beto O'Rourke, the losing Senate candidate in Texas, who may be a presidential 60 percent or above. You probably saw the video 60 percent or above. You probably saw the video released today by beto o'rourke, the losing Senate candidate in Texas, who may be a presidential candidate in 2020, making a very strong case against the wall on substantive grounds, on environmental grounds, humanitarian grounds -


NOBLES: Domain - that Doug said --

BROWNSTEIN: And the domain. And I think that is indicative of how different an environment this is on this debate than it was only a few years ago when Democrats really had a lot of rural members dependent on conservative voters who might have been worried about being on the other side of Trump on this issue. I don't see that. I don't see any pressure on Democrats either in the broader public opinion or from their coalition to give in here, and he may find this a tougher slog than he expects to kind of move them in his direction as a result.

NOBLES: That video from Beto O'Rourke I think approaching 4 million views just on Twitter right now. So it has gotten a wide audience already.

Doug, you know the president now threatening to shut down the entire southern border, all 48 points of entry, if he doesn't get the money he wants for the wall. But it's not clear how much money he's willing to settle for. I mean, just take a listen to what the president said on this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you give us any idea what the president would be willing to accept financially for border security, for his border wall where we could reach a deal if Democrats would get there?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, we've made that clear to the Democrats. I'm not going to negotiate in the press. But the president has been willing to negotiate on this point.


NOBLES: Obviously not the president. That was Sarah Sanders, his spokesperson. But it demonstrates here that we -- this is kind of a moving target, right, Doug? We don't know how much he wants or how much he'd be willing to agree to, to end this stalemate, right?

HEYE: Sure. And I think this is one of the ironic things for Trump. You know Trump sold himself as being the great negotiator. This is a chance for Trump to prove that he is the great negotiator. On immigration and I would say also on guns, it's an opportunity for Trump to take his base to a place because they trust him more than they would trust a president Jeb Bush cutting the exact same deal.

Unfortunately for whatever reason, Trump is more beholden to his base than wanting to move it, and there's not much room then for him to negotiate because he's backed himself into a corner. And at this point, you know, it is fine politically to blame this on Nancy Pelosi if you want to, but the reality is Nancy Pelosi isn't even relevant to this debate yet. Until January 3rd when she becomes speaker and she has the votes to do so, Nancy Pelosi is not a part of this process. This is about Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell. And I would say it's not a coincidence when you haven't seen Mitch McConnell in public except for today's Louisville-Kentucky basketball game because he doesn't want to get out there and say anything because he doesn't want to get burned again either.

NOBLES: Ron and Doug, stay here. I know you both would rather talk to me than watch the college football. So we've got a lot more to talk about. So stick around and we're going to get right back with you guys in just a second.

This fight over the border wall is all happening amid a government shutdown, many federal workers now taking to social media to share stories about how it's impacting them.

Here's what some of them are saying. Quote, "We are both veterans, husband has 20 years of service with four combat tours. We will not be able to pay our mortgage if this persists."

Another woman says, "My insurance premium is $600 per month and my son's insulin and pump supplies are an additional $600 per quarter. Barely making it. Now I'll be going to work -- paid in the future."

And this one, "I'm a furloughed Fed. I spent today calling the banks for the mortgage and the car loan, the electric company, the gas company, the credit card company. I have some savings, so I'm going to be OK for a bit. Won't be buying the new car to replace the 17-year- old Toyota now."

And this, "Got some things for Christmas that I am not unpackaging, and receipts are in my purse so I can return if needed for grocery money."

Let's bring back in Doug and Ron. Doug, the government's advice to these furloughed workers. This is honestly what they put in a letter. Offer yourself up to do some painting, some carpentry work for your landlords. I mean these are professionals with college degrees in many cases, who have a specific skill set that they are basically using for the American people. I mean, what does this say about the optics of this shutdown for the Trump administration?

HEYE: It's terrible. I'll tell you. Because it was a nice day in Washington today, I spent part of my day going to some of the art museums on the National Mall because those are going to be closed later this week. And that's obviously not the most serious thing in the world, but it is serious when you're having to face financial decisions based on mortgages and other things like that, and the government is basically telling you to take odd jobs and become a handyman because the government can't function.

And that's ultimately the problem is we want a functioning government. I as a Republican, as a conservative, want it smaller and more effective than big and bloated, but I want a working government. And we don't have that right now. This is the third one that we've had since Trump has taken over. So it's become almost a default position, that if we can't get our act together, we'll just close the government down, even if it's just a partial shutdown. That's frankly an embarrassment.

[17:15:00] NOBLES: Ron, of course, the president at one point said that he was going to take blame for the shutdown, right? Take a listen.





SCHUMER: We disagree.

TRUMP: And I'll tell you what. I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.


NOBLES: "I'm not going to blame you for it." Those are his exact words. BROWNSTEIN: Not so much.

NOBLES: But he's already tweeting about it today saying that this is the Democrats' fault. He said I'm in the White House waiting for the Democrats to take responsibility and make a deal on border security. You know, Ron, from your perch, who's ultimately going to get the blame for this?

BROWNSTEIN: The administration I think clearly. I mean, whoever - you know the history of the government shutdowns going back to the Clinton shutdown, the shutdown engineered by Ted Cruz under Obama, they do not create enough leverage to get what you want. He will not be able to force the Democrats to accept the border wall through the threat of keeping the government shut. There is a map. If the administration was serious about this -- and I saw a tweet from Lindsey Graham yesterday, and he of all people should know this. That both in 2006 and 2013, the Senate approved, as the RNC has been reminding people, substantial increases in funding for border security, including elements that could be, you know, assigned as part of a wall. They did that in the context of a comprehensive immigration reform plan that included a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million or so undocumented in the country. It passed with bipartisan support each time. House Republicans would not take it up.

If the president was serious about trying to find some way to get more funding for border security, he would be offering the incoming Democrats some kind of package as even last year when Senate Democrats were willing to accept more funding for the border in return for legal status for DACA. He's not doing that. He is trying to break them as, again, Lindsey Graham has said. It's important to break them in this initial, you know, confrontation. And I do not -- the history -- both the history and the current dimensions of public opinion make it very unlikely that he will do so, leaving us in this stalemate and as Doug said, with him painting himself into this corner where he is pursuing an unpopular tactic in advance of a goal that is even more unpopular with the broader American public.

NOBLES: And I should point out, you know, Ron - Doug, just hang on a second --having been there the week on Capitol Hill as the shutdown was progressing, there were Republican and Democratic lawmakers that were ready to make a deal of some kind. The problem was there were a couple of major negotiators not involved in that process. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, a number of people that have the president's ear. There could be a will to get something done, but unfortunately you have a president in this situation who is taking advice from people that aren't directly involved in the negotiations, and it veers it off track. Unfortunately, guys, we're out of time. Excellent discussion as always, we appreciate it. Ron Brownstein, Doug Heye, thank you both for being here.


HEYE: Thank you.

NOBLES: Coming up, a guest is kicked out of a hotel for talking on the phone, and the hotel now responding by firing two workers. Plus several more arrests in the killing of a California police officer. Why police say more could be coming.


[17:21:13] NOBLES: The fallout continues from an alleged racist incident at a Portland, Oregon hotel. The two employees seen in this viral video asking a black guest to leave a Doubletree Hotel have been fired. Jermaine Massey says he was racially profiled and discriminated against for taking a phone call in the hotel lobby last Saturday. A security officer also informed Massey that police were on their way to escort him off the property.

Joining me now, CNN's Miguel Marquez. Miguel, tell us about this incident.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This appears to be yet another incident of essentially breathing while black, that phenomenon of white people calling the police on black people for either a small or no infraction at all. In this case, on December 22nd, Jermaine Massey checked in to the Doubletree, which is a Hilton property, in Portland, Oregon. He went to a (INAUDIBLE) room, his way back, his mother had texted him, an urgent text. He got into the lobby. It was busy. He went to a quiet area to make a phone call. He ended up having to hang up with his mother as he was being confronted by the security guard. He put it all on Instagram. We put a little compendium together for you.


JERMAINE MASSEY, GUEST KICKED OUT OF DOUBLETREE PORTLAND: He's calling the cops on me because I'm taking a phone call at the Doubletree Hotel.

Say hi, Earl.

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

MASSEY: Thank you. Call them. I'm waiting.


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.


MASSEY: How am I loitering in an area that's public?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're setting here.

MASSEY: So this area is off limits after a certain time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only if you're a guest.

MASSEY: I am a guest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't tell me that.

MASSEY: I said that I'm a guest.


MASSEY: I told you that.


MARQUEZ: And he does say remarkably calm through that entire encounter. Don Lemon had Mr. Massey on his show. Don asked him, why do you think this sort of thing keeps happening across America?


MASSEY: It's hurtful. It's humiliating. And I don't understand why it continues to be an issue. I'm a person at the end of the day just like everyone else, and I deserve respect and fair treatment. And I did not receive that on Saturday.

I think that there's a lot of perceptions about black males in particular that we're threats and we're harmful, and we're just fearful individuals. And, you know, that bias, it impacts these situations, and it's harmful to us as a people.


MARQUEZ: Now, the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, has called this part of the systemic nature of discrimination. Mr. Massey and his lawyers are certainly thankful that Hilton has apologized and fired the two individuals, but they do want more. They want some sort of written response from Hilton about why he was targeted in the way he was.

NOBLES: So just expand on that a little bit. So this -- how has the hotel responded?

MARQUEZ: The hotel has -- well, one, they fired the two individuals. They started an investigation on Friday. By today they've decided to fire the two individuals for the actions that they took against him. They were horrified by it as the mayor was. Hilton is a massive hotel chain that has people all around the world. And, you know, obviously discrimination at one of their hotels is a big issue. So this is something that they acted very quickly on. All that said, Mr. Massey and his lawyer certainly want more.

NOBLES: OK. Miguel Marquez, thank you. We appreciate that.

In California, the community of Newman mourning fallen Officer Ronil Singh at an emotional vigil on Friday night. The police officer was fatally shot early Wednesday morning during a traffic stop. Singh's widow and infant son along with Singh's brother attended the vigil. Police say the suspect in the shooting, identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was in the country illegally and was trying to escape to Mexico.

[17:25:03] Officials have arrested an additional seven people for aiding the suspect in evading police after the shooting. CNN's Sara Sidner has the latest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than 48 hours after losing his brother, his hero, his friend, Reggie Singh stepped to the mics. He had just learned his brother's suspected killer had been caught.

REGGIE SINGH, BROTHER OF RONIL SINGH: He's not coming back, but there's a lot of people out there that misses him and a lot of law enforcement people that I don't know that worked 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 DEPARTMENT: I did not know Christmas morning at 4:00 o'clock 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 CHRISTIANSON, 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 SB-54 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 disagree, 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 K-9 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.


NOBLES: In just five days, Democrats take the House gavel in Washington, ready to take the fight to President Trump. So what does that mean for him and the Russia investigation? We'll talk about it next.


[17:31:31] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: In just five days, Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, and they are ready to get to work. Investigating President Trump, that is. The House Judiciary Committee has posted a job listing, and here's what they're looking for: Legal counsel with expertise in criminal law, immigration law, constitutional law, intellectual property law, and commercial and administrative law.

I want to bring in former New York City prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Paul, Robert Mueller is already investigating the president for obstruction and his campaign for possible collusion. What else can House Democrats look into?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they have an enormous number of possible subjects, Ryan. You have the issue of the Trump charitable foundation in New York, which is under active investigation by the attorney general in New York. You have a lot of allegations made by Michael Cohen, the president's former personal counsel, alleging that he, Cohen, lied to Congress. And I suspect Cohen, when pressed, will indicate he had conversations with Mr. Trump prior to testifying before Congress. One would certainly think the president would be aware as to what his personal counsel said to a congressional committee. And if that was a lie, it's perjury. Why didn't the president correct that lie? You also have the issue of the Paul Manafort conviction and Manafort's relationship with Russians, who later tried to put pressure on Manafort while he was managing the Trump campaign. So there's just a wealth of information for Democrats to look at.

NOBLES: Shifting gears here, there's a Russian company that says, among the terabytes of data that Robert Mueller collected from them, is a nude selfie. They're basically trying to say that Mueller is on a fishing expedition. Is there real evidence, nude selfie aside, that Robert Mueller is really fishing here unwarrantedly?

CALLAN: Well, you can fish legitimately or illegitimately. And I would say that Mueller has more than ample grounds to look into any connections that might link the Trump campaign to the Russians. Remember, his mandate initially when he was appointed was to investigate in part the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians. So whatever is in this information, selfie or not, if it connects the campaign to the Russians, it's relevant to the investigation.

NOBLES: All right. So we are now days away from 2019. I mean, how close do you think we are to the Mueller investigation coming to an end? Remember, the president was promised by his former attorneys that the probe would be over by last Thanksgiving. I mean, how much longer does Robert Mueller need to wrap this up?

CALLAN: Well, if he just goes to trial with people who are currently under investigation, you're really looking at, at least, another nine months to a year before the investigation can wrap. A lot of people were hoping that maybe he would issue his final report in the near future, but I see the investigation getting even more complex. So I certainly would be shocked about it closed down before the summer of 2019.

NOBLES: Wow. All right.

Paul Callan with the first prediction of 2019.

Paul, we appreciate it. Thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you.

[17:35:46] NOBLES: Coming up, Gilda Radner, the woman who inspired a legion of female comedians. A preview of her new CNN film telling her story in her own words.


NOBLES: It wasn't too long ago you probably remember the controversy over the size of President Trump's inauguration crowd. But the event did make history in another area, the cost. The bill came in at more than double the money spent to salute his two predecessors on each of their big days. The money trail is yet another area of the president's universe under investigation as we head into the new year.

CNN's Randi Kaye reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Starting right now, and right here.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: $107 million, that's how much Donald Trump's Inaugural Committee raised in donations for the event. Now federal prosecutors want to know if any of that money was misspent. And perhaps, more importantly, did top donors pay big money in exchange for access and influence in the Trump White House?

The "Wall Street Journal" first broke the story. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Part of this is certainly looking

at what these donors gave and what they expected or what they referred, but it is also partly about what happened with the Inaugural Committee's expenditures.

KAYE: This all apparently stems from the raid on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's office. According to the "Wall Street Journal," investigators seized a recording of a conversation between Cohen and a woman named Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, and one of the key planners for Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration. Wolkoff reportedly expressed concern during that conversation about how the Inaugural Committee was spending money.


KAYE: Real estate developer, Tom Barrack, who ran the Inaugural Committee, denied there was a new investigation. Adding, he had been questioned about it in 2017.

The White House is distancing itself from the probe.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That doesn't have anything to do with the president or the first lady. The biggest thing the president did in his engagement in the inauguration was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office.

[17:40:00] KAYE (on camera): Meanwhile, an investigation by "ProPublica" found the inauguration paid the Trump Organization for room, meals, and event space at Trump's Washington Hotel. And that Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and a senior executive at the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the prices at above- market value for venue rentals by the Inaugural Committee. A spokesman for Ivanka's lawyer told "ProPublica" that Ivanka said discussions should be at a fair-market rate.


KAYE (voice-over): And it isn't just about the money. The "Washington Post" reports that certain attendees at the inauguration also reportedly caught the attention of counter-intelligence officials at the FBI, though it's unclear which attendees.

The paper reported that Viktor Vekselberg, a tycoon closely aligned with Putin's government, attended inaugural events, along with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer whose meeting with Donald Trump Jr at Trump Tower in June 2016 is now under scrutiny.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Congratulations, Mr. President.

KAYE: It is all just part of why federal prosecutors are zeroing on the day Donald Trump officially became the 45th president of the United States.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: Randi, thank you.

Gilda Radner was a comedy superstar whose reach extended far beyond the world of entertainment. Her iconic "Saturday Night Live" characters made us laugh. And her thought-provoking writing broke boundaries for women. Now the new CNN original film, "Love Gilda," offers special access to Gilda's diaries and home videos to share her story.

Brooke Baldwin has this preview.


GILDRA RADNER, COMMEDIENNE: Live from New York, it's Saturday night!

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Legendary comic, Gilda Radner, broke down traditional gender roles when she entered our living rooms in 1975.

RADNER: Hello, Paula, baby.

This is Baba Wawa speaking to you live.


BALDWIN: Radner was the first cast member hired on NBC's iconic "Saturday Night Live."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was incredibly comfortable onstage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was fearless. Nothing was too feminine or too masculine for her to do.

RADNER: I found that my comfort in live television was laughter, that I can do almost anything if people are laughing.

BALDWIN: Radner would rotate through a cast of characters alongside male comics, geniuses in their own right.

RADNER: Boom-ba-ba-boom.

BALDWIN: Every Saturday, she would break down traditional norms for women at that time.

CHEVY CHASE, COMMEDIAN: That was terrific. How was it for you?


CHASE: Was it just OK, or was it -- really OK?

RADNER: Well, it was really just OK.


Dear, Roseanne Roseannadana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gilda said, fine, can we name her Roseanne Roseannadana. We made it into an entity, into a character. And it just grew.

RADNER: I only named those people for television, but they've always been inside me.




BALDWIN: In 1978, Radner won an Emmy for her groundbreaking work on "SNL."

RADNER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Radner starred in the 1982 film "Hankie Panky" where she fell in love and married Actor Gene Wilder.

RADNER: There was a time when I thought that all I wanted to do was work. And now I know that what I really want to do is live.

BALDWIN: Unfortunately, Radner's plans to live, laugh, and love were cut short when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1985.

ROBIN ZWELBEL, CLOSE FRIEND OF GILDA RADNER: She didn't want any sympathy. She didn't want anybody to feel like, you know, to treat her like she was sick.

BALDWIN: Gilda Radner lost her battle to cancer on May 20th, 1989. She was 43 years old.


NOBLES: "Love Gilda" premieres New Year's Day. That's Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

[17:44:02] With the partial government shutdown now in its eighth day, President Trump now blaming Democrats for the deaths of two children who were in U.S. government custody along the border. Is this the new battle line in the fight over money for the president's border wall?


NOBLES: From the growing availability of medical marijuana to a mysterious polio-like illness that is affecting 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.

(voice-over): 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. The truth is, one in six Americans gets some sort of food-borne illness every year. Growing, packing, transporting, storing and serving, there'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.

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 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 that showed she was having over 100 seizures a day. The last EEG we did showed one seizure over a 24-hour period.

GUPTA (on camera): 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 may have heard of called Crispr.

[17:50:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Lulu and Nana were just a single cell, this surgery removed the doorway through which HIV entered to infect people.

GUPTA (on camera): The hospital where the babies were born denied any involvement. And the Chinese government called for an immediate investigation.

(voice-over): But the ethical questions surrounding so-called designer babies are nearly endless and will likely make this list again in the years to come.

(on camera): Parents across the country were on edge this fall as a polio-like illness, called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, paralyzed their children.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I can't feel you.


GUPTA (voice-over): AFM is usually preceded by a respiratory illness or fever but the underlying cause may be a virus. It attacks the spinal cord affecting strength and balance. The CDC has been tracking AFMs since 2014 but there were a record number of cases this year.

(on camera): In November, the FDA fast-tracked and approved two new cancer treatments. They represent a whole new way of looking at cancer and its treatment. Targeting tumors based on their gene mutations as opposed to location in the body.

(voice-over): 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 the vaping products as an alternative for adult smokers could be lost.

GUPTA (on camera): Yes, E-cigarettes are, quote, unquote, "safer" than traditional combustible cigarettes. But contrary to what most kids believe, they are more than just flavorings.

(voice-over): They contain nicotine, a chemical, and sometimes toxic heavy metals. And nearly a third of kids who vape go on to smoke traditional cigarettes within six months.

(on camera): Life expectancy in the United States has decreased for the 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, 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 good friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life at age 61.


Damn, that's good.

Oh, I missed you. I missed you bad.


GUPTA (voice-over): Rest in peace, Tony.


GUPTA (on camera): 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-borne infections in the northeast and the droughts in the south.

But there are climate change skeptics who dismiss the report.

TRUMP: I don't believe it. No, no. I don't believe it.

GUPTA: But seeing is believing. This is the reservoir for the Rio Grande that used to be brimming to the top, and now, it's only 3 percent full. Less and less snowmelt 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.

All right. Moment of truth. Just remembering how this whole process started. Clearly, it looks very different. Smells very different.

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


GUPTA: Cheers to 2018.


NOBLES: Sanjay, thanks.

Coming up, Jeanne Moos on witches united against the president of the United States.


TRUMP: It's a witch hunt. That's all it is.

The witch hunt, as I call it.

Russian witch hunt.

[17:54:15] This is a witch hunt like nobody's ever seen before.


NOBLES: Finally this hour, witches of the world have a beef with President Trump.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They don't fly on broom sticks.


MOOS: They tend not to be "Bewitched."


MOOS: But to Donald Trump --

TRUMP: You know I call it a witch hunt and it is a witch hunt.

MOOS: -- modern-day witches are hard to categorize.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

MOOS (on camera): Are you a witch? AMANDA YATES GARCIA, PRACTICING WITCH: I'm a practicing witch.

That's how I make my living, yes.

MOOS: And which kind of witch are you?

UNIDENTIFIED WITCH: I'm initiated into Wicca, which is the religious side of things.

MOOS (voice-over): Witches tend to side with liberals. You know what they wish President Trump would stop saying about the Mueller investigation?

TRUMP: It's a witch hunt. That's all it is.

It's a witch hunt, as I call it.

Russian witch hunt.

This is a witch hunt like nobody's ever seen before.

MOOS: The author of "Witchcraft Activism" calls the president's use of the term.

UNIDENTIFIED WITCH: Really disgraceful. Thousands of people were executed in Europe on suspicion of witchcraft.

MOOS: Closer to home, there was the Salem witch trials.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I saw the bishop with the devil.

MOOS: And 19 supposed witches were hanged.

GARCIA: There's a lot to be offended by Donald Trump. And I think his use of the term "witch hunt" is very low on that list of priorities for most witches. But nevertheless, it does demonstrate his ignorance as usual.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

MOOS (on camera): But if the president stops saying witch hunt, he'd have to hunt for a new term.

(voice-over): Tweet someone, "I guess he will have to start referring to it as a wild goose chase but then that might offend geese.

The last time witches got mixed up in politics, a losing Tea Party candidate for the Senate had to proclaim --


MOOS: -- after having said she'd dabbled in witchcraft in high school.

If there's one demographic President Trump hasn't put a spell on, it's witches. They would rather put a spell on him. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.


MOOS: New York.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We will be back at 7:00. "S.E. Cupp UNFILTERED" starts right now.