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President Doanld Trump Standing Firm The He Wants More Than The $1.3 Billion Offered By Democratic Leaders; President Trump Facing New Pressure From Lawmakers Following His Decision To Pull Troops Out Of Syria; The Republican Led Senate Says It Will Investigate The Deaths Of Migrant Children In U.S. Custody; Dow Had The Worst Ever Christmas Eve; Pacific Gas And Electric Could Face Murder Or Manslaughter Charges For Its Role In California's Deadly Wildfires; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 30, 2018 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:19] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Good Sunday to you.

In two days, we will all ring in the New Year. With it, the whole set of old issues as the federal government likely remains partially shut down heading into 2019. The President says he will not sign a deal that doesn't include funding for border security.

The Democrats and the White House can't agree on what that actually looks like. Is it a wall like the President campaigned on or is it something else?

Our Dana Bash raised that point with White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway this morning.




CONWAY: No. No, no. That is incorrect.

BASH: The President said it in the oval office. He said very, very clearly --.

CONWAY: It is shut down on border security.

CONWAY: Is it border security or is it a wall?

CONWAY: We don't have job crisis at our border. It's all of the above.


SAVIDGE: And this morning, President Trump's outgoing chief of staff John Kelly telling the "L.A. Times" quote "it's not a wall."

This as both sides remain locked in a stalemate. The President standing firm the he wants more than the $1.3 billion offered by Democratic leaders.

So let's try to find some clarity. For that we turn to CNN's Sarah Westwood. She is at the White House.

And Sarah, the President, of course, is at the White House today once again tweeting about the shut down and continuing to place the blame solely on Democrats.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Martin. President Trump is keeping up the pressure. He has been slamming Democrats for leaving town during the shutdown that he created and holding out for funding for his promised border wall along the southern border, although, it's not exactly clear whether that remains a wall.

The president, we have heard him refer to it as some kind of structure involving steel slats. And outgoing chief of staff John Kelly is now saying that this administration abandoned the idea of an actual wall early in Trump's presidency.

He told the "Los Angeles Times," to be honest it's not a wall. The President still says wall often times. Frankly, he will say barrier or fencing, now he intended towards steel slats. But we left the solid concrete wall early on in the administration.

Now Trump has also told aides that he would not be willing to sign a bill that funded a border fence at just $1.3 billion which is not surprising because that is the deal that the Democrats put on the table before the shutdown began. But nonetheless, incoming acting chief of staff/budget director Mick Mulvaney has hinted that the President might be willing to back down off that demand for $5 billion worth of border wall funding, although there is not a lot of clarity at about exactly how much the President would be willing to come down.

And although we haven't seen the President for the past few days, he has been active on twitter to get coast guard personnel paid during the shutdown writing, great work by my administration over the holiday to say coast guard pay during the Schumer shutdown. No thanks to the Democrats who left town and are not concerned about the safety and security of Americans.

Now, keep in mind that Mulvaney has said that the Democratic congressional leaders actually have not been invited back to the White House for further negotiations. But Trump has asked his staff to find a solution to this particular problem, the coastguard pay created by the shutdown but thousands of federal workers are still waiting to see when they might get wait next. There is no end in sight for this shutdown, Martin, as Democrats prepare to retake the House and shake up negotiating position in just a few days now.

SAVIDGE: All right. Sarah Westwood, thanks very much for that.

With me now are congressional reporters Karoun Demirjan with "the Washington Post" and Eric Wasson with Bloomberg.

As we have pointed out, there is this ongoing debate on Capitol Hill. Is it a border wall or is it border security? That is the sticking point here.

Eric, you know, what's going on here? Why can't the House and Democrats seem to get on the same page at least when it comes to language?

ERIC WASSON, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, I think we are seeing with John Kelly and Kellyanne Conway this shift on the White House as part towards border security. They are trying to say this is not a wall. They are trying to come and meet the Democrats halfway.

Now, the Senate Democrats already agreed this summer to $1.6 billion for new fencing. Now if you could just tweet that design, you know, the White House came to Schumer and talked about $2.1 billion and their secret offer the Saturday before the shutdown, you know, they really only $500 million apart out of the $1.2 trillion budget. I think they can be very close. However, you know, Nancy Pelosi is not yet speaker and she will be on Thursday. Perhaps then talks can get serious.

SAVIDGE: Yes. But I mean, Karoun, if it seems like financially we may be getting closer, the language is still very different. And I'm wondering, is it important, I mean, the distinction between what some call wall and others call border security. Does it really matter or is it one in the same?

[14:05:02] KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It just depends on the listeners. I mean, I don't think that the GOP on Capitol Hill really likes all these drumming on about the wall and only the wall because they, for a long time, have been talking about a mixed border security solution.

You can't physically have a wall along the entire border of the U.S./Mexico. It just does not work top graphically or with land rights or the rivers there, too. And the GOP has known that for a very long time on Capitol Hill. They don't like the singular focus on the wall, but parts of Trump's base really do. And the President is are talking to parts of the base that some of his advisers who speak on the Sunday shows are not talking to. And so, you have this mixed bag of terms and depending on who the President talking to, he will now mixed it up too. We have heard him say fencing. We have heard him say border solutions in the last few days and weeks as well.

And so, there is this kind of like soup out there. You can pick what you want to listen to because all those options are on the table. That does still though make the negotiations across the aisle with the incoming House Democratic leaders quite complicated and confusing because they are not sure what they are negotiating with.

Is the President, at the end of the day, going to go back to the wall or is he going be open and amenable to something that is a little bit more of a mixed bag? And when you don't know what you are getting and you are not even - and all you are getting is this kind of unclear demand for something border-related with nothing in exchange that was maybe on the table before, you don't know quite how much money to give or what sort of a deal to make.

It's true that this is not about that many dollars at this point and the macro scale of how big the federal budget is, but it's about staking and negotiating positions that you are going to have to be pursuing for the next two years and about the fact that we are not just talking about numbers, we are talking about the border. That is border security. It is immigration. It is all kinds of things that the parties have been at each other's throats over for well over a decade.

SAVIDGE: Well, Eric, let me play you this, by the way, we have got from Senator Lindsey Graham earlier. And he said that Trump is not signing anything without wall funding. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The one thing I know for sure that nothing will get out of the Senate without wall/border funding and Democrats are not going to give us money for wall/border security without gaining something themselves.


SAVIDGE: So are we just getting too tied up in the word wall? And is wall really short hand for extreme revamping of border security and perhaps renovation of immigration laws? It's a whole big package.

WASSON: I think Lindsey Graham is tending towards that in a semantic game right there on a wall/border security. They are dancing around these topics. But to Karoun's point, Democrats tell me that they cannot do a deal with Trump unless he publicly supports a new offer, a lower amount of money of border security. As he publicly endorses that, and they feel maybe he, you know, he is really serious about making a deal.

But you know, with the DACA talks last year, you know, Trump talked about $25 billion for a wall in exchange for protections for undocumented young immigrants and then backed away from that. He talked about signing the February 8th (INAUDIBLE) measure to prevent the shutdown and then he backed away from that under pressure from right wing pundits.

So Democrats just feel like they do not have the trust necessary to seal this deal. If there was trust, perhaps they could bridge this difference.

SAVIDGE: Do you think it's possible that somehow the House and Senate could come up with a deal and the President still won't sign it, Karoun?

DEMIRJAN: Definitely. I mean, look. At this point the question really is what is Mitch McConnell going to do? The House Democrats decide to put out a clean budget extension because that already passed the Senate once, extensively, it could get past the Senate unless the Senate feels like the President is not going to have their back. And they don't want to be hang out to dry a second time.

If the House decides to go back and try to open up this extension of the budget and try to include some other things whether it has to do with immigration or with the Mueller investigation, there has been all kinds of proposals tossed around the last few days, that could send negotiations back to square one.

But theoretically, you could have a situation where the House says look, we are just going to repeat what we know already passed the Senate, clean budget extension, sends the Senate, have them do the same thing. Send it to the President. He could still veto. And in that case, they don't have veto-proof majorities.

So this is all coming down to not just trust between Nancy Pelosi and President Trump which as I said is at a minimum, but also do the Republicans trust each other and do they trust the President to be able to have their back when they take a step.

It's not a three-way game now because it is not the House and the Senate and the President, but it still is going to take some meeting of the minds that right now has not happened.

SAVIDGE: Karoun Demirjan and Eric Wasson, thanks very much for joining us this morning. I'm sure it's not going to be the last time we talk about the wall. Thank you.

WASSON: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: It's important to remember that those who are caught up in the middle of this political fight are real people whose lives are impacted every day has this shut down continues to drag on. And that includes people who depend on government assistance for food to try to feed their young children.

So now I want to bring in the Joel Berg. He is CEO of Hunger Free America, a nonprofit group that works to make sure everyone has access to nutritious food.

Joel, thank you for being with us.

[14:10:00] JOEL BERG, CEO, HUNGER FREE AMERICA: Thanks for discussing this vital topic.

SAVIDGE: So let's get this out in the open. We talked about, of course, government workers that may not be getting paid or some who are working and no salary. But what are the impacts for people who are on the lower rung of the income and need this kind of government assistance? Are they cut off or is it near to them being cut off? How critical?

BERG: Great question, Martin. And it's important to preface this by saying that government employees are not mutually exclusive from the population of low-income people. The lowest paid federal employees make $25,000 a year and they could miss a paycheck on January 11th. But in terms of the big nutrition assistance programs in America, the WIC program which provides seven million pregnant women and children with nutrition assistance and vital time, the SNAP program, a newer name for the food stamps program which provides 39 million Americans nutritional assistance, most of whom are working. Those could go away in a few weeks if the shutdown is not solved. So low-income people have not been pushed off the cliff yet, but they are at the edge of the cliff. And it is very dangerous if this is not resolved very, very soon.

SAVIDGE: And what happens if we do reach this point? Because it doesn't feel this can be drawn out for some time. What will they do or how will people be fed and cared for?

BERG: I think first you will see WIC clinics closing. Not to get too deep into the walkish weeds, but WIC is one of the few nutrition assistance programs that is not an entitlement, that is dependent on annual funding.

In the 2013 shut down, they were shut down for 13 days. And you saw in Utah, for instance, there was a lot of confusion. They closed down the clinics for a few days and then close them back up right before this was settled. So you could see nutrition assistance to pregnant women and infants shut down sometime over the next few weeks.

This a program that is prevented half million babies from dying at birth because when you get better nutrition as a pregnant woman, you are far less likely to lose the baby at birth. So it's just astonishing to me that a side that claims to be pro-life is even dangling the possibility of taking away food from pregnant women and infants.

And in the worst case scenario, if WIC goes away and then a month from now food stamp, Snap goes away and 39 million Americans can't go to grocery stores. Not only will there be a huge wave of serious extended hunger in America, you will see a near collapse of smaller and mid-sized grocery stores and bodega and corner stores in America.

So I hate to be apocalyptic about this, but sometimes the sky really could be falling. And as you know from the coverage of Katrina past in your career, you know when there is a big disaster, it is low income people who suffer the most. And this shut down once again, it is low income people who stand to suffer the most.

SAVIDGE: So if this government shut down, I mean, how many weeks are we talking about? What is the deadline you see is when these programs really fall into (INAUDIBLE) result?

BERG: I think between three to four weeks is probably the most likely time that the money would actually run out.

I also didn't mention a lot of people don't understand their local food banks and thus their local soup kitchens and food pantries that get help from the local food banks do get subsidized by the government. Not only do they get government food but they get government support to transport the food from where the donations are to where they serve it. And that could be problematic in a few weeks as well. So it's really a matter of weeks. And we will see how far this goes.

But right now, nonprofits are suffering just because groups like mine don't have certainty. Other groups that have government contracts don't have certainly. Those nonprofits that are working for the government don't know whether they will get paid back. They don't know what they are going to do for employees on their payroll and for small nonprofits around the country, uncertainty is a huge problem.

There is a thing called the community development block grant program which funds things like meals on wheels. And as long as people don't know when that funding is going to be restored, it's really difficult for grassroots and nonprofits to survive and to plan properly and to serve people properly. Make sure shutting senior citizens are getting the meals they need. So everyone wants the nonprofit sector except when it comes puss comes to shove, they are really putting the nonprofit sector in grave danger.

SAVIDGE: Yes. And the longer this goes on, the greater the danger will continue to be.

Joel Berg, thank you for explaining something I think a lot of people weren't aware of. Appreciate it.

BERG: Thank you, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Still ahead, President Trump facing new pressure from lawmakers following his decision to pull troops out of Syria. Senator Lindsey Graham says the fight against ISIS is far from over and it's about time the President understands that. More on his message to the President coming up next.


[14:17:53] SAVIDGE: At some point today, Senator Lindsey Graham says he plans to meet with President Trump. It is a last ditch effort to get the President to change his minds about withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. Graham says that he is planning to sit down with the President in the hopes of getting him to reconsider that decision.

Earlier on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," a South Carolina Republican told Dana Bash that if the U.S. pulls out of Syria now, it could pave the way for an ISIS come back. Put U.S. allies such as Kurds at serious risk and then open the door to other U.S. adversaries to wield power in the region. Listen.


GRAHAM: We are fighting a war against ISIS. They are still not defeated in Syria. I'm asking the President to make sure we have troops there to protect us. Don't outsource our national security to some foreign power. If we leave now, the Kurds will get in a fight with Turkey. They can get slaughtered who would help in the future. And if we leave now, there will be a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: Joining me now is retired army lieutenant general Mark Hertling.

General, good to see you.


SAVIDGE: So the pull out of troops, we have heard a lot about this and then you just heard the senator reference that it could lead to the slaughter of the Kurds, who are currently America's main partner on the ground. Many Americans may not be familiar with the relationship between the U.S. and the Kurdish government and those Kurdish fighters. So are they really at risk and what are the dangers they face if this decision goes forward?

HERTLING: Yes, they most certainly are, Martin. Having worked with the Kurds in 2007 and 2008 during my time in Iraq, it is a unique government with a lot of unique cultural dynamics. They have certainly been fighting not only in Iraq, but in Syria as we know. There are some who will say the elements of their organization are terrorists. There are no indicators of that, but the people who are saying that usually are ascribed to the government of Turkey. And they have been fighting against the Syrian regime for the past several years as well as some of the terrorist organizations in northern Syria.

So yes, it seems to be that there are a lot of enemies of the Kurdish people in that part of the region. And certainly, the Turks are not very welcoming to the Kurdish happen habitat.

[14:20:15] SAVIDGE: Right. I believe there has been an ongoing conflict between that country and the Kurds.


SAVIDGE: Which may explain why we saw I think it was this week the Kurds asking for protection from the Assad regime in Syria, which we do not consider an ally of the U.S. Why would a U.S. ally like the Kurds ask the Syrian regime to come to its defense?

HERTLING: Primarily because they know the Turks had vowed vengeance against them. So they are asking for anyone to support them. And in fact, this is part of what is occurring in terms of a leaving of a vacuum in this part of the world, in this part of the Middle East.

When they look across the border and they know that the Turks want to literally eliminate them as a culture, as a race on their southern boundary, they have said this many times. Not only in this region, but the region in northern Iraq. The Turks do not want the Kurds to have that homogenous region. So they have said this. And indicators are that they will attempt to flow into northern Syria and wipe the Kurds out.

This advantages Syria because the Kurds have been fighting the Syrian government and the various terrorist organizations that are in northern Syria. So for them to take the unbelievably bizarre approach to say Mr. Assad, can you protect us against a NATO ally which allegedly was fighting terrorism just seems to show how complex and how convoluted this part of the world is.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it definitely does.

And lastly, I just want to pull up some of the comments that were made by John Kelly as he is now leaving as chief of staff. And one things he was referencing was, you know, of course, the President made this decision. It surprised a lot of people of wanting to pull the troops out of Syria.

But Kelly goes on to say that essentially, the President makes decisions in a way well, this is his quote, it has never been the President just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance, Kelly says. He goes on to say you may not like his decision, but at least he is actually fully informed of the impact. So that would imply, when it comes to Syria, he knows what the potential fallout is and he is OK with it.

HERTLING: I'm not so sure about that. And certainly, John Kelly has a better familiarity with what's going on in the White House. But in this particular case, the President is very transactional.

To understand the fact that you have Lindsey Graham as you played earlier have a conversation with Dana Bash on STATE OF THE UNION this morning saying hey, I wanted to convince the President after processes have shown intelligence, the rational behind it, the effects on allies and all the various degrees of difficulties involved with this very complex problem for a senator that is outside the process of national security and is outside the intelligence process to say I'm going to convince the President seems a little bit bizarre in and of itself.

So yes, whereas John Kelly has probably said that the President certainly works on gut, it's not good enough to work on gut when you are the President of the United States and the leader of the free world. You have to have the intelligence figures and the implications of the courses of actions you choose especially in these extremely complex situation.

And I'm not sure he has done that in the case of Syria. It was a gut reaction after multiple months of being frustrated of not being able to adhere to a campaign promise.

SAVIDGE: And it also comes after John Kelly said he was leaving.

So, General Mark Hertling, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Good to see you.

HERTLING: Thank you, Martin.

Still ahead, the crisis at the border is growing. New video captures migrant children being slap and dragged at an Arizona shelter. This as Lindsey Graham promises an investigation into the deaths of two migrant children in custody. More on all of it, straight ahead.


[14:27:14] SAVIDGE: The Republican led Senate says it will investigate the deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody. Two young Guatemalan children, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo died under the watch of U.S. customs and border protection earlier this month.

This morning incoming Senate judiciary chairman, Lindsey Graham, said he fully intends to look into their deaths.


GRAHAM: Yes, I'm going to hold hearings on the deaths of these two children and the policies that entice people to come. One of the mothers of these children was not seeking asylum. She is trying to come here to find a job. Right now we have 11,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America, 98 percent of them leave. In 2014, Dianne Feinstein asked President Obama to change our policy. We have an unaccompanied matter from Central America. They should be sent back to their home country just like if they were from Mexico. That's a legal change we need to make with this deal.


SAVIDGE: Let's bring in CNN correspondent Nick Valencia. He is in El Paso, Texas for us.

And Nick, what do you think are some of the big questions Congress is likely to investigate?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this investigation will no doubt focus on medical care and health care given to migrants after they are taken into U.S. custody, Martin. We know that Felipe Gomez Alonzo were showing signs of the flue. He was diagnosed according to customs and border protection with just a common cold but, you know, with 103 degree fever. He was released from the hospital anyway. It is no doubt that members of Congress who want to find out if he was given the proper care. And if migrants in general are given the proper care.

We know that secretary Nielsen has implemented a series of measures. They are going to want to see if those measures are working -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: And Nick, we are also learning new information regarding the safety and the care of migrant children especially some that were placed in Arizona. What can you tell us about them?

VALENCIA: Well, this video that we are about to show you was first reported by the Arizona republic after an open records request with the Arizona department of health services which licenses some of these so-called tender age facilities run by government contractor Southwest Key. And we want to warn you, even though these videos have been blurred, some of you - some of our viewers may find it disturbing.

What they do show are mid-September incidents that happened to at least migrant children where staffers are seen dragging and pushing migrant kids. As we understand it, Southwest Key did report these incidents in mid-September to local law enforcement as well as federal officials. There was investigation as well by the Maricopa County sheriff's office. But after their investigation, they concluded that they would not bring forward criminal charges.

That has seems to have changed, though. Now, what we understands is they are going to recommend alleged child abuse case to Maricopa County attorney's office. And this is what we are hearing on a statement here.

Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, Maricopa County sheriff's office executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County attorney's office for its review and determination of criminal charges.

They go on to say the case will be submitted on Monday and further questions about this matter should be directed to the county attorney.

We should mention that the shelter called the Hacienda Dell Sol which is run by Southwest Key, they run a lot of these so-called tender age shelters across the United States. That shelter has since been close and suspended by the federal government. But this investigation it seems will start and be under way as early as tomorrow -- Martin.

[14:30:35] SAVIDGE: Yes. And we will anxiously wait to find out what it reveals.

Nick Valencia, thank you.

Next, we have been up, we have been down, we have been all over the place. We are talking about Wall Street. So what does the last day of 2018 have in store for trading? We will try to look ahead.


[14:34:01] SAVIDGE: Tomorrow is the last day of trading for 2018. And let's be honest, after the past month, many on Wall Street are more than ready for 2019.

In a year that saw some pretty big swings, last week was remarkably turbulent.

Alison Kosik looks back at the wild week that was.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. The Dow's attempt on Friday to close higher for a third day in a row lost esteem. It comes after a week of huge swings in both directions that sent investor heads spinning. The Dow had the worst ever Christmas eve on Monday with a drop of 650 points only to post its best ever one-day point gain of 1086 when trading resumed after Christmas.

Stocks were sharply lower most of Thursday before making a comeback at the close to finish the day in positive territory. .

But the stock market will likely end the year lower and is on track for the worst December since 1931. Stocks often rally in December, but this is not a typical December. Wall Street wants certainty and there are still a ton of questions about slowing global growth, trade tensions, rising interest rates and political uncertainty. Still, the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

There is one more trading day left in 2018. And as investors get ready to close the books on the year, volatility is expected to continue in the New Year as investors stay on edge about economic and political uncertainty.

Back to you.


[14:35:28] SAVIDGE: Thanks, Alison, very much.

A lot of people would love to see stocks bounce back, but perhaps it's the man in the oval office that has the most invested both politically and maybe somewhat financially.

President Trump was an enthusiastic cheerleader for Wall Street until it slump. Now he is waiting anxiously with the rest of us to see what's happening next.

So let's talk about that with our panel. Stephen Moore is a CNN senior economics analyst, a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Trump economic adviser. And Linette Lopez, senior finance correspondent for "Business Insider."

Welcome to you both.



SAVIDGE: So Stephen, the President loved the economy and loved to take credit for when things were doing well. In January of this year, I will just point out, he tweeted, "our economy is now booming and with all I am doing will only get better. Our country is finally winning again," unquote.

So if you own it when it's doing good, don't you own it when it's not?

MOORE: You do. And by the way, this is the strongest economy we have had in 30 years in terms of, you know, the real economy, not the financial economy. I just finished a column call it 2018, the year of the American worker. This was the best year for American workers probably in 40 or 50 years with the lowest unemployment rate since the 1960s for not just all workers, but black and Hispanic workers. We saw, you know, huge -- not huge, but nice gains and wages and salaries for workers and the bonuses that people got because of the tax cuts.

So for workers, this was a very good year. For investors, not so much so. You are right. The stock market has been down. Now yes, Trump owns this economy. I have said that all along. I think the two factors that have really caused this downturn have been number one, trade war with China, obviously, investors and markets don't like trade wars. And the other of course is this action by the fed to sort of suck the oxygen out of this economy. I think most economist would agree now. And almost all investors would agree the fed made a major mistake right before Christmas.

LOPEZ: I don't think all investors would agree on that.

SAVIDGE: Yes, let me bring Linette. Yes, go ahead.


LOPEZ: And I think that you are missing a very important part of the story here which is that we are dealing with the end of a 10-year economic cycle of growth. So this is not Trump's year of the worker. It is actually 10 years of work and growing in the economy that is bringing this time for this great time for the worker back.

Now, if you look at November's jobs numbers, you might notice something interesting which is that we lost 53,000 jobs in November. Last year, we lost 35,000 jobs on average a month. We have seen the economy slow down. This is part of a much larger cycle that has to do with Donald Trump.

And that is what interest rates are moving on. That large cycle. That is what they should be moving on. Trump should not have anything to do with the fed. In fact it's embarrassing that he does. It's sad that we can't trust the President to be able to control himself in the face of a slowing economy. And now that we know that he can't and his administration really can't message correctly, as things get worse, we have something to worry about there. Wall Street economists and in fact economists across the board are calling for a recession.

SAVIDGE: But Linette, let me ask you this. Some of this is - we can't blame it all on the President. I mean, some of these is international events that are occurring. Other economies that are beginning to lose steam and they impact our own trading. So it's not all just Trump.

LOPEZ: Certainly not. I wouldn't say in Trump at all. In fact, I'm saying that this is a slowdown from a 10-year economic boom that we have to deal with. Trump is going to make it worse is what I'm saying. The bad messaging from his administration didn't solve this from Steven Miller.

SAVIDGE: Hold on, Linette. Hold on.

Let's go back and forth here. So Stephen, she makes the point that the President's own words and even threats against the fed chairman have made what is a nervous market perhaps even more nervous. What do you think?

MOORE: Well, a couple of things. I mean, I don't know what country Linette is talking about, but we have averaged 200,000 jobs a month for the last year. That's a very powerful job market, you know. We now have, Linette, seven million more jobs today than we had workers to fill them. So it is a great time to be --.

LOPEZ: Then why is Steve Mnuchin calling the financial crisis plunge team from his barker lounger in Mexico or wherever he is sitting down having a nice tropical drink over his vacation, you know. We are acting like it's an emergency situation here. You can't have it both ways.

MOORE: OK. So let me answer that question. You are right. The stock market has been on a slide now for three months. It is very worrisome. It started when the fed started raising interest rates in September. And look, we got a very strong pro-growth.

[14:40:03] LOPEZ: The fed has been raising interest rates for a while.

MOORE: Hold on. Let me just finish. Hold on - I know. The big slide began in September when they went too far in raising rates at a time when we have the best of all worlds. We have low prices, very low inflation, we have this booming economy that started when Trump, you know, became President. We moved the GDP growth rate from 1.5 percentage.

LOPEZ: If the economy is so strong, raising interest rates shouldn't be a problem. That's the point actually.

MOORE: No. The fed is sucking the oxygen out of the economy right now. By the way, why are you in favor of raising interest rate? I mean, this hurts workers. It hurts investors. There is no reason to do it, Linette. I don't understand --.

LOPEZ: I'm saying you can't have it both ways. Either the economy is strong where it can handle a normalized interest rate policy or the economy is weak and we need to keep rates as they are.

You cannot have it both ways. And Wall Street has had interest rates raises priced in for years. We knew this was going to happen. For you to say that Wall Street was suddenly jittery just because of the fed is ridiculous.

They see that a recession is coming in 2019 and 2020. Consumer spending still looks good, yes. But the housing market is wobbly. We are starting to see signs in the economy of a slowdown. So for you to say that this is simply the fed, you are not listening to any of these CEO calls, obviously. You are not seeing that companies like Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Mattel, they are announcing layoffs. GM. This is a problem.

And then you have a President who shuts down the government and ends wages for a number of government workers? It's absurd.

SAVIDGE: you know what, Linette? This clearly - this is going to go on to 2019. And I haven't got that much time left in the program.

So I got to say, thank you to you both.

MOORE: Yes. I love the economy. It's very strong. People don't need to worry. This is the strongest economy we had in 25 years. And I think we are going to see -- I'm not one of these people who sees a recession. I see strong growth in 19, 20 and 21.

LOPEZ: Well, that are makes you one of the few.

SAVIDGE: We will have you back and you can answer that question.

All right, Linette and Stephen, thank you both.

MOORE: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: And to both of you, have a Happy New Year.

LOPEZ: You too.

SAVIDGE: And profitable one. Thanks.

Next, California's largest utility, it could face murder or manslaughter charges for its role in the state's deadliest wildfire. We will tell you what the state attorney general is actually considering.


[14:45:56] SAVIDGE: Pacific Gas and Electric could face murder or manslaughter charges for its role in California's deadly wildfires. California's attorney general filed a brief listing a range of possible criminal charges underlining possible, if the giant utility company is found negligent for any of the 2018 fires. Wildfires in California you will remember claim the lives of more than 80 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is following the developments for us.

And Miguel, maybe we should remind people, what is the relationship between these wildfires and the utility company.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is sort of at the crux of all of this. Just what is their role in possibly starting some of these fires? There are a lot of if, and, buts, or maybes in all of this. This is all laid to a federal judge overseeing PG&E's probation for an earlier conviction. He is asked for an opinion on possible California charges in the event recklessness on the company's part is found in this year's camp fire which killed 86 people. That is the deadliest fire in California history.

Now the California attorney general recommended a range of charges, everything from misdemeanors. For example of PG&E didn't maintain vegetation and power lines in fire-prone areas or possible felonies or misdemeanors id PG&E actually started a fire.

Finally, there could be manslaughter or even homicide charges, what they called implied malice murder. All this depends on the degree of recklessness on the company's behalf, any investigation, whatever they found in terms of recklessness. Now the federal judge William Alsup oversees PG&E's probation for six

felonies that the company was convicted of in 2010 based on the 2010 San Bruno gas line explosion where eight people died. PG&E did not directly respond to the AG's opinion in this case, but said in a statement PG&E's most important responsibility is public and workforce safety. Our focus continues to be on assessing our infrastructure to further enhance safety and helping our customer continue to recover and rebuild throughout our service area. We are committed to doing everything to help further reduce the risk of wildfire.

There are enormous stakes in all of this for PG&E, one of the nation's largest electric and gas utility companies. The company faces financial $15 billion in liability for the 2017 wine country fires. And this year it could face even more. PG&E said it is already implemented new and enhanced safety measure including upgrading its vegetation management efforts, conducting accelerated safety inspections and in some cases turning off electric power when extreme fire conditions are forecast.

All of this happening against a very stark background as California and PG&E and all the electric utilities and gas utilities across the state are looking at a future of increased and more extreme fire activity as the west becomes hotter, drier, and more combustible -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes. There are a lot of issues that are at play here.

Miguel Marquez, we appreciate it. Thanks very much.

MARQUEZ: You got it.

SAVIDGE: Much more ahead on the NEWSROOM.

But first, we want to give you a look at the new CNN film, Love Gilda.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Gilda Radner and -- OK now.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 FEMALE: Dear Roseanne Roseanna Danna.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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: The comedian gets the most un-funny thing in the


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How often do we get to know exactly how brave we are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.



[14:54:00] SAVIDGE: The deadly outbreaks in household foods, new illnesses and some medical firsts, 2018 has been quite a year for your health.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta takes a look back at the top stories.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Without question, 2018 will be remembered as the year of the outbreak.

The CDC investigated more than two dozen multistate food outbreaks this year. E-coli in Romaine lettuce, Salmonella in pre-cut Melon, psycho-spora in fresh vegetables. All in all, more than 28,000 people got sick, at least 10 died.

Truth is one in six Americans get some sort of food Bourne illness every year. Growing, packing, transporting, storing and serving, there is a lot of places your food can be contaminated. It has been more than five years since I reported weed, about marijuana as medicine. Not only can it work, sometimes it's the only thing that works like it did for Charlotte Figi.

[14:55:06] PAIGE FIGI, CHARLOTTE'S MOTHER: I measured it in the syringe and squirted it under her tongue. And then she didn't have a seizure that that night. I just thought this is insane.

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

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

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

HE JIANKUI, BIOPHYSICS RESEARCHER: When Lulu and Nana were just a single cell, this surgery removed the doorway through which HIV entered to infect people.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't show you. I just can't!

GUPTA: AFM is usually preceded by a respiratory illness or fever. But the underline cause, maybe a virus. It attacks the spinal cord, affecting strength and balance. Now, the CDC has been tracking AFM since 2014, but there were a record number of cases this year.

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

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

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

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

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

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, DIES AT 61: Amazing. That's good. Now I miss you.

GUPTA: Rest in peace, Tommy.

In November, a 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-bourne illnesses in the east to the droughts in the south. There are skeptic who is dismiss the report.

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

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

Moment of truth. Juts remembering how this whole process started. It clearly looks very different. Smells very different.

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

GUPTA: Cheers to 2018.


[15:00:02] SAVIDGE: Hey, there. Thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. And we are hoping you are having a good Sunday.