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Some Insight Into President Trump's Frame Of Mind; "Time" Magazine Story Says About The President's Former Campaign Manager And An Ex-Russian Spy Who Says He Pressured Paul Manafort To Pay Back His Debts; Tomorrow Is The Last Day On The Job For Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Aired: 7-8p ET

Aired December 30, 2018 - 19:00   ET


RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He then took off and landed on another fan and stayed there until the trainer plucked him up. Clark is now a viral sensation.

And a reminder, ring in 2019 with CNN. Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen cohost CNN's New Year's Eve Live From Times Square along with Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon. It all gets started Monday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ryan Nobles in tonight for Ana Cabrera. And new tonight, some insight into President Trump's frame of mind. His willingness to work with Democrats in Congress and maybe getting the government fully restarted. We're getting that insight not from the President. He's still sequestering himself in the White House and tweeting every few hours, it's what we're getting second-hand from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who spent two hours with the President today talking about the battle over money for the President's border wall.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR, SOUTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: He's not a man under siege. The President is firm in his commitment to make sure we get money for border security and there'll never be a 60-vote deal in the Senate that doesn't include money for border security slash wall.

The wall has become a metaphor for border security. And what we're talking about is a physical barrier where it makes sense. In the past, every Democrat has voted for these physical barriers. It can't be just about "Because Trump wants it, we no longer agree with it."


NOBLES: CNN's Sarah Westwood is live at the White House. Sarah, Graham was echoing a talking point from the White House that despite the President still using the word "wall" over and over again and emphasizing the use of that word, he's actually not necessarily talking about a physical barrier?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: That's right, Ryan. It's what we've seen more and more of from President Trump's allies and that's trying to muddy the waters around what constitutes border security and even what qualifies as a wall. The outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly told the "Los Angeles Times" that this administration actually abandoned the idea of a concrete wall early in Trump's presidency. It's also unclear how much funding President Trump would require to go towards the construction of a barrier, fencing, or steel slats, what have you, versus how much he would allow to go to just border security in general.

Now, our Dana Bash tried to get some clarity out of top Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway this morning. Take a listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSEL TO DONALD TRUMP: He's in the White House. He is in Washington ready to negotiate. This is important on border security and keeping the government open. But if you keep saying, "wall, wall, wall" because you want wall to be a four-letter word, and we're not being honest about everything --

DANA BASH, ANCHOR, CNN: Kellyanne, the President is the one who explicitly said in the Oval Office, it's the wall and it's the reason why the shutdown is happening.

CONWAY: And he said in a tweet yesterday, you can't cherry pick his tweets. He talked about border security just yesterday.


WESTWOOD: Now, Senator Graham said the President was open minded about a potential compromise that would see him settle for $5 billion for a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for the so- called Dreamers, those young undocumented immigrants protected under DACA. However Mick Mulvaney, the acting Chief of Staff and the Budget Director has already signaled that the President would be willing to take less than $5 billion for the border wall, so there's still not a lot of clarity about thousand shutdown ends, eventually, Ryan.

NOBLES: Yes, no doubt about that. Well, Sarah, the reason that Lindsey Graham went to the White House was to talk about his disagreements with the President's plan to withdraw U.S. Troops from Syria. I want to play what he said earlier today, and then what he said right after meeting with the President, so juxtapose these two comments from Senator Graham.


GRAHAM: The Syrian decision caught me by surprise. I fear it's going to undercut all we have achieved and I'll ask the President to reconsider.

I think the President has come up with a plan with his generals that makes sense to me. The goal is to make sure ISIS doesn't come back. I think we're in a pause situation where we're reevaluating what's the best way to achieve the President's objective of having people pay more and do more.


NOBLES: So Graham initially said he wanted the President to change his mind. It seems based on what Lindsey Graham said that maybe the President changed his mind. I mean, how should we interpret this, Sarah?

WESTWOOD: Well, Senator Graham said he felt better than he has since President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the troops from Syria. Recall that Graham was a vociferous critic of that decision.

Now, Graham said that the President relayed to him he would be slowing down the removal of troops from Syria, even though the President said earlier this week in Iraq that the generals had come to him and requested more time to prepare for the proposed withdrawal and the President denied that request.

Graham also suggested that the President would be looking to maybe leave the troops in place until ISIS was defeated, even though President Trump had cited the defeat of ISIS as the reason for moving the troops in the first place. So not a lot of clarity about the President's position right now, Ryan.

NOBLES: There doesn't seem to be a lot of clarity on a number of the President's positions. Sarah Westwood live from the White House. Thank you, Sarah. All right, let's talk about this now. We have got a great panel to discuss this. Washington bureau chief for the "Associated Press," Julie Pace, and Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine" Olivia Nuzzi.


NOBLES: Julie, let's start with you. Is it the wall? Is it border security? It seems like every time we hear from a different person from the White House, we get a different interpretation of exactly what they're looking for here. How on earth can they hatch a deal when we don't know exactly what they want?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, it seems like what they're trying to do is find a way out in order to get a deal. If the President is going to hold a hard line and say this has to be a wall, it has to be a physical barrier, and that's what all the money that he is asking for has to go to, then it's almost impossible to see how we get out of this.

If he does try to change his position here, change what the money is allocated for, say that it's for a broader border security program, that's where you can start to see more Democrats - the Democrats that he would need lining up behind some kind of package that would get us out of this mess.

But I think what's particularly interesting about this is the person who has held onto the idea of a physical wall, the longest is the President himself. A lot of people around him for a long time have been talking about that being essentially a metaphor. But when Trump gets up there and talks about this, he's the one that has been pushing for this. And a lot of his supporters believe him when he says that.

NOBLES: That's right. It seems every time they track away from it, the President brings everyone back and says "No, I am physically talking about a wall here." So Olivia, one of President Trump's key and repeated promises during the campaign was A, that he wanted a physical wall, to Julie's point, but also that Mexico would pay for it. Take a listen to this.



And Mexico is going to pay for the wall and they understand that.

Mexico is going to pay for the wall, believe me, 100%.


NOBLES: I mean, it's a little ironic, right, that he said that Mexico was going to pay for this wall and now he's in a showdown with Democrats that shut down the American Federal government to pay for this wall. Where is the President's leverage here?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I don't think he has very much leverage. But this is the problem with the slogans, right, "Mexico is going to pay for it," "Build the wall," these were two slogans that the President used during the Presidential campaign repeatedly and he would use them.

As you were playing that clip, I was thinking about how when he would feel the crowd lagging at the rallies, he would use the phrase "build the wall" and he would get the crowd to liven up again and chant that phrase. And I think that this is the problem when you try to govern using slogans.

The details are very tricky and obviously we're seeing now that he's having a lot of difficulty hammering them out. But this is also one of the problems with not having a plan going into a big negotiation like this. The reason why there's so much confusion, there are so many different stories coming from different officials and people close to the White House, people talking to the President, is because there really is no plan.

NOBLES: So Julie, the departing White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly gave an exit interview of sorts to the "L.A. Times" and here's what he had to say about the wall. He said, quote, "To be honest, it's not a wall. The President still says "wall" -- oftentimes, frankly, he'll say barrier or fencing now. He's tended towards steel slats, but we left the solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it."

So this is what John Kelly is saying they were talking about in the administration. He makes it seem as though the President himself agreed to this concept. Is the President's base on the same page with General Kelly when it comes to that perspective?

PACE: The short answer is no. And you saw that most recently just a few weeks ago when Congress looked like they were actually moving for a way to get out of this - to avoid a shutdown by not giving Trump the funding for the wall and you saw a huge conservative pushback from Fox News, from a lot of Trump's early supporters who said, "No, we were promised a wall. This is what the President said on the campaign trail and what we voted for."

What I do think is particularly interesting though about Kelly's comments is he's coming at this not just as a Chief of Staff but as the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and he is saying when they talk to people in the Department of Homeland Security about what actually was needed at the border, and what they wanted at the border. They didn't actually want the wall.

So if the President holds this hard line, it appears he's going against what most people who would actually be in charge of implementing the nation's immigration policy actually believe they need or want.

NOBLES: Yes, so Olivia, as Democrats prepare to take over the House, the President seems to have a pretty good game plan here, right? He wants to drive a wedge between Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Take a listen to this.


TRUMP: We have a problem with the Democrats because Nancy Pelosi is calling the shots, not Chuck. And Chuck wants to have this done. I really believe that. He wants to have this done. But she's calling the shots and she's calling them because she wants the votes. And probably if they do something she's not going to get the votes and she's not going to be Speaker of the House, and that would be not so good for her.



NOBLES: So this is kind of a time honored tradition in Republican politics, create a foil out of Nancy Pelosi. But this idea of pitting her against Chuck Schumer seems to be a new line of attack. Olivia, could this possibly be successful?

NUZZI: I don't think so. I don't see how it could be successful. It's rather transparent - it's transparent because we're talking about it as a strategy right now on television as the President is doing it. So I cannot see how it could possibly be an effective strategy. It is highly nuanced for the President, though, which is a bit different.

But I think the idea that he's going to use Nancy Pelosi to fight - to attack her and be effective attacking her, when you look at the midterm results, I think that it shows you that it can't be an effective strategy either.

Whether or not he's pitting her against Schumer, just going after her, I don't think is a winning strategy nationally. That's what a lot of Republicans tried to do during the midterm elections and, of course, we saw the results of that in the Democrats' favor. So I don't really know why you would double down on that, but there are a number of things that are making sense about the White House right now.

NOBLES: Yes, I think if the Republicans' goal was to put Nancy Pelosi's name on the ballot, I think the outcome of that was that she won, at least this particular election. All right, Olivia Nuzzi, Julie Pace, I thank you so much for your perspectives. We appreciate it.

NUZZI: Thank you.

PACE: Thanks, Ryan.

NOBLES: Coming up, Manafort's motivations, what a "Time" magazine story says about the President's former campaign manager and an ex- Russian spy who says he pressured Paul Manafort to pay back his debts. We'll go live to Moscow next.


NOBLES: Another apparent connection has been uncovered between a top Trump campaign official and a Russian billionaire. "Time" magazine now reporting that former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort allegedly owe Russian oligarch and Putin ally, Oleg Deripaska millions of dollars.


NOBLES: Its story quotes, "A middle man named Victor Boyarkin as saying he pressured Manafort during the height of the 2016 Presidential race to pay it back and that Manafort offered ways to do so. So what does that mean? Well, essentially that a powerful Russian may have had leverage over the future President's campaign chairman. The same campaign now being investigating for possible collusion with the Kremlin.

Matthew Chance is live for us tonight in Moscow. And Matthews you have actually tried to question Deripaska about these reports before. He is a difficult man to get in touch with. Tell us what he told you.

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: You're right. He is a very difficult man to get hold of and once you get a hold of him, he's a very difficult man to question as I found out last November in Vietnam.

When I approached Oleg Deripaska, of course, a Russian billionaire very close to Vladimir Putin in a legal dispute with Paul Manafort over the loss of millions of dollars in a business venture that went wrong. I asked him about those allegations that Paul Manafort when he was the campaign chief for Donald Trump offered him private briefings as a way of kind of "getting hold" is the phrase that Paul Manafor used in e-mails to his Russian colleague with the Russian billionaire. Take a listen to how that exchange went.


CHANCE: Did Manafort owe you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign?


CHANCE: The real news - we just want the real truth. Did he owe you millions of dollars?

DERIPASKA: It's news for idiots if you don't understand --

CHANCE: Did he offer those private briefings to you as a way to try and repay that debt, Mr. Deripaska? Can you answer me that, please? It's a big issue in the United States, sir. Did he offer you those private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that way he offered them?

DERIPASKA: Get lost, please. Thank you.


CHANCE: All right, well, at least he was polite. He said please, which is something. But, look, Victor Boyarkin is this character that's been named by "Time" magazine, he has been sanctioned by the United States for involvement. He was essentially the debt collector that sent by Deripaska to Paul Manafort to try and get that money back. And he put him under a great deal of pressure, he says, and that at a time when Manafort was the campaign chief.

NOBLES: All right, Matthew Chance, great reporting. One of the few people who has actually attempted to corner Deripaska. We appreciate that report. Thank you.

I want to bring in now attorneys, Renato Mariotti and Jim Schultz. Renato is a former Federal prosecutor; Jim, a former Trump White House attorney. Jim, you're somebody that supports this President. You want to see him cleared in the Russia investigation. Tell me, does this new report concern you at all?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: So what we do know is that Paul Manafort wasn't charged with anything in connection with his role as the campaign chairman of the Trump campaign for the short time that he was there, which included during the convention and then that he left sometime in September.

So I don't know that I'm all that concerned about this. It's concerning that these conversations were taking place and that the pressure was applied, but whether he was actually corrupted in any way, shape, or form, or there was any type of connection between the campaign and the Russians, that's certainly isn't established by virtue of the fact that Paul Manafort had these debt, that Paul Manafort had these relationships.

There are people all over Washington who represent foreign governments every day that are also involved in politics. It was incumbent upon Paul Manafort to appropriately report those relationships that he had, but certainly, you know, I don't see anything here that's going to have a connection to the campaign. We'll see what Mueller has to say in his report. But I think we would have seen something by way of his filings or some of the charges against Manafort if he felt that somehow, there were some crimes related to Paul Manafort's activities while he was campaign chairman.

NOBLES: Renato, does Jim have a point?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, I actually think it's absolutely outrageous that Jim says it's not concerning that the President's campaign chair was indebted by millions of dollars to a Russian oligarch at the time in which he was involved in the President's campaign, and he was seeking ways to repay that money.

He didn't have the ability to do so, he didn't have the cash on hand, so he was trying to come up with creative ways that involved potentially, you know, using his access to the now future, the current President of the United States.

How could - if you're an American, how could it not be concerning to you that people who have access and are part of levers of power are indebted to foreign people who have, frankly, large roles in foreign governments who are close to our adversaries?


MARIOTTI: How could that not concern you and frankly, how could somebody who is making decisions, you know, if Jim was in the White House, how could you make decisions about who should be involved in an administration representing all of us as Americans and not be concerned about somebody's ties whether or not they could be blackmailed by a foreign government?

SCHULTZ: Renato --

NOBLES: One second --

SCHULTZ: ... what I said here ...

NOBLES: Jim, let me do this --

SCHULTZ: I actually said a minute ago ...

NOBLES: Hang on Jim, hang on.

SCHULTZ: Let me clarify what I said, I said that the issue concerned me, that it was concerning. As it relates to the campaign and what charges may be brought, I'm not concerned about the President as it relates to this.

NOBLES: Right, so Renato answer that point ...

SCHULTZ: Because we don't see something - some charge relating to Paul Manafort. So you're misrepresenting what I said, Renato and I wanted to make sure I got that straight.

NOBLES: Yes, and I was going to follow-up with that. Renato, specifically 3to Jim's point about the charges that Paul Manafort has been charged with and what he's pled guilty to and what he's been convicted of, there doesn't appear to be anything involving this specific instance that was reported in "Time" magazine.

From the President's perspective, is that a good sign that perhaps, it does not then extend to the President and collusion with Russia?

MARIOTTI: Well, I agree with Jim as to what the charges we've seen are. I would say that it is - I would say this, I would say it certainly would - if I represented the President, I would be pleased that there hasn't been any charges involving Manafort and the President today.

Obviously, it doesn't necessarily mean that there may not be further development on that front in the future, but it certainly looks like at this point Mueller has made a lot of charges and obtained convictions on Manafort and has not included charges that involved this sort of activity. So I agree with Jim on that point.

NOBLES: Okay, all right, you know, there's a legal and there's a political argument here on both sides and I just want to make sure we're clear on both lanes. But thank you, guys, both for that. So Jim, let's move on now and talk about the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani. He gave Robert Mueller an interesting ultimatum today. Take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: My ultimatum is put up or shut up, Bob. I mean, you know, what do you have? There are those of us who believe you don't have anything on collusion. And by the way, if he did, it's not a crime. So what the heck are you doing?

Do you have anything that shows the President of the United States was involved in a conspiracy to hack the DNC with Russia? Of course you don't. But if you do, put out a report or give it to the Justice Department, let them review it and make sure it's not classified or whatever. Put out a report. We're ready to rebut it.


NOBLESL: So, Jim, is this really a smart position for Giuliani to take to go publicly and give Robert Mueller an ultimatum? And is he really even in a position to give Robert Mueller an ultimatum?

SCHULTZ: Look, I've criticized Rudy Giuliani time and time again about coming out and talking about facts. But let's face it, you said it a minute ago, there is a political piece to this. And what Giuliani is out there doing right now is trying to push Mueller into issuing a report so that this discussion can be had at the beginning of this next Congress because presumably this report is going to make it into Congress' hands if they release it to Congress. And there is going to be hearings and there are going to be testimony and there's going to be a number of things that this Democratic Congress specifically the House of Representatives is going to take on and politicize.

So getting it out early and wanting to get in first quarter is smart politics. It doesn't jeopardize the President's case in any way, shape, or form. He's not out there talking about facts. He is not out there talking specifics about arguments that he is going to make one way or the other, he is plainly making a political statement here because at the end of the day, remember, this does become a political process.

This is not going to be a jury and a judge and the President of the United States. This is going to be Congress and the President of the United States.

NOBLES: So Renato, we don't have that much time but respond to that. I mean, from a political perspective, is this a smart move by Rudy Giuliani?

MARIOTTI: Well, I agree that it is a political move. I don't know if it's smart or not. I think the proof is going to be in the pudding and it really depends on what Mueller finds out in the end. I think ultimately, if Mueller's report and some of the charges that come out are damning, then it will ultimately not turn out very well for Mr. Giuliani.

NOBLES: All right, great conversation, guys. Thank you both. Jim Schultz and Renato Mariotti, thank you for being here.

Coming up, stunning rebuke, the former commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan takes the President to task and accuses him of not telling the truth. His warning to whoever becomes Trump's next Secretary of Defense.



NOBLES: Tomorrow is the last day on the job for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It is likely the end of a military career that began 50 years ago, and a departure that, frankly, worries a lot of people who see Secretary Mattis as a stabilizing force in the Trump administration. One of those the retired four-star Army General Stanley McChrystal.


STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, RETIRED FOUR-STAR ARMY GENERAL: If we have someone who is as selfless and as committed as James Mattis, resigns his position, walking away from all the responsibility he feels for every service member in our forces and he does so in a public way like that, we ought to stop and say, "Okay, why did he do it?" We ought to ask what kind of Commander-in-Chief he had that Jim Mattis, the good Marine, felt he had to walk away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you were asked to join the Trump administration, what would you say? MCCHRYSTAL: I would say no. I think it's important for me to work

for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think he's a liar?

MCCHRYSTAL: I don't think he tells the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Trump immoral in your view?

MCCHRYSTAL: I think he is.


NOBLES: Pretty strong words. That brings us to the weekend "Presidential Brief," a segment that we are every Sunday night highlighting some of the most pressing national security information the President wills see when he wakes up tomorrow and joining us to talk about that is CNN's National Security analyst, former National Security Council adviser Samantha Vinograd. She used to help prepare the daily briefing for President Obama.

So Sam, what you hear that from someone like Stanley McChrystal, who we should point out probably is not going to be the next Defense Secretary based on that interview, I mean, what kind of impact do statements like that have?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Ryan, criticizing the President is nothing new. It comes with the territory. But this is a brave new world. We have an unprecedented number of nonpartisan public servants expressing concern over the President's policies, and we have a President who can't just let it go.

He responds to this criticism almost as easily as he responds to flattery. He is consistently distracted, but his policies aren't just having an impact on American commentary, they're directly impacting the Federal workforce.

We've had senior officials resign in protest over his policies and replacing them is going to be increasingly difficult every day that goes by that he lashes out at another American or makes another impetuous decision. At the same time, the financial incentives for going into the U.S. government and staying are diminishing by the day.

Many of us didn't join the U.S. government for large paychecks, but we need to be able to pay our bills. A quarter of the federal workforce isn't being paid as we speak because of the shutdown. And even if that is ameliorated, President Trump has announced that he is freezing federal wages in 2019. While he lauds private sector wage growth, he says government employees don't deserve the benefits. Retention and recruitment of talent in 2019 is going to very difficult.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: So Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was at the White House today, as you know. His goal was to try and change the President's mind about withdrawing troops from Syria. He made headlines with his response to this question from CNN's Dana Bash. This was before he went to the White House. Take a listen.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If ISIS reconstitutes itself after the U.S. leaves, does President Trump bear responsibility?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Number one, everything we are dealing with today falls on Obama's watch. He is the one that withdrew from Iraq. In 2011 --.

BASH: But he did it because there was best status (ph) of forces agreement, right?

GRAHAM: Listen. No. That's a bunch of bull (bleep). Pardon my French. That's a complete a lie.


NOBLES: He called that a complete lie. Sam, you were in the Obama administration. What would be your response to that?

VINOGRAD: Well, history is a great teacher if we don't reinvent it. We did fully withdraw from Iraq in 2011 but that was because the Iraqis wouldn't grant our soldiers immunities that were required for them to stay on the ground.

President Trump has a benefit of knowing what happened in 2011 when we withdrew. And he is choosing to make the same mistakes all over again and not devoting resources where they are needed on the ground while concurrently trying to fight ISIS' ability to inspire attacks all around the world through information warfare and propaganda.

NOBLES: And another issue that Senator Graham is probably discussing with the President is the shutdown and illegal immigration, right. I mean, we are cutting foreign assistance in Central American countries help the President in any way?

VINOGRAD: Cutting off foreign assistance to the northern triangle countries -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador would actually increase illegal immigration most likely and criminal activity going across our border.

We are not throwing money away in these countries. The dollars that are spent are directly used to create conditions on the ground so that people aren't desperate enough so that they want to flee while concurrently doing things like implementing operations to curb gang activity, to curb the flow of narcotics and human trafficking. It is just pure logic if we cut off this funding, illegal immigration will go up because conditions will deteriorate and we won't be able to stop the criminal activity.

NOBLES: All right. That's your briefing. Sam Vinograd, thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

VINOGRAD: Thank you. Happy New Year. NOBLES: Coming up, nine days into the government shutdown. And as

both political sides dig in, we look at the real-world impact on workers who don't know how they are going to pay their bills.

And a programming note, on New Year's Day, CNN will premiere a new film about the life and work of comedian Gilda Radner in her own words. Tune into "Love Gilda" at 9:00 p.m. eastern on Tuesday.


GILDA RADNER, COMEDIAN: 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 world.

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.



[19:37:19] NOBLES: And there was a major development this Sunday night in the battle over Obamacare. Just two weeks after a judge declared the individual coverage mandate unconstitutional, that same judge is putting his own ruling on hold while it is under appeal.

In a ruling today, judge Reed O'Connor of the northern district of Texas said quote "because many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty during dependency of appeal, this court finds that the order declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional and inseverable should be stayed."

But in his ruling earlier this month, O'Connor decided that said because he considered the individual mandate invalid, no part of the law could stand. Now that ruling set up a likely showdown in the Supreme Court. It was a decision that President Trump hailed at the time. He called it a big victory, but 17 states went to court to appeal and defend the mandate since the White House won't.

California's attorney general called the ruling an assault. So far there's no immediate response from the Trump administration. But, again, the ruling against the affordable care act better than known as Obamacare for now is on hold.

Elsewhere, good news is hard to find on the 9th day of the partial federal government shutdown. About the only place you will see it is in the coast guard which did find money to pay its workforce tomorrow. But that only covers this month.

For hundreds of thousands of Americans, the start of 2019 looks grim as 2018 ends. That includes Lorie McCann who is furloughed and has worked at the IRS for nearly three decades.


LORIE MCCAN, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: Even though we have to make our necessary living expenses and we are trying to figure out how to do that, but it's also expenses beyond that. For example, I recently had a total knee replacement surgery and I have physical therapy. So at this point I have to make the hard decision this week, do I continue to pay the $90 a week co-pay, or do I pay a bill? Do I buy food? What do I do? We have those type of things, you know. And what I would like to say is that as federal employees we are committed to servicing the American people, but we can't do that if we're sitting at home.


NOBLES: Randy Erwin leads the national federation of federal employees which represents over 100,000 government workers.

Randy, you and I spoke just two days after Christmas, now we are coming up on New Year's Eve. What are you hearing from your members and how are they holding up right now?

RANDY ERWIN, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Well, I think the anxiety level is going up and up. Every day, you know, we are getting into the ninth day already of this shutdown. And there doesn't appear to be an end in sight. I mean, in terms of some compromise being reached, we are no closer today than we were on the first day of the shutdown.

So for people whose lives are being upended and we have got 800,000 federal employees spread across the country that are impacted by this, their anxiety level is going up and up. And it doesn't just end there. It is also, you know, contractors. There is about, you know, for every federal employee there's a contractor who has impacted by the shut down as well. We are affiliated with the (INAUDIBLE) that has tens of thousands of them. And you know, they may never see any back pay for the furloughs that are going on among contractors. So there's anxiety everywhere.

[19:40:50] NOBLES: All right. You have disputed President Trump's suggestion that most of these furloughed workers are Democrats. You know that civil servants aren't trying to be political on the job. You said that -- that being said, do you have a sense of who workers are blaming right now for this shutdown?

ERWIN: I think you would find a mixed bag. But I mean, I think you have to put a lot of the blame or credit with President Trump. I mean, you know, this border wall is the issue that is forcing this shutdown. If he wanted to reach a compromise, he could do it very quickly. I don't think he is putting a lot on the table in order to reach compromise. I mean, in the scheme of things for multitrillion dollars budget, $5 billion isn't that much. So, you know, it's kind of more of a symbolic battle than anything. But, you know, this is his shutdown. That's what I believe, and I think a lot of federal employees would agree with that.

NOBLES: Of course. He said that himself before the shutdown actually went into place.

Now, do I want to ask you about this letter that's getting so much attention that was put out by the office of personnel management. They actually posted it on twitter this week. The letter is something that you give to landlords in which a government worker could offer to barter to do things like painting or carpentry to get a break on their rent. I mean, what were your members -- what was going through their minds when they heard about this letter?

ERWIN: It's insulting to them. I mean, federal employees do tremendous work for the American people. And because our government can't make things work, you know, they have to -- it's being suggested that they go and negotiate for odd jobs. You know, it's just really insulting to them.

You know, they don't need to be wright their landlord. People across the country need to be writing members of Congress and telling them to end this shutdown. You know, one thing people don't realize is it costs, you know, in the last shutdown, Standard and Poor's estimated it was $1.5 billion per day, with a "B," lost productive in this country because of a shutdown.

So, you know, we are already getting over $10 billion in lost productivity through the shutdown so far. That is going to be crippling to the American economy. And people need to be write in Congress and saying, hey, we do not want to go full steam ahead into a recession over this ridiculous government shutdown.

NOBLES: And we should point out that the office of personnel management did take that letter down, said they shouldn't have posted it. That it was an error. But nonetheless, the senator remain the same.

ERWIN: But what about the writing of it? Was the writing of it in error?

NOBLES: Yes. Good question, Randy.

Randy Erwin, I know you have a lot of work to do as you attend to your members during the shutdown. We appreciate you spending some time with us. Thank you.

ERWIN: Thank you so much.

NOBLES: Coming up, the year in entertainment, from a big star booted off her own show to the royal wedding to getting crazy rich at the box office. We are counting down the biggest stories of 2018.


[19:47:32] NOBLES: From a lavish royal wedding to the death of a musical great and Kanye's very memorable trip to the oval office.

CNN contributor Nischelle Turner takes a look back at the top entertainment stories of 2018.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jackie, would you like to take a knee?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A TV star booted off her own show getting crazy rich at the box office and Kanye's White House bromance.

Here's a look at the top entertainment news makers in 2018.

Number eight, Ariana Grande, thank you, next. The lyrics say it all. Ariana Grande's new single is a deeply personal look back at 2018, a year filled with young love, breakups and heartache. But thank you, next cupped she says one of the best of her career and the fans agree.

Arianna's fourth album "Sweetener" skyrocketed to the number one spot on the billboard charts. On Spotify, she broke the global record for the biggest opening week by a female artist and her star studded music video became the most watched premier on You Tube.

Number seven, pay inequality in Hollywood. Hollywood fights to close the gender pay gap. At the Golden Globes, stars wore black to support the Time's Up movement and raise awareness on issues like pay inequality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are standing in solidarity with women everywhere.

TURNER: This came on the hills over an announcement from E-News host Cat Sadler who says said he left the network after learning her male cohost was making nearly double her salary. Just days later we learned Michelle Williams was paid $1,000 to reshoot scenes from "All the Money in the World" while costar Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million. Wahlberg pledge support but Williams donating the entire sum of his payment to the Time's Up legal defense fund. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, Bill Cosby once nicknamed

America's dad is convicted of three counts of aggravated in descent assault.

TURNER: Number six, Cosby and Weinstein's woes. America's dad behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cosby, any comments, sir?

TURNER: Bill Cosby was found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home, sentenced up to ten years in prison and will be classified as a sexually violent predator for life. Cosby's case was the first celebrity sexual assault trial conviction and sentencing since the start of the Me Too movement.

But another industry heavyweight Harvey Weinstein was arrested and charged with rape and sex abuse from incident back in 2004. He faces dozens of additional accusations but denies all allegations of quote "non-consensual sex." Investigations are under way in the U.S. and abroad.

Number five, Kim-Ye boards the Trump train. Kin and Kanye dive head first into politics.

First up, Kim's plea for President Trump to commute the sentence of first time non-violent drug offender Alice Johnson. After trip to the White House and some words of advocacy on twitter, Trump commuted Johnson's sentence. She was freed from prison after serving 21 years.

Meanwhile, Kanye's bromance with President flourished.

[19:50:47] TRUMP: I love this guy right here.

TURNER: They were admiring each other since 2014, but is he sealed the deal during the bizarre visit with President to discuss prison reform. The wild antics went on and on leaving Trump speechless.

TRUMP: That was quite something.

TURNER: Number four, Aretha Franklin dies.

Saying good-bye to a legend. Aretha Franklin died at her home in Detroit from pancreatic cancer in August. In the wake of her death, thousands of well-wishers lined the streets to honor her life and career.

And her famous fans were just as sorry to say good-bye from Stevie Wonder to Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande and also Smokey Robinson. It was a tribute fit for a queen. Aretha Franklin was 76 years old.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Breaking news in the world of entertainment, the top-rated television comedy of the year is now cancelled.

Number three, Roseanne's reboot drama, the show was booted off ABC in May after the show's star made racist comments about former White House aide Valerie Jarrett on twitter. And as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on. Just months later the network announced the show would return without its namesake as the Connors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we have to keep talking about death all the time? Just keeps reminding me of grandma.

TURNER: The spinoff which chronicles life after the sudden death of Roseanne Connor premiered to 10.5 million view. That's down 35 percent from the original reboot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son, it is your time.

TURNER: Number two, box office diversity. Diversity ruled at the box office. Marvel's "Black Panther" smashed records bringing in over $1.3 billion worldwide starring a mostly black cast and helm by a black director this super hero film resonated with theaters-goers everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So your family is rich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We Are comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's exactly what a superrich person would say.

TURNER: And social media favorite "Crazy Rich Asians" exceeded in this expectation making over $237 million globally. It is the first major studio film to feature a predominantly Asian cast since "the Joy Luck Club."

But that is not all. Ticket sell shows the (INAUDIBLE) is highest grossing remain to comedy in the U.S. in years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The countdown is the royal wedding is very nearly over, Don.

TURNER: Number one, a royal wedding. A storybook wedding for Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle. The royal couple tied the knot in a lavish ceremony at Windsor castle. The dress, the ring, the fashion and the fascinators. And, of course, the queen and a princess.

No royal wedding is complete without a star-studded guest limits. George and Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, Oprah and the Beckhams. But the duke and duchess had even more happy news to share. A royal baby is on the way due in 2019.

Well, the year did end clouded in controversy. Kevin Hart stepped down as the host of the Oscars after homophobic tweets from his past surfaced online so the question is who is going to step in? Well, we will find out very soon.

Nischelle Turner, for CNN, Los Angeles.


NOBLES: Well, the President is not there, but the party will go on. Coming up, a look at how they will be ringing in the New Year at the

winter White House of Mar-a-Lago.


[19:58:08] NOBLES: Well, this just into CNN. A young woman working at a Nature Center in North Carolina was killed this weekend by a lion that escaped from its cage. According to the conservator center in Burlington, North Carolina, a team of professional animal keepers were doing a routine cleaning of the lions' enclosure when the cat somehow got out of a locked area, went into the space where the woman was cleaning and guild a young woman. The lion was shot and killed to allow personnel to retrieve the worker. The animal center is not sure how the animal escaped. That facility is closed until further notice.

Well, it is an annual New Year's Eve tradition at Mar-a-Lago, guests clad in tuxedos and ball gowns wait for the stroke of midnight and a chance to see the stage's owner, take the stage and commemorate the passing of the year. Only this time the man of the hour, President Trump, won't be there. He will be in Washington working on a government shutdown.

Still, host or not, ticket prices for the black tie dinner rose again this year to $1,000 per guest. Up from $750 last year. Club members also shelling out $650 to go. That's $50 more than they paid last year.

Now one person involved in the event told CNN quote "if you are paying that much for a party with the President and there's no President, I can see people getting upset.'

Last year more than 800 guests attended, dined on iceberg wedge salad, lobster ravioli, beef tenderloin, sea bass and baked Alaska. No word on what the menu is this year.

First lady Melania Trump as well as the President's daughter Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, they will be attending the party, even though the President will not be.

And that does it for me. I'm Ryan Nobles. Thank you so much for watching this weekend.

Up next, it is back-to-back episodes of the CNN original series "the 2000s." Have a great night.