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Trump Blames Dems for Shutdown He Said He Was "Proud" to Own; Democrats Teeing Up to Investigate Trump Organization; Two Hotel Employees Who Asked Black Guest to Leave Fired; 2018 Space Stories: Mars, New Moons & A Mystery Asteroid; Alabama, Clemson Roll Into Championship Game; Top 8 Political Stories of 2018. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 30, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:01] ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: So if you have plans to go to New York City or really any of the cities that are expecting rain, do be sure to remember your umbrella, the rain coat, rain boots and all of that stuff.

The good news it is actually going to be mild. Certainly much warmer than it was last year in New York. The temperatures oddly enough are going to be getting warmer throughout the night. So, that's a good thing.

This will actually be the first time it may actually rain during the ball drop since the early '90s. So keep that in mind. It's been a while, you may have check to see if you are allowed to bring things like umbrella but rain boot and rain coat, that is absolutely allowed.

Another city, Atlanta, thunderstorms are in the forecast. If you plan to go out to the peach drop, same thing. See if you can bring the rain gear with you, Victor and Christi, because both of those cities, in addition to Knoxville and Philadelphia and Boston looking at rain in the forecast.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All righty. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame for you it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump is growing increasingly frustrated for his inability to get funding for his signature campaign promise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chances for a border wall is shrinking by the day, by the hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't need to be on the Hill, in the White House, whatever, fighting on when are they going to open the government back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is calling the cops on me because I'm taking a phone call at the Doubletree Hotel. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is basically a case of breathing wall black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hurtful. It's humiliating. I'm a person and I deserve respect and fair treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quickly after a fair investigation, they fired the two individuals.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday to you.

The White House is waging a public relations war, attempting to shift blame for the government shutdown to Democrats.

PAUL: Yes, several tweets yesterday where the president blames Democrats for failing to fund his border wall, despite saying earlier this month he would proudly own any shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will shut down the government.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: OK. Fair enough. I disagree.

TRUMP: I am proud.

SCHUMER: We disagree.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: For the next four days, the Republican control -- Republicans control both houses of Congress and there are no votes scheduled on reopening the government. Most likely the first votes to fund the government will not come until Democrats take the House and that happens on Thursday.

BLACKWELL: And the president's Twitter spat with Democrats took a new turn yesterday when he blamed Democrats for the crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico.

CNN's Jessica Dean joins us now.

And, Jessica, the president is now blaming Democrats for the deaths of two migrant children who were in government custody.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. I want to show you that tweet which you were referring, Victor, that the president tweeting this yesterday. It read in part, any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trip, thinking they can enter our country illegally.

As you can imagine, this sparked outcry from Democrats, one of them, Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California. He tweeted, quote, even #MAGA folks would concede that @POTUS is not a doctor. He's just making stuff up again. In January, the House of Representatives will hold hearings with witnesses under oath and find out what happened. #januaryiscoming.

Now, the president was referring to an 8-year-old boy who died on Christmas eve and a 7-year-old girl who died earlier this month in December. Both in federal custody at the time of their deaths and that sparked, of course, a lot of questions about how that could happen, what happened surrounding their deaths. And immigration, of course, just a linchpin in this shutdown that is now dragged on for days and days and as you two pointed out, probably not any movement coming until at least January 3rd.

We know the president cancelled his new year's eve plans to stay in Washington like in Christmas. He was expected to go down to Florida to Mar-a-Lago, he decided to stay here in Washington. He also tweeted, yesterday, that he was waiting for the Democrats to come on over and negotiate a deal but Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff there at the White House, telling us yesterday that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have not been invited to the White House.

One of the strategies here, of course, is also to put the blame on Democrats but specifically Nancy Pelosi, saying she is not dealing because she doesn't have votes to get that speakership when most likely she has the votes and will become speaker.

[07:05:04] But, Victor and Christi, This drags on and certainly a stalemate continues here in Washington.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jessica Dean for us in Washington, thank you.

PAUL: Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst and senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News" is with us now.

Good morning, Margaret. Good to see you.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

PAUL: Will you break this down for us real quickly? Because we have to be very -- we have to clarify this. We just heard in that sound bite the president say I will own this essentially and then, of course, in that tweet, saying that he will put this squarely on Democrats' shoulders. Is there any indication, as we head into 2019, connected to 2020, of course, as everybody is watching, any indication that his base finds his contradictory, I mean, direct contradictory statements to be all problematic for him?

TALEV: Christi, I think the base is very sensitive to the idea that he might cut a deal, though it would seem favorable to the incoming Democratic majority in the house or that would walk away from this idea of a wall. And so, it's not so much when he said he would own the shutdown that was a problem for the base. That may be a problem for kind of the center, but for the base, it was the idea that he might cut a deal early on to avert a shutdown which is what Republicans in Congress thought he was going to do.

And so, it was a surprise to many of them when the president sort of backed away from that deal and said he would own the shutdown. That is what the president thinks the base wants to hear and the base gets sort of angry and chides him and pokes him when he they think he might be caving. So, the president is trying to juggle two audiences at once.

For the general public when he said in that video that we are still replaying that he would own the shutdown, a lot of his aides saw that as a kind of a rhetorical mistake. So, trying to juggle the two interests I think you see the president doing. Of course, the Democrats are not in control yet and it's still the Republicans in Congress who have not been willing to pass what the president wants because they know it can't actually pass.

PAUL: "The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump has concerned about the market decline and that might hurt his re-election bid in 2020. He tweeted out yesterday 2018 is called the year of the worker by Steve Moore, co-author of "Trumponomics". It was indeed a great year for the American worker with the best job market in 50 years, the lowest unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics and all workers. Big wage gains.

I mean, the president has bragging rights here, no doubt about it.

TALEV: Yes.

PAUL: But look, if the market volatility we have seen the last couple of days, if that becomes something that we see as more consistent in 2019, that volatility, is there a gauge of how detrimental that might be to him when it comes to re-election?

TALEV: Sure. Because the market signals confidence. Even if the market doesn't affect everyone's pockets, the economy is a complicated thing, right? It's always a huge driver of not just sort of consumer behavior but voter behavior, how voters feel. Do they feel good about the future?

But there are so many ways to measure it. The GDP numbers are really good and the unemployment numbers have been really good and the president has been exactly -- had bragging rights on those things, but wages have not caught up. So, for a lot of American workers, they are not personally experiencing those sort of boom of those academic gains.

And when the markets dropped, not only dip, if that is uncertainty or loss of confidence, if that portends instability, uncertainty or loss of confidence, that could be a problem for the president. So, he knows in order to sort of pursue these immigration policies, other more controversial policies that please the base, in order to hold the center, he's got to be able to continue to have those bragging rights on the economy, on markets, on all of those things. And when those are shaky, the ground underneath his feet also becomes shaky.

PAUL: All right. Margaret Talev, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

TALEV: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: "TIME" magazine is reporting an alleged tie between a top Trump campaign figure and Russian ex-spy. Here are the players. Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, Victor Boyarkin, a Russian ex-spy, and former Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin. And Boyarkin told "TIME" that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Manafort was deeply in debt with Deripaska and began looking for ways to pay the money back.

Manafort has been found guilty of eight counts of financial crimes, tax fraud, bank fraud, hiding foreign bank accounts and scheduled to receive his first sentence in early February. Meanwhile, Deripaska and Boyarkin have been sanctioned by U.S. Treasury Department. A spokesman for Manafort declined comments to CNN about "TIME's" new report.

[07:40:02] PAUL: In just a couple of days, Democrats are taking control of the House, which means their first chance to demand answers and actually expect to receive them by issuing subpoenas.

CNN's Randi Kaye gives us a look at one area where they could start -- the Trump family business empire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the Trump Organization mixed up in money laundering? That's what some members of Congress want to find out. Deutsche Bank has a history of illegally laundering Russia money and a relationship with the Trump Organization.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: They paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fine to the state of New York because they were laundering Russia money and this apparently was the one bank that was willing to do business with the Trump Organization. Now is that a coincidence?

KAYE: There is also the Michael Cohen problem. The Trump Organization's long time lawyer pleaded guilty in august to eight counts including campaign finance violations tied to his work for Trump, which Cohen says included payments designed to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, which Trump has denied.

MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters.

KAYE: Voters were kept in the dark as they headed to the polls. Yet, Cohen admitted in court filings that in coordination and at the direct of a federal office, he kept information that would harm Trump from being made public during the 2016 election cycle. And what about that proposed Trump Tower in Moscow? Cohen had

previously said talks about the Moscow Project ended in January 2016 before the Iowa caucuses. It turns out that was a lie. According to Rudy Giuliani, the talks continued into November, the month of the election.

In court, Cohen admitted he made his false statements consistent with individual one's political messaging and out of loyalty to individual one. Just who is individual one? Donald Trump.

All of this matters because if it's true, it could prove Trump was seeking business with Russia while Moscow was secretly working to get him elected. And speaking of hotels, attorneys general for Maryland and D.C. have filed a lawsuit and subpoenaed financial records from the Trump Organization and the Trump International Hotel in D.C.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the most coveted piece of real estate in Washington, D.C., the best location.

KAYE: The hotel plays host to foreign officials and leaders from around the world. The lawsuit suggests the president breached the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign powers while in office. All said, at least five committees in Congress now poised to probe the Trump Organization on everything Trump has touched, including his yet to be released tax returns.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: Be sure to tune in to "STATE OF THE UNION" today as well. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Terry McAuliffe on the show. That's "STATE OF THE UNION", today, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Newspapers across the country say they were hacked this weekend. But no one seems to know who's responsible. We'll talk more about this coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:16:27] PAUL: Sixteen minutes past the hour right now.

And this morning, two Portland, Oregon, men do not have a job anymore. That was after an incident that's brought national outrage.

BLACKWELL: Now, the two men cornered a black guest at a Portland, Oregon, Doubletree Hotel and asked him to leave.

Well, if you wonder why, here is CNN's Miguel Marquez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is basically a case of breathing while black. White people calling the police on black people for either a mall offense or infraction or no offense at all. In this case, Jermaine Massey checked into a hotel on December 22nd. It was a Doubletree Hotel, part of the Hilton chain of hotels in Portland, Oregon.

He had gone to a concert. He was coming back to his room. His mother had texted so he wanted to make a phone call. He wanted to do it in the lobby because it seemed fairly urgent.

The lobby was busy so he went to a secluded area of the lobby and started making his phone call. That's then he was confronted by a security guard. He hung up on his mother and starting putting it on video on his phone. He put it all on Instagram and we want to show you a little of what he recorded.

JERMAINE MASSEY, EVICTED HOTEL GUEST: He is calling the cops on me because I'm taking a phone call at the Doubletree Hotel. Say Hi, Earl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Portland police will be here soon.

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

They are coming, why? Why are they coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Escorting you off the property.

MASSEY: Because what? I'm staying here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not any more.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're standing here.

MASSEY: This area is off limits at a certain time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only if you're a guest.

MASSEY: I am a guest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't tell me that.

MASSEY: I said I'm a guest. I told you that.

MARQUEZ: Mr. Massey was on the Don Lemon show, and Don asked him, why do you think this sort of thing keeps asking across the country?

MASSEY: It's hurtful. It's humiliating and I don't understand why it continues to be an issue. I'm a person at the end of the day, just like everyone else, and I deserve respect and fair treatment and I did not receive that on Saturday. I think there is a lot of perceptions about black males in particular, that we are threats and we are harmful and we are just fearful individuals, and, you know, that bias, it impacts these situations, and it's harmful to us as a people.

MARQUEZ: Now, in so far as Doubletree and Hilton hotels, the parent company Hilton has issued a statement apologizing for the incident, saying they do not condone discrimination in any way and clearly after a quick investigation, they fired the two individuals. CNN has reached out to those two individuals. One couldn't be gotten ahold of. The other did not get back to us.

But even the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, say all of this is part of the systemic nature of discrimination against African-Americans in America that happens way too often. Mr. Massey and his lawyers are thankful for what Hilton has said and done in response to this. They would like more. They want to see something in writing from them about the policy that led that security guard to confront Mr. Massey in that way in a public space. The hopes is that it will never happen again.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Miguel, thank you.

Newspaper across the country may have been victims of a cyberattack this weekend. Here's what happens -- several papers, including the "L.A. Times," had trouble getting their Saturday editions out on time because of a print malfunction. At one point, customer service lines -- I mean, they were a mess.

[07:20:01] PAUL: Now, Tribune Publishing said it found malware on its servers on Friday but workers say they have gotten very little information beyond that. The "L.A. Times" quoted a source saying the attack originated outside the U.S. but a spokeswoman for Tribune Publishing couldn't confirm that. They say no one's credit card information appears to have been compromised.

So, New Year, new you! That is a resolution every once in a while, right? For some of us that could mean, look, we want to get our financial wallets and planning in order. We have an expert who is going to tell us how to do it and the smart way to make that happen, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: So glad to have you with us. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

BLACKWELL: Happy NEW DAY to you. I'm Victor Blackwell. Sorry to cut you off.

PAUL: That's all right. That's okay.

2019. I know we all have things we want to get done in 2019 and a lot of us is making sure our finances are in order but a lot of the we don't know where to start and especially with the new tax code. It's confusing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So, here's what you need to know, to hit the goals and make things right, do it the smart way. Joining us now, Michelle Singletary. She's a syndicated personal finance columnist for "The Washington Post" and author of "The 21-Day Financial Fast."

Michelle, first, we will get to viewer questions in a moment. First, we have to tell people that they have to approach their resolutions the smart way and what is being smart?

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, SYNDICATED PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST: Well, basically, you want to be very specific about your goals. You want to be able to measure them.

[07:25:00] You want it to be relevant. You want to be actionable or attainable. And you want to be timely so that you're going to put a time limit on when you're going to, like, save money or open your retirement account.

Just don't say, you know, I want to save more money or I want to have more money for retirement. That is not going to help you. You need to be very specific about how you're going to go about doing it.

PAUL: You have to have a plan.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: Essentially.

SINGLETARY: You have to have a plan.

PAUL: How do we craft that?

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, one of the things, for example, if you say you want to get rid of debt. I suggest you do something called the debt dash which is a quick way to hit some of that debt. So you list all of your debts from the smallest to the largest, and you just (INAUDIBLE) your cash at the top debt, make minimum payments on the rest.

Now, I know there are people listening and already like, she doesn't know what she's talking about, you got to do one with the highest interest rate. You know how I know people talk about me.

But, listen. I know the right way, because if you were going to use math to this thing you wouldn't be in debt in the first place because it's not logical to have a high credit card debt with high interest rates. But if you can knock debts off quickly and I know this because I do this with people all the time. They get rid of debt and they say I can do! Next thing they have gotten the debt rid of because they are very energized.

BLACKWELL: So, let's put up more of the ways, they are not smart ways and smart ways to do this, using that acronym. Let's up the list of not smart ways to approach the resolutions. Let's take the first one here.

I'm going to save money. That is not the way to approach it. What is the smart way to approach that?

SINGLETARY: Oh, that's crazy. That is like I'm going to lose weight and you're still eating chips, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

SINGLETARY: So you want to say, I'd like to save at least $1,000 this year. That's very -- that's specific. You can measure it. It's attainable, and it's in a time period. Because you got to say, three to six months living expenses. Well, most say you are out of your mind.

But if you say I'm going to save a thousand dollars, because that's enough to cover an emergency. If you can save more than that, that's great. But don't set the goal so high that about February you just -- you're forgetting it. So, that's what you want to do. Be specific. Remember, I said be specific. So, $1,000, I'm going to save $1,000 in 2019 and that is very attainable for a lot of people.

PAUL: That makes a difference to put something definitive down because then I feel like your goal is attainable.

BLACKWELL: Then you have to break it down month-by-month or pay-by- pay.

SINGLETARY: That's right.

PAUL: So much easier to make that happen.

I want to get to a couple of questions from viewers here. Dave Jordan, listen. This is what Dave wants to do. I applaud him because he's got some lofty goals here. I want to pay off debt, open another retirement account and have at least two years worth of living expenses saved by year's end. Those are three really big task.

BLACKWELL: Is there an imperative, Dave, we don't know about? Keep on saying two years in a year.

SINGLETARY: Yes, Dave! If you haven't been doing that already, you won't be doing that, Dave. I hate to bust your bubble. OK?

Let's just start slow. So, you want to get rid of debt, do that debt dash and that's very attainable if you got a lot of debt. Just knock the smallest one out. You want to open a retirement account.

The first place to look is your workplace. If you're not in your workplace retirement plan and you have one, you know, you've got to do that. I know right now everybody is like the market is insane. I am not saving in that crazy thing. But you have to.

And then in terms of getting out of debt, again do the debt dash. That two years that is just going -- by February or March that person is just -- Dave is going to be, I can't do it. So, try one month's living expenses or, you know, $1,500 or $2,000. Make it so you can achieve it and you won't give up halfway through.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: That's true. The other is by Steve who says: I want to give to charities every year

to help them stay active. Do I have to bundle every other year if I want to continue to give yearly?

I think this comes down how do I donate? I donate to things I care about but I can also benefit myself when it comes to tax deduction?

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, I'm a tither, which means my husband and I give 10 percent of our gross income to our church and we give every week on a regular basis. I believe that giving should come first and I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I believe to whom much is given, much is required. Because if you wait until after you pay everybody and you won't give to charity and charity means more money every month all through the year. You know, we just kind of getting past the holidays so everybody is giving Thanksgiving through Christmas.

But people got to eat in January and February and March. And if -- I love that he wants this to be a goal. Every month pick the charities that are important to you or your church and give regularly just like it's a bill. If it becomes like a bill, it becomes of who you are.

And I find that people who do that first, give first, that means the rest of the money you got to manage in a really good way.

[07:30:05] I applaud someone who wants to do that and do it regularly. Just pick a couple of charities.

Here is the other good thing. If you pick charities and you do it regularly when people come at you for that crazy stuff and pay for things, you say I have giving plan. I give every month.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: But you do feel like you've done something good when you give. There is definitely that.

Mitchell, I want to have lunch with you.

SINGLETARY: You pay, right?

BLACKWELL: You know initial is tight now. Michelle is tight with her money!

SINGLETARY: That's right!

PAUL: Happy New Year.

BLACKWELL: Thanks so much.

PAUL: All righty.

So, 2018 this past year, packed with stargazers, right? The discovery of planets and stars and other space objects. Well, former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao is going to talk to us about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Gilda Radner, hilarious. The new CNN film "Love, Gilda" used special access to her diaries, photos and home videos to tell her story in her own words.

PAUL: Some of the biggest female comediennes have been so inspired by Gilda's life and her work that they kind of wanted to send a message out there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

FRAN DRESCHER: Dear, Gilda. Hi, it's me, Fran Drescher.

YVETTE NICOLE BROWN: Dear Gilda.

CAROL BURNETT: Dear Gilda, I loved watching you on "Saturday Night Live."

TRACEY ULLMAN: Gilda Radner was a huge inspiration to me.

RACHEL BLOOM: When I was about 9, I saw the sketch "The Judy Miller Show." It inspired me to write my own one person comedy sketch. It was directly because of you.

BROWN: Thank you for teaching us it's OK to be unapologetically wacky and fearless.

RADNER: Dear Rosanna (INAUDIBLE).

BROWN: You blazed a trail for so many of us. I am so grateful.

ULLMAN: Was this incredibly funny girl who is equal to the guys.

[07:35:02] DRESCHER: I started to experience gynecologic cancer symptoms. I kept talking about you and your symptoms and then I survived, and then I thrived.

ULLMAN: Gilda Radner was a bloody, great girl.

BURNETT: Not only were you brilliantly funny, you had a terrific soul.

ANNOUNCER: "Love Gilda", New Year's Day at 9:00 p.m.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: So, you can watch that and you can ring in 2019 with us as well. Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve coverage live from Times Square. Brooke Baldwin will be there, Don Lemon. The party starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: 2018, there have been some incredible stories about our space. New details about a cigar-shaped object that came rapidly tumbling through the solar system, discoveries by the Curiosity rover on Mars, origins of the some ghostly space particles, the end of two incredible NASA missions.

PAUL: Retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao is with us talking about the top space stories.

Because I don't know if everybody heard, Leroy, first of all, about this weird-shaped object. Tell us what that was about that got into the atmosphere.

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, that is the object you're talking about is the first interstellar object that we have detected that has passed through our solar system, probably not the first one. Just the first one we detected. It was odd because it was cigar- shaped, not round, as you would expect like planets and other things that are going to be in low energy state but it did pass through and it's gone now. Not to return for a very long time. But we still really don't know what it was.

BLACKWELL: So, the Curiosity rover, another big story of 2018, some interesting elements in Martian soil. How about that?

CHIAO: Absolutely. It discovered the presence of methane in the soil, which could be an indicator of some kind of past life on Mars. Very interesting because it also compliments discoveries by other space probes to asteroids and comments that also found organics indicating the presence of organic molecules and amino acids could indicate there is life elsewhere in the universe that is more prevalent than we might have previously thought.

PAUL: Interesting. I know that scientists were able to trace the origins of this ghostly particle as well. What was that about?

CHIAO: Oh, my goodness. This was really incredible. Of course, we posited about neutrino for many decades and finally detected them some years ago and now detecting them more regularly. This is the first time we have actually traced neutrinos in a straight line back to its origins about 4 billion light years away. So that is very exciting and very interesting. Of course, trillions of neutrinos are passing through our bodies at any moment.

And so, they're prevalent. They're just hard to detect because they have no charge and easily deflected and it's -- this is really a significant event.

BLACKWELL: Kepler and Dawn ended, these NASA missions. What did we learn from them?

CHIAO: Well, Kepler discovered many, many exoplanets. We had not discovered them before. We thought they were out there and now new missions out there looking for more exoplanets and that finding more that might have earth-like conditions and discovery of the different organics on the different bodies out there. They indicate there may be more like out there than we had thought originally.

PAUL: This is mind boggling what NASA has discovered. In saying that, we know they have the new horizons mission currently. Is the shutdown affecting that in any way? CHIAO: Well, the shutdown is unfortunate, of course, on mission

critical activities, support the International Space Station will continue but we have faced these things at before at NASA and other government agencies. We'll get through it. Unfortunately, we probably wouldn't get as much coverage of some of these missions because those functions may be shutdown or curtailed, but hopefully, we'll get through the shutdown soon and get back to business.

BLACKWELL: And there are new missions, right?

CHIAO: Oh, absolutely. There are new missions out there. In fact, OSIRIS-REx just reached Bennu, an asteroid only 500 meters in diameter, 2 billion kilometers away. Incredible we were able to get the spacecraft there and orbit it.

It's going to scoop down and bring a sample and actually return it to the earth and that will definitely be a first. So, very exciting things out there in this next year or so.

PAUL: All righty. Leroy Chiao, thank you so much.

CHIAO: My pleasure. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Leroy. Happy New Year.

CHIAO: Happy New Year.

BLACKWELL: So, what is the only thing that upstages the biggest college football games of the year?

[07:40:03] An animal.

PAUL: Of course.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, bone crushing hits, incredible plays in this game. The semifinals, both of them fantastic, but one viral moment we're going to show you -- a fan gets a new friend. A bald eagle! What is going on? We're going to show you why it's trending that and the highlights, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Alabama and Clemson playing for the national championship. You haven't heard that before, have you?

BLACKWELL: Coy is here.

WIRE: Third time in four years the Tigers and Tide going for the title again. Both teams obliterated their opponents in the semifinals. Alabama, they were favored by 14, going to their match up, and they showed up.

They absolutely dominated Oklahoma 28 to zip before the blink of an eye. Watch this play early in the game. Josh Jacobs nearly stopping a mud hole there in the Oklahoma defender. The Sooners never gave up but never game within closer than 11 points. The Tide vaunted defense just giving the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray fits all night, sacked three times, he completed just half of his passes

Bama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, my goodness, four touchdowns on the day for him, 88.9 percent of his passes completed. That's the second highest percentage of any bowl ever. Bama cruising into their fourth straight bowl game. Orange bowl champs, 45-35. Xavier McKinney's reaction afterwards summed up their feelings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

XAVIER MCKINNEY, ALABAMA DEFENSIVE BACK: We rocked it, man! We're going to Cali!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: We'll be there, too, covering the national championship game next weekend. The Cotton Bowl had Clemson and Notre Dame, the first ever undefeateds to meet in the semifinals. Clemson is young but full of energy like their head coach. True freshman Justin Ross had two touchdown catches.

And that true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, he just turned 19, but they are saying he could already play in the pros and I agree. Look at this pass. The incredible catch of the day. Higgins with a one-handed juggler area somehow securing it before he goes out of bounds. Clemson destroying the Irish 30-3.

The most exciting thing in this game for Notre Dame fans came after the national anthem. A bald eagle named Clark goes rogue and lands on a Notre Dame fan! This is Albert Armas (ph). He said afterwards he was, quote, scared crapless.

Then there was another fan at that this eagle landed on. These videos and photos have gone viral. His wife Kim missed the whole thing while she was in the restroom!

Listen to who Nguyen (ph) favorite NFL team is.

(BEGIN VDIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still have a goose bump or whatever. It was so cool. Unbelievable the eagle land on me. And I'm a big Philadelphia Eagles fan!

(END VIDE CLIP)

WIRE: Still trending this morning. But the two reactions, the juxtaposition. The scared for your life or actually just nerves of steel. Calm and collected is fascinating.

PAUL: It reminded our producer of another time that an eagle caused a little problem. Take a look at this.

BLACKWELL: When was that?

PAUL: Do you remember this?

WIRE: Yes.

PAUL: I'm surprised he landed in his office!

BLACKWELL: Yes. I'm surprised he let it stay.

WIRE: My goodness! These things can get a wing span up to eight feet long and be up to three feet tall. That is an intimidating animal. I don't blame anyone who is reacting with fear. Incredible stuff.

PAUL: I would do the same thing. Yes. They are beautiful.

You'll see him here in a minute. He goes, we are not doing that again.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I was surprised the people at the game who were around the guy who had eagle. They were so calm. An eagle! Take a picture!

Look at this crowd.

PAUL: Look at her. She didn't realize it yet.

BLACKWELL: The eagle came in and no one else is afraid.

WIRE: That thing will poke an eye out, kid! Look at the smiles.

PAUL: What did the guy say? He was scared?

BLACKWELL: Scared crapless.

WIRE: I believe it. He probably had to go.

PAUL: Appropriate. I would be afraid that thing would maybe like pigeons do.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Christi.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

PAUL: Well?

BLACKWELL: Have that with your cheerios, folks.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: So, this has been a year of political first. Tweeting and fighting and learning to navigate a completely different landscape in Washington.

CNN's Dana Bash counts down the top political stories of 2018.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a former student opened fire, murdering 17 people, including 14 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Emma Gonzalez and others channeled their sorrow into action.

EMMA GONZALEZ, SURVIVOR, PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING: Every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!

BASH: Across the country, thousands of students heard the cry coming from Parkland, Florida, and staged a 17-minute walkout, one minimum for each victim of the shooting.

DEMONSTRATORS: Enough is enough!

BASH: Then their demand for a stricter gun laws went global with "March For Our Lives."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can and we will change the world!

BASH (on camera): Washington felt the weight of several icons passing away in 2018.

(voice-over): Senator John Sidney McCain died in August after a 13- month battle with brain cancer. The naval fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war was known for bucking his party and reaching across the aisle to get things done. In classic McCain style, he asked the two men who defeated him for president to eulogize them.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: What a better way to get a last laugh and have George and I say nice things about him to a national audience.

BASH: His final maverick move, not inviting the president he tangled with and worried about as America's leader to his funeral.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We honor our 41st president.

BASH: The country also mourned the death of former President George H.W. Bush, described as decent, honorable, and gracious. The 41st president who managed the end of the Cold War without a shot fired was eulogized by the 43rd president, his son.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have.

BASH: A family grieving for not one parent but two, with the passing of the 41's wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush just seven months earlier and an American icon who was remembered by another famous son.

[07:50:04] JEB BUSH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She was our teacher and role model on how to live a life of purpose and meaning.

BASH: President Trump continued to put immigration front and center in 2018, imposing a controversial family separation policy.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you prosecute the parent force coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.

BASH: Images of children in cages sparked an outcry from both sides of the aisle, along with revelations that at the height of the policy, more than 2,600 children were separated from their parents after entering the U.S. illegally. Bowing to political pressure, the president reversed himself and signed an executive order to end the separation.

A few months later, in a raw political move to motivate his base, he warned against a caravan of immigrants headed to the southern border.

TRUMP: We're not letting these people invade our country.

BASH: After Election Day, the president largely stopped talking about the caravan after Election Day but not about immigration. He ended the year, threatening a government shutdown if he did not get funding for his signature campaign promise, the border wall.

The president stunned the world in Helsinki this year when he stood next to Vladimir Putin and not only failed to admonish the Russian president for meddling in American elections, he accepted Putin's denial.

TRUMP: So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

BASH: Angry Democrats and Republicans lashed out in disapproval. Senator McCain called it one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.

But that wasn't the only 2018 Trump shocker on the world stage. After months of rhetorical fire and fury with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, President Trump broke precedent by agreeing to a summit in June in Singapore. After a nearly five-hour Trump/Kim meeting, they announced what they called a denuclearization agreement.

TRUMP: We have developed a very special bond.

BASH: Despite the warm embrace, 2018 come comes to an end with reports that the hermit kingdom is still operating secret missile bases.

REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: We have made victory tonight.

BASH: It was the year of the woman with record numbers of women running for and winning races on a local and national level, especially Congress. Fourteen women elected in the Senate, bringing it to a total of 25; 102 women will serve in the House next year, breaking the previous record of 85. Women from all walks of life are flooding the Hill, with one exception. Republicans. Only 13 GOP women will be in the House next year, the lowest number in a quarter century.

Supreme Court fights are always high stakes but President Trump never imagined what would happen when nominating Brett Kavanaugh, someone he thought was a rather safe pick. Several women came forward, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, leading to a day of public testimony for the ages, starting with Christine Blasey Ford.

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling.

BASH: Kavanaugh followed with a fiery defense.

JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH: I'm not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time, but I have never done this.

BASH: Ford's story touched a nerve among women across the country, who had been sexually assaulted and afraid to come forward or not believed. A new front in the #metoo movement. Republican Jeff Flake had just announced he was a yes vote and this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're telling me that my story doesn't matter.

BASH: A rattled Flake worked with Democrat Chris Coons to delay the vote for a week while the FBI investigated. Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the high court's swing seat, Trump's second Supreme Court win in just two years.

A Kavanaugh no vote would cause trouble for some red state Democrats up for re-election in places like Missouri where that state's now GOP senator-elect Josh Hawley predicted it would be a game changer and he was right.

(on camera): Big deal?

SEN.-ELECT JOSH HAWLEY (R), MISSOURI: Very big deal.

BASH: That could make the difference?

HAWLEY: Yes, I do.

BASH (voice-over): GOP backlash against the Kavanaugh fight energized their base and helped Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And CNN predicts Democrats will reclaim control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

BASH: On the House side, a very different story. Democrats found that blue wave and rode it back into the majority, winning 40 seats, almost twice the 23 needed to take back the house.

TRUMP: There was no collusion whatsoever.

BASH: It's been over a year since special counsel Robert Mueller was given the mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump aides or associates.

[07:55:09] The president spent the year trying to undermine it.

TRUMP: It's a terrible witch hunt.

BASH: The Mueller investigation has revealed that many in Trump's orbit had contacts with Russians, 16 to be exact. But the most stunning revelation? Trump's long-time personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, sentenced to three years in prison and turned on the president, cooperating with federal investigators. The president now calls Cohen a liar and a rat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Selling America out to the Russians. Traitor.

BASH: And after months of claiming his innocence, the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort pled guilty to several crimes not associated with the Trump campaign. He cut a deal with Mueller which, by year's end, fell apart. Manafort is now looking at the possibility of more charges from the special counsel.

2018 ended with the president nominating a new attorney general, William Barr, to oversee the investigation after he fired Jeff Sessions. And Mueller's team bringing charges against 32 entities and individuals, five people pleading guilty and four sentenced to prison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: All righty. We wish you a happy New Year. Thank you so much for making us part of your morning. We hope you make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after a quick break.

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