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CNN NEWSROOM

Russia Detains U.S. Citizen; Graham on Syria Withdrawal; Dow Jumps on Optimism; Video of Migrant Children Abuse. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 31, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it will be, obviously, made public. So we're hoping to have a bit of clarity then about what exactly this is all -- is all about, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, lots to discuss here. Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

And joining me now, CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde. He is also executive editor of "The New Yorker" website.

So as we just heard from Matthew, details are sketchy. We don't have a lot of information. But how concerning is this to you of this American detained in Russia?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The initial speculation is that this could be sort of retaliation for the recent conviction of Maria Butina.

BROWN: Yes.

ROHDE: She's the Russian national that was sort of infiltrating the NRA and other conservative groups here. And so this could be, in essence, this arrest could be a bargaining chip. That this American who's been arrested could maybe in the future be traded for Butina.

It's also a warning sign. Journalists I know in Moscow are saying that this could be a message that Putin is sending President Trump for the new year, that Russia will be confrontational if needed.

BROWN: Yes, so let's talk about that. Let's look big picture here.

What does this mean, if anything, about U.S./Russia relations moving forward?

ROHDE: I mean it's a clear sign that Putin is going to continue to be aggressive. It's a sense that, you know, if you looked at this proposed withdrawal of American troops from Syria, something that Putin has praised, something that Putin has called for, for years, that withdrawal is not being rewarded by Putin. He's continuing to be aggressive. And this is what skeptics say, is that the way to deal with Putin is to be tough with him and push him back and that will cause him to back down, instead of, you know, making gestures and praising him, as President Trump has sometimes done. BROWN: All right, I want to turn to Syria now because the president's

strategy appears to be changing. This morning the president tweeted, defending his plan to withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria. The president says, if anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, they would be a national hero. He also said ISIS is mostly gone. We're slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants.

Now, this is in stark contrast, David, to his announcement last week saying that withdrawals of U.S. military would be full and rapid and that ISIS was largely defeated, or was eradicated, he said. I mean what's going on here?

ROHDE: It's confusing. What's odd about the tone of the message is that it's -- and I want to stop and I be respectful to the president and the office he has, but this is all -- he's talking about what he achieved in Syria. It's Kurds, 1,000 of whom, over 900 of whom died last year fighting ISIS that have actually defeated the group and other militias and there are the very brave American soldiers, the special operation soldiers, that are advising them and fighting alongside them. So, you know, this has been a very complicated effort in Syria.

All experts agree that it's not over. There are ISIS remnants that are still there. So, you know, the president's changing his tone. And I think that confuses, you know, moderate Muslims, the Kurds among them, who are fighting extremism, you know, shoulder to shoulder with U.S. troops. This is a very confusing message from the White House.

BROWN: And after meeting with the president Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that the president has a, quote, better understanding of the stakes in Syria and that he has agreed to re- evaluate his plan. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think we're in a pause situation where we're re-evaluating what's the best way to achieve the president's objective of having people pay more and do more.

After the discussions with the president and General Dunford, I've never felt better about where we're headed. I think we're slowing things down in a smart way. But the goal has always been the same, to be able to leave Syria, make sure ISIS never comes back. Our partners are taken care of and Iran's contained. And I think that's possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: All right, so let's kind of pick this apart. This is sort of further muddying the water when Graham came out and said that because just last week Senator Graham said that this was a stain on U.S. honor, withdrawing troops and so forth. Now he is saying he's feeling a lot better about the situation. What do you make about his change of heart and the fact that the president appears to be wavering here?

ROHDE: I think Graham is personally happy because the president might slow down this withdrawal.

But what's getting lost in all this are sort of the basic facts. You know, U.S. troops have been in Syria for only four years. There's only about 2,000 of them. Four Americans have died in four years. One American death is too many, but this is a very small deployment that has been remarkably successful. And I think the goal is to sort of extend the fight and finish off ISIS.

And I -- so Graham, I think, is happy. He's trying to, you know, convince the president to slow down this withdrawal. But it's all sort of quite confusing. A declaration of victory one minute and now we're going to slow down the withdrawal at this point.

[09:35:08] And, lastly, I think the Islamic State is still a very serious national security threat to the United States. They've carried out terrible attacks in Europe. There are ISIS-inspired attacks that have occurred in the U.S. So Graham's argument, which is that you keep a small number of troops for a short period of time and we finish them off, you know, is a sound one and it -- apparently the president is sort of coming around to that argument.

BROWN: All right, David Rohde, thank you very much for coming on and sharing your analysis.

ROHDE: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, it would take a big rally to keep the Dow from having its worst December since the Great Depression. We are live at the stock exchange for the last day of trading this year. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: All right, let's get right to Wall Street and the last trading day of the year. The Dow up, look, triple digits on hopes of surrounding U.S./China trade talks. But don't be fooled here, this is no December to remember.

[09:40:04] Cristina Alesci is at the New York Stock Exchange.

Good morning, Cristina.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Pamela.

That's right, this is going to be the worst December. We're on track for the worst December since 1931, Pamela. It would have to -- the market at this point would have to rally another 600 points to avoid that record low.

But, bigger picture here, there is optimism on the floor this morning because of a possible trade deal or the president talking up a possible trade deal between the U.S. and China. But, listen, for the year the markets have just been abysmal. The S&P is down 7 percent, the Dow, 6.7 percent. And to a certain extent, this was bound to happen. We cannot have a bill market forever. But it is the way that stocks are taking a hit that is really causing a lot of concern. December specifically was marked by panic selling and a lot of volatility.

Let me give you an example. One of the indices, the S&P 500, was up or down about 1 percent nine times in December alone versus eight times for the entire year in 2017. This is the kind of thing that causes a lot of concern among investors and traders every day here. And they're trying to figure it out. They're worried about the economic slowdown. They're worried about the trade war. More importantly, they're worried about dysfunction in Washington and how it might have real impact on fiscal policy in 2019.

BROWN: So it seems like, as we enter the new year, tomorrow, investors are pretty worried about what 2019 will hold.

ALESCI: Yes. And I may -- I mentioned the three major ones. Also underlying the concern here is the fact that investors are worried that the stimulus that we saw from the tax cuts this year might begin to wear off at the same exact time that the Federal Reserve will go ahead and probably raise interest rates next year. So that is the major concern against the backdrop, as I said, of a lot of uncertainty in Washington, D.C., dysfunction in the White House that is not giving anyone any comfort here and investors trying to figure out how much fundamentally these companies that make up these indices are worth.

Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Cristina Alesci, live for us at the New York Stock Exchange.

Thanks, Cristina.

And, meantime, new, disturbing video showing the real crisis at the border. Arizona prosecutors looking at alleged cases of abuse at a facility holding migrant children. What is being done about this troubling video?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:47:08] BROWN: We are seeing disturbing new video allegedly showing the abuse of migrant children at a facility in Arizona. This video comes as Senator Lindsey Graham says he wants to hold hearings on the deaths of migrant children at the border. Seven-year-old Jakelin Maquin and eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died after being taken into custody by government agents.

Dianne Gallagher joins us now.

And, Dianne, these deaths and this new video exposing what appears to be the real crisis at the border.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Pamela, I do want to warn people before we show them this video, it may be upsetting to them what allegedly took place here at Hacienda del Sol. It's a facility that was run by Southwest Key. It has since closed down.

But take a look at this video. It was obtained by "The Arizona Republic," a newspaper here in Arizona, through an open records request. It has been blurred and edited by the State Department of Health. But you can still clearly see these adult workers who appear to be dragging and pulling and pushing and angrily confronting these young children who are in their care.

Now, at this point, today, we're told that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is going to be turning over its investigation to the county attorney to determine whether or not they should bring criminal charges on this.

Now, this happened back in September. So you may recall us reporting on this, if it sounds familiar. Initially the sheriff's office said, we're not going to -- we don't think it rises to the -- I -- you know, to criminal charges. Since then, though, and around the same time this video was released, they say that they've discovered new evidence.

Now, we reached out to Southwest Key about this. They referred us to an original statement that they gave us back in October that essentially said they welcomed the investigation and they had been working to make sure that everything was on the up and up.

But, Pamela, a source who is familiar with actions that were taken due to this situation tells us that two staffers were fired as a result and also other disciplinary measures were taken afterward dealing strictly with this Hacienda del Sol situation.

BROWN: And, Dianne, what else is the government saying about this investigation?

GALLAGHER: So, to be honest, Pamela, not a whole lot. We did get a statement actually though about 20 minutes ago from HHS. I just want to read you to beginning of it here. They said, our focus is always on the safety and best interest of each child. These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances and ORR exercises its custodial responsibility for each child with the utmost care. When any allegation of abuse or neglect are made, they are taken seriously, investigated, and swift action is taken.

And, Pamela, to me, what sticks out in that there is, of course, them saying, these are vulnerable children in difficult situations. That in part is what makes it so difficult to watch this video, knowing what so many of these children have been through and then seeing that happen on video in a place where the whole purpose of this is to protect them and make them feel safe as they try and figure out what the next step is for them.

[09:50:17] So, again, we're waiting to hear from the county attorney, Pamela, to see whether or not this may be something that ends in criminal charges.

BROWN: We know you will be staying on top of this very important story.

Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

So how did a lion get out of a locked space to kill a zoo worker? This morning, we are learning more about the young woman who wanted to devote her life to helping animals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:08] BROWN: Well, Gilda Radner was a comedy superstar whose reach expanded far beyond the world of entertainment. Her iconic "Saturday Night Live" characters made us laugh. Her thought provoking writing broke boundaries for women, and her hard fought battle with cancer brought attention and support to cancer patients everywhere.

Well, now, the new CNN original film "Love, Gilda," uses special access to Gilda's diaries, her letters, and home videos to tell Gilda's story in her own words. And here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, FORMER "SNL" CAST MEMBER: This is Gilda Radner, her voice in her writing.

First and foremost, above everything else, my main priority is that I am a girl. I've never wanted to be anything else. I'm fascinated with boys, but I never wanted to be one.

I agree, Gilda.

CECILY STRONG, "SNL" CAST MEMBER: To be a girl and be funny means you have to sacrifice a lot of things because of your loud mouth.

BILL HADER, FORMER "SNL" CAST MEMBER: Being neurotic's the only subject I didn't have to research.

Yes.

MAYA RUDOLPH, FORMER "SNL" CAST MEMBER: I can't even begin to imagine how I got famous. It seemed like I just took the next job and then it turned out that millions of people were watching me do it.

HADER: Maybe you know me, and maybe you don't, or maybe you heard of me but never saw me, or maybe you used to know me but don't know me anymore. But one time in my life, I was famous, and it seemed like everyone knew me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And Poppy Harlow recently sat down with Jordan Walker Pearlman, the nephew of Gilda Radner and her husband, Gene Wilder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Jordan, thank you for being here.

JORDAN WALKER PEARLMAN, NEPHEW OF GENE WILDER: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: We should note, you're a filmmaker as well. Not the filmmaker of this film film, but a filmmaker as well.

PEARLMAN: Allegedly so, yes.

HARLOW: So they say.

Gilda came into your life when she fell in love with and later married your uncle, Gene Wilder, who helped raise you. What was it like to see her, to see both of them together as we look at some of these wonderful family photos and movies that were shown in the film? Just walk us into what it was like in that household for you.

PEARLMAN: It was like she was two sticks of dynamite and he was a Buddha fountain.

HARLOW: Yin to the yang.

PEARLMAN: Yes, but what was interesting is they both changed a little bit of each other's personalities. We -- we -- Gene and I met Gilda at the same time for a movie called "Hanky-Panky" directed by Sidney Poitier. He wasn't familiar with her work or "Saturday Night Live" at the time.

HARLOW: Right.

PEARLMAN: He rented tapes of it. And they met and there was a spark between them. But he said, he told me it wasn't romantic, for two or three months. He would -- took me out to dinner and say, I think Gilda's the type of person I should start dating, but not her because there's no romantic spark there and she's married and I would never do that. Then, two months later, I was with him at the house and he said, I have news for you, I fell in love with that funny ballerina.

HARLOW: Oh.

PEARLMAN: And she's going to move in to the house. And --

HARLOW: And the rest is history.

PEARLMAN: The rest was history.

HARLOW: Let's talk about her and her battles and what she struggled with.

PEARLMAN: Oh, good --

HARLOW: Diagnosed with --

PEARLMAN: The sad part that I'm going to have trouble talking about.

HARLOW: The sad part.

PEARLMAN: I was -- couldn't wait until we got to it.

HARLOW: She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 1986. And in the film we see these really poignant home movies of Gilda and Gene together and at the hospital, and at home, and clearly a very difficult time.

What was that like for you? How did Gene support her through it? PEARLMAN: The most frustrating thing for Gene and I, the most painful

thing was that a year and a half before she got diagnosed, she told the doctor she had cancer and they refused to believe her.

HARLOW: She knew.

PEARLMAN: She knew. And they all but, and I was in the room, so I dare any of them to contradict me.

HARLOW: Right.

PEARLMAN: They all but patted her on the head and said, there, there, little lady, you're a hypochondriac. You have Epstein Barr virus. You have chronic fatigue syndrome. You're not working enough, that's the problem. And she said, no, I have cancer. And they wouldn't believe her.

So when the diagnose came, and at the time too late --

HARLOW: Yes.

PEARLMAN: Ultimately, we were in -- we were in shock, but we were also so angry --

HARLOW: Of course.

PEARLMAN: Because if we had -- if -- at ourselves for not pushing the doctors more, but also at the doctors for not listening to her.

HARLOW: Look, if she said it, that is as -- you know, she said this to them and they didn't listen.

PEARLMAN: I wish I was exaggerating it. She said, you're not listening to me, to these doctors.

HARLOW: Wow.

PEARLMAN: I have cancer. And I know that if Gene had been saying it about himself --

HARLOW: They would listen.

PEARLMAN: They would have listened.

HARLOW: Because he's a man.

PEARLMAN: Precisely.

HARLOW: What do you hope that and think that her most lasting legacy is?

PEARLMAN: In terms of her legacy, I don't want her to be remembered by the saddest thing that ever happened to her because she did some wonderful work and she touched some lives wonderfully. And she would have loved to have seen people in the theater or at home watching "Love, Gilda," laughing at some of her old bits. HARLOW: Yes.

[10:00:06] PEARLMAN: That would have made her really, really happy.