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Democrats And White House Prep For Senate Trial Despite Standoff; White House Threatened Spending Bill Veto Over Ukraine Payments; TSA Whistleblower Claims U.S. Airports Becoming Unsafe; DNC Raises Bar For Candidates To Make January Debate; Body Of Missing Mother Recovered, Baby Found "Alive And Healthy"; Iowa Woman Says She Ran Over 14-Year-Old Because She "Was A Mexican"; Controversial Mining Company Coached Alaska's Governor To Lobby W.H. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 21, 2019 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump's impeachment, right now hanging in the balance.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Impeach the president immediately. Everybody was on to the next thing. The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as it takes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're proposing is incredibly dangerous. You can't be Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this TSA whistleblowers coming forward because he says the agency is putting speed over security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're doing is injecting danger into the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Austin police said one of their tips led them to Northwest Harris County cracking the case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did recover an infant female child that we do believe at this time is Margo,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But outside of the trunk of her friend's car, Heidi Broussard dead from strangulation.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Saturday. I'm Amara Walker in for Christy Paul. President Trump is waking up this morning at his Mar-a- Lago resort in South Florida. The president and first Lady and their son, Baron, arrived late last night.

BLACKWELL: Also, last night, the President signed at $1.4 trillion spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. WALKER: Now, while the President will be on vacation for the next two weeks, his team will spend the holidays prepping for his upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.

BLACKWELL: CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood joins us now from West Palm Beach, Florida. Sarah, good morning to you and President Trump started this, this holiday in -- let's call it a bit of a limbo, how focused will he be? We're hearing from, from those around him on crafting a defense over the break.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Amara. And yes, that's certainly going to be a topic of discussion here in Florida over the holiday break. The President will be well-staffed toward the latter half of his trip hill have his White House Counsel (INAUDIBLE), his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, some other senior staffers here with him.

And there are a lot of decisions to be made about the White House's legal defense over this holiday break, who will be presenting the opening and closing arguments for example, whether there are roles on the team for people outside of the White House, such as the President's fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill.

Sources say, that the White House is considering, perhaps, adding some of the President's conservative allies from the house to that team, but there are also concerns among some of President Trump's aides, that perhaps they could see the president resort to some of his more in his reflexive instincts when it comes to the impeachment trial because of his surroundings here at Mar-a-Lago.

It's a place where some of his more informal advisor, some of his friends have an unusual amount of access to him while he is at his resort here. And President Trump, he initially wanted a longer trial with witnesses. He wanted not just to be acquitted, but to be vindicated by this senate trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted something of a truncated timeline.

He wanted to have a shorter trial believing that that would be better, both for his men -- members and for the President. Trump was starting to come around to that idea, but some White House aides are afraid that the President could resort back to what he wanted in the first place. So, a long trial, a show trial to be convinced of that while he's here at Mar-a-Lago. So, that's just one of the concerns that White House aides have.

But still, preparations are being made to move forward with the trial in early January despite the fact that Speaker Pelosi still holding on to those articles of impeachment. For example, White House Counsel Patsy Baloney was on Capitol Hill yesterday scoping out potential venues, what room the trial might be held in, as well as offices for some of the White House staff who will be stationed over there during the trial, Victor and Amara.

WALKER: And Sarah, we should mention financial aid for Ukraine was a major part of Trump's impeachment inquiry, but it also played a part of the spending bill. So bottom line is: Ukraine getting the aid? WESTWOOD: Well, Amara, it's an interesting question, because in that

spending bill in a draft that the Democrats wanted to insert language that would have required the government to release security to Ukraine within 45 days laying out this specific rapid timeline for the release of Ukrainian aid. White House officials pushed back saying that was an infringement on the President's executive authority to determine the timing of when that aid would be dispersed. So, that's something that the White House ultimately got taken out of the spending bill that the President signed, but certainly was a point of contention during the negotiations over the spending package that Trump signed on his way here to Florida yesterday.

[07:05:10] BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us there in West Palm Beach, thank you.

WALKER: All right. Joining me now is Brittany Shepherd, National Politics Reporter for Yahoo News. Good morning to you, Brittany, thanks for joining us.


WALKER: Good morning. So, let's start with what Sarah was mentioning about, you know, Trump's aides being concerned about these two weeks he's in Mar-a-Lago. Two weeks is a long time to be left to your own thoughts, your own Twitter handle, your own frustrations and having these off the cuff conversations with people around you here at this resort. I mean, how much harm could President Trump do in these two weeks? You know, could he say things that might compromise McConnell's strategy in the Senate?

SHEPHERD: Well, it's definitely possible to0, because also a very long time to be away from your advisor -- advisors and close to your friends who are more, more willing to give you a yes strategy, so kind of going forward. Both the Republican held Senate and the White House have a little bit different idea of what they want the play for a Senate trial to be.

President Trump has said time and time again that he wants of full Senate essentially circus. He wants to call as many people as possible, including potentially calling a whistleblower which would set historic precedents, perhaps for the good or the bad. And he doesn't have someone in his cabinet tab because, well, they're saying, hey, maybe that's not a good idea.

If we look what happened just this week during his campaign rally, we see what happens perhaps from the president who is obviously very frustrated with what's happening in the house, left his own devices, obviously, insulting Debbie Dingles' while husband, (INAUDIBLE) looking up from hell, you know.

There is always a risk for the President to frankly, be himself and in that, perhaps, there are insults know the White House always maintains that the President is a fighter and he will punch back, how effective those punches will be obviously remains to be seen. WALKER: I mean, so clearly, President Trump and the Senate Majority Leader there, there's clearly still at odds as to how this trial is going to play out. I mean, are we talking about a big feud here? I mean, what is this conversation sounding like, between Trump who wants this drawn out flashy product process that he hopes will vindicate him while McConnell saying: no, let's make this quick and easy?

SHEPHERD: Internally, there is something of a family feud. You know, senate --Republican senators, especially McConnell, they do want to have what they believe to be fair, which is to have the articles given over to them as quickly as possible, and kind of get this over with. And you know, they know that they have the votes to vindicate the president, so to speak, so they want to kind of just get that headline and keep going, but the President feels that true vindication for him is weeks and weeks and weeks of headlines and basically reframing the narrative away from what Democrats have established, which is that the President has acted in an unlawful and unconstitutional means. And there is some polling recently this week from morning (INAUDIBLE) that says that, you know, American voters may be side with Pelosi and the Democrats over Senate Republicans.

WALKER: All right, we'll have to leave it there. Brittany Shepherd, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

SHEPHERD: Thank you!

[07:08:18] BLACKWELL: A shooting at a city building leaves two people dead including the gunman. Why police say the shooter targeted the victim?

WALKER: Plus, a TSA whistleblower says changes at U.S. airports may be making you less safe.


WALKER: Police say a gunman specifically targeted a co-worker during a shooting at a municipal building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

BLACKWELL: So, the victim is 48-years-old was killed yesterday. Police say it looks like the two had a long-standing dislike for one another but investigators don't know why. Other workers say they rush to find a place to hide when they heard those gunshots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a scary situation, though. We heard a lot of gunshot. Everybody ran through the building trying to give them the safe place. It went off about 20 minutes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you hide?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 20 some -- garbage cans and in the storage room. It was frightening but an operating guy, you know, died all over.


BLACKWELL: All we know about the shooter right now is that he was 61- years-old. Police say they shot and killed him. An officer and another city employee were also injured in this shooting.

WALKER: So, millions of Americans will fly to their holiday destinations but a TSA whistleblower says airports across the U.S. are not safe.

BLACKWELL: This is an exclusive report, and that whistleblower tells CNN the TSA is relaxing security standards to make lines move faster. Rene Marsh has more.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATOR AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, this TSA whistleblowers coming forward because he says the concern, he raised over the last couple of years have not been addressed. To put it simply, he says the agency is putting speed over security. He says the TSA officers on the front lines are not to blame. The screening changes, he says, have come from TSA leadership.

[07:13:15] More than 40 million U.S. airline passengers are expected to go through airport security checkpoints this holiday. But this TSA security director says you may not be as safe as you think.

JAY BRAINARD, FEDERAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, TSA: What they're doing is injecting danger into the system.

MARSH: Jay Brainard is the top TSA official in his state and has been with the agency for 17 years. All right, he says, TSA is cutting corners on the screening process to shorten wait times. One example: TSA, reduce the sensitivity on all walk-through metal detectors at airports across America.

BRAINARD: They're reducing the concentration of metal that it would take to set off that alarm, so that you can speed up lines and have your pad down.

MARSH: How do you know that's why they did it?

BRAINARD: Because there's a memo that supports that.

MARSH: This TSA memo shows the order came in 2013: "Changing all walk-through metal detector settings in all lanes to the TSA pre-check setting to normalize the passenger experience. Brainard says, the practice continues today and he worries bomb making components could go undetected.

BRAINARD: You could have a 30-minute wait time and they treat it like it's a national emergency. That is such an unhealthy obsession of plating -- placing speed over security.

MARSH: Brainard says, that obsession also led the TSA to disable technology on x-ray machines that screen carry-on bags and precheck lanes. This internal memo states as of last month, those X ray machines should be operated without the auto detection algorithm enabled.

BRAINARD: Put simply when, when the item comes through, a box will come around and surround the item it says: hey, stop and take a look at this. That box is no longer on the screen. TSA has made changes to the settings, which really hamper the ability of the x-ray operator to detect explosives in carry-on baggage.

MARSH: But TSA will say this is pre-check.

BRAINARD: They have been putting millions of passengers into TSA pre- check who are at pre-check. So, you do not have an entire population in pre-check that are vetted.

MARSH: CNN put this to TSA Administrator David Perkoske. He said, the agency is not prioritizing wait times over security.

DAVID PERKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: I won't discuss any of our particular security procedures because that's really not appropriate for me to do. But rest assured that we do provide the level of security that we think is appropriate based on the risk of the passenger.

MARSH: Brainard says the issues he's raised are especially problematic for an agency with a 95 percent failure rate in detecting dangerous items at the checkpoint. That's according to a government audit in 2015. Another audit two years later found there were still vulnerabilities.

BRAINARD: When you sit back and you watch these things happen, it is the most frustrating thing you can imagine.

MARSH: Going public is his last resort. He's filed an official whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. He sent complaints to DHS, TSA and sent letters to Congress. Not just about the metal detectors, but also the x-ray machines, a policy change allowing some passengers with medical devices to do a self-pat down and a new policy called "blended lanes," where precheck and standard passengers are mixed in one line, something that could confuse screeners.

BRAINARD: They now have to mentally switch themselves on and off about what's permitted, what's not permitted with every other passenger. You know, the last time I checked, our detection rates were not stellar. And it doesn't make any sense to introduce this kind of variable.

MARSH: Last year, the special council order DHS to investigate Brainard's complaints writing, there is a substantial likelihood that the information provided to OSC discloses gross mismanagement, and specific danger to public safety.

BRAINARD: My biggest fear is having something happened that costs American lives and I didn't step up and put a stop to it, or at least try because it's going to happen. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when. We are long overdue for another attack.

MARSH: TSA did take action on one of Brainard's complaints. He says, they continue to use an ineffective test to determine if new hires were colorblind, a disqualifying medical condition even after concerns about the test's effectiveness were raised.

BRAINARD: If you had something in a bag and if somebody were colorblind, they wouldn't see the bomb if it were the only thing in the bag.

MARSH: TSA is now using a new test for new hires. But according to this TSA memo, the agency will not finish retesting the existing workforce until the end of next year. Brainard knows despite whistleblower protections, and consistent top ratings on his TSA performance evaluations, speaking out could cost him his job.

BRAINARD: And I fully expect that the first discussion that they're going to have is how they can fire me.

MARSH: But he believes these issues are too urgent to keep quiet. To be clear, no changes have been made to the body scanners that travelers go through. Now, CNN reached out to both agencies investigating Brainard's complaints, but no comment from either. Brainard has secured a whistleblower attorney in response to the complaints raised in our story. The head of TSA told me that whistleblowers and I'm quoting: "provide a very valuable service, and it's our responsibility to fully investigate those concerns to see if they represent a valid security risk or not." But the TSA says they have not completed their assessment. Renee Marsh, CNN, Washington.


[07:18: 37] BLACKWELL: Still to come, we've got new national polling that suggests the Democrats' lead over President Trump is getting smaller. I'll ask our panel of Democratic panelists why.


BLACKWELL: 22 minutes after the hour, the DNC is raising the bar for the next Democratic presidential debate. To participate in the January primary debate, this is an Iowa candidate will either need to receive five percent in at least for DNC approved national or early state polls, or receive seven percent into early state polls. Now, for the fundraising threshold, candidates need to receive donations from at least 225,000 unique donors and a minimum of 1000 donors in at least 20 states; and candidates have until January 10th to qualify.

[07:23:05] Right now, reportedly, only five candidates are expected to make the cut. One, Pete Buttigieg, South Bend Mayor, he took a lot of heat from rivals after this week's presidential debate. But he says this is all fair game.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I certainly think that now is not a time for these kinds of purity tests to distract from what it is we're all trying to do. And at the same time, I get that debate is a place for us to hash out these differences and a fair game for us to each have to stand and defend what we believe.


BLACKWELL: With me now to discuss is CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers. Bakari endorsed Senator Kamala Harris' campaign. And Democratic Strategist Robert Zimmerman. Robert is a DNC Committee Member. Gentlemen, welcome back.



BLACKWELL: Bakari, let me start with you. And I've discussed this with Robert in the past but for you, after all we heard about the wine cave during the debate, do primary voters really choose someone over Mayor Buttigieg because of how he raises his money. Is that really a motivator for voters?

SELLERS: Well, I think now -- I think the wine cave and going down that road and by the way, I had been in a white wine cave is pretty cool. But actually, going down that road, I don't think it's very useful for voters. Many voters simply don't care. Do they care how you're raising your money? I think that that does weigh on some voters. But the purity test that people are trying to place on, on Mayor Pete and others is simply not only is it not fair, but it's impractical.

We can't beat Donald Trump with small donors alone. I know that my Twitter is going to blow up, but thinking that we, we can simply raise enough money $27.00 at a time to beat the war chest that Donald Trump and the Republicans have accumulated is just not, not reality.

BLACKWELL: Robert, let me stay with fundraising but from a different angle here and the fundraising's threshold, we could put the full screen back up to get into the January debate. These thresholds, candidates sent a letter to the DNC saying that they "unintended result does not live up to the values of the Democratic Party." You're a member of the DNC. What's your defense for those candidates who say this is a list of artificial rules that should not be in place?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, when the rules were drafted, that wasn't the concern. The concern, of course, was you had 24 candidates on the stage, and the greatest objection you heard from candidates from Democrats around the country is how do you narrow the field to have a real debate about issues? How do you, in fact, determine who are the candidates, who are the most credible and the people who have -- who can build the strongest campaigns? That was the strategy.

Looking for a minimum of five percent in polling, I don't think is a very onerous task. And having a broad base of support through donors is also critical. We're just talking about the fact the need to build a strong donor base is very important. So, I think it's not a perfect system. But the real reality we have to deal with this now, we're within a year of with less than a year from the election. February 3rd is the Iowa caucus, we have to now start, in fact, creating a real substantive debate amongst candidates who are able to compete.

BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here because you are a DNC committee member, you say it's not a perfect system, would you support a change for the January debate?

ZIMMERMAN: At this stage? I would not. I don't think it's really fair to change the rules in the mid -- really, towards the end of the process. This the seventh debate. And I am concerned about the fact that some people feel they're not included, but there's been ample opportunity now through seven debates for 24 candidates to build their base of support build strength and stature. And their -- look, let's face it, this is a still a process where every candidate even if they're not in the debate can still be in the primaries and caucuses.


SELLERS: Actually, I agree with him. It's very difficult.

ZIMMERMAN: Don't sound so shocked, Bakari.

SELLERS: No, I'm not. Great minds think alike on this Saturday morning. Look, I actually think that we're too far along the process; you don't change the rules in the middle of the game. I honestly think Tom Perez doesn't get enough credit for what is a purely thankless job. Now, I -- of course, we have problems with the optics, we have more billionaires and black people on the stage, that that is a problem. However, I do believe that the way that we process this now, going from a massive field of 70-some odd candidates down to four or five, the process is playing out the way it should.

BLACKWELL: Robert --

ZIMMERMAN: Let me make a point.


ZIMMERMAN: Our process with diversity is not just with the candidates on the stage, it's with it -- I think Steve Phil was part of this several weeks ago, need to train and recruit and develop more diversified candidates from local office to national.

BLACKWELL: Yes, investing in the next generation of governors and senators who will be prepared to run for office. Robert, let me come to you on this new CNN poll out this weekend. It shows that in the battleground states, and that's the 15 states that were decided by 88 points or fewer this in 2016. The margins have tightened in head to head with the top four Democrats in the race. The President is either within the margin of error or just outside to his benefit. What's going on here?

[07:28:11] ZIMMERMAN: You know, that poll doesn't concern me. What concerns me is that any Democrat would be shocked by that. We are taking on the one of the certainly one of the most corrupt president in history, who -- let's face it, his the good ones on this team are on parole, and he's got unlimited money and will go to any bottom to try to build support. So, it's a tough challenge.

The fact that we are this competitive in battleground states with an economy that many people say in the polls is doing well speaks to not just the resonance of Democrats and the strength of our message, but shows the potential to win. I also want to point out the Wall Street Journal to the poll that showed 48 percent vote of voters polled are committed to voting against Donald Trump. A lot of material for us to work with.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Bakari, I follow you on Twitter and correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be impressed by Senator Klobuchar's performance in the debate this week. She's trying to own that that Midwestern lane fighting with Mayor Buttigieg for that, but we talked a lot about his challenge of getting support from non-white voters. But the latest poll, the CNN poll shows that she is at two percent -- this is the Quinnipiac poll. But the CNN poll shows is she's at two percent, less than one percent nationally from the latest Pew poll, and the South Carolina poll under one percent. Has shown the same effort to try to grow those numbers as we've seen from the mayor?

SELLERS: Well, there are a couple of things -- that was a loaded question. One, I thought she did really well in the debate. She had a lot of swag when she came on stage. And I actually thought that she won the debate, that that's first.

However, I mean, when you look at that stage, I mean, I treat it like a really bad spades and it's like one in a possible of individuals who can actually go out and secure African American votes. That's Joe Biden, being the one in the possible being Bernie Sanders. The other individuals on those -- on that stage, the other four, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang just hadn't shown the ability, the relationships to garner that essential support. We were talking about the poll earlier.


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The fact is, what I focus on is a member of the Democratic Party and winning this next election, is there were 4 million who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 who did not show up to the post in 2016. I bet 4 million over a third were African-American.

I'm not sure that Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, or Andrew Yang are the people that you need to drive that out right now, and they haven't shown the ability to do so.

So, they may win Iowa, they may win New Hampshire, but that's it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Bakari Sellers, Robert Zimmerman, good to have you.

ZIMMERMAN: Merry Christmas.

SELLERS: Thank you. BLACKWELL: You too.

SELLERS: Merry Christmas.

WALKER: Attempted murder charges have been filed after a driver intentionally ran over a 14-year-old girl. The stunning admission she gave police. "THE LEGAL BRIEF" with Joey Jackson is up next.



BLACKWELL: Police in Texas have identified the body of a woman found in a Houston area home as Heidi Broussard. Investigators say her infant daughter was found alive and healthy, but they're waiting on a DNA test to confirm her identity. The two went missing on December 12th.

Police have now arrested a woman after being led to a home in the Houston area. And she faces two charges of kidnapping, one charge of tampering with a corpse. Officials say more charges may be filed.

WALKER: In Iowa, a woman is facing attempted murder charges after intentionally hitting a young girl with her car. She then told investigators that she ran over the 14-year-old because she was a Mexican. The young woman says she doesn't remember the impact.

Let's discuss. CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joe Jackson joining me now to talk more about this. Good morning to you, Joey.


WALKER: This is such an appalling story. And apparently, this woman even told police after -- I mean, she was making derogatory comments about Latinos. So, we just said that she's been charged with attempted murder. Will there be paid crime charges on top of that?

JACKSON: I do think so. Amara, good to be with you. And I think it's important to keep a couple of things in mind. I mean, one is obviously -- and even before that, we should say that the basis of her capture in detention was that she was in jail already. Having been there and been locked up for assault charges predicated upon her being at a convenience store, and abusing and throwing out racial and ethnic slurs to other people. So, that's how she was there in the first instance.

So, now, she is there, and then, of course, police are investigating the nature of this hit and run. We should keep in mind that the Mexican girl we're talking about is 14 years old and that she had to go onto the sidewalk to hit her.

And then, of course, we know that when you're talking about attempted murder, it's an intentional crime, right? So, if you can establish intent and you could establish that was the basis and reason for someone doing something, you get to those charges. As to your point about the hate crime, yes. Hate crimes, of course, as we know, and thank goodness, throughout the country, 46 states have hate crime legislation which allows and operates either, a, as an independent charges it does in Iowa. Or as an enhancement. Meaning, what you do the hate crime is factored into it.

And so, I think she will receive accountability based upon the hate crime. And I think it also goes to make it easier for prosecutors to demonstrate her motivations. And so, by any stretch of the measure, I think accountability is coming to this woman, and it's certainly despicable that some would act in such away.

WALKER: Absolutely. And thank goodness, this 14-year-old girl is alive. She's doing OK, well enough to tell the local media that -- you know, she remembers the car coming towards her and she was just walking to a basketball game, and that she just didn't deserve this, clearly, obviously.

JACKSON: Exactly, right.

WALKER: OK. So, moving on to our next case, you have this wife of a U.S. diplomat who's been charged with causing the death of a British teenager. Harry Dunn died when his motorcycle collided within Sacoolas' car back in August.

Now, the wife of this U.S. diplomat claimed diplomatic immunity and left the country after the accident. On Friday, the U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service said they are starting extradition proceedings.

Obviously, the family of this young man who died on the motorbike, they're obviously welcoming this.

But Joey, I mean, do you think the U.S. will abide by this extradition? I mean, will they extradite this woman to the U.K.?

JACKSON: Yes, it's a great question, Amara. And I think there are significant challenges there. I think we have to remember that there is this issue called immunity. And diplomatic immunity, of course, applies not only to diplomats who were in another country, but it applies to their families.

There are certainly issues centering around whether this particular person who was her husband, who was the diplomat was properly registered, whether there were any anomalies or issues with the paperwork.

But I think, by all means, the diplomatic immunity, which means that you cannot be prosecuted or otherwise sued would apply. And so, in essence, yes, we see that she has been charged.

The issue to your point is whether that charge will actually be adjudicated -- would be tried, right? And so, the fact is, is that this is more of a political issue and less of a legal one now to the extent that the State Department has it, the State Department, Amara, you know, is issued a statement saying they were disappointed at the charging decision predicated upon essentially the law, the diplomatic immunity.

And so I think extradition will be difficult. You might recall the family met with Trump, obviously, the family is really shaken.


JACKSON: You know, they want to move forward. They want some measure of relief, but to get her extradited, I think, maybe highly problematic.

WALKER: But this was a hit and run, right. I mean, she left the scene and left the country.

JACKSON: So yes, the issue is, is that it was allegedly a hit and run, and she did, in fact. She was in the country for three weeks, she did leave the country, but that in and of itself would not otherwise serve to sever the tie of diplomatic immunity unless a waiver by the United States is issued. That's what they have to work on. That's a political process.


JACKSON: The issue was highly unlikely as to whether it be issued.

WALKER: All right, Joey Jackson, we'll live it there. Thank you so much.


JACKSON: Appreciate you.

BLACKWELL: Up next to "CNN EXCLUSIVE". New Document show a secret collaboration between Alaska's governor and a mining company to strip away environmental protections. How does the governor explain what CNN discovered?


WALKER: Alaska's governor ran on the slogan, Alaska is open for business.

BLACKWELL: Well, new evidence uncovered by CNN, indicates the governor's office went further than welcoming new business. It was secretly working with a mining company to accomplish the company's goals.

WALKER: CNN's Drew Griffin has this exclusive story.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: When the Trump administration's EPA removed the special protections on this pristine part of Alaska last summer, locals and environmentalists were shocked.

The company that wants to build a copper and gold mine here was overjoyed. Now, documents obtained by CNN reveal that the Pebble Mine company was secretly coaching Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's office in how to influence the Trump administration to make a decision in the company's favor.


GRIFFIN: In e-mail after e-mail, Pebble provides the governor's office with ghostwritten letters, talking points for communications with the EPA, with the Vice President's Office, and to a potential investor in the mine.

Joel Reynolds with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says Governor Dunleavy essentially became a lobbyist for Pebble Mine.

JOEL REYNOLDS, SENIOR ATTORNEY, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: These are the kinds of activities that a company typically pays somebody on their staff to do. But in this case, they're working directly with the, the, the governor and his staff to accomplish the goals of the company.

GRIFFIN: Most striking of all, this April 26th letters sent by the governor to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking the Corps to end a public comment period on an environmental study.

Pebble staff wrote it first. Here is Pebble's ghostwritten letter for the governor. Right next to the letter, the governor actually sent to the Army Corps. Compared side by side, the highlighted sections show the letters are nearly identical.

Reynolds who represents one of many environmental groups suing to stop the mine is appalled.

REYNOLDS: Essentially, the governor has become a puppet for Pebble.

GRIFFIN: The documents also include two other examples. Letters from the governor that appear to have been copy and pasted from language provided by Pebble. Pebble even dictated the talking points for the governor's staff to use in a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency.

When CNN asked for comment, even their responses were similar. With Pebble saying, "It's not unusual for interested parties to suggest language to elected officials." And the governor's office, saying, "It is common practice for an administration to request briefing materials on a specific project."

Pebble's communication with the governor's office happened at a crucial time for the company. The company was desperate to overturn a virtual block on mining by the EPA to protect one of the world's last and largest wild salmon spawning areas.

Pebble needed the Trump administration to remove that protection. And the company was so confident it was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just got off the Air Force One with the --

GRIFFIN: The day before the governor met with President Trump aboard Air Force One, it sent to governor's office this draft press release, which hailed the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency in advance. Though Pebble says it did not receive any information about a pending EPA decision.

The governor did meet with the President and they did discuss mining, and the EPA did make an announcement on June 26, but not entirely to remove the environmental protection.

And in furious e-mails, a Pebble official tells the governor's aid, the EPA announcement sends the market a screaming message that EPA may still kill the project. And that Pebble can't raise the money it needs. This announcement was worse than doing nothing.

Pebble asks for immediate intervention, a presidential tweet or try to get the EPA to reverse position. Reminding the governor's staff and another e-mail, the EPA's lack of cooperation contradicts everything the governor was promised last week by the President.

As CNN reported the very next day, EPA Trump appointees did reverse course. Told its top staff in Seattle, the withdrawal of protections is now a done deal. One top EPA official telling CNN, "We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen."

A month later, the EPA made that secret decision official. Giving the mining company the win it needed.


GRIFFIN: In response to this report, Alaska's governor didn't answer a single question. Only giving CNN a statement saying, he supports mining.

But the CEO of Pebble Mine, Tom Collier, met with us, personally distressed two things. First, that he and his company had no advanced knowledge of decisions made by the EPA. And second, in his view, he says it's fairly normal to have these types of communications, even to the point of writing draft letters for the governor to edit and sign.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

WALKER: Wow! Incredible reporting there, by Drew Griffin.

Next, who done it? In Massachusetts, toys go missing from a police charity drive until officers catch an insider in the act.


BLACKWELL: Also, remember to ring in 2020 with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. "NEW YEAR'S EVE." "NEW YEAR'S EVE" live begins at 8:00 p.m. on CNN.


BLACKWELL: Two us service academies have determined that some cadets and midshipmen were not making racist hand gestures at last weekend's Army-Navy Game. The Naval Academy and West Point launched internal investigations after the students were caught on camera, making the gestures. The school say the students were playing the circle game and involves forming the OK symbol, then, punching someone if they're caught looking at it. But that same gesture has also been used to symbolize white power.

WALKER: Beware, thieves are out on the prowl looking to steal holiday packages from your doorstep.

One thief in Glendale, California was in for a surprise when he tried to steal a package from someone's porch, and their neighbor intervened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop! What was that bag? Right now. We gotten your license plate. Put it back now.



WALKER: Wow, that's a nice neighbor. The man does what he's told, as you see. Puts the package right back and then runs off.


SHANNON BRANDON, NEIGHBOR, GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA: Those people were carried, that was probably Christmas present for their kids, and you know, no, it's not right.


WALKER: Needless to say the neighbor received their package and is grateful for the neighborhood watch.

BLACKWELL: Note to my neighbors.

Watch the part.


BLACKWELL: A surprise culprit was caught on camera, stealing donated toys from inside a police station. Ben Franklin, Franklin, Massachusetts Police Department therapy dog, and the department's most wanted toy thief.

Offices, tapes been leading them on a very low-speed chase and straight to a stash. Luckily, his handlers say he's normally a very good boy, he will not face any charges.

WALKER: How cute is that dog? That is one of the cutest I've seen in a while.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's -- WALKER: There's a lot of this to tell you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump's impeachment right now hanging in the balance.

PELOSI: We impeach the president immediately. Everybody was on to the next thing. The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to wait?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as it takes.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What they're proposing is incredibly dangerous. You can't be Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this TSA whistleblowers coming forward because he says the agency is putting speed over security.