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Aides Worry Guests or Outsiders Will Influence Trump During Holidays; TSA Whistleblower Claims U.S. Airports Becoming Unsafe; Democrats And The White House Prepares For Senate Trial Despite Standoff; Pentagon On Alert Amid Signs North Korea May Conduct Another Test; President Trump Signs Defense Bill Creating U.S. Space Force. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 21, 2019 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impeach the President Immediately the next thing for us will be when we see all the process that set forth in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as it is.

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 teasing whistleblower comes 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 in the trunk of her friend's car, Heidi Broussard, dead from strangulation.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: Top of the hour now, always good to be with you on a Saturday morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: Happy Saturday and Amara Walker in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is this morning at his Mara-a-Lago Resort in South Florida for a two-week holiday break. WALKER: The President, First Lady and their son Barren arrived in Florida late last night.

BLACKWELL: And he avoided a government shutdown yesterday by signing a $1.4 trillion spending bill.

WALKER: The President may be officially on vacation, but his team will be prepping for the expected Senate impeachment trial during this holiday break.

BLACKWELL: And despite this volatile week, during which the President was impeached, President Trump did accept an invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give the State of the Union address in early February.

WALKER: CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood joining us now from West Palm Beach, Florida. So Sarah, President Trump begins his holiday in impeachment limbo, but he is also preparing as we were saying for a Senate trial that could happen in January.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Amara and Victor. That is something that he and his aides will be discussing over the course of the two weeks that he'll be spending here in West Palm Beach because there are a lot of unanswered questions about what shape that defense will take heading into an impeachment trial that is expected to take place sometime in January.

Still, despite the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at this moment is holding on to the articles of impeachment, White House aides have to work out who exactly will be delivering the opening and closing arguments whether there is a role on that team for someone outside of the White House perhaps or some of the President's conservative allies in the House.

But there are also concerns among the President's aides that the duration of this trip could affect how the President receives preparations for his Senate trial at Mar-a-Lago? As we've discussed, the President is able to talk to a lot of his friends, a lot of his informal advisers. They have an unusual amount of access to the President at his resort and some White House officials told CNN that they're concerned that some of those people might be able to influence the President's decisions about this trial.

For example the President had previously expressed an interest in having a theatrical trial in the Senate. He did not just want to be acquitted, he wants to be vindicated. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been able to convince President Trump that a shorter trial with no live witnesses could be in his best interest and in the best interests of Senate Republicans. There are some concerns among White House aides though Amara and Victor that perhaps this time at Mar-a-Lago could un-due the President's decision on that front.

BLACKWELL: Sarah, before you go, let's talks about this spending bill. $1.4 trillion gets the government through September but the President I mean, no one gets everything they want in these negotiations. What was left on the table? WESTWOOD: Well, certainly the White House wanted to see more in terms of border wall funding that what ended up in this bill. They wanted to see more than $8 billion in funding for the construction of a boarder wall. House Democrats did allow the funding to stay at current level so the administration will get about $1.4 billion to continue building the wall.

There were some progressives who saw that as too big a concession from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There are some things that both sides are touting as a win. For example, the fact that this bill will include pay raises for military and civilian federal workers, the fact that it will provide some funding for election security grants and for gun violence research so some things that both sides can be happy about.

There was also a dispute about language that House Democrats wanted to include in the bill that would force the White House to adhere to a strict timeline in terms of releasing security assistance to Ukraine. White House officials were able to successfully negotiate that out of the spending bill Victor and Amara.

WALKER: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you live for us there from West Palm Beach.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev, White House Editor for AXIOS. Margaret, welcome back.


BLACKWELL: I'm well. Hope you are, too. Let's start here and Leader McConnell on Thursday before the recess began said that he's not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending the Senate something that they do not want. His play here, I mean, he ignored a Supreme Court nominee for almost a year for the rest of a term.

Holidays now have come upon the country is split on impeachment. You'll turn to 2020 at some point. Is it plausible that he just holds out and that Pelosi will not get the concessions?


TALEV: Yes, it is plausible. But Nancy Pelosi I think is playing sort of a couple of threads at the same time. One is to try to get the Senate to make some concessions the Democrats want in terms of witnesses. But the other is to sort of let the President stew a little bit and let things settle.

The Democrats, I think, have been a little bit concerned, probably, about the fact that the American public wants to move on from impeachment and that some of the President's support has been shifting back towards the President on this issue and I think they understand that this is a period of time where they have very little to lose by saying we're not going to just expedite this over to the Senate when McConnell and Graham have both said we've made up our minds, we're ready to move on very quickly. I think McConnell and Graham were doing that to try to send the President a signal to say let's move this quickly. You don't have to worry, we're going to take care of this, but they opened up a gap that forced Democrats to say, wait a second, you're supposed to be impartial. So that is kind of the holding period that we're in right now.

But most people think that Nancy Pelosi is not prepared to hold this out indefinitely that what happens between now and the winter holidays, at some point they'll come back in January and move forward.

BLACKWELL: Is there some anxiety from those purple districts from those Trump districts Democrats who - I mean, the vote for impeachment was theirs but some anxiety that this strategy from Pelosi will hurt them?

TALEV: Yeah. A lot of that anxiety was dealt with before the vote. Everyone sort of cast their lot and now they own it. I think if this process dragged on for months, if it was summertime and the House was still holding up those impeachment articles, you might have a real situation like that.

But if this is a matter of waiting three or four weeks instead of one or two weeks, I can't imagine that is going to have much of an impact. By the time voters are voting, they might be thinking more about the economy or who the Democratic nominee is for President.

BLACKWELL: So let's wait from some of those vulnerable Democrats to the vulnerable Republicans especially in the Senate. Leader Schumer, obviously, Democrats do not have the majority, but can force a vote on some of those witnesses, some of those documents. What is the potency of just getting those vulnerable Republicans who are up in 2020 to say no?

TALEV: Yeah. That's part of this calculation in terms of trying to get some of the Democratic terms witnesses and so on and so forth. I don't think the Democrats expect at this point, unless there are some major new revelation over the break that they're going to peel off that many Republicans who would then vote for impeachment or against acquittal.

But there are questions about whether Senators like maybe Susan Collins or Cory Gardner will be bound by process questions. In other words, that their voters would want to say that they took the process seriously, that they wanted time for a deliberation rather than just to expedite this and get it over with. That is where Democrats have some of this leverage right now.

BLACKWELL: We know that House Democratic staff, they are working over the break. We'll see what happens when everyone comes back in January. Margaret Talev always good to have you.

TALEV: Thanks very much.

WALKER: According to AAA, a record number of Americans, more than 115 million, will take planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from their holiday destinations over the next ten days. BLACKWELL: That is the highest number since AAA started tracking holiday travel almost 20 years ago. And a lot of people will be running into some terrible weather.

WALKER: Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us live from the CNN Weather Center with what you need to know if you're going to be traveling. Hey, Ally.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. And we're not just talking air travel. We're also talking people that are going to be traveling on the roadways, even if it's a short trip. One to two hours, may be to your end destination. If it's in a couple portions of the country, you could be dealing with a much longer trip than you anticipated.

Here is a look at the live rates, are you starting to notice this low pressure system. This is the one that is really going to develop and take shape later on today. And then it's going to start to push inland taking with it all of that moisture, meaning heavy rainfall across portions of the southeast.

And here is what we're talking about notice again as we push late Saturday into Sunday, look into to a lot of those heavy rain bands because also notice the storm doesn't really move all that much in 48 hours. That allows it plenty of time to dump a tremendous amount of rain. How much rain? Widespread about 2 to 4 inches but you're going to have some spots that could pick up 5, 6 if not even as much as 8 inches of rain before this system finally does exit.

We're not just talking Florida, but the Carolinas, Georgia, even across portions of Alabama and Mississippi. This is not good for travelers. Again here is a look as that progresses into late Sunday and then notice it becomes more of an issue for the Carolinas and even Virginia as we head into Monday.

But another area that we're also looking at travel concerns, that's going to be on the West Coast. Look at how much rain has already fallen across portions of Washington State 7, 8, 9 inches of rain. You also have areas of Oregon that have picked up 5 to 6 inches of rain.


CHINCHAR: The concern, that's enough to trigger flooding alone. But we also have more rain that's going to fall. So you have flood watches in effect for both Washington and Oregon. The other concern is that system is going to start to push that moisture south as we go through the day today. So now Northern California also has the potential to pick up significant amounts of heavy rain.

We're talking cities like San Francisco, even Sacramento so if you have some travel plans Victor and Amara to any one of these places here or even in the southeast, please check with your air carrier or may be just pack some patients if you're on the roadways in the next couple of days.

BLACKWELL: We'll do Allison Chinchar, thank you.

CHINCHAR: Thank you.

WALKER: A whistleblower claims that the TSA is focusing on speed instead of security. Is that an opening for terrorists and putting you and millions of other travelers at risk? We will ask an aviation and transportation expert.

BLACKWELL: Also, the Pentagon is on alert for signs North Korea may deliver that Christmas gift that they promised. They've been threatening to send the U.S. that for some time, plus their new warning, that's next.


WALKER: A whistleblower tells CNN in an exclusive report that the TSA is so focused on speeding up security lines that it's listening security and putting you at risk every time you fly.

BLACKWELL: The whistleblower claims that TSA has made several changes reducing the sensitivity on walk through metal detectors which he says could let bomb components 3D weapons and other suspicious items pass through which is one of them.


BLACKWELL: The whistleblower also says the TSA has told officer to keep conveyer belts moving in pre-check lines which could affect their ability to spot questionable items in bags.

WALKER: Let's discuss now with Mary Schiavo, CNN Transportation Analyst and Former Inspector General for the U.S. Transportation Department. Mary, it's so unsettling to hear about these shortcuts. It's the holiday season a lot of people are travelling. In general, more people are traveling than ever on airplanes. And you say that these are the kinds of security shortcuts at airports that led to 9/11. Are we safe?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: No, not when this is the attitude and this is what's happening at security. This is exactly the lead up to September 11, 2001. Of course remember back then, the airlines were responsible for security. They did it through contractors which they hired.

But I was Inspector General in years that in the 90s and of course we did test all over the country and the failure rates at checkpoints were 95, in some cases 100 percent. A few airports were good. But what happens next with the TSA is going to determine the safety of the American public and that is the response of the TSA to these disclosures.

Now these whistleblower disclosures are very important, but they should be used to beef up security. Back in 2001, in the lead up to September 11, of course, the same thing happened. There were great problems disclosed, the media covered them, but the airlines didn't respond properly and the hijackers which we learned in the litigation of September 11 were watching the response and what would happen when these short comings in security were disclosed? The hijackers tested the airports in May. In September, we had the attack.

WALKER: Wow! Okay. You would think that we would learn from this and never have lack security procedures. So one of the things from Renee Marsh's report is that these walk through metal detectors at all U.S. airports have been switched to a reduced sensitivity setting what exactly does that mean and what kind of items would be missed under these settings?

SCHIAVO: What that means is they've turned down how frequently the system, the walk through metal detectors will alarm. In other words, it's not as sensitive as it would be otherwise. If it was at the levels where they have - and remember, these levels are set by testing and by design. They set the levels to test certain kinds of items.

They don't set them randomly. So if you turn down the sensitively level, you know for example even perhaps small knives could get through. It's very important. So the more you turn them down, the more metal that can get through the detector.

WALKER: So you were on the Litigation Council for the families of the passengers who passed away during the 9/11 attacks. And you learned a lot of things about how terrorists operate? How they actually carefully watch and test the security systems and look for flaws and weaknesses? So I guess the terrorists, you think, are, if not now, are aware of these lax security measures and can take advantage of it at any time?

SCHIAVO: That's right. One of the things that was so interesting working on the September 11 cases for 12 years of my life was that we learned and I literally read every document about how the terrorists went through the security and what was astonishing in some ways but simple in another is they walked right through the security checkpoints with knives, pepper spray and box cutters.

And all of those items were forbidden and we actually had video, for example, of them going through the check points. And so knowing, of course, in retrospect that they have these items in their carry ones and in persons, what had happened was the system had been set to a level and in some cases it simply was not working where it would not pick up any of these items.

So that's why it's so important that you just don't decide to change the security settings to reduce wait times because what does that mean? It means the system isn't alarming because you're not checking items.

WALKER: And just quickly, in one sense answer Mary if you can I mean, this is an urgent situation. We want to see changes at the airports. How quickly will we see changes, do you think?

SCHIAVO: Well, this is up to the TSA. What the TSA says and does next will literally determine the safety of the United States of America for the coming years because this is something that the terrorists watch and they must respond forcefully and reassure the screeners and the traveling public that they will be backed up when they find alarms and they enforce security. WALKER: Absolutely.

SCHIAVO: TSA holds are safety.

WALKER: They sure do. Mary Schiavo, I appreciate joining us. Thank you.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Police say they found the body of a missing mother in Houston along with a baby girl who is still alive. What we know about the suspect, next.



BLACKWELL: The full House voted to impeach President Trump on two articles this week abuse of power and obstruction of Congress but there's a standoff now between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Speaker has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate and that raises the question that some are considering this weekend and I'll put it to my guest has the President been impeached?

I'm joined now by Janna Ellis, a Senior Legal Adviser to the Trump 2020 Campaign and Attorney to President Trump and Stephen Griffin, Professor of Constitutional Law at Tulane University. Welcome to both of you.



BLACKWELL: So, Jenna, let me start with you because there is the reporting from CBS News and others this weekend that the White House is considering arguing now that the President really has not been impeached because the Speaker has not sent the articles over to the Senate and they lean on this op-ed from Noah Feldman in Bloomberg. Let's put it up here.

He says impeachment as contemplated by the constitution does not consistent merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial. Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the constitution. So you're here representing the campaign. You advise the campaign. Has the President been impeached?


ELLIS: I think it's fair to say that he hasn't. And I would agree with my colleague who, let's remember, the Democrats called in as their constitutional law expert. And let's remember according to the constitution, the Senate has sole power to try impeachments and it's the Chief Justice, not the Speaker of the House that provides over that trial.

So either one of two options is going on here either there is one additional step before the Senate has jurisdiction for that trial and so it is fair and accurate to say that the President has not been impeached yet, or Nancy Pelosi is not actually transmitting the articles and she should and she's actually obstructing the Senate here.

So either way, I think the American people are seeing that this is just merely a political tactic from Nancy Pelosi and they're getting tired of it because let's remember that justice delayed is justice denied.

BALCKWELL: So Stephen, let me come to you. If the constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House, why is anything that happens in the Senate part of the conversation about whether the President has been impeached? And the question directly to you, has President Trump been impeached?

GRIFFIN: Constitutional scholars have been discussing this. And I think on balance Professor Feldman is wrong. But it doesn't really matter. Any problem can be cured as soon as Speaker Pelosi sends the managers over to the Senate to start the trial. I think Speaker Pelosi cleared up matters in her second statement saying this is not a matter of not being impeached.

This is a matter of she would like to wait a bit and name the managers, which I think is a prudent step. But yes, according to the House rules, President Trump has been impeached.

BLACKWELL: Let me stay with you, Stephen, and this holding of the articles, we've had hear from Speaker Pelosi saying that she wants to see the process before she assigns the managers. But this is what we're hearing from Democratic Senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen on his understanding of why the articles are being held. Watch.


SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D-MD): What Speaker Pelosi is saying is that she won't transfer the articles of impeachment until we get assurances that there will be a fair trial.


BLACKWELL: Why does the Senate owe the House any assurances?

GRIFFIN: Well, I think here that Speaker Pelosi doesn't have as much leverage as she might think. The trial rules are really up to the Senate, which really means it's up to Senator McConnell as long as he can hold his caucus together.

However, Speaker Pelosi, there's always going to be a delay. Remember there was a delay, also, in the Clinton impeachment. There, a lot of things were worked out over in fact over the holiday break. Here, that's not going to happen and it is producing a different situation. And I think Speaker Pelosi should take the careful attention to who the House managers are?

But I'm not sure she has any real leverage certainly she doesn't have any constitutional leverage over how the Senate conducts a trial?

BLACKWELL: So, Jenna, let me come back to you. On one of the central points of contention right now, the calling of witnesses, President Trump bemoaned the House process. He claimed that he didn't have the opportunity to represent himself or be represented, although he was asked twice by the Judiciary Committee.

The President tweeted a couple of weeks ago that he would Love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney I should say and many others testify. Now is his chance in a Republican-controlled Senate. Why not?

ELLIS: Well, and I think that the process here is going to be constitutionally determined by the Senate. And so President Trump has been very clear that if this does go forward and has a full trial then he's saying bring it on and has absolutely nothing to hide. And so I think that he will get full and robust due process in the Senate that was denied in the House because let's remember that Adam Schiff did not accept the minority's witnesses.

BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here. I hear what you're saying. I hear what the President is saying. But what we're hearing from Leader McConnell is that he's working in total cooperation with the White House Counsel. And his point and his position is there will be no witnesses. So that begs the question of if the President is a control of the strategy coming from the White House, but also--

ELLIS: That's a process question.

BLACKWELL: Why is this White House pushing against having witnesses?

ELLIS: Well, that's a process question. No person who is a defendant in any kind of context that's being accused of anything has any obligation to cooperate with the investigation. They have 5th amendment privileges and have to have a robust due process. So if the Senate decides that there really was not a legitimate basis for this impeachment legally, then having this dismissed almost immediately in a type of summary judgment or motion to dismiss would be legally and constitutionally proper.


ELLIS: So, again, either way, whether or not this is dismissed more immediately in the Senate for lack of any sort of foundation or standard of proof to bring these articles and bring these accusations, that would be legally and constitutionally proper or if we see a full and complete robust trial, then because the Senate has the sole power to try impeachments, I do think that President Trump will see a much more robust due process and he will be looking forward to that. So either way its constitutionally proper.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, weigh in on that justification.

GRIFFIN: Yeah. I think we've reached the nub of the matter, which is that Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats are perhaps afraid. And they should be afraid of some kind of immediate motion to dismiss where they would not get their fair chance to even present their arguments.

I think that would be highly constitutionally questionable. And a motion to dismiss would not be in order. And I think it would cause to Republicans a lot of problems, maybe in the Republican Caucus. So that is going to be where McConnell will be taking very close - paying very close attention to where members of his Caucus are? Are they comfortable with the idea of a motion to dismiss? Constitutionally speaking, I really hope not.

BLACKWELL: Jenna, I was in preparation for this conversation this morning, I was watching the playback of your interview with the former member of Congress who is now a fill in host on Fox News. And you said something that he did not follow up on and I want to get some clarification. I want you to expound on something you said last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jenna, where is this headed? What is going to be the message the Democrats are going to try to squeeze into the general election?

ELLIS: We hate Trump because we hate the American people and we hate our constitution. That's all they're after.


BLACKWELL: Listen, you obviously are a fan of the President. You think he's doing great work and you've got a case to make. But what do you have or know that justifies that Democrats hate America and hate the constitution?

ELLIS: Well, let's look at everything that the Democrat candidates and in context in talking on Hannity last night. That was in the context of the Democratic candidates who are running for President and running on extreme socialist agendas, anti-theatrical to our constitution or standards of liberty and the fact that our government is obligated constitutionally to preserve and protect our limited rights that are pre-political and come from God our creator, not from our government.

So when I say that Democrats hate America, it's that they hate our American values. They don't want to protect the standards of freedom and liberty and certainly both the Democratic candidates as well as Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Majority in the House are not abiding by our constitution.

Going back to the question of impeachment, they are impeaching President Trump merely because they hate him because there is absolutely no standard by which they have passed these articles that would pass legal muster here. That's why a motion to dismiss would be constitutionally proper.

That happens all the time in the context of criminal proceedings when the standard there is convictions similarly as the Senate. And so if we have an article of impeachment that has been passed just because of a vote where there's absolutely no evidence that has been shown, that is the House's responsibility to prosecute. It is not President Trump's responsibility to defend. It is solely the prosecutor that has to make their case.

BLACKWELL: Democrats hate America and hate the constitution. I did not know that you would attempt to defend that, but you did. Jenna Ellis, Stephen Griffin, thank you both.

ELLIS: Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

WALKER: Should the U.S. be expecting a Christmas gift from North Korea? The Pentagon says they are prepared for whatever Pyongyang may do. Plus the country's new warning to the United States, that's 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 were last season together on December 12th.

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

WALKER: This morning, the Pentagon is on alert after North Korea sent a stark warning to the U.S. According to North Korea and the state-run news agency KCNA, the Foreign Ministry says, If the U.S. dares to impair our system by taking issue over the human rights issue, it will be made to pay dearly for such an act.

They're accusing a U.S. State Department official for making what they call reckless remarks about the country. Back in Washington, the Pentagon says they're watching North Korea closely amid signs it may conduct another test, including delivering Christmas gift that Pyongyang officials have promised.

Let's discuss with David Fields, Associate Director at the Center for East Asian Studies. David good morning to you thanks for joining us.


WALKER: I don't want to ask you the obvious question of, hey, you know, what gift do you think is going to come on Christmas day or Christmas week from Kim Jong-Un, but you rightly point out that we should be focusing on all the gifts that President Trump has given the regime and thus have weakened the U.S. position. Tell us more about that.

FIELDS: Sure. In the three face-to-face meetings that have happened between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are just the beginning. Think about where we were in the fall of 2017 when China, Russia, South Korea and Japan were all working together to bring maximum pressure on North Korea and now look at where we are in those relationships now.

The United States is in a very, very bad trade war with China. We're in a contentious dispute over cost sharing measures with South Korea. It's reported that we're going the begin a similar dispute with Japan in the New Year. And Japan and South Korea themselves are having disputes over trade and over intelligence sharing. So the American position in East Asia has been weakened dramatically by the Trump Administration over the last two years.

WALKER: And when it comes directly to North Korea, though, playing nice with Kim Jong-Un clearly hasn't worked.


WALKER: I mean he's gotten three face-to-face meetings, as you mentioned, with President Trump. You know, gained legitimacy on the international stage. So in terms of leverage, I mean, what leverage does President Trump have left when he's given these gifts away? How do you bring North Korea back to the negotiating table?

FIELDS: So there's no obvious solution to dealing with North Korea. But there is an obvious strategy. And that obvious strategy is to make sure that North Korea is not just a bilateral issue between North Korea and the United States. We need to be keeping all of our allies and partners on the same page.

This is an issue that the United States alone does not want to own. We need to make sure that we are sharing resources and we're sharing this burden with other nations. And that's something that every other administration has understood. It's something that Donald Trump has walked away from and something that I hope he'll come back to.

WALKER: NPR spoke with the Former National Security Adviser for Trump, John Bolton, recently. No talk about impeachment, but specifically about North Korea. And John Bolton basically blew off these threats from the regime. Here he is.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR TRUMP: I think part of this may be bluff on their part. They think the President is desperate for a deal. If they put an artificial time constraint on it, they may think they're going to get a better deal. We'll just have to wait and see.


WALKER: Do you agree on that assessment? Do you think North Korea is just bluffing David or do you think you know things are looking so dire and North Korea is so frustrated that they're going to try to send a message with this Christmas gift, whatever that might be?

FIELDS: I think North Korea recognizes that their window of opportunity for dealing with the Trump Administration might be closing. There's not an insignificant chance that he will lose the next election. And Donald Trump has done more than any other American President to create a favorable environment for the North Koreans in international diplomacy.

So I think they're putting some pressure on him now, hoping that they can exploit all the time that they have left if, in fact, Donald Trump would be a one-term President.

WALKER: And John Bolton also talked about the Trump Administration making a big mistake if it keeps refusing to support the members of the UN Security Council who want to hold a discussion on North Korea's abysmal human rights record. This is what North Korea is warning the U.S. about, stop talking about our human rights record.

And President Trump has employed the strategy of got to keep playing nice. Let's tiptoe around North Korea. They hate it when we start looking into their human rights record. What do you make of that strategy?

FIELDS: I think human right is something that we should be talking about with North Korea and we should be talking about it in conjunction with other nations. I think there's no reason to use incendiary rhetoric against the North Koreans, but I think there's also no point in avoiding discussion of the things that they do that are absolutely reprehensible.

Including their human rights records, their -- the way they treat political prisoners and actually the way they use poverty and underdevelopment as a weapon to maintain themselves in power in the north. I think all of those things should be things that should be talked about.

WALKER: David Fields, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

FIELDS: Thank you very much for having me.

WALKER: Sure thing.

BLACKWELL: President Trump signs legislation to create his long promised space force, a new branch for the military. What it means for the future of space exploration, that's ahead.



BLACKWELL: President Trump signed a nearly $1.4 trillion spending package to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. In this package, the newest branch of the military.

WALKER: The U.S. Air Force Space Command was designated, the U.S. Space Force a step White House officials are calling historic. He also signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a pay raise for troops at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about it. CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton is with us. Good morning, Colonel.

COLONEL CEDRICK LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Victor. How are you this morning?

BLACKWELL: I'm doing well. Hope you are, too. Let's start here. When the President first started talking about this at his rallies, there were plenty of people who kind of laughed it off. What is your reaction now to this being an actual new branch?

LEIGHTON: Well, it's real, isn't it, Victor? The idea of a space force has been around for quite a few years before even President Trump came into office. But what we're looking at is a very quick decision to establish a new service, a new military service.

And we haven't done that since 1947 when the air force, my parents' service, was created. And that speaks not only to a desire to do things differently, but also I think it is a reaction to some of the issues that space and missile systems have had within the air force. And by that, I mean all the different things that have happened within the air force that were not necessarily that good. And it's an effort to rectify those kinds of problems.

WALKER: Yesterday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this, our reliance on space based capabilities has grown dramatically and today outer space has evolved into a war fighting domain of its own. So I mean overall do you think this is a big win for the administration?

LEIGHTON: Oh, yes, Amara I do think it is. And the reason it is, you know, Secretary Esper is right in this particular case because what he's talking about is what they call a domain of warfare and that means an area in which we were going to be moving troops. We're going to engage the enemy in space, the Chinese and the Russians have developed anti-satellite capabilities. We have to watch out for what they and other rivals are going to be doing in space and quite frankly we depend on space for communications, for our intelligence efforts.


LEIGHTON: And also for military operations so there are a lot of aspects to this that make a lot of sense and it's going to require a concerted effort to actually get this done and to create a service is one way to do that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Colonel Cedric Leighton, always good to have your insight sir.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Victor any time.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, a holiday gift, money cannot buy.


WALKER: After a nine months deployment Coast Guard Port Security Unit 301 and Cape Guard Massachusetts is home for the holidays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels good. It's been a long nine months and this is just going to come back and have somebody waiting for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what timing, too, right? Right before the holiday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't really get much sweeter than that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was Waterworks well before I thought I would be. When I finally locked eyes on him, it was good.


WALKER: I always get touched so much, every time we see these videos. You never get sick of them so beautiful.

BLACKWELL: Social media right now is full of these kind of surprises and rollouts of people who are home in time for the holidays. Welcome home. Welcome home.

WALKER: Happy home coming.

BLACKWELL: We're back at 10:00 eastern for "CNN Newsroom."

WALKER: Smerconish is up after a quick break.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. This week history was made when Donald Trump became the third U.S. President to be impeached joining an unenviable exclusive club.