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Protestors Attack U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; More Troops Sent to Middle East after Attack on U.S. Embassy; Chris Cillizza's Best & Worst of the Year in Politics. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 1, 2020 - 06:00   ET

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


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are almost done with 2019, but let's cast one more spell on our guests to invoke their wishes for the coming year.

[06:02:19]

JUDY GOLD, COMEDIAN: My wish for 2020, I just want the madness to end. I just want it to end. I want to stop looking at my phone alerts.

GILBERT GOTTFRIED, COMEDIAN: My wish and my New Year's resolution for years --

Just stop.

-- is that in the following year, I would say one joke that was actually funny. I've given up on that now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I wish that everyone will just take some time to go read a book or something. Or listen to Mozart or look at a beautiful painting.

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, WRITER AND POLITICAL ANALYST: In 2020, I do wish that President Trump cruises to victory. That he's able to capture the White House again for a second term.

HELEN HONG, COMEDIAN: Everyone in the White House right now just moves to Mars. Please. Please make that happen. Please.

OWEN SMITH, WRITER/ACTOR/COMEDIAN: For the country, I wish that people talk to each other more. Get off the Facebooks. Speak to somebody. Speak to somebody, man.

BILLY WEST, VOICE ACTOR: I hope we enter the beginning of another age of enlightenment. I really hope we do. Because we got to think long and hard about what comes after us.

KAMIE CRAWFORD, TV HOST AND MODEL: World peace. Seriously though. Because we actually need it.

FOREMAN: And that's it. Time to put the rabbits back in the hat. Thanks to all of our guests. Thanks to you for watching. On behalf of everyone at "ANDERSON COOPER 360" and the entire CNN family worldwide, I'm Tom Foreman, wishing you all of the best and none of the worst in 2020.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: This is a special edition of NEW DAY.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happy new year.

BERMAN: Because it's a new year.

CAMEROTA: New day, new year.

BERMAN: We should change the name of the show, at least for today. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. Happy new day and new year.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. And to you, as well. We're a little groggy.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: As I'm sure you are.

BERMAN: Yes. More like every day.

Plenty of memorable moments in 2019. Some we will remember for the right reasons. Others not so much. Chris Cillizza, who keeps track of those things, he will bring us the best and worst of the past year as we head into 2020.

CAMEROTA: Of course, the new year brings lots of resolutions. So if you're still trying to think of one, Christine Romans is here to help get your finances in order.

BERMAN: And she always keeps her promises. Just so you know.

CAMEROTA: Yes, she does. She's so responsible.

BERMAN: She is. From "Saturday Night Live" to Stephen Colbert, the late-night comics had a field day this year. They had a lot to talk about, mostly politics. We have the highlights.

That and much more ahead on this special New Year's day edition of NEW DAY. But first, let's get a check of your headlines at the news desk.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: John and Alisyn, thank you. Good morning and happy new year. I'm Ryan Nobles.

Breaking overnight, more violence erupting outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Embassy security firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who were trying to climb the exterior walls and set fire to the complex.

Gul Tuysuz has the latest live from Istanbul. Update us, please.

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the second day of demonstrations outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. And today once again we're seeing demonstrators throwing rocks at the U.S. embassy and trying to light fires on the outer walls of the compound. And really, this is a very volatile situation.

The Iraqi counterterrorism police have been deployed to the area. But so far, they haven't been doing anything to stop the demonstrators. And they are stopping vehicles.

But the response to the demonstrators is really coming from inside the embassy with the use, as you said, of tear gas and rubber bullets.

More people are arriving today. Some camped out last night. But as more people show up, eyewitnesses tell CNN that they're coming with food, with tents, with bedding in support of the demonstrators.

And who are these demonstrators? Well, they're mainly supporters of Kataib Hezbollah. That is a Shia militia backed by Iran. They gathered outside the embassy to protest and express their anger against U.S. strikes that targeted Iranian-backed militias in Iraq after and in response to the killing of a U.S. contractor.

And a Kataib Hezbollah spokesperson yesterday told CNN that this demonstration was just the first step and that they're calling on the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq and to shut down their embassy. So the situation on the ground there for a second day now is quite volatile -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right, Gul. Thank you for that update. We appreciate it, live from Istanbul.

Meanwhile, back here in the United States, hundreds of American troops have been deployed to the Middle East immediately as a precaution. President Trump warning Iran of a big price to pay over the attack.

CNN's Ryan Browne is live in Washington with more. Ryan, what can you tell us?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan, there's been a series of moves the U.S. Has taken in a response to these demonstrations that are led by this militia group and their attempt to storm the embassy there in Baghdad.

The U.S. last night, the Pentagon announcing that 750 additional paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been deployed to the Middle East, not to Iraq itself but to a neighboring country so that they could respond in the event of a crisis.

Now, they could be joined by thousands of more troops, should the situation merit. Now, these forces will be in addition to some 100 U.S. Marines that have already been sent to the U.S. embassy to help bolster security there. Those Marines part of a crisis response task force in Kuwait. They flew into the embassy compound on aircraft.

And again we're seeing the images now -- video now of Apache attack helicopters that were flown over the embassy by the U.S. military, releasing these defensive flares as a kind of a warning shot to these protesters, to these -- these militia forces that have attempted to storm the embassy.

And again, this all comes as President Trump has touted his administration's response to the disruptions in Baghdad. And especially the deployment of Marines, taking the chance at the New Year's Eve celebrations in Mar-a-Lago to do so.

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's been handled very well. The Marines came in. We had some great warriors come in and do a fantastic job. And they were instantaneously. This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi should never have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWNE: So the deployment of these extra military forces to the region, the Trump administration is very much hoping that they can prevent any additional retaliation from this militia group or from its Iranian backers.

President Trump tweeting that he would hold Iran responsible and saying this was not a warning but a threat. The implication there being that he would be willing to use these military forces to retaliate, should any additional provocations occur.

But again, this all comes as President Trump has stated he hopes to get the U.S. out of these military conflicts in the Middle East, but it looks like these militia groups have a vote in the situation.

NOBLES: OK, Ryan Browne live from Washington with the latest on the U.S. response to the situation in Iraq.

Let's talk more about this now with CNN military analyst and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling; and CNN political analyst Karoun Demirjian. She's a congressional and national security reporter for "The Washington Post."

General, let me start with you. You may have heard President Trump there actually reference Benghazi. He's also been tweeting about how this situation will not devolve into a Benghazi-like situation. It doesn't appear to be calming down at all. From your perspective, just how serious is the situation there?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, I'd say that the use of the term Benghazi is a bad analogy. In 2012 after Benghazi happened, these Marine crisis response task forces were established. Seven years ago, eight years ago.

They have been in Kuwait ever since then for a response, specifically to these kinds of situations. The hundred Marines came in to reinforce the Marines that are already providing security at the embassy, along with the security forces from the government of Iraq. CAMEROTA: What's going to happen next as Ryan just said is about 750

soldiers from the 82nd airborne will begin deploying within the next day. They have the rest of the brigade estimated to be following them within the next week. That's normal procedure, as well, when there's a crisis around the world. The IRF from the 82nd Airborne begins deploying just in case of any eventuality.

Going back to your question, though, how dangerous this is, well, it's very dangerous. These various forces that are representative of various political actors within Baghdad have all come outside the embassy.

This is not a consolidated group, Ryan. It looks like a big group of similar-minded people, and it is. But they are each beholden to various political figures within the Iraqi government. It's somewhat like a national guard for very -- very Shia politicians. While they are all considered part of the followers of Kataib Hezbollah, they are different groups, and they are there to voice their concern.

What's interesting is this has been a turn over the last several months. There have been protesters outside the U.S. embassy protesting Iran. Now there are supporters of Iran protesting the United States. It's a very complex situation.

NOBLES: Yes. Karoun, maybe expand on that a little bit. It does seem as though it could devolve into some sort of a proxy war behind all these kind of different groups that have an interest in what's happening in Iraq. Explain to just how complex the situation is.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the thing, right? When you're talking about Iraq and Syria, many parts of the Middle East, you don't have just, you know, a clear one person's going to have influence over the other. It's a balance between the United States and Iran, because there are so many groups, as the general is saying, that do have these sometimes aligning loyalties but competing loyalties and not exactly the same agenda where they are.

The thing is, though, that we have known this about Iraq for a long time. That there's a Iran, you know, historically over several decades has expanded its footprint in the Middle East by having these groups that it supports that have, you know, these ties to its agenda that can be, basically, the muscle that it flexes almost at which the country is feeling backed into a corner.

And we've been moving into this direction for a while now, given the shift in policy towards Iran. This's an inimical relationship now between the United States and Iran that, you know, with the shift in administrations here, with the shift in how we approach the nuclear plan. And there's been case after case where you've seen attacks on oil tankers, attacks and other assets that have kind of been leading towards what people have been afraid of being a worst-case scenario in which you have more direct confrontation that actually jeopardizes U.S. personnel.

And we seem to be heading in that direction, clearly, with the standoff that's happening right now outside the embassy.

So this is kind of the -- well, potentially not the ultimate step, but you know, unfortunate step. But the ultimate step to date, in a long line of a progression of the tensions really growing between the United States and Iran. And them taking out and bubbling over in manifestations like this.

[06:15:00]

AVLON: So General, I have about a minute, but I want to read a tweet from President Trump yesterday where he said, "To those many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don't want to be dominated and controlled by Iran, this is your time!"

Do you see this as the president asking average Iraqis to rise up? And is that even a realistic ask?

HERTLING: It's not a realistic ask. That may be what he's asking for. But what we have to remember is the majority of these protestors are actually Iraqis. They are coming from various communities in and around Baghdad. I can name them. There's a million and a half Shia believers in the -- in the small community that were within walking distance of the Green Zone and this embassy.

So these are Iraqis who are protesting and are part of a political movement. So you have to be very careful. They are rising up. They just happen to have a different view and a very monotheistic view of what should be occurring in Iraq. And that's unfortunate.

NOBLES: All right. There is a lot happening in the world this morning even though we are on holiday. General Hertling, Karoun Demirjian, thank you so much for joining us to break it all down. We appreciate it.

A new year means a clean slate. And in that spirit, Chris Cillizza has the best and worst of 2019. That's coming up next. I

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(FIDDLE MUSIC)

BERMAN: Like the devil went down to Georgia.

CAMEROTA: Happy new year.

BERMAN: Happy new year. That's awesome.

But 2019 was a year of political drama. Big political drama. There was the impeachment inquiry and the beginning of the 2020 presidential race.

CNN politics reporter and Chris Cillizza joins us now with his best and worst list in politics.

CAMEROTA: Hello. Happy new year.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Happy new year.

BERMAN: You bring your fiddle? Because that's apparently a thing.

CILLIZZA: That devil could play the fiddle. That's all I know. I like that. It's a fresh new year. It feels good.

[06:20:04]

BERMAN: Can we just establish for a second the devil should have won.

CILLIZZA: Yes. That was a rigged show. That was a rigged show.

I am here with my best and worst. Let's start, because it's a new year, let's start on best of 2019.

BERMAN: OK.

CILLIZZA: So the year that is past. Who had the best year? If showed that picture on January 1, 2018, we'd showed that picture, you would say --

CAMEROTA: Who's that?

CILLIZZA: And --

BERMAN: Who's that kid? He's in my kid's class. He's in my kid's seventh-grade class.

CILLIZZA: Who's that kid and what is his name? Think of how far he has come in the space of a year. I mean, it's truly remarkable. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, his hometown. He's 37 years old. He is now -- we can debate where he belongs in this top tier, but he is in the top tier with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States.

And most polling toward the end of last year, 2019, suggested he's either in first or second in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote. I mean, if I could do a better than best, Pete Buttigieg would be in that list. The best.

BERMAN: Breakout player of the year, you might call him.

CILLIZZA: Another Indiana boy. Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK.

CILLIZZA: OK. Let's keep going. See who we've got next.

I went with another 2020 person. Now, if the year had ended on September 1, 2019, Elizabeth Warren would have had an arc that would be Buttigieg-like.

Remember, as we went into the fall, Warren was the story of the 2020 campaign. She had overcome really not a lot of momentum in the beginning of the race. She continued to struggle with answering is she Native American? Does she have Native American heritage? She put out that video that was at the end of 2018, trying to clear it all up. Donald Trump kept attacking her, attacking her. And it kind of looked like what we thought was going to be a major candidate wasn't going to be one.

Well, then all of a sudden, she becomes the "I have a plan for that" candidate, right? She's got Kate McKinnon doing an amazing impersonation of her on "Saturday Night Live." And she rises up, both in fundraising, polling. And is now, I think, the liberals' candidate. I know Bernie Sanders is in the mix there. But if you are a liberal in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, which are all coming up in the next, you know, two months, I think she's where those votes go.

CAMEROTA: Next is a strange one.

CILLIZZA: Yes, so I didn't want to just do 2020, and I didn't want to do something too obvious. But I did Russia.

BERMAN: Well, maybe 2020.

CILLIZZA: Right. 2020 related. And it is 2020 related. We know, because we know from Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence, and lots of other people that Russia is likely to continue their interference efforts in the 2020 campaign.

The reason I said Russia this time for 2019, there is no doubt that what they did in 2016, for however much they spent, however many people they threw at it, was hugely successful. And we were still at the end of 2019 in the midst of a debate. On one side were facts. On the other side were Donald Trump and several of his or were Republican allies.

But in the midst of a debate about whether Russia alone meddled, Ukraine. Ukraine framed Russia. Now, we know it was Russia. The intelligence community, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, the Mueller report, anyone who knows. But we're still in the middle of that debate, which absolutely, to your point, John, makes us less likely to be ready for what every person who knows tells us is going to be maybe a bigger attempted incursion from Russia, maybe from other countries in 2020, because 2016 was such a big success.

And I'll add Donald Trump closed out the year the last two weeks of December with an Oval Office picture with who else? Sergey Lavrov.

CAMEROTA: OK. Who had a bad 2019 according to you?

CILLIZZA: OK. Now, most people, even though they won't admit it, schadenfreude, they like the worst more than the best unless they're on it. So let's go to the worst.

OK. And again, 2020-related. First one, Kamala Harris. No longer a presidential candidate. If you said to me at the beginning of the year, Who's going to definitely make it all the way to Iowa, I would have named Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. Anyone beyond that I would have said maybe, maybe not.

She could have stayed in the race a little longer than she did. She still had the money. She'd qualified for the debate in December. But I think what she saw was huge dysfunction in her campaign, no real message. And in a way, it's a wasted opportunity.

She is a person of real, natural ability. I think you saw that in the first debate way back in the summer of 2019. You saw it in her announcement speech even earlier. She just never could decide what kind -- was she a liberal, was she a moderate, was she somewhere in between, was she a historic candidate as the first African-American woman, Indian-American woman, you know who wanted to be president of the United States -- to run in the race? You never knew what you were going to get.

I don't think -- a bad 2019 isn't determinative for Kamala Harris. She's still young. She will, I think, run at some point again for national office. But this year didn't turn out anywhere close to how she wanted it.

[06:25:04]

BERMAN: One of her top three political moves was getting out when she did, which speaks -- you know, it's good and bad. It was smart, probably, to get out when she did, but it shows you how few other great political moves she had.

CILLIZZA: Yes. And I do think that point in timing is right. What you don't want to be is remembered for a campaign that is mortally wounded, that everyone tells you you should end, that you just keep going on and on and on with. So get out while you still have a little bit of juice left to save it for the next time.

CAMEROTA: OK. Bad, you also put Rudy Giuliani. You think he had a bad year.

CILLIZZA: Yes, and so people who watched the Christmas show will say -- will remember that I named that Rudy Giuliani was naughty. So he gets the double whammy. This is the double crown. It's the opposite of what you want.

But yes, I think he had a terrible 2019 for a lot of the same reasons. Look, again, think of image at the start of 2019, image at the end of 2019. I think Rudy Giuliani and -- and his friends -- Anthony Carbonetti, a longtime friend of his was quoted recently saying, This guy is fundamentally unrecognizable from where I knew him.

I talked to Chris Cuomo, our friend, who's a lifetime New Yorker, and I asked him, Do you recognize anything in Rudy Giuliani now that you saw either when he was a U.S. attorney or when he was mayor of New York? And the answer is no.

I don't know why that is happening. I -- you know, Trump has a powerful pull. There's no question. We've seen it with lots of people. Lindsey Graham, other people who are drawn to that orbit. But what I can tell you is 2019 has fundamentally reshaped the way in which Rudy Giuliani will be remembered in the public consciousness, and not in a good way.

BERMAN: So the last person on the list -- and I took a peek here -- I went, Oh, wow. The reason I said, Oh, wow, is because I barely remember him.

CILLIZZA: And that's why I like the -- it's Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman, ran for the Senate in Texas in 2018. And at the start of this year, was at the start of 2019, I'm still saying -- I'm still writing 2019 on my checks. At the start of 2019, was seen as one of the three frontrunners. You know, he was -- he had raised $80 million against Ted Cruz. He had come within three points of him. He was -- everyone talked. Remember, Obama was the new Kennedy. They said that O'Rourke was the new Obama. That's always a tough comparison.

O'Rourke, just a swing and a miss. Never got going. Never was close. And dropping out of the race, it kind of felt like an afterthought. To your point, John, you have to remind people that he ran and at the start of this year, if you had to name three people you thought would be the nominee, most people who paid attention would have put him in that three.

So I like doing this. It reminds you --

CAMEROTA: The news are unpredictable. Yes.

CILLIZZA: Races change. Things happen.

CAMEROTA: Despite our best efforts, we cannot predict what's going to happen.

CILLIZZA: I'm working on that. I've got a machine, Predicto-machine.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for getting up early with us.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Happy new year.

CILLIZZA: I'll see you in 2020. Wait, it is 2020.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Ah, yes.

CILLIZZA: We're there now.

CAMEROTA: All right. The new year, speaking of which, brings new hope for getting your financial house --

BERMAN: "Star Wars." "Star Wars," "The New Hope."

CAMEROTA: No, your financial house in order. BERMAN: OK.

CAMEROTA: And Christine Romans is going to join us with her tips to do just that, John.

BERMAN: She's a big "Star Wars" fan, "The New Hope."

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