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Protests Continue at U.S. Embarrass in Baghdad; American Troops Deployed to Middle East in Response to U.S. Embassy Protests; Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) Interviewed about Anti-Semitic Attacks in New York; Year in Review: Chris Cillizza's Best & Worst in Politics. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired January 1, 2020 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is a special edition of NEW DAY.


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. Happy NEW DAY, and New Year.

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

BERMAN: Yes. This is what we're like every day. Plenty of memorable moments in 2019. Some we'll 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.

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

BERMAN: She is.

And 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: John and Alisyn, thank you. Good morning. And happy New Year. I'm Ryan Nobles. Breaking overnight, more violence outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Embassy security firing teargas and rubber bullets at protesters trying to climb the exterior and set fires. There are new calls from Iraqi leaders for protesters to back off, but no sign that they will agree.

CNN's Arwa Damon has traveled to Baghdad. We're lucky to have her on the ground there. Arwa, can you give us a sense of what is happening there right now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are just outside the embassy. And apologies, our signal isn't really all that great. There are helicopters overhead. What we're seeing on the ground right now is what appears to be the withdrawal of this paramilitary force that had taken over this entire area. And if you are able to see these images, the front, the entrance, this is one of the entrances into the embassy complex. If I'm not mistaken, that is where you would go in for consular services, has been completely scorched. You have the flags of the various different groups that came down here fluttering along the wall.

It's a pretty calm scene, though, and that is because we were just talking to the spokesperson for Kataeb Hezbollah. Remember, Kataeb Hezbollah is the group that the U.S. had targeted in those strikes, and he said that they had actually agreed to withdraw because they said that the message had been received, and the message that they were sending to the Americans is that they can quite literally walk through the security here and end up at their gate. They maintain that because they were the ones who were attacked in those strikes, it was within their right to respond, and that their overall objective was to let America know that they were powerful enough to actually pose a threat to them in the sense that they were able to get this far. They wanted to deflate America's ego.

But their overarching request that the U.S. leave Iraq still stands. However, according to the spokesperson, he said that right now, they were going to be giving the Iraqi parliament a chance to do that within the Iraqi legal framework.

But it has been an incredibly tense period. The protesters tried to scale these walls, and it's actually quite incredible to a certain degree to be standing here like this, because on every single other occasion that I've come here, I've either had to be with someone who has the kind of badging that can get us through these various checkpoints, or be escorted. This is normally a very heavily secured area. And yet thousands, by some counts, of members of these paramilitary groups were able to just march straight through, and really send quite a brazen statement.

What is of concern right now, though, and this does still have to remain very much a part of the conversation, is what does this mean to Iraq moving forward? Because a lot of what we've been seeing unfolding here has been a proxy battlefield between America and Iran. We have those threats that have come out once again from President Trump. And so while right now the situation is calm, this is not necessarily by any means over when we look at the long term. NOBLES: Arwa Damon live just outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad

where she's reporting what appears to be the withdrawal of those protesters from outside the embassy, a significant development.

Meanwhile, hundreds of American troops have been deployed immediately to the Middle East as a precaution. CNN's Ryan Browne is live in Washington with the administration's response. Ryan?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Ryan, the U.S. last night announcing that it had deployed some 750 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne division that has arrived in the Middle East, that part of an effort to create a crisis response force that could be deployed into Iraq should the need arise.


They were joining other moves the U.S. had made on the military side to bolster its position in Iraq. The U.S. had flown two apache attack helicopters over the protests when they were attempting to storm -- when these militia groups were attempting to storm the embassy. Those attack helicopters fired flares, which are normally a defensive measure, but here are being used as a show of force to indicate that the U.S. has the ability to respond, if needed.

The U.S. also sending about 100 marines, part of a crisis response team in Kuwait. They flew into the embassy compound on MV-22s. They landed. They're there strengthening the embassy's defenses. As Arwa noted, these militia members were allowed to approach a normally secure part of the embassy.

And so the president, President Trump, touting his administration's response to the situation in Iraq, taking his celebration time, the celebrations for New Year's Eve at Mar-a-Lago to tout the response, particularly the deployment of U.S. Marines.


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. They were there instantaneously. This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi should never have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi.


BROWNE: Now these efforts to bolster U.S. military forces in the region comes as President Trump has long advocated for getting the U.S. to withdraw from the Middle East. So he seems very much caught in between his political promises to get the U.S. out and the need of security in the region. Ryan?

NOBLES: Ryan Browne with the update from the administration side of things. President Trump directly threatening Iran over the attack on the embassy saying, quote, "Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost. They will pay a very big price. This is not a warning. It is a threat. Happy New Year." Joining me now, Congressman Nia Lowey. She is a Democrat from New

York. Congresswoman, a lot to talk to you about this morning, but just to begin, your response to what's happening in Baghdad and the administration's response to all of this.

REP. NITA LOWEY, (D-NY): Very briefly, I just heard about it this morning. I think it's important that we have a complete, in-depth investigation. What is our role there? What is the future of Iraq? We have played an aggressive role in Iraq for quite a few years. I haven't been there for over 10 years, but I think it's important that we do a careful analysis and we see what the future is and what the future of the region is.

NOBLES: OK, so Congresswoman, we brought you in this morning to talk about the horrific attack over the Hanukkah holiday in your district in Monsey, New York. And you wrote a very powerful op-ed in "The New York Times" about the rise of anti-Semitism. One of the things you ask is, why now, and what can be done to stop such incidents. As someone who, I'm sure you there were with the folks that were directly impacted by this, what needs to be done? And should Congress specifically take action?

LOWEY: I was there yesterday. I met with the community. I met with the rabbi. Then in the evening, I went to the hospital. One of the members of the community, an elderly grandfather who was being visited by all his grandchildren, was in a very, very delicate situation, and we don't know if he'll survive.

We have to look at the issue of anti-Semitism nationally and internationally. As one of the co-chairs of the bipartisan task force on anti-Semitism, I have been very disturbed, very concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism around the country, in fact, around the world. And there are many, many responses.

Number one, here in the United States, we have to do more. We have to do more to educate our young people. We have to do more to educate congregations. We have to do more to educate people of every faith, because the kinds of incidents, the threats to lives, what happened here in Monsey, cannot be accepted in the United States of America. I've been impressed with the people of all religions in Monsey and in the communities surrounding Monsey to think about what is the future, what should we be doing? We know we have to teach our children more effectively in our schools.

Last night, what was most disturbing to me when I went to the hospital to see the condition of the gentleman who is in very, very difficult health, I met with his children and his grandchildren, and as they said to me, what do we do? Can we let our children go out and play? Can we let our children go to school? Is it safe to live here in this community anymore? People in Pittsburgh, people throughout the country who have been experiencing these outrageous events are asking a lot of questions about the United States of America.


So as a member of Congress and as a co-chair of the bipartisan commission on anti-Semitism, we have to focus like a laser and do more.

NOBLES: Congresswoman, I'd like you to respond. We actually just got a statement from the family of stabbing victim Joseph Neumann now saying that doctors are not optimistic about his chances to regain consciousness. And you mentioned that you did visit with some of the victims there. Just the idea that someone could lose their life as a result of this terrible tragedy, will that just convince you even to work harder at trying to curb this problem?

LOWEY: Frankly, I was not surprised. I was in pain last night talking to the children and grandchildren of the person who may lose his life. We have to send a strong signal, not just to that community, but throughout the country. We need adequate protection. I'm going to increase the money to be able to fortify our synagogues and our places of worship.

This is the United States of America. I must say again that it pains me to have to focus on fortifying places of worship. But when constituents tell me they're afraid to let the children go out and play, can they go to school by themselves, do they have to have armed guards around their house and their community and walk their kids to school, this is not our country.

So we can't just close our eyes to this. We have to be alert, and my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans on the caucus to fight anti-Semitism have to be clear in our mission and make sure we are providing adequate attention while we are dealing with the underlying problem.

NOBLES: So specifically, I wonder how much of a role you believe that technology and social media play in all of this. And do you think these companies in Silicon Valley need to do more to rein in this type of hate language on their platforms?

LOWEY: You are so correct, and this has been a focus of my discussions with my colleagues. I'm not so good with the media, so I don't see a lot of this stuff, but what my kids tell me and my grandkids tell me are on there is outrageous. I have met with Facebook. I've met with other executives. And this is a real challenge. Some are saying they cannot monitor, they cannot take programs off the air that shouldn't be there. This is a very serious discussion, not just for the Congress but for our community. What do you expect from government? What do you expect from those who are providing or facilitating these programs that just spew forth hate?

It's clear that Grafton, the person who committed these horrors, was a viewer, was a contributor, was watching these programs, perhaps creating these programs -- we don't know all the facts yet. But I think we do have a role, and I know there's a careful balance, but we must take this on because we cannot allow our kids and grown kids, not just little kids, grown adults to watch the kind of hateful media that we see.

NOBLES: Especially mental illnesses could play a role in all of that, which could in this particular situation as well. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, thank you so much for being here on New

Year's Day. Happy new year to you and your family. Thank you so much for being here.

LOWEY: Thank you. Happy New Year to all who are watching who may be awake today.


NOBLES: Maybe haven't gone to sleep, Congresswoman.

LOWEY: Maybe.

NOBLES: All right, and we'll be right back.



BERMAN: It's like the devil went down to Georgia.

CAMEROTA: Happy New Year.

BERMAN: Happy New Year.

That's awesome. 2019 was a year of political drama, big political drama. There is the impeachment inquiry and the beginning of the 2020 presidential race.

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

CAMEROTA: Happy New Year.


BERMAN: Did you bring your fiddle? Because that's apparently, you know, the (INAUDIBLE)

CILLIZZA: That devil could play the fiddle. That's all I know. Yes, I like that. It's fresh New Year. I feel good.

BERMAN: Can we just establish for a second --


CILLIZZA: That was a rigged show. I am here with my best and worst. Let's start because it's New Year. Let's start on best of 2019.


CILLIZZA: So the year that is passed. Who had the best year? A lot of these -- John mentioned -- a lot of these are 2020-related. A few, impeachment, but a lot of 2020.

So the first one is 2020. Pete Buttigieg. Now, Pete Buttigieg, if I showed that graphic on January 1st, 2019, we showed that picture you'd say --

CAMEROTA: Who is that?


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

CILLIZZA: Who is that kid and what's his name? What's his last 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's 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 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. But let's keep moving on. But he probably, if you had to decide, 2020 in politics, Pete Buttigieg probably, probably --

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

CILLIZZA: Another Indiana boy.



CILLIZZA: OK, let's keep going. Let's see who we got next. I went with another 2020 person.

Now if the year had ended on September 1st, 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 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 fund-raising, polling and is now, I think, the liberal's candidate. I know Bernie Sanders is in the mix there, but if you're a liberal in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina which are all coming up in the next two months, I think she's where those vote goes. So I think she had a really good year.

BERMAN: You know, Pete Buttigieg is the rookie of the year. She's the comeback player of the year.

CILLIZZA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: It's like an NBA team.

CILLIZZA: It's so much happens over the course of a year. Particularly where it feels like we're also standing this close to the picture. If you step back and think, look at where Elizabeth Warren was on January 1, 2019 to where she ended on December 31st, 2019, it's a remarkably upward tick.

CAMEROTA: I understood that sports analogy. That reference. Even I got that. That was great.




CAMEROTA: OK. 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, it may be 2020.

CILLIZZA: Right, 2020-related. And it is 2020-related.


CILLIZZA: Because 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 and the other side where Donald Trump and several 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 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 last few 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'd 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 is 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 had 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 who wanted to run in the race? You never know what you're 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.

BERMAN: One of her top three political moves was getting out when she did, which is good and bad. Smart to get out when she did but it shows you how few other great political --

CILLIZZA: Yes, and I mean, I do think that point on 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 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 that I -- will remember that I named Rudy Giuliani was naughty. So, he gets the double whammy.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I see.

CILLIZZA: This is the double crown. 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 his friends -- Anthony Carbonetti, a longtime friend of his, was quoted saying, this guy is fundamentally unrecognizable from where I knew him.

I talked to Chris Cuomo, our friend who is a lifetime New Yorker. 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?

[08:25:02] And the answer is no.

I don't know why that is happening. Trump has a powerful pull. There's no question. We've seen it with lots of people -- Lindsey Graham, other people who are drawn into 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 remembered.

CILLIZZA: And that's why I like -- it's Beto O'Rourke. The former Texas congressman ran for the Senate in Texas in 2018, and at the start of this year, he was at the start of 2019. I'm still writing 2019 on my checks.

At the start of 2019 was seen as one of the three front-runners. You know, he had raised $80 million against Ted Cruz. He had come within three points of him.

He was -- everyone talks -- 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 that would be the nominee, most people would have put him in that three. So, I like doing this. It reminds you --


CAMEROTA: Things are unpredictable.

CILLIZZA: Yes, races change. Things happen.

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

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

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

CILLIZZA: Thank you all. BERMAN: Happy New Year.

CILLIZZA: I'll see you in 2020. Wait, it is 2020. We're there now.

CAMEROTA: All right. The New Year, speaking of which, brings new hope for getting your --

BERMAN: "Star Wars"? "Star Wars" a new hope?

CAMEROTA: No, your financial house in order. And Christine Romans is going to join us with her tips to do just that, John.

BERMAN: She's a big "Star Wars" fan, new hope.