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U.S. Taxpayers, Not Mexico, Could Pay For Wall; Republicans: Trump Wants Funding For Wall By April; Info From New U.S. Intel Report Leaked; Kremlin: "Sick And Tired" Of Russia Being Blamed; U.S. Identifies Who Gave Stolen E-mails To WikiLeaks; Trump Has Expressed Doubt About Russia's Role; Torture Suspects Charged With Hate Crime And Kidnapping; Police Say Victim Was Tied Up For 4 Or 5 Hours; 4 Charged in Live-Streamed Chicago Torture Attack; Urgent Manhunt for Istanbul Gunman; Beijing Residents Face Costly Fight Against Pollution; Wet Weather Raises Hopes for California Drought's End; Japanese Company Replacing 34 Employees with Artificial Intelligence. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 06, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But we will build a wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall -

HOLMES: Or maybe not? Donald Trump appears to be backtracking on one of his biggest campaign promises.


Plus, leaks about a U.S. intel report gives us new insight into how stolen e-mails ended up in the hands of Julian Assange.

And, charged with hate, four young people under arrest, accused of torturing a teenager with special needs.

Hello, everyone. Thanks for your company. I'm Michael Holmes and this is NEWSROOM L.A.

And, when you think about Donald Trump's run for the White House, it's pretty much impossible to forget one of the cornerstones of his campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will build a great wall along the southern border. And, Mexico will pay for the wall. Believe me.

We are going to build the wall. It will be a real wall. Who is going to pay for the wall?

The top person, President of Mexico said, "We will never, ever pay for that wall." And you know what I said? I said the wall just got 10 feet higher.


HOLMES: Well, now, Trump's transition team is signaling to Congress that he wants to pay for the wall, perhaps with U.S. taxpayer money. House Republicans say funding could come through the appropriations bill that keeps the government running. Trump has previously said that Mexico might reimburse U.S. for the cost.

Well, joining me now here in Los Angeles, Democratic strategist, Matt Littman and CNN Political Commentator, John Phillips.

You know, when you look at Donald Trump's supporters, this was one of the things that got them riled up at those rallies that he had. How are they going to feel if they're paying for it?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, checks in the mail. It will be here (INAUDIBLE)

Donald Trump's second favorite book, "The Art of the Deal," right under the Bible, is a book that talked about he's negotiating technique. The way he negotiates with other corporate businessmen, and I believe that's the same style he's going to use when he is President of the United States on January 20th.

And he speaks frequently in hyperbole where you shoot for the stars, you shoot for the sky, and you know at some point you're going to - you're going to take something somewhere in the middle because that's how deals are cut. My guess is this will be funded in a similar way to how we fund other public works projects, bridges and tunnels, and things of that nature. Maybe your tax remittances, maybe you find another way to tax people so that you can spend it and say Mexico is paying for the wall in a roundabout way. And, I think people will live with it and be fine with this.

HOLMES: You think the keyword there, Matt, is spin?

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the difference is "The Art of the Deal" is really between Trump and the people who were supporting him, right? So, Trump was saying Mexico's going to pay for this wall. He never thought Mexico's going to pay for this wall. He says whatever he needs to do to get those people all riled up. Just like he would say about "lock her up" about Hillary Clinton, right? He had no plans to try to do that either, nor does he have any plans to replace Obamacare with something beautiful as he said he would do, nor does he have a plan to bring coal miners jobs back.

This is just one of many promises that Trump is going to be breaking as he gets in. He hasn't even come in yet. He's a week away from coming in; he's already broken a bunch of his promises.

HOLMES: All right. I want to - I want to move on now because I mean, that is going to be a story for days, though, I got to say.

I want to talk a bit -- a little bit about the whole intel thing and Donald Trump's attitude towards is it Russia, is it not? And, he's pretty much the only one who thinks it's not at the moment.

Let's play a bit of sound from the president, President Obama, when he was talking about this a little bit earlier.

Well, we don't have it. Basically, what he was saying was he hopes that when this intelligence briefing happen, and Donald Trump is briefed by the Intelligence Community, that he will realize that it was Russia.

How important is his response to that? Do you think if he is convinced by it, he needs to come out and say so?

PHILLIPS: Well, all presidents say that your world changes when you put your hand on the Bible on January 20th and you assume the Office of the Presidency and all the responsibilities that come with it. You change from a candidate; you change from a president-elect. So, time will tell to see if that happens.

[01:04:51] But look, we were very critical of George W. Bush. In many cases, in both parties, in this latest Presidential Election, Donald Trump was critical of the war in Iraq. And, part of the philosophy of going into Iraq was our intelligence agencies said that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and the president believed them, the congress believed him when they voted for the war in Iraq.

And, now people said you know what, maybe the president -- maybe the congress should have been more skeptical of some of the information -

LITTMAN: But that has nothing to do with what's going on here.

PHILLIPS: No, but this is skepticism -


LITTMAN: No, no, no, no, no. What's going on here is that Trump doesn't want to question his victory, right? So, if the idea that the Russians hacked the emails, the democrats were less enthusiastic about showing up the polls. Trump lost the popular vote by - about 3 million votes, about two percent. He doesn't want anybody questioning that the Russians helped him get elected.

This isn't about the Iraq war and whether the intelligence was right or wrong in Iraq. This is about Trump's ego. There are 15 intelligence agencies telling him one thing, and he's siding with Putin over those agencies. We know why.

PHILLIPS: I think the only one blaming one of the agencies for their loss is Hillary Clinton blaming James Comey and the FBI.

LITTMAN: I'm with Hillary Clinton on that one, too.

HOLMES: All right, standby gentlemen. I want to move on -- but we're going to come back and continue this.

U.S. intelligence official say they now know who passed those stolen emails from Russia to "WikiLeaks," as of course, during the presidential campaign. This is what we're talking about.

They say they intercepted conversations in which top Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump's victory. The "WikiLeaks" founder, Julian Assange, denied on Tuesday that Russia was the source of those e- mails, but he didn't go into who might have given them to the source.

Trump lashed out at media accounts of the Russia hacking investigation tweeting, "How did NBC get an exclusive look into the top secret report that Obama was presented. Who gave them this report and why? Politics."

Those three top U.S. intelligence officials say they have no doubt that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. Presidential Election. The director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, saying the hacking may not have changed any vote tallies but it clearly came from Moscow.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR FOR SOUTH CAROLINA: They say you think this was approved at the highest level of government in Russia. Generally speaking, is that right?


GRAHAM: OK. Who's the highest level of government?

CLAPPER: Well, the highest is President Putin.

GRAHAM: Do you think a lot happens in Russia big that he don't know about?

CLAPPER: Not very many -

GRAHAM: Yes, I don't think so.

CLAPPER: Certainly none that are politically sensitive in another country.


HOLMES: And, joining me now from Mountain View, California, former Director of the National Cybersecurity Center, Rod Beckstrom.

And I suppose, Rod, the difficult thing in discussing this, we mere mortals, is that we're never going to know exactly what the Intelligence Community's evidence is because they don't want to give the game away. Is that - is that fair?

ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER DIRECTOR: Well, that's right. It's up to them to decide what they want to declassify and what they want to maintain within the classified realms. So, there's always that bit of uncertainty as well as the uncertainty around, attribution in general, is just simply so difficult.

So, we're going to - we're going to hear of some data here, but it may be inferred data, it may be suggestive data such as the fact that Russian leaders were celebrating. That's not proof that Russians did the act or that they got the information to WikiLeaks. It may be suggestive but it's not ironclad proof. So, I think this debate's going to go on for quite some time, Michael.

HOLMES: Right. And on the technical level, I mean, how difficult is it to prove such a thing. Are you always just going to end up with the preponderance of evidence?

BECKSTROM: You know, the Russians are pros here. You know there's very, very high quality trade craft in hacking as everyone's acknowledged. And, you know, so you're not dealing with amateurs here. So, if they were in fact the parties that the transfer of data to WikiLeaks, I would suspect they did a pretty good job of trying to hide that trail, unless they wanted to reveal that trail intentionally.

So, I think it's going to be difficult. I think it is clearly suggested. I think there's very strong evidence that the Russian government did have access to the DNC and the DCCC servers.

I don't think there's a lot of question about that amongst most of the experts, but that is not proof that that data got from them to WikiLeaks because the security levels could have been so low that many, many parties could have - could have been in there.

HOLMES: How do you follow such a trail? I mean, if you were - if you were going to do it. I mean, how difficult is it once you get into the dark web?

BECKSTROM: Sure. Well, you know it's very difficult, indeed. I mean, you're looking for the tracking, the routing of data and packets. You're looking for DNS references. Those kind of records in the computer systems, in the network systems where you're trying to find the traces to connect the dots.

And, you know, clearly the U.S. government has got some very high quality resources to do that kind of research. But still, once you're into the dark web, once you're dealing with pros, it is really challenging to know for sure and very difficult to be certain.

[01:10:05] So, I think that - you know, and you hear this in Trump's positioning, himself saying, "Hey, look, it's really difficult to figure out who did an attack in cyber security." He's right. And, you know clearly he wants to maintain legitimacy of his election. He's going to take that very strong position. And, there's others that are concern that Russians were involved and their taking a different position.

So, the drama came to a new level with this hearing today, which by the way, most hearings are either hostile or friendly. This one was almost a bipartisan love fest. I mean, it was so well coordinated amongst all the senators and the parties. All accruing the message that, look we do think it was Russia that did - you know, hacked into the DNC. None of them answered the question of the linkage between the two. That's leaking out later, today. But, this was a very strong unified message. Not a very conventional

hearing for the Intelligence Community which is normally very secretive and very private about its activities. But I think it shows the level of concern that some of the parties have about what could've taken place here in the election.

HOLMES: Well, there we go, full circle and back to my original point, which is that intelligence experts aren't going to reveal how they got their evidence because they give the game away. They give away their own strategies and methods.

But, if you were sitting in and a lot of those people at that senate hearing today, they've been hearing the classified stuff. What - if you were in on one of those meetings, what is it that would convince you?

BECKSTROM: Oh, gee, you know, compelling data showing the transfer over there from one party to another party with a clear chain of transfer all the way through. And, having every party who's looked at it from different perspectives come to the same conclusion. Even better would be finding command and control data from the emails or internal communication, even it's a classified communication of the Russians, saying here's the program. This is what this program and effort was called. Here's the stages and the steps, you know, here -- et cetera.

So, really, a very, very complete picture of what we call the TTPs, tools, techniques, and procedures, and then also the commands that drove the attack. The more concrete you got, the better.

HOLMES: Yes. Rod, thanks so much. Good to have you in the program, Rod Beckstrom there CEO of ICANN, former Director of National Cybersecurity Center. I appreciate you coming on. Appreciate it.

All right, let's go back now, again with Democratic Strategist, Matt Littman and CNN Political Commentator, John Phillips.

We're talking earlier about what President Obama said today. We paid $1.15, and we got that sound bite, so let's listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My hope is that when the president-elect receives his own briefings and is able to examine the intelligence as his team is put together and they see how professional and effective these agencies are, that some of those current tensions will be reduced.


HOLMES: So, the president there obviously confident by the sound of it that when he gets the briefing, he'll understand. But, do you think Donald Trump's the kind of guy that then would come out of that briefing and say, "Yes, it was Russia."

PHILLIPS: Well, I mean, who knows what they tell him. But, boy that guy was very different president than the man we saw in 2012 when he was mocking Mitt Romney for saying that Russia was our biggest strategic enemy out there in the world.

And I guess he's acknowledging either tacitly or explicitly that the reset didn't work. So, assuming that Russia was up to shenanigans and assuming that they were trying to hack at our computer systems, we now face the question, "What do we do about it?"

Do we want to escalate a Cold War with Russia? Do we want to start going down that road or do we want to try to negotiate with them and swoon them into behaving in a better way. That's what Trump wants to do. I don't want to go to war with Russia. I don't want another Cold War. So, I'll go for option B.

HOLMES: You think, Vladimir Putin, Matt, can be swooned?

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say this, bashing our intelligence agencies isn't the way to do this. I mean -- and another thing is that Donald Trump hasn't been listening to the intelligence agencies. He doesn't get the daily intelligence briefing.

He's found time to meet with the editor of Vogue, twice. He's found time to tweet Leonardo DiCaprio. He's found time to meet with some football players. He doesn't get the daily intelligence briefing that others have gotten before him. That even Mike Pence gets. I think that's a big mistake.

Tomorrow, they're going to provide him with clear, compelling evidence. What he comes out saying after that? Who the heck knows with Donald Trump?

[01:14:45] HOLMES: That (INAUDIBLE) you know, and Rob was sort of suggesting this in the interview just then. That the one thing about all of these is Donald Trump seems to be standing alone in rejecting the evidence. When you've got the senior Republicans like, you know, John McCain and Lindsey Graham coming out and saying it was the Russians and we need to hit them hard, as well as unanimity with the - with the Intelligence Community, the various agencies, why do you think he stands alone? And, says it wasn't them or it might not have been them.

PHILLIPS: I think he had skepticism with some of the probation. Then I would then say why did the democrats not do something sooner? And, the answer I have is the storyline that they were selling in this election is that Hillary Clinton is the face of American's foreign policy was a huge smashing success, in part of what the Obama administration did was they hit the reset button with Russia so they didn't want to trigger that that was a big failure during the campaign. And now that she lost, they're saying, "Hey, wait a minute. What's going on here?"

LITTMAN: There's a very simple reason why Trump is standing alone. See, he doesn't want anybody questioning the legitimacy of his election. That is the very simple reason that's why he stands by himself. Everyone else is more concerned about the fact that Russia did this.

This is not going to be the last time that Russia hacks into the United States in some way. Donald Trump's concern is Donald Trump, and that's why he stands alone.

HOLMES: If the evidence is there -- if -- let's just say it is there, and Donald Trump does not take more action, does not stand up firmly to Vladimir Putin. You know, a lot of people would say that, you know, down the road you're looking at geopolitical fallout from that.

I mean, you wouldn't want to be living in Latvia or Moldova, or places like that or you could become the next Crimea. That it may embolden him against NATO. That this fallout from not standing up to Vladimir Putin -

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say that in terms of not standing to Putin, he's already said that he doesn't support NATO as much as previous presidents have which has basically kept the peace since World War II, right?

I mean, so we're talking about Donald Trump saying that other countries, if they don't pay more into NATO, we're not going to support them. So, he's already doing Putin's work for him.

PHILLIPS: Hacking is going to be a recurring problem that could be the modern form of warfare. I said from the very beginning, when Sony got hacked and everyone was using it as a tool to pile on report in the Pascal that we should take it very seriously because this is something that's going to expand beyond corporations, beyond Sony. To the American government, could be a problem.

HOLMES: Yes. And then, it goes, you know, when you're talking about a whole new battlefield there, you're talking about power grids, you're talking about banking, as the new warfare which is worrying -


PHILLIPS: Right. Air traffic control.

HOLMES: Air traffic control, a whole lot of other areas. I wish we have more time, we do not.

CNN Political Commentator, John Phillips; Democratic Strategist, Matt Littman, thanks gentlemen.


LITMANN: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. Well, next on NEWSROOM L.A., The barbaric attack on a young special needs man, streamed live on Facebook. The charges the suspects face and the group some say is to blame.


[01:19:54] KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines.

Algeria and Leicester forward, Riyad Mahrez, has won the Confederation of African Football's player of the year.

The Leicester striker won the Premier League title back in May, and he's already being crowned the PFA player of the year as well. Last year's winner, Borussia Dortmund forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, finished second in the voting. Liverpool's striker, Sadio Mane was third.

It's not just Roger Federer and Serena Williams leading to shake off a bit of rough before the first Grand Slam tournament of the new tennis season while number one, Angelique Kerber is out of the Brisbane International, one of the Australian Open warm-up events.

Kerber holds the number one ranking spot at the moment, but the German made 48 unforced errors as she slipped to a 3-set defeat to Elina Svitolina.

And the Dakar Rally, as two-time winner and one of the favorites, Nasser Al-Attiyah has withdrawn from the race after a crash on Thursday. Earlier in the week, his Toyota caught fire but soon was -- he won the first stage of the race. However, in the first stage on Thursday, Al-Attiyah ripped a wheel off his car and had to limp to the finish line, falling two hours back from the leaders. They had attendants to repair the damage from the race, but did not have the necessary parts. After it, he simply put it, game over, bad day.

And, that's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.


HOLMES: Welcome back. A brutal crime broadcast on Facebook Live. Police say four people bound and tortured a special needs teenager for hours. And now, they face hate crime and kidnapping charges.

Ana Cabrera has more of the story from Chicago. We do have to warn you, the video is graphic.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, the four suspects will go before a judge in a matter of hours. And they're facing a number of charges including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and a hate crime among others.

Now, key piece of evidence on this case is the video. The video that was streamed live of the assault for the world to see.


CABRERA: It's hard to watch, an 18-year old with a mental disability, tied up and cowering in the corner.

His attackers hit and kicked and even cut his hair with a knife until his scalp starts to bleed.

The assault is streamed live on Facebook. A woman who's recording laughs, as the victim is tortured.

KEVIN DUFFIN, CHICAGO POLICE: It appears that he was in that physical position, tied up in the corner for about four or five hours.

CABRERA: Two 18-year old men and two women, one, 18, the other, 24 are now behind bars. The suspects are all African-American. The victim is white.

The video is full of racially-charged epitaph. Just part of the reason police are calling this a hate crime.

DUFFIN: His diminished mental capacity, the fact that they tied him up, the obvious racial quotes on and that they post live on Facebook. I mean, taking the totality of the circumstances, the State Attorney agrees with us. I mean, we sought hate crime charges.

CABRERA: And, another disturbing detail, the victim and one of the suspects, Jordan Hill, were friends. In fact, the incident began days earlier at this McDonalds in the suburb of Streamwood, Illinois. The victim's mom dropped him off to meet up with Hill on New Year's Eve. But, his parents called Streamwood Police on Monday to file a missing person's report because they couldn't reach their son, and he had been without his medication for days.

Police found the victim wandering this street on Tuesday. They say he was bloodied, battered, was wearing a tank top and shorts in freezing weather, and he was too distraught they say to even speak.

Investigators say the assault happened about a block away. The victim managed to escape when a neighbor interrupted the assault and called police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And thankfully, the victim in this incident was recovered from his injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to put this (BLEEP) in the - in the trunk, and put a brick on that gas and let that (BLEEP)


CABRERA: As for a motive, police say this may have all happened as a result of a playful fight that turned serious. Police say based on their interviews with the victim and the suspects, it appears that Jordan Hill, one of the suspects and the victim were hanging out as friends for a couple of days.

[01:25:00] But then on Tuesday, when they linked up with this group at the residence where the assault occurred, that's when the fight or confrontation broke out and escalated. Police say it was the women who allegedly tied up the victim and then the rest of the horror unfolded. But, police do not believe this was premeditated, Michael.

HOLMES: Now, thanks to you, Ana.

And, Areva Martin is here with me now, Civil Rights Attorney, Legal Affairs Commentator. I've seen that so many times now and it still - AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY & LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: It's distracting.

HOLMES: It defies belief. What do you take from the video? The video itself and why it might have happened?

MARTIN: Well, I think the police made a very important statement that this appear to be two friends who were meeting up, apparently the victim was going to spend some time with one of the perpetrators, and they were engaged in some kind of horse play. And that horse play escalated to this torture, to the assault that we saw so vividly played out on the video.

So, I don't think the original intent of the person, the perpetrator that knew the victim was to kidnap him, was to torture him, was to assault him. But, apparently these three other people got involved, and I don't know, call it just the teenagers acting badly, teenagers acting maliciously but something happened obviously, that caused this to escalate.

HOLMES: Do you think the charges are appropriate? The charges -- particularly the hate crime aspect?

MARTIN: Based on state law -- based on how hate crimes are defined under Illinois State law, it appears to be appropriate.

That law says that if someone targets an individual because of their race, because of their ethnicity, because of their disability, and perpetrate an act of violence, I guess that it is appropriate to charge them with the hate crime.

HOLMES: You're an attorney, do you expect a defense attorney is going to want to take this to trial or are you expecting a plea bargain?

MARTIN: I think because we have four individuals involved, you're going to see everyone trying to put forth the best defense for themselves. I don't see all of these defendants sticking together with one cohesive story. I think we'll start to see them turn on each other. I think someone's going to start talking about who the ring leader was, who initiated this. I think everyone's going to try put forth that defense that hopefully, you know, based on what their attorneys are going to try do which exonerates those individuals.

HOLMES: What did - what did you make of today. And I must have been - I was a little bit surprised about this various - let's say - groups trying to associate this with the "Black Lives Matter" movement. I mean -

MARTIN: I thought that was ridiculous. Rush to judgment. There was no evidence that the official "Black Lives Matter" group either, the national organization or the Chicago-based organization had anything to do with this.

And even beyond, trying to associate with "Black Lives Matter," some on social media even try to equate this with the racist and hate crimes of the Ku Klux Klan. And, clearly there is no comparison between this random heinous act by these four teenagers and the, you know, 150 years of historical hatred and criminal acts perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

HOLMES: I mean, the racial aspect aside, and of course, this was a special needs teenager and that in itself is an element of horror in all of these. But you -- what do you think about the societal issue here? That this happened and that teenagers of any color might think this is a - this is fun and this is something I'm going to stream on social media.

MARTIN: Well, I think what we've seen over the last couple of years are acts by young adults. We saw with Dylann Roof, who so boldly stated in his own defense that he killed the nine individuals in the church at South Carolina because they were African-American, because they were black.

So, we see -- we've seen so many acts of violence against other young people by young people. There was a case in Idaho where a teenager's -- used a coat hanger to sodomize another special needs kid. There was a case in Maryland where teenagers drove a special needs individual to a lake and try to drive over him with a car.

So, I think this case is about a bigger narrative about young people and their disregard for life, and their willingness to be engaged in these really depraved acts of violence including the race aside, as you said.

HOLMES: Yes. I was talking to Joey Jackson, the last hour about this, too; the social media aspect of this. Do you think - do you think that - we're horrified by this - but do you think that we're now just seeing more of things that were there anyway when you've got Facebook Live, you've got Snapchat - I mean, everybody's on the phone, has a video camera?

MARTIN: Yes. Everyone is a journalist, today. And, I think President Obama said this appropriately. Hate crimes have been a part of our culture for decades. Now, with the advent of social media, we're able to bring those heinous acts into the homes of everyone, to put them, you know, up front and live on cell phones.

[01:30:00] So I don't think we're seeing, per se, an increase. Although, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported an increase of hate crimes since the election of President-elect Donald Trump. But putting those hate crimes aside, I think social media gives people an opportunity, in a very sick way, to have their 15 minutes of fame. And we even saw in this video, in this Chicago case, the young woman got angry because there weren't enough people responding to her life broadcast of the torture of this young man.

And I do think it's important to note that individuals with special needs are far more likely to be the subject of bullying and the kind of abuse attacks that we saw in this video.


MARTIN: A vulnerable population.

HOLMES: Yeah. Without a doubt. Areva Martin, thanks so much. Appreciate you coming in.

MARTIN: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: A terrible story.

All right, it's becoming an all-too-familiar site in Turkey. Another terror attack taking more lives in that embattled country. We'll have that when we come back.

Also, crippling guilt for the man who ran that Istanbul nightclub. He speaks out to us on the deadly shooting on New Year's, and where they go from here.

Do stay with us. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes.

Time to update you with the headlines now.


[01:35:14] HOLMES: Donald Trump may be backing off one of his most emphatic campaign promises. His team wants to ask Congress and not Mexico to pay for a border wall. Republicans say the funding could be tied to the appropriations bill that keeps the government running.

The smog in Beijing has been a real issue lately. But we'll talk about that a bit later.

First, let's go - talking about - no, we're going to go to Sara Sidner and talk about that terror attack that happened in Istanbul at that night club.

Sara, I know you've been talking to the owner of that nightclub. Fill us in.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an incredible story. You had all these people who were there, jet setters, a young crowd, who come at night to enjoy themselves. This place brought East and West together. That was the purpose of the club. It's what Istanbul is all about because the Bosporus separates both the Asian and European sides. Then, suddenly, someone with an idea that somehow this is the wrong way to live decided to try and take it all away.


SIDNER (voice-over): Ali Unal (ph) can't sleep or eat because he can't get the images of the dead and dying out of his head.

"I'm feeling terrible. I can't sleep more than two hours a day. It's just like in the perfect storm movie where the guy knows he's going to die and he's only worried about his children," he says. Unal walks away in tears. He is the business partner and manager of

the Istanbul nightclub.

On New Year's Eve, he was right outside as terrorists entered.

This is Ali, falling over a railing as the gunman shoots everyone around him. He survived because the gunman thought he was dead.

Bullet holes and blood still remain days after the attack that left 39 dead and 69 injured here. So do piles of clothes and shoes of the victims.

(on camera): From what we can see, this is the area that seems to have the most bullet holes, and the holes are huge. But surprisingly, there aren't that many considering all the shooting that happened that night. And that is because the terrorist was targeting people one by one by one.

(voice-over): The owner was just up the Bosporus whether he was told his club was under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED NIGHTCLUB OWNER: All my life finish in that time.

SIDNER (on camera): You thought your life was over when you heard this?

UNIDENTIFIED NIGHTCLUB OWNER: Yeah, when I heard that my life is over. I feel like that because all that client, all that people, my son, my daughter. I always did my job like this.

SIDNER (voice-over): He says his legs buckled beneath him as the gunfire and blast, captured on this video, emanated from his club.


SIDNER: Days later, Mehmet is trying to figure out what he could have done to protect all those people.

(on camera): Was there enough security, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED NIGHTCLUB OWNER: You know, for our guard, are you talking our guard? We have no gun. That is -- that is a low. If you have place in the concert in summer, you cannot -- they cannot give the license for the gun. But we are living with the terror. They have to change this law. This is stupid.

SIDNER (voice-over): Two of his unarmed guards were shot and killed along with other members of his staff. He says the gunman went about his killing spree with ease and operated like a professional soldier, even blasting bullets into a small gas canister trying to make it explode, but it was empty.

The scene of this once-glamorous club on the Bosporus makes him sick to his stomach now.

UNIDENTIFIED NIGHTCLUB OWNER: I'm not sure if I didn't open, they will be successful. Terrorism going to win. But still, 39 people is on my shoulders. I feel, I don't know what am I going to do.

SIDNER: He says he will leave that decision up to his staff, men and women, some of whom perished, others who saved lives during the worst moment in this club's 16-year history.


SIDNER: Mehmet also had something to say about the next leader of the united states. He said he was surprised about and disturbed really that he heard nothing from Donald Trump officially, no tweet, no nothing -- Michael?

[01:40:06] HOLMES: Sara, thanks so much. Sara Sidner there in Istanbul.

A private memorial is underway in Beverly Hills to honor the late mother/daughter acting duo, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Starts, including Meryl Streep, Ed Begley Jr and Ellen Barkin arriving at the late stars' neighboring homes. Reuters also reporting Fisher's daughter, Billie, was there. Fisher was 60 years old when she died on December 27t h after suffering a medical emergency on a plane, the 84- year-old Reynolds died a day later after a brief stay in hospital.

We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back. The smog in Beijing lifting a little over the last 24 hours, thank goodness. But next week's forecast shows condition are expected to get even worse. And as pollution hangs over the city, some of the wealthiest residents are doing what they can to breathe better air.

Matt Rivers has more.



MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR (voice-over): For much of 3- month-old Anna's life, her world has looked like this, a toxic cloud of smog that has choked Beijing for the better part of two weeks. The air has been more than 50 times worse that what the World Health Organization says is save. For her mom, Wong Jong (ph), it was too much.

WONG JONG (ph), CHINESE RESIDENT: Her life just began and the air she is breathing in and out is such bad quality I couldn't sleep. And literally, two nights continuously I couldn't sleep.

RIVERS: So in the pursuit of cleaner air for Anna and her big sister, 6-year-old Mia, Jong and her husband opened their wallet. $7500 for eight air purifiers, $500 every two weeks to change the filters inside, and another $5000 for an in-wall ventilation system that pumps out filtered air.

JONG: That's very exciting, but think about how there's nothing to trade off, you know.

[01:45:10] RIVERS (on camera): Spending however much money is necessary to keep your family healthy is something a lot of people would probably do. But the reality is the fight against pollution can cost a lot. And in many of Beijing's poorer neighborhoods, like this one, most people can't afford to do much more than buy a cheap disposable pollution mask.

(voice-over): That's about all Ho Chen Phu (ph) can do. Inside his home in a Beijing back alley, there's not air purifiers, not expensive filtration system, just poorly insulated windows and frustration.

"We're helpless," he says, "but what choice do we have? We can't do anything about it so we just face it. All I can do is try to avoid going out when it's smoggy."

He's like so many others in Beijing dealing with pollution that can blanket the city in just 20 minutes, like in this time-lapse shot in the business district.

It's always worse in the winter when coal use spikes due to falling temperatures. But predictability doesn't make it any better.

"We hope the government will treat this issue seriously," says Ho. "Everyone wants to see the blue skies but, right now, it's impossible."

For now, he'll just wait out the smog in a cramped living room.


RIVERS: It's a stark contrast from Wong Jong (ph) and her family. Every part of their lives indoors is clean and filtered, and they say they know how lucky they are to be able to afford that.

But when 6-year-old Mia goes to school, only a panda-dotted pollution mask stands between her and this.

Because once outside, whether you're rich or poor, everybody breathes toxic air together.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.


HOLMES: Here's a sight to warm the heart of drought-stricken California, deep, white snow in the mountains. The annual snow pack accounts for a third of the fresh water that California uses. And in recent years, the snowfall has been far below normal. But this is a small piece of a larger picture. The state is experiencing one of its wettest periods in years, raising hopes that the six-year drought might be coming to an end.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is joining us now with more.

Derek, I came here for a week expecting some sun and it has been raining.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: With the much-needed rainfall, Michael, comes the potential of flooding. They are calling this the greatest flood threat in 10 years for northern and central California. Significant, considering we have this constant plume of Pacific moisture streaming into the state. Good news is it will eat away at the drought that has plagued the state for six years. And good news for some of the ski resorts as well. The snow pack across the Sierra Nevadas and the state, in fact, is at 103 percent above average. That is good because the melted snow accounts for 30 percent of California's water. It helps fill up the reservoirs for some of that fresh water we need to contain us as we head into the summer and fall months before next season's snow accumulates again.

Take a look at how the rain water is impacting the drought. We have had a well-advertised drought for the past six years. When we look back a year to 2016, in January, we had over 97 percent of the state at a moderate, at least, drought conditions. Look at how that has been eaten away over the past several weeks. We are now at 67 percent moderate or severe drought. We've reduced the drought size by about 30 percent. But you've got to see this, because the rainfall going forward from Monday into Thursday calls for the potential more flooding and higher elevation snowfall to eat away at the drought.

Michael, back to you.

HOLMES: Derek, good to see you. Thanks so much for that.

VAN DAM: Thank you.

HOLMES: And hopefully, the drought ends.

VAN DAM: Let's hope.

[01:49:12] HOLMES: Next up on NEWSROOM L.A., rise of the robots. Science fiction takes a hard turn towards reality as artificial intelligence replaces dozens of workers at a Japanese company. A portent of things to come? We'll discuss.


HOLMES: Welcome back. It's been the stuff of dystopian novels and films for decades, machines with sophistication could replace people in the work force. It is happening for one company in Japan. The reality is here. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is replacing 34 employees with artificial intelligence from a platform of IBM's Watson. The firm predicts productivity will increase by 30 percent.

Milind Tambe, the co-director of the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence, joins us to talk about this.

This is sort of inevitable I suppose in many ways that there will be robots or artificial intelligence taking human jobs. You see it on car manufacturing lines and things like that. Is it going to increase? DR. MILIND TAMBE, CO-DIRECTOR, USC CENTER FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE:

This is a concern, for sure. But you know, there's always been a concern that when new technology develops that jobs may be lost, but on balance technology has created lots of jobs. The jobs that exist today are different from the jobs that existed 300 years ago. Two to three decades ago, we wouldn't have imagined Google and Amazon and Facebook hiring so many people. And we would expect A.I. to also, you know, create lots of jobs in the future. We don't know the kinds of jobs they will be but they will be new kinds of jobs. But we should keep in mind that A.I. is a positive force. It can do a lot of good things.

HOLMES: That's true. At the same time, you've got the Stephen Hawkings and Elon Musks of the world saying that artificial intelligence could mean the end of humanity. But you are seeing positive uses. Tell me about them.

TAMBE: At the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence, our goal is to do research in A.I. to assist low-resource communities, to assist homeless people, to work on wildlife conservation.

HOLMES: What sort of things?

TAMBE: With wildlife conservation, it is predicting where poachers might strike so we might be able to remove the traps that they place before they kill animals. Or with the homeless, it is spreading information about HIV.

HOLMES: And how does A.I. do that?

[01:54:59] TAMBE: So in harnessing the social network of the homeless youth, we can figure out who are the right messengers, the right peer leaders in a network to spread the message most effectively. And these have been shown to be significantly more beneficial and effective than the traditional methods that have been used in the process. So, our view here is that A.I. can be a big force for good. A.I. for social good. And it is our job as researchers to focus energies on aspects of society, on challenges, tasks, that are not necessarily of commercial value. They could be. But really benefit society that has not benefitted from A.I. at this point.

HOLMES: Hopefully, you're right, and Stephen Hawkings isn't, when he says it could bring the end of humanity, if it's not watched.

You're doing great work and great research.

Milind Tambe, founding co-director of USC Center for A.I.

Appreciate that. Thank you.

TAMBE: Thank you so much. Thank you.

HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. I'll be back with more after this.


[02:00:07] HOLMES: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --