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Dow Hits Record Levels in 2017; Stories in 2017 that Changed the World; Orrin Hatch Attacked for "Thirst for Power" by Newspaper; Republicans Begin Year with Slim Senate Majority. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 13:30   ET



[13:32:12] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: 2017 has been really a remarkable year for U.S. stock markets. The Dow hit more record highs than ever before and put in its best annual performance since 2013. How is it doing in the last few days of trading?

CNN's Zain Asher is in New York for us on this.

Zain, it's typically a quiet week of trading. How are things looking?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let's take a look now. The Dow has been flat all day, but I encourage people to look at it with a pinch of salt. It's the day after Christmas, and you typically expect lower volume. That means a little bit more volatility when it comes to trading.

One stock we are watching closely, Brianna, is Apple, down about 2.5 percent because analysts are anticipating fewer iPhone 10 sales than previously.

Let's look at how the Dow has done so far this year. If you look at how the numbers are between now and January 3, the stock market has been on its ear. Increases of about 5000 points. Best year since 2013. An increase of about 25 percent. The key question is why. The big reason, Brianna, is strong economic fundamentals and a strong economy and low unemployment and, key, low interest rates. When you have a low interest rate environment, it means there are fewer investment options, fewer investment vehicles for people to park their money into so stocks become more attractive. Investors have been waiting with baited breath this time of year to get that tax reform bill through. Finally, saw that last week. Again, the Dow pretty much down today. We are not quite there yet when it comes to Dow 25,000, but who knows what the year will bring. We will see.

KEILAR: And what about the shopping season? Retailers have been tallying up for the sales. How was it?

ASHER: Retail sales, this particular holiday season, turned out relatively well. One of the big winners, as I think was expected, was Amazon. Doing phenomenally and they had their best year yet when it comes to holiday shopping. On top of that, a record number of Amazon prime members coming on board as well. Again, it's down to the fundamentals. Consumer confidence up for the past 17 years and also unemployment at a 17-year low. Those two factors driving people towards the stores.

But there is a word of caution, and that is when you look at 2017 for retailers, Brianna, it is not a good year. That is because you are seeing more and more retailers closing down stores, and also bankruptcy as well. Toys 'r Us and a number of others filing for bankruptcy.

[13:34:56] KEILAR: There are so many when you flip through it.

Zain Asher, in New York, thank you so much for that.

ASHER: Thanks.

KEILAR: Thanks to the passage of that sweeping tax overhaul bill that Zain was talking about, Republicans are ending 2017 with a bang. We will show you what mid-term races they need to win to keep 2018 from being a bust.

Plus, the international stories that defined the last year.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Syrian forces have taken to the streets and officially declaring the terrorist groups' self-proclaimed capitol, Raqqa, has been totally liberated.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now Syrian and Kurdish flags fly over the city, replacing the black flag of terror.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the outer limits of the world, unlike any ever known, comes a spine-tingling tale of horrifying headlines and political intrigue. Join me, Tom Foreman, for "All the Best, All the Worst 2017" tonight at 9:00.


KEILAR: The U.S. is putting more pressure on North Korea. Today, the Treasury Department said it is sanctioning two senior figures connected to North Korea's ballistic missile program. The move is part of an effort to isolate the regime. The tightened tension with North Korea was just one of the dramatic stories of 2017.


[13:39:51] CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's our job to take you to foreign shores, to frontlines. We at CNN go there.

And in 2017, that journey unveiled the unthinkable, ethnic cleansing, countries collapsing, human beings sold like commodities. These are the stories that changed the world.



WARD (voice-over): Our first story, a CNN expose.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The crew traveled into Libya to track down a dark secret, and they found it.

WARD: Fleeing their homes, some of the most desperate people on earth think they've found a passage to safety but, instead, they find themselves in the hands of predators.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Captured and sold like cattle. That's what we witnessed firsthand.




ELBAGIR: The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece.

WARD: The CNN report sparking self-reflection in Europe and the U.S. About the West's own response to the migrant crisis.

In Saudi Arabia, a powerful prince is shaking things up. Bolstered by close relations with the Trump White House. This 32-year-old, Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, better known as MBS, embarking on a series of reforms, arresting many of his own cousins in a sweeping crackdown on corruption.

FOSTER: He has swept away a generation of elderly and experienced ministers.

WARD: While also taking on the kingdom's powerful clergy.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is only one country in the world where women can't drive, and soon, there will be none.

WARD: But as he tries to take on an increasingly assertive Iran, things get complicated.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: As defense minister, he initiated airstrikes on neighboring Yemen.


WARD: Involvement in a war that has brought 8.4 million people to the brink of famine.

(on camera): It's not the bombs and the bullets killing the most people. It's the humanitarian crisis that is growing by the day as Yemen edges closer to becoming a failed state.

(voice-over): In Venezuela, a perfect storm of economic and political crises.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president finally admitted his government cannot afford to pay the bills.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, ERIN BURNETT: Venezuela may be just hours away from more violence and chaos ahead of the controversial election.

WARD: Maduro's party wins the election, and the opposition and the U.S. claim fraud.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people.

TAPPER: Politicians who spoke out against current President Nicolas Maduro were yanked out of their homes by authorities and the midnight raids.

WARD: A CNN team goes undercover and is stunned by what they find.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: The food truck is breaking down for mere seconds before it was looted.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basic food is scarce. Virginia has been doing this for 18 months to feed her five kids.


WARD: Bombs bringing with them a war crime so sickening, it's difficult to put into words.

From his roof top, he quickly sees this is no ordinary strike. I ward you, the pictures you are about to see are graphic.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: We are following breaking news. Reports of a gas or some kind of a chemical attack in Syria, killing dozens.


WARD: All-around him, people are foaming at the mouth.


WARD: Convulsions racking their bodies.

The horrifying scenes shock the world. Victims, some of them just children, gasping for their final breath.


WARD: The Syrian government had dropped a sarin bomb on its own people. DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: That chemical attack in the Syrian town led to

the first American military strikes against the regime of Bashar al Assad.

WARD: Syrian President Bashar al Assad remains defiant.


WARD: In 2017, two words would shock the world, ethnic cleansing.

BALDWIN: Armed government forces are attacking their own minority citizens.

WARD: In southeast Asia's Myanmar, the pariah state-turned-fledgling democracy, the unthinkable was happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): They are beating us, shooting at us, and hacking our people to death.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: 600,000 of them fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

WARD: The crisis is raising questions about the country's de facto leader who is accused of doing nothing to stop the violence.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Growing criticism of NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, over her handling of human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslims.

[13:45:08] WARD: Coming in at number two, the fall of ISIS.


WARD: Three years since the terror group surged to infamy with staggering conquests across Iraq and Syria, its defeat came with a whimper and not a bang.

TAPPER: The Syrian forces taking to the streets and officially declaring the terrorist group's self-proclaimed capitol of Raqqa has been totally liberated.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now Syrian and Kurdish flags fly over the city, replacing the black flag of terror.

WARD: The historic Syrian city of Palmira, where ISIS fighters were filmed destroying ancient artifacts, reclaimed with the help of Russia. In Iraq, ISIS desperately tries to hold its ground in the country's second largest city of Mosul.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senior commanders take us in in the calm before the final storm.


WARD: Their ambitions to build a caliphate crumbling as small pockets of ISIS militants are flushed out.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Iraqi prime minister is declaring full victory over ISIS in Mosul, saying the entire war-torn city has been liberated from brutality and terrorism.

WARD: In 2017, ISIS loses all of its major strongholds.

But beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria, lone wolf attacks in the name of ISIS ensure their global reign of terror is still far from over.



WARD: July 4th, U.S. Independence Day --


WARD: -- North Korea lights up the sky with its own frightening milestone.

CUOMO: North Korea releasing new video appearing to show the successful launch of its first intercontinental ballistic video.

WARD: Nuclear capable but not yet nuclear armed. By September, Kim Jong-Un's missile program reaches its final frontier.

BALDWIN: "The Washington Post" is now reporting that North Korea produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its 34i68 missiles.

WARD: The stage is set for war, but for now, contained to a war of words.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

WARD: But just miles away from the North Korean border, on his Asian swing, President Trump replaced the petty name-calling with a more diplomatic tone.

TRUMP: The ones you are acquiring are not making you safer.

WARD: The president continuing to push China to contain the North.

TRUMP: The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become.


WARD: As the nuclear standoff continues, the question remains, will the next missile trigger a war? (END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Still ahead, a major newspaper slams Utah Senator Orrin Hatch in his, quote, "unquenchable thirst for power."


[13:51:14] KEILAR: Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is being attacked by his home-state newspaper in Utah, and they're telling him it's time to retire. The editorial board of the "Salt Lake Tribune" writes that Hatch has, quote, "an utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power." Hatch's spokesman actually just responded a moment ago, saying they hope the paper finds a job in attacking the Senator's four years of service just for some clicks. I'm sorry, that was a typo. Joy, finding some joy, not jobs, is what they said.

I want to bring in CNN political director, David Chalian, at the magic wall to explain.

So, David, Senator Hatch's seat doesn't seem to be in danger of going to Democrats. But what Senate races should we be keeping an eye on for next year?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, we should make clear, even if Orrin Hatch doesn't run for re-election, that seat won't be in play for the Democrats.

But we wanted to look at the balance of power. When Doug Jones won the race in Alabama is sworn in, it's a two-seat majority for Republicans, 51-49, putting the Democrats just two seats away from winning back the majority.

Let's take a look though at who is up for re-election in the Senate. You have to remember 26, 24 Democrats plus the two Independents that caucus, 26 Democrats up for re-election. Democratic seats up for re- election. Only eight Republican seats up for re-election. So this is a map you look at and say, wow, Democrats have to play a ton of defense. And they do, especially these 10 Democrats, all from states that Donald Trump won in 2016. In fact, that top row, those five Senators, those Democrats are from a state where Donald Trump won by double digits. So there is a lot of defense for Democrats to play this.

KEILAR: And there are some playing offense, right? There are some places where the Democrats are playing offense.

CHALIAN: That is certainly true. They do have a couple of opportunities. Namely, in Arizona and Nevada. Jeff Flake retiring, so Democrats see potential optimistic outlook in that state. And Senator Heller, the Republican from Nevada, is the only Republican running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won. So he's clearly a target as well. And there are a couple of wild cards that popped on to the map. Bob Corker, in Tennessee, announced retirement and Democrats were able to recruit the former governor there, which is giving them hopes of putting that state in play. If not in win, perhaps at least Republicans spend a ton of time and money there. And of course, Al Franken, who resigned his seat from Minnesota in light of allegations of inappropriate behavior. And this is the blue state that Donald Trump got rather close to beating Hillary Clinton in. Only 1.5 percent victory for Hillary Clinton in Minnesota. Now an appointed Senator, a lieutenant governor, will be there. That gives Republicans hopes not entrenched incumbent that will perhaps be in play as well -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And, David, it would be a very tall order for Democrats to flip the map in the Senate, in Congress?

CHALIAN: No doubt about it. They would have to run the table.

Let me go back, when I showed you those 10 Democrats from the red states. Every one of these Democrats would have to win re-election. Let's start there. They have to hold all of theirs, and still convert two seats. So maybe that Arizona and Nevada seat, I showed you. But it would have to mean everything would have to go perfectly for Democrats. It's an uphill battle for them to regain control of the majority in the United States Senate. But it's not out of the question. When this cycle started a year ago, we were having this conversation. Brianna, I would look at that map and Donald Trump victory in November, and I would say the Democrats have no chance of winning the majority. In fact, Republicans will pad their majority. The fact we are now looking at a low approval rating for the president and at the seats put in play, the fact that the Senate is even in play is a remarkable development for the Democrats at this point in the cycle.

[13:55:15] KEILAR: All right. David Chalian breaking it down for us. Thank you so much, sir.

That's it for me. I'll be back at 5:00 eastern on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

For our international viewers, you can check out "AMANPOUR" next.

For our viewers in North America, NEWSROOM with Don Lemon starts right after a quick break.

[14:00:06] LEMON: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Don Lemon, in today for Brooke Baldwin. Hope you had a great Christmas.

Christmas is over, and the president said he is back to work. First order of business ---