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Are Republicans on Same Page on 2018 Priorities?; Obama Radio Interview; Russia Accuses U.S. of Training Former ISIS Fighters; Nippon Airlines Flight Returns to LAX Due to Unexpected Passenger. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: The problems are not only after all of the long year of calling Democrats obstructionists and losers trying to come to the table to work with them after getting through deadlines on legalization for DREAMers and everything else. The problem is division with their own Republican ranks, people conservative Republicans who don't want to pay for this on top of deficit funded tax cuts.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: So many obstacles.

Thank you so much, A.B. Stoddard, David Drucker. We appreciate you both being here.

Coming up, infrastructure, immigration, welfare reform. Are Republicans all on the same page when it comes to their priorities for 2018.



RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: The base of our party is so pleased with the president right now. Imagine where we'll be next November as we see our economy continue to grow under the great policies coming from Republicans.


KEILAR: RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel this morning talking about accomplishments by the president and Republican leaders in Congress. But are they all on the same page about what they want to tackle next year?

CNN's congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is at the magic wall to explain.

Phil, walk us through who wants what.

[13:35:12] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, you think Republican leaders coming off a major win with their tax overhaul. The big question is what comes next. What do they draft off of? These three leaders two are very clearly on the same page, the president and Mitch McConnell saying the same thing. Recognizing he has a majority in a couple days when the new Alabama Senator will be seated. He recognizes they're not going through simple majority votes anymore. They need Democrats. Democrats are very interested in infrastructure. So perhaps an opening there. Look where the speaker is. If you talk to Speaker Ryan, you know welfare reform, entitlement reform are things he's been keen on pushing forward. Guess what, he's the speaker of the House and has a wide-open agenda. He made clear he wants to push forward on that. Majority leader made clear there's not a lot of appetite for that in the Senate. They will be meeting at Camp David to try and hash out the direction forward. At the end of the month, all Republicans meet at the Republican retreat. You'll see the results in the State of the Union. Before the big picture items come to fruition, take a look at this.

But this is what Republicans have to deal with along with Democrats by January 19th. You have the immigration and DACA issue. March is the deadline. McConnell made clear he wants to deal with that in January possibly along the same lines when they start dealing with the spending bill. Repealing Obamacare, the repeal you can pretty much X that out. There's not a lot of appetite for that. That said, there are things they can do on Obamacare they would like to consider. When will do those? How? They want to do them quickly. The question is, what the method or vehicle would be for doing those. Brianna, the key here is, in the month of January, they need to deal with must-pass items early and quickly. Or none of those bigger picture items ever come to fruition.

KEILAR: With such a slim majority in the Senate and different factions in the House, there's this is question of what about the rank-and-file? Who should we watch on hill.

MATTINGLY: Take a look at the 10 red state Democrats. Democrats up for re-election in 2018 from states Trump won. We assumed all through 2017 at some point some of these Democrats would be there to actually help with Republican agenda. Never happened. Infrastructure may be the difference. One other, Susan Collins, made a clear deal with the majority leader and the president to come on board for reform. That promise was broken. She wants very specific things on Obamacare. The majority leader knows she's extremely important when you only have a 51-49 majority. Keep an eye on Susan Collins. She wants two specific items on health care. The majority leader will try to do that in January. If he doesn't, you don't want a disappointed Susan Collins.

KEILAR: She holds a lot of power this go-round.

Phil, thank you so much for that.

Coming up, the prince and the ex-president. Barack Obama, get personal with Britain's Prince Harry. The rare sit-down interview and the controversy over whether Obama will get an invite to the royal wedding.


[13:42:19] KEILAR: Talk about royal treatment. In his first interview since leaving office, former President Obama talked with Prince Harry. This was recorded back in September and it was released today on BBC radio. Obama answered a number of rapid-fire questions from the prince.


PRINCE HARRY: Harry or William?



PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Bodyguard"?

OBAMA: "Titanic."

PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife"?

OBAMA: "Suits," obviously.

PRINCE HARRY: Great. Great, great answer.

Cigarettes or gum?

OBAMA: Gum now, baby.


White House or Buckingham Palace?

OBAMA: White House just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow.

PRINCE HARRY: OK, fair enough.

OBAMA: A lot of upkeep.

PRINCE HARRY: Queen or "The Queen"?

OBAMA: The queen.


KEILAR: I love that last question.

Melissa Bell joining us from London.

Who is kidding, Melissa, because there's a lot of mowing lawn at either property. I don't know what Obama is talking about.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama wouldn't do it in either place, to be frank.

KEILAR: Yes, I know. So tell us about this interview. This was just a taste of it. BELL: It was fascinating on two counts. First of all, Brianna,

because this was one extremely famous man interviewing another. How often do you get a prince interviewing a former president but also because, at no point in this nearly 14-minute interview, was Donald Trump mentioned a single time? Yet, the specter of the current administration hung heavily over the interview. For instance, Obama spoke about the dangers of social media, that common space needed to be created because civil discourse was being corroded in a clear swipe at his successor's use of things like Twitter. But that specter also hung over the other man who is part of this interview, Prince Harry who is getting married on May 19th. One of the questions that has yet to be resolved is who is going to be on the guest list of what will be one of the most closely watched weddings in years.

So just after the BBC aired that interview with Barack Obama, they did an interview with Prince Harry. He was asked whether he would be inviting Barack Obama to his wedding.


PRINCE HARRY (voice-over): We share the same kind of mind-set and outlook on the charitable sector on foundations and mainly on the youth of the today. The young people of this world are incredibly inspirational.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Well, enough to invite him to your wedding?

PRINCE HARRY: Well, I don't know about that. We haven't put the invites or the guest list together yet. Who knows whether he will be invited or not. Wouldn't want to ruin that surprise.


[13:45:01] BELL: The reason it's such an important question is if Barack Obama is invited to the royal wedding May 19th, there's a chance he will be making that visit to the United Kingdom even before Donald Trump has been able to pay his first visit to the U.K. since taking power. That visit has been the subject of a lot of controversy, petitions and opposition here in the United Kingdom.

KEILAR: That's right.

Melissa Bell, thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a Russian general makes a claim that the U.S. is training former ISIS militants. What is behind this?

Plus, it was supposed to be a nonstop flight to Tokyo. Instead, more than 200 passengers from L.A. ended up right back where they started after eight hours in the air. Why did this happen? We'll talk about it next.


[13:49:55] KEILAR: Russia is really pushing the envelope with accusations and provocations. In a newspaper report, a Russian general has accused the U.S. of training ex ISIS fighters at a base in Syria. This comes on the heels of a statement by the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, saying the main fight against ISIS in Syria is over and the U.S. should leave.

Senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is in Moscow for us.

Fred, why does this Russian general say the U.S. is training terrorists in Syria?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russian general, he's actually the chief of staff of the Russian military, didn't offer anything in the way of proof. He said there are satellite images, and the Russians are getting other intelligence as well. Didn't put that forward that would make a case for this being true. Now, they are saying that at a base called Anton (ph), which is on border between Syria and Jordan, the U.S. was there training fighters, that the U.S. says are part of the moderate opposition that the Russians says are former people who fought with ISIS. And Russians are highly critical of that. U.S., for its part, is saying, yes, this base in Anton (ph) exists, everybody knows that. They say they continue to have a presence, and a dispatch there, because they believe ISIS is still trying to wreak havoc in that part of Syria. So the U.S. says there's a legitimate reason for all this happening.

But all of this, Brianna, is part of a big push, by the Russians that we have seen, especially over the last week or so, where they are making a case for why they believe America should get out of Syria. That's been the message from this general. He also said that in this interview as well. Said no legitimate reason the U.S. should still be in Syria. But other top-ranked military officials have said the same thing -- Brianna?

KEILAR: When he says the main fight is over, just fact check that.

PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, I think that a lot of it -- the main fight as far as ISIS holding territory also in the areas where the Russians helped the Assad regime fight over there, I think a lot of that is over. If you look at the big cities, certainly a lot of headway has been made. And quite frankly, it seems, for us, for a very long time. As you know, I was on the ground in Syria quite a bit. There was really a division of labor between the U.S.-led forces and the Russian-led forces. And that really helped escalate the fight against ISIS. It being totally over, there are still a lot of places where there are ISIS fighters on the ground that can still be very dangerous.

KEILAR: OK. Thank you so much, Fred Pleitgen, from Moscow.

And coming up, jet lag anybody? A flight from L.A. to Tokyo spends eight hours in the hour only gets back to the destination in Los Angeles? What happened here? Plus, the Twitter from the celebrity on board.


[13:57:08] KEILAR: Picture this, you are four hours into a flight to Tokyo and the crew announces they have to turn the plane around. That's right, flying four hours all the way back to the airport you came from because there is someone on board that shouldn't have been on board. That is what happened to more than 200 passengers traveling from Los Angeles yesterday hoping to get to Tokyo.

One celebrity on board live-tweeted about the incident.

And CNN's Rene Marsh is joining me now.

And, Rene, you just got some new information about how this happened.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Right. Because, Brianna, we've been talking about this story. It's so amazing to think, 11-hour flight, and four hours in you have to turn around. What in the world could have led to this? And two law enforcement sources are telling me root of the problem were two brothers who were flying together. They were both going to Tokyo, but actually originally booked on two separate flights. So at some point, though, they have very similar names, at some point, they were able to both get on the flight. Perhaps the two similar names threw someone off. That is unclear. But both ended up on the flight with only one booked to be on that flight. Then hours later, someone within the flight crew realized there is one too many people on this flight. And that's when they started to realize something went wrong. Of course, you know, as a part of their policy, abundance of caution, they decided to come back to LAX, because the manifest didn't appear as it should have been. Had one extra person. That is why they came back to LAX. Of course, a huge embarrassment for the airline and, of course, it cost them a lot of money as well.

KEILAR: What does Chrissy Teigen have to do with this, Rene?

MARSH: One thing you don't want to have famous person with millions of followers on Twitter. She was tweeting this whole thing. Quite entertaining. Made the big joke, "L.A. to L.A trip complete, only took eight hours and 20 minutes."

KEILAR: So she was on there with her husband, John Legend.


KEILAR: They look like they were riding in first class.

MARSH: They'll be OK.

KEILAR: But that coach, I have made that flight in coach. Were they compensated? Do we know?

MARSH: We know that the airline put them up in hotels. And then rebooked everyone on new flights. So everyone is on their way now. So, again, that's a significant cost to the airline as well, to turn your flight around and put people up in hotels and rebook them on new flights. And all because of what they are calling an administrative mix-up.

KEILAR: Terrible.

All right. Rene Marsh, thank you for that. Happy New Year to you.

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

For our international viewers, "AMANPOUR" is next.

For our North American viewers, NEWSROOM with Don Lemon starts right now.

[12:00:06] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon, everyone, in for Brooke today.

We begin with the growing Republican criticism of the Russia investigation. Calls for an out-right purge --