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South Korea Adds Extra Layer Of 2018 Winter Olympics Security Amid Tensions; CNN Investigates Sexual Assault In The Air; Deadly Blast Kill At Least 40 In Afghanistan. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 28, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: U.S. President Donald Trump touting his accomplishments and stretching the truth. Plus, Russia is accusing the U.S. of meddling in its election. This after the Trump administration criticized Russia of banning (ph) Vladimir Putin's potential opponent from the upcoming presidential race.

And, North Korea is making military moves. Could this be a sign the regime is getting ready to test another ballistic missile? Then seeing climate change from space. Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly says quote, "The scars that it's leaving on our planet are visible from above."

Our conversation with Mark Kelly ahead. That all coming up. Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. This is Newsroom L.A.

U.S. President Trump is on familiar territory literally and figuratively. He's at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida for the holidays and touting his achievements during his first year in office. On Wednesday he said he signed more legislation than anybody. His claim coming just days after the passage of his tax cut plan bill widely recognized as the only major piece of legislation he's signed this year.

But the president who spoke while visiting with first responders painted a different picture.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will have to ask those folks but I think they know the real answer. We have more legislation passed (ph) including the record was Harry Truman a long time. And we broke that record. So, we have a lot to ...

(END VIDEOCLIP)

SESAY: Well, here's the problem with that statement. It's just not true. In fact, Mr. Trump has signed fewer bills in his first year in office than any administration in decades going back to Eisenhower's administration. President Trump has signed 96 laws this year. Truman signed about 250 bills in his first year in office. That's according to his presidential library. Well, let's discuss

this with our CNN political commentators, John Thomas, a republican from (inaudible) and Dave Jacobson, democratic strategist and John, if I could start with you. I mean the question has to be why would the president say something that clearly doesn't have the facts on its side? I mean what is that about?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It's President Trump. I mean there's no other way to say it. It's one of those things, it's strange because he really has a lot to brag about as we close out the year, yet he's stretches the truth and undermines what is a good case to be made that he's delivered on a lot campaign promises that he made to his votes.

So, it's just one of those things. It's another moment where President Trump shoots himself in the foot when all he had to do was stay on message and he could have closed out the year on a positive note.

SESAY: I mean, Dave, I mean, it brings up the old question, the president, his relationship with the truth and ultimately his credibility.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Absolutely. He is flat out divorced from reality and that's a fact. There's no denying it. I mean these are alternative facts that the White House has continued to spew out since its first day in office when Sean Spicer was up at the White House podium talking about how the president's inauguration had more people than any other inauguration in American history.

It's emblematic of what we've seen throughout the course of this presidency. Let's not forget the Washington Post just weeks ago wrote a story where they exposed 1,600 lies or falsehoods that Trump or his cronies in the White House have put forward. So, this is unprecedented.

SESAY: John, I mean, I guess really you - what is the definition of success? I think that's also part of it. I mean, as you talk about his accomplishments no one can take away the fact that the president signed a major piece of legislation and he got Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

Those are major accomplishments. Vice President Mike Pence has been tweeting, as well, touting the record. Let's put up the tweet the vice president shared with the public and he said this, "In just one year @POTUS fulfilled promise after promise. Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, repealed Obamacare individual mandate, 1.7 million new jobs, ISIS on the run, largest tax in American history #makeamericagreatagain."

But the thing is again it's about, I guess some would say stretching the truth, I mean the promise wasn't to repeal the individual mandate. The promise was to repeal and replace Obamacare. I mean, again, when they kind of like put down the facts it always seems that they are stretching it a little bit. THOMAS: Well, the repealing of the individual mandate, I mean, I suppose that is stretching it but it effectively is killing off the lifeblood of Obamacare. So, I think, look, it's one of those things where everybody thought that the GOP and Trump failed at any attempt at killing Obamacare when in fact they might have done it all in one go. So, this is just politics, Isha, both sides do -

SESAY: Sure.

THOMAS: We all massage it to fit our narrative. I think there are a lot of things - and that we didn't even cover it. An unprecedented amount of judicial appointments. Unceasing or loosing of regulations both in environmental and other business killers across the country. There are a lot of things to brag about but if I were advising the president, which I'm not. But if I were, I would say just stick to your accomplishments, stick to the - and don't give people opportunities to shoot you down because then the conversation shifts to this instead of forward looking about what other things he's going to accomplish in 2018.

SESAY: (Dave) your - your thought on that - that tweet by the vice president and the list of accomplishments.

DAVE JACOBSON: I mean this is why there's a vast disconnect between the presidents job approval rating. Which is hovering right around 35 percent according to CNN's latest poll from last week, 33 percent with independence. And the fact that the economy is humming along. Normally in a time of economic prosperity there's income in equality. But in a time when we're creating jobs, GDP is moving forward. The president's approval rating historically have ticked up in association with a good strong economy.

There's a massive problem here when you've got a president's first year in office who has the lowest approval rating in any and modern polling of all presidents. This is - you know unbelievable. And I think it's reflective of the fact Americans are frustrated, there anxious. Donald Trump sold his base, a whole bunch of goods but he hasn't delivered. There is no wall.

THOMAS: Well - well Dave I'm not - I'm not sure that Americans are frustrated and anxious. MasterCard said that they saw record spending, I mean of all time, in this Christmas period. I think it's the fact that they don't like Donald Trump.

JACOBSON: Right.

THOMAS: I don't know that it's necessarily that their unhappy with the direction of the country.

SESAY: Having said that, you know, for what you say the president - you say frustrated, you say they just don't like Trump possibly. You know it does seem as if the vice presidents tweet is also getting at this whole issue - they want more credit, they want more kind of passing on the fact for what they -

THOMAS: Well and its understandable Isha. When you look at coverage of this administration, I think, most analysis has shown over 90 percent of the coverage of this white house has been negative. A lot of it has been self inflicted. But a lot of it has been pretty darn harsh so I think their saying, look as we close out the year, it's our job to drive our message of the good things we've done because we're tired of nothing but Russia, Russia, Russia.

JACOBSON: Well strategists who like advice candidates like that's what we do is well tell our folks to stay on message and that's the challenge with Donald Trump. He's erratic, he's unhinged, he's all over the map and he creates these self inflicted wounds when he goes into self sabotage mode on twitter that changes the subject.

SESAY: Well I'm glad you brought up twitter because president Obama was interviewed by Britain's Prince Harry. And he had a thing or two to say about responsible use of social media. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARAK OBAMA: All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet. One of the dangers of the internet is is that people can have entirely realities. They can be, just cocooned in the information reinforces their current biases.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Must be said John. President Obama did not mention president Trump by name but people have said the - there's an inference there. That it is referring to president Trumps usage of twitter and his supporters. Does he make a valid point though? That you can use it just to kind of reinforce your own biases and kind of exist in your own alternate reality.

THOMAS: This is - this is the problem with the internet - and not - it's for everybody. It's what I call the IPod generation.

SESAY: -- president of the United States.

THOMAS: You listen to your play list and not somebody else's. I think the president hears what you know he hears a lot of different opinions but look with all due respect to the last president, this president whether you love him or you hate him in his twitter feed. It's refreshing that it comes from the president. Barak Obama's twitter feed, while active, was not the president. It was watered down that I didn't know what the president was thinking day in and day out.

I knew what his communications team was. And this case, we're getting a taste of the president himself and that's kind of cool.

SESAY: Dave is that a fair statement?

JACOBSON: How many - not necessarily - I mean look, yes it's the president direct to the American people. But I'm not sure that that's necessarily always a good thing. Let's remember, we've had international crises when president Trump got into twitter spats with the Prime Minister of the U K or the president of Mexico or other world leaders. And I think that's the challenge is there's no filter, there's no expert use. You know looking at these tweets before they go out to make sure, hey this isn't going to get us into some international mess with some of our allies or advisories.

SESAY: Well we're almost out of time but as you speak about you know president Obama, former president Obama not knowing what he thought. I want to put up this gallop poll because it would seem that for the lack of knowledge for what he stood for, if I'm to say John and I what he just said.

He has still managed to retain the tile of the worlds most admired man in the gallop poll. Narrowly edging out the (inaudible) you see him there at 14 percent, Barak Obama getting 17 percent. John something tells me that the man in marlovov(ph) is not going to be happy.

THOMAS: You know actually I would be pretty happy if I were Donald Trump in these numbers because traditionally your more popular post president than during the president--

SESAY: That is true.

VAUSE: The fact that Donald Trump is even right within the margin of error of Barack Obama and this level of polarization, this climate, it shows that he's going to be higher than Barack Obama post presidency.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: Davia (ph), 10 seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two things, one, that embodiment of Barack Obama's swagger. Number one. Number two, as I recall, Barack Obama has one this award for the -- or won this poll for the last 10 years.

SESAY: He has indeed. He has indeed. But we'll John respond to that another. John and Dave (ph) always a pleasure. Thank you. And this just in to us here at CNN, about that special election in Alabama earlier this month, the Republican candidate Roy Moore, has filed a complaint alleging potentially election fraud.

His campaign wants a postponed certification of the election results until a thorough investigation is completed. The complaint also includes a affidavit from Moore stating that he passed the polygraph test that he says confirms misconduct allegations against him are completely false.

A number of women came forward to say Moore harassed and in some cases, sexually abused them when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s. The election results are scheduled to certified on Thursday. We're (ph) President Trump complained he's not getting credit for his accomplishments, but in Israel, he's earning lots of praise for recognizing Jerusalem as its capitol.

Some people are so thrilled, they're renaming things in his honor. For instance, a high speed rail station in the old city of Jerusalem will be named for him. It's expected to take a year to plan and four years to build. Streets will also bear his name. Mr. Trump's decision to move the

U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem isn't universally popular, most countries in the U.N. General Assembly rejected it. Well after more than an year of hearing about Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Russia is not accusing the U.S. of meddling in its domestic politics.

The U.S. State Department expressed concerns and key opposition figure electing (inaudible) is barred from running against President Vladimir Putin next March. That planted disposalment (ph) for the Russian foreign ministry to accuse the U.S. of quote direct interference in Russia's internal affairs.

Well as relations between the two country's worsen, Mr. Putin is worried more U.S. sanctions are likely. They could impact wealthy Russians who keep their fortunes overseas. The Russian president is now encouraging those people to protect their assets by bringing them back to Russia. Elise Labott reports.

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the threat of new U.S. sanctions to bring capital back to Russia. Wealthy Russians are believed to have significant overseas assets, one estimate has that figure as high as $1 trillion.

Putin is encouraging Russians to repatriate some of that money after the U.S. last week added several prominent Russians to its sanctions list. Now, Putin has approved a plan proposed by business leaders to issue special bonds to keep Russian assets outside of the reach of the U.S. Treasury.

And this week in a meeting with business people and senior politicians, Putin announced a new capital amnesty program. Russians can now bring their assets back to Russia without penalties. Putin according to his spokesman is promising to waive the 13 percent tax on personal income.

Russia rolled out a similar amnesty a few years ago during the height of the conflict in Ukraine which coincided with plummeting oil prices, all that triggered the longest recession during Putin's tenure. That drive to bring capital back home is not all that successful, but now Putin is clearly using the threat of additional sanctions and asset freezes to coax Russians to bring their capital back home.

Putin specifically said he was launching the program given the quote, foreign restrictions which have a tendency to increase. Aside (ph) Putin expects more sanctions against Russians to come. Elise Labbot, CNN, Washington.

SESAY: Well still to come on CNN Newsroom, there's new reasons to suspect North Korea may be planning to test another missile.

Ahead what U.S. intelligence is detecting and how this adds to growing concern, ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Then we'll talk with retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly why he says 2017 has been an unequivocal disaster to the future of our planet. (COMMERICAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello everyone. Blasts of the Arctic air are bringing bone chilling temperatures to parts of the U.S. Check out this frozen waterfall in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The city of international fall (ph) set a record low of minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit or about minus 38 degrees Celsius. Wow.

And the low temperatures also the spray from New York's Bryant Park Fountain into icicles, the National Weather Service has issued frost bite advisories in parts of the northeast, Midwest and west. Stay warm everyone. News about the planet, 2017 is set to become one of the hottest years on record according to the World Meteorological Organization.

On top of that, a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Associate says climate change is causes severe weather events like heat waves and extreme sea temperatures. Mark Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

He's just written about his concerns of climate change in a new piece on CNN.com. I'm please to say Mark Kelly joins me now from Tucson, Arizona. Mark Kelly, welcome.

MARK KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Oh thank you. Thanks for having me on, Isha.

SESAY: You're most welcome. Having been an astronaut, your perspective on the changes that are occurring to our planet is truly unique. I want to quote from the piece that you wrote, you said in 2001, "I flew my flight into space aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Roughly a decade later, I commanded that same space shuttle on its final flight. That trip was my fourth journey -- and at least for now -- from this planet into space." Mark Kelly, four flights to space, can you share with us the changes you observed during that time?

MARK KELLY, RETIRED AMERICAN ASTRONAUT: Well you know it's interesting, you know, that's a decade in time and when you think of the age of our planet at, you know, over five or four billion years old, it's really just a sliver of time and for an astronaut to see, you know, the change in the deforestation of the Amazon as an example or the increase in pollution over large parts of Asia, you know it gets a little bit concerning.

SESAY: You know the (inaudible) and the pictures of (inaudible) of 2016 and it's not a pretty one. Talk to me about how scientists are explaining the severe weather events that have occurred in recent months. What are they saying?

KELLY: Well, you know it's, it's interesting that, you know, the science and the research and the data supports the, the conclusion that the climate is and the temperature of the planet will continue to warm. You know we're looking at temperatures maybe in excess of six degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century you know in 83 years or so. And, if that happens, if that comes to pass, which is the more likely event now, we're going to see increased incidences of extreme climate events.

SESAY: You wrote this in the piece and let's share this with our viewers. "This year has been an unequivocal disaster for the future of the planet. President Donald Trump has managed to take a wrecking ball to years' worth of hard work and painstaking negotiations. If not undone, our retreat from the Paris Climate Accord and the EPA's Clean Power Plan alone mean our planet's temperature will rise at a greater rate and our citizen's health will degrade."

I mean what do you make of the fact that the U.S. finds itself with a President and an Administration that remains skeptical of climate change in the face of all the data, all the science, everything we know. What do you make of that?

KELLY: Well, it's, it's only skeptical of climate science. I mean we have members of Congress that fundamentally don't believe in any science. You know we have people who serve in our, you know, our most important legislative body in this country that believe that the planet is 5,000 years old because it says so in the bible. And that is not reality. So this issue with accepting reality is a, is a problem and it results in making poor decisions. And to, you know, take ourselves out of the Paris Climate Accord, to cancel the EPA's Clean Power Plan, I mean these are just dumb, just dumb choices.

I mean to be the only country on the planet that is not part of an agreement that we largely orchestrated ourselves to back away from this. You know, it's an isolationist move. I mean it really is. I mean, I mean are we trying to make this, you know, an us versus them? I mean when you think about it, when you look at the earth from space, it's pretty obvious that we all live literally on an island in our solar system and you know really have no place else to go. So you know, we're really in this together and for the United States to stand alone as a country, you know, that is not part of an effort to try to reduce emissions. It's a really sad state of affairs.

SESAY: So you know, toward the end of your piece you wrote this regarding the whole issue of leadership, "As you pass over the United States in space at night, you can see with your own naked eye the bright lights that prove that we lead the world in energy consumption. It is very obvious. What's not obvious is whether our country will adequately respond to this reality. As the largest consumer of energy, we must lead the way in solving this problem. If we don't do this, who will?"

So, picking up on the point you made about leadership and its necessity. If the U.S. doesn't, I mean you've given us a timeframe of about 10 years, and if the U.S. doesn't lead the way, who can step up and do enough to kind of turn, you know turn, turn the tide if you will?

KELLY: Well I mean China uses a lot of energy as well. You know, there's you know now over, well over 1.2 I think (inaudible) on the Asian subcontinent of India. I mean these are people you know like the United States, use a lot of energy. So what happens in China, what happens in India, what happens in Europe, you know Africa, as some of these countries move from you know undeveloped, more third- world countries to more developed economies, it's going to be critical that they make good choices. But, you know, there's a reason why we have been the leaders on this issue and so many others when the really challenging things to do whether it's an engineering challenge or political challenge.

The reason why we, the United States have led on these issues is because we're generally pretty good at it and it worries me to see is there another country that's going to step up and fill the vacuum of our leadership and I would content that that's probably not going to happen.

If we don't lead this planet in the right direction on this issue and others, we're just making a big mess for our children and our grandchildren through the next century.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Well there are lots to think about as we head towards 2018, Mark Kelly, thank you so much. Thank you fro joining us and just sharing your thoughts, appreciate it.

KELLY: So thank you for having me on.

SESAY: We're going to pause a quick break here. Remember this moment, if not, stick around to see it. A professor giving an interview gets video bombed by his kids, the moment went viral, head for us to look at other stories that was the most talked about on social media.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Well the world's attention is on North Korea as U.S. officials see another missile of satellite test may be coming. There are early indications the North is moving equipment, a possible prelude to a launch.

Meanwhile, a senior White House official says the Trump administration is adopting a new approach to the crisis, looking to be more quiet and discreet in how they handle joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan tensions on the peninsula are font of mind for South Korea as they prepare to host the winter Olympics.

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[02:30:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump administration is adopting a new approach to the crisis looking to be more quiet and discrete in how they handle joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan. Tensions on the peninsula are front of mind for South Korea as they to host the Winter Olympics coming up in February. They're facing a variety potential threat including a nightmare scenario of a biological attack. A new report is heightening this fears rather claiming a North Korea defector had anthrax antibodies in his system. We're going to have more on that shortly. But first Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on North Korea's latest moves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. Military, keeping a very sharp eye as always on North Korea. There are preliminary signs, CNN has been told, that the north, again, is moving equipment around. What is not clear is the aim in this equipment movement. Is it aimed at another upcoming ballistic missile test? Are the North Koreans preparing to launch a satellite on top of a rocket? Too early to say. We simply don't know. But all eyeballs on the satellite imagery and any intelligence that they can gather about what the north may be up to.

Now, this comes at a very sensitive time. The Olympics in South Korea are coming up in the next several weeks, and the U.S. Military is saying it will keep a more quiet view. It will not be talking so much about any upcoming training or exercises because of the sensitivities in the region. It's not talking about when these next exercises are scheduled for, for example. Something very different than in the past because typically the Pentagon talks about it. It wants North Korea to know that this is training, that it is routine business, that these are not upcoming military operations.

But the sensitivities in the region right now, the effort to get a diplomatic solution is leading the Pentagon to pull back publicly on its own discussion about exercises. But now it will be up to President Trump to decide whether he is going to take that line or he may once again engage in very aggressive public rhetoric about the north. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well there's no doubt the tensions on the Korean Peninsula are affecting preparations for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Security officials have faced with a multitude of threats from the neighbors to the north. But they are determined to have the games go ahead as planned. Here is Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As tensions with Kim Jong-un regime intensify U.S. Law Enforcement and Security agencies are wrapping up coordination with their South Korean counterparts. Just weeks before the Winter Olympics concerns are mounting that North Korea might engage in a violent provocation to disrupt the games. Which are being held just 50 miles south of the DMZ?

JAMES GAGLIANO, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: My concern are softer targets and obviously things that North Korea might do to provoke the South Koreans to attempt it to cause either the games being shut down or events being moved or potentially war.

TODD: Security experts say soft targets like transportation hubs, schools, and shopping areas could be targeted by the North Koreans during the Olympics. Could athletes from America and elsewhere be in danger? U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hinted at it on Fox would ask if America would send its team to the games.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you comfortable sending family members if they were athletes on our team?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think it depends on what's going on at the time in the country, we have to watch this closely and it's changing by the day.

TODD: But now The White House and U.S. Olympic committee say America is planning to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics. Still, there's a unique security threat at these games. The location and razor-sharp tensions over Kim's missile tests has the region on edge. North Korea has used tunnels to try to insert commandos and front men into South Korea for spying and assassinations and the regime has a history of violence surrounding major South Koreans sporting events. A South Korean airliner was blown up by two North Korean agents in 1987 with all 115 onboard killed. One of the agents was captured and said the bombing was ordered by north's leader to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. And during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, North Korean patrol boats engaged in a skirmish with the south leaving several servicemen on both sides dead. Analysts say Kim has strong motives for disrupting this Winter Olympics.

PATRICK CRONIN, CNAS SENIOR ADVISOR: He is facing the prospect of two years of maximum economic strangulation through sanctions and other law enforcement measures to really cripple his economy. He's going to look for ways to fight back. One way to fight back is to hurt the South Korean economy. The South Korean economy right now is a 100 percent focused on a successful international Olympic event.

[02:35:00] So imagine cyber sabotage, so you don't kill anybody but you just disrupt the economic flow, the transportation flow, you create a headache for the South Korean government. You make the South Koreans look bad. They lose face.

TODD: Analysts say if the North Koreans don't engage in a violent provocation during the Winter Olympics they're at least likely to send spies into South Korea during the games. They say the Olympics will offer the North Koreans an opportunity to gain economic intelligence on South Korea to place sleeper agents there and to make contact with the North Korean agents they already have in South Korea. Brian Todd, CNN Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, another possible threat that's caused a concern in South Korea is anthrax as we mentioned earlier. South Korean media report claim as North Korean defector had anthrax antibodies in his system. Now, this video shows one of the four people who fled the country this year and to be clear it's on their weather the soldier in this video you're looking up was one mentioned in the report. And South Korea's National Intelligence Service could not confirm it. North Korea released a statement saying it opposes the manufacture and possession of biological weapons. I'm going to pause a quick break here. And still, ahead sexual assault on planes as the MeToo Movement intensifies, more women speaking out about being sexually assaulted on commercial flights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like at the time that he was going to rip off the top of my -- of my dress.

SESAY: Stand by for our CNN investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESAY: Hello everyone. Lately, we've been talking a lot about the #metoo and the movement encouraging women to speak up about sexual harassment. We heard complaints come out of Hollywood, politics and the media and now we're hearing claims of sexual harassment and assault in the aviation industry. Victims often trapped on passenger planes with their assailant close by, it will be entire flight sometimes for hours with little if any intervention by the airlines.

[02:40:02] CNN Aviation Correspondent Rene Marsh spoke with some of these alleged victims.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the gentleman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: A man arrested last week accused of fondling two female passengers on board a United Airlines flight from Newark to Buffalo, New York. Katie Campos was one of them.

KATIE CAMPOS, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my like upper thigh, like they're my -- like the crotch area, and he grabbed it pretty forcefully.

MARSH: A police report says that the man told the other woman he would like to kiss her. When she declined, he started stroking her leg. The man now charged with disorderly conduct. United Airlines told CNN, we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and our pilot requested that local law enforcement meet the aircraft on arrival. Not enough for Campos, who tweeted, "Do better, United Airlines." She says the flight attendant did not offer her to switch seats, she had to demand it. She was then placed directly behind the harasser. The airline says because there were few empty seats, the touching continued.

CAMPOS: At the end of the day, they didn't protect my safety or those around me. And I don't think that that's a good excuse.

MARSH: Like Campos, these three women tell CNN they were sexually harassed or assaulted on commercial flights, and all of them complained the flight crew did little or nothing to help.

AYANNA HART, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my arm and my side right under my left breast, right next to my left breast. MARSH: Ayanna Hart was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Denver in May. She says the flight attendant was of no help.

HART: The flight attendant said, oh, don't worry about him, he flies with us all the time, he's Delta Platinum.

MARSH: Hart has a pending lawsuit against Delta for failing to intervene and continuing to serve him alcohol. The airline would not comment on this case citing pending litigation, but said it takes these incidents seriously and with law enforcement investigates them.

[01:45:04] ALLISON DVALADZE, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: I was dozing off when I felt a hand in my crotch and realized that the man next to me was holding -- was grabbing my crotch.

MARSH: Allison Dvaladze filed a complaint with Delta after her flight from Seattle to Amsterdam.

DVALADZE: There was not a clear procedure for what they should do. They asked me what I wanted them to do.

MARSH: A month later, she received an e-mail saying it's not fair when one person's behavior affects another. And as a goodwill gesture offered her 10,000 miles.

DVALADZE: If somebody reports a crime to an airline, that it should be flagged. It should not be treated as if it's lost luggage.

MARSH: The airline told CNN, "We continue to be disheartened by the events Miss Dvaladze's described."

JENNIFER RAFIEYAN, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He started to touch my leg, stroke my leg, tickle it.

MARSH: Jennifer Rafieyan was on a flight from Newark to Phoenix. She too says the flight crew did not move her away from her harasser. Instead, the airline made an offer.

RAFIEYAN: He gave me four $100-gift certificates for travel on an upcoming United flight, and he refused to let me talk to a manager.

MARSH: But shortly after a news article about her ordeal was published, United management called to, in their words, check on her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This message is for Ms. Jennifer Rafieyan. This is (BLEEP) calling from United Airlines' executive offices. I can't even imagine, you know, what you went through when you were on the flight with the gentleman seated next to you.

SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: At thousands of feet in the air, you can't call for help, you can't remove the problem.

MARSH: Sara Nelson is President of one of the world's largest flight attendant unions.

NELSON: In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation in training or otherwise about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault.

MARSH: The union surveyed nearly 2,000 flight attendants. One out of five said they've received a report of a passenger sexual assault. But law enforcement was contacted less than half the time. CNN reached out to all of the major U.S. airlines and the industry trade group that represents them. None agreed to go on camera, but all released statements with a similar message, passenger safety, and security is their priority. And they say flight attendants are trained to handle these incidents but none gave a detailed explanation of the policies or guidelines. No federal regulatory agency tracks how many mid-air sexual assaults happen nationwide. But the FBI does track how many it investigates. Federal data shows a 66 percent increase from 2014 to 2017. The FBI says it's unclear what's behind the rise. But what is clear for these women, flight crews need to do more because, at 30,000 feet, there's no escape.

Well, I want to thank all four women for sharing their stories with CNN. The four women in this piece say they want three things: one, flight crew should always separate the victim from the harasser. Two, do not allow drunk people on flights. Alcohol played a role in a lot of these cases. And three, call law enforcement to report these cases upon landing every time. They also advise try to avoid the middle or window seat if possible, sitting in the aisle allows for an easier getaway if necessary. We do want to point out several lawmakers have been pushing for legislation that would beef up flight crew training and mandate better tracking of these incidents. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.

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[02:45:37] SESAY: We're going to pause here for a quick break. He didn't take home time person of year but he made the top seven of these year's most trending topics, and of course, talking about President Donald Trump. Ahead, we'll have CNN's top social media trends of the year. Stay with us.

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SESAY: Well, here are some Breaking News just in toward center at CNN. We're getting reports of deadly blast in Afghanistan, the interior ministry says at least 40 people have been killed, 30 more wounded. The blast targeted a cultural center in Kabul, the Taliban said they are not responsible for the attack. We're working on getting new more details and we'll bring them to you as soon as they come into us.

All right, shifting gear is here. The total solar eclipse was one moment in 2017 that brought people together for a natural event. It also brought U.S. President Donald Trump outside to take a look without his glasses, a big no, no. The eclipse is just one of the most talked about moments on social media this year. Here's, Brooke Baldwin with the top seven.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Whether with our Twitter in chief redefining the way Presidents communicate or online movements creating real-world change, social media dominated the news cycle in 2017. Here are the top seven trending stories that blew up our social feeds. Number seven, kids crash their dad's live BBC interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I think one of your children just --

BALDWIN: The already adorable video gets even more hilarious in 3, 2, 1.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardon me, my apologies.

BALDWIN: The interview that went viral and finish the air is the tenth most viewed video on YouTube inner tube. There was some controversy on social media after people mistook Kelly's wife for the children's nanny. Eventually, the family was able to laugh at the whole situation and their newfound celebrity.

Number six, the solar eclipse. Back on August 21st, people across the country went outside and slipped on a pair of special sunglasses to witness the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. from a coast to coast in nearly a century. But those lucky enough to be in the path of totality, it appeared as if night had suddenly fallen in the middle of the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone here looking at the same thing, all is doing the same thing. It's amazing.

BALDWIN: Number five, man dragged off United flight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Oh, my God, look at what you're doing to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The federal government revealing the incident of man forcibly dragged off an airplane, it's a disturbing moment --

BALDWIN: This cell phone footage of passenger getting dragged off an overbooked United flight, (INAUDIBLE) around the internet this year. The passenger, Dr. David Dao, and his wife had initially volunteered to give up their seats but the couple changed their mind once they learned that the next flight to their destination wouldn't leave Chicago O'Hare International Airport until the following day.

Dao, was in apparently chosen at random by the airline to give up his seat when not enough people volunteered. The doctor refused to leave his seat saying, he had patients he needed to see the next day.

DAVID DAO, PHYSICIAN, KENTUCKY: No, I am not going. I am not going.

BALDWIN: That's one thing is got out (INAUDIBLE). Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth when he headed space on an armrest during the struggle. United CEO, later apologized to Dao on ABC news.

Number four, the women's march.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me what Democracy looks like. This is what Democracy looks like. BALDWIN: With started as a march on Washington turned into a worldwide movement as people around the globe took to the streets on Donald Trump's first day in office to advocate for women's rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women, united, we'll never be divided.

BALDWIN: The movement spread on social media with the #women's march. And on Facebook, with on half a million people came together online and offline to participate in the march. Making the Women's March, the biggest Facebook event for an individual cause all year.

Number three, violent protests in Charlottesville. People around the nation turned to Charlottesville, Virginia on August, when white supremacist and members of the far-right descended on this quiet college town to take part in what they called, A Unite the Right Rally. Brawls broke out the team of demonstrators and those opposed to them forcing Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a State of Emergency. Later that day, a gray dodge challenger drove into a crowd of counter-protesters injuring 19 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Former President Obama weighed in tweeting out this image with the Nelson Mandela, quote as this caption, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. That tweet became a second most retweeted post of 2017 and the most liked tweet of all time.

Number two, #MeToo. 2017, may be very well be remembered as the year of the Me Too movement. Women and men all around the world sees on the cultural moment and told their stories of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault.

LAUREN SIVAN, FOX NEWS REPORTER: He exposed himself and he just began masturbating in front of me and I just stood there kind of frozen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[02:54:43] BALDWIN: And one after another high profile men like, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Al Franken, and others were accused of sexual misconduct. Female activists Tarana Burke, first created the #MeToo more than a decade ago but a tweet from the actress and activist Alyssa Milano is credited with popularizing the hashtag in 2017. In the days after it went viral, Twitter reported that more than 1.7 million people had posted a #metoo message in 85 countries.

The number one, President Donald Trump. There were few if any major news stories in 2017 that did not include President Donald J. Trump and one of his tweets. The President was a walking, talking, trending story, which is fitting since he is the most tweeted about elected official in the world.

His Twitter feed drove news coverage, whether he was telling NFL players to stand during the national anthem or coining nicknames for adversaries. Trump dominated the news cycle for 2017, and brought politics into the social media realm in a whole new way. And with no sign of curbing his Twitter use, it seems likely but President Trump will remain a big part of all of the trending stories in 2018 and beyond.

SESAY: Something to look forward to. Now, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM continues with Richard Quest in London after a very quick break. So, do stay with us.

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