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AT THIS HOUR

New Jersey Teens Suspected in Death of Family; 1 Officer Dead, 6 Wounded in Colorado Domestic Disturbance; Biggest Capitol Hill Battles for 2018; Recreational Marijuana Now Legal in California; Puerto Rico's Wishes for New Year. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 1, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they also arrested the 16-year-old son of that murdered couple.

At this point there's still a lot of unanswered questions in this case. Obviously, a motive, the big question as to why this could have happened, is being investigated right now. A couple of questions we're trying to get to the bottom of, was anybody else in that home an how was the 16-year-old allegedly able to get their hands on this semiautomatic rifle? A lot of questions that are being asked right now in New Jersey after this quadruple homicide that left at least four people dead and a 16-year-old behind bars -- Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Heinous crime.

Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for that.

In the meantime, in Colorado, a law enforcement officer is dead, six others wounded, after a suspect opened fire from a barricaded bedroom. Douglas County Deputy Zachary Parish was one of several officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex south of Denver.

CNN correspondent, Scott McLean, is standing by with details.

Scott, you have new information about this shooter? He was someone familiar with law enforcement officers there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Law enforcement was certainly familiar with him even though he did not have a criminal record and we're learning, Boris, he actually had a military service record. He enlisted in the Army Reserve back in 2003. He was in the Wyoming National Guard from 2006 to 2012 and he actually served for a year in Iraq going on security missions while he was there. He was honorably discharged in 2012 with the rank of what they say E-4 or specialist rank.

We're learning more about the timeline. We know the deputies were called out to this area, to this apartment complex in denver, the highlands ranch area, for a noise complaint. They didn't find anything. It wasn't until 3:00 they got another call about a disturbance and it was Matthew Riehl's roommate that told them perhaps his roommate was having a mental breakdown. There was no crime committed. It wasn't until 5:00 in the morning they went back a third time. This time the roommate gave them a key and permission to go inside. Riehl barricaded himself inside a bedroom and, at 5:56, he fired on deputies hitting four of them. Three managed to scramble to safety, one did not. Zachary Parish, 29 years old. He was killed. Those three deputies crawling to safety, while they were doing that, Riehl continued to fire.

Meanwhile, neighbors in that area, they were awoken to gunfire. Some of them grabbed their own weapons. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED NEIGHBOR: I heard a strong series of what sounded like automatic fire so immediately I jumped out of bed and grabbed my firearm and looked out the window and saw heavy police presence, police running to the scene, police on top of some buildings, just a rapid response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: So, Boris, it wasn't until more than an hour and a half after the first shots were fired that a SWAT team went in and killed Matthew Riehl. One of the SWAT officers was injured and shot in the leg and released from the hospital and two civilians hit by gunfire have also been released from the hospital -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Our hearts and minds with Zachary Parish, he leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.

Scott McLean, thank you for that reporting.

An update for you on a story we've been following out of Central America. The U.S. State Department is confirming the deaths of 10 U.S. citizens and two local pilots in a plane crash in Costa Rica. A synagogue in New York is confirming five of the victims were members of the Steinberg family. Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons, Zachary, William and Matthew, were passengers on the small, private airplane that went down yesterday afternoon less than 10 minutes after taking off for the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica.

It's not immediately clear what may have caused the crash, but earlier on Sunday, heavy winds forced the pilots to alter their course. Officials from the plane's operator, Nature Air, could not be reached for comment.

[11:35:09] SANCHEZ: Coming up, can lawmakers come together in 2018 with tax reform in the rear view, battles over immigration and infrastructure are looming. Where things stand right now, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. A New Year means new resolutions. And President Trump and members of Congress are setting a few goals of their own for the 2018 agenda and it's looking a bit aggressive. In January, they need to nail down a spending bill and a disaster relief package. They need a solution for the Children's Health Insurance Program and they want fixes for Obamacare.

Here with me to share their insights, Republican strategist, Paris Dennard, Kevin Madden, a former press secretary for John Boehner, and the Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, joins us.

Kevin, let's start with you.

The agenda for 2018, infrastructure, immigration looming large, but Steve Bannon has his own ideas of where the president's head should be at. Here's some of what he told Axios the president should focus on in January. Trade with China, building the wall, and DACA. He said it's a make or break moment for President Trump. Do you agree?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's very important, obviously, if he wants to maintain his political capital at the same time still have allies left to help him with his agenda on Capitol Hill. It is certainly a very, very ambitious agenda. One of the big problems that this president is going to have increasingly during this year is that the off years are usually where you get things done and find some bipartisan support but during election years like this, midterm election years, the folks up on Capitol Hill, the parties tend to try to find where their differences are. They want to go into the election year drawing contrasts with the opposition party. When you have very tough things hard to get done even when you have a lot of political agreement or spirit of bipartisanship, like immigration, like spending bills. The president, I think he's increasingly going to have his allies on Capitol Hill looking for ways to show what their differences are. Yes, he has a robust agenda but serious challenges with building the political coalitions he needs to get things done.

[11:40:08] SANCHEZ: One of the biggest differences is on DACA and a solution for DREAMers.

Maria, to you, the president and some of his allies have made it clear there's not a deal on DACA unless they get border security in return, potentially a wall, possibly the end of chain migration. I want to play some sound from lindsey Graham on CBS. Here's when he said over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know of one Republican who wants to repair Obamacare. I don't know what Democrat who wants to replace it. We're not going to come together on health care. On DACA, there is a deal to be had. The DREAMers can have the life they dreamed of if the Democrats and Republicans can give. We need the wall. Not a complete 2200-mile wall. We need border security. Marry that with the DREAM Act. There's a deal to be had on immigration and I want to do it in January, I don't want to wait until March.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Maria, can Democrats realistically not give in on a wall or border security? If they don't make a deal with the president what will they show voters they got done in 2018? MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Democrats

will make it very clear that they have always and still do to this day support strong border security. Now, as lindsey Graham said, that doesn't mean a 2,000 mile plus physical wall with a beautiful gold door which is what Trump promised his campaign supporters during the 2016 campaign. That is not going to happen. Now, if Republicans can seriously come together and credibly work with the Democrats on increased border security and a deal on the DREAM Act, there is a DREAM Act already, Boris, as you know, the leader of the House, Paul Ryan, could bring it to a vote tomorrow and it would pass with major bipartisan support. I think this is going to be a big test for the president and for mitch McConnell who said they want to work in a bipartisan way and I think that it's dangerous politically at this time going into 2018 for the president, who has promised to protect these DREAMers, to have a deal where these DREAMers could stay, to now start putting in poison pills which he knows very well would be poison pills with the Democrats, making sure all of these other things are in it when the majority of the American people agree that these are kids that are here through no fault of their own and have done nothing but help our society and contribute to our economy. I think that's something that Democrats are going to make clear.

SANCHEZ: Paris, Maria is not the only one saying these are dangerous times for Republicans. We've heard of heated meetings within the White House about the 2018 strategies. There's this RNC memo warning of impending disaster. Despite that, Republicans hold the advantage when it comes to fund-raising. Right now, are you feeling comfortable about 2018? Do you think it's time to sound an alarm?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think you should ever feel comfortable. You should be cautious. It's good that under the leadership of the chairwoman at the RNC, fund-raising at the RNC is good and showing the enthusiasm and support with the base. Kevin knows as well as anybody that the Republican Party has the wind on our sails when it comes to this tax bill, come February we start to feel the impact of it and it's going to be a positive one. As you know when Speaker Boehner was in office he always wanted to find common ground and get something done. And I think going into this mid-term election, yes, they will look for differences, but they will want to find something to get done to take back home to their district and say, this what is we did. Whether it's infrastructure spending, infrastructure bill, or getting something done with the border, immigration reform, look, there's something also on the horizon, it is criminal justice reform. Bipartisan efforts on the Hill right now to get something done with that and I know that this is a priority with the administration and Jared Kushner pushing and leading that effort, so there's going to be things that are going to be done because remember at the end of the day the president wants to win and he wants to have wins under his belt and go into this New Year with wins and doing it for the American people.

SANCHEZ: Kevin, with the wind at your sails is it infrastructure, immigration, criminal justice reform is.

MADDEN: I think it's important to be optimistic and say there are winds at your sails but be realistic and look at the current polling the president's popularity is very low. We have a huge problem with the generic ballot polling right now which is that when you ask voters out there who they would support, a Democrat or Republican, the Democrats are actually leading. So I think you have to go into this election year with that understanding, it's very important to have that acute understanding of the demographics in some of these swing areas where independents and a lot more moderate Republicans are going to decide these -- some of these swing districts.

I think Paris is right, the agenda has to be acutely focused on the economic benefits of the tax bill and look for areas where they can deliver on things like infrastructure.

[11:45:03] SANCHEZ: We have to leave it there.

Kevin Madden, Paris Dennard, Maria Cardona, thank you all so much for joining us. Happy 2018.

CARDONA: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: The first day of 2018, a landmark day for marijuana. The most populated state in the nation, California, kicking off the legal sale of the drug for recreational use. But not all pot supporters are celebrating. We'll explain right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Now for the first time ever, you can buy recreational marijuana legally in California. The new law sparking a new gold or green rush across the state.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is outside a dispensary in San Jose, California.

Miguel, how is day one looking?

[11:49:23] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's looking like it is shaping up to be a busy day here. They're about 15 minutes away from opening here at buddy's cannabis in San Jose. This place has an interesting story. There's not a lot of licenses out there for the first day. This place happens to have the very first, 00001. For both medicinal and adult use. It is made at the behest of the bureau of cannabis control, that's an actual State Department with the state of they expect to be extraordinarily busy today. There is already a line out there. If you are buying recreationally for an adult, you can buy up to an ounce. Each of these is a half ounce. You can buy all of that. If you have your medical card, you can get all of this. That's a half pound of marijuana. The taxes for medicinal versus recreational will be treated differently. If you have your medical card, somewhat less taxes in different cities, but every city and locality make their own rules for when and how. Where they can be and all that sort of stuff. It's a new world order for California. The rules came along so late that many existing businesses did not have time to apply for their licenses. That will start when they open up again tomorrow. You will see a slew of businesses in the months and years ahead. They suspect that this industry will be as big as $7 billion. Several times the size of all the legal business right now. SANCHEZ: Stay safe out there, sir. Thank you.

The military will begin accepting applications from transgender recruits, going against President Trump's wishes. The president and commander-in-chief issued a memorandum barring transgender Americans from military service. The move was very controversial and reversed Obama-era policies. Federal appeals courts have blocked key parts of the executive order and the ban will not go into effect for now.

Coming up, a New Year brings new hope for some in Puerto Rico. Some communities are getting power back after getting hit by Hurricane Maria, many are still living in the dark.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:31] SANCHEZ: More than three months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, some areas are getting back to normal, but many neighborhoods are still without power even in the capital of San Juan.

Leyla Santiago has been talking to people about what they are hoping for this year -- Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, right at midnight, we saw the lies and displays of fireworks. And people are hopeful that the New Year will be a better for Puerto Rico. They also are very realistic and understanding that it will likely still be a struggle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Even in the holiest of places, where prayers for 2018 are sent to a higher power --

UNIDENTIFIED PRIEST: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO: -- it's hard to escape the realities of life after Maria.

UNIDENTIFIED PREIST: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTAIGO: The father sees it every day in the streets he walked for 20 years and the community that relied on his guidance.

UNIDENTIFIED PREIST: They go to church to charge the heart or to charge a cell phone.

SANTIAGO: Before mass on New Year's Eve, Jorge has a phone and tablet to get him through another night in a place he called home for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTAIGO (on camera): So no power and no water and no roof.

(voice-over): Much progress has been made here in San Juan. The tourist areas are moving forward, but in its shadow, this is an area where people feel forgotten and want more. Still no power and 2018 can be hard to find.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO (on camera): He said the New Year is just another year in which he is waiting for someone to help him.

(voice-over): Jorge says he doesn't expect help any time soon. He said FEMA told him he doesn't qualify for a new roof. His home is too damaged.

(on camera): (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

When it rains here, they get wet. It's that simple.

UNIDENTIFIED PRIEST: Keep trying and start again. We are with you. You are not alone.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Words of comfort the father knows will only go so far for Jorge.

(on camera): What will New Year's look like here?

UNIDENTIFIED PRIEST: New Year, they say new life. It's not a new life. It's a new fight.

(SINGING)

SANTAIGO (voice-over): So here, where they made the town of Bethlehem look like their own, with new tarps and all, they pray.

(SINGING)

SANTIAGO: Pray for the miracles and the strength to rebuild in the New Year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO: Boris, I have not been able to stop thinking about the fact that Jorge in that story still looks that home without a roof. That is the only place he calls home. That is where he sleeps at night. That's why he still looks the door and secures his belongings.

He is one of many that still don't have power. The government says 55 percent of people have power and that means nearly half of this island is still waiting for power to arrive nearly three months after Maria struck the island.

SANCHEZ: Many may not get relieve until the spring or summer.

Leyla Santiago, thank you so much for that reporting.

And thank you so much for joining me. The next hour of AT THIS HOUR starts now.

Happy 2018. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Kate Bolduan. Thank you very much for joining us. President Trump said, one by one, America's enemies are being

defeated. The president made the remarks for a New Year's Eve speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

CNN White House correspondent, Abby Phillips, joins us from West Palm Beach, not far from Mar-a-Lago where the president is wrapping up.

Abby, fill us in on the details of this New Year's message.

ABBY PHILLIPS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris. The president spent New Year's Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort at a glitzy party filled with a lot of supporters and members of his club and their guests. And he brought in the New Year on a pretty defiant note.