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CNN NEWSROOM

Months After Maria Thousands are Still Without Power in Puerto Rico; Politics, Extreme Weather, "The Royals" to Make Headlines;

Aired January 1, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU: -- migration. I think he's trying to push as far as he can and see what he pulls back on. As you pointed out, it could be a fence. It could be some other type of border security. He is having these conversations privately. He's saying some type of border security with protections for the DREAMers. I think it's potential.

You know, you still have the Bannon wing of the party that you're going to have to fight. This is not going to be an easy thing, but certainly Democrats really want to get this done. A lot of Republicans do, too. They do not want to be going into mid-term campaign season with the potential of all of these thousands of immigrants losing their work permits.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: A very interesting bit of reporting coming from "The New York Times," Lynn, that George Papadopoulos who was the first Trump campaign adviser to plead guilty to lying to the FBI had told an Australian diplomat back in May of 2016 -- so this is leading up to the election. This is like the spring/summer leading up to the election -- and told him that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton and this according to his reporting after a night of heavy drinking. And the Australians once WikiLeaks, the DNC emails started coming out in July of 2016, the Australians then looped in the Americans and said hey, this is what we heard. And that may have actually been what prompted this initial investigation into Russian meddling in the election. That really undercuts what the President has said that it is this dossier that is, you know, a terrible thing to rely on, although some of the things in it are accurate and this undercuts what the President said.

LYN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: But more than undercuts it. Here are a few things to think of on the story of George Papadopoulos, who is a resident of Chicago's North Side. OK, the narrative has been as you described. So, just look at it from the FBI perspective. They were willing to disclose that Hillary Clinton was under investigation by the FBI and now it is so much more clearer that they didn't disclose, that Donald Trump was under investigation by the FBI.

KEILAR: Or the Trump campaign was.

SWEET: The Trump campaign, I'm sorry, the Trump campaign. We now know that it may likely not be true that the dossier sparked this, but that someone within the Trump tent did. Which changes a lot of the narrative for what so many of what Trump and his allies have been saying. And now what we should be watching for is what they say in reaction to this story. As soon as everyone gets back to Washington it will be hard to explain this one.

KEILAR: Because they've been alleging unfair treatment, right?

Yes.

KEILAR: Very interesting. Lynn sweet and Franco Ordonez, thank you so much. Happy new year to both of you.

ORDONEZ: Happy new year.

SWEET: Happy new year.

KEILAR: Up next, we'll take you to Puerto Rico where thousands of people are still without power more than three months after hurricane Maria. How residents are holding on to hope there next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: While many Americans ushered in the new year with champagne, others did it without running water and without power. The fight to survive continues in Puerto Rico where it's been more than three months since hurricane Maria tore through the island, knocking out power to just about everyone. Now months later, thousands are still in the dark.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

It's hard to escape the realities of life after Maria.

FATHER COLACHO: The problem, the needs, the sorrows, the hope.

SANTIAGO: Father Colacho sees it every day in the streets he's walked for 20 years in the community that has relied on his guidance.

COLACHO: They going to church to charge the heart but to charge the cell phones.

SANTIAGO: Before mass on New Year's Eve, Jorge Alisea plugs in his phone, a tablet and a lamp that will get him through another night in the place he's called home for decades.

Now -

SANTIAGO (on camera): So, no power, no water, no roof.

Much progress has been made here in San Juan, the capital. The tourist areas, even the financial district is moving forward right now. But in its shadow, Cantera, it is an area where people feel forgotten, want more help, still no power and for 2018 high hopes can be hard to find.

SANTIAGO: He says the new year is just another year in which he's waiting for someone to come and help him.

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

(on camera): I'm asking him when it rains here --

They get wet. It's that simple.

COLACHO: Keep fighting. Keep trying. Start again. We are with you. You are not alone.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Words of comfort Father Colacho knows will only go so far for Jorge and Cantera.

SANTIAGO (on camera): What will new year's look like here?

COLACHO: New year, they say new life. It's not new life. It's new fight.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): And so here, where they've made the town of Bethlehem look like their own, blue tarps and all, they pray.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Amen.

SANTIAGO: Pray for the miracles they believe in. Pray for the strength to rebuild in the new year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And Leyla Santiago is joining us from San Juan. Leila. Leyla what has surprised you most about what you've seen on the ground there months after Maria hit?

SANTIAGO: Listen, Brianna, there is recovery in place. I mean, you really are starting to see mother nature. You still see power crews out there working on lines. But I think what is the most surprising is the difference between what you see here in San Juan and specifically where I am right now in Condado, the tourist areas and what you see in the mountains and the remote parts of the interior and the southeast where we were last week, it is so different in the level of recovery. They still don't have water. They still don't have power. You know, just in that story you see Jorge there, he actually still locks his home because that's the only place he has to sleep at night, but it's destroyed. There is no roof. So, for me, what has been most eye-opening is just where the recovery is and where it's not.

KEILAR: Leyla Santiago, thank you for your continued reporting as we move into 2018 in Puerto Rico. We do appreciate it.

Coming up, a Royal wedding, a world cup and a record-breaking stock market. We'll tell you what to watch for in 2018.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: 2017 is in the history books, but many of the headlines will go 2.0 in 2018, from extreme weather threats to global politics, our CNN correspondents take a look at what to expect over the next 365 days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Here's what we're looking forward to in politics in 2018. Well, it's an even-numbered year which means mid-term elections and mid-term elections are almost always bad for the president's party. They almost always lose seats in the house and in the senate. That goes double when the president's approval rating is under 50 percent, and Donald Trump's is way under 50 percent now.

The house is absolutely in play. Republicans hold the majority, but there are enough Democratic opportunities out there to make it a real possibility Democrats retake the house come November 2018. The senate, a tougher thing for Democrats. There are 26 Democratic seats up to just nine for Republicans, but Democrats have oddly a little bit of a chance here. They've gotten a lot of good breaks, and remember Donald Trump is not very popular which means taking over the senate a very slight, but still a very real possibility.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: La Nina is expected to continue for the rest of the winter which typically brings warmer and dry conditions to the southeast. It also normally means a wetter than normal pattern in the pacific northwest, but if it hangs on through spring and even summer, hurricane season could be interesting. La Nina usually means above normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL FAMILY CORRESPONDENT: 2018 is going to be a big year for the British royal family. Not least because we're going to have a blockbuster royal wedding. Prince Harry will marry the American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor castle in May. She's divorced. She's biracial. She's a vocal women's rights campaigner, three firsts for a senior royal, so expect a fairytale to play out, but also a debate on how the British monarchy is gaining relevance in new areas. Also in the spring, royal baby number three for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and in November, Prince Charles, Britain's longest-serving heir to the throne will turn 70.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: North Korea is really at a crossroads as we move into 2018. Most experts agree they're on the verge of finalizing their nuclear program and they threaten more missile launches possibly an above-ground nuclear test and there were security concerns ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Pyongyang wants to be recognized as a nuclear power and Washington has said that won't happen. So, the question, will 2018 be a year for diplomacy or something else? The answer lies largely with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 2018 will be highlighted by two high- profile global sporting events, the Winter Olympics in South Korea and the FIFA World Cup with the winter games being held approximately 50 miles from volatile North Korea and with Russia banned from competition, these Olympics have plenty of off the ice intrigue ahead of the February 9th's iconic lighting of the Olympic flame.

In June, fans from around the globe will descend on 11 Russian cities to witness the passion and pride of the FIFA world cup with Italy, United States and the Netherlands failing to qualify, debutantes like Iceland with their fans' infectious Viking thunder clap will aim to disrupt cup titans like Brazil and Germany this summer.

R. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: 2018 will likely bring some big changes to our health care system. On one hand, President Trump has renewed his vow to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act possibly leaving millions without health care insurance, but we're also on the verge of major developments with new gene therapies to treat cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's bringing new hope to many patients, and we're getting serious about an American-made problem, the opioid epidemic and one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And President Trump was making his own prediction for 2018 when he spoke to guests at last night's new year's party at Mar-a- Lago. Here's some audio from that speech obtained by CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The country, by the way is doing great. We just got our taxes cut. We got jobs pouring into the country. Europe isn't too happy with us because a lot of people are moving back into the United States. A lot of money is coming here. We have $4 trillion that's coming back.

And we're doing it the way it should be, and I'll tell you, there's more to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So, what is the economic forecast for 2018? Joining me now is CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar. Rana, let's start with what the president said there, is he right about jobs pouring into the country? What is the economic outlook in your view?

[15:50:00] RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: I think pouring is a little bit too strong. We've had pretty good job growth over the last couple of years. I think that that's going to continue certainly in the first half of 2018, but a lot of the prosperity that some people are feeling has really been predicated on the stock market being so high. That's really what's been driving the economy.

The big question for me is, Yes, I think we'll continue to see some stock market growth, some asset prices going up in the next six months or so, but if the stock market fails, and I can talk a little bit more about that, then are you going to see job growth also start to sputter? That's a big question and that's something to look ahead to in the second half of 2018 as a potential risk.

KEILAR: Well, talk about that because the stock market has been doing so well, if folks are going into the new year they're a little worried, perhaps, this isn't going to last. They have money to invest. What should they do?

FOROOHAR: So, what's going on right now is we've just had this big we just had this big Republican tax plan go through. That's been a big break for corporations. They are probably, and the president is right about this, will bring back some of that overseas cash hoard they've been stashing in tax havens abroad, but where will it go? Will it go into real mainstream investment, worker training? Factories? Or is it going to go straight into the stock market. I'm going to say the latter.

I think you'll see companies buying back their own shares, which makes the market go up but it's kind of a sugar high, a sort of artificial kind of growth. I think there is a potential once that tapers off, maybe in the summer, maybe in the second half of the year that you could see a correction. So, if I were the average investor, you would start to think about holding a little bit of cash on the sidelines, thinking about when you're going to need your money. Don't make any sudden changes if you aren't going to need it tomorrow, but know we probably will see a correction in the second half of the year.

KEILAR: That's a very good point. And we are looking now into this new year, is there anything that taxpayers need to be doing to prepare for the changes with the new tax law?

FOROOHAR: So, you know, a lot of this is still being sorted out with accountants. I just spoke to my own and they're scratching their heads, so many changes. One thing, that I would recommend that anyone who is an independent contractor or freelancer or has a small business, should look at whether or not they should be a pass-through business. Pass-through businesses are where the small business owners can take advantage of certain loopholes, so in this new bill, they would be write off about 23 percent of their incomes, there is some costs associated with doing this, but something that people should check it out if they're running a small business or working for themselves.

KEILAR: Rana, explaining it all very clearly to us, thank you so much, and happy new year.

FOROOHAR: Happy new year to you.

KEILAR: Coming up, it is playoff day in college football. The first of two games will kick off here in about an hour. We are live in Pasadena, California, where Georgia and Oklahoma will slug it out for a spot in the national championship.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: All right. College football playoff day is officially here. We have two big matchups tonight, Georgia versus Oklahoma in the legendary Rose Bowl, and then Clemson taking on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Of course, the two winners will face each other in next week's national championship. CNN's Paul Vercammen, what horrible assignment you have there on the sidelines in Pasadena really Bulldogs and the Sooners are about to kick off the first of these two semi finals.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a tough one. By the way you and I have covered floods and fires together, so once in a while, it's OK. Electric atmosphere here in the Rose Bowl. You have Oklahoma and Georgia, Oklahoma boasting the Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Georgia has perhaps the most unsung hero, Nick Chubb, he's dynamic and the fans are just loving this picture postcard chamber of commerce weather. And there is a lot of people who are all dressed up with somewhere to go, the Rose Bowl. Let's listen to them.

You have like a lucha libre kind of wrestling thing going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are ready to smack down on Georgia today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, we are great, we've got our hardhats on, we are ready to rock 'n' roll and put some work in. We are going to run all over him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them kind of bring it, hey, they have my face in the SEC defense, there are going to face it today, they are going down.

VERCAMMEN: So, the teams are fired up. The fans are fired up. Brianna, owing your southern California roots and knowing that you play a little golf. Next time you come out here, you golf 18, you get to sunscreen and see the game, that's kind of your speed, right?

KEILAR: Definitely, Paul, my gosh, I can feel the energy, and I can feel the nice weather, and do you have a prediction? Do you have a preference today?

VERCAMMEN: I do not have a bowl prediction. I'm not going to get myself in trouble with either the Georgia or Oklahoma fans. I will tell you, here's a cluster of people who played very well here. Coldplay killed it and so did U2 in the Rose Bowl. It was a great year in 2017.

KEILAR: Well, in the middle of all of your hard work, it's nice you've been able to spend a little bit of time there at the Rose Bowl. Paul Vercammen, we will await the outcome of the big game. Thank you so much for that report.

Who knew a flight within a flight could be so disruptive? Passengers and crew on a Delta Airlines jet, well, they were taken on quite a ride this weekend, all because of a bird that flew into the cockpit. The story is wild.

This was in Atlanta-bound plane taxiing at Detroit's Airport on Saturday. Then the captain realizes there is this bird in the plane, and suddenly he has to turn back because of it. So that's not even the end of it, then crew members and maintenance workers were scrambling to find the bird, but they couldn't find it.

It was nowhere to be found. Of course, in this day and age, you had a passenger live tweeting the entire ordeal. This is what they said -- this bird is playing hide and go seek, apparently. Well, convinced that it wouldn't be too much trouble if this bird reappeared, the pilots decided, you know, we need to get the show on the road, we're going to take off. Once they're airborne, guess who shows up again?

That's right. A passenger says the captain at this point in time came on the loudspeaker. He says the bird is in the cockpit and bird is going a little nuts. To be safe. He had to turn back around in the plane and go back to Detroit. So once on the ground, a crew member captured the bird, managed to find it, then set it free outside of the plane. About an hour later, the plane did finally take off again. It made it to Atlanta minus this wayward bird. Very cute story.

I thank you so much for joining us. A very happy new year to you. "The Seventies" starts right now.