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Foreign Affairs on Trump's Mind & Twitter Feed; Puerto Rico's Wishes for New Year; 2018, from Extreme Weather to Global Politics. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 1, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:09] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is due back in Washington tonight, and while the president begins the New Year with a big domestic agenda, foreign affairs is on the president's mind and his Twitter feed.

With me now to discuss this and more is Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from Texas, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee and also the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Thank you very much, sir, for being with us and happy New Year to you.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, (D), TEXAS: Happy New Year. Thank you for having me today.

KEILAR: I want to begin with getting your reaction to the latest in this war of word with North Korea. When you think -- we are not privy at this point in time to the administration strategy when it comes to dealing with North Korea. Do you believe there is one and what are your concerns?

CASTRO: There is not a strategy for dealing with North Korea and the president came out with conflicting approaches. The most recent example a few weeks ago was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying there were no preconditions to sitting down and negotiating and the very next day the White House coming out and negating the statement and saying that North Korea would have to freeze its nuclear program. There doesn't seem to be one coherent approach, both by President Trump and Kim Jong-Un. I actually give a lot of credit to the administration for going to the un and getting the strictest sanctions passed. Getting the world behind the idea of the strongest sanctions ever on North Korea. Unfortunately, the administration so far squandered that by the president going on Twitter or making comments on the press by the conflicting approaches rather than doing everything it can to martial the world to bring North Korea to the table.

[13:35:11] KEILAR: So often we have seen sanctions and they don't work. They don't do the trick. You believe these are different?

CASTRO: I believe in the administration and others have said these are the strongest that we have ever seen. It's true that other countries like China and Russia have sometimes skated by on the sanctions. The administration has done a good job of pressuring China to crack down harder on North Korea. Rather than the president going out there and being a loose cannon on Twitter, they should build upon the successes to finally bring North Korea to the table and make sure they become denuclearized. Let's be clear. For those of you who are advocating, you are advocating for a war with a country that has nuclear weapons. The only question is, how far the weapons can fly. Millions of lives not only in the pacific would be at stake and not only for Japan and South Korea, but hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans.

KEILAR: The conventional that would reach South Korea and do astronomical damage as experts expect they would.

In New Year's remarks that we heard from Kim Jong-Un, he said he was open to sitting down and talking with South Korea. What role should the U.S. Play in these talks with North Korea should they happen? Do you think that's a possibility?

CASTRO: I think the United States has a big role to play and with the clear goal of denuclearizing North Korea. They are saying they won't do that. That's why you have things like sanctions to basically force people to the table and achieving your goal. I still believe that's a possibility with the strongest sanctions we have ever seen on North Korea and the alternative is very gory. The idea of going in there and basically getting into a war with a country again that we suspect has nuclear weapons and certainly has a full range of conventional ballistic missiles at their disposal.

KEILAR: Let's talk about Iran now, as we see protest there is, and now the death toll has been climbing into double-digits. President Trump is taking a much different approach to the Iran protests than President Obama did in 2009. We just had the former spokesman from the Obama administration saying he was criticized, but he is also concerned about the Trump administration response here. What do you think about how the president is responding when in this sweet where he is talking about it he said it's time for change which makes you think he is talking about regime or government change.

CASTRO: I think the two choices that are being discussed here are the choice, on the one hand, saying nothing or very little and, on the other hand, doing what President Trump did today, which is basically insult the regime and insult Iran, and advocate for regime change. Part of the reason that that is dangerous is because you don't want to delegitimize the protesters by giving the government a convenient way to say look, these people are acting on behalf of the Americans. If the government can successfully portray this movement and insurgency as an American-led effort, the chance of success for the people on the streets goes significantly down. We don't want that to happen. The danger from President Trump doing what he did is that it gives credence to the government's argument.

KEILAR: Congressman Joaquin Castro, joining us from the great city of San Antonio. A very happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you very much for being with us today.

CASTRO: Thank you. [11:39:23] KEILAR: And coming up, many Puerto Ricans are praying

that 2018 will be the year that brings them the help they so desperately need as residents struggle without power. They don't have homes, a lot of them. And hope is fading. We will go live to the island when we come back.


KEILAR: While many Americans ushered in the New Year with Champaign, others did without running water and power. The fight to survive continues in Puerto Rico. And it's been more than three months since Hurricane Maria tore through the area, knocking out power to just about everyone there. Months later, thousands are still in the dark.


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


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


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.


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.


[13:45:06] 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.


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.


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


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


KEILAR: And Leyla is joining us now from San Juan.

Leyla, that just breaks your heart the at end. The blue tarps that they put on the town of Bethlehem and the church. They are looking for help from a higher power. You spent a lot of time covering this. Your family is there. Tell us how life has continued and how it deteriorated on the island.

SANTIAGO: There is a sense of hope that this New Year will bring a better year. We saw the displays in the skies at midnight as people did celebrate the New Year here. This is the tourist section of San Juan where we are. When you go and talk to people who didn't leave their homes because they are so overwhelmed, power is still a big deal. 55 percent still without power. Those are of those who can get power. The government just in the last week has released the numbers for the first time, saying 55 percent. That doesn't take into account those whose homes were destroyed. They couldn't get power if they tried. 55 percent with power means 45 percent without. That is nearly half the people on this island three months after Hurricane Maria still not able to turn on the light in their homes.

KEILAR: What is the latest on the federal response in Puerto Rico?

SANTIAGO: So FEMA is still very much here. They are continuing to open disaster recovery centers across the island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are here, and they have more than 2,000 people on the ground and are averaging about 800 tarps a day that they are putting on homes.

The constant complaint that I am hearing on the ground is that people are starting to receive payments and help from FEMA. It's just not enough to make up for all the damage Maria left behind.

KEILAR: Layla with sobering news from Puerto Rico. Thank you for that report.

Coming up, a royal wedding and a World Cup. We will tell you what to watch for in 2018.


[13:52:06] KEILAR: 2017 is in the history books, but many of the headlines could 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.


CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Here's what we're looking forward to in politics 2018. It's an even-numbered year which means midterm elections and midterm 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 Donald Trump is not very popular which means taking over the Senate a very slight, but still a real possibility.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS 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 means a normally than 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 LONDON CORRESPONDENT: 2018 is going to be a big year for the British royal family, not least because we'll 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 the 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 SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korea is 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 and possibly an above-ground nuclear test and 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 SPORTS ANCHOR: 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 hailed from 50 miles from volatile North Korea. And with Russia banned from competition, these Olympics have plenty of the ice intrigue ahead of February 9th 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 thunder clap, will aim to disrupt and cut titans like Brazil and Germany this summer.

[13:55:38] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: 2018 will likely bring big changes to the health care system. On one hand, President Trump has renewed his vow to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, possibly leaving millions without health care insurance. But we're on the verge of major developments like new gene therapies to treat cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's, bringing new hope to many patients. And we're finally getting serious about an American-made problem, the opioid epidemic, one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.



[13:59:51] KEILAR: A happy New Year to you. I am Brianna Keilar, in for Brooke Baldwin.

And the first presidential tweets of 2018 are a one-two punch against an ally, Pakistan, and an adversary, Iran. Here's what President Trump said about Pakistan, quote, "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit --