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Report: Competency Hearing Underway for Church Shooter; Chicago Mayor Responds to Trump Tweet; Queen Elizabeth Out of Public Eye Two Weeks; People in Coal Country Worry About Obamacare Changes by Trump; Trump to Inherit 100+ Vacancies on Federal Bench; Trump Biographer Booted Off Golf Course. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think this hurts him in terms of any mitigation. At the mitigation phase, he will give an opening and closing statement not presenting any evidence but part of mitigation is your psychiatric history, it could be any duress you are under, any type of debilitating ailment that you may have. This letter seems like he knew what he was doing, he had to do it and I'm sorry, family, because of its impact upon you not the nine victims.

ANA CABRERA, CNN, CORRESPONDENT, ACTING HOST: I have to ask one last question. The victims' family members having following the proceedings. They came out very early at the first court hearing after the initial tragedy and expressed sentiments of forgiveness. Have we heard whether or not they believe he should be put to death?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They don't believe he should be put to death. Not all of the victims' families but a large number of them have come forward and said they don't want him put to death. Even survivors, these are people that were in the room. You pointed out the extremely emotional first bond hearing. I was at that hearing. People were stunned so soon after this tragedy to hear the family members saying they forgave Dylann Roof. It is part of their faith to do so. They will be giving testimony but they are prohibited from expressing their opinion on the stand as to what penalty Dylann Roof should get.

CABRERA: Martin Savidge and Joey Jackson thank you both.

Just in to CNN Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is responding to President- elect Donald Trump's tweet this morning demanding the city do something about the rash of deadly shootings. In the tweet, Trump said the Chicago murder rate is record-setting, 4331 shooting victims, 762 murders in 2016. If the mayor can't do it, he must ask for federal help.

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's office released this statement to CNN saying, As the President-elect knows from his conversation with the mayor, we agree the federal government has a strong role to play in public safety by funding summer jobs and prevention programming for at-risk youth. By holding the criminals who break our gun laws accountable for their crimes bypassing meaningful gun laws and building on the partnerships our police have with federal law enforcement. We are heartened he is taking this issue seriously and looking forward to working with the new administration on these important efforts."

So far, Chicago has vowed to beef up it is forces with 1,000 new officers by 2018. They have also increased the number of body cameras and are working on retraining the police force.

Up next, President Obama fighting to protect his legacy with just weeks, days left in office. We will take you to coal country in Kentucky where many people voted for Trump even though they use Obamacare. Here their message to the president-elect. Plus, Queen Elizabeth misses church for a second week in a row while recover in from a quote "heavy cold". What Buckingham Palace is saying about the queen's health.


CABRERA: Welcome back, I'm Anna Cabrera in for Brooke Baldwin today. When President-elect Trump takes the oath of office the clock will start ticking on some of his campaign promises, including bringing back jobs to coal country and repealing Obama care. Those promises won him support of coal miners the same people who are now worried their vote could end up hurting their health and their finances. Here's the story.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The coal laden hills of eastern Kentucky.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to bring the coal industry back.

MARQUEZ: Trump country. Neil Yonts is a Democrat and coal miner for 35 years. Initially supported Hillary Clinton. But --

NEIL YONTS, FORMER COAL MINER: I voted for Trump. May be a mistake but I heard him say he would bring coal back.

MARQUEZ: A mistake maybe because Yonts now suffers from black lung disease.

YONTS: From there to here, you can see a difference in my breathing that close.

MARQUEZ: He voted for Trump to bring jobs back but now fears Trump's promise to kill Obamacare will also end his black lung benefits.

YONTS: When they eliminate the Obamacare, they may just eliminate all of the black lung program. It may all be gone. Don't matter how many years you got.

MARQUEZ: Three sentences in the Affordable Care Act made it easier for victims of black lung to get federal monthly benefits if they worked 15 years or more in the mines. And if they died the benefits automatically extended to their widows.

PAT AMBURGEY: MINER'S WIDOW: I will be drawing $643.42. MARQUEZ: Once a month?

AMBURGEY: Once a month.

MARQUEZ: Patty just got her first payment. Her husband Crawford after 32 years in the mines, died in 2007.

AMBURGEY: To see it in somebody you lived with 45 years go from a vibrant man to a child is very hard.

MARQUEZ: Getting the payment can also be difficult, even with the law it took her three years. Now her black lung widow benefit along with social security and a tiny $62 a month pension keeps her financially afloat. So, this money is important to you?

AMBURGEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's not a large amount. But it's enough to pay the bills.

MARQUEZ: Keeping up with the bills here for many a lifetime struggle. So, Trump's full-throated promise of jobs was a powerful message. The unemployment rate in Letcher county, 10.3 percent, more than twice the national average.

STEPHEN SANDERS, DIRECTOR, APPALACHIAN CITIZENS LAW CENTER: This area has seen a terrific decline in the number of coal mining jobs in the last five years. And those jobs tended to be high paying jobs.

MARQUEZ: Steven Sanders represents miners applying for black lung benefits as jobs have evaporated, he says, Obamacare benefits more important than ever.

SANDERS: President-elect Trump promised people that he was going to restore mining jobs. I don't think he thought about what the Affordable Care Act might mean to miners who are applying for black lung benefits.

MARQUEZ: Linda Adams' husband Tony died three years ago. She is now applying for black lung widow benefits. You supported Trump in this election?


MARQUEZ: If Obamacare goes away?

ADAMS: If it goes away I'm going to be in a world of depression.

MARQUEZ: Today she devotes her life to helping others apply for benefits she hopes will survive even if Obamacare is abolished. Her enormous expectations now squarely on President Trump.

ADAMS: If he don't come across like he promised he's not going to be there next time. Not if I can help it.

[15:40:00] MARQUEZ: Trump's future opposition already taking shape if jobs don't return and Obamacare benefits vanish. Miguel Marquez, CNN, Whitesburg, Kentucky. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Part of President Obama's legacy will include appointing two women to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Obama will leave office with a critical vacancy on the high court and Donald Trump is poised to cement not only a conservative majority there but also the President- elect will have a big opportunity to reshape the lower courts. Let's bring in our CNN supreme court reporter. How could Trump reshape the courts?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Everybody pays attention to the supreme court likely because Trump is going to replace conservative icon Antonin Scalia. That's replacing a conservative with a conservative. The big shift will happen if Trump gets another seat. Say he gets the seat of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Or Anthony Kennedy. Meanwhile on the lower court Trump is going to come in with 103 vacancies on the district court and the appellate court level. That's an unusually high number. It's in part because the Obama administration fought so hard with Senate Republicans. That's where he might be able to make his mark with appointees. Think about abortion rights, environmental protections, transgender rights. Obama came into office and he had 59 vacancies. Trump is coming in with almost double that.

CABRERA: Wow, and you put that into some perspective when you talk about some of the issues those lower courts might take up, including, we saw the immigration issue. And that ball rolling to block the executive orders on immigration that the President ordered a couple of years ago. And that's where it took hold. Do you anticipate that those 100-plus vacancies would be filth filled quickly? What's that process like?

DE VOGUE: It depends. It's complicated a bit by the same senators who have their say. And so, Trump will have to deal with that. But it goes to show that over the weekend for instance Chief Justice John Roberts in an unrelated matter released a report about the importance of district court judges. He tried to say look they are often out of the limelight but the fact is they are not. If you think back to that immigration case those were the executive orders put forward by the Obama administration and they were blocked by one single judge. That judge -- it was upheld in an appeals court and the supreme court ultimately blocked the problems when they deadlocked. One judge was able to bring that to a standstill. That's the importance of these judges and that's the mark he is going to be able to make when he comes in.

CABRERA: All right thanks. Don't forget tonight Fareed Zakaria talks about President Obama about his triumphs and struggles while in the White House. Don't miss the CNN special report, "The Legacy of Barack Obama." It's on CNN at 10:00 p.m.

Still ahead, North Korea's leader takes his threats up a notch claiming he is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. We are live at the Pentagon with how the U.S. is responding.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: North Korea's Kim Jong-Un sending a chilling new year's message saying a long-range missile test is imminent. That's raising fears the country has strengthened its nuclear capabilities. Timing also interesting as it comes light before Donald Trump's inauguration. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara star joins us now. North Korea has launched several successful nuclear tests. How seriously should we take this threat?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: As you just said, they have been working on -- they conducted several underground nuclear tests. Two in 2016. They have conducted a number of missile launches. Some successful, some not. But the U.S. assessment is the North Koreans are in fact, yes, moving forward on all fronts. Kim Jong-Un saying what the intelligence community already strongly believes he wants to be able to put a nuclear war head on the front end of a missile and launch it or at least demonstrate he has that capability.

They have technical hurdles to overcome in terms of being able to launch a missile, get it back down into the earth's atmosphere and have precision to actually hit a target but they are working on it. That's the big issue and it may only be a matter of time unless somebody can convince Kim to change course. It doesn't look like right now that's about to happen. The indications are he's not interested in sanctions relief that would get him more money, more economic aid. He pretty much wants to go on this path. That's what all the indications are.

CABRERA: Doesn't sound good. Barbara Starr, thank you for the update.

More questions today about the health of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. She is 90. She has been suffering from what royal officials are calling a heavy cold. She was too ill to attend her annual Christmas and new year's church services. We are getting word Queen Elizabeth is up and working but doing so out of the public eye. CNN's Phil Black is in London.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Queen is famous and widely respected for her steadfast commitment to performing her duties regardless of the circumstances. By her own standards for the 90- year-old monarch and head of the Church of England to miss church services on both Christmas and now new-year's day, that is something of a radical departure from her usual behavior and potentially opens a window for speculation about her health and well-being.

Buckingham Palace is trying to get ahead of that speculation telling people it is just a cold but a heavy one, a persistent one. They say she is up and about at her estate. Although, she is staying indoors she is working going through the papers and documents that she receives from the government and stays across as part of her official role as the British head of state. The next opportunity to get a sense of the Queen's recovery will be this weekend where she is once again due to appear at the church near the estate. But the word from the palace, and indeed the sense from other senior royals is that this is just a cold and the Queen is soldiering on through it. Phil Black, CNN, London.

CABRERA: Thanks to Phil, up next a Donald Trump biographer says he was kicked off the golf course at Trump International by none other than the President-elect himself.

[15:50:00] What Harry Hurt told CNN about their conversation at the private club.


CABRERA: This just into our newsroom. Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be on Capitol Hill meeting with house Republicans on Wednesday morning to discuss plans for repealing Obamacare. Now, the timing here is interesting. Again, Pence's visit comes on the same day and at the same time President Obama plans to go to Capitol Hill to meet with house and Senate Democrats to talk strategy for fighting the GOP effort to dismantle Obamacare. We're working to get more information on Pence's visit. And as soon as we have that, of course, we'll talk about it here on CNN.

Now, the author of a decades-old biography that criticizes Donald Trump says the President-elect kicked him off his golf course over the weekend. He talked to CNN about the interaction. Watch.


HARRY HURT, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: I went up to him and in the spirit of the United States of America and said, congratulations, sir. And then he launched into a diatribe that I had been rough on him. He used an expletive to describe the content of my book. I looked him in the eye and I said, it's all true. And he said, not in the way you said it. I can't believe why you're here. Well, again, I had been there a little over a year and a half ago. And I said, well, I came with Dave Koch. He said, well, I think it's inappropriate for you to play here and I want you to leave. I said fine, and we left.


CABRERA: Joining me now, Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent. Brian --

BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I should have dressed up the way Harry Hurt did. I wish I had worn the golf getup.

CABRERA: He catches your attention, no doubt about it. Who is this guy? He is a character.


CABRERA: He wrote this biography 23 years ago.

STELTER: A long time ago.

CABRERA: Apparently, Trump hasn't gotten over it by the sounds of things. He also said the last time they had interacted it was old news. Why do you think the friction is happening? STELTER: The campaign dredged up all the old biographies of Donald Trump. Some have been back in print as a result of his campaign and now his election. The allegations in Hurt's book and in other biographies have come back to the surface. Clearly, Donald Trump was reminded of those during the long campaign. Harry Hurt is no fan of Donald Trump. He has called him psycho, among many other words.

So. it's understandable that there is no love lost, there is some bad blood between the two then. To think with the President-elect allegedly having him removed from the golf course it makes you wonder how he'll react to critics, say reporters in the briefing room. This behavior over the weekend is curious. We haven't heard Trump's side of the story. He hasn't tweeted about it today. We'll only heard from Harry Hurt.

CABRERA: CNN has reached out to ask if they have a comment or response. Bigger picture conjures up references to within a tweet that Donald Trump sent out this weekend talking about his enemies. It says, "Happy new year to all including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!"


CABRERA: He's been criticized for taking things too personal or acting or reacting from the gut kind of rashly. What does his tweet say to you?

[15:55:00] STELTER: What a Trump biographer would say is he holds on to grudges and doesn't let things go. It can be a good and bad thing. Having a good memory and remembering who is on your side and who is not can be a good thing. Some of his GOP rivals are his enemies and it's not the language we're used to hearing from past Presidents. One time Barack Obama suggested some Republicans were enemies. He said it in the context of a policy proposal about Latinos and then walked it back and said I should have said opponents. So, to see Trump use the word enemies so casually, it goes to show this is the same person who was a billionaire businessman before running for office. Years ago, he tweeted about the haters and losers and that's exactly what we are seeing now even though he is President-elect.

CABRERA: And on the golf course he ditched the press corps over the weekend.

STELTER: He decided not to let the press know he was going golfing. Small potatoes. Not the biggest deal but it's happened several times since becoming elected.

CABRERA: Brian Stelter, good to see you.

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, he is gaining some unlikely fans halfway across the world. In the Kurdish area of Iraq. CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman shares the unusual tributes using the Trump name.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At three-weeks old, little Trump is not bothered by his pesky brother Rashid. You heard right. This is baby Trump. Trump Hassan Jamil to be precise born in Iraqi Kurdistan. His father, Hassan, a Peshmerga fighter on leave, explains what's in a name.

HASSAN JAMIL, FATHER OF BABY TRUMP: I called him Trump, he says because Trump is charismatic and has clear policies. That's why he won the election.

WEDEMAN: Nediar Zowiki heard Trump say he was a big fan of Kurdish forces calling for the U.S. to arm them in their fight against ISIS. In his honor. He named his recently opened fish restaurant in this city of Dohuk after the Donald. In Iraq's murky waters Trump has inspired some here to hope he'll also make Kurdistan great again.

This fish is your standard carp. It's the way it's cooked, it's called masgouf here in Iraq. It is bigly popular. And this is a catch fit for a President. There is no flip-flopping here. It takes just 45 minutes for the carp, a bottom-feeder, to go from the tank to cutting board to grill to plate. No time wasted.

NEDIAR ZOWIKI, TRUMP ADMIRER: What I admire about Trump's personality, he says, is that he is decisive. He is tough. And hopefully with that toughness he'll finish off ISIS.

WEDEMAN: Nediar shrugs off as campaign rhetoric his pledge to cast a wide net banning all Muslims from entering the United States. He even wants to open a branch of his restaurant near the WHITE HOUSE if Trump will invite him in, that is. Here is one man ready to serve the incoming administration. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Dohuk, Northern Iraq.


CABRERA: That looked delicious. Jim Scioto on "The Lead" starts right now. Thank you for joining me, I am Ana Cabrera. Have great day.