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Trump Criticizes FBI as Probe Intensifies; North Korea Nuclear Threat; Palestinians Warn U.S. over Jerusalem Decision; Alabama Special Election; Irish Border A Major Hurdle To Brexit Deal; Australian MP Proposes To Partner During Same Sex Debate. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired December 4, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Twitter tirade: Donald Trump takes aim at the FBI and doesn't stop there.
Military muscle: U.S. fighter jets begin joint military drills with South Korea.
And a city divided: the U.S. considers a major policy change with Jerusalem.
Hello and welcome to viewers here in the United States and, of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: Donald Trump begins the week with a dark cloud over the White House. The Russia investigation is zeroing in on his inner circle. And now investigators at the FBI are furious with him.
On Sunday, the president tweeted this, "After years of Comey with a phony and dishonest Clinton investigation and more, running the FBI, its reputation is in tatters. Worst in history. But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness."
James Comey, the FBI director until Donald Trump fired him, later tweeted this message, quoting himself from Senate testimony he gave in June.
"I want the American people to know this truth. The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent."
The president's tweet about the FBI came after a report that special counsel Robert Mueller had removed an FBI agent from his team for possibly having bias against Mr. Trump.
Now this also comes after the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with a Russian official. Now Flynn says he is cooperating with the Russia investigation.
Now, meanwhile, the president's lawyer says he drafted a tweet that brings up questions about what Mr. Trump knew about Michael Flynn's lies to the FBI and when. Jeremy Diamond has the details.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president is especially active on social media this weekend after his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to charging of lying to the FBI. He is now cooperating with federal investigators.
And all of that, of course, is casting a pale (sic) over this White House. The president clearly stewing over this investigation over the weekend.
But one of the tweets that he put out, his personal attorney, John Dowd, is now claiming that it was not authored by the president but authored by this attorney, John Dowd himself.
This tweet, though, is the one that has caused the most problems for the White House this weekend because it has, once again, raised the specter of obstruction of justice. In this tweet, the president appeared to suggest that he knew that Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, had lied to the FBI while he was still a senior White House official.
But now the president's attorney, John Dowd, signaling that the president did not in fact know that and that the tweet was simply an attempt for the White House to continue to try to put some distance, it seems, between Michael Flynn and the president.
This, of course, has dominated the weekend. But it's a weekend during which the president should perhaps instead be celebrating. The Senate, of course, on Friday night, passed a tax reform bill, the first major legislative accomplishment of this president's time in office so far.
But now again he will head into this next week as the Senate and the House seek to reconcile those two bills instead with this investigation once again looming over his head.
CHURCH: Well, after that tweet about Michael Flynn's firing, Democrats were asking some tough questions, mainly if President Trump knew Flynn was lying about his Russian contacts, why didn't he do something about it earlier?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA.), SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: This president has been obsessed with this investigation, always saying there is nothing there.
But each week another shoe drops where we see more evidence of continuing outreach from Russians and some response from the Trump campaign or Trump individuals.
In the case of Flynn, you have somebody who is top security adviser, then his national security adviser have a series of contacts with Russian officials, beginning in early December, with the president's son-in-law asking for back channel connections to Russia.
Then efforts to try to intervene in American politics before they take over in terms of backing Russia off from a U.N. vote over Israel, then trying to get Russia to back off in terms of response to President Obama's sanctions.
And now the president somehow saying he didn't -- he fired Flynn because he knew Flynn was lying.
If he knew that then, why didn't he act on it earlier?
It raises a whole series of additional questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Dianne Feinstein, says President Trump will likely be facing an obstruction of justice case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CALIF.) MEMBER, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think what we're beginning to see is the beginning of putting together a case of obstruction of justice.
I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it, most importantly, in what happened with the firing of Director Comey. And it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That's obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN legal analyst Page Pate. He's also a criminal defense attorney and constitutional attorney.
Page, always great to have you on the show.
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
CHURCH: Thanks. Let's start with that controversial tweet from President Trump that's caused quite a legal firestorm. And, of course, he sent this out. This was about the firing of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, a tweet that the president's lawyer, John Dowd, now says he wrote. And this is what it says.
"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI."
That's the critical part.
"He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide."
So Page, when you read that tweet, what do you think of the legal ramifications for the president?
And how does that change, now that we understand John Dowd, his lawyer, wrote that tweet?
PATE: Well, first the tweet itself. I think it was incredibly -- surely there wasn't a strategy behind it, because it's harmful. It's not helpful at all. By saying that he fired Flynn because he lied to the president and the FBI, President Trump, he is basically admitting he was aware that Flynn had committed a federal crime at the time that he talked to James Comey and said, you need to let him go.
So if Trump is aware that Flynn committed a federal crime and is trying to lean on the FBI director to not prosecute him, that can be obstruction of justice.
The other thing that is interesting about this tweet is that he claims that Flynn's conduct was lawful and that he had nothing to hide.
But what that raises the is question of, why did he lie?
Why would you go to the FBI, make a false statement, face five years in prison if you hadn't done anything wrong?
There must be a reason behind it. And because of this tweet now, that's what I think the special counsel is going to be investigating.
CHURCH: Yes. I want to come back to that. But before we leave this specific tweet, some people are raising doubts as to whether John Dowd really did send that tweet out. And we don't know, of course.
But I do want to read this out from Walter Shaub. He is the former director of the Office of Government Ethics and a CNN contributor.
And he said this, "I dare you to tell Mueller you logged in to the president's Twitter account and wrote pled, P-L-E-D, and the rest of that, John Dowd. I dare you."
So as a lawyer, what is the significance of using "pled" rather than "pleaded"?
What does that indicate.
And do you believe that John Dowd wrote this?
Or do you think President Trump did?
Does it matter legally, if it came out of the president's account?
PATE: Let's assume for a second that Dowd wrote it. I don't think it comes down to whether he said "pled" or "pleaded." I'm a criminal defense lawyer. I've been one for almost 25 years. I use "pled." I don't use "pleaded." I think that's more common for actual trial lawyers and I don't know that Mr. Shaub does a lot of criminal work but we use "pled" all the time. So that's not too surprising a lawyer could absolutely have written that,
Does it matter?
Well, it matters if Dowd was the one to say it. But that's not who said it. We know that, even if it was drafted by someone else, it went out under the president's Twitter account. The president has adopted that as his statement.
So even if somebody else prepared it for him, helped him write it, talked to him about it, ultimately, he will be held accountable, the president will, for things that are put on his Twitter feed if he adopts that as a statement.
CHURCH: And, as a lawyer, looking down the road, what's the legal jeopardy here?
PATE: Well, it's obstruction, number one. If the special counsel's office decides that Trump was having that meeting with Jim Comey in an attempt to keep him from further investigating Michael Flynn -- and we know the special counsel's office is looking into that meeting. They've interviewed several people that had knowledge of the meeting. We believe they've probably talked to James Comey about it.
So if the special counsel's office thinks that the point of that meeting was to obstruct the investigation, that's possibly a crime.
The other thing that could be interesting is, as the investigators are talking to people in the White House, they may be getting two different stories. We know that Jared Kushner has said things about his --
PATE: -- discussions with Michael Flynn during the transition period, that now Michael Flynn may be saying something inconsistent. So the false statement crime that we saw Michael Flynn plead guilty to could pop up again for somebody else.
CHURCH: What is your gut feeling legally as to what might happen?
PATE: I don't think -- and I wrote something for cnn.com on this. I don't think that the president or really anyone in his family will ultimately be prosecuted and sent to prison over this particular conduct.
There may have been a Logan Act violation. And that's a law that we -- it's on the books here in the U.S. But no one has really been effectively prosecuted for it. Even if the president obstructed justice, it's really hard constitutionally to indict a sitting president and remove him from office.
The only way this will have any consequence at all for President Trump is if he is impeached. And I think ultimately the special counsel's investigation, that may be the ultimate impact because they're going review the evidence. They may lay out a case of obstruction. And then serve it up on a silver platter to Congress and say, you want to do something about it, it's really in your court.
CHURCH: Page Pate, always great to get your legal analysis. Many thanks.
PATE: Thank you.
CHURCH: And you may remember the "Access Hollywood" tape, in which then presidential candidate Donald Trump used lewd language just weeks before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. It's just -- I don't even -- and when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, now former "Access Hollywood" host, Billy Bush, is breaking his silence after reports that President Trump doubts the authenticity of that tape. But Bush has written a "New York Times" op-ed that says in part, "President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his.
"This has hit a raw nerve in me. I can only imagine how it has reopened the wounds of the women who came forward with their stories about him and did not receive enough attention."
Just a portion there of what Billy Bush had to say in his op-ed.
Now on to another story we're following very closely. For the first time, the U.S. is sending some of its newest stealth fighter jets to join aerial drills with South Korea. As expected, North Korea is condemning the annual exercises as a provocation, which could lead to war.
Less than a week ago, Pyongyang tested what it claims to be its most advanced ballistic missile ever. CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us from Seoul, South Korea.
Paula, do these joint air drills signal any move towards some level of war footing on the part of the U.S., given White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster insists the U.S. and North Korea are close to war?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, we've had an update from U.S. Forces Korea in just the past couple of hours. And they have specified that this drill, which is annual, is not in relation to anything that is happening at this point. It's not in response to anything that's happening on the Korean Peninsula, also saying it's comparable in size to previous years.
But this is 230 aircraft, 12,000 personnel. It is a sizable joint air force drill between the U.S. and the South Koreans.
But, of course, the one point that is interesting, you alluded to it there in the introduction, was the fact that these F-22 Raptors, these top-of-the-line stealth fighters are right now on the Korean Peninsula or flying around the Korean Peninsula.
These are the sorts of planes that could potentially, according to experts, be leading any kind of strike militarily on North Korea, should it degenerate to that kind of situation. They're the sort of stealth fighters that North Korea wouldn't know about until they have hit their targets. They really are top of the line.
So that's the sort of thing that does concern North Korea. We've heard from the North Korean foreign ministry, through state-run media, that they say that Trump is pushing toward a nuclear war, that this is an open all-act provocation, which may lead to a nuclear war at any moment.
So they're never happy when it comes to these joint military drills. But certainly, when you have this kind of caliber of aircraft flying around the Korean Peninsula, it is going to put North Korea on edge even more. And this goes on for the next week.
CHURCH: Yes. It's got the whole world on edge.
What's the view from the Korean Peninsula?
How nervous are people there?
HANCOCKS: South Koreans do have an incredible ability to carry on business as usual. This is a threat from North Korea that they've been living under for many decades now. North Korea has been able to hit Seoul for many decades; there are hundreds of artillery units along the DMZ pointing towards South Korea.
So from that point of view, there is nothing new when it comes to --
HANCOCKS: -- the threat. The ICBM, of course, is now threatening the United States. This is what we saw last week from North Korea, very carefully monitored and guided by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong- un.
The fact that this was the highest altitude ever recorded for a North Korean missile is putting American officials on edge; H.R. McMaster, as well, saying that the time is running out to be able to deal with it.
In that respect, yes, that would concern South Koreans more. Certainly the rhetoric we've been hearing from both sides from the U.S. and from the North Korean side about, you know, this is pushing the peninsula closer to nuclear war. Of course, that impacts South Korea, first and foremost. That impacts
South Koreans. But this country does have an amazing ability to just carry on as they are. They have to live their lives. This is a risk they've been living under for many years now -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: That is certainly the case. Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date on the situation there from Seoul in South Korea, where it is 4:15 in the afternoon. Many thanks to you.
Let's take a short break here. But still to come, the U.S. could soon recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Why one key U.S. ally thinks that would be a mistake.
And last month, Roy Moore faced calls to leave Alabama's Senate race over allegations of sexual misconduct. Still to come, why the U.S. Senate majority leader now says let the voters decide. We're back with that and more in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Well, a key ally is warning the United States not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Jordan's foreign minister tweeted this on Sunday.
"Spoke with U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across Arab Muslim world, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts."
U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. And he is expected to announce a decision on that matter this week.
On Sunday, Mr. Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, signaled the president has not yet made up his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON-IN-LAW: The president is going to make his decision and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hasn't made his decision?
KUSHNER: He is still looking at a lot of different facts. And that when he makes his decision, he'll be the one to want to tell you, not me. So he'll make sure he does that at the right time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Now the dispute over Jerusalem goes back decades. And as CNN's Ian Lee report, its residents are still deeply divided.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Palestinian officials have been in Washington to pressure the Trump administration to not move the U.S. embassy. They're also working with other Middle East leaders to support them.
PLO secretary General Saab Erekat, one of those meeting administration officials in Washington, said any announcement would mean the United States disqualifying itself from any role in future peace talks.
Israeli officials have not commented on the latest reports but they have enthusiastically advocated for the move in the past.
But on the streets of Jerusalem, we found a stark divide.
LEE (voice-over): At one level, it's a city like any other. People sell. People buy. Normal life. But Jerusalem's Old City is special.
LEE: And this is the best vantage point, here on the Mount of Olives.
LEE (voice-over): The Dome of the Rock in all its magnificence, a key holy site for Muslims. Behind it, if you know where to look, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the site where many Christians believe Christ was crucified.
And out of sight from this vantage point, the Western Wall, holy to Jews, supporting the mount where the temple once stood.
It's not Jerusalem's significance that's in dispute. It's its status. After nearly 20 years divided by barbed wire, Israeli forces took control of the whole city, east and west, in 1967. The international community did not recognize what Israel called the unification of Jerusalem.
Embassies stayed in Tel Aviv. And East Jerusalem was accepted by the international community as the capital of a future Palestinian state in a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
LEE: This area is called Abu Tor. And it's a bit of a rarity in Jerusalem. That's because it's a mixed neighborhood.
LEE (voice-over): People who live on this part of the street identify as Palestinians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside, I am Palestinian. And I'm a Muslim. And I'm proud about that.
LEE (voice-over): "I don't think it's a successful step to move the embassy," Hamid tells me. "And it's not the right time to do it. But the Israelis and the Americans have other agendas that we can't change."
A bit further down the road and let's talk to some folks here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an Israeli woman. I live in Jerusalem. I love Jerusalem.
LEE: Palestinians say they want East Jerusalem to be part of their capital.
What do you think about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like to talk this. I think Jerusalem is Israeli, for Jewish.
LEE: What are your thoughts on the United States moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great, great. First of all, it's not going to be a Palestinian country. And it always was Israel.
LEE (voice-over): Some Israelis who didn't want to be on camera told us they don't support moving the embassy.
Whatever President Trump announces, the position of the vast majority of the international community remains clear. East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory. All settlements are illegal. Their view likely won't change quickly, even if the U.S. embassy changes addresses.
LEE: We're also --
LEE: -- watching U.S. diplomatic missions. They have increased security ahead of any potential announcement.
I was outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, when protesters attacked it in 2012. And that was over an inflammatory video. It's unclear what the reaction would be, if any, were President Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem -- Ian Lee, CNN, Jerusalem.
CHURCH: U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is walking back his call for Roy Moore to step aside from the Alabama Senate race. In November, McConnell said he believed the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore. Now he is taking a wait-and-see approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I think we're going to let the people of Alabama decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. And then we'll address the matter appropriately.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Do you believe that Judge Moore should be in the Senate?
MCCONNELL: I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call with this election. It's been going on a long time; there has been a lot of discussion about it. They're going make the decision a week from Tuesday.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you are prepared to take action if he is indeed elected?
MCCONNELL: The Ethics Committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign, should that particular candidate win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And it does appear this scandal is hurting Roy Moore's support among some voters. In the latest "Washington Post" poll, Democratic rival Doug Jones leads Moore by 3 percentage points.
Well, despite the tweets, the media reports and the opinions, the U.S. probe into Russian meddling marches on. We will look at what's next in Robert Mueller's investigation.
Plus, it's deal day for the British prime minister. She is looking for a Brexit breakthrough at a crunch meeting in the coming hours. We'll show you why so much is at stake. That's still to come. Stay with us.
[02:30:14] CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. The U.S. and South Korea have begun scheduled aerial drills on the Korean Peninsula. As expected, North Korea is condemning the exercises. They come less than a week after Pyongyang tested a ballistic missile which flew higher and longer than ever before. White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster says time is running out to prevent a war with North Korea. Donald Trump's lawyer John Dowd says, he wrote the controversial tweet claiming the president fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. That could mean Mr. Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI about conversations with Russia's U.S. Ambassador.
Remember the supposedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn which could be seen as obstructing justice. And the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says, she sees an obstruction of justice case developing against President Trump. Dianne Feinstein pointed to his firing of James Comey saying, she believes that came after Comey refused to lift the cloud of the Russian. And that investigation headed up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller still likely has a long way to go. So what's the next step? This week investigators will keep targeting Donald Trump's inner circle. Shimon Prokupecz has the details.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: With Michael Flynn's guilty plea, the special counsel now has at least two people who are cooperating and providing information to investigators on the Russia probe. Next week expected White House Communications Director Hope Hicks to be interviewed by the special counsel investigators. Now, she is the key for investigators in the obstruction probe. She's said to be close to the president and was aboard Air Force One, and helped draft a misleading statement from the president about a meeting that Donald Trump Jr. helped put together from a Russian woman claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Now, that meeting taking place at Trump Tower. So naturally, the special counsel has now included that into their probe into Russia meddling and whether or not anyone on the campaign or people close to the president were part of that. The next big question obviously is, who else could perhaps face charges? Who else will cooperate perhaps or indicted? That all still remains to be seen. And now with Michael Flynn's cooperation, it opens doors and avenues for the special counsel that he may have not had before Michael Flynn. All this despite what some who are close to the president are saying that the investigation is winding down it certainly doesn't appear that that is the case especially now that we have Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor and someone who is close to the president cooperating in the investigation.
CHURCH: All right. Well, President Trump's tweet threatened to overshadow Friday's Senate victory on tax reform. Let's take a closer look at the statement and of course before that, we are joined by Amy Greene, Political Science Researcher and Professor at Sciences Po in Paris. Thank you so much for being with us. So President Trump slammed both the Department of Justice and the FBI in a tweet storm over the weekend but perhaps the most controversial tweet was the one that admitted he had to fire his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn because he lied to both the vice president and critically the FBI. So according to this tweet, Mr. Trump appears to suggest he knew all along that Flynn lied to the FBI, although, it has to be said his lawyer John Dowd now says, he was the author of that tweet. Nonetheless, what are the political and legal ramifications of just such an admission?
AMY GREENE, PROFESSOR, SCIENCE PO: Right. I mean if the -- if it's deemed to be obstruction of justice as part of the Mueller investigation for which of course the legal ramifications are significant. I think here, you know, you see -- you see President Trump's entourage, you see his lawyer trying to sort of save face at this point because the president was undisciplined probably not following his legal advice. So essentially, what we don't know today is whether or not, you know, Mueller is trying to build a case for obstruction of justice for the president itself or for members of his entourage, or if he simply trying to build a case which he can later give to the house for impeachment hearings.
So the question really is we don't know what the legal ramifications are today. But obviously, immediately upon the heels of that tweet, we saw a number of commenters of legal up handed legal experts sounding the alarm that this, in fact, does sound considerably like an admission of guilt and obstruction of justice. At any case, you know, some kind of fear from the president.
[02:35:24] CHURCH: Yes. And of course, we don't know as you say what Robert Mueller is planning here, but in the wake of the Democrat Dianne Feinstein, she says, an obstruction of justice case is developing against President Trump. Is that what we are seeing do you think?
GREENE: Yes. I mean, I think that what we're seeing is, you know, this investigation is constantly going closer and closer to the president and I think what you're seeing is amounting pile of evidence at least or amounting number of actions that show, you know, the president is more worried about this than he lets off, of course, you see tweets like the FBI is in tatters which is a way of trying, you know, to deflect attention reframe the truth if you will.
So at any case, I think what we're seeing is a president, and administration, and entourage around the president increasingly fearful of what's happening and of course demonstrating through that that Mueller is clearly doing his job of not showing his hand too early on, you know, hitting the president where it counts and a demonstrating that, you know, Flynn for example, you know, pled guilty to one count of lying to federal agents. But of course, that could just simply be and is most likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Mueller must have on him.
CHURCH: Right. And while we're watching the fallout of that twitter storm over the weekend, we're learning that Mr. Trump has been questioning the authenticity of that Access Hollywood tape that has him bragging about sexually assaulting women. The other man heard on that tape, Billy Bush is now weighing in saying, this in his offer for The New York Times, yes, Donald Trump, you said that. Billy Bush was sacked of course but Mr. Trump was elected president. What does that tell us and what will be the likely impact of Bush going public with this because now he's going to talking to all the late-night comedians?
GREENE: Yes. Absolutely. I mean it's embarrassing for the president. Obviously, it's great that the America people had the information about this tape. Before the election, Donald Trump was elected president nonetheless. I'm not convinced that doubting the authenticity of the tape now is anything but distraction from the Mueller investigation. It's a way of charging of something that had been litigated before the American public, of course, you know, and we know what the outcome of that was. So whether or not he's attacking or trying to reframe the truth around the FBI, around the Access Hollywood tape.
It's simply a method of distracting from really what's going on. And so you have Billy Bush, you know, demonstrating or testifying or, you know, commenting publicly that the tape was real. But once again, the American public knew this. So it seems nothing more than just a simple act of distraction and I can't say that it will change much because again, you know, the character and the ethics of the president were obviously made public to the -- to the American people, you know, prior to the election. So I'm not sure that this is really anything more than just an attempt simply to, you know, to avert the eyes from what's really important.
CHURCH: But since then there has been a shift in culture, hasn't there? We've all been witnessing this national reckoning over the sexual harassment with the sacking of top Hollywood players and TV host, but the leader of the United States appears untouchable, why is that?
GREENE: Absolutely. Well, I mean politics in general, right? We see what's going on with John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi calling for him finally to step down but entertainment is clearly an area where the sea shift has started to take place in politics remains, you know, surprisingly talk about more in Alabama outside of this cultural shift, this cultural conversation. So, you know, the question is really is exactly why is it, you know, one of the difficulties when you talk about be sexual harassment or assault allegations in politics is that it too quickly necessarily becomes a political issue.
We see this with the sort of the false equivalency of Al Franken versus Roy Moore, and you see, you know, you know, how grave are the various -- are the various cases and it becomes politicized, so for the case of Franken, you know, Republicans want to see a Democrat out of the senate to potentially replace him with another Republican, you know, Republican sort of, you know, ultra conservatives in Alabama see the Moore case as a proxy war between Washington, the establishment, and this up and coming sort of anti-establishment running of the Republican Party. So again, it becomes politicized which removes the power and the -- from the victim coming forward and makes it a political calculation and then the discussion gets muddied into that. So I think politics has remained out of the fray unfortunately but for now it seems to be the case.
CHURCH: All right. Amy Greene, thank you so much for your perspective and your analysis. We appreciate it.
GREENE: Thank you.
CHURCH: I will take a short break here. Still, to come, Honduras is still figuring out who won last month's presidential race. The latest on the recounts and protest that's here. Plus, the Irish border and Brexit, why people on both sides of the border nervous about what the divide between Britain and the E.U. will look like for them? We're back with that and more when we come back.
[02:43:00] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, tensions continue to run high in the Central America nation of Honduras. A vote recount is underway. We still don't know who won the presidential election more than a week after the vote. The opposition is accusing President Juan Orlando Hernandez of manipulating the results. The country's electoral tribunal says the people deserved a resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel that the Honduran people as we said yesterday deserved a result and that result cannot be stopped or be in the hands of any presidential candidate, or any party. And this I say in general terms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And while some opposition protests have been peaceful, others including this one on Saturday were more ruckus. Local media report multiple deaths from the protest but the military denies any abuse of power. And Monday is looking like make or break day for British Prime Minister Theresa May to fulfill her Brexit wish list. She's set to meet with E.U. leaders to hammer out the remaining issues and the so- called Divorce. The E.U. has warned this is last day for Britain to negotiate before they'll enter trade talks. One of the issues on the negotiating table is a type of border between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland which will remain in the E.U. It is a hot-button topic for many reasons. And Nic Robertson is there to show us why so much is riding on it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Below is Middletown, a tiny Northern Ireland village nestled against the river that tracks the Irish border. It is home to about 300 people. They go to church on Sundays, work hard during the week. And right now, they feel well, stuck in the middle in a Brexit tussle.
[02:45:07] British Prime Minister Theresa May says the U.K. is leaving the E.U. Customs Union and Single Market, meaning the border on the edge of Middletown here may get harder to cross.
TREVOR MAGILL, MANAGER, MIDDLETOWN POST OFFICE: The mood always was, you know, this is a problem, but it will be sorted, and, you know, the E.U. and the governments will get this sorted.
ROBERTSON: But now, Trevor Magill, whose family has run the village post office here for the past 40 years worries his business and the village could be harmed.
MAGILL: I have all my customers here are from a -- this island probably 60, 70 percent. And that is where that supports the business for this local -- this local area.
ROBERTSON: A few miles away, at Linwood's Food Plant, Boss John Woods, tells me his business has boomed since the peace process opened up the border 20 years ago. His milk comes from the north, the plastic milk containers, from the south. He sells to both sides, employs over 300 people, but if Brexit brings border controls, all that could change.
JOHN WOODS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LINWOOD: We would just have to abandon exports to the south on our dairy and our bread bakery site.
FRANCES WARD, FARMER: The border just runs down the middle of that road.
ROBERTSON: The middle of the road.
It doesn't matter where I look here, people are struggling to make sense of Brexit.
Tell me when we're crossing over.
WARD: Yes, we're crossing over here now.
ROBERTSON: Fifth-generation farmer, Frances Ward, lives just feet south of the border, owns fields on both sides.
WARD: How do you divide it?
ROBERTSON: What's going to happen in Brexit then, if you got the -- if the line is down the middle of the road?
WARD: Yes, I don't know what will happen to Brexit.
ROBERTSON: There are some 310 miles, about 500 kilometers of border with between 300 to 400 border crossings. And during Northern Ireland's 30 years of sectarian violence, known as The Troubles, many of those crossings like this one outside Frances Ward's farm were blocked by the police and the army.
While few here fear post-Brexit border controls could trigger an immediate return to the troubles, many like John Woods worry about a possible longer-term economic impact on peace.
WOODS: Our success after The Troubles has been not only a good work done by the Peacemakers, but also by increasing employment -- lower unemployment. Lower unemployment pulls in people who may otherwise see themselves outside the system.
ROBERTSON: Like the border, weaving its way to its town and trees, carrying with it a heavy troubled history. The solution for the current Brexit impasse seems set to be anything but straight-forward and just as laden with pitfalls. Nic Robertson, CNN, Middletown, Northern Island.
CHURCH: Let's take another short break. But still to come, it's not exactly a rare phenomenon but, well, it sure is gorgeous, a view of the supermoon, that's next.
[02:50:36] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Let's talk weather. I'm Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri and millions -- I mean, tens of millions of people are starting the week, first full week of December on a very mild note here for this time of year, that is about to change. The reason for that is this dip in -- dip in the jet stream here bringing in very cold air across the northwestern portion of the United States, and eventually, all of that shifting toward the East Coast and eventually the Midwest, initially, and then, East Coast. And the trend looks as such here for Monday.
High temps in Denver, only four degrees. Winnipeg, three below. Chicago enjoying one last run of mild temps, this could easily be the final such reading as we go over the next several days for 2017. And then, look at this, we get one shot of colder air and a reinforcing shot by later to the week that actually can push us far south as Northern Florida. So, this is an area of interest here we're watching carefully because it is a significant one for the Southern United States, going from the 20s down potentially into the single digits as we approach Friday. And in places like Charlotte, also a significant drop. New York City, from 14 eventually down to six as well. So, winter has arrived or will at least by the latter portion of this week.
The Caribbean, looking at the upper 20s. Into parts of Mexico, 24 degrees. The least city from (INAUDIBLE) upper 20s, and work your way farther towards the south there as it approach Mannaz, Lapaz, and now towards Rio, 29 degrees in Rio with mostly cloudy conditions. We'll leave you with the conditions across South America.
CHURCH: OK. So, look at this, you may have been lucky enough to see this year's only visible supermoon in person. But if not, check out these stunning photos from all around the world. The moon shines brighter and appears to be seven percent bigger than usual as it makes its closest approach to the earth in its orbit. And if you missed out on this view, don't worry, it's coming back twice in January, so mark your calendar.
And our Pedram Javaheri is here, of course, you would have been looking at lots of pictures. This is -- this is your thing, right?
JAVAHERI: Yes. Absolutely. It's coming back around. So, you know those supermoon -- we're joking with our weather producer. It's super, yes, but it happens pretty frequently. I mean, you'll get a chance to (INAUDIBLE) like you said in a couple months.
CHURCH: Yes, I mean, it's pretty fantastic. It never gets old. Now, you're talking about Australian weather because there's been a few problems in Victoria and Tasmania.
JAVEHERI: Yes, you know, and those are two places that, Rosemary, were in an incredible stretch of warm and mild temperatures. The warmest for the month of November in 130-plus years of recordkeeping just a couple of days ago. December comes in like a lion. And I want to share with you what's happening across this region because we're talking about 3,000 phone calls to the emergency management officials across places such as Victoria in the past couple of days across Southern and Southeastern Australian. Still raining at this hour across this region, nothing compared to what occurred to start off the month of December there.
And of course, the area here -- some areas are reporting that water has inundated up to the first floor of several hundred homes across this region. 30 to some 160-plus millimeters of rainfall, so say about 1-1/2 inches to almost six inches of rainfall coming down. That's more rainfall in one to two days than we've seen -- we typically would see the entire month of December. That starts off the month year after what were the dry stretch. But notice, some showers across the western area, west of Sydney into
the blue mountains there, Canberra also getting in on some of the heavy rains. And the pattern expected to continue, I don't think it'll be nearly as extensive as we saw in the last of couple days, and that's good news here. And, of course, the meteorological start to summer down under began on the 1st of December, and the weather kind of follows suit here with warmth really beginning to take over. And look what happens in Sydney, 22 Celsius, about 70 Fahrenheit shoots up to 28 Celsius on Thursday, that is 82 Fahrenheit, so yes, it feels like summer very quickly going in towards the weekend.
Opposite end of the spectrum, it is going to feel like winter very quickly across the Midwestern U.S. 2 million people under winter- weather advisories, about 400,000 underneath blizzard warnings that are in place now. Temps dropping like a rock here, these are in degrees Fahrenheit for the U.S. audience here, 20 to 30 degrees there for high temps, keens around the Northern portion of the United States, where it has been as mild as it comes. And here's a good perspective, 25 above normal today in places like Minneapolis. In the 60s in places like Chicago. Rosemary, Chicago would lose 30 degrees of warmth come Tuesday. And that eventually makes it down across to the Southern U.S. as well.
[02:55:11] CHURCH: Wow. That's crazy because I mean it's been so warm for this time of year.
JAVAHERI: (INAUDIBLE) that's changing quick.
CHURCH: OK. All right. So, it'll start to feel like Christmas.
JAVAHERI: Yes, absolutely.
CHURCH: OK. Thanks so much, Pedram. We'll talk next hour.
JAVAHERI: See you.
CHURCH: OK. Thank you. Well, an Australian member of parliament surprised to his long-term partner when he proposed to him during a debate over same-sex marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM WILSON, AUSTRALIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: So, there's only one thing left to do, Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me? (INAUDIBLE) We'll check that in the memoir of hand side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should let hand side note to record that that was a yes, a resounding yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A resounding yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
WILSON: Thank you, Speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, done, mate. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Recorded as a yes. And he is believed to be the first member of Australia's parliament to propose on the floor of the House, the legislation which will allow them to marry has been approved by the Senate and is expected to pass the House this week. Earlier this year, of course, Australians overwhelmingly voted in favor of same-sex marriage. And that's so much for your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. Don't go anywhere, though, we've got another hour of news for you coming your way in just a moment. Stick around.