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Another North Korean Solider Defects; Holiday Travel Forecast; Virginia House Race Tied; Quarterback Defends Owner; Trump Year-End Presser; Fox News Guest Suggests FBI Assassination Plot. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 21, 2017 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:30:24] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Tensions rising again on the Korean peninsula as another North Korean soldier defects, crossing the demilitarized zone into South Korea. This is the second soldier to defect in less than two months.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul.

Give us the latest, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, what we know at this point is that this was a young defector. He was early -- late teens, early 20s. We understand that he was a low-ranking soldier, according to the South Korean military.

Now, they say he crossed the border just after 8:00 a.m. local time. And they say that an hour and a half later, the South Korean military fired 20 shots because they saw North Korean soldiers approaching the demarcation line, obviously trying to find him. They hadn't realized potentially that he had been missing for that time.

And then shortly afterwards, about 40 minutes later, shots were heard on the North Korean side. Now, there was no direct military engagement between North and South Korea, but the fact is you do not want shots fired on such a tense border.

And this isn't the first time that this has happened. Just last month we saw that there was that defector that made that very daring dash across the DMZ. And certainly that was a very, almost deadly dash, shot multiple times by his former comrades. The question now we are being asked is, why are there so many more North Korean soldiers trying to come across this very heavy militarized border, which is very heavily mined as well. Four this year alone. And, of course, those are just the ones we hear about.

Bill, back to you.

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: And that one that did get across, full of intestinal worms, parasites, so things -- for an elite soldier. So things dire there.

Paula, thank you so much.

Let's turn to the weather now. Ice, snow, and rain from three storms are going to make a mess of the Christmas travel season in central and eastern parts of the country.

Let's get details now from meteorologist Chad Myers with a look at the forecast.

Good morning, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Bill.

I think this is going to be a difficult travel week, but not impossible.

This weather is brought to you by Jared, the galleria of jewelry.

So let's get right to it. We'll get some bags on the lift here, on the crane, on the carousel. We'll see that Salt Lake City and Denver are the biggest problems today. Also maybe up towards Minneapolis. This is going to be the area that will get 15 to 30 minutes, maybe even some spots around 30 to 45 minutes.

Now, tomorrow, it's Texas and Louisiana that has the problem. And, unfortunately here, as we look ahead, here's your Saturday, right through the Northeast. This is where the snow/rain line will be. And New York City could be well over an hour for airport delays here on your Saturday. If you're traveling on Sunday, a little bit better. But the only problem spot should be Chicago. Maybe a little bit for St. Louis. But really in pretty good shape.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chad, your graphics are a marvel. I mean they are a marvel of technology.

WEIR: Would you grab my bag, Chad? It just went by.

MYERS: I'll get it for you. Which one is it?

WEIR: It's the yellow one.

CAMEROTA: Of course it is.

It's the bright green one.

Chad, thank you for that.

So, listen to this crazy story. There is a tie in the Virginia House race. An actual tie. The same amount of voters voted for both of these candidates. So it leaves the balance of power in that state in limbo. How will they determine the winner? Wait until you hear this one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:37:58] CAMEROTA: Virginia's legislature is in limbo this morning. There was a recount after Democrat Shelly Simonds won by one vote over the Republican David Yancey. But now a three judge panel has declared one more vote for Yancey, making the final tally a tie, 11,608 votes each.

Virginia's former attorney general and CNN legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli joins us now.

Ken, what are the chances?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Very, very low. This has never happened at the state level before. Now, this has happened in local elections in Virginia in the past, but it's never happened for the House of Delegates.

And, of course, what adds so much drama to all this is right now, without this race, the state House of Delegates is 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats. So if the -- essentially a coin toss. It's not really a coin toss. I'll explain that in a moment -- ends up in favor of the Republican with a 50/50 chance, they are up 51-49. If Simonds, a Democrat, wins it, it's a 50/50 tie and they go into power sharing.

So the way this is going to happen next week --

CAMEROTA: OK. So surely, Ken -- so, listen, let me tell you something. Surely there's a very sophisticated, high-tech way of determining how to break this tie.

CUCCINELLI: Oh, very sophisticated.

CAMEROTA: So let's take our viewers through it.

CUCCINELLI: Very sophisticated.

CAMEROTA: Let me -- let me just say -- let me just put up here what we've learned, OK?

The candidate's names will be printed on a separate sheet of paper.

CUCCINELLI: Sure.

CAMEROTA: The names will be cut up and placed into a separate film canister.

CUCCINELLI: Right.

CAMEROTA: Then the first name drawn from a bowl (ph) --

CUCCINELLI: Film canister. A good old -- old film canister. And who found those?

CAMEROTA: Honestly. I mean listen to this.

CUCCINELLI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Then you'll draw the name from a bowl, a hat or a box. And that will be the winner. It will be pulling a name out of a hat.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, it will. That's exactly right. And why they're not flipping a coin, I don't know. But the statute is -- doesn't specify a method, it just says it has to be random. So there's going to be two old film canisters and who knows where they're going to find those old film canisters.

[06:40:06] CAMEROTA: But isn't a coin toss easier? I mean, honestly, right, you have to find an old film canister.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, I think it would be easier, but -- but now -- now, mind you, the way they got to this was, you know, complaints by one side or the other about every other method. So, you know, it -- the fact of the matter is, assuming you don't have a marked film canister, then it's a 50/50 shot of who's going to win this race, and it is totally random, just as specified in Virginia law.

CAMEROTA: OK. Now, but here's the funny thing, Ken, I mean among many funny things, is that then the loser of the pull a name out of a hat --

CUCCINELLI: Right.

CAMEROTA: Can petition for a recount. And surely they will. And this recount can go on sort of, you know, ad infinitum. So here's a strange suggestion. I mean is there any sort of way they could have a job- sharing agreement or just call it a tie and figure out how to move on?

CUCCINELLI: No, no, no, no. No. And, look, it is kind of funny because -- in part because it's so rare. But the most important thing for what they do right now is that they follow the rules, the law established before this happened, because any change in this going forward that affects this race looks like, and probably is programmed to, effect the race. So everybody knew what the rules were coming in. Yes, you're right, we've never had an absolute tie before. Nonetheless, the most important thing for confidence in the system is to follow the rules that were in place.

This is fair. It's weird, but it is fair in the sense that it is even for both sides. No one has an advantage.

Many years ago, when I was an intern in the governor's office way back in college, I remember watching a freshman delegate come in to actually change this law. The law used to say 30 years ago that in a contested election the house could award the seat to the person with the most votes or in a tie to either of the tying candidates or to a candidate with less votes, believe it or not.

CAMEROTA: Huh.

CUCCINELLI: I mean the law used to law them to award the race to the loser. Now, surely this process looks a whole lot better than that.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Ken, when will we have --

CUCCINELLI: So -- and regardless of how this breaks out, Virginia is closely tied now.

CAMEROTA: OK. But, listen, when -- when do you predict there will be an official winner after all of these iterations of recounts?

CUCCINELLI: Right. Well, the drawing will take place next week. The date hasn't been set yet. And then, as you note, someone will likely sue afterwards. But really the votes have moved.

You noted the Democrat was ahead by one going into this. But on election night, the Republican was ahead by 10. So at ever point since Election Day, this race has been within 10 votes, though they have moved slightly, as much as 11, and then, of course, back one.

So I don't think, after this, even though the loser will probably sue, I do not think it will change the outcome. I believe, as a matter of law, that the drawing will determine the final holder of this seat for the next two years.

CAMEROTA: Wow. So, Ken Cuccinelli, listen, this is, if nothing else, a great reminder that every vote counts.

Thanks so much for explaining it for us this morning.

CUCCINELLI: Every vote counts.

CAMEROTA: There you go. All right, thanks so much, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: You too.

Bill.

WEIR: All right, Alisyn, all eyes on the White House as the year winds down. Will President Trump speak to the press for the traditional end of year press conference before he heads to Mar-a-Lago? And what about the optics of yesterday's love-a-thon? Stay with us, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:48:28] WEIR: Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is facing allegations of sexual misconduct. But yesterday his star quarterback came to his defense. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Bill.

Yes, this "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by the new Ford F-150.

Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson, in a statement released on Sunday, said he was going to be selling the team after this season. This after "Sports Illustrated" detailed accusations of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.

Well, yesterday, Cam Newton says Richardson should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAM NEWTON, CAROLINA PANTHERS QUARTERBACK: Everything that I've heard were allegations. And nothing was actually proven. You know, it's just of another person's word verses their person's word. But, needless to say, man, I still think extremely highly of Mr. Richardson. But I take sexual assault extremely serious. You know, just having a, you know, a lot of allegations thrown at a person, you know, I don't think that's fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Both the Panthers and the NFL have open investigations into the allegations against Richardson.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Andy, please keep us posted as that develops.

So, President Trump is heading to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas. So will he speak to the press before the end of the year? We tackle that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:53:39] WEIR: As the end of 2017 approaches, could we see the president hold one last press conference before 2018? It's a tradition many former commanders in chief have held, and so far there have been no public events on the schedule. But today let's talk about it with CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

Good morning, Brian.

And media analyst Bill Carter.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Good morning.

WEIR: Gentlemen, good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: OK.

WEIR: What do you think, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Tradition? You said this is traditional?

CARTER: Tradition. There's no such thing.

STELTER: President's traditionally do this?

CAMEROTA: Yo know how traditional President Trump is.

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: That's the only reason why I doubt there will be a press conference. I actually think there will be today. The president's feeling very good, very confident in the wake of yesterday's tax event. So it's a great reason for him to come out and speak and tout what he says are his accomplishments for the year.

CAMEROTA: Yes, so --

CARTER: How --

CAMEROTA: Oh, go ahead.

CARTER: However, he tends to enjoy adulation more than interrogation. So --

CAMEROTA: Ah.

CARTER: There is that.

WEIR: Yes.

CARTER: So he -- it will be interesting to see. He, obviously, is feeling very puffed up, but the questions will not only be about, oh, this is great for you. There will be all kinds of other questions that he may not want to have.

WEIR: He could have Roy Moore, could have Russia, could have --

CARTER: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: Sexual harassment.

STELTER: Yes, I think his lawyers may be advising him not to go ahead and do one of these press conferences. But normally, you think about the visual at the end of the year, not just President Obama, past presidents as well, would come out. They would have a formal press conference, usually in the afternoon, usually on all of the major networks so everybody has a chance to see the president before they head off for Christmas.

But President Trump, of course, is different. For six months, his presidency's been defined by two kinds of press appearances, either the shouted question when he's walk to Marine One. You know reporters try to shout a question.

[06:55:10] CARTER: Right.

STELTER: He might answer a few. Or it's a friendly interview on Fox News. Not with a journalist, but with a supporter of his. Those have been his two types of main press appearances. He does not sit down for interviews with major networks really ever since Mueller was appointed. He doesn't give interviews to major networks and he doesn't hold those kind of traditional press conferences. The last one, the sort of kind of last one like we might see today --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

STELTER: It was in the lobby of Trump Tower when he famously talked about Charlottesville -- CARTER: In August.

STELTER: In that very ugly way back in August.

WEIR: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Right. So those sometimes go off the rails.

STELTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: We might have a montage of some of the memorable moments of --

STELTER: There have been some.

CAMEROTA: Some interactions. So let us play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. Sit down. I understand the rest of your question.

So here's the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person. I'm really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such -- I do get good ratings, you have to admit that. I'm not ranting and raving, I'm just telling you, you know, you're dishonest people. But -- but I'm not ranting and raving.

Again, you're going to give her the same one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she's not the same lady.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are -- they are sitting side by side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lot of blonde women in Finland.

TRUMP: I do think there's blame -- yes, I think there's blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don't have any doubt about it either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Right. So things don't go as planned, you know?

CARTER: Yes. No, and I think he likes that format.

WEIR: Yes.

CARTER: He likes the free will -- I think he came out of all of those feeling like he did great. And, you know, he --

STELTER: Right. His aides dread it, but he's like -- WEIR: Yes.

CARTER: They stand in the background cowering, but he sort of enjoys it.

I do think it's kind of interesting, you know, it's also a tradition that on the Super Bowl the president sits down with the network that's hosting, that would be NBC, and he would probably have to sit down with Lester Holt again, and that did not go well for him.

CAMEROTA: So do we know if he's going to do it? Has he agreed to sit down with NBC?

CARTER: I don't think he has said that.

STELTER: We don't know. We don't know. There's great ratings on Super Bowl Sunday.

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: But the president really has been insulated. He really has avoided those kinds of situations where he might get asked uncomfortable questions about Russia or other (INAUDIBLE).

WEIR: You've got to wonder if the --

STELTER: That's why today's a curiosity.

WEIR: If we lived in a world without Twitter, would he feel more (INAUDIBLE) to the old thing.

STELTER: Yes, that's a very good -- that's right.

CARTER: Yes.

WEIR: You know, he can vent this way.

STELTER: And, by the way, he's going to be in Mar-a-Lago for a week, right? That's when he's at his most loose and himself on Twitter.

WEIR: Yes.

CARTER: Yes.

WEIR: Most Twitter-y, yes.

STELTER: So I know everyone wants to have a vacation between Christmas and New Years --

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: But we'll see what he says.

WEIR: So I want to ask you guys about the optics of yesterday's Republican love fest right there.

CARTER: Amazing.

WEIR: Let's roll it.

As the president was walking out to greet all the supporters of the bill, he had them arranged neatly on both staircases coming down there. And his hand gestures as he was pointing to Orrin Hatch and all of these folks reminded me of a certain optic. And we know he sets these things. He thinks as a producer of a TV show.

STELTER: Yes.

WEIR: This is Rainer Hersch, a comedic conductor, but I was thinking of Leonard Bernstein. The idea that he is the maestro. That he is the guy pulling all these disparate forces together. But, of course, Congress is nothing like an orchestra. The first chair tuba player, you know, has to suck up to the conductor, but ultimately answers to us.

CAMEROTA: Well.

WEIR: But who's playing who in this particular case, right? Who's using who? And how will those images be used both for opposition ads and for those running?

CARTER: Right. We've never had as theatrical a president as this guy. He, obviously, is a performer. That's what he's doing. But the thing with the cabinet and Pence yesterday was so over the top. I mean it was like -- it really put the sick in sycophantic. I just -- it was really over the top.

WEIR: It was a new level of brown nosing.

CAMEROTA: Yes. We have been covering that.

WEIR: Yes.

CAMEROTA: But, Brian, I want to move on and talk to you about some very incendiary misinformation that was put out on Fox. It was during their midday show. And one of their guests said something really inflammatory. And we have to talk about what Fox is going to do about that. So let me play for everybody this moment where he talked about what the FBI might have been planning for President Trump. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN JACKSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think they're going to say, is it -- what was his intent, right, because that's exactly what FBI Director -- former FBI Director Comey said when he was letting Hillary Clinton off the hook. And his intent, regardless of whether it was an assassination attempt or whatever, was definitely something --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

JACKSON: Well, and I'm just saying, you don't -- we don't know what it was. We don't -- when you say, we've got to make sure that this guy, you know, doesn't get in at all costs, what does that mean? So I'm saying, there's a spectrum of what does it mean. But one thing that we know for sure is that he was plotting in an election against a candidate. And there's FBI fingerprints all over this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, he said he got this on social media.

STELTER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: That's crap. That's not facts.

CARTER: Yes.

[07:00:00] CAMEROTA: So how is Fox addressing that to get the real information?

STELTER: This is the new low of the anti-Mueller, anti-FBI attacks. Fox says it's addressing it with the guest. But there's a word for that. There's a word for it. It's propaganda.

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: And hopefully people see through it.

CARTER: Yes.