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President then took to twitter in attack mode to FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe; New threat coming from North Korea today calling tough new sanctions by the United Nations in act of war; Democrats see a silver ling as 2018 midterm elections approach; Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 24, 2017 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:37] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again. And Merry Christmas on this Christmas Eve. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. We are taking you now live pictures to Rome. Vatican City and Pope Francis, his midnight mass is underway right now at St. Peters Basilica. We will take you back there momentarily.

Meantime, we also start this afternoon with day three of President Trump's working vacation. He is celebrating the holidays at his private resort in Florida. Our CNN team shot this video of him golfing earlier today at his golf club. And before hitting the links so the President talked to U.S. troops and wished them a Merry Christmas.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just wanted to wish everybody a very merry Christmas. We say Christmas again very proudly. Very, very merry Christmas. Going to have a great year. It will be an incredible year.

I am thrilled to bring seasons' greetings on behalf of the first lady and our entire family and most importantly on behalf of the American people. Today and every day we are incredibly thankful for you and your families. Your families have been tremendous. Always underappreciated, the military families, the greatest people on earth.

We have five deployed units joining us today. One from each branch of our armed forces. I want to welcome colonel and all soldiers of iron brigade deployed in Kuwait to support the operation Spartan shield and inherit resolve the iron brigade is currently serving as an active partner in the Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi and Jordanian army doing an incredible job.


WHITFIELD: The President then took to twitter in attack mode, one of his targets, FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe who we learned plans to retire in the coming months. Another target, CNN. The President retweeted this photo shopped image if you take a closer look and look at the bottom of the shoe you see a kind of squished image with the logo of CNN. Attacks or not we will put the facts first always. So let's take you

live to the President's vacation spot. CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is live for us in West Palm Beach near the President's resort.

So Sara, this weekend you have some significant changes going on at the FBI all while the President continues to attack the institution of that arm of law enforcement as well as institution of the free press. So that if anything is the White House saying today about all of this?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Well, that's right. And look, this is not a President who has shied away from these kinds of attacks in the past or now he has gone after the department of justice before. And now he is taking aim at one of the nation's top law enforcement professionals. But the White House weighed in on this today essentially saying the President does have faith in the FBI but only now that he has selected the person who is leading it. Here is the White House director of legislative affairs had to say.


MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think he is very pleased to have Chris Wray now running the FBI. He is very pleased with the changes they are taking place. But at the same time we put all of our faith and confidence in the department of justice and the FBI knowing that there should be no bias there, he is making the point that we need to make sure that there is no bias. And I think there is serious concerns about whether or not there was or was not during the Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, is he telling the FBI director Chris Wray, is his appointee, is he telling him to clean house there?

SHORT: I think he has full confidence in Chris Wray, Chris.


MURRAY: So you see, a senior White House official there essentially saying the President does have confidence in the FBI but that it comes with a caveat -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Meantime, this is the President's 108th day at one of his properties while president. The White House calling this a working vacation. So what do we know to be on his agenda besides golfing?

MURRAY: Well, that's a great question. I expect more of the working part of this vacation will probably come next week. We know the state of the union is coming up. Obviously, we know the President is going to be figuring out what his legislative agenda for next year is going to look like and where to start. But for now, at least on Christmas Eve and mostly appears to be vacation. We saw the President hitting links earlier today. We are expecting him to spend time with his family. He and first lady are going to participate in a little Santa tracking this afternoon. So he seems to be firmly in vacation mode at least today.

[16:05:00] WHITFIELD: OK. Sara Murray, thank you so much in Florida. Appreciate it.

So the President's near daily swipes of the FBI and firing of FBI director James Comey at the beginning of the year have many officials on Capitol Hill wondering how long Robert Mueller will be running the special investigation. Just listen to these two senators.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I'm very concerned. What Mueller was asked to do, and by the way before this investigation as you recalled, Mueller had widespread support all across the political spectrum for the very fine work he did as FBI director. What he was asked to do was to deal with a very serious issue. Did the Trump administration collude with the Russians in the campaign? Very important issue. That is what he is trying to do. And to attack his integrity in order to protect the President is unacceptable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if the President fires the special counsel?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: That will be a big problem. I don't think that will go over well at all here in the Senate. I don't think he will go there. He shouldn't go there.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk about all of this. Ron Brownstein is here, our senior political analyst. Also Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief at the Chicago "Sun Times."

Merry Christmas to both of you.



WHITFIELD: All right, thank you.

So you just heard Jeff Flake there, Republican, albeit one who is a Trump critic. There is express concern now about Bob Mueller's days as special counsel.

So, you know, Ron you first. Why isn't it enough that the President has said he is not considering firing Mueller?

BROWNSTEIN: Because the President is a (INAUDIBLE) person who has shown enormous volatility both before and in office. And anything said at one point is not necessarily operative at the later point.

I mean, there is an evolution - there is consistency here and there is evolution. The consistency is that we have seen since the campaign the President has tried to delegitimize any individual or institution that he believes can threaten him. And you know, that goes back to judge Koriel during the campaign saying he was biased because he was Mexican American to attacking the media, to attacking the courts to attacking James Comey.

What has changed I think is two foal. First, the biggest change I think is at the beginning of his administration Republicans on Capitol Hill were I think more resolute in sending signals of the kind that Jeff Flake did today that this kind of delegitimizing of other institutions was dangerous and they would stand up against it. That message has gotten very mixed in the last few weeks as more Republicans either because they genuinely believe somehow department of justice, the FBI is biased against Trump or because they have other interests in having them advance legislative agenda have kind of backed down from that. And if anything, are sort of encouraging a more aggressive tone.

They are playing with fire, though, as Jeff Flake I think sort of suggested there. Because the overwhelming evidence is that the public would react very badly to the firing of Mueller. And those Republicans who are not sending a clear signal to the President I think risk getting themselves caught in any kind of backlash that occurs.

WHITFIELD: And Lynn, it is kind of tough to follow either the White House or the President's, you know, thought pattern about, you know, the FBI and how to go forward because, you know, there was at least one member of the White House not long ago said you don't mess with the FBI. Now White House press secretary, you know, tweeted back in the days that when you are attacking FBI agents because you are under criminal investigation you are losing. So what has changed potentially?

SWEET: Well, in terms of President Trump's MO, nothing has changed. He will say and do anything that he thinks gives him an advantage at the moment he feels like it via twitter or some comment that he makes off the cuff.

What you are seeing here is an attempt to erode the credibility of Mueller and of the top FBI brass who he thinks might be politically aligned against him so he has no problem. Just think of this, the President of the United States has no problem maligning the entire FBI and the entire justice department apparatus.

WHITFIELD: It's almost like leading a campaign, is he not?

SWEET: This is so unchartered territory that we are in. This is so -- may I say, even dangerous that the President is willing to delegitimize the entire FBI and the entire justice department. Please go on.

WHITFIELD: No I just say, how is that not obstruction of justice or overreach? I mean, or overreach? I mean, how is it not interpreted as such?


SWEET: OK, Go on, Ron. I'm sorry. BROWNSTEIN: I'm going to say as real quick, in this specific case

what is striking is the attack specifically on the deputy FBI director who could be if the special counsel decides there is an obstruction case to pursue against the President, the deputy FBI director is potentially corroborating witness on several key points of the conversations between James Comey. And the President is attacking him on twitter.

I'm not a lawyer. But certainly there are lawyers who would tell you that could be construed as intimidating if in fact, yes, if in fact, they go down that road eventually. So that makes this even more explosive than most of the usual criticism we have seen. And yet from Republicans on the hill as I say there is very much of a mixed message at this point compared to earlier in his administration. And whether, you know, whether they worry about the institutions of the country or just self-preservation in terms of the 2018 election that seems a dangerous road for them to go down.

[16:10:32] WHITFIELD: Yes. And I wonder, Lynn, if so many are so aghast including those within the GOP, why would there be so many who seem unwilling to criticize the President when we talk about actions like this?

SWEET: Well, when you look at the mass travel from Republicans from the capital to the White House for the bill signing every day, you just have this craving to not take on Trump. I can say craving because you didn't have to go and have that cheer leading episode. Everyone by now knows how they would be used and positioned as a back drop for the President. And just one quick thing, it's important I think to understand the two tracks that Trump very effectively is able to be on in just a few tweets, attacking McCabe who puts him in jeopardy because of potential of obstruction of justice. And then, also at the same time taking the entire justice department FBI almost for what? Good measure. So the unprecedented territory that Trump is putting himself and the nation and law enforcement for whom he says he is a friend of is to be taken not only literally but seriously.

WHITFIELD: I mean, Ron, you know as Lynn mentioned that picture, you know, the back drop and those members of Congress. I mean, you just can't help but wonder. I mean, are these members of Congress afraid of the President? And if so, why?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think they are ambivalent, right. On the one hand, they have unified control of the government for the first time since 2005-2006. And in that scene that we have at the White House you saw the ultimate reward passing a big tax cut is the main thing that Republicans can do with unified or operative control of government. That is typically whether it is W, Bush or Ronald Reagan, their biggest legislative achievement. And you can see why they are - they like having the Republican president in the White House. Also the way they are moving to reshape the federal courts.

On the other hand, the reality is that we have seen over the last 25 years the President's approval rating is the biggest single factor in midterm elections and whether in Alabama where 93 percent of people disapproved for President Trump, voted for Doug Jones or Virginia or 87 percent disapproved of President Trump, voted for Ralph North and Republicans in Congress are on the hook for him. And the biggest single risk I think they have in the midterm election is a sense that they are giving him a blank check. So they are walking a very narrow line here trying to get stuff done together they want to do but also facing reality that a lot of voters uneasy with the extent to which they are looking the other way as President Trump barrels against some of these norms, the presidential behavior in the past.

WHITFIELD: So we are talking about the down and dirty. And then we are looking at images now of the softer side of President Trump and Melania Trump. The first lady - guess what, they are on the phone right now apparently taking calls trying to track Santa through NORAD's Web site.

SWEET: It is one of the most charming predictions. I'm glad that they carrying on because former first lady Michelle Obama really got into it. I think call kids during the different tracking Santa flights. And I'm glad they are doing it.

And for those people who don't know NORAD which on Christmas Eve does a wonderful thing on their Web site for kids to look at. And so this is kind of a tradition that the Trumps are keeping. And you know, this is a great night for NORAD because it is very important to track Santa, isn't it?

WHITFIELD: Of course, it is. My kids want to know. They want to know where Santa is, at least two out of the three. The third one, you know, kind of past that stage. But yes, the kids want to know where Santa is, what time Santa might be dropping those gifts and making a visit with all of those reindeer.

All right. Well, Lynn and Ron, thank you so much.

As we go to break we will continue to listen in on the phone calls, the chats that the President and first lady are having with kids who are also watching NORAD tracking Santa Claus on this Christmas Eve.


[16:19:35] WHITFIELD: A new threat coming from North Korea today calling tough new sanctions by the United Nations in act of war. The world nation also saying countries that supported the vote will quote "pay a heavy price." The UN Security Council voting unanimously to put more restrictions on energy exports to North Korea and requires North Koreans working abroad to return home within two years. And North Korean ballistic missile test in November sparked there latest sanctions.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is following the story for us and joining us now.

So was this reaction from North Korea surprising or is it particularly, you know, in step with its rhetoric?

[16:20:13] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think it is pretty typical North Korean fair, Fred. You know, North Korea, when you have a U.N. Security Council resolution, when you have some action by the U.S. whether sanctions, whether it is military exercises in the year the Korean Peninsula with Korea or Japan, you always hear some very fiery rhetoric from North Korea making threats. Sometimes they are even more specific about what they are going to do. So I think everyone expected that you would hear something like.

North Korea calling this a complete economic blockade, these sanctions, these oil sanctions have cutting their domestic workers. So I think the question is whether this is enough to squeeze the North Koreans and get them to the table or whether you will see some North Korean action whether it is missile test, a nuclear test or something else.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much. And Merry Christmas.

LABOTT: You too, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, following their stunning upset victory in the Alabama senate race, Democrats hope to keep the momentum flowing heading into 2018. Their strategy for taking on Republicans and the Trump administration next.


[16:00:51] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

President Trump and Republicans are celebrating the passing of a tax cut plan as the first major legislative win of the Trump administration. The Democrats see a silver ling as 2018 midterm elections approach not only are they fresh off the stunning upset win that gave Democrat a senate seat in reliably red state of Alabama, a recent CNN poll shows Democrats with a big lead among voters on a generic congressional ballot.

Today, Bernie Sanders warned Republicans they could be in trouble in 2018.


SANDERS: I think what we are seeing in Alabama, what we are seeing in Virginia, New Jersey and in states all across this country are large voter turnouts where people are fighting back and demanding that we have a government that represents all of us and not just the one percent. If I were the Republicans I would worry very much about 2018.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now to discuss this is Jess O'Connell, the CEO of the Democratic National Party.

Jess, good to see you. Thanks so much. And Merry Christmas.

JESS O'CONNELL, CEO, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL PARTY: Good to see you, Fred. Happy holidays. WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. Happy holidays.

Do you share the optimism of senator Bernie Sanders and others who see a wave coming in the 2018 midterms?

O'CONNELL: Well, look. I think we had a really strong year in 2017 with terrific Democrats, you mentioned, the wins in Alabama and Virginia and New Jersey. In fact, Democrats won in 2017 in 100 seats all over the country both on the coast and south in heartland. And we won in some deep red districts, too. About a third of those seats were won in deep red districts. And so, I think that the Republicans should be worried because they are putting forward policies that aren't really fighting for middle income Americans. They are not fighting for most of us. And I think there will be reckoning around us. But we have a long way to go. And Democrats are going to be organizing everywhere in 2018 to make sure that we are leading with our values, making early investments and running great candidates throughout the country.

WHITFIELD: So as they organize, what will be the message for Democrats going into 2018 other than being, you know, anti-Trump?

O'CONNELL: Yes. Look, I think what we saw in 2017 was our candidates focused on local issues having conversations in every single zip code in every community. And the things that people are talking about, the things that people are most worried about are good jobs with higher wages and better opportunity, skills training, things like protecting and defending health care, quality affordable education. These are the things that are keeping Americans up at night. And these are the things that Democrats are going to continue to fight for as they move forward.

WHITFIELD: And what about money? Because it often takes money to lead many of these campaigns. And recent fundraising numbers are showing that the RNC is raising more than twice as much as the DNC this year. So, as CEO of the DNC, how do you plan to catch up?

O'CONNELL: Well, look. I think that the Democratic ecosystem in a whole is doing quite well. I think when you look at all of the committees and all of the groups combined that are fighting for Democrats across the country, we are doing quite well and we are holding our own.

But I also think that we have shown we have the resources that we need to compete and to win. When you look at these races in Alabama and you look out Virginia and New Jersey, some of these places where we had big statewide victories and you have seen investments that the DNC made in Virginia, over a million dollars, in Alabama over a million dollars. We have the resources that we need to compete and win. It's no surprise that the Republicans will continue to have more money than us as we compete. But we are going to be smart about it. And we are getting back to basics. We are doing the hard work of organizing in every state early on. And we are going to see the benefits of that in 2018.

WHITFIELD: Do you worry about overconfidence problem? O'CONNELL: No, I don't think so. I think we are very focused. I

mean, these are real lives that we are talking about with real implications. This tax bill is awful. We understand that, you know, 70 percent of middle income Americans and workers over time are going to see a tax increase. The poorest among us are going to see a tax increase and the 83 percent of this tax benefit is going to the top one percent. So we just need to continue talking about the contrast between Republicans and Democrats right now. And I think that contrast has never been more clear.

[16:30:07] WHITFIELD: Jess O'Connell, thanks so much. Happy holidays.

O'CONNELL: Happy holidays.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, it was a year of business highs and lows as the stock market soared while America's retail giants stumbled. We take a look at the biggest moments in business, next.


WHITFIELD: All right. 2017 almost over and one of the most remarkable stories of the year has been the stock market and the strong economy. CNN's Christine Romans and Richard Quest explain in their look back.




QUEST: CEOs revolt.

ROMANS: And investors cheer.

QUEST: Here are the top seven money stories in 2017.

ROMANS: Number seven, brick and mortar's retail apocalypse. A record 6,700-plus locations shuttered in 2017, a stunning list of bankruptcies, more than 70,000 retail jobs lost and online sales are soaring.

Walmart's pivot to e-commerce pays off. Online sales skyrocketed. And Amazon, the king of digital shopping saw its stock price cross $1,000 a share making CEO Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world. Amazon has so much cash, it actually bought a brick and mortar chain bringing us to our next story.

QUEST: Number six, mega mergers. Amazon's $13 billion purchase of Whole Foods. It was one of the splashiest deals of the year and in true Amazon style, the retail juggernaut immediately dropped prices.

Verizon, yes, closed its purchase of Yahoo and as the year came to an end, CVS plans to buy Aetna. It's an eye-popping $69 billion. If approved, it will rank as the largest healthcare merger in history. It all relies on the regulators. Will they sign off on these deals?

Just before Thanksgiving, the Justice Department sued to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, parent company of CNN. And that's causing uncertainty for future deals that could put a chill on M&A next year.

ROMANS: Number five, the Bitcoin craze. The virtual currency started the year below $1,000, then a speculative frenzy to Bitcoin from $6,000 to $16,000 in less than a month. Driving it all, an expectation that this speculative investment will someday be mainstream and the rally sparking a get rich quick fever in retail investors. So is Bitcoin a bubble and made up internet money or a profound shift to a viable digital currency? Nobody knows for sure, so buyer beware.

QUEST: And so to number four, your data that's under attack. In September, credit reporting agency Equifax disclosed a colossal breach on a monumental scale. The data of 143 million Americans, nearly half the country, had been exposed.

Chief Executive Richard Smith resigned although he still got a tongue- lashing from lawmakers in the U.S.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D, MASSACHUSETTS: Equifax did a terrible job of protecting our data.


QUEST: The lesson for Corporate America, hacks are a threat to your breath, prioritized cyber security or be prepared to pay the price.

ROMANS: Number three, chief executives bail on the Trump Administration, the CEO president made a big show of bringing business leaders to the White House, but his handpicked jobs and manufacturing councils started to unravel and then eventually imploded.

In January, several high-profile CEOs criticized Trump's travel ban. In June, Tesla's Elon Musk and Disney's Bob Igar both quit the group after the administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.

Then came Charlottesville, one CEO after the next resigned from the council until the president had no choice but to disband them altogether.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just in, two of the president's CEO Groups for Jobs now totally gone, disbanding.


ROMANS: It was stunning reversal considering the euphoria among many business leaders following Trump's election.

QUEST: Number two, the most sweeping tax reform in decades. It will touch nearly every American citizen and it's billed as a middle class tax cut.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing. Believe me, believe -- this is not good for me.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The bigger relief goes to those who need it most.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The middle class are the biggest winners in the Senate's tax plan.


QUEST: The government's own analysis tells a different story. It finds the rich and corporations benefit the most at a cost of $1 trillion added to the deficit. Republicans insist tax cuts will ignite explosive economic growth benefiting everyone.


RYAN: The conference report is adopted, without objection the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Trump administration and the Republican Congress on the brink of their first major legislative victory of 2017.

TRUMP: It's the largest tax cut in the history of our country and reform, but tax cut.


ROMANS: And number one, the Trump Bump takes off.


PAUL LA MONICA, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: 20,000 is a historic moment.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He's gone right to 20,000, 21,000, 22,000, just another day at work.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-HOST: All right. We do have breaking news, look at that number right there, 24,000.


ROMANS: It seems nothing could stop this rally, not a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, not the Russia investigation, not the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. President Trump delights in praising the market's rise.


TRUMP: We have a stock market that has hit record highs 81 times since our election victory.


ROMANS: And he often touts the strong economy.


TRUMP: Total unemployment is now at a 17-year low, think of it, not bad.


QUEST: Every president takes credit for a booming economy, but cheering on the stock market, that's risky. Just think about it, after all, what goes up sometimes, perhaps usually in the fullness of time, might go down.

And the second strongest bull market in history could be over due for a serious pullback. So the question now, will it happen in 2018 or will the bulls continue to run?


WHITFIELD: All right, Christine Romans, Richard Quest, thank you so much for that look back at 2017 in money.

All right. Christmas Eve celebrations underway across the world right now, take a look right now at the Vatican where Pope Francis is holding a midnight mass, stay with us.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Christmas Eve celebrations now underway at the Vatican. It is Pope Francis's fifth Christmas as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he's presiding over mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Our Senior Vatican Analyst, John Allen, is in Rome. And so, John, the Pope's message, customarily one of hope and peace, might this year be any different?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi Fredericka. Well -- I mean typically, Christmas Eve and as you say, this is the fifth time we've seen Pope Francis in action on Christmas Eve, typically catches in in a more somber mood and tonight was no exception.

We have heard him focusing on the gospel story, the New Testament story of the birth of Christ. Remember, this is a story of Jesus's parents, Joseph and Mary being dislodged from their homes in Nazareth and forced to go on the on the road to Bethlehem where there is no accommodation, and so they have to take refuge in a manger and that's where Christ is born.

And Pope Francis was using that story tonight as the kind of metaphor to all of those people in the world today who have been displaced from their homes. The United Nations says there are 65.6 million displaced people today including about 20 million refugees and 10 million stateless persons.

Pope Francis said we can see traces, we can hear echoes of all of those people in the story of the Holy Family, the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And so it was a Pope very much focused on the hardships and the injustices of the contemporary world, the kind of broken hearts of the world if you like that we heard tonight on Christmas Eve, 2017, Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: So as we look to 2018, any idea what the Pope's travels will be like? And this year he was in Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. And I guess that isn't necessarily considered a Pope-well traveled in one year according to tradition. So how might 2018 be different?

ALLEN: Well -- I mean, what we know is that in mid-January the Pope is going to be going to Chile and to Peru. That trip was already on the books. I mean, beyond that, it's all speculation but there is talk that he might visit India in 2018. There's talk around a trip to Africa and, of course, there is always the 64,000 dollar question which is when is he finally going to visit his own home country of Argentina? All of that and more may be waiting for us in 2018.

What we do know is that Pope Francis is very much a pope of the peripheries. He likes to visit those parts of the world that are typically forgotten, that are typically abandoned, and in particular those who are suffering conflict where he might be able to bring some healing and peace. That's what he's done throughout the first five years of his papacy. There is absolutely no reason, Fredericka, if he won't continue to try to do that in 2018.

WHITFIELD: All right. John Allen, thank you so much for your perspective and thank you for bringing in such great insight all year around in 2017 and we look forward to 2018. Happy holidays to you and your family, Merry Christmas.

All right. Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge, the iconic characters of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol known around the world. Well, CNN's Nick Glass explains how Dickens brought these characters to life to create that Christmas classic.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a gilded frame, three little photographs of the grizzled old literally lion, this is Dickens as we remember him looking older than his years, simply worn out and probably conscious of it. He died at just 58.

The Dickens Museum in London is in the Georgian Terrace in Bloomsbury with a requisite blue plaque. This is 48 Doughty Street, the house he rented as a young married man. Here on display are some of his writing tools, his quill ink well, his magnifying glass, his cigar box, and something that went with him every time he moved home.

It's naturally sharing its age but this is Charles Dickens's actual writing desk, its where he wrote Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and this rather handsome little volume, this is a proof copy of Christmas Carol published on December 19th, 1843, 6,000 copies, they sold out on Christmas Eve.

It's a beautiful object finally bound, gold lettering on the front and spine, the first story that Dickens ever published directly as a book rather than in serial form and a periodical illustration is by John Leech, a young caricaturist with Punch Magazine, four in color.

The museum is currently showing Leech's initial pencil sketches, the first faint apparition that that wonderfully named, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Being Dickens, our story is naturally a tale of two cities. New York is celebrating in this Christmas too with this special exhibition at the Morgan Library.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol and you see these very cotted pages where they're heavily revised, he's changing his mind, he's going back. But it's all pouring out of him. The level of artistic energy there I think is almost sort of bouncing off the page when you look at it.


GLASS: It's somehow thrilling to see the names in Dickens's own almost illegible hand. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and, of course, Tiny Tim.

Now, would you have recognized Dickens from this, the earliest known photograph, a daguerreotype from 1850, he was then 38. In his 40s and 50s, A Christmas Carol became one of his favorite readings in his celebrated tours.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were like rock concerts, his readings. I mean people just were so thrilled to be in his actual physical presence. The fact that he was also a brilliant actor was such a huge bonus. People could scarcely believe their luck.


GLASS: Dickens's Farewell American Tour in the late 1860s earned him the modern equivalent of $1.5 million. Poignantly, a ticket stub for a reading in London on February the 1st, 1870. This to be among his last, a mere four months later the great writer, the great performer of his own works was dead leaving an empty chair by his writing desk.

This engraving became a Christmas bestseller that year. Nick Glass, CNN in London.



WHITFIELD: All right. After the presidential inauguration, probably no bigger honor for a president, right, than being immortalized at the happiest place on earth, and just this week, President Trump got his own spot in the Magic Kingdom and that's this week's State of the Cartoonian.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's a big moment in the life of every president, getting turned into a robot at Disney's Hall of Presidents.


TRUMP: It's a great honor, believe me. I'm honored to stand here today among so many patriots.


TAPPER (voice-over): But with all those former presidents up there with him, a simple malfunction of the Trump robot could send him off script.


TRUMP: George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner?


TAPPER: Bringing up unfortunate facts about previous presidents.


TRUMP: If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse, mine are words, and his was action, his ways, what he's done to women --


TAPPER: Bringing up falsehoods about previous presidents.


TRUMP: I always criticize President Obama. I had heard this issue for a long time about his birth certificate or the lack thereof and about where he may have been born or whatever.


TAPPER: And what happens if the short circuiting robot Trump gets out of the Hall of Presidents and starts wandering around Disney World? Walking into the It's a Small World exhibit.


TRUMP: Really beautiful children, how are you? Our border is no longer open to illegal immigration and that if they try to break in you'll be caught and you'll be returned to your home.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Hitting up Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain.


TRUMP: Are you going to build that wall on the mountain? You have a mountain which is a wall. Are we going to build the wall --


TAPPER: Getting some bad news to Aladdin.


TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.


TAPPER: It might cause even Mickey Mouse to lose his patience.


MICKEY MOUSE, DISNEY CHARACTER: Donald? Donald? Take it easy. He's been blowing his stack at the drop of a hat.



WHITFIELD: There are no words. All right. Well, have a great Christmas and I'll see you in the New Year. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Thanks for hanging out with me today. We leave you right now with live pictures of St. Peter's Basilica where Pope Francis is holding Christmas Eve mass.

And live pictures out of Bethlehem as well. Midnight mass being held at St. Catherine Church. Merry Christmas everyone.