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Political Lessons of 2017; Watt Raised Money for Houston Relief; Holiday Shopping Tips and Advice. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 25, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Learned.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we'll check in with the one and only J.J. Watt. The NFL star raised more than $37 million for Houston after the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

But first, let's get a check of your headlines at the news desk.


Pope Francis delivering his Christmas Day address and blessing to the world. The pontiff praying for children around the world, including those dealing with renewed tensions in Jerusalem. Earlier, the pontiff celebrated Christmas mass at St. Peter's Square and touched on the plight of migrants and refugees, comparing their struggle to the journey of Mary and Joseph's to Bethlehem.

At least ten people are killed and five injured in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan. It happened near Afghanistan's intelligence headquarters in Kabul. The site is close to the U.S. embassy and several other diplomatic missions. At this point, no group has claimed responsibility.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, celebrating a negotiated $285 million budget cut to the U.N., calling it a big step in the right direction. Haley slamming the world body for what she called bloated management. The cut to the overall U.N. budget happening after the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to condemn President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Rescue crews racing to save 150 skiers who were trapped on a broken ski lift in the French Alps. Images show two helicopters there flying to the gondolas. Emergency crews then forced open the roofs and lowered the stranded skiers with ropes back on to the ground. The rescue operation taking nearly two hours. Fortunately, no one was hurt. No word on what caused the incident. Amazing pictures.

The Thomas fire in California now officially the biggest fire in the state's history. The fire scorching at least 273,000 acres. It's destroyed thousands of structures, as well, and it's now 70 percent contained. Firefighters and aircraft remain on standby in case of any new flare-ups. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Parts of the northeast are seeing a very white Christmas with near

blizzard conditions in some areas. The freezing rain and snowfall are expected to spread across the region today, impacting travel on the roads and potentially in the air. Strong wind gusts expected to make it feel even colder. More than 60 million people are under winter weather alerts in the Midwest and the northeast.

I'm Alison Kosik.

Merry Christmas. Have a great day.

CUOMO: 2017 ushered in a new administration, a new governing party, and some surprising lessons in the world of politics, if you're open to learning.

Joining us now to tick through some of the top lessons of the year is Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor at large. The point, as he's known.


CAMEROTA: Merry Christmas.


CUOMO: So --

CILLIZZA: I got what I wanted.



CILLIZZA: Boom. Nailed it.

CUOMO: Well done.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you did nail it.

CUOMO: Well done.

CILLIZZA: Yes, hours spent thinking of that one. Yes, thank you.

CUOMO: So, learn us.

CILLIZZA: Why don't you tell me? Go through. Tell me where we're at. Tell me where we're at.

CAMEROTA: OK, I'm going to tell you what the lessons are that we have for you and you can -- you can opine on this.


CAMEROTA: Here are our lessons. A Democrat can win in Alabama, lesson number one.

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, somewhat self-evident. Doug Jones is going to be in a senator in early 2018. Donald Trump won that --


CILLIZZA: Donald Trump won that state by 28 points 13 months before Doug Jones won it. I mean it's really stunning.

CUOMO: I mean you think it should say a Democrat could win in Alabama? Because Jones won, but the chance --


CUOMO: That that creates optimism for other Democrats due (ph) there in the House is kind of kind of coming up?

CILLIZZA: Right. I wouldn't -- look, if I was an up and coming politician Democrat in Alabama, I would not think my chances are now 50/50 in every race. There is not a Roy Moore running in every race.

CUOMO: Right.

CILLIZZA: But, look, this is one of the five most conservative states in the country and has been for quite some time. I do think it's unique circumstances. There isn't a Roy Moore in every state, but if a Democrat can win there, I think it opens up a lot of money, recruitment, and maybe potential retirements on the Republican side.

CAMEROTA: OK, lesson number two --


CAMEROTA: This is what our producers think. I'm not sure that this isn't open for debate. A president can govern by Twitter.

CUOMO: Govern would be the word.

CAMEROTA: Govern is the word that we're objecting to.

CILLIZZA: So -- right, govern I think is the -- is the interesting. I see that we honor Donald Trump's odd capitalization by capitalizing "govern" in that sentence.


CILLIZZA: That was probably me typing it out.

Yes, I mean, govern is loosely used. I think he helped himself governing wise with Twitter on the tax debate. I actually think he did. I think he -- he stayed enough on message. He -- now, he still picked up the phone and made phone calls, which is the most important thing to say.

CAMEROTA: Right, the old-fashioned way.

CILLIZZA: But you --

CAMEROTA: Not Twitter, the old-fashioned way. CILLIZZA: You can't be like, hey, you should vote for this. That is not the way. Right, the old-fashioned way still works.

Do I think Twitter is worse -- is more harmful to him than helpful? Yes. I don't think there's any debate about that.

[08:35:02] But he is -- maybe it's a president can be committed to trying to govern via Twitter, because that's quite clearly what he's doing. I mean, remember --

CAMEROTA: That's great but it doesn't (INAUDIBLE) the full (INAUDIBLE) but go on.

CILLIZZA: Remember -- remember -- remember in the start of the year when the -- when the message was, he might not even -- who knows if he'll use Twitter. He may give it up as president. I mean we're so far afield from that.

CAMEROTA: We really are.

CUOMO: We've got the answer.

A reckoning over sexual harassment.

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean clearly the story of the year in the culture, not just in politics, but I think also in politics.

In December, late November, early December, we had three members of Congress resign in a week because of sexual harassment allegations. Al Franken in the Senate, John Conyers, Democrat in the House, Trent Franks, Republican in the House. From everything I hear, there is considerable continued concern on Capitol Hill. Anyone who spent any time up there knows, I always say, it's more mad men than girls in terms of the way -- the culture that is up there.

I think many of us wondered about that for a very long time, when this might change. Hopefully this is the time that it will change. But my guess is, 2017 isn't the end of that story as it relates to politics. My guess is it's the beginning of -- it's the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end.

CUOMO: I think that's safe because I don't think that we've seen any of the hard changes.


CUOMO: Going after bold-faced names is easy.

CILLIZZA: Correct.

CUOMO: You know, bullying a guy to resign because you've got the numbers on him, like they did with Franken, is easy. Corporate systemic change, where they take on liability --

CILLIZZA: That's right, cultural change. CUOMO: And where they may have to pay money, that will be hard. Stopping those settlements with our money in government, that needs to happen.

CILLIZZA: Right, and that -- I'm glad you brought that up because I need to mention it. The fact that there was a secret account that paid for sexual harassment claims made against lawmakers funded by taxpayer dollars, it's gotten attention. It should get way more. I mean how does that -- how does that happen? And that's the systemic issue that --

CAMEROTA: And, of course, I mean they're talking now about legislation to change all of that.

CUOMO: Yes, talking about it.

CAMEROTA: So, you know, I mean, you know, it -- we might see --

CILLIZZA: The issue we have is, it's like any other legislation in Congress, the issue is urgency bleeds away over time.


CILLIZZA: And that's what we see with almost every issue.

CAMEROTA: Lesson number four, and this is a recent, the Democratic base is fired up. I mean that's the Alabama lesson, right?

CILLIZZA: Yes. The Alabama lesson and I think the Virginia governor's lesson, which are both relatively recent the last few months.

Yes, I mean, if you look at Democratic turnout numbers and Democratic composition of the Virginia and the Alabama electorate, it's stunning. One factoid to -- well, your friends have to be nerdy to be wowed by this, but to wow your nerdy friends, Doug Jones won more of the black vote in Alabama than Barack Obama in 2012.

CUOMO: Yes. In 2012, yes.

CILLIZZA: But it's stunning. And it was a bigger percentage of the overall vote, 29 percent of the electorate in this special election, 28 percent in 2012.

Remember, that was when the first black president got re-elected. So there is an energy. That's not about Doug Jones, by the way, it's much, much more about Donald Trump. And in the Alabama case, Roy Moore.

CAMEROTA: All right, lesson five is also debatable. Robert Mueller is the most powerful man in Washington.

CILLIZZA: I think that he is. And I -- you know, maybe, again, maybe I'm giving him too much faith, but I believe the way in which the investigation has been conducted will lead to a series of conclusions that the majority of the American public will listen to and take seriously. CAMEROTA: But he's not more president --

CILLIZZA: And he holds --

CAMEROTA: I mean more powerful than the president of the United States.

CILLIZZA: Well, he is -- I -- he is not more powerful than the president of the United States, but I would say in terms of the fate of Donald Trump's presidency. And I'm not saying that Donald Trump's going to be impeached. Put that aside. I'm saying Mueller's findings already have had a significant impact on Donald Trump's presidency. We have two aides having pled guilty to lying to the FBI and cooperating as witnesses, we have two others charged. It's already had an impact on the arc of his presidency. I think Bob Mueller is the most important man to Donald Trump's presidency, legacy going forward.

CUOMO: Yes. I'll give it to you on that basis. There's nobody who --

CILLIZZA: I'll take it on a -- I'm going to take it on a little bit of a technicality, asterisk.

CUOMO: There's nobody who can exert more power over the president --

CILLIZZA: No question.

CUOMO: Than Bob Mueller.


CUOMO: No one individual.

CAMEROTA: That's fine. It's phrased differently, but we're going to give it to you on this.

CILLIZZA: I'm taking it.

CUOMO: I helped you. As you attorney.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: You can pay me a dollar later.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thanks so much.

OK, meanwhile, the hurricane season, of course, was devastating this year, but there is a silver lining. And we're going to talk with Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. He raised nearly $40 million to help people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We'll tell you what's next there.


[08:43:45] CUOMO: Merry Christmas. Welcome back to a special Christmas Day edition of NEW DAY. You know, it's been exactly four months since Hurricane Harvey made

landfall in Texas. It was a category four storm. One person trying to help Texans get back on their feet is Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. The NFL player raised more than $37 million for his home state. J.J. Watt joins us now from Houston.

Merry Christmas, big man.

J.J. WATT, DEFENSIVE END, HOUSTON TEXANS: Hi. Merry Christmas to you.

CUOMO: So the money that you have raised, how is it helping people during the Christmas season?

WATT: It's all at work. The money's out at work. Now we're working with four great organizations. We're partnered with SBP, who's helping to rebuild homes. And throughout the next couple of years they're going to rebuild hundreds of homes. We're partnering with Americares, who's giving out medical care, both physical and mental health care, which is obviously both equally important during this time. We're working with Feeding America to give out food and drinks, obviously, during this tough time. People are going through so much, they need that nutrition.

And then we're also working with Save the Children to get over 1,000 childcare centers back up and running because that's one of the most important things is parents need a place to get their kids to be safe, and obviously get themselves back to work. And some of these childcare centers also provide food and they provide community services, as well. So it's extremely important that we get those back up and running.

[08:45:05] And it's a very long process. It's obviously going to take a very long time. We're working over the course of the next two years. But the money is at work. And I've gone out and I've visited and I've seen some of these sites and it's truly incredible what these people went through, but also the positivity and the energy that they have throughout it all. And it's really inspiring. And I can't thank everybody who donated enough because your money is doing some great things.

CUOMO: Now, you're a young man. You're young in your career still, and yet you're known for taking on community efforts with real passion. What was the most where you knew you had to step up here?

WATT: Oh, I mean, you know, these people have support me throughout my whole career. I've been here in Houston for seven years. They've supported me on the field. They've supported me off the field. And when you see your city going through something like that, you see the people that support you going through something like that, you have to step up. You have to find a way.

You know, I heard a quote one time, if you can, you must. And I feel like it was just my duty. You know, I'm so grateful for everything that they did for me. And to see them going through such a difficult time, I wanted to be right there with them side by side going through it and doing whatever I could to use my platform for good. CUOMO: You were named "Sports Illustrated" "Sportsman of the Year" for

lifting up the people of Houston during a difficult time. What did that mean to you?

WATT: You know, I think it's so much bigger than just a single person honor. I'm very honored and humble to receive that award, to share it with Jose Altuve and the Astros for everything that they did for the city. But it's so much bigger than either of us. It's a city. It's a culture. It's an entire people. All the people who donated -- over 200,000 people donated to this fund, and so many more helped out, whether it was physically helping out, getting in boats and saving people. The firefighters, the policemen, everybody who stepping up in a big, big way to help out our city. And it's continuing to do so moving forward.

I think everybody deserves the award. And I'm just fortunate enough to be the mouthpiece for that. And I just want to give everybody the credit who deserves it.

CUOMO: Good for you. It's always about team. And when people like you said, if you can, you must. And you have special talents and you brought them to bear. The reason I say that you're still young in your career is, I've been following you all along since college. You're seven years in. But you ain't normal, big brother, let me tell you something. The way that you handle yourself as an athlete, the way you train makes you special. How you're doing in coming back from your injury?

WATT: I appreciate that very much. That's very kind of you.

I'm doing good. You know, it's a -- it's a -- it was a gruesome injury, but it's -- it's -- the recovery process is going really well. And I have a lot of optimism. You know, I have a lot of excitement and optimism for what the future holds and getting back on the field and helping my team out. And I just can't wait. Every single day is a new step. And it takes a lot of single steps to climb a mountain. And I'm just working that -- up that mountain one day at a time. And I can't wait to get back to the top.

CUOMO: I look forward to those videos that make me feel great and terrible at the same time where you do amazing physical skill sets. I love watching you, even when you dunk the basketball. I've never seen anybody make it look as easy as you do, at your size, you know what I mean, because you're a big man. You've got a big heart, as well.

WATT: Right. Well, thank you.

CUOMO: You're helping people who deserve it. We look forward to you getting back on the field. You know, you're not a New York Jet, but you can't have everything in life, J.J. Watt. You know, you're good with your community. You've got to just take your blessings where you find them.

WATT: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. And feel free to send back some of those videos any time if you've got any of your workout videos or you dunking. I'll take any of those any time. CUOMO: Sadly, there are none, J.J. Watt. That's why I need you. The

only thing I dunk is doughnuts in coffee.

You be well. The best to your family for Christmas.

WATT: Hey, that's all right. Thank you. You as well. Happy holidays.

CUOMO: All right, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, so let's say you've received a gift you do not like. Should you re-gift it or return it? Christine Romans joins us with what to do, next.


[08:52:26] CAMEROTA: Welcome back, everyone.

So if you do not love one of your gifts, you're not alone. Fifteen percent of all gifts are returned each holiday season. I'm surprised it's so low actually. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with the best way to return those unwanted items.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I return none of my gifts. I love everything you all are going to give me.

CAMEROTA: Wow. Ah, yes. And you've already had some of it to drink.

Anyway, Christine, so is returning -- are stores prepared for this or do they think it's a hassle?

ROMANS: They do think it's a hassle and they're very careful because there is return fraud that happens when people either buy -- or they either steal or they buy stolen goods and then return it or they wear or use somethings and try to return it, so you need to be careful. You need to make sure you have a receipt. Keep the items in the box. Make sure it's all put together. Don't take the tags off. It's pretty logical, common sense kind of advice. But be organized and return it as quickly as you can after the holidays.

CAMEROTA: Well, I wanted to ask you about that, about the timing.


CAMEROTA: So people should actually go out tomorrow and make returns?

ROMANS: No, you don't have to go tomorrow. You can wait. I would say two weeks is the max here.

Now, places like Apple, they'll extend you a couple of weeks to return it, but they generally have a pretty short return window. Most places have, you know, maybe 30 days. And after that you would get store credit instead of your money back. And you want your money back. But the most generous windows are places like Nordstrom, Kohl's, very generous there, Macy's.

CAMEROTA: But when you say generous, like forever? ROMANS: Well, not forever. Nothing is forever. But they will give you

a little bit more time. Like what if, for example, somebody bought you this gift way back in November, right?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Right. Right.

ROMANS: You know, so you want to make sure that you keep as much of the details as you can together.

CAMEROTA: Have return policies gotten tougher lately?

ROMANS: Yes, they have, because of what I was talking about, that return fraud, the number of people who are trying to figure out how to get money for something or a different price for something. So they have gotten much more -- much more stringent.

And also, you know, you've heard of these restocking fees. Every year, especially for electronics, we talk about restocking fees. How maybe you return something and the company's going to charge you a little bit of that because they've had to adjust their inventory because you bought something and then returned it. I mean just always make sure that you get a gift receipt for the gifts you're going to give and keep your receipts as much as you can.

CAMEROTA: OK. So let's say you didn't get everything you wanted, or let's say that you didn't get everything on your Christmas list for other people, is now a good time to still go shopping, or do prices tick back up now after the Christmas sales?

ROMANS: This is a really great time. There will be a lot of really great sales here because you're going to see all these retailers trying to adjust their inventory. So clothing right now, apparel, this is a great time for apparel. And sometimes you have trouble finding the right sizes. But when you're going back to return items in the stores, you're probably going to see a lot of great deals. Holiday decor, obviously, 75 percent off. Video games, this is a good time, after Christmas, to buy video games and electronics. Those are all the best deals.

[08:55:09] I will caution everybody, of course, when you're going to return your gifts, don't load yourself up on other debt, you know. Be careful that you're not buying what you don't need.

CAMEROTA: How do you know we do that, Christine?

ROMANS: You never do that for sure.

CAMEROTA: I mean what happens is you do go to the store and you see things and you get like inspired and then you buy --

ROMANS: I know. I know.

CAMEROTA: OK, so what about gift cards? I have a bunch of gift cards that I've never used.

ROMANS: So, you know, there's a big debate about whether gift cards are really the essence of gift giving, you know, if you're giving a gift card. We'll leave that aside. Say you get five or six of these gift cards. There's a surprisingly large percentage of people who don't even use their gift cards. They go in a drawer and they forget about them. There are sites, card-swapping sites, where you can go and you can trade your one gift card for a different brand or you can even cash it in. I'd say look for 80 cents to 90 cents on the dollar is pretty much what you should expect. If you're swapping a card, sometimes there's going to be a fee to do that. But don't let that money go to waste.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's good.

And do you want to tell us the name of some of those sites? Are you allowed to do that?

ROMANS: I can tell you some -- I can, you know, I'm not going to tell you names.

CAMEROTA: No, you're not going to.

ROMANS: I would like to -- I would like to specifically vet them out before I put them out there.


ROMANS: You go do your own research. There are two or three that are well regarded.

CAMEROTA: Good. And after you vet them, then maybe you'll tweet it or put it on FaceBook or -- how about it?

ROMANS: How about I do that right now?

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Christine. Really appreciate it.

ROMANS: Merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: All right, that does it for this special Christmas Day edition of NEW DAY. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

CAMEROTA: We hope you have a great holiday.

CNN "NEWSROOM" begins after this quick break.

Merry Christmas, everyone.