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White Truck Attempted to Block Media View of Trump Golfing; Mad Rush for People to Prepay Property Taxes; Count Down on the Top Entertainment Stories of 2017. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 28, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: -- through trees that have been lined around this golf course. As you mentioned on Wednesday a large white box truck pulled into one of those views obscuring the president as he went by. As our cameras tried to move, that white box truck moved with them to further obscure that shot.

Now, the sheriff's department here denied that this was directed by them at all. And as we returned to the scene on Thursday to get a similar shot, that truck wasn't there, as that video you just showed proved. But we spoke with the sheriff's department, and they continued to deny that this was their truck. But I would like to note that one of our producers found a very similar looking truck parked in the sheriff's department parking lot both last night and this morning.

Now why does this matter? This matters because the president often slammed President Obama for his regular golf trips. As a business man he used Twitter in different interviews to criticize the former president. But as president, President Trump has visited his golf clubs a total of 88 times according to CNN count. And as you noted has golfed three days in a row after tweeting that he was going to get back to work. This matters because the president said one thing as a citizen and has done something different now as president -- Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: All right. Dan Merica. I want to turn to Jonathan Wackrow now. So, the sheriff's office has denied, Jonathan, and secret service has denied that this has anything to do with them as well. But given your experience and knowing the inner workings how Secret Service operates, I mean, where do they draw the line in terms of providing security for the president versus trying to obscure his view from the media.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the Secret Service put out a statement the other day that said that they're in part they are not trying to block the press. They have no intention to. And that's really the ethos of the service. They are not trying to do that. What the secret service is not going to do is talk about current security protocols. And not talk about threats they may have received. Threats that they may have identified vulnerabilities. I mean, we are kind of caught in the middle here. Mindful that the cameraman is trying to get a precise shot of the president golfing. I get that. But what that does do or potentially does is exposes a vulnerability of that location for law enforcement.

Now, law enforcement, including the Secret Service has multiple ways to mitigate that vulnerability. One is blocking direct line of sight with a truck. There are other means and techniques that they can used that have been deployed time and time again that are very successful to mitigate long range threat. We may have seen that happening earlier today. Again, the secret service isn't going to disclose what they are doing to protect the life of the president of the United States.

CABRERA: Let me read their statement specifically so I didn't mischaracterize it. The U.S. Secret Service is in the business of protection and investigations not in commissioning vehicles to block the media's view of the President's golf swing. So, golf swing.

So, from what I'm hearing you say, it's still possible they were involved in blocking and part of that truck, but it wasn't for the purpose of blocking the media's view.

WACKROW: Let me put it this way. If I was in charge of that sight, I would do the exact same thing. I would have that probably the entire street lined with trucks to block the line of sight. Not from the press, the press aren't the threat. We are worried about a hostile actor taking advantage of the environment to launch an attack against the president. This is -- we are conflating political optics with actual security concern.

CABRERA: All right. Jonathan Wackrow, thanks for helping to boil it down.

WACKROW: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: Good to see you.

Up next, lines wrapped around tax offices around the country as people rush to prepay property taxes. We'll explain who should be doing this and whether it will make a difference.


CABRERA: Local tax collectors across the country are working overtime as people line up to pay their property taxes before the new tax plan goes into effect on Monday. Federal office workers say they are completely overwhelmed. But the IRS has one message for anxious homeowners, not so fast. You may be standing in line for nothing. CNN's Dave Briggs explains.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN, CO-HOST OF EARLY START (voice-over): Hundreds of homeowners racing to prepay their 2018 property taxes hoping to take advantage of a popular deduction that will be reduced when the new tax law goes into effect on January 1st.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know we are going to get it in this year and we can write it off but not sure about next year.

BRIGGS: The last-minute rush coming amid confusion of one of the most controversial parts of the bill signed into law by President Trump last week. A $10,000 cap on deductions state and local taxes that will disproportionately impact homeowners in high tax states like New York, California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My concerns are that our new tax laws are unfairly targeting New York and I want to avoid as much payment as possible by prepaying in advance.

BRIGGS: But the IRS is now saying not so fast. Attempting to clarify who qualifies and cautioning that prepaying property taxes could work but only under limited circumstances. To avoid the cap homeowners must pay taxes that have been assessed this year, meaning those who prepaid based on estimates will likely be ineligible. In Fairfax County, Virginia officials already preparing to potentially have to issue incomes. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order last week suspending measures in state law that could have prevented some residents from prepaying.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: This is an economic civil war. Pitting red states against blue states.

BRIGGS: New Yorkers flooding local tax offices leaving local tax collectors overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to take advantage of it now and at least not get hurt as much now going forward it will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seniors who are on a fixed budget. Thank you, president.


CABRERA: That was David Briggs reporting. Now I'm joined by David Herzig, a tax law professor at the Valparaiso University. David, thank you for helping us to make sense of what to do now that this guidance has come from the IRS. Is it clear to you who should do this prepayment for 2018?

DAVID HERZIG, PROFESSOR, VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: That's a great question. It's hard to say. Because you are not really prepaid 2018 taxes. You're paying taxes, you already owe from 2017 most likely. So, the question is, are you doing the right thing by paying them right now, or should you be paying them next year in 2018 when normally you would?

CABRERA: So, if it were you, what would you do?

HERZIG: So if it were me, depending what state I lived in and what the rules were, I probably would go ahead and prepay the taxes. Because there are some potential down side to prepaying the taxes like you have lost value of your money, or you might get a potential audit by the IRS. But the down sides are very small compared to the upside is where I get a big deduction in 2017 as opposed to maybe no deduction or limited deduction in 2018.

CABRERA: Is there anyone who wouldn't benefit potentially if they were to pay early? HERZIG: So, there are some people who might not benefit. And one

group might be if the IRS recent pronouncement is correct, that if your taxes were not really paid or accrued in 2017, and you paid them in 2017, you might not get the deduction in 2018. And if you wait to make your payment in 2018 with the new higher standard deduction, you actually might get phased out of property taxes that you already would have been able to take had you paid them in 2017. So, a couple different groups of people that might be worse off. And there might be some people who are better off.

CABRERA: So even with this new IRS statement, it's not exactly a done deal it sounds like, too. So even if you do stand the benefit from paying early, could there still be legal challenges which make this all a moot point?

HERZIG: Yes, I mean, I think that's the hardest thing. Right now, the case law is really unsettled. There are some different cases out there that try to give a little bit of guidance to say what is a tax that was properly paid so you could take a deduction for it. But there is not a ton of case law because this hasn't come up in the past before, at least not very often. So, to the extent that people prepay in 2017, and the IRS says, no, you are wrong, you should not have prepaid or didn't count. Most likely a lot of that, those cases will end up, if they are not settled in audit, go to trial and go to court. So, the answer to this question we might not see actually for two to three years in the future at the earliest maybe of really understanding what the rules are for 2017.

CABRERA: Gotcha. OK. David Herzig, thank you.

Still ahead, there are a few people and animals who have found a way to have fun in the record breaking snow in Erie, Pennsylvania. But the frigid cold across much of the country is making life pretty miserable for a lot of us. Have a look at how long it's going to last.


CABRERA: From a Royal engagement, to music industry tragedies, to a monumental mix-up at the Oscars. It has been a big year in entertainment. CNN contributor, and "Entertainment Tonight's" host, Nischelle Turner, is going to break down the top seven entertainment stories of 2017.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): From political spoofs, to musical tragedies, to social media movements, entertainment and news intersected like never before in 2017.

MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: Sit down. All right. First of all, I would just like to announce that I'm calm now.

TURNER: Saturday Night Live hit record ratings after the latest presidential election and kept the momentum going by spoofing Trumps presidency throughout 2017. KATE MCKINNON, ACTRESS: Lock him up.

TURNER: Alec Baldwin portrayal as the president, Kate McKinnon's double take of Hillary Clinton and Kelly and Conway. And Melissa McCarthy's scene stealing take on Sean Spicer made the sketch series required weekend viewing and earned all three actors Emmy Awards.

TURNER: Superhero movies aren't just a boy's club anymore. From "Batman" To the "Avengers" super hero films have dominated the box office for the last decade. But in 2017 "Wonder Woman" proved females have just as much power on the big screen.

The first female led super hero film of the 21st century received critical raves upon his release and ruled the summer office becomes one of the year's highest grossing films. Wonder Woman also became the biggest live action film ever by a female director, turning star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, into household names.

Despite new releases from music big wigs like Taylor Swift and Jay-Z, it was a Spanish-language ditty that took over American airways in 2017. "Despacito," by Puerto Rican sensations, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee became the first Spanish track to hit number one in U.S. since the "Macaranga" 20 years ago. The songs music video went on to become the most viewed YouTube clip of all time with over 4.5 billion views.

Breaking Royal news, Prince Harry officially engaged to American actress Megan Markell. It's time for yet another Royal wedding as Prince Harry and American actress, Megan Markel, announced their engagement in November. The pair met on a blind date, as Harry told reporters, he knew the "Suits" star was the one from the start.

MEGAN MARKEL: I can barely let you finish proposing, I was like can I say yes now?

PRINCE HENRY: She didn't let me finish. I was like, and then there was hugs, and I had the ring on my finger, and it was like, can I give you the ring? She was like oh yes, the ring.

TURNER: All eyes will be on what Markell wears down the aisle when the couple marries.

A mix-up leads to the most awkward finale in Oscar's history. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented "La La Land" with the best picture trophy at February's 89th Academy Awards. But the celebration hit a pause when one of the "La La Land" winners pointed out that "Moonlight" had in fact won the award.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a mistake. "Moonlight," you guys won best picture.

TURNER: The uncomfortable moment continues as Beatty explains he had been given the wrong envelope. That mix up proves when it comes to live TV, well, anything goes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Details are just coming in, this is breaking right now. TURNER: A terror attack outside an Ariana Grande concert at

Manchester Arena in May, killed 22 people. The tragedy was carried out by a lone suicide bomber and injured nearly 60 people. Grande returned to the city in early June to perform at the "One Love Manchester" benefit concert and visited fans injured in the attack at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Just a few months later, a gunman opened fire at a Las Vegas country music festival killing 58 and injuring hundreds more. The awful events took place during singer Jason Aldean's set at the popular Route 91 Harvest Festival. The Las Vegas attack is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Aldean paid tribute to the victims with an emotional performance on SNL in October.

#metoo shakes up Hollywood. A series of sexual harassment allegations against numerous Hollywood heavyweights sparked an outcry sure to change the entertainment industry forever. Studio executive Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis CK were just a few of the men called to task for their alleged indiscretions. The allegations inspired the social media #metoo to denounce sexual assault and harassment. The founder of the #metoo movement was even included in "Time" magazine's silence breaker's person of the year.

The power of social media continued to keep entertainment in the news and inspiring both change and conversations, there are sure to continue in 2018. Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Nischelle. And just a quick reminder, ring in the New Year with us here on CNN, Anderson Cooper, his best buddy, Andy Cohen, they're hosting live starting at 8:00 eastern and that's Sunday night.

Some breaking news we continue to follow, Roy Moore says he has no regrets after a judge dismissed his challenge to the results of the Alabama senate race. This after state election officials just certified his opponent, Doug Jones, as the official winner.


CABRERA: Baby it is cold outside, and millions of Americans are feeling it right now. The arctic temperatures are sweeping across the country and it is not just the brutal cold, people in Erie, Pennsylvania, they're still digging out. They got more than five feet of snow in the last three days. It's already broken a 91-year-old record and there's more on the way. Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, is joining us now. Allison, I mean, hopefully there's some relief in sight for those folks in Erie. Talk to us about what's next.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, so there's not really going to be much relief in terms of the cold temperatures. But there will be a temporary relief in terms of snowfall. But here's a look at those temperatures. This is what it feels like across areas of the country right now. A -15 is the feels-like temperature in Fargo. One is what it feels like in Chicago. Minus six is the feels like temperature in Boston. And I wish I could tell you that these cold temperatures were going away, but it's just simply not the case.

In fact, when we look at New York, when you look at Boston, look at the morning low temperature feels like tomorrow. It's going to feel like it's -19 when folks are waking up in Boston tomorrow, -8 Saturday morning. Look at Chicago, but notice the difference in that Chicago is actually going to keep getting colder as we go into the weekend. That's because we have yet again another arctic wave coming in as we approach the weekend. It will start in the Midwest and push into areas of the Northeast as we go through the weekend.

But also notice how far south it dips. We're talking areas of Texas, even Georgia looking at temperatures well below average. Take Atlanta for example, 51 for Friday, not too bad, 35 for the high temperature on Monday in Atlanta. Dallas may not even hit the freezing mark on Monday. So again, this actually spreads pretty far, not just your usual places. The problem is for folks in the Midwest and the Northeast, you also have more snow coming. And a lot of the places that have already seen plenty of it. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, including the town of Erie which could pick up an additional 10 to 20 inches of snow.

But out West, this is where we're talking about the huge amounts of snow. Areas of Montana, Idaho, even areas of Washington could be looking at multiple feet of snow. But Ana, the big concern that everybody wants to know about, New York City's forecast for New Year's Eve. I wish I had better news for Anderson and Andy, but at this point it looks like those temperatures could be close to single digits with wind chills in the negative numbers.

CABRERA: Bundle up. That's all we can say. Allison Chinchar, thanks for the warning. And thank you for joining me on this Thursday. Dana Bash takes it from here on "THE LEAD" right now.