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NYT: Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Told Australian Diplomat Russia Had Dirt On Clinton; Reports Of Shots Fired In Iran Anti-Government Protests; Soldier Dies While Rescuing Neighbors. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 30, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: -- wherever it is, we need to make sure that people stand up for each other and make sure this is not tolerated.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: James Gagliano again, thank you so much for sharing your story. You can read his entire op-ed on cnn.com. Thank you, sir.
GAGLIANO: Ana, thank you for having me.
CABRERA: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for staying with me.
As we now cover breaking news, a bombshell report in the "New York Times" revealing yet another piece of intelligence the FBI apparently had when they began to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
At the center of today's report, this man, this is George Papadopoulos, how do you know him? He is the Trump campaign aide who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Now according to the "New York Times," Papadopoulos was drinking with a top Australian diplomat in May of 2016, about a year and a half ago when he told that diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Well, two months later when the DNC e-mails were leaked, Australian officials according to the "New York Times" told U.S. officials about that conversation with Papadopoulos.
So, this news indicates that additional intelligence, separate from the dossier by a British spy on the Trump-Russia ties, raised concerns among security officials.
Let's bring in CNN's White House correspondent, Sara Murray, is live in West Palm Beach where the president is spending New Year's. Sara, tell us how the White House is responding to this report.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, let's take a look at how they responded to George Papadopoulos in the past. Remember, obviously, when it came out that he pleaded guilty. The White House was asked to respond, and they were pretty dismissive about his role during the campaign suggesting he did not actually play a role of any importance. Here is what Sarah Sanders had to say back in October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, can you explain what George Papadopoulos' role with the campaign was?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was extremely limited and a volunteer position and again no activity was ever done in official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, other former campaign advisers to President Trump compared him to a coffee boy, but today the White House seems to be approaching this with a little more caution. Ty Cobb, who is the president's lawyer within the White House said this, "Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this.
We are continuing to fully cooperate with the special counsel in order to help complete their inquiry expeditiously." This is what we have heard also behind the scenes from the president's lawyers is this notion that they have assured him that they are working with Robert Mueller.
They are trying to cooperate in this and that that will hopefully in their mind lead Mueller to conclude this Russia investigation pretty quickly. But obviously, if you look at this "New York Times" report, there are certainly concerns for the White House.
They cast George Papadopoulos as someone who played a nuance role at a minimum in the campaign, someone who helped advise the president on some of his speeches or weighed in on some of his speeches.
But also, someone who just two months before the election help facilitate a meeting between then-Candidate Trump and the Egyptian president, obviously that's a little bit more prominent role than you would expect from a low-level volunteer or coffee boy -- Ana.
CABRERA: Sara Murray in West Palm Beach, thanks for that reporting. Earlier, I had a chance to speak with one of the "New York Times" reporters who broke this story, Mark Mazzetti. I asked him why he believes Australian intelligence sat on this information for two months before telling their American counterpart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MAZZETTI, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIONS EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": It is possible that the Australian, whose name is Alexander Downer, who is the top diplomat in the U.K. heard the information, it was not considered urgent until two months later when we saw e-mails spilling out publicly that were damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign specifically the DNC e-mails. After that, it became clear that this was what Papadopoulos was talking about and they put two and two together and urgently went to the United States. That's some speculation, but it is possible.
CABRERA: So, what did the FBI do then after they got that information from Australian?
MAZZETTI: So, what has been publicly reported and spoken of by senior officials is that in late July of 2016, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation, which was basically looking at what is behind this intelligence about contact between the Trump campaign and the Russians. What did they make of it?
They started the investigation, but it did not really go full tilt for some time. It was not really until the fall that they started looking at these issues particularly seriously. Now at the same time, this was a month before the election.
And there was concern in the FBI about a full-blown investigation, coloring the political sort of climate at the time a month before the election. Recall there was a time when there was concern that Trump may lose a knot, accept the results of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:05:09] CABRERA: Again, that was Mark Mazzetti, one of the reporters behind this new "New York Times" story. Let's dive into all of it with our panel. With us is politics reporter for "The Guardian," Sabrina Siddiqui, senior political correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker, retired CIA chief of Russia investigations, Steve Hall, and criminal defense attorney, Page Pate.
So, Steve, does it make sense to you that Australia waited two months to tell U.S. officials and then the FBI waited until January to even interview Papadopoulos?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, this is sometimes how these things are going. Here is why. You know, when you are talking about Australia, one of our key allies, you know, if you reverse (inaudible).
Imagine that we in the United States government or the U.S. intelligence community or the senior diplomat could obtain information that might be very controversial and damaging to the internal political structures of the country that you are aligned with, in this case the United States.
You don't just take that lightly and just, you know, throw it out there. You want to try to get to the bottom of it. You want to have it investigated and taken a look at because again, it is the internal political situation of one of your allies, and that's always tricky business.
With regards to the FBI, any counter intelligence investigation is going to take a long time because you just got to get through a whole lot of stuff. You have to get through classified information, which is oftentimes difficult to get from the agencies that are doing it.
So, it's just a very complicated not just legal process, but a counterintelligence process that slows things down basically wherever it starts whether it's Australia or whether it's the FBI.
CABRERA: So, that may actually, set the stage for my next question because Page, when you look at how long this investigation has unfolded, if it started in the summer of 2016, if you are one of these White House attorneys or Trump's attorney, a personal attorney, is this good news?
The fact that we now know the FBI has known about this since last July and still has not at least publicly concluded that there was criminal cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ana, I don't think I would be feeling good or comfortable if I'm representing anyone in the White House at this point. We've already seen four separate charges, criminal charges to the Mueller investigation. We have a cooperating witness now, who obviously had enough knowledge at that time back in 2016 to indicate that the campaign was aware that Russia had access to this damaging information on the Clinton campaign.
The question I am left with and I am sure the White House lawyers are stirring around now trying to figure out is why. If Papadopoulos was such a distant figure in the campaign, why did he have this information? Why was he sharing this conversation with the ambassador from Australia to the United Kingdom?
Why did he have himself in a position where he had access to that type of knowledge? Because if the Trump campaign had any assistance from the Russian government during the campaign leading up to the election, that could weigh additional criminal charges in this investigation.
CABRERA: Sabrina, the White House has called Papadopoulos a, quote, "low level volunteer." We played the soundbite there from the White House press secretary, and yet we now know according to the "New York Times" report he was editing the outlines of then-Candidate Trump's speeches, the foreign policy speech he delivered in April 2017. He even setup a meeting apparently between Trump and the Egyptian president. So, what does this do to the White House's credibility?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, I think the fact of the matter is that George Papadopoulos, although, he may have been a low-ranking member of the campaign, as you mentioned, certainly played a role in helping to craft Trump's foreign policy platform.
That speech you mentioned in April of 2016 is actually a speech in which Trump expressed the desire to improve relations with Russia, and Papadopoulos later told his Russian contacts that that was a signal from Trump to potentially meet with Vladimir Putin.
Now, of course, that's Papadopoulos potentially acting on his own. But we do know from court documents that Papadopoulos is continuously trying to set up this meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And that he did inform some senior campaign officials of his efforts, and I think that now that we know that it's his admission to this Australian high commissioner to the U.K. that was a catalyst for the Russia probe.
That certainly makes it a lot more difficult for the White House to dismiss him as irrelevant. Certainly, at least help lead U.S. authorities to some of the other contacts we've seen between Moscow and higher-ranking officials in the campaign.
CABRERA: Sabrina, you did say April 2016, I think I may have said April 2017. So, thank you if I did misstate that, for correcting it. David, Papadopoulos, he told apparently this top Australian diplomat in Britain about Russia having dirt on Clinton. Does it make sense to you that he would not have shared this information with the campaign as well?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, these are things that the investigation is going to try to get to the bottom of. I think the problem that people connected with the president have is that they have not been able to get their stories straight.
[17:10:02] We have seen this with the meeting in Trump Tower with Don Jr., Manafort, and a couple of others. First, there was a meeting for one reason and then it turns out it was a meeting about another.
They crafted a statement explaining it then they had to revise everything and, obviously, we now have seen some indictments. I think that a lot of these issues notwithstanding the fact that if the investigation leads to a finding or an indictment of some sort of involving collusion or a connection to Russian officials, obviously, that'll be a big deal.
But, I think what we see here is a campaign that was not prepared for primetime in the beginning. That really was not professionalized until the end of August when Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon came on. The RNC was a lot more involved in the day-to-day.
And so, what you have then is a transition that was not prepared, and you have people that don't have their story straight, and some of these things might have actually been ameliorated and not as appeared to be such a big deal if they have been to explain it better, and at least have their stories straight on the first go around --
CABRERA: Or having it done instead of accumulation of things, right?
CABRERA: Go ahead and finish your thoughts.
DRUCKER: I was just going to say, and of course, it always gets back to the fruit of the poisonous tree, which is for some reason during the campaign and into his presidency, President Trump has really refused to jawbone or criticize Vladimir Putin in the way that he has been willing to criticize and jawbone everybody else, ally and adversary alike.
CABRERA: Look what he's tweeting about Iran today. Steve, you know how Russia intelligence operations work, what would have been the goal in telling Papadopoulos about this dirt and would it have stopped with him?
HALL: It is not clear to me that, you know, where the information on the dirt on Hillary, you know, came from, but if it did come from the Russians. You know, you have -- you go back and look through this cast of characters.
You got Papadopoulos and you got guys like Flynn and Manafort and all the people who the Russians were quite clearly targeting and taking a look at the intelligence services to see whether or not they can do certain things for them inside the campaign will report back to the Russians.
You know, what he was hearing, but it's also possible that the Russians might have wanted to use guys like him worthy of ascend in an in administration to actually try to control, you know, what the administration decides and influence that especially vis-a-vis Russia.
(Inaudible) like Michael Flynn would probably have been a good character to be an agent of influence (inaudible). The Russian intelligence services had I think a lot of plans for these guys and were clearly actively targeting a wide array of them inside of the campaign. Papadopoulos being simply one of them -- Ana.
CABRERA: And the "New York Times" reporting is that Papadopoulos had ran plans for himself inside the campaign hoping to be named as some kind of high energy post since he was an energy consultant in his work there in London that was proceeding this meeting with the Australian official.
Page, President Trump, he gave an interview to the "New York Times" on Thursday, and at one point, he says, quote, "There was no collusion and even if there was, it is not a crime." It's not a crime, is he right?
PATE: Ana, he is right that collusion is not a crime, but conspiracy is, and so when we look at it from a legal perspective, a criminal perspective, what the special counsel's office is trying to determine if there was any existing conspiracy between an individual with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
So, let's say, the Russian government wanted to help Trump, well, there is no real problem with that unless the Trump campaign knows about it and assist him in some way and you got a foreign government involved in a presidential election of the United States, and that is illegal.
So, what the special counsel's office is looking for to prove collusion or is that understanding between both sides that, hey, you are going to do this, and I am going to try to help it happen. If they can show that there is that connection and that knowledge and assistance, then you got a criminal conspiracy fix. CABRERA: Sabrina, the president also said in an interview that he thinks Mueller is going to be fair. What do you think he meant by that?
SIDDIQUI: Well, it certainly contradicts the ways in which this president and his allies have tried to cast Mueller's investigation as hard and tainted, I think there are now numerous occasions where the president has sent signals that some may view as attempts to intimidate the special counsel and his team and the agents at the FBI.
I do think that he also though what was telling would see this as politically advantageous to him. That his base sees the Russian investigation as a rallying cry, that was what he pointed to when he was discussing his reluctance to fire Robert Mueller.
[17:15:06] Not really what that would mean for independence of the department itself. He still showed he does really necessarily understand the historical independence of the FBI and the work that they do.
CABRERA: David, Sabrina, if the president does believe Mueller is going to be fair, if there is no collusion indeed and this ends at Papadopoulos, why this effort from the president previously and Republicans very recently to smear this investigation and painted as tainted?
DRUCKER: Well, look, I actually think the idea that they're trying to cast the investigation and undermine the legitimacy of the investigation is politics 101 when it comes to trying to make sure that the president is not damaged by any of the findings even if the investigation does not find that he colluded or did anything wrong.
The fact that, you know, people close to him did things that were wrong would not look good in terms of his management and who he surrounded himself with. I think the issue is, is the president doing the undermining or his allies.
We saw during the Monica Lewinski affair and the special counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton, that they have a full war room outside of the White House or within but separate from the day- to-day of the president, that were constantly undermining Kenneth Starr and trying to do things like that.
And that is perfectly normal, but what they did was keep Bill Clinton out of it. I think the best thing the president could do is to say that he thinks the investigation is just fine. That Robert Mueller is fair.
That the investigation is above more and let his allies throw darts at it. That would serve the president well and also, even if people disagree with the idea that the investigation is not above more, it is perfect legitimate if from a political standpoint to go after it and protect the president. The issue is, the president should not be the one doing it.
CABRERA: It seems that he may be change his tune or strategy. Page Pate, Steve Hall, David Drucker, and Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you all for joining us. Happy New Year.
All right, a very serious situation unfolding now overseas, thousands are protesting in Iran, defying their government on a scale not seen in almost a decade. There are reports that demonstrators have now been killed. President Trump is warning Iran, the world is watching. We'll tell you what we know about what's happening there next.
And a prank call comes to tragic end in Kansas. This story is unbelievable. We'll have details on how a hoax led police fatally shooting an innocent man on his doorsteps.
CABRERA: There were reports that internet access has been blocked across some parts of Iran as it was in 2009 ahead of the presidential elections and CNN is trying to confirm as we get word that antigovernment protests have now turned deadly. Take a look at this.
CABRERA: This is just a glimpse of what's happening right now in Iran. Official death count is zero, but reports from the ground trickling out on social media paint a very different story. Across the country, people are finding safety in numbers and more and more cities are joining this movement.
And demonstrators shouting things like death to Rouhani, Khomeini, the country's two top leaders. This video shows hundreds, if not thousands, cheering as the picture of the Iran's supreme leader is torn.
Back here in the U.S., President Trump is warning Iran, the world is watching. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now with much more -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: One of the things that makes these protests different to what we saw in Iran in 2009. That was the last time there were big protests there. These protests, some of them are targeted and bringing down the supreme leader in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.
We have seen pictures of him ripped from the billboard on the side of the streets and protests calling for his overthrow. This is something different and this is something the regime is going to take very seriously.
We are also seeing social media videos emerging that appears to show injured people being carried away from protests. Another one that appears to show a young man on a hospital gurney in a makeshift clinic shot right through his abdomen.
These videos are yet to be confirmed and verified. But if we think back to that big -- those big protests in 2009, many of the indicators of how big and damaging those protests were and how heavy handed the government track down was came from social media postings. We've heard from government officials, the deputy minister of Tehran saying that people going out and protesting not realizing that there is a hidden hand behind their protests. We've heard push back against President Trump's tweet saying that the world is watching.
That people of Iran should be allowed to express their democratic will freely. They should be able to do that. we've also heard from the vice president of Iran, the first vice president perhaps referencing how these protests originally began.
That they began over an economic thrust complaint about rising inflation and unemployment. He is saying that the government must do more to tackle these economic issues, but at the same time, he says that anyone that is trying to damage the government through these protests must be identified immediately.
There is no doubt that the government is taking these protests in a very, very concern light. Nic Robertson, London.
CABRERA: Coming up, we are learning about the victims of the deadly Bronx fire, one of the victims, a soldier, home for the holidays. He saved four people from the fire before it took his own life. We'll hear from his father, next.
CABRERA: A soldier who was home for the holidays lost his life while rescuing neighbors in the Bronx apartment fire this week. Emmanuel Mensah was a National Guardsman. He had just returned home for the first time since joining the army a year ago.
Witnesses say when the fire broke out, he went into rescue mode. He saved four people and helping them safely out of the building. Then he went back in and tried to rescue more, but this time he did not make it out. Mensah's father says he is not surprised by his son's final act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KWABENA MENSAH, FATHER OF EMMANUEL MENSAH: They were telling me he was rescuing people out of the fire. That's -- I think that's what -- he doesn't live in the apartment when they find him. He lives on the 11th floor -- Room 11, but they find him on the 15 room -- Room 15. So, that's what made believe that he was trying to -- and that's his nature. That's how he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Twelve people died in that fire. Officials say it started because of a 3-year-old playing with the stove. New York's mayor, Bill De Blasio, called Mensah a hero saying he exemplifies the very best of New York City.
A disturbing new prank trend has turned deadly, a 28-year-old man was shot and killed by police at his home in Wichita, Kansas after police responded to a call about a shooting involving hostages. That call was a total hoax known as swatting from a person in another state.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us now. Polo, you've been looking into this case. Tell us more about swatting and how it led to this person's death?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's a perfect place to start to when we're talking about this story here. Swatting, this is something that we are just hearing about, but something that authorities are very well aware of.
The FBI has been tracking this kind of pranking, the swatting, if you will, for at least ten years. That's when somebody essentially calls in bogus information to authorities, gives them an address, hoping that the SWAT team will really show up at that person's doorstep, and that's what took place here. A man in his 20s in California allegedly called authorities in Wichita claimed that had head been in an argument with his family that he had shot his father and he fixing to turn the gun on his mother and sister, gave them an address. I want you to hear what that phone call sounded like.
TYLER BARRISS, RESIDENT, CALIFORNIA:I am just pointing the gun at themmaking sure they stay in the closet, my mom and my little brother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Okay, is there any way you can put the gun up?
BARRISS:No. Are you guys sending someone over here because I'm definitely not going to put it away?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Okay, I am just going to go ahead and stay on the phone with you, okay?
BARRISS:That's fine. Until they get here or...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:As long as you need me too, okay?
BARRISS:Yes, I am thinking about -- because I already poured gasoline all over the house, I must just set it on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Okay, well, we don't need to do that, okay?
BARRISS:In a little bit, I might.
SANDOVAL:So working on this information, authorities later arrived at the home of the 28-year-old Andrew French there in Wichita, Kansas. They approached him in his door step and according to investigators, Mr. French at one point, reachedfor his waistband. We still don't know why and that is what prompted officers to shoot and kill this 28- year-old father of two.
And we have to say, Ana and we can't say this enough, Mr. French was innocent in all of this. We have now learned that the suspect called in the wrong address, so Mr. French was not the initial target of this horrible prank to begin with and now, this father of two, this husband -- the son is dead.
ANA CABRERA, ANCHOR, CNN:And so this person is under arrest. The person believed to be behind the prank initially in a different state. He is in California. What more are you learning about the suspect?
SANDOVAL:The man whose face we're looking at right now, this is 25- year-old Tyler Barriss.We have learned that the LAPD has taken him into custody and he is facing potential charges in this case. We'll have to see exactly what takes place when he faces a judge before Thursday or Tuesday. How will they charge him? But we've also learned that in 2015, he was arrested because he called in bomb threats into a CNN affiliate, ABC, a television station in California. He eventually served two years in that case, so this certainly would not be the first time that he's done some serious damage with his phone, in this case though, again, we cannot say it enough, this innocent man lost his life because of this prank.
CABRERA:A deadly consequence. Palo Sandoval, thanks for sharing that story.
Up ahead, it was once the freewheeling comfort zone for President Trump, but now a year into the Presidency, it has buttoned off at least somewhat.We'll tell about the evolution of Mar-a-Lago where the President will be ringing in theNew Year's, don't go away.
President Trump is closing out 2017 at Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in South Florida, the backdrop for several big moments of his Presidency this past year like this one back in February, North Korea's unexpected launching of ballistic missiles, Trump was then hosting Japan's Prime Minister when he took the call and dinner turns into a strategy session.
Let's bring in political reporter Dan Merica, who is traveling with the President too, spending his time in Florida right now. Dan, you write Trump who thrives on the very type of schmoozing that has caused headaches for his staff still makes circus himself around the room including making his own plate at the Christmas Eve buffet and this week, he conducted a freewheeling impromptu interview with a reporter unstaffed in a dining room of his golf club.
So Dan, do these visits to Mar-a-Lago maybe offer the American people a glimpse of the President in his element, his most authentic self?
DAN MERICA, POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN:Yes, I think that's fair to say and I think if you want to say New York is the city that reallymade Trump, Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach are the town and club where he's at his most comfortable and they really mimic Trump as well.
Palm Beach is a very opulent showy town, but it also is very self- conscious much like the President himself and the Presidenthas been coming here since 1985when he bought the estate, he turned it into a club in 1995 and ever since then, he has used it as a place, almost as a sounding board, a place to come down here and talk to friends, people he's known for decades now as one Trump friend and adviser told me, he has known many of the people who have been going to Mar-a-Lago longer than he has Melania Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, which his astounding when you think about it.
He has known some of these people so long and he's very comfortable here and that's what you see when you see video from inside Mar-a- Lago, when you see reports that we have -- my colleague and I, Kevin Liptak put out this morning.
It's really a place where he is at his most comfortable, but it's changing. As President, there's more restrictions put on President Trump. He obviously has chafed at some of the restrictions put on him in the White House.
Some of those have followed to have been going to Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, he's more freewheeling and more free to do what he wants, but there are restrictions. There are rope and stanchion put around him now at dinner. He is not as able to go and schmooze with members as he has in the past.
So as the President has changed, obviously, so has Mar-a-Lago, Ana.
CABRERA:And when you talk about his accessibility there, I think it's nice to point out that there was no end of your press conference by this President which is a break from past administrations, but he did that New York Times interview this week,and I wonder would such a candid Q&A be as likely if Trump weren't spending his holiday for now, it would have a nickname, the Winter White House?
MERICA:Well, it's certainly difficult to bump into the President in the White House. I mean, this is a place where a reporter could be having lunch at his golf club and just bump into the President.
Obviously, that was somewhat facilitated by a Trump friend. The New York Times reporter was there having lunch with Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax. Ruddy then introduced the reporter to the President, but the President was in his comfortzone. He is in his element. It's his golf club. His name is on the door. He owns the place. He kind of works the room, we are told like the owner of a golf establishment, shaking hands with many of the people he's known for a long time.
But I think you are exactly right.At that moment when he is very comfortable in his element, he'sgoing to be more likely to sit down and chat for what ended up being an interview of about 30 minutesfor the New York Times, it has been so news vacant over the last few days.
CABRERA:Dan Merica, thank you so much for joining us. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year to you, my friend.
You can read the rest of Dan's article on Mar-a-Lago and the President and the family's relationship with people there at cnn.com.
Coming up, the New Year will be bringing a new cash crop to California. There's the video that's just a tease. It's to legalize the sale of recreational pot on January 1st. We'll show you how the state is looking to grow its economy. Next. Smoking marijuana in California has been legal for more than 20 years,
but only for patients with medical marijuana cards, online purchases from dispensaries -- well, all of that changes on Monday when anyone 21 and over can trade their hard earned green for the legal green of recreational marijuana.
With the potential for billions of dollars in tax revenue filling the state coffers and tons of new jobs for those looking, the golden state is bracing for a green rush.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN:Yes, Ana, yes, legal pot is coming to California, but this is a state that has existed in a legal gray area with medical marijuana for more than two decades, unlike other places we've seen legalizing medical and recreational pot, the task here is enormous, but if successful, the Republic of California will have a new industry that is massive.
MARQUEZ:The cannabis gold rush is on. Legal medical and recreational marijuana comes to the golden state Monday.
JERRED KILOH, OWNER, THE HIGHER PATH:We are looking to expand into a 600,000 square foot dispensary because we think that we'll be able to serve close to a thousand to 1,500 patients a day.
MARQUEZ:Today, JerredKiloh's medical dispensary, The Higher Path in suburban Los Angeles serves about 200 people a day. He employs 25 full-time workers making at least $18.00 anhour.With legalization, he expects toemploy 70.
KILOH:Just this year alone, or at least the 2017 harvest season, I tripled the size of my cultivation in an effort to be able to supply my increase as a dispensary.
MARQUEZ:The market in Los Angeles alone projected to be ginormous.
When it happens in Los Angeles, how big will it be?
KILOH:Well, I mean, right now, Los Angeles's market is biggerthan Colorado and Washington combined, so you are looking at one market that's the largest in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:I am a drug dealer.
MARQUEZ:California in pop culture long portrayed as a pot smoker's paradise. Sales of medical marijuana, legal or at least allowed in many towns and cities across the state for more than 20 years. What's different now? The entireState will be regulated, licensed, and taxed like any other business, except more.
So come the first of the year, the regulatory regime for marijuana businesses across California will change dramatically. Everything from child proof caps to security systems for every single business. For places like The Higher Path that are already playing by the rules,
the cost of legalization is enormous.
Taxes on retail marijuana up to 45 percent and license fees to cultivate, distribute and sell medical and recreational pot for just this one business in just its first year, $280,000.00.
As California moves into legal marijuana finally, what is you feeling?
KILOH:I am so excited for the state. I mean, on an individual level, I can be a little bit disappointed that I won't be a part of the party on January 1st, but it's not going to be long before I am up and running and legal.
MARQUEZ:On day one, while pot will be legal, it won't be available everywhere; only a fewsmaller localities have approved licenses to start recreational sales on January 1st.Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles won't be ready for legal sales under the new regulations for days or weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:We're talking about an unregulated industry that's been thriving for at least 22 years. That now you have this set of rules and track and trace system and taxation and all of these local agencies and bureaucrats and state regulators and licenses. It's a totally different biz.
MARQUEZ:Bumps in the road ahead for California, but legal pot here is expected to spur massive growth for the legal cannabis industry in the US and around the world.
MARQUEZ:The real contradiction here in that some shops that want to play by the rules will actually have to shut their shops while they wait for their licenses to operate legally. The state's Bureau of Cannabis Control says it is prepared for an onslaught of applications after the first in towns, cities and counties have been busily laying down their own rules for how, where and when pot can be sold legally if at all and none of these takes into account the marijuana black market here that is estimated to be bigger than the legal market. It is a lot to tackle in California before the pot market is functional and bringing in that estimated $1 billion in tax revenue alone. Ana?
CABRERA:What will the New Year bring in California? Thank you, Miguel. He enjoys temps in the70s out of Los Angeles, poor guy. Those of us up here on East Coast are bracing for a bone-chilling New Year's Eve. Tomorrow night, revelers in Times Square will have to content with a wind chill pushing temperatures into the negative and it is no picnic up north in Buffalo, New York either.
Check out these pictures of Niagara Falls. What you are seeing here stretches from New York to Canada. Though they look like much like they may have come from Planet Hoth.Despite the winds and the single- digit temperatures, tourists arestill flocking there just to get a glimpse of this amazing scene. Icicle-filled trees lining the frozen outer banks of the water. The only thing really not frozen, the falls themselves. Now, further
up the East Coast to Massachusetts, it's so cold that frozen sharks are literally washing up on the shoreline of Cape Cod Bay.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is telling CNN that two thresher sharks were found Wednesday and were, "Likely stranded due to cold shock."
Coming up, the top seven trending moments that had everyone talking in 2017. Remember this one?
ROBERT KELLY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PUSAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY:I wouldn't be surprised if they do, pardon me. Pardon me. My apologies.
CABRERA:Whether it was our Twitter in Chief redefining the way presidents communicate or online movements creating real-world change, social media dominated the news cycle in 2017.
Here are the top seven trending stories that blew up our social feeds. Number seven. Kids crash their dad's live BBC interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:And I think one of your children has just pulled in...
CABRERA:The already adorable video gets even more hilarious in three, two, one...
KELLY:Pardon me. Pardon me. My apologies.
CABRERA:The interview that went viral and finished the year as the 10th most viewed video on YouTube.
There was some controversy on social media after people mistook Kelly's wife for the children's nanny. Eventually, the family was able to laugh at the whole situation and their newfound celebrities.
Number six, the solar eclipse. Back on August 21st, people across the country went outside and slid on a pair of special sunglasses to witness the first total solar eclipse to cross the US from coast to coast in nearly a century.
For those lucky enough to be in the path of totality, it appeared as if night had suddenly fallen in the middle of the day. (VIDEOCLIP BEGINS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Everyone here looking at the same thing, all just doing the same thing. It's amazing.
CABRERA:Number five, man dragged off United flight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:No. Oh my god. Look at what you did to him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:The Federal government reviewing the incident of a man forcibly dragged off an airplane. It's a disturbing moment.
CABRERA: This cellphone footage of a passenger getting dragged off an overbooked United flight flew around the internet this year. The passenger, Dr. David Dao and his wife had initially volunteered to give up their seats, but the couple changed their minds once they learned that the next flight to their destination wouldn't leave Chicago O'Hare International Airport until the following day.
Dao was then apparently chosen at random by the airline to give up his seat when not enough people volunteered. The doctor refused to leave his seat saying he had patients he needed to see the next day.
DAVID DAO, MEDICAL DOCTOR:No, I am not going.
CABRERA:That's when things got out of hand. Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth when he hit his face on an arm rest during the struggle. United's CEO later apologized to Dao on ABC News.
Number four, the Women's March.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Tell me what democracy looks like?
GROUP:This is what democracy looks like.
CABRERA:What started as a march on Washington turned into a worldwide movement as people around the globe took to the streets on Donald Trump's first day in office to advocate for women's rights.
GROUP:Women united. We'll never be divided.
CABRERA:The movement spread on social media with a hashtag #womensmarch and on Facebook, more than half a million people came together online and offline to participate in the march making the women's march the biggest Facebook event for an individual cause all year.
Number three, violent protests in Charlottesville.
GROUP:(Inaudible) go home.
CABRERA:People around the nation turned to Charlottesville, Virginia in August when white supremacists and members of the far right descended on this quiet college town to take part in what they called a Unite the Right rally. Brawls broke out between the demonstrators and those opposed to them forcing Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.
Later that day, a gray Dodge Challenger drove into a crowd of counter protesters injuring 19 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Former President Obama weighed in, tweeting out this image with a Nelson Mandela quote as his caption, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion." That tweet became the second most retweeted post of 2017 and the most liked tweet of all time.
Number two, #metoo. Twenty seventeen may very well be remembered as the year of the Me Too Movement. Women and men all around the world seized on the cultural moment and told their stories of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:He exposed himself and he just began masturbating in front of me and I just stood there kind of frozen.
CABRERA:And one after another, high profile men like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louie C.K., Al Franken and others were accused of sexual misconduct.
Female activist, Tarana Burke first created the #metoo more than a decade ago, but a tweet from the actress and activist, Alyssa Milano is credited with popularizing the hashtag in 2017.
In the days after it went viral, Twitter reported that more than 1.7 million people had posted a #metoo message in 85 countries. Number one, President Donald Trump. There were few, if any major news
stories in 2017 that did not include President Donald J. Trump and one of his tweets. The President was a walking, talking, trending story which is fitting since he is the most tweeted elected official in the world. His Twitter feed drove news coverage whether he was telling NFL players to stand during the National Anthem or coining nicknames for adversaries.