Return to Transcripts main page


Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton during the campaign; George Papadopoulos' fiancee spoke about him; President Trump taking to twitter with a word to Iran that the world is watching; Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 30, 2017 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:35] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: 7:00 eastern. 4:00 on the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. So glad you could join us.

We are following breaking news on this Saturday. A revealing report in "The New York Times" uncovering yet another piece of intelligence the FBI had when they began to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

This man, George Papadopoulos, is at the center of today's report. Now you may recall, he is the Trump campaign aide who is since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with the special counsel probe with Robert Mueller.

"The New York Times" reports Papadopoulos was having a drink apparently with a top Australian diplomat. This is in May of 2016. The two were meeting in London when he told this diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Two months later, when the DNC emails were leaked, Australian officials told U.S. officials about that conversation with Papadopoulos. Now, this news indicates additional intelligence, separate from that dossier by a British spy on the Trump/Russia ties raised concerns among security officials.

CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is joining us live from West Palm Beach where the President is spending New Year's.

Sara, fill us in on the White House response to this.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, let's remember how the White House dealt with this initially when it came to light that George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty. They thought the down play his role in the campaign. One adviser referred to him as a coffee boy. The White House insists he was a low level volunteer. Look at what they said next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, can you explain what George Papadopoulos' role with the campaign? SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was extremely

limited. It was a volunteer position. And again, no activity was ever done in official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The guy was -- he was the coffee boy. I mean, you might have called him a foreign policy analyst, but in fact, you know, if he was going to wear a wire, all we would know now is whether he prefers a caramel macchiato over regular American coffee. And conversation with his bars (ph). He had nothing to do with the campaign.


MURRAY: Now today, the White House has taken a pretty cautious approach in how they are responding to this story "New York Times" story. Ty Cobb who is the President's counsel 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.

But if you dig into that "New York Times" report, Ana, there are certainly things that could be cause for alarm for the President and for this White House. If you look back, there are instances detailed by "the New York Times" of Papadopoulos weighing in on then candidate Trump's foreign policy speeches and even helping to arrange a meeting between candidate Trump and the Egyptian President just two months before the election. So these are all activities that you would expect to be further outside the scope of a low level volunteer or coffee boy.

CABRERA: Indeed. Sara Murray, thank you.

Let's get straight to our panel to digest all. Joining us, former ethics lawyer for the Bush White House, Richard Painter, reporter for "the Daily Beast" Asawin Suebsaeng and senior political correspondent for "the Hill" Amy Parnes.

So Richard, first to you. As an attorney and a former White House ethics lawyer, what stands out to you in this "New York Times" report?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, obviously, Papadopoulos is not the coffee boy. We have photographs of him sitting at the table with then candidate Trump and Jeff Sessions and the other big shots. That's not what the coffee boy does. And the coffee boy also doesn't have a Russian handler nicknamed the professor he meets with over in London. And now we have this so-called coffee boy who is getting drunk and then talking to the Australian ambassadors or diplomat about the various dealings with the Russians and that the Russians have the dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It appears that there, you know, this is a very important witness, Mr. Papadopoulos. He is cooperating with the prosecution, with the Robert Mueller. I do commend the White House for a change finally saying no comment which is how we handled these types of investigations during the Bush administration. For the White House not to comment and the President hopefully to stay off of twitter and let Bob Mueller do his job.

But it's obvious there was collaboration with the Russians. Whether or not there was illegal collaboration, whether a crime was committed and who committed a crime, that's for Robert Mueller to determine, but the evidence is overwhelming there was collaboration.

[19:05:18] CABRERA: And again, collusion is not a crime in the legal sense. And so in order to reach that threshold, it requires more than just what we may all consider, every day cooperation.

But Amy, President Trump you will recall, has over and over again called this investigation a hoax, a witch hunt. And he has said it is based on that dossier which he says is full of lies, although we know the intelligence community has corroborated much of the dossier, not the most hellacious parts of it, however. But now with this new revelation, if in fact, this conversation between Papadopoulos and the Australian officials really played a big role in why the FBI opened their investigation, what does that do to the Presidents and some Republicans argument?

AMIE PARNES, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: Well, it throws cold water on it, I think. Because this is a pretty tangible piece of evidence. It wasn't just a dossier. That they had confirmed elements of it, but they were working independently off other sources and matters.

And so I think this doesn't look good for them. It is another step further in the wrong direction for them. And I think that's why you are seeing them take a step back and why, you know, President Trump has insisted that there is no collusion here. And you have heard him kind of say that without any, you know, in an interview this week in fact.

CABRERA: Sixteen times.

PARNES: Yes. I mean he wants to make that point, that there is no collusion. And I think that's very much on his mind. But I think, you know, all the evidence points to a different story.

CABRERA: So Asawin, the White House calls Papadopoulos this low level volunteer. Trump campaign adviser, as Sara Murray pointed out and Richard Painter called him a coffee boy. But this "New York Times" report does say Papadopoulos edited a speech for then candidate Trump. Set up a meeting between Trump and the President of Egypt just a couple of months before the Presidential election. Does this make it harder for the White House to distance itself?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, yes, indeed. But also to be even mildly fair to the Trump White House right now, they are correct in the sense that Papadopoulos was a low level staffer or volunteer. And he was actually laughed off or at by a lot of senior figures on the campaign. Having said that, the degree to which the Trump campaign was rough at

times in a chaotic and disorderly fashion, I imagine that it reminds a lot of political observers of the current White House. A figure such as George Papadopoulos as low level as he was, was able to have his emails answered or at least read by senior campaign aides on the Trump campaign. And he was able to sort of worm his way into a position of mild or perhaps even more than mild influence on the Trump campaign.

And again, he was able to do all of this while a lot of Trump campaign officials and senior Trump officials now in the administration consider him a joke. You know, for a "Daily Beast" article weeks ago, we talk his -- Russian politics professor who had the exact same opinion of him. So this is a guy who, as the "New York Times" pointed out, managed to greatly over perform expectations. Just not quite in the way that he probably expected going into this.

CABRERA: But how does somebody who is a 28-year-old energy consultant have so many connections to foreign officials?

SUEBSAENG: Well, he tried very hard and as some experts in the field have been speculate, know a lot about Russian intelligence or disinformation operations. He seemed like the type of person who would be a, what, I guess some would say a good mark for this sort of thing.

CABRERA: Richard, does this new reporting shed any new light on the Papadopoulos plea deal?

PAINTER: Well, I think the he is definitely cooperating with Robert Mueller. And I think he has a lot to say. It's quite clear that he was making contacts with foreign diplomats and that he was making contacts with a Russian agent in London, the so-called professor. And he is exactly the type of person who is an easy mark for the Russians. Somebody who is a climber who wants to you know, wiggle his way into positions of power at a young age. Somewhat insecure, that's exactly the type of person that the Russian agents are looking for to take advantage of and that appears to be what they did. And the Trump campaign appears to have been more than willing to take him up on these contacts.

And remember, it was the most senior people in the Trump campaign who had that meeting in the Trump tower with another Russian agent. So they were clearly willing and eager to get the dirt on Hillary Clinton and willing to discuss sanctions, releasing the sanctions in return for that which is what that whole thing about baby adoptions was all about.

The pieces are clearly falling into place. And I think Robert Mueller's going to have to figure out whether a crime was commit.

[19:10:17] CABRERA: Amie, he mentioned that Trump tower meeting and dirt on Hillary Clinton that was offered initially dangled as sort of this carrot to Don Jr. to bring him to that meeting. And what do you make of the fact that it was Australian officials who told U.S. officials about this so-called dirt on Hillary Clinton that had been offered by the Russians? Not Papadopoulos, not Don Jr., not Paul Manafort, not Jared Kushner.

PARNES: Right. It's interesting. And he is obviously I think a lot of people are talking. I think it spells out trouble I think for the Trump White House because you have Papadopoulos I think talking to the Mueller team. And you have Flynn. And you have all these other inquiries happening. And that only leads further down the rabbit hole. And more information is to come.

And so interesting. It's a new twist. I think it will lead to more. It's interesting that that, this is how it came about. And it kind of, it steps away from the dossier, which had been getting so much attention lately. And like I said earlier, it does kind of throw cold water on that whole thing and what Trump is trying to say that it is, you know, nonsense. And that no one should believe it. It shows that there are other sources and other things are coming into play and into light right now.

CABRERA: Asawin, you talked about just the chaotic nature of the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos apparently told this top Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Clinton while they were in a bar. So it seemed like it was just kind of rolling off his tongue. Would it stand the reason that he would tell the campaign, too or maybe not.

SUEBSAENG: Well, it certainly stand to reason. And it had been reported weeks if not months ago, he had certainly convoyed not exactly this, but stuff like this, regarding Russia connections and emails to senior campaign officials. And so it certainly does stand to reason. But we have yet to see. There's still a lot of reporting to be b done on that front and many others.

CABRERA: And how important is that then to the investigation, Richard?

PAINTER: Well, it is very important. But Bob Mueller is going to figure out his own way to get to the bottom of the facts here. And he isn't just interviewing Papadopoulos and General Flynn, who of course are cooperating. He is interviewing a lot of other people that maybe other people are cooperating who we don't know about, who are also well placed to have information about collaboration with the Russians.

But at the end of the day, it isn't just a question of whether it was collaboration with the Russians, which they clearly was. It's whether it was illegal collaboration. And that's what we have yet to find out. We know the people lied about it. Committed felonies lying about it. The question is whether it was also criminal collaboration with the Russians on the part of the Trump campaign.

CABRERA: If you could explain it very quickly, Richard, what would make it criminal? Where is that line?

PAINTER: Well, first, if the people from the Trump campaign knew they were dealing with stolen email and taking possession of the stolen email after the fact. That could very well make them accessories after the fact to the crime of computer hacking, if they were deucing the computer hacking on anything like that. Second, their campaign finance laws that could have been broken if the

Russians are giving material support to the Trump campaign. Because it is illegal for foreign nationals and foreign governments to make any contributions, whether in money or in opposition research or other resources through the United States political campaign.

So those are the substantive crimes that could be investigated by Robert Mueller, as well as obstruction of justice and lying about it.

CABRERA: Richard, Amie, Asawin, thank you all.

Still to come, the Trump campaign -- the Trump team has called him nothing more than a coffee boy, clearly, but we are learning a lot more about George Papadopoulos from his fiancee, who talked to CNN and says he was much more than a coffee boy. An exclusive next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:17:25] CABRERA: Back to the breaking news this hour. That stunning new report in today's "New York Times" revealing that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton during the campaign. A conversation that might have played a role in the FBI's decision to open an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Now people close to the President insist Papadopoulos was a low level coffee boy, a volunteer with the campaign. In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a fault statement to the FBI. So who is this man who suddenly finds himself at the center of the Russia investigation storm?

Earlier this month, CNN's Pamela Brown spoke to his fiancee, who insists Papadopoulos was far a more than a coffee boy.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What have you seen, what have you read, that doesn't square with the George Papadopoulos you know?

SIMONA MANGIANTE, PAPADOPOULOS' FINACEE: George Papadopoulos is everything but a coffee boy.

BROWN: Simona Mangiante says despite what the White House says about her fiance, George Papadopoulos -

SANDERS: It was a volunteer position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the coffee boy.

BROWN: He was not a low level volunteer in the Trump campaign or a rogue agent who acted without approval. MANGIANTE: It was foreign policy adviser for the campaign. He helped

those who are editing Trump's speech, foreign policy. He attended many events and entertain contacts with high level officials of different countries. He was actively giving his input and insights on in terms of strategies. And of course, he was in contact with the high level officials and got approved for any initiative.

BROWN: In March of 2016, President Trump named him as a top foreign policy adviser.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: George Papadopoulos, he is an energy consultant. Excellent guy.

BROWN: Later, Papadopoulos met with the President and now attorney general, Jeff Sessions, where Papadopoulos allegedly proposed setting up a meeting between Trump and Putin. Sessions claims he nixed the idea. But when news broke about his cooperation with the special counsel, President Trump slammed Papadopoulos in a tweet.

BROWN: A young low level volunteer who was already proven to be a lair. What was your reaction when you saw that?

MANGIANTE: As the same person who called him excellent guy, so I agree with that.

BROWN: Mangiante says her fiance interacted with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort and other top campaign officials including Michael Glassner, Sam Clovis and Rick Derborn (ph). And she says during the transition, former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Most have denied, downplayed or said they didn't recall their interactions with him.

You say he was consistently in touch with these officials.

[19:20:14] MANGIANTE: Yes.

BROWN: What was his interaction with Michael Flynn?

MANGIANTE: He was in contact with Michael Flynn and worked with Michael Flynn doing some transition. And he was actually go to the foreign policy strategies for the campaign. And he didn't take any initiative on his own without campaign approval.

BROWN: Court documents show Papadopoulos emailed campaign officials in March 2016 about setting up a meeting in Moscow. Between us, the Trump campaign, and Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.

A campaign supervisor now identified as Sam Clovis responded quote "great work." And later wrote, I would encourage you to make the trip if it is feasible.

And a separate email, a campaign official now identified as Paul Manafort wrote it should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal. Mangiante tells CNN that Papadopoulos even did an interview in the

fall of 2016 with Russian news agency Interfax. And she says the campaign's deputy communications director Brian Lanza who is now a CNN contributor, signed off on it. Lanza declined to comment.

So the campaign approved him doing the only interview as far as you know.


BROWN: Signed off by the campaign.


BROWN: Was Russia big focus for him? Did he have a lot of contacts there?

MANGIANTE: My understanding that his contribution to the campaign, Russia was really secondary and he really did big work with Egyptians, Israel.

BROWN: She points to Israel as a foreign policy panelist at the Republican National Convention. In a meeting with Israeli settlers around inauguration day, seen here in video obtained by the Jerusalem post. And while she says Papadopoulos communicated with Bannon, Dearborn (ph) and Flynn later in the campaign, he never discussed Russia with them.

Why do you think the White House was so quick to come out and call him a coffee boy or low level volunteer?

MANGIANTE: I think they wanted to disassociate from the first person who decided to actively cooperate with the government. I suppose this can be right threatening for some people.

BROWN: Mangiante says she was interviewed by the FBI in October. And that a key focus was on London based professor, Joseph Mifsud, suspected of being a link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of discussion.

BROWN: Mifsud allegedly told Papadopoulos during the campaign that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Thousands of emails.

Mangiante says she met Papadopoulos in September 2016 through LinkedIn because she was working at the London center of international law practice where he had worked earlier in the year. When they met, Mifsud was running the center.

MANGIANTE: I suppose that FBI was interested in knowing my connection with Mifsud, which makes perfectly sense. It's quite a strange coincidence that we both worked for the same person.

BROWN: She says despite that coincidence, she told the FBI she is not a Russian spy. MANGIANTE: They asked me if I speak Russian, if I know Russian

people. I think people got on twitter about me being a spy. Thinking I was the Russian. That was like a bit of fantasies and everything.

BROWN: Mangiante says despite everything they've been through, she continues to stand by her fiance and his willingness to work with investigators.

MANGIANTE: I'm very proud of his choice to cooperate with the right side of history.


CABRERA: Again, Pamela Brown reporting.

Still ahead, live in the CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump sending a warning to Iran. This is a developing the situation in other part of the world tonight. A rare anti-government protest flaring up in that country. And we will talk with Republican congressman Will Hurd next.


[19:28:05] CABRERA: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. Glad you are with us. I'm Ana Cabrera. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we are following report of unconfirmed deaths tonight as anti- government protesters take to the streets of Iran.


CABRERA: These were the scenes earlier. So far, the official death count is zero. But as it was in 2009 ahead of the Presidential elections there, what we are seeing on social media, pictures of bloodied demonstrators tells a different story.

This woman confronting police, shouting death to Khamenei, referring to Iran's supreme leader and pleading the question, why did you do this?

But there are fears today that videos like this may stop trickling in as there are reports that internet access has been blocked across some parts of Iran. CNN is working to confirm that.

And President Trump taking to twitter with a word to Iran that the world is watching.

CNN's Nic Robertson is joining us now.

Nic, put these protests into perspective for us.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: One of the things that makes these protests different from 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 supreme leader in Iran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, we have seen pictures of his ripped from the billboard of the side of - sides of streets with the protesters calling for his overthrow. This is something different. This is something that the regime is going to take very seriously.

We have also seen 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 (INAUDIBLE) and makeshift clinic shot right through his abdomen. These videos are yet to be confirmed and verified. But if we think back of that big protests in 2009, many of the indicators of how big and damaging over those protests where it how heavy handed. The government track down those (ph) came from social media posting.

We have heard from government officials, a deputy minister of Tehran saying that people are going out protesting, not realizing there is as hidden hand behind the protests with a push back against President Trump's tweets saying that the world is watching. That the people of Iran should be allowed to express their democratic will freely. They should be able to do that.

We have also heard from the vice President of Iran, the first vice President, perhaps you know, referencing how these protesters which will began that they began with an economic trust complaints about rising inflation, rising 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 protest must be identified immediately. There is no doubt that the government is taking these protest in a very, very concern way.

Nic Robertson, London.


[19:31:19] CABRERA: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

I want to discuss the developing situation there in Iran. Joining us now, Republican congressman Will Hurd of Texas, a member of the House intelligence committee and a former undercover CIA officer.

Thank you so much, congressman, for spending part of your week and especially this holiday weekend to discuss this with us. I want to read more from President Trump's warning to Iran.

And I quote from his tweet "many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens, fed up with the regime's corruption and its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian government should respect their people's rights including right to express themselves. The world is watching. #Iranprotests.

Congressman, we know the President does not always weigh in on other protests around the world. He has touted this America first policy. Why do you think he is choosing to weigh in on this one? REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Because it is the right thing to do. And

amen, for doing that. I wish Seen something like this in 2009 when the green movement was going on. This is a really big deal. And if you really want to see how big of a deal this is, just go to #Iranprotests or #Iranianprotests and see these videos that are coming from the ground.

What is different here is that these protests are happening all across different parts of the country. And yes, some of these protests seem to have started, you know, complaining about economic situations. But the fact that this has been going on a number of days and you are now having people talking critically about the government saying the mullah's must go. This is a really big deal.

And you have to remember that this is not being coordinated by some opposition. All of the folks that have ever, you know, stand up against the Ayatollahs have been killed. And so these are normal, everyday Iranian that are fed up with the situation that they are in. And this is, this is a real opportunity. And I hope the leaders of Germany and France and England, you know, stand side by side with President Trump and Secretary Tillerson and show their support for the Iranian people and say and tell the Iranian make sure that these people are allowed to protest peacefully. That they don't use the (INAUDIBLE) which is an element of the IRGC there, this disastrous force that is pushing people down.

We are getting report that is the IRGC and local police are smashing cars, trying to make it look like it was actually the protesters. And getting this information out is important. And Ana, I appreciate you talking about this tonight because this is a really big deal and a really big opportunity.

CABRERA: Congressman, you're calling on other world leaders to stand alongside the American President in calling out the Iranian government here. But do you think their words are enough? Will Iran listen or is further intervention needed?

HURD: Well, it's a good question. Let's start with showing support to the Iranian people. Let's make sure, you know, a lot of times I had a good friend of mine in San Antonio correct me. I used to always say, you know, we got to go to do more against Iran.

No, we got to do more against the Iranian government. The Iranian people, you know, want to be free. The Iranian people want to make sure that they could live the lives they want to live. And we need to show the Iranian people that they have support from the world community. And then we can start evaluating things like, you know, the Iranian people realize the Iran deal was a bad deal. They had been told by their government that it was the United States and sanctions that were putting pressure on the government and causing the economic situation that they are living in. And guess what. We have found that's not true.

Despite, you know, whether you support or not, the Iran deal that President Obama entered into, we have seen there hasn't been a change of the fundamental economic situation on the ground. The Iranian people are smart. They know that. And they are fed up.

[19:35:20] CABRERA: Let me ask you about this "New York Times" reporting on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos telling an Australian diplomat back in May of 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Congressman, you sit on the House Intel committee which of course is doing its own Russia probe. Were you aware of this Papadopoulos conversation with this Australian official?

HURD: Well, I'm not going to talk about the details of the investigation. But what I think everybody needs to focus on is, you know, the questions that need to be asked is who knew what when and, you know, whether that information is credible or not. And you know, some dude in a bar telling a government, another government official something is in and of itself, not sexy. That's I wouldn't consider that intelligence.

What did another host government know and potentially share and what was that based off of. What was the sub sourcing of this?

CABRERA: Hold on just a second, though. Because you say that you don't think that that would raise a red flag if somebody who is part of a campaign for President of the U.S. is saying that they have information that another country has dirt and wants to share that regarding another candidate in that country's campaign?

HURD: Details. Details matter, right? Just because somebody b says they know something, do think really know, right? What is the sub sourcing of that? How do they get that information? How do they know that information?

These are some of the questions that the various investigations. And trust me, Bob Mueller is going to get to the bottom of that. And he is going to make sure he uses his fine tooth comb to know who knew what, when, where, and how. And so we need to let those evolve.

But one u of the things in this whole conversation about the Russian attempts to influence our election that we are not talking about is how do we make sure we are prepared to counter it in the future?

You know, this was clearly a disinformation campaign by the Russians to try to so discord within our elections. Guess what, they are going to try to do it again. And we need to be talking about our strategy to deal with that covert disinformation campaign. And it can't just be the intelligence community and the federal law enforcement alone. It's going to have to be everybody and you and your colleagues have a role as well to shine a light on this behavior. The social media companies are looking at the tactics and tools and techniques that were used by Russian intelligence, to try to influence our elections.

CABRERA: Right. We have been reporting that. But let me ask you really quick about the dossier because so many of your Republican colleagues have said that the dossier is bogus and they point to that as the impetus for this investigation. And so they have been discrediting the investigation based on that. But when you look at this "New York Times" reporting and I asked

directly to the "New York Times" reporter who uncovered this Papadopoulos meeting, did your sources tell you point-blank that the dossier was not the reason they opened their intelligence investigation. He said yes.

HURD: OK. And look, the dossier, I think you got to go back to, to, to not -- not general Mueller, the former director of the FBI, before he was, before he was fired. He had even said that the dossier was unconfirmed, right.

So as a former intelligence officer, one of the things that's important for me is who had the information. Why did they have it? Can you confirm that? And whether that's a conversation in a bar, whether that's a private meeting in an office building or whether that's, you know, information collected via national technical means.

Information is just one piece of it. How it was collected, why did that person have access to it is important and that's why the house and Senate investigations are looking through. That's what Bob Mueller is going to be doing as well. And so we've got to be deliberate and follow every lead where ever it may go.

CABRERA: Republican congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much for your time.

HURD: Thank you. Happy New Year.

CABRERA: Happy New Year to you, too.

We will be right back.


[19:43:12] CABRERA: From a royal engagement to political parodies and a major mix up at the Oscars, it has been a memorable year in entertainment.

CNN's Nischelle Turner takes a look back at the top seven entertainment stories of 2017.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: From political spoofs to musical tragedies to social media movements, entertainment and news intersected like never before in 2017.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. First of all, I just like to announce I'm calm now.

TURNER: "Saturday Night Live" hit record ratings after the Presidential election and kept the momentum going by spoofing Trump's presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock him up! TURNER: Alec Baldwin's portrayal as the president. (INAUDIBLE) as

Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway and Melissa McCarthy's scene stealing take on Sean Spicer made the sketch series require weekend viewing and earned all three actors Emmy awards.

Superhero movies aren't just a boy's club anymore. From Batman to the Avengers, superhero 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the name of (INAUDIBLE). It's over.

TURNER: The first female led superhero film of the 21st century received critical raves upon its released and ruled the summer box office, becoming one of the year's highest grossing films. Wonder Woman also became the biggest live action film ever by a female director. Turning start 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 did to the American airways in 2017. Despacito by Puerto Rican sensations Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee became the first Spanish track to hit number one in the U.S. since the Macarena 20 years ago. The song's music video went on to become the most viewed You Tube clip of all time with over 4.5 billion views.

[19:45:28] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking royal news. Prince Harry officially engaged to American actress Megan Markle.

TURNER: It's time for yet another royal wedding as Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement in November. The pair met on a blind date in Harry told reporters he knew the Suit star was the one from the start.

MEGHAN MARKLE, ACTRESS: Let you finish proposing. Can I say yes now?

PRINCE HARRY: Wouldn't let me finish. I had the ring on my finger. And I said can I give you the ring? She say, absolutely.

TURNER: All eyes will be on what Markle wears down the aisle when the couple marries May 19th.


TURNER: A mix up lead to the most awkward finale in Oscars history.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented La La Land with the best picture trophy at February's 89th Academy award. 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 continued as Beatty explained he had

been given the wrong envelope. That makes a proof that when it comes to live TV, well, anything goes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Details are just coming in. This is very much breaking right now.

TURNER: A terror attack outside in Arianna 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 in the One Love Manchester, benefit concert, and visited fans injured in the attack at the Royal Manchester children's hospital.

Just 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 Jason Aldean's set at the popular Root 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 serious of sexual harassment allegations against numerous Hollywood heavy weights sparked an outcry sure to change the entertainment industry forever. Studio executive Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis C.K. were just a few of the men called to task where there 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 silence breakers person of the year.

The power of social media continued to keep entertainment in the news and inspiring both change and conversations that are sure to continue in 2018.

Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.



[19:52:28] CABRERA: On New Year's Eve here in New York when the clock strikes 12, it could feel more like zero. Zero degrees, that is. The forecast low in Times Square is eight degree tomorrow night. But the wind chill could go all the way down to minus 10. About 70 million people mainly in the northeast and the northern planes were under a wind chill today. And that number is only expected to grow over the coming days.

In fact, it is so frigid in Cape Cod that sharks are literally freezing to death. The Atlantic white sharks conservancies had this 14-foot shark was too frozen to attempt a necropsy.

The near-zero temperatures have left Niagara Falls coated in ice. Temps expected to deep into the negative numbers by the end of the week and a records are expected to topple in the coming days with the national weather service saying as many as 25 new lows could be set on New Year's Day.

Well, it's not your imagination. Some of those older models of Apple iPhones from maybe a couple of years ago, did get slower. Now Apple is not only apologizing the customers for a software update that can slow down over iPhones, but they are now facing a class action lawsuit because of it.

CNN's Samuel Burke has more.


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Apple is calling this a misunderstanding. That's the word they are using. And even though they are not admitting any wrong doing, they are issuing a rare apology for how they communicated about this whole debacle.

Now, they are trying to correct the real issue of the heart of all this. The battery, they are slashing the price of a replacement battery from $79 to $29. So if you have an iPhone 6, 6s, SE or the iPhone 7, even if it is out of warranty, you have a cheaper option to avoid a slowdown phone.

But Apple says that an upcoming IOS update will come at the new tool so you can see how your battery is performing. Think of it like a heart monitor but for the battery. Many people are still upset though that even for the senator Marco Rubio tweeting, the problem is not just the phone, it is the arrogance of Apple remotely controlling how phones work and admitting it only after getting caught.

So having a U.S. senator tweeting about this shows just how much it got under people's skin and why Apple realized they had to correct their misjudgment.


CABRERA: So go get those cheaper iPhone battery.

Samuel Burke, thanks.

Coming up, we are learning more about the victims of the deadly Bronx fire. One of the victims we now know was a soldier who is just home from the holidays. He saved up to four people before it took his life. We will hear from his father next.


[19:58:45] 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 who returned home for the first time since joining the army a year ago. Witnesses say when this fire broke out, he went right into rescue mode. He saved four people, helping them safely out of the building and then he went back in. He wanted to rescue more. But he didn't make it out. Mensah's father spoke to reporters.


KWABENA MENSAH, FATHER OF EMMANUEL MENSAH: They were telling me he was rescuing people out of the fire. I think that's what caused him -- because he didn't live in the apartment, the one they find him. He lives on the 11th floor, but they find him room 15. So that's his nature, that's how he is. And that's his mission. That's how he is.


CABRERA: Twelve people died in the fire. Officials say a 3-year-old playing with the stove is what sparked the deadly blaze.

I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. That is going to do it for me. I will be back here tomorrow, an hour earlier than normal at 4:00 eastern. I hope you will join me.

Up next, it's the 90s marathon. Good night.