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Five Sheriff's Deputies Shot, One Killed in Ambush Near Denver; Devin Nunes Tactic Alarm Democrats and Republicans Alike; New Year's Eve Preparations Underway in New York City; 100,000 People to Attend Concert in Music City; Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 31, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:01] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: And it's 6:00 Eastern. Thank you for being here. 3:00 in the afternoon out west. Midnight in Berlin, Germany, and Paris, as you see the countdown. These are live pictures right now from those two cities. Let the celebrations begin there.

It is here in the U.S. the last day of 2017. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Let's just pause for one quick moment and watch these fireworks.

We are following breaking news tonight. A deadly ambush-style attack in a Denver suburb. Five sheriff's deputies were shot today, one lost his life. 29-year-old Deputy Zachary Parrish was a father of two. He died today in a hail of gunfire. Authorities say the shooter fired more than 100 rounds. The sheriff's deputy is described as being, again, a father of two young families and the sheriff had to tell the tragic news to that deputy's wife.


SHERIFF TONY SPURLOCK, DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLORADO: I spent some time with his wife. I can't tell you how difficult the for a leader to sit down with the spouse of an officer who was killed in the line of duty. They had many hopes and dreams and he was doing his job. He was doing his job well. And his life was taken from us this morning.


CABRERA: Deputy Parrish and his fellow deputies were responding to an early morning disturbance, finding the gunman and his roommate inside their apartment. Investigators have not identified the shooter, but we have learned a little bit about the weapon used. An assault rifle, they say, that fired again more than 100 rounds. The shooter was shot and killed, as well.

Joining us now, CNN's Scott McLean in Highland's Ranch, Colorado, as well as private investigator, Bill Stanton.

Scott, first, to you, what more are you learning?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we are learning from the sheriff here in Douglas County, Colorado, that deputies had actually been to that address at 1:30 for some kind of noise complaint, but when they got there, they investigated, they didn't find anything, so they actually left.

It wasn't until shortly after 5:00 in the morning that they were called out again for that disturbance call. At first, they thought it was a domestic disturbance. When they got there, they realized it was a man living with his roommate. Four deputies were allowed inside of that residence. They spoke to the suspect and at some point, he barricaded himself inside of a bedroom, inside that apartment and then some time later, he started firing.

He hit all four deputies who were inside or in the vicinity. One of them, or three of them were able to crawl out to safety. One of them, 29-year-old Zachary Parrish, was not. While those deputies were crawling to safety, the suspect continued to fire.

Here's how the sheriff described it.


SPURLOCK: When he was shot and went down, the other officers went down right around him, and they tried to pull him out, but they were unable to due to their injuries. And so they were -- they were able to crawl to safety. He was not conscious. And so they weren't able to talk to him or get him out. And the suspect continued shooting at the officers over Zach.


MCLEAN: So, Ana, it wasn't until 7:30 this morning local time, about an hour and 45 minutes after the first shots were fired that a SWAT team was deployed and went in and shot the suspect and killed him. But in the process, one of those SWAT team members was actually shot in the leg. He has since been released from the hospital.

As for Zachary Parrish, the sheriff said that the injuries, as they were described to him, were not something that would have been survivable at all. There were also two civilians who were hit. They have been since released from the hospital, though -- Ana.

CABRERA: Well, an incredible number of victims in this one incident.

Scott McLean, thank you for the latest information.

Bill, just how common is it to have this kind of a response to a domestic disturbance call, to have that many law enforcement officers responding?

BILL STANTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, it varies from point to point. First, I mean, give my condolences to the slain officer's families and the other officers involved. It's always a sad day especially to end a year with a slain officer.

To answer your question, it depends. It is a judgment call upon the police officer. Many officers around the country have one-man units. Meaning one person responds to the specific incident. Now depending upon the department, they will not enter that situation until a backup unit arrives. [18:05:04] Now there's a lot of information that we don't know. We do

know that they went there earlier on 1:00 a.m. We don't know if there was an engagement or if there was just no noise. So it is interesting that that many people did show up. Now whether, you know, it was a one-person unit and then the others showed up or they all waited and went together, that information is yet to come out.

CABRERA: Scott, I want to ask you what we've learned now about the suspect, because I understand he was not a stranger to local authorities. What are you hearing about his background?

MCLEAN: That's right, Ana. We know from the sheriff today that he was known to them. He said that he had had several interactions with local law enforcement, but he did not have a criminal record. So that's -- that doesn't really say very much. We've learned a lot of details about what happened here, but we still don't really understand why or what motivation, if any, this individual would have had. But we know that he had had contact with local law enforcement, but no criminal record.

CABRERA: So, Bill, investigation, obviously, underway right now. It's still early. What are the crucial first steps in a case like this?

STANTON: Well, to me, right now the most important information that can be gleaned is that roommate. Did he have a license for the weapon? Was it his weapon or was it the roommate's? At 100 rounds, you're going through multiple magazine changes. You know, where did he have that time? What was going on in that room? Was it between him and the roommate? Was he an emotionally disturbed person? Were there drugs or alcohol involved?

All of these things that led up to this tragic event, the roommate will be a wellspring of information.

CABRERA: A tragic day in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Bill Stanton, Scott McLean, thank you both for being here.

Now I want to turn to the Russia investigation because could it be in danger in the new year? That is a question on many minds, especially reporters, who are covering Congress. "The Washington Post" reporting today that House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes is trying to undermine, if not cut his committee's Russia investigation. Democrats have say Nunes has vetoed their request for interviews and documents, even though he recused himself from the investigation.

The paper also reports that Nunes is drawing up an expose that will reveal corruption inside the FBI. Democrats aren't the only ones sounding the alarm. Some Republicans are also concerned about Nunes' tactics, and they worry he could do serious damage to the DOJ and law enforcement.

With us to discuss, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein, and "TIME" magazine contributor, Jay Newton-Small. Ron, one would hope the investigation into foreign interference in our

democratic election process would be a bipartisan issue. Why this effort from Nunes?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we're long past that point, Ana, in the House. I mean, the House investigation has been kind of swept up in the intense partisanship that defines everything else in the House for many months now. And I don't think many people outside of it have been looking for that as a central point of understanding about what happened in 2016 and what might be done going forward to reduce the risk.

So I think this is just an extension of that. I think what's fascinating is how Nunes really is kind of making himself into one of the champions of this drum beat from conservatives outside of Congress, arguing that Republicans should go on a full-scale offensive against the FBI and the investigation.

As you point out, there are many other Republicans who are uneasy with that, both on kind of structural grounds about what it means for the institutions. But also on political grounds. What it might mean for the party in 2018, when the indication is that one of the biggest risks to Republicans in this election year is the sense among many voters that they are not providing any meaningful check on a president that is, to say the least, volatile and unusual.

CABRERA: And yet on the other hand, Jay, the president in "The New York Times" interview that he gave this week on Thursday afternoon is saying that because of the Russia investigation, it's actually had an effect of uniting his base, making them stronger.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Absolutely, Ana, and this is something that Trump believes, as he's called it, is a witch hunt. And that Devin Nunes is a critical sort of knight out there to protect him in the House. And so he's certainly playing that role. And he has become the main -- as Ron was saying, the main sort of focal point, the main spokesman for the president, the main champion for the president in the House of Representatives.

But again, he's going against his own party here. By some reports, he's not following Speaker Paul Ryan's playbook. And when you have Trey Gowdy, who ran the Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton and who has been one of the people running the investigation into the Russia probe, sort of publicly say that he has concerns about the way Nunes is handling things, that he hopes he doesn't go down the path of investigating the FBI and undermining law enforcement, then that's a really serious thing for the party to look at.

[18:10:03] This is a party that's been known as the party for law enforcement and a champion of usually the FBI and law enforcement agencies. For them to sort of publicly attack them and go and investigate them, undermine them, is a really, really controversial thing within the Republican Party.

CABRERA: Let's look ahead to the new year and the White House. Politico is reporting today that chief of staff, John Kelly, is not done cleaning house. And of course, we saw a lot of people and seeing that revolving door this past year, one of the people sent packing was Anthony Scaramucci and he was on CNN today. Listen to what he told Dana Bash about being fired.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Unfortunately, we learned in Washington, the minute you're hired as a hatchet person, the knives get very, very long and you get taken out as well. But I do respect the president and Chief of Staff Kelly.


CABRERA: So, Ron, who do you think is on the way out in 2018?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I love the phrase about Anthony Scaramucci was sent packing. It wasn't clear he was there long enough to unpack in the first place. So --

CABRERA: Yes, 11 days.


BROWNSTEIN: I don't know if the -- look, there is no one in the Trump orbit who is entirely safe, except for those who share his name and even they might not be, you know, permanent residents of the White House. The level of turnover is enormous and it kind of goes with what we were saying before. I mean, we are witnessing kind of a level of political turmoil and combat in Washington that as polarized as the city has been increasingly over the last 20 years, really is unprecedented.

I mean, everything we are watching from Devin Nunes and the attacks on the FBI to the way the health care and tax bill unfolded, to the way that Donald Trump criticizes members of his own administration and attacks law enforcement agencies, all of this has produced kind of I think a level of perpetual kind of crisis. All -- and fueled by social media, 24-hour cable, all of the advances in communications that weren't there 20 and 25 years ago.

So in that environment, you know, we are talking about the life span of NFL running backs. I mean, you know, it is just being accelerated. This is -- this is just -- there is a high burn out factor. And as much as anyone in the White House, I think people will be watching very closely to see if Paul Ryan is willing to stick around past 2018 because there are indications that this could be his final year in Congress. And if that is so, it could have all sorts of implications for what kind of agenda he wants to drive for Republicans heading into the midterm election.

CABRERA: Jay, who do you think might be on their way out?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, there are two, I'm actually surprised, that are still there in his Cabinet, and that's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Department of Justice -- the head of the Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions. They've been kind of hanging on by a thread for quite a while now. And we've been wondering when they're going to go. There's been rumor after rumor after rumor they're going to leave and they keep saying no. They're not actually leaving, they're staying. But I think that 2018 will finally be the year that they both might be replaced.

CABRERA: Ron, a lot of pollsters are predicting a blue tsunami in 2018. I know you always have your thoughts on the latest polling trends. What do you see happening?

BROWNSTEIN: So, I mean, if you look at -- you know, I was talking about really over the last 20 to 25 years, the biggest single factor in midterm elections has been voters' assessments of the president. And the last three times that a party has gone into a midterm election with unified control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, the way Republicans now have, they've lost it. Voters have revoked that unified control. They took it back from Obama in 2010, from W. Bush in 2006, from Clinton in 1994.

Today, Donald Trump's approval rating is lower than it was for any of those presidents at the time their parties lost that unified control. So that's pretty ominous for Republicans. The two things -- two or three things they have going for them is, one, the economy is getting better and that may list Trump's approval rating by next November.

Second, Democrats have not shown the ability to break into some of those blue-collar and rural districts. They are showing a lot of gains in suburban districts. And if they can't do the blue-collar rural, their path is still narrow. And then third, in the Senate map, it's just a much more difficult map for Democrats then for Republicans. There are only a couple of Republican seats that are really vulnerable.

But nonetheless, all of that said, as long as the president's approval rating is somewhere around 40 percent, which is where it is now, you'd have to say Democrats are at least a 50-50 or thumb on the scale, 50 plus 1, odds of taking back the House in 2018.

CABRERA: Ron Brownstein, Jay Newton-Small, thank you both for being here. Happy New Year. Good to see you both.

BROWNSTEIN: Happy New Year.

NEWTON-SMALL: Happy New Year, Ana.

CABRERA: Thanks.

Well, Iran's government has a warning tonight. Protesters who are causing trouble may pay the price. 200 protesters have already been arrested and this is day four of unprecedented demonstrations. Watch this.

Protesters chanting the regime must fall. Iranian authorities are clamping down now, shutting off most access to social media apps like Instagram.

These protests are striking because they're very different than what we have seen before. They are erupting outside the capital of Tehran, as well as in small towns and villages. Protesters are openly calling for the overthrow of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.

[18:15:11] Now earlier today President Trump warned Iran, quote, "The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations." Iran's president says Trump is constantly creating problems for the Iranian people.

In Paris and Berlin, it is already 2018. Here in the U.S., New Year's Eve is almost upon us. We will take you to Key West, Music City, the Las Vegas Strip, and, of course, Times Square. That's where we find our Richard Quest. Happy New Year.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Six hours until midnight. Making sure every extremity is covered. When we come back after the break, Times Square, the ball is there and we'll talk to the people and how long they've been waiting.


CABRERA: So that was Tarana Burke, founder of the "Me Too" movement rehearsing for the big moment tonight. She will be pulling the switch for the ball drop over Times Square. An estimated two million people will be in the streets below to help usher in the New Year of 2018. Many of them standing out truly in freezing temperatures for hours.

I mean, just look at how many people are out there already. It's only going to get colder, folks, unfortunately. The forecasted temperature for tonight at midnight is 11 degrees with a windchill of three below zero.

CNN's Richard Quest is out in his element.

Richard, you've got to be freezing, buddy, but at least you're in good company.

QUEST: Listen, I am not going to let a mere 11 Degrees Fahrenheit get me depressed or miserable.


QUEST: Incidentally, if we do hit 11 degrees, it will tie as the second coldest. The coldest is decades and decades ago. The second coldest was in the 1960s. 1962 actually, the year I was born.

[18:20:09] Take a look. The scene is being set, Ana. There is the ball. Just a short moment ago, we pushed the button and we sent the ball up the pole, where it will now wait in the cold for the next six hours until midnight, of course.

Listen, I do not know the logic that you send a ball up a pole and you send it down again and a million people cheer. But that's what people do. These are the people who will be doing it.

Where are you from?


QUEST: Los Angeles.


QUEST: What time did you get here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1:00 this afternoon.

QUEST: Sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1:00 this afternoon.

QUEST: This man is so cold he can barely tell me what time. He got here at 1:00 this afternoon. What time did you get here? 1:00.


QUEST: 3:00?


QUEST: Then later, 3:00. Where are you from?


QUEST: OK, Oxford in England. What on earth possesses someone from Oxford in England to come and stand here since 2:00 this afternoon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't sleep on Thursday night, so I booked a flight and came here Friday morning.

QUEST: You literally decided to come to New York for this. Is it worth it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll tell you that at midnight.

QUEST: Give us a hug.


QUEST: I get a hug because this is her new husband.



QUEST: And who knows, he might -- where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indianapolis, Indiana.

QUEST: Well, you're used to cold weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. QUEST: All right. Let's have a cheer because in six hours, the ball

comes down and I need to make -- yes, yes, listen, you got to do something to keep warm out here. Play along with me. One, two, three.

That was the most pathetic cheer.


QUEST: Sorry?


QUEST: It's going to be the second coldest. One more go at the cheer. Three, two, one --


QUEST: What can I say, Ana? I mean, you want to know how many layers I've got on? And put it this way.

CABRERA: I can only imagine.

QUEST: There are at least five here, there are about four or five up here. And my bits are still freezing. So tweet me @Richardquest. Tweet me @Richardquest if you got a good recipe for keeps your bits warm.

CABRERA: You're talking about like fingers and toes, right?

QUEST: Absolutely. There are bits that are cold that shouldn't be.

CABRERA: You're using words from England that we just don't usually use in the U.S., Richard. It is so cold, you've got the best warm spirit. And we'll check back in to see if you're still going strong in about a half hour or so from now. Send our best to those people.

QUEST: Put up here. Absolutely.

CABRERA: I would love to send you all coffee. The best I can do right now, though, is warm thoughts. So good to see you, Richard, talk to you soon.

From Broadway now to the Grand Old Opry, 100,000 people are expected for the biggest show in Music City USA headlined by Keith Urban tonight.

CNN's Sara Sidner is there taking it all in.

Sara, it sounds like it's going to be a massive show.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. There are so many acts. Cheap Trick is here. Keith Urban is here. The Fifth Jubilee Singers are here. It's going to be good. I am also joined by some amazing people. Let's give you a look. The USO is here and so are some of our soldiers here from the 101st

Airborne. Yes, they are. We're going to start here with Captain Matthew Milley and then we're going to move on to Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell and Staff Sergeant Ryan Hinojosa, all here tonight to hopefully enjoy yourselves.

I know we can't do alcohol. That's a thing, that's OK, I'm not doing it either, even though people accuse me of doing it already.

Mom, I'm not doing it.

Tell me a little bit about you. You went to San Juan as part -- tell me what that experience was like?

STAFF SGT. RYAN P. HINOJOSA, U.S. ARMY'S 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: We went out there to help out the locals in Puerto Rico. We chopped out supplies, food and water, and did medevac operations. We were able to help out a lot of the community and was just really happy to help them out. We were really glad to have the honor to go down there and it was a great mission. So we're happy they want us there.

SIDNER: About 100 of you all went there to help out.


SIDNER: And I'm sure it's much appreciated. And San Juan obviously and Puerto Rico still dealing with that now.

All right, you are the spokesperson. So you deal with us all the time.


SIDNER: Tell me a little bit about the 101st Airborne and these gentlemen here with you. How important it is to celebrate you all, especially on New Year's Eve.

O'DONNELL: Well, 101st Airborne Division, one of the most storied historic divisions, easily recognizable, Old Abe patch.

SIDNER: We're going to show that patch. I know you wanted to show it. Let's show it. Come on. Let's zoom in there. Yes.

O'DONNELL: We celebrate our 75th anniversary this year, this summer around a little bit warmer conditions. So 75 years young.

[18:25:02] Thanks to -- thanks to great individuals to my right and left, great individuals like USO, our partners here in Nashville, in Clarksville, in Hopkinsville. It's people like that that really make us feel 75 years young, not old. Not old. So --


SIDNER: Still going strong, as well.

O'DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

SIDNER: Now to you. You, I understand, are a marksman. So I'm going to be careful and be real nice to you. Tell me about what you want.

CAPT. MATTHEW A. MILLEY, U.S. ARMY'S 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: So I got to participate in a Force Com's third annual pistol marksmanship competition, made some great friends, got to be one of the first in a great group of guys to shoot the new pistol that the 101st was the first division to field in the army. A shameless plug right there. But yes, it was just -- it was a blast and like I said made some great friends, had a great time.

SIDNER: That's so great.

Well, guys, thank you so, so much for your service and for being with us here. But we cannot forget this young lady.

Kari, thank you so much for being here. Tell me why it's so important to have the USO involved. I mean, these guys go off on missions and they lose contact sometimes.

KARI MOORE, USO NASHVILLE AND USA FORT CAMPBELL CENTER DIRECTOR: Yes, the mission of the USO is to strengthen America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country throughout their service to the nation and that's really what we do, is connection. It's the people, places, and things that they love. And so, you know, whether you're in Kandahar, Afghanistan, or Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, or Nashville, Tennessee, what we're really always trying to do is bring a smile, deliver the goodness, and keep them connected to the things that are going to make them feel like everything back home is taken care of, so that they can take care of their missions.

SIDNER: And there's a way for people -- you know, people always talk about wanting to help. And I know people send packages and family members send care packages and different things. But there is another way for them to help.

Is there a Web site that they can go to or an e-mail they can send to be involved?

MOORE: There are so many ways to connect with the USO. is by far the easiest, whether you want to volunteer, whether you want to support. There's always -- we also have a campaign to connect. So if you want to send a message of support to our military service members, you can go to and find a way to connect with the campaign to connect and to say we thank you, we appreciate you, and you know, just we admire you so much.

SIDNER: It means a lot to these guys and everyone in the armed services.

So I'm going to toss it back to you. I think I'm losing battery or something's going on here. It is so cold.

CABRERA: I know. SIDNER: I'm going to send it back to you, Ana. And thank you, guys,

again for your service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Happy new year.

CABRERA: It's still so early. Tell them, we salute them tonight and all year round. Thank you, Sara Sidner.

And coming up, an historic moment for the U.S. military, in fact, with the first transgender recruit set to enlist beginning tomorrow. I'll talk to one transgender man who has waited for this day for a very long time. Don't go away.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We have this just into CNN, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has just announced he has called for an evaluation on how the judicial branch handles allegations of sexual harassment.

In a year-end report, Robert said that recent events had "illuminated" the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and he made clear that not even the judicial branch is immune. The announcement comes after a prominent appeals court judge based in San Francisco announced his retirement this month after a Washington Post story detailed accusations of sexual misconduct from several former clerks and junior staffers.

Despite an attempted ban by the president, transgender people will be allowed to enlist in the U.S. military beginning tomorrow. This historic moment comes after the Trump Administration opted not to appeal federal court rulings ordering the Pentagon to begin processing transgender applications beginning January 1st.

And for my next guest, this is the moment he has been waiting for, a dream he has held onto even when the legal road seemed impossible. Nicholas Talbott is a transgender man and an aspiring Air Force recruit. Nicholas, thank you so much, sir, for being here. How soon before you make that call to sign up?

NICHOLAS TALBOTT, TRANSGENDER MAN, ASPIRING AIR FORCE RECRUIT: Yes, thank you so much for having me. I'm actually currently in touch with an Air Force recruiter whom I'm been working with for a little bit over a year. And I'm hoping to be on the phone with him first thing Tuesday morning.

CABRERA: So exciting. Now, last July you'll recall the president tweeted this:

TEXT: After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you. It's got to be difficult for you to read those words, to hear those words. Any reservations given the president's position in terms of your plan to join the military?

TALBOTT: You know, you're right, it absolutely is difficult to read those words and to hear those words. And I just remember how devastated I felt the first time I read the tweets to myself and had them read to me by other people.

And at this point, I don't have any reservations at all, I am so just wicked excited to finally be able to start my career and live out my dream. This is the United States military and they can do anything they set their minds to and it's not going to be any type of burden whatsoever to be able to accept trans folks like myself into the branches.

CABRERA: Your attitude is admirable. A 2016 study by the RAND Corporation estimates that the number of transgender people actively serving in the U.S. military is somewhere between 1,300 and 6,600, that's out of 1.3 million service members. And yet critics have complained, Nicholas, about the ongoing cost of medical care for people who are transgender, what do you tell them?

TALBOTT: Everybody has medical costs in their lives no matter what it is in regards to. I think it's a very small issue and there are so many people out there like myself who are so highly qualified. Like I said, it's the United States military, any obstacle that is put in their path they can find a way to overcome it, and I think that this is just another small bump in the road if that, it's not quite the big deal that everybody seems to be trying to make it into.

CABRERA: You have said this is a lifelong dream to serve in the U.S. military. Why do you feel so passionate about this?

TALBOTT: I have always been very passionate about the military, even from the time I was a very young child I was always playing army on the playground with my friends, I grew up around veterans, I was very involved in my high school marching band. And my favorite days were always Veterans Day and Memorial Day. And I have just always had the utmost respect for our nation's military and our military members.

And the more I went through college and discovered myself and my passions and my drives and realized that I wanted to be working in something, having to do with counterterrorism and global security, I really felt that the military was the best path for me to pursue not only to fulfill my own passion and my own drive but to really fulfill my potential and do the absolute best job that I possibly can to make this world and this nation a better place.

CABRERA: Now the issue of whether you can serve might not be settled yet, what if ultimately you are prohibited from serving?

TALBOTT: I think if ultimately I'm prohibited from serving, it will be regarding an issue that is not my being transgender, because the whole point of this argument, this debate that we've been having is that being transgender should not be a disqualifying factor for military service.

There's nothing about being transgender that makes me any less qualified than anybody else to serve, and I'm very optimistic that I will be allowed to serve and that nothing else is going to block my path from this.

CABRERA: Well, Nicholas Talbott, thank you for your push, your desire to serve our country. Thank you for joining us tonight and happy New Year to you.

TALBOTT: Thank you so much for having me. Happy New Year. Thank you so much.

CABRERA: Let's stay in touch. I'd like to continue to follow your story.

TALBOTT: Absolutely.

CABRERA: Coming up, it became a symbol of climate change denial in Washington.


SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) OKLAHOMA: It's a snowball and that's just from outside here. So it's very, very cold out, very unseasonal. So here Mr. President, catch this. And --


CABRERA: Well, nearly three years after Senator James Inhofe pulled out a snowball on the Senate floor to say climate change is a hoax, there is a new tweet from the president making a strikingly similar argument. Stay right there.


CABRERA: Happy New Year. These are the celebrations in Paris, it has been 2018 there for about 40 minutes now and this was the fireworks display at midnight over the famous Arc de Triumph. Tonight, it became the symbol of climate change.

Meanwhile, here in Washington, climate change denial when Senator James Inhofe pulled out a snowball on the Senate floor as proof that global warming is nothing more than a hoax. Well now, here's a tweet from the president that seems to make a very similar argument. He writes:

TEXT: In the east, it could be the coldest New Year's Eve on record, perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming.

Well, today on CNN's State of the Union, the president's former Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, reacted to the tweet this way.


president's sense of humor but I also think he's saying something else and I think you guys should ask him directly if he's a climate change denier or not.

I think you'll find you'll be surprised by that answer. I think what he's really saying in that tweet is that that deal, the Paris Accord, there was something wrong in that deal as it related to the United States. And so he didn't just want to sign it and go along with the crowd.

I think what you'll find with the president, he's an entrepreneur, entrepreneurs have a tendency to diverge from crowd thinking. A lot of the times in the early stages of that they get ridiculed and picked on, but longer term like a Jeff Bezos or Stephen Jobs, you see that their vision comes to fruition.


CABRERA: Regardless of what the president meant with his tweet, one thing is clear, there is an important difference when talking about weather versus climate. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers explains.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Ana, it has certainly been colder than normal across a lot of the U.S., the eastern half of the U.S. and most of Canada for that matter, this big blue blob.

You have to look at this, this was from the Climate Change Institute of the University of Maine, if it's blue you're colder than you should be, if it's red you're warmer than you should be. This is for December 28th, just a couple of days ago. This is one day's snapshot and it's why you can't look at this to be climate or not because this is a day, this is weather.

When we zoom this blue area out, all of a sudden it becomes very small compared to the rest of the world which is very red and very big. And so that's why we look at the climate of the globe, it is still very much going up in temperature.

Thirty three thousand record highs, fifteen thousand record lows this year across the U.S., so it is still warming. Likely to be the third hottest global year on record. And we know this because we can look at the year-after-year data. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the zero line here, the bright white one, that's normal. In the 1950s and 1960s, we were below normal, but then all of a sudden like a switch got turned on.

All of a sudden in the 1960s and 1970s and now all the way into the new millennium, we are going up rapidly, well over one degree above normal, Celsius, that's two degrees Fahrenheit globally. So we know the earth is warming, we know things are going to change. And just because we've had a cold spell in the U.S., doesn't change any of this. Ana --

CABRERA: Thank you, Chad, for breaking it down for us. We have breaking news just in to CNN, 10 U.S. citizens killed in a plane crash in Costa Rica, we'll have the details when we come back.


CABRERA: A police officer in Ohio has turned the lives around for dozens of opioid addicts. Today's inspiring people shows how a sheriff's deputy with a soft heart and a quick mind continues to guide people to sobriety.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charles Johnson has hung up this uniform for this uniform because of the opioid epidemic. As the deputy sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio, it's Johnson's job to visit overdose survivors in the hospital and try to save them.

COHEN: You're not there to arrest them?


COHEN: What are you there to do?

JOHNSON: I'm there to convince them to live.

COHEN (voice-over): Every day on average, six people overdose in his county.

JOHNSON: They're your mailman, they're your neighbors, they're your friends.

COHEN (voice-over): More counselor than cop, since 2014 Johnson and his team have convinced nearly 80 percent of overdose survivors to go into detox.

COHEN: Do you stick around to these people's lives?

JOHNSON: You know what, I remember every one of their names. I stop to visit their homes, I know their families, I visit them in the jails, I'm being a parent to a hundred addicts.

CODY MORRIS, RECORVERING HEROIN ADDICT: He said, Cody, you can do this. He's got this and he was staying in touch making sure I was doing the right thing. And go, are you working today? Yes, I'm working. And he's, that's what I like to hear.

COHEN: Does it take an emotional toll?

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely. You can get really burned out doing this. My phone never stops ringing, I -- people are calling me 24 hours a day, I won't not answer that phone call because someone's life could depend on it.

(END VIDEO TAPE) CABRERA: What a guy. We have this just into CNN, a tragedy has

unfolded in Costa Rica, a plane crash in Central America and 10 American tourists are dead right now. New images just coming in, it is the wreckage of that small plane, everyone on board this plane died, 12 people in all, among them the two-person crew from Costa Rica.

The cause of this crash is still unknown but the Costa Rican president said via Twitter that the investigation will begin first thing in the morning. Again, 10 Americans, all holiday tourists, dead in this small plane crash in Costa Rica, we'll be right back.


CABRERA: If there is one fan-base that's super happy to see 2017 go away, it is Cleveland Browns fans. One of them even blamed the team's futility for killing him. Tongue-in-cheek, of course, Paul Stark, proud native of Mansfield, Ohio, died Wednesday. And in his obituary published the next day in the Sandusky Register it said, "Mr. Stark passed away of complications from a brief illness exacerbated by the hopeless condition of the Cleveland Browns."

It ended on a hopeful note, though, saying Mr. Spark passed just before the Browns are prepared to turn the corner. Unfortunately today, the Browns became just the second team in history to go 0-16 on the season. Ouch. Moving to the Steelers team, (INAUDIBLE) all its superstars. And here I thought the Broncos had a bad year.

Well now, to another story of a flight turning around for an unauthorized passenger, this time, though, the stowaway was not human. It happened yesterday on a Delta flight, the plane was taxiing on the runway when the captain turned back to the gate, because a little bird was in the cockpit.

That sent people scrambling, crew members, maintenance workers, everybody looking for the bird, and in the end, they just couldn't find it. And as one passenger who live tweeted this whole ordeal noted, this bird is playing hide and go seek apparently.

Well since they couldn't find the bird, the flight took off but shortly after takeoff, I bet you can guess who showed up again. According to a passenger, while in the air the captain actually announced that the bird was going a little nuts in the cockpit, so he turned around again and went back to Detroit out of an abundance of caution, landing back at the same airport 34 minutes after takeoff.

This time though success, the little bird was set free and about an hour later the plane finally took off again and finally made it to Atlanta, minus one wayward bird.

Well, in just over about five hours from now, New York City will be ringing in the New Year with that famous ball drop over Times Square and with temperatures well below freezing, the NYPD has these tips: hand warmers, wool socks, newly authorized NYPD knit cap, of course, don't worry about that if you're a civilian, thermals, more thermals, and ready to have fun. Let's check in with CNN International Anchor Richard Quest, always having fun no matter where he is. Richard, I know you were already cold in that last slot but you've got five hours, buddy, did you get some hand warmers, I hope?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hey, (Sirie), how cold is it in Times Square? Good grief, it's 14 degrees Fahrenheit which is minus 10 degrees Celsius in Times Square at the moment.

In other words, it's very, very cold. Would you hold that for me please? Thank you. Come with me, it is absolutely (perilously) cold. So this is what's going to happen in the next few hours, that big ball that you can see at the top, at exactly midnight or one minute to midnight will start to come down, it takes a minute, people will sing "Imagine" by John Lennon, then it will be "New York, New York."

And I promise you, Ana, no matter where you have been on New Year's Eve, there's nothing like it in Times Square even if it's going to be the second coldest on record. Let's find out how people are keeping warm.

This is how they're keeping warm, it's called body weight. Look at that, they're all squashed up next to each other. Are you cold?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, cold. Too cold.

QUEST: Sorry?


QUEST: You're too cold.


QUEST: What's your recipe for keeping warm?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snuggling with others.

QUEST: Snuggling with others is the -- ah, look at this, now there is a sight for New Year, just look at it, snuggling away.


QUEST: Where are you from?


QUEST: Argentina. Is it warmer there than here?


QUEST: It's cold here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very cold.

QUEST: So this is how you do it, you've got five hours to go, they've been here since about 1:00, 2:00 in the afternoon, and an hour from now Anderson and Andy will be up on the riser over there and I'm now going to go back in the warm, Ana, to warm my bits up.

CABRERA: I'm glad to hear it, Richard Quest. Thank you and thank you for always bringing that energy, I love that about you, Richard. Have a wonderful night and our best to the people there in Time Square.

Coming up tonight here on CNN, if you want to stay in, stay warm, we've got you covered here, don't go anywhere. Up first, you have CNN's Tom Foreman giving a look back at some of the biggest moments of the year, all the best, all the worst of 2017, that airs next.

And then the party really begins, two best friends, one epic night, ringing in the New Year, Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, New Year's Eve live begins just an hour from now here on CNN.

For now, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, thank you for spending part of your holiday weekend with us. Thank you for spending time with me this past year, I'm so grateful for your viewership and I'll see you next year. Goodnight.