Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Defending Mental Fitness; Firefighters Battling A Five Alarm Fire In Boston; NASA Mourns The Passing of Astronaut John Young; Golden Globes Kicks Off Hollywood Award Season As Stars All In Black. Aired 3:00-3:30a ET

Aired January 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:12] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. President touts his own intelligence and mental stability. Why Donald Trump feels compelled to call himself a genius.

Bitter cold in the U.S. producing long delays and frustration at one of the world's busiest airport.

And Hollywood award season in bloom. But this year's Gold Globes were likely be striking a different tone. These stories ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Natalie Allen.

Our top story, U.S. President Donald Trump wants everyone to know he is very smart, a genius even. Author Michael Wolff paints an embarrassing portrait of the President in the new tell-all book, "Fire and Fury." It suggests that Mr. Trump lacks the intelligence and temperament to lead the U.S.

The President quickly denounced the book as phony and full of lies, but early Saturday, he went further. In a series of tweets, he argued that his path from businessman to TV star to president qualified him as a very stable genius.

Here's what he said Saturday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went to the best colleges for college. I went to a -- I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won.


ALLEN: Complaining about the bestseller was not the only thing on the President's agenda on Saturday. He's been conducting business with Republican leaders at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. For more on that, here's CNN's Boris Sanchez.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President making news on multiple fronts today, not only saying that he backs his attorney general just one day after some Congressional Republicans called for a new attorney general, but also praising direct talks between North and South Korea and sending a message to Democrats saying that the legal status of Dreamers, DACA would not be resolved unless he got funding for his border wall. All of that being overshadowed by President being forced to defend his own mental state, his own mental condition. He's clearly taking the comments being made by Michael Wolff, the author of "Fire and Fury," personally. Wolff saying that the President has lost it, going as far as to say that 100% of the people around the President has questioned his fitness for office.

The President fighting back, saying that Michael Wolff is a fraud and that what he's done with his books is a disgrace. Also refuting the idea that he was interviewed by Michael Wolff for about three hours. And as he was asked about his early morning tweets on Saturday, taking a shot at his former chief strategist Steve Bannon calling him "Sloppy Steve."

Listen more of what the President say.


TRUMP: I did a quick interview with him a long time ago, having to do with an article, but I don't know this man. I guess Sloppy Steve brought him into the White House quite a bit, and it was one of those things. That's why Sloppy Steve is now looking for a job.


SANCHEZ: Now, these questions about the President's mental state aren't exactly new. If you recall, a few months ago, Steve Bannon reportedly said that there was 30% chance that President Trump would be removed from office because people around him would invoke the 25th Amendment over questions about his mental state. And just last month, you had more than a dozen lawmakers briefed by a Yale psychiatrist as to his mental condition and mental acuity. So certainly the conversation isn't something new but we had yet to see that kind of forceful response from the President justifying his position as President.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.

ALLEN: Let's turn now to Historian Tim Naftali. He studies leaders, power, and internal affairs. He comes to us via Skype from New York City.

Tim, thanks for joining us.


ALLEN: Well, we've seen quite extraordinary response from the U.S. President over this book that has all kinds of tongues wagging. The President shot back quoting here that he's a very stable genius, "Actually throughout my life," he said, "My two greatest assets had been mental stability and being like really smart," that from the President. Why do you think he feels the need to defend himself to this extent?

NAFTALI: I believe that the book by Michael Wolff has gotten under his skin, and that's surprising and unfortunate because the President of the United States doesn't need to be giving his resume to the world after he's been elected and taken the oath of office.

[03:05:00] It's quite extraordinary actually that he would feel compelled, that President Trump would feel compelled by a book to tell the world that he's a smart man.

Presidents are judged by the American people, by the world, by historians. In response to their conduct, to their legislative achievements, to the ways in which they've manage national security, that the American is safe, that's the way in which you judge the performance of a president. It's bizarre, frankly, for the President of the United States to feel the need to go and tell the world that he's smart and that, in fact, he's a genius.

ALLEN: Right. Because he's --

NAFTALI: This was not a good day for the American president.

ALLEN: Right. Because he's trying to convince everyone that he's saying normal, successful, and all of that that it almost makes you think even have to say that, why even throw more, you know, coal on the fire, so to speak. But then again he always can't stand being attacked and always has the instinct to attack back even though those around him would not want him to do so. Wolff certainly paints an unflattering picture of the President and questions his mental stability.

Back in the spring, you wrote that the President did seem unhinged. The Wolff book does seem impart to corroborate that unhingement, doesn't it?

NAFTALI: Well, let me put it this way. I think I understand -- I was director of the Nixon Library. I feel I have a very good sense of what Richard Nixon was like because of the tapes and the documents that are now available for everyone to look at. It's harder to judge Donald Trump because we only have what's publically available.

I found in the tweeting and his public statements during the campaign a rage, an anger, which to me, seemed very similar to the comportment of Richard Nixon, the angered animated Richard Nixon. When people are that angry, when leaders are that angry, you have to worry about their stability. And what's so unfortunate is that in the year or almost a year since he took -- has taken the -- or he took the ought of office, President Trump has not shown us any willingness to control his own rage, that whatever turmoil there is within him. He's not shown us the kind of self-discipline that one would have hoped the presidency would impose on him. You didn't need Michael Wolff's book to wonder about the President's stability. What so unfortunate is that instead of ignoring the book, President Trump decided to attack it directly and to attack Steve Bannon, who appears to have been a major source for the book. He didn't have to do that. And I believe, and I believe others share this feeling that by attacking it so -- in such a wrong way, the President has made an argument for some of the most silicious anecdotes in the book.

It's a very peculiar way for a salesman or with as much successes from to engage in self-protection. It's a very, very odd P.R. approach. I just don't know why he did it. My sense is he did it because he can't control himself.

ALLEN: We appreciate you joining us. We appreciate your thought. Tim Naftali for us. Thank you.

NAFTALI: Thank you very much.

ALLEN: President Trump says he would absolutely be open to talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Speaking with reporters Saturday, he appeared to take credit for the upcoming meeting between North and South Korea. Mr. Trump says he's happy they're communication, but warns that if he were to deal with North Korea, he would not budge from his firm stance on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


TRUMP: If I weren't involved, they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now. They'd be doing no talking or they would be much more serious. He knows I'm not I'm messing around. I'm not messing around, not even a little bit, not even 1%. He understands it.


ALLEN: Let's get more on the talks and Kim Jong-un, the man who leads North Korea from our Paula Hancock in Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korea's leader turns a year old on Monday. He is young but he's also ambitious and brutal. Kim Jong-un has gone further and faster than his predecessors by accelerating North Korea's nuclear missile program. Far right pacing his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.

In the last year alone, North Korea fired 23 rockets during 16 tests. The most recent one in November flew higher and farther than any others, an achievement that Kim boosted about during his recently leaders address.

[03:10:01] KIM JONG-UN, SUPREME LEADER, NORTH KOREA (through translator): The entire United States is within rage of our nuclear weapons. And a nuclear button is always on my desk.

HANCOCK: The rapid advancement of Korea's missile program has rattled world leaders, most notably U.S. President Donald Trump.

TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patients, but if it is forced to defends itself towards allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission from self and for his regime.

HANCOCK: Kim himself joined in the war of worlds with the U.S. by calling Trump a mentally deranged dotard, an insult that sent many people around the world scrambling for the dictionary. Kim Jong-un is used to operating in the shadows of world approval.

The U.N. Security Council recently tightened sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear program. And in 2014, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry from North Korea's leadership guilty of crimes against humanity, a claim which Pyongyang denies.

Within his own country, Kim is feared and trusts only a select few. He's famous for his tactic of purging senior officials having asked dozens since he took power, including his own uncle. And Kim's half brother Kim Jong-nam was mysteriously murdered in the Koala Lumpur airport after two women whacked his face with V.X. nerve agent. The women have both pleaded not guilty. Both Malaysia and South Korea believed North Korea to be behind the assassination, but North Korea denies anything to do with his death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He maybe an evil person, a reckless, you know, cruel, yes, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't know what he is doing. He knows exactly what he is doing. He is very strategic when he makes that.

HANCOCK: It's unknown how the ruthless leader of a rouge nation mocks a birthday and whether or not the official talks with South Korea, which begin the day after what lead to a year of dialogue or more deadlock.


HANCOCK: So there have been some articles coming out of it on KCNA, the North Korea media and really North Korea is looking forward to what they say they hope will be very fruitful talks. This talks coming up on Tuesday between North Korea and South Korea saying that they are significant in saying that the important is that he master of improved into Korea relations is not outsiders but the Korean national itself.

So this is really another thing that we have been seeing from Kim Jong-un, from North Korea from recent day. He's trying to sideline the United States when it comes to the negotiations and saying that it's important for North and South Korea to alleviate the pressure and the tensions on the peninsula themselves without outsider influence. They also have another damning article about the U.S. President, Donald Trump, not to mentioning any of the recent tweets or comments from him but saying that the swollen-headed Trump group saying it can easily deal with any international issues on this front and really slamming the Trump administration once again. It's something we've seen a lot of recently but no specific reactions to any specific tweets. So, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. We thank you. Paula Hancock for us there live in Seoul.

In Saudi Arabia, officials say they've arrested 11 princes who stage a protest at a Riyadh palace. The kingdom's attorney general says the arrest happened Thursday. The princes were protesting a decree that cutoffs state payments for their water and electric bills. They also wanted compensation, were told, for a cousin that was executed for murder in 2016.

The Italian coast guard says it has recovered the bodies of eight migrants off the Libyan coast. Eighty-four people were rescued when their robber dinghy sank Saturday in the Mediterranean. They were spotted by a patrol plane taking part in an anti-smuggling operation.

Meantime, the Nigerian foreign minister says Nigeria will send thousands of its citizens home from Libya, many have become trapped there while trying to get to Europe. They often face dire conditions and abuse, including force labors.

Search and rescue operations are underway after an oil tanker and a cargo ship collided off the coast of China. It happened about 300 kilometers east of Shanghai. All 32 people on the oil tanker are missing and the vessel is still on fire. It was traveling to South Korea with 136,000 tons of Iranian oil. Cruise were able to rescue the 21 people on the cargo ship, it was on its way to Guangdong, carrying 64,000 tons of food.

Well, that huge winter storm that hit the U.S. has airport struggling to get back on track just ahead while international travelers have been especially hard hit.

[03:15:06] Plus, it is typically a night of blitz and glamour, but this year that scandals may overshadow one of Hollywood's biggest event. We'll look ahead to Sunday's Golden Globes.


ALLEN: If you are booked on an international flight to New York's JFK Airport, you should probably check with your airline. More than 3000 delays, 400 cancelations were reported Saturday. It's no surprise when the airport looked like this on Thursday. It's going to look like this now for a few days after.

We got this picture from a man who arrived from Paris Friday night with his pregnant wife and three-year old child. They waited 11 hours for their luggage before finally just giving up. Officials of JFK say the domestic backlog is pretty much cleared up but there is a shortness of gates for incoming international flight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have clothes even to change my clothes. A family of five, so I have three kids with me, we're just -- we have nothing and being offered hotel, even transportation while we pay for the (INAUDIBLE) ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know it's difficult, we know it's out of their hands but after all there needs to be some practice management.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also I've never seen anything like this. It makes me I want to fight anywhere.


ALLEN: It sounds pretty bad there, Derek.

All right, we're going to turn now to Boston, Massachusetts still dealing with the cold and a big fire at the same time.

VAN DAM: But this is all part of that arctic blast that will also slowdown operations at JFK Airport but it's also making conditions very difficult for firefighters battling a five alarm fire right now in Boston. Look at this image, it's pretty incredible to see what's happening. This is a large multi family home that firefighters are battling, but temperatures there are so cold. Negative 18 degrees celsius, that the water that they're using to douse the flames is actually freezing on contact with the surfaces across this area including the brims of some of the firefighters' hats. I mean, it is extremely cold outside and these brave firefighters there are just having to deal with epic, epic conditions right now.

We have 70 million people under wind shield warnings across the New England coastline by Sunday morning local time along the east coast of United States, over 35 possible record low is expected. Chicago has had a dubious record set this week. We have had literally 12 days of temperatures below 6 degrees -- below zero, I should say, but the good news is that things are going to turn a corner here within the next coming days. We're actually going to get above freezing as we head into the first parts next week, say goodbye to the arctic air and hello to finally some milder temperatures. But you can see what's coming, we have another blast that will replace that towards the second half next week.

[03:20:06] We're going to bring you to the southern hemisphere. This is in Australia, update in Australia, we talked about yesterday. At this time, we have had extreme heat across much of southern Australia

In fact, just outside of Sydney today, reaching 47.8 degrees celsius that is the warmest temperature since 1939 for that particular region. Look at the temperatures here for parts of South Australia and into Victoria skyrocketing into the middle of 40s. The good news is that a cold front has settled in and it is calmed the winds and it has also alleviated the fire threat that has been ongoing across this region.

You can see we still have very high fire threat for the South Australia and into Victoria, but yesterday it was extreme if not catastrophic for a few of these locations. We'll bring you to, well, Australia now with some of these videos just showing how people are dealing with the heat there. Yes, it has been extremely hot, as I mentioned, 47 degrees in a western suburb of Sydney, but what do you do? You heat the beaches. And how good does that look right about now, you know, Natalie? I think we would take that here in Atlanta because we are eight below.

ALLEN: Yes. That's crazy, isn't it?

VAN DAM: Yes. Just the polar opposites, we've got Northern Hemisphere versus Southern Hemisphere strings, right?

ALLEN: All right. Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Thanks.

ALLEN: Well NASA is celebrating the life of one of the most accomplished men in its history. Former Chief Astronaut John Young died Friday. He was 87 and had spent 835 hours of his life in space. Young's career with NASA spanned four decades and six space flights. He walked on the moon, commanded the first space shuttle flight and one smuggle of corn beef sandwich into orbit. His philosophy was simple.


JOHN YOUNG, NASA ASTRONAUT: I'm sure looking forward to getting people of this planet because I think it will be very helpful to getting the future done right for the kids of tomorrow, our children and grandchildren and it will be a lot of fun.


ALLEN: Colleagues are remembering John Young as a pioneer and a true legend, he was that.

The U.S. Justice Department is rolling back yet another Obama era policy, it's scrapping its hands off approach towards marijuana friendly state laws. Recreational pot became legal in California just days ago and the state is already fighting back.

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Republic of California going its own way again, another battle in the war between the world's sixth largest economy and the Trump administration, this time over pot.

JERRED KILOH, OWNER, THE HIGHER PATH: When I first found out, I felt pretty scared.

MARQUEZ: Jerred Kiloh has worked in the legal medical marijuana business for decades. He says the attorney general's order rescinding Obama-era marijuana guidance will have real world effects.

KILOH: We're in day four of recreational sales. Yes, this can scare some people from entering into the industry.

MARQUEZ: While sales of recreational pot have been legal in other states, the size of the California market, it is so big it will be increasingly difficult for banks Wall Street, other states and the federal government to ignore.

How much have you been stockpiling for recreational sales?

KILOH: Hundreds of pounds. I mean, we're probably between 600 and 800 pounds of stockpile.

MARQUEZ: Kiloh views Attorney General Sessions' action as a threat to the recreational market just getting started here. He also says given where the country is going, it won't mean much.

The long-term trend, do you see this having an effect?

KILOH: No. We've seen a lot of our politicians come out very strongly in favor of what the Republic of California has stated they want to have.

MARQUEZ: The Republic of California and its voters going its own way on health care, immigration, environmental protection, taxes and now, cannabis.

XAVIER BECRRA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA: We've had to confront the Trump administration for their constitutional overreach, and we're going to protect not just our people but our laws, and the things that have made California the economic engine for the country.

MARQUEZ: Politicians across the state telling the Trump administration, if you're going to try to stop legal pot, give it your best shot.


ALLEN: California isn't the only state pushing back on the new policy. Officials in Colorado, Washington and Oregon have all expressed concern over the change.

Award season kicks of Sunday with stars walking the red carpet in Hollywood for the 75th Annual Golden Globes, but the glitz and the glamour may take a back seat this year as Hollywood grapples with a string of sexual harassment scandal. Stephanie Elam has a preview.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's that time of the year, award season in Hollywood.

[03:25:04] The Golden Globes kick off the festivities by honoring the best in film and television from the last year. The "Shape of Water" leads the movie categories with seven nominations including best picture drama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very artful fantastic visually striking film also with an actress, Sally Hawkins, whom they like very much.

ELAM: The unusual romance faces off against "Call Me by Your Name, Dunn Kirk, The Post, and Three Bill Boards Outside Eving Missouri.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how long has this been going on this thing (ph)? ELAM: The inclusion of "Get Out" for best picture in the comedy or musical category stirred up some controversy, but the racially tinged thriller was a fan favorite in theaters.

The box office hit is up against "The Disaster Artist, The Greatest Showman, I Tonia and Lady Bird."


ELAM: For television, "It's All About the Ladies of Big Little Lies." The HBO series is up for six awards, the most of any television program including best TV movie or limited series.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In addition to being a great show, it's also really on point with the conversation in Hollywood right now.

ELAM: In fact, expect sexual harassment and sexual assault in the entertainment industry to be addressed during the show. Nominees like Meryl Streep are planning to wear all black in support of the "Me Too" movement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I'm very excited because everyone is going to be there. What's that? Oh, he's not going to be there. It's good. Nobody else in there.

ELAM: Seth Meyers, who's hosting the show, is known for his politically-charged comedy. His promo posters which tout, quote, Hollywood, we have a lot to talk about, make it clear the late-night host won't back down at the Globes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be difficult to avoid having some national and presidential politics creep into what Seth Meyers has to say from the stage.

ELAM: A lot to expect from Hollywood's biggest party. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


ALLEN: Well, a stolen one vodka bottle worth $1.3 million has been found empty. This bottle of Russo-Baltique vodka made with gold and silver was reported stolen from a bar in Denmark. Earlier this week, construction workers found the bottle empty but undamaged at a building site on Friday. Police say, a thief used the key to open a lock door and raid the bar's massive vodka collection.

The missing vodka is not believe to impact the value of the bottle, perhaps the thief just wanted the vodka played (ph), know the value of the bottle. Oh, well, that's what you get for being a thief.

Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen. Our top stories right after this.