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Trump Push Back Allegations In Critical Book, Describes Self as 'Stable Genius'; North and South Korea To Hold Talks For First Time In Two Years; Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Protesting Princes; Flight Delays At JFK Airport; A Night of Firsts At The Golden Globes. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 7, 2018 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:00:30] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Firing back, U.S. President Donald Trump counter concerns (ph) about his mental competence describing himself as a very stable genius.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Also ahead this hour, weighing his options as North and South Korea prepared to hold talks for the first time in two years, we examine the various factors playing into Kim Jong-un's decision making.

KINKADE: And in Hollywood, after months of scandal and reputation of some insiders (ph), they preview this year's Golden Globes.

HOWELL: Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

KINKADE: And hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade. Thanks for joining us. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

HOWELL: 5:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. president pushing back against the allegations that he lacks the intelligence, that he lacks the temperament to lead the United States.

KINKADE: Also, Michael Wolff paints an embarrassing portrait of the president and the new Tello (ph) book, "Fire and Fury", it suggests Mr. Trump is selfish and intellectually lazy. The president quickly denounced the book as phony and full of lies.

HOWELL: But earlier, Saturday, he went further in a series of tweets, he argued that his path from businessman to TV star to president that qualified him as a "very stable genius" as you see there. Here's what he had to say on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Well, complaining about the best cello (ph) is not the only thing in the president's agenda on Saturday.

HOWELL: He's also been meeting with Republican leaders at Camp David, the president shall retreat in Maryland. CNN's Boris Sanchez has this report for us.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN 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 the 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 book 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 said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: 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 a 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.

HOWELL: In the background, the Russia investigation, it's deadly pushing on. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller looking into possible collusion, possible untruthful statements and the possibility of obstruction of justice. KINKADE: And no one seems more aware of that fact than President

Trump. Here's what he said Saturday when asked about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, if Robert Mueller asks you to come and speak with his committee personally, are you committed still to doing that? Do you believe that --

[05:05:00] TRUMP: Yes, just so you understand, just so you understand, there's been no collusion, there's been no crime. And, in theory, everybody tells me, I'm not under investigation. Maybe Hillary is, I don't know, but I'm not. But there's been no collusion, there's been no crime. But we have been very open. We could have done it two ways. We could have been very closed, and it would have taken years. But, you know, sort of like when you've done nothing wrong, let's be open and get it over with. Because honestly, it's very, very bad for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: A lot to talk about here, let's do so with Kate Andrews. Kate is the news editor at the Institute of Economic Affairs live for us in our London bureau this hour. It's good to have you with us, Kate.

KATE ANDREWS, NEWS EDITOR, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: The president claims that he is open, as you just heard, open to this investigation that he's been open to it, he says it's bad for the country. But at the same time, there are some serious questions about whether he or people around him have taken moves to obstruct the process. What do you make about what you just heard there, his comments on this investigation?

ANDREWS: We're not surprised to hear that he said that there's been no collusion, that has been the president's line from the beginning, I imagine it will be until the end. I still think that perhaps Democrats, in particular, are holding onto too much hope when it comes to this idea that the Russian investigation is going to be what topples over this presidency, you know. And I don't think that things like the dossier has been particularly helpful. You have a lot of rumors out there, the latest book from Michael Wolff, "Fire and Fury", also making allegations about Russia saying that it was treasonous, saying that it was an unpatriotic. We need the evidence. Someone is actually going to have to come forward with that evidence at some point.

Unfortunately, as we continue to focus on this so much, Trump, when it comes to domestic policy agenda, especially in core (ph) things that I'm deeply uncomfortable with, using DACA and the Dreamers as a negotiating tool to build his border wall, I think, is very unpresidential. DACAs, Dreamers, they are Americans essentially in every capacity except for what's on their passport. These are English speakers. They are contributing to the economy, contributing to the public purse. I think those are the issues that we need to be focusing on at the forefront until we get the evidence one way or another whether or not there's been collusion.

HOWELL: All right, let's talk just a bit about that, given everything he's dealing with, does the president really have the political capital to move forward because look, you've got a government shutdown looming, you've got DACA as you just pointed out. The president even spoke about that. Let's listen to it. We can talk about it here on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We want the wall, the wall's going to happen, or we're not going to have DACA. We want to get rid of chain migration, very important. And we want to get rid of the lottery system. In addition to that, we want some money for funding, we need some additional border security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Can the president move the ball forward?

ANDREWS: It certainly was one of his biggest arguments during the campaign and that would be hard to deny that he does part of his platform that he went on was cracking down on immigration. It reminds us how far away the Republican Party has addressed it from, you know, Ronald Reagan sitting on the Hill, it's quite depressing in my opinion given how beneficial immigrants are to the U.S., both culturally but also economically. Does he have the political capital? Well, he got tax reforms through, actually, in quite an impressive way. That was the first really big win for the president.

So I wonder this year if he's going to be able to continue upwards and get more of his policy agenda through. But of course, he's going to have to compromise to the Republicans and Congress. They are going to be looking to the midterms, they're going to be looking to November in thinking, what do our constituents want to see from us? And I think actually, health care is what they're going to have to focus on. Immigration more important to many may not be the number one issue on their list.

HOWELL: Kate, so mired by investigation, certainly an important agenda I had for this president but he is being dogged by this new book, as you point out, this book, "Fire and Fury". He's been pushing back. He insists that he is smart. He insists that he is stable. In fact, he describes himself as a very stable genius, that's the quote.

So, here's the question. We've been seeing this president show the world his resume. He feels the need to tell the world about his resume. Does this pushback help or hurt this president and in fact, is he just helping Mr. Wolff to sell more books?

ANDREWS: Well, that's a very good point. Michael Wolff, the author, has come out saying, where should I send the box of chocolates to because I'm getting so much publicity. I think we have to ask ourselves with this book, you know, do we have a reliable narrator (ph), of course, I'm speaking about Wolff who, in the past, has been accused of coloring his journalism a little bit with gossip and with culture rather than hard facts. But I'm also referring to Steve Bannon who seems to be the key source in this book.

Steve Bannon is the former White House chief strategist, and he's connected to Breitbart New. And one of my biggest concerns when Trump came in to the administration is that he put someone like Bannon with some really ugly rhetoric about women and minorities and immigrants into such a senior position.

So we have to remember that even though this book is full of goodies for some that helped to reassure them that they are right that the president is not very stable at the moment, these are also people that they might not want to be associating with. And I think the president pushing back so hard on this book just gives the book more credibility as if there's something to find.

[05:10:06] Where in reality, he should be more presidential, he should be above it, the office is above this kind of rhetoric. And coming out saying that he is like really smart isn't doing much to convince people that he actually is.

HOWELL: It is interesting that the daylight that we're seeing between the president and Steve Bannon and certainly a questionable daylight that we've seen between the president and Jeff Sessions, the discrepancy between these two moving forward for this president, does that hurt him with his voter base moving forward. We'll have to wait and see.

Kate, thank you so much for your time today live for us in London.

KINKADE: While Donald Trump says he would absolutely be open to talk with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, speaking to report this Saturday. Mr. Trump warned that if he were to deal with North Korea, he wouldn't budge from his demand that they give up their nuclear program.

HOWELL: The president also said that he's happy that North and South Korea that they've opened lines of communication. And he appeared to take credit for the upcoming meeting between the two countries. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Moon called me and we had a great discussion a couple of days ago, and he thanked me very much. And I hope it works out. I very much want to see it work out between the two countries. I'd like to see them getting involved in the Olympics and maybe things go from there. So, I'm behind that 100%. He actually thanked me. He said, and a lot of people have said, a lot of people have written, that without my rhetoric and without my tough stance, and it's not just a stance, I mean, this is what has to be done, if it has to be done, that they wouldn't be talking about Olympics, that they wouldn't be talking right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to follow up on the conversations between North Korea and South Korea, are you willing to engage in phone talks with Kim Jong-un right now?

TRUMP: Sure, I always believe in talking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Well, Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with more. And Paula, we know the representatives in South Korea or North Korea meeting for the first time in two years face to face, President Trump appearing to take credit for it. Does he deserve credit here?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're not going to get any kind of response from the South Korean side. They're really focused more on making sure that these talks on Tuesday actually go somewhere, making sure that North Korea is going to attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea, not just because they don't want any kind of provocation, any missile launch, nuclear test during the Olympics which would sweep the athletes and tourists that are going to be here.

But certainly from the U.S. side, they believe that the pressure that they have put on North Korea has helped to bring North Korea to this point. We don't know what's in Kim Jong-un's mind, in the North Korean leader's mind, it's very difficult to know. But it is a significant change that just in the last week, we've gone from people talking about potential preemptive strikes of war and now we are talking about peace talks. And they will be meeting in just two days. So certainly, Kim Jong-un, when he puts his mind to something, he moves very quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): 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 outpacing 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 further than any others. An achievement that Kim boasted about during his recent New Year's address.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translation): The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons and a nuclear button is always on my desk.

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

TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

HANCOCKS: Kim, himself, joined in the war of words 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 weapons program. And in 2014, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry found 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 ousted dozens since he took power including his own uncle.

And Kim's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was mysteriously murdered in the Kuala Lumpur airport after two women wiped his face with a VX nerve agent. The women have both pleaded not guilty. Both Malaysia and South Korea believed North Korea to be behind the assassination although North Korea denies anything to do with his death.

[05:15:08] It's unknown how the ruthless leader of a rogue nation marks a birthday and whether or not the official talks with South Korea, which begin the day after, will lead to a year of dialogue or more deadlock.

(on camera): But certainly here in South Korea, there are great hopes that can at least lead to a North Korean delegation and athletes at the Olympics. Lynda.

KINKADE: So as you mentioned, Paula, North Korea certainly wants to compete in these Olympics. What -- how can South Korea use this as leverage? What can South Korea get out of these talks?

HANCOCKS: Well, the first thing that they want is, first and foremost, they want North Korea at the Olympics. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called these the peace Olympics. He has consistently said that he wanted the North able to be involved. And of course, if they are involved, then potentially there's less chance of them doing anything throughout the Olympics that could jeopardize the success of these -- the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

But on the other hand, we have heard from President Moon as well saying that he hopes that this will lead further, that will not just going to talk about Olympics, that they're going to broaden it out. They would like to talk about the nuclear issue and also saying that he wants to bring the international community into this as well. He's already spoken to the U.S. President Donald Trump and have the effectively the blessing, if you like, from the U.S. president saying that he hopes that these talks are going to be successful and that he will also be sending his own delegation including members of his own family to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

So the first thing to look at is the Olympics but could the sports the stepping-off point, could it be the start of something that politics just couldn't achieve. Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, could sport bring them together. Paula Hancocks, good to have you with us from Seoul staying across it all. Thank you. HOWELL: And still ahead, from palace to prison, like Saudi Arabia

says that it's arrested 11 more princes. A story ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: Welcome back. In Iran, a senior national police official says the anti-government protests are over and most of the people have been arrested that have been arrested have now been released on bail.

HOWELL: All this according to state media, the wave of anti- government protests have started in Iran just over a week ago, and led to at least 21 deaths. Authorities report only 450 people were detained but the U.S. challenges that figure. It says there were at least a thousand arrests.

[05:20:09] In Saudi Arabia, there's been a new round of royal arrests. Authorities say that 11 princes were detained on Thursday for staging a sit-in at a palace in Riyadh. They were reportedly protesting block state payments for their water and electric bills.

KINKADE: And this comes, of course, after a wave of high-profile arrests back in November. The government says it was part of a corruption crackdown led by the Saudi crown prince. Authorities detained dozens of royals, businessmen and senior officials.

HOWELL: CNN's Gul Tuysuz is following the story live for us in Istanbul, Turkey. Gul, so we -- again, we've seen big rounds of arrest before, the last that happened in November. Tell us about what you've learned regarding this one.

GUL TUYSUZ, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: Well, George, in this particular case, according to Saudi Arabia's attorney general, the 11 princes had gathered outside of a royal palace and they were protesting cuts to subsidies for their electricity and water bills, as well as demanding compensation for the execution of one of their cousins who was convicted of murder in 2016. They gathered outside of this palace and authorities told them that their demands were unlawful and when the princes refused to leave, they were arrested for disrupting public order and security, this all, according to that statement from Saudi Arabia's attorney general.

We don't know the identity of the princes at this time and can't independently verify that the princes were in fact outside of this palace protesting what I just mentioned. So, there's still a lot that we don't know. What we do know at this point is that the context of these arrests is about how -- this interesting time that Saudi Arabia is going through over the last couple of months we've seen that there have been social and financial reforms that Saudi Arabia has been trying to implement.

And in November, as you mentioned earlier, there was a huge crackdown under the umbrella of a corruption sweep that ensnared royals, businessman, as well as senior government officials. And the shakeup in Saudi Arabia is thought to be led by the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. He's viewed as a young and ambitious leader who's trying to change things in the kingdom. But, critics say that the corruption sweep, the alleged corruption sweep that happened in November as well as what we just saw happening this week are in fact a way for the crown prince to try to consolidate his power and to get rid of any challenge to his authority. George.

HOWELL: Gul Tuysuz with the reporting live for us there in Istanbul, Turkey. Thank you so much for the report. We'll stay in touch.

KINKADE: The Italian coast guard says it has recovered the bodies of eights migrants off a Libyan coast, 84 people were rescued when their rather dinghy sank Saturday in the Mediterranean Sea. They were spotted by a patrol plane taking part an in anti-smuggling operation.

HOWELL: In the meantime, Nigerian foreign minister says that Nigeria will send thousands of its citizens home from Libya. Many have been trapped there since trying to get to Europe. They often face dire conditions and abuse including forced labor.

NASA is celebrating the life of one of the most accomplished and well- traveled man in its history, the former chief astronaut, John Young, died on Friday.

KINKADE: He was 87 years old and he has spent 835 hours of his remarkable life in space. Martin Savidge has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) there yesterday.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it came to space life, if anything worried John Young, you've never had known.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, your heart rate was like, hardly went up at all. But Bob's went up to about 130 on ascent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was excited.

ROBERT CRIPPEN, FIRST SHUTTLE PILOT: I was bored to tears.

SAVIDGE: This was one of Young's last interviews. He and fellow astronaut Bob Crippen sat down with CNN. Shortly before the Space Shuttle Program ended, he talked about flying with Crippen on that first shuttled light, Colombia 1981 30 years earlier. Was he worried about flying something that never flew before?

JOHN YOUNG, FIRST SHUTTLE COMMANDER: Well, we had ejection seats where, you know, if we didn't -- things went really south, we could jump out.

SAVIDGE: John was born in California 1930, went to high school in Orlando, graduated at Georgia Tech, entered the Navy and ultimately became a test pilot.

In 1962, he was chosen as part of the first group of astronauts selected after the Mercury Seven. His name may not be a household one, but many inside the space program believe his accomplishments rival those of Shepard, Glenn and Armstrong.

[0:5:25:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His legacy in American space history really is in some ways more significant than Armstrong's. John's career at NASA is over 40 years long. And, I mean, he was so important to the entire human spaceflight program.

SAVIDGE: During that time, the only thing John Young didn't fly was in a Mercury Taxel (ph). In 1965, he and Gus Grissom flew the first two-man flight onboard Gemini 3. He flew again on Gemini 10 and Apollo GEM and then walked on the moon with Charlie Duke on Apollo 16 in 1972. A signature moment, Duke snapped a picture as Young jumped off the ground and saluted the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a pretty outstanding picture here, I tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) a little bit closer. OK, here we go a big one. Off the ground, one more.

SAVIDGE: At one point, they talked with (INAUDIBLE) about a program on the dooring door (ph) called the Space Shuttle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks like a good time for some good news here, the house staff (ph), the space like it gets a 277 to 60, which includes the VOC (ph) of the shuttle.

SAVIDGE: Nine years later, he flew the first shuttle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Young and Bob Crippen are walking out of the breakfast area now.

SAVIDGE: Over the years, it's always bothered Young that the nation didn't press outward faster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'd like to see us get on with a big human space exploration of these places around that are nearby like the moon and then onto Mars, that'd be terrific.

SAVIDGE: Young retired from NASA in 2004, 42 years after (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the astronaut's astronaut.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:21] HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

KINKADE: And I'm Lynda Kinkade, thanks for joining us. These are the headlines this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump pushing back against allegations that he's not mentally fit for office, that unflattering image. Detailed on a new book, Fire and Fury, the President fired back Saturday saying he is "a very stable genius".

HOWELL: President Trump says that he is open to direct talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. However, he says that doesn't mean that United States is softening its position on forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear program. Mr. Trump also praised South Korea for working to open dialogue with the North, two countries set to meet on Tuesday.

KINKADE: Saudi Arabia says its arrest of 11 princes for staging a protest at a palace in Riyadh. The kingdom's attorney general says they were upset about block state payments for their water and electric bills. And they also wanted compensation to the execution of their cousins.

HOWELL: Search and rescue operations are underway after an oil tanker and cargo ship collided off the China Coast. This happened about 300 kilometers, about 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai. All 32 people on the tanker are missing and the vessel is still on fire this hour. Crews have rescued the 21 people on the cargo ship. We continue to follow the story for you.

KINKADE: Yes, incredible pictures there. Well, Michael Wolff's best selling book, "Fire and Fury", presents a very negative image for Trump White House. It portrays the president as ill-suited to lead the country.

HOWELL: To write the book, Wolff says that he spent many hours inside the West Wing of the White House over the past year. He said he interviewed about 200 people and even spoke to the President but Mr. Trump disputes that. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I hear this guy that doesn't -- not know me, doesn't know me at all. By the way, did not interviewed me for three -- he said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House. It didn't exist, OK? It's in his imagination.

And what I was heartened by, because I talk about fake news and the fake news media was I -- really was the fact that so many of the people that I talk about in terms of fake news actually came to the defense of this great administration, and even myself, because they know the author and they know he's a fraud. And when I saw some of the people say, and you look at some of his past books, he did a book on Rupert Murdoch, it was a terrible expose and it was false. So much of it was false. I consider it a work of fiction, and I think it's a disgrace that somebody is able to have something, do something like that. The libel laws are very weak in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The president calls it fake news when he doesn't like it. We follow the ethics of journalism. Now, the president noted, though, the author, Michael Wolff, is no stranger to notoriety. Part of that is due to his unconventional style. KINKADE: Yes, CNN's Randi Kaye has more in the obvious (ph) colorful

and controversial career.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY": This is the most extraordinary story of our time.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once a copy boy for "The New York Times", Michael Wolff is now media's favorite bad boy. At 64, Wolfe is immersed in a world of media and money, power and politics.

MICHELLE COTTLE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: He's been always been very upfront about the fact that that's who he wanted to be. He doesn't have an interest in being kind of a shoe leather reporter. He uses media reporting or in this case political reporting as a way to hang out with the elite that he really is fascinated by.

KAYE: Michelle Cottle, a contributing editor for "The Atlantic" who interviewed Wolff years ago, describes him as part gossip columnist and part psychotherapist whose writing is so distinctive it's more like art.

COTTLE: It is his very peculiar writing style where he'll set the scene so he doesn't say someone said, and then a quote. He will say, this is what they would have said or should have said in these circumstances. So it's a little bit of art that he's sticking in there that makes it not quite a hard quote.

KAYE (on camera): In fact, Wolff has been accused of inaccuracies in his reporting over the years and his style is anything but conventional. Cottle says that Wolff doesn't work the phones like most reporters. He doesn't go on the record and off the record either. In fact, she says he frowns on conventional reporting, instead choosing simply to observe and take in the atmosphere.

(voice-over): Wolff has had a long and polarizing career. In the 1990s, he started an internet company. Since then, he's written for "Vanity Fair", "New York" magazine and "The Guardian". Most recently, he worked as a columnist and media critic for the "Hollywood Reporter" and "USA Today".

[05:35:14] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a Michael Wolff here to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read Michael Wolff, and thank your lucky stars he's not writing about you, USA Today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is off the record.

KAYE: Wolff once wrote a scathing book about billionaire media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, calling him the whore master of the tabloid business. Niceties are not his specialty.

COTTLE: He will go where other reporters generally won't and that earned him quite a reputation.

KAYE: And it's that buzzy, caddy way of reporting and writing that readers gobble up.

COTTLE: He would make really cutting personal observations about the rich and famous and their wives and their children. He once sent his child as a spy to Steve Rattner's house when he was writing about Rattner and people were appalled but he knows that readers love that stuff and controversy is his friend.

KAYE: And that means he's in friendly confines now. Randi Kaye, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Well, still to come, that huge winds of storm that hit the U.S. has airports struggling to get back on track. Just ahead, why international travelers have been especially hard hit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: All right, that winter storm that has just been hitting the U.S. East Coast and many parts of the United States, it's left many airlines scrambling to get back on track. International flights at New York's JFK had been especially hit hard.

[05:40:04] KINKADE: Yes, 5:05 wife and child arrived from Paris Friday night. And he tweeted chaos at JFK, had to wait six hours post landing to be able to exit the plane and now been waiting for baggage for three hours into what it might take another four to come, when he left home in Paris 24 hours ago.

HOWELL: Gosh, I would certainly hope he's on his way well. OK, another passenger sent us this picture after a 10-hour flight and five-hour stuck on the tarmac, he tweeted this, he -- "Hey, it's us on Natal (ph) Brazil 8550, can we come in? You put us on a four-hour tarmac time out, it's cold here". Wow.

KINKADE: You don't want to be stuck in the tarmac in that either (ph).

HOWELL: Terrible, it's terrible.

KINKADE: Well, the spokesman says domestic flights of JFK are nearly back to normal.

HOWELL: CNN's Dan Lieberman has more on the delays.

DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: We're standing outside JFK Airport New York where there's been a lot of delays, especially for international flights coming in to the U.S. More than 3,000 flights have been delayed and more than 400 cancellations on Saturday, all in the aftermath of this brutal storm that's hit the Eastern Seaboard and a lot of this is coming from international flights that have gotten backed up coming in the JFK specifically here in New York. The port authority has been trying to assist passengers and

communicating with airlines trying to get flights finally in. There's been a lot of passengers who've been going on social media complaining they've been stuck on airplanes, on the tarmac for hours, unable to get off, all this is due to a backlog of international flights that have come in.

We spoke with one passenger who is finally able to get off an airplane here in New York. Here's what he had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to the Bahamas from London and yes, we're supposed to be here for an hour and 50 minutes. And yes, we're stuck in the runway for three hours and then getting our bags for about two hours and now I don't think the flight will be until probably tomorrow now, we're queuing up with the Delta desk.

LIEBERMAN: And what's the airline is telling you here, what's the -- how has the airline responding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're (INAUDIBLE) that they're doing everything they can, really, it's -- the airport is chaos.

LIEBERMAN: Now, that passenger was one of the lucky ones who at least make it into New York but a lot of people are still not being able to land. A lot of people are not making it into the U.S. yet. Now, the airlines and the airport here say that they recommend that passengers check in with them, check in with the airline before heading to the airport to make sure their flights are still on time.

HOWELL: All right, Dan, thank you so much. Now, amid these frigid temperatures, you just got to feel for the firefighters in Boston, Massachusetts, they're fighting this big massive fire and this cold weather is creating additional challenges. Our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, here to tell us more about it. Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: As if battling a five-alarm fire wasn't enough, they have to add in temperatures at negative two degrees Fahrenheit, negative 19 Celsius. And literally the water that they're using to combat the blaze of this large multifamily home is freezing on all the surfaces that it touches, it's almost instantaneously.

You guys will be happy to know, there are 14 residents that called this home and they're all accounted for and they are safe, but these pictures are really just quite astounding to see, the brave firefighters here with the icicles just starting to form even on their helmets and all of the power lines behind them, incredible, incredible to see.

That just gives you an indication of how cold it is across the East Coast, this has been our big story for the past several days. We still have wind chill warnings and advisories from the Ohio River Valley all the way through New England this morning, the potential to set 37 record low temperatures including New York, Boston and nation's capital as well. We get to say good bye, though, to this arctic chill and replace it

with some mild weather as we head into the first half of this workweek, looking good into New York City. You're actually going to see that mercury (ph) and thermometer climb above the freezing mark for a change.

Now, flipping to the West Coast, we have a different set of circumstances to talk about, a constant plume of moisture is going to put Southern California in the firing range for the potential of landslides and mudslides. Remember we had the Thomas and Creek fires, the largest fires ever recorded in California history in late December of last year.

Well, now those burn scars have created very susceptible landslide conditions and when you factor in rainfall totals in excess of three to five inches, that is a recipe for disaster so that will be a big story for us going forward over the next two to three days.

Taking you to South Australia, where temperatures have skyrocketed into the upper 40, so that's over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. A western suburb of Sydney, Penrith actually scorched to 47.3, that's the warmest temperature since 1939.

[05:45:09] Take a look at how Australians are dealing with the heat across this area. They have, well, taking whatever they can, headed out into the water to chill out, I would say.

KINKADE: I would not be running in those conditions. And --

VAN DAM: No, he's a brave man.

KINKADE: -- (INAUDIBLE) cool, and the beach does look good.

VAN DAM: There is a cold front that came through and it's also alleviated the fire truck which is good news.

KINKADE: That is good, yes, my family in Sydney finding it a bit too hot.

VAN DAM: Yes, they want to see the cold weather from Atlanta there?

KINKADE: Not this cold.

HOWELL: This is a little much. I don't think they want that.

KINKADE: That is great, (INAUDIBLE).

HOWELL: Derek, thank you.

KINKADE: Well, coming up, typically a night of glitz and glamour but this year, there have been sex scandals, but it's overshadowed one of Hollywood's biggest night. Looking ahead to Sunday's Golden Globes.

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KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, awards seize in (ph) and kicks off Sunday with stars walking the red carpet and champagne will be flowing the 75th annual Golden Globes.

HOWELL: It will be a fun time, but the glitz and glamour, it may take a backseat this year, as Hollywood grips with a straight of sexual harassment scandals. Stephanie Elam has a preview.

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[05:50:04] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's that time of the year, award season in Hollywood.

(CROSSTALK)

ELAM: 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", "Dunkirk", "The Post" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how long has this been going on? This thing.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sink into the floor.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want more.

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 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: And I'm very excited because everyone is going to be there. What's that? Oh, he's not going to be there. Well, that's good, everyone's in there.

ELAM: Seth Meyers, who's hosting the show, is known for his politically charged comedy. His promo posters were styled (ph), "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'll be difficult to avoid having some

national and presidential politics creep into what Seth Meyers have to say for the stage.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Well, a full moon on the Hollywood's big night, film critic Richard Fitzwilliams joins me now from London. Good to have you with us, Richard. The red carpet, of course, always a sea of colors, reds, and blues and silvers and golds.

This year, women will be wearing black. A stance against sexual harassment, instead of standing up on the red carpet, they're going to be standing up united in a movement.

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, FILM CRITIC: Absolutely, and I think that this is a tremendously positive development. Times Up is the name of the movement, it's just started following on the hashtag, me too, and it'll be a question of the fashions, the speeches and also the pin (ph) of this particular movement.

Becoming a world wide part of pressure, no question, the intention is not only in Hollywood, but elsewhere. Those who are predators, who are responsible for harassment, watch out. And it's very important that art shows that it has a purpose, if it's to mirror life, it should attack the particularly repulsive part of Hollywood's complicity in what we've seen since Ashley Judd's courageous revelations against that monstrous Minotaur, Harvey Weinstein, in the "New York Times" in October.

KINKADE: Absolutely. No doubt we will see a lot of politically charged speeches.

Looking at the actual award, it seems to be a very wide open award season, the most in recent history, really. It doesn't seem to be a clear frontrunner when it comes to a best feature -- best picture, but "The Post", starring Meryl Streep, seems to be drawing a lot of attention, but there are some pretty tough contenders.

FITZWILLIAMS: Yes, indeed, it's terrifically exciting because they were expecting Christopher Nolan for "Dunkirk" about the evacuation of British ships in 1914 from occupied -- from France. The fact of the matter are that "The Shape of Water", which is a dark fantasy movie about the relationship between a mute, played by Sally Hawkins and the sea monster, that with seven nominations is in with the chance.

My own feeling is that "The Post" may vary will win because it's got such relevance today and it also got Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, but Nolan may well win for best director for "Dunkirk", but also Martin McDonagh for " Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", which is a really powerful film and, of course, the absolutely marvelous "Call Me by Your Name", a gay romance, it's a superb movie. So you really got five top class movies in the drama category and "Lady Bird" probably likely to beat "I, Tonya", "The Greatest Showman" and others in the musical/comedy category.

[05:55:08] KINKADE: And Richard, we heard that President Trump got together with his cabinet and watched Hugh Jackman in "The Greatest Showman" at Camp David on Friday night.

We've heard from Hugh Jackman, he says he doesn't think he's going to win best actor in musical or comedy. He is putting his money on James Franco.

FITZWILLIAMS: I think he's right because "The Disaster Artist" is about the room (ph) which is the most bizarre movie that's ever appeared that's set in Hollywood, it's become somewhat of a call time (ph) and this is a very funny movie, it's done well. And I think Franco will win for best actor in the musical comedy, but I think it'll be "Lady Bird", which is Greta Gerwig, I'm a great admirer of hers.

She is a directorial debut and Saoirse Ronan, the Irish American actress, for her role in this coming-of-age comedy. And also important in the year where Hollywood is addressing the allegations, or I hope it will be, overwhelmingly to see things what we expect of harassment and abuse.

The way Ridley Scott quickly reshot Kevin Spacey's part in "Call Me by" -- in "All The Money in the World". I mean, this -- giving Christopher Plummer the chance to pay John Paul Getty, the billionaire. I think that will get him best supporting actor.

KINKADE: We will wait and see. Richard Fitzwilliams, we'll have to leave it there, that a lot to watch out for tonight. Thank you so much.

FITZWILLIAMS: Thank you.

KINKADE: And thanks for watching and joining us to this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts after the break. Thanks for watching CNN, the world's news leader.

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