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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  December 21, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST

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this is "cnn tonight."
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i'm don lemon. there's a lot to get to tonight. we'll catch you up in the hour ahead. noepgs, mitch mcconnell locked in a standoff over the president's impeachment trial. the speaker says the house won't vote on impeachment managers or send over the articles of impeachment until she knows more about the senate trial. but president trump wants a trial soon. so does that mean mcconnell will have to negotiate? and the president on a twitter tear today. after a scathing op-ed by the leading evangelical magazine called him grossly immoral, christianity today calling for his removal from office. what does it mean for the president's relationship with evangelical voters? and where did he come up with the debunked conspiracy theory that ukraine attacked the 2016 election? according to a former senior white house official quoted in the "washington post," putin himself told him so. we'll go to moscow for a report. also a really disturbing story.
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iowa woman facing attempted murder charge after allegedly intentionally hitting a 14 year-old girl with her car because she was mexican. will she be charged with a hate crime in two massive cruise ships collide today while as port in mexico. it was all caught on video. the cruise line says six people had what they're calling minor injuries. i'll talk to passengers from one of the ships. first, i want to get to the president's feud with christianity today. it started with the magazine founded by billy graham calling for his removal from office. the editor in chief writing, it's time to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross imorality and ethical
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incompetence. >> you take a step beyond the politics here and say his actions are immoral. >> yeah. i don't think that's particularly unusual or surprising insight. people have been saying that for some time. the question is when does his behavior which is described as immoral rise to the level where he's no longer fit to serve office. and to me we crossed that line with the impeachment hearings. >> the president lashed out on twitter calling it far left magazine which it is not. he claimed they know no nothing about reading a perfect transcript of routine phone call and would rather have a radical left non-believer who wants to take your religion and guns. than donald trump as your president. no president has done more for the evangelical community and it's not even close. a few hours later he tweeted
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adding i guess the magazine christianity today is looking for elizabeth warren, sanders or those of the socialist communist bent to guard their religion. how about sleepy joe? the fact is no president has ever done what i have done for evangelicals or religion itself. let's discuss now. it's so tedious. i'm sorry. it's exhausting. good evening, everyone. everybody okay? max, the president is clearly freaked out by the piece. that piece really hit a nerve. don't you think? >> well, obviously. i think the reason that it did is that white evangelicals are the core of his support. he has about 75% support among white evangelical compared to 42% in the country at large.
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if he's going to get elected he has to keep the support. he's freaking out they maybe waivering. which i suspect is probably premature. this a magazine with a circulation of 90,000. what is highlights is that white evangelicals are not there are differences of opinion. not all made this bargain of saying that because he gives us judges that we like we're willing to over look the atrocious behavior. that is troubling a will the of christians out there. you saw that sentiment expressed in that christianity today piece. typically trump doesn't understand what they're talking about. he doesn't understand concept of morality. i give you all this stuff. back me. it doesn't occur to them they might be troubled by the way he conducts himself in office. >> i do agree. i think that this is something we all knew all along. donald trump came to office with this record. he was cheating on his wife lying about obama.
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bragging about grabs women by private parts. defrauding his university. at the same time engaged in stealing from his charity. he's been doing so many things all along before he even became president that gave us all the evidence we need, by the time he took office he didn't stop doing any of those things. so the only thing i have to say is why did it take so long before somebody in the evangelical community with this finally spoke up and said what we all knew. >> evangelical leaders like franklin graham, ralph reed, are all now slamming the magazine and defending trump. why are they so loyal? >> i think trump made a transactional arrangement with evangelical voters. and he began that contract by selecting pence as vice president.
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loyalty is not something very christian. it's not something that will last. if the senate flips i think that trump will do a deal with schumer on judges and sell out the evangelical community like he sold out everybody he's done business with. that's why i left the transition team after the hollywood access tape. we know what he's been doing for a long time. i think the key is 10% to 15% of republicans think it was proper to impeach him. that's a lot of people. i think it could be a real change. i worked on the campaigns with romney and i never voted democrat for president. i voted for joe biden. i think he's a nice guy. i disagree with him on all kinds of policy issues, but i'd vote for him over this guy because the list is long. we don't have time to go through all these. >> this is what franklin graham wrote on facebook. yes, my father founded
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christianity today but he would not agree with the opinion piece. he believed donald j. trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation. for christianity today to side with the democratic -- the democrat party in a totally partisan attack on the president of the united states is unfathomable. do you think this has anything to do with politics? >> yeah, it has everything to do with politics, and he's become more politician than pastor. i think you just have to call it like it is. >> alice, donald trump has been married three times and allegedly had multiple marital affairs. but according to a new poll 75% of white evangelicals support him. when it comes to trump is there anything that evangelicals won't
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overlook? >> look, the relationship between donald trump and social evangelicals is strong. this is not a transactional relationship. this is one based on them taking a leap of faith for this president, and he has followed through. he promised them he would appoint scalia-like justices. he delivered. he promised he would support religious liberties, he has delivered. and his faith and opportunity initiative he has currently in place at the white house is a great sounding board between social conservatives and this president. look, billy graham may have been the driving force for christianity today, but that outlet is now driving under the influence of left initiatives, and there is no disputing that. you look on their website, the stories they write, they do have a left leaning slant. let me say this i don't see a problem with that. republicans don't corner the market on christianity. there are christians that lean-to the left, those that lean-to the right. this happens to be an outlet
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that does lean-to the left. and that is perfectly fine. you can be a christian and have conservative views and be a christian and have left leaning views. to say this is crack with evangelicals and president trump is completely inaccurate. social evangelicals of this country still stand behind trump. >> there was poll done recently that showed white evangelicals were willing to support and acknowledge a leader's faults when donald trump was president in 2016 when he became president, but in 2011 when they did the same poll and asked white evan squelicals about barack obama, they said they weren't willing to acknowledge and accept that person if they had moral failings. so there's total hypocrisy on the white evangelical ring of the republican party. they've joined in this marriage with the republican party thinking the republican party -- we've been told this a party of
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family values, and here they are supporting this guy equating nazis and klansman with good people. >> his support among white evangelicals is overwhelming, but it is not the case when it comes to black christians. why do you think there's such a huge divide here? >> because black evangelicals understand racism. i mean, look, white evangelicals and white christians use the bible to justify slavery. they use the bible to justify segregation. they use the bible to justify oppression against african-americans. even today those of us who are african-american know this -- >> the situational ethics, it's situational beliefs. >> well, for black people, i think for the people who i know who are christians, christianity has always been more about redemption and more about salvation and less about judgment. i think what you get from the right is a bunch of judgment.
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we don't like you because you're muslim. we don't like you because you're mexican. we don't like you because you're immigrant. we are going to think differently of you. it's become a faith at least in the hands of white evangelicals has enshrined white supremacy above all else. i think that's terrible for the faith, it's terrible for white evangelicals, it's terrible for the republican party. if they want to have any sort of morality, any sort of moral grounding they have to get back what to what they said they believed in from the beginning. >> it's something alice said, don, where she was talking about how you could be liberal or conservative and still be a good christian, and i'm sure that's the case. but donald trump clearly does not believe that because he's saying you have to support me, donald trump, otherwise you're going to have the radical left nonbelievers which is ridiculous, but he's managed to scare the evangelical community into this ridiculous notion all the democrats are going to take aware their religion, which is not true because these democrats
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are religious themselves. >> i think the difference is he's fought for religious liberties where that hasn't been the case in the past, so that's why they continue to stand behind him. >> isn't that making the point keith just made, as long as you're fighting for what i believe, and thought what the bible actually teaches and what religion is all about then it's okay. it's again situational ethics. >> it's only religious liberty for christians. >> this is why biden is such a threat because he is a person of faith. and i think more than -- i haven't heard other candidates talk about it as much. pete buttigieg has as well. they're both i think big threats to him in the jgeneral. we have an absolutely shocking story. police say an iowa woman told them she ran over a 14-year-old girl because she, quote, was a mexican. the disturbing details next.
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a truly disturbing story
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tonight. an iowa woman is facing charges of attempted murder after allegedly intentionally hitting a 14-year-old girl with her car telling police it was because the girl was mexican. nicole marie pool franklin actually telling investigators that. joining me now is omar hemen ezand maria cordona. omar, what happened? fill us in on the details. >> this happened just outside des moines, iowa. and it's what we learned from police this 42-year-old woman intentionally hit this 14-year-old girl as she was walking to her middle school and fed the scene. luckily that 14-year-old girl survived, but it was later on when she was arrested and police had a chance to sit down and interview her about what happened that police say she admitted she hit this girl
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because she was mexican. the circumstances surrounding that specific arrest, it happened at a convenience store about an hour after the incident took place, and it was there that our affiliate kcci reports the woman was hurling racial slurs at convenience store employees there just before the arrest actually happened. again, just a little bit about an hour later. and in regards to the specific hit-and-run incident police say authorities are still exploring the possibility of a hate crime. >> do we know how the 14-year-old girl is doing, omar? >> yeah, luckily, this 14-year-old girl is doing okay. and one thing to keep in mind with this as well while we're just learning about the new motivation police say came from the suspect the actual incident happened back in december 9th but still very fresh on the mind of the girl and her family. this is how she described what happened in those moments again back on december 9th. >> i remember waking up in the snow and screaming and i'm crying, how did this happen, why
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am i on the snow. >> and obviously you can see how battered she is there just with the tremendous physical impact we can imagine the car coming through. and it was just about a week later that we understand she is okay enough to go to school, and i'm sure all of her classmates were glad to see her, don. >> maria, i know you were in disbelief over this really appalling story, the idea this was intentional. what were you thinking? >> it made me sick to my stomach, don. and it made me think about all of the young latinos in this country and young girls and boys of color who have lived in fear, and yes i'm going to say it, ever since donald trump became president. and frankly in iowa we also know this is nothing new given the racism and the hatred and the white nationalism that is spewed every day by steve king. and look, yes, donald trump nor steve king, they did not drive
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that car into this young mexican girl, but they did inject a viral hatred and divisiveness hat has mobilized people out there to believe they can wear that kind of hatred and that kind of xenophobia not just on their sleeve but show it in their actions, and this is what we have seen time and again, don. words matter. this was not a coincidence. the same way that the latino massacre in el paso earlier this year where you had another white nationalist drive 6 hours to kill mexicans was not an accident. the same way that charlottesville was not an accident. donald trump did not invent racism and xenophobia, right? we know that. but he has injected that kind of hatred and violence into the blood stream of america where now those white nationalists and those xenophobes and those racists feel like they don't
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even have to be ashamed of what they see. hell, before even the ku klux klan used to wear white sheets on their head. in charlottesville they were in plain sight. it's almost people like donald trump and steve king have given a kind of pride to that kind of white nationalism and hatred and xenophobia, and it makes me sick as a latina myself, as an immigrant and the mother of two young latina children. i am actually afraid for them when we go out to rural places in the country, don, and you know my children. you've interviewed them. you know that i speak spanish to them in public. it is the first time in my life ever since this president became president that i now think twice because i think to myself am i making my children less safe because i am speaking to them in spanish in a public place in the united states of america? >> maria, thank you. omar, thank you very much. we appreciate you both joining us. we have an update tonight on
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a story we first you brought you earlier this week. remember those cadets in midshipments seen on camera making a hand gesture some people see as a white nationalist symbol? well, the naval academy in west point have investigated and now say it was all part of what's called a circle game. now, the way it works is a person makes an okay gesture with their hand below their waist to trick a second person into looking at. if the second person looks, they get punched by the person who made the gesture, which seems pretty silly at best. and the military apparently agrees. both academies issuing statements saying they were disappointed by the immature behavior. president trump wants an impeachment trial in the senate, but is he going to get that trial anytime soon? i'm going to talk about that and the state of the race with presidential candidate and senator michael bennett.
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it's pelosi versus mcconnell in the battle over president trump's impeachment trial. they say they're at an impasse over logistics but that isn't stopping the preparations. sources telling cnn democrats and the white house are actively working to get ready for it trial that could start in early january. joining me now senator michael bennett of colorado. he is also a democratic presidential candidate. good evening, senator. good to have you on. thank you so much. >> good evening, don. >> speaker pelosi, leader mcconnell are going head to head feuding over the terms of the senate trial. take a listen of them attacking one another and then we'll talk.
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>> speaker pelosi suggested house democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the senate. >> our founders when they wrote the constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president. i don't think they suspected we would have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the senate at the same time. >> so you're in the senate, sir. are you ready to see these articles of impeachment come your way? >> yeah, i think we should finish the job or at least have a fair trial in the senate. we need to be able to have witnesses and give evidence in front of the american people so they can make a judgment about what happened here. and my hope is that we'll work this out. these are two of the most strategic people in washington. >> so it matters to you not that it's fair -- you heard them saying their minds are made up, they're saying it's done. so nancy pelosi says she wants a
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fair trial, she wants to know what's going to happen before she sends the articles over. that doesn't matter to you? >> no. i think it's pathetic. that's what i mean. i think we've got to have a fair trial, and she's trying to do what she can to try to get that fair trial. no, that matters a lot to me. mcconnell has said he's going to take his direction from the white house counsel and from the president's personal lawyers. that is not how this is supposed to work. the way this is supposed to work is we're supposed to be providing oversight just as the house provided oversight. and we shouldn't be jumping to conclusions. >> well, the president has said that he wants a trial. he wants -- he thinks he's going to be exonerated, right? so how does that impact these negotiations? he says let's do it. >> well, it's very unlikely he's going to be convicted. you need two thirds to do it and there's a republican majority, and mcconnell has already said he thinks the president is going to be acquitted, and i think
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anybody betting against him would be making a bad mistake. i view this is an opportunity for us to try to re-establish what standard we want out of the president of the united states. you know, do we want somebody who's shaking down a foreign leader for his own political purposes? and, you know, neal katyal mentioned earlier the day that donald trump fired comey and then told the russians while he was in the white house that he was glad he got that off his back, you know, he's not being impeached for that offense. but i guarantee you to neal's point that if barack obama had done something like that, he would have been impeached for that. so what i is that we are reasserting the standard even if he's not convicted of what we want out of a president. and that's, you know, why i think it's worth trying to get to a place where there is a fair trial, where we do have witnesses, where we do have
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documents coming over from the white house. >> you weren't on the debate stage. that hurts, right? >> that does hurt, yeah. >> listen, you're going to be a juror for the impeachment. and so that means you won't be out on the campaign trail. how does that impact your campaign? that's going to hurt, too, won't it? >> well, i can't worry about that. i've got a job to do and the other senators have a job to do, and we have to be in washington doing that job, that's where we should be. i'm in new hampshire tonight, don. i've been in new hampshire more than any other candidate for president this cycle. and in addition to that i've committed to doing 50 additional town halls in new hampshire. so i am putting one foot in front of the other, in front of the other in front of the other trying to build momentum up here. and if i to be in washington to do the trial i'll be glad i'm investing the time, and i'll continue to do this until that
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happens. >> the dnc polling thresholds has kept you from participating in several debates including last night's. do you think that the dynamic of the race changed much after last night's debate? >> i don't think the dynamic of the race changed after last night's debate just like i don't think it's changed after any of these debates. you know, the debates have not really helped democrats. and in new hampshire and in iowa this race is less consolidated today than it was six weeks ago or six months ago or a year ago because people are trying to figure out who the best person is to pay back trump. i obviously think i am because i've won two elections in a swing state and i've wrote the public option, and the senate wrote the immigration bill in 2013 that got 68 votes, and i'm making my case in these states. and i can tell you these people have no idea who they're going to support yet. so it just makes no sense to me that the dnc would winnow the
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field. i'm not complaining about it, but i think they should have waited until voters started to decide. i mean, john kerry, i think when he was running in '04 was at 3% today and he went onto win the new hampshire primary. it's more unusual that a leading candidate wins than someone comes out of the blue. >> michael bennett, thank you for your time. >> thank you for your time, don. if you want to help go to thanks. >> merry christmas to you. >> merry christmas to you. thank you. are the president's talking points coming straight from vladimir putin? that's what some former trump administration officials are telling "the washington post." what's putin saying about it? we'll go to moskow for a report next. breathe freely fast, with vicks sinex. my congestion's gone. i can breathe again! ahhhh! i can breathe again! ughh!
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the president in a fighting mood after becoming only the third president in our history to be impeached but you know who is on his side. russian president vladimir putin. cnn's fred pleitgen went to moskow to get the story. fred? >> hi there, don. the kremlin has been watching very closely all week as the chips seem to be falling very much in putin's favor. on the one hand you had the president's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani, continuing to try to dig up dirt on the bidens and trashing the state department. then of course you also had the impeachment of president trump. it's no surprise, don, that vladimir putin is very much in the corner of the u.s. president. here's what we're learning. >> article i is adopted. >> reporter: after his impeachment by the house,
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president trump lashing out. >> well, i don't feel like i'm being impeached because it's a hoax, it's a setup. >> reporter: vladimir putin seems to feel the same way. speaking at his annual marathon press conference which features not only journalists but also people from all over russia often praising their leader while asking questions. putin blasted impeachment claiming democrats made it all up. >> translator: it still has to go through the senate where as far as i know the republicans hold the majority, so it's unlikely they will want to remove the representative of their party for some made up reasons. >> reporter: and those aren't the only trump and republican talking points putin was parroting. the similarities and the rhetoric often striking. >> when they didn't win at the ballot box they pursued a russian collusion narrative and special counsel robert mueller had to waste time and taxpayer dollars to prove false. when the russian collusion
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deception didn't work, madam speaker, democrats sought a new path forward to impeach president trump. >> translator: one party that lost the elections, the democratic party, is now trying to achieve its goal with new ways as it accused trump of collusion with russia. but then it turned out there was no collusion, and it can't be the basis for impeachment. so now they came up with some pressure on ukraine. >> reporter: russia also taking a favorable view of president trump's personal attorney, rudy giuliani's continued efforts to dig up dirt on the bidens in ukraine. while democrats and even some republicans were shocked when giuliani recently went on a so-called fact finding mission often appearing on the right wing pro-trump network. on kremlin controlled tv a very different tone. the host and analysts often praising giuliani and cheering him on. >> translator: i think giuliani's trip is going to be a success. based on the fact that even against the impeachment backdrop
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trump's electoral ratings grow little by little, which is weird. we can conclude after this trip and scandalous interviews it will also favor trump. >> reporter: russia continues to back an insurgency destabilizing ukraine. and while ukraine grappled with moskow's pressure unsure of the trump administration's support, washington is divided over impeachment, vladimir putin is sitting back and watching it all play out so far in his favor. and you know, don, all this comes as "the washington post" reports its spoken to several former trump administration officials who feared that vladimir putin could be fueling president trump's view of ukraine. of course one of the things president trump has been promoting is that debunked theory it was ukraine and not russia that meddled in the 2016 election, despite the fact that the intelligence agencies unanimously say that it was russia, and there are former administration officials
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according to "the washington post" who believed that vladimir putin in meetings with president trump may have been fueling that theory and promoting that with the u.s. president. the kremlin itself has not commented on that, but certainly any sort of deflection or blame from the kremlin would certainly be in moskow's favor. don? >> fred pleitgen, thank you. at least six people injured after two cruise ships collided while at port today. i'll speak to passengers from one of those ships next.
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two massive cruise ships collided today while at port in mexico. and the moment was caught on camera. you can see the damage to the deck that hit during a docking maneuver. the cruise line says six people were injured but calls those injuries minor. my next guest was onboard during the incident. good evening to both of you. mckenna, you shot this video that we are watching right now. what were you thinking when you saw the ship was coming so close? >> i just was in shock. i was just like, wait, what is coming towards us? there's no way that this boat is going to fit because there was a royal caribbean ship on the other side of us. and i was like i don't know if it's trying to come in between us or what, but there was no way it was going to fit. and once i saw the boat coming
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it was only -- there was only about half of the boat, and i was like oh, no this ship is way too big. and when it collided i was just like oh, my gosh, it just hit us. the ship just hit our ship and i was just in shock really that actually happened. >> well, you were shocked. i mean, were you frightened at all? >> i mean it was a little scary because you hear about the titanic and me being a little jumpy over our first cruise, so, yeah, i mean for our family this was our christmas cruise. and, you know, so i had been on seven cruises, but for the rest of them they were first time cruisers. so we have had quite a windy and stormy, you know, ride the past five days. and they would ask is this normal, are the waves normal and
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i was like yeah, yeah, this is normal. but i didn't think we'd have to explain a big hit from another boat in port was normal. >> you said you spoke with passengers on the carnival glory, the ship that hit yours and they were shaking and screaming. what did they say? >> yeah, a lot of the screaming was coming from actually the carnival -- i'm sorry the royal caribbean cruise that was to the right of us as you can see in the video. i think they tried to kind of steer out of the way of us, the glory did and went right towards the royal caribbean. and that was the screams of them thinking that their ship was about to get hit which luckily they narrowly missed it. when we talked to the carnival glory passengers we actually talked to people who were in the dining room which was hit. the ballast of our ship went straight through the dining room and they said it was mass chaos and even some of the wurorkers
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the dining room were running over people trying to get out because no one had seen anything like this happen before. >> you saw the back end of the ship that was crushed. were you worried more people may have been injured? >> yeah. yeah, i think after like the initial shock of it all happened i just thought about oh, my gosh, i really hope that people are okay because i mean it was just straight windows. i didn't know at the time it was the dining room so i'm like it's windows that's probably where people are going to be. and i didn't know exactly where it hit on our boat at the time of seeing it happen. so i just thought i really hope people are okay from our side and on that side that no one got seriously hurt because that would just be terrifying. >> maddie, after this happened all the passengers were advised
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to enjoy the day. were you actually able to do that? >> yeah. once we got off and there was the initial shock of the ambulance coming through, and they pulled the boat right next to us, so we were able to see up close all the metal and glass still coming off the ship. once we kind of got past that we like i said it's our family vacation, so we went and had fun. we have a little 1 1/2-year-old niece sophy who came with us and we wanted to make sure she still enjoyed her day, so we took her out. in our family when we have tough or hard things we always like to do it with humor, so when we get home we said we're going to make t-shirts that said we survived the shipwreck of 2019. >> well, at the end of 2019. >> yeah. >> one of you said you've been on a lot of cruises, and i'm not sure if both of you have been, but would you do it again after this? >> yeah, this is my seventh cruise and i actually have my
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honeymoon booked in march to go on another cruise. so whether or not i want to, which i still will, i am booked and ready for another cruise. >> all right, well good luck to both of you. and happy cruising and happy holidays. happy new year to you. be safe. >> thank you. >> and thank you for watching. our coverage continues.
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the u.s. president flies south for the holidays as congressional leaders in washington work on their impeachment strategy. also ahead, it is wunl of the busiest travel plans of the year and a whistle-blowerer is warning about airport security. also, warnings are in place across australia as a blistering heat wave intensifies the bush fires. they're having so many fires. iva cabrera


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