Iran begins operations at new nuclear reactor

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 24, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Charles Payne, guest host: The holiday rush is on. Americans are taking off as folks also rush to the store for those last-minute gifts. Welcome, everyone. I'm Charles Payne in for Neil Cavuto. And this is "Your World," and we are all over it, with Rick Leventhal, New York City, on the millions who will be driving; David Lee Miller, La Guardia Airport, on how flyers are faring; and Matt Finn in Chicago where folks are still shopping. We begin with you, Rick.

Rick Leventhal: Charles, 104 million Americans traveling by car this holiday season, the most ever on record according to AAA. Fortunately, they're not all on the road right now as we look at the West Side Highway, which is actually moving. The West Side Highway moving, ladies and gentlemen, on a Tuesday afternoon at the beginning of rush hour. And take a look at the George Washington Bridge where, if you're heading out of the city, it's -- it looks pretty good. But coming in, maybe not so much. We have some traffic cameras from across the nation to share as well. In Chicago, traffic flowing on the Dan Ryan Expressway. In Los Angeles, moving pretty well outside LAX. And down in Orlando on I-95, Malussa County, wide open, folks. AAA says today, tomorrow, and Saturday are actually the best days to get behind the wheel. But you might want to keep your rubber off the road Thursday and Sunday. Those are expected to be jam-packed with folks headed home. And if you can fill your tank in Missouri, you'll save some cash. Missouri offers the left expensive gas in the nation at roughly 2.20 a gallon. Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana round out the top five cheapest fuel states. The priciest, perhaps no surprise, Hawaii and California taking the top spots, an average 3.65 and 3.58 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Also, Hawaii and California are among the most popular destinations. Almost every city in the top ten 10 is a warm-weather spot, including Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Phoenix. But you also have New York City and Las Vegas there as popular holiday distinctions. According to AAA, if you are driving, just make sure your car is tip-top before you hit the road. You might also want to pack some snacks and check the weather forecast, Charles, before you put that pedal to the metal.

Charles Payne: Rick, just keep the West Side Highway like that for me for another hour and a half, my friend, just another hour and a half I'll be there.

Rick Leventhal: I'll tell them you're coming.

Charles Payne: Okay.

Rick Leventhal: I'll tell them you're coming.

Charles Payne: Thank you very much.

Rick Leventhal: Sure.

Charles Payne: And millions of travelers are taking to the skies for the holidays, and David Lee Miller is at La Guardia airport on how the fliers are holding up. David.

David Lee Miller: Fliers? What fliers? Take a look around, Charles. You can see things here at La Guardia Airport as they are at most airports around the country are very quiet. This is the ticketing counter of American Airlines in Terminal V here. It is estimated that today 2.25 million people are going to fly, but the experts say that today is the least busy day of the entire holiday season. And if La Guardia is any indication, most folks are already at their distinction. Some, however, did have a rough start to the day. Morning fog in Chicago halted all incoming flights at O'Hare and Midway Airports. Ground operations have now returned to normal. But in Chicago, there have been, today, a total of 162 cancellations between O'Hare and Midway Airports. And as we know, those are hubs, and what happens there can ripple through the entire system. Today, there have been a total of 2,063 delays in the U.S. and 262 flight cancellations. And we do expect that, as quiet as things are now, things are going to change later in the week. Thursday and Friday are going to be the busiest travel days of the season, according to the experts. 2.9 million people traveling each day. The TSA says it is ready.


Female Speaker: Well, we're fully staffed at all the airports nationwide. We're even using some extra funds for overtime to get the officers -- to encourage them to take extra shifts to have even more people available to make sure people get through the checkpoint.


David Lee Miller: And in total, they say 47.5 million people are going to be flying on a U.S. carrier this holiday season. That's up about 3 percent from last year. But as I said at the outset, here at La Guardia, and at most airports, hardly a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. Charles Payne.

Charles Payne: David, thank you very much. And if you're not traveling, then there's a good chance you're shopping. Matt Finn is in the thick of it at Chicago's magnificent mile. Matt.

Matt Finn: Charles, we have been talking to Christmas Eve shoppers all day here on Chicago's famed Michigan Avenue. Some families tell us it's a tradition to head out the door on Christmas Eve. Other people tell us they are looking for a good bargain. But the majority of people we talked to so far say they haven't found any extraordinary Christmas Eve deals.


Male Speaker: I'm finding some deals, yeah. There have been some that just -- it just is what it is. You know, you've got to get what you -- what they asked to get.

Male Speaker: I mean, we should have lots of deals today, don't you think? I mean, it's the day before.

Male Speaker: Honestly, I'm not really looking for deals, I'm just looking for that perfect present for the morning so that when they wake up they feel like, hey, this is the best Christmas ever.

Female Speaker: No, this is really fun because we live now in Istanbul. This is more fun because we can find a lot of things and then a lot of sales. It's a very good bargain.


Matt Finn: If you do anticipate heading out today, here are some national chains it a tell Fox News they are open today: Target, Macy's, Walmart, Lowe's, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven. And if you need some coffee along the way, Starbucks and Duncan Donuts. Now, the National Retail Federation expects this shopping season to be very strong thanks to consumer confidence and a strong economy. The Black Friday weekend kicked off with very healthy numbers, 190 million shoppers spending about 4 percent more than last year. And the National Retail Federation expects shoppers to spend an average about $1,048 on holiday gifts this year. And, Charles, a lot of people that we have been talking today are parents who say they snuck out the door to grab some toys before tomorrow morning. Charles.

Charles Payne: A parental tradition in this country. Matt, thank you very much. You know, call it super Saturday. There's a report out today that shoppers spent a record $34.4 billion the Saturday before Christmas. Now, that tops the 31.2 billion that was spent on Black Friday. Industry watchers say solid job growth and fatter wallets have folks in a buying mood. I want to go to former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi on, if all of this holiday shopping cheer can continue into 2020. Ed, do we have that kind of momentum?

Ed Rensi: I think so. My experience being in and around the restaurant industry, people are very optimistic right now in spite of all the gloom and doom that the Democrat candidates are throwing at us. They're optimistic. They look forward. Their 401-Ks are doing extremely well. The stock market's doing well. They feel more secure. They feel more confident that the future's going to be solid without all the trepidation that's come and passed.

Charles Payne: You know, that is a great point you bring up, no matter who's in office, you know, the other side points out to the weakness or perceived weakness in the economy. And you and I both also know that, you know, sometimes perception can become reality. Is the difference right now the fact that people are seeing these paychecks, particularly blue collar workers, wage increases that they have not seen in a couple of decades. Is that really making the difference here?

Ed Rensi: You bet. My hometown back in Oakdale, Ohio, where there's a lot of fracking going on, people have never been more optimistic. They're building new schools, they're having a good life. Things are getting better every day. The Steele industry's coming back online. They're optimistic and looking forward to the future. It's pretty hard to defeat the optimism of the American people.

Charles Payne: It really is. You know, we had a consumer sentiment report out last week, and what I -- what struck me is that Americans anticipate this to continue. A record amount of Americans think they're going to get a raise next year. They see inflation at the lowest level ever, almost a Goldilocks Utopian situation. I mean, obviously, it can't last forever, but again, because we believe it will, that does play a big role in it, doesn't it?

Ed Rensi: Oh, absolutely. Confidence is everything. You can't win a football game unless you think you're going to. You can't be successful in life unless you think you can. And Trump is telling everybody, "We're going to make America great, keep America great," and looking forward to the future. I think there's a lot to be said for exuberance and confidence. We've just got to be careful we don't do something stupid and cause this economy to slow down.

Charles Payne: You know, one of the biggest stocks this year was target, which came out of nowhere. A lot of folks thought they were going to succumb in this Amazon era. And we've seen where, whether it's target, Costco, Walmart, they're hanging in there. These names are hanging in there. With Amazon, they found ways to compete. Is it that way down the food chain with some of the more medium sized or even smaller retailers out there?

Ed Rensi: Yeah, I think so. In fact, I deal with small business all the time through franchising and other small consulting jobs. And they're very optimistic right now because they're finding niches that provide products and services consumers want. Let's not kid ourselves, people like to touch, feel, and experience. And as some of the people talked in your previous interviews from Chicago, it's fun. It's exciting. It's good to be out and about and meeting other people and being optimistic about what the future looks like.

Charles Payne: Ed, are you concerned about debt levels in the third quarter? You know, we saw household debt levels there. Now, the composition is different, right? Now it's student loans. But we also with credit card scores the median score went up six points. Auto scores went up eight points. And some are saying that's a sign that maybe some of these lenders got ahead of themselves, they lend to higher risk folks, and maybe curbing that could also curb this sort of the economic growth that's under retail spending.

Ed Rensi: Well, we should all be very worried about debt. It is a cancer on the free enterprise system, and we need to be cautious and careful. I think the last several years have proven that this student debt is debilitating. I start to see millennials now are becoming more optimistic about the future because some of that debt's been paid down. But we need to be very, very careful about debt.

Charles Payne: Ed Rensi, always a pleasure. Merry Christmas, my friend.

Ed Rensi: And Merry Christmas to you and a great New Year, lots of peace of mind.

Charles Payne: Absolutely. Thank you very much. So, with the economic, with the economy looking up, are President Trump's chances in 2020 moving up, even with Democrats looking to kick him out? We'll debate it.



Donald Trump: We've never done better. So, I think it's good. 401(k)s and jobs in the country. We have the most people working right now in the United States that we've ever had in the history of our country, close to 160,000 people.


Charles Payne: Forget about impeachment, is the strong economy under President Trump's watch going to be the issue to watch in the 2020 race? Let's get the read from our power panel, Jim Awad, Michael Starr Hopkins, and Dominic Green. Dominic, let me start with you. You know, there's absolutely no doubt, no arguing that the economy is just on fire and the beautiful thing about this economy is that it has spread to the lower rungs of the economic ladder. You know, we always notice the economy going into elections. How important will it be this time around?

Dominic Green: I think it's going to be absolutely crucial, Charles. I mean, as we've been hearing, real growth in wages, something we haven't seen in years, is going to have all kinds of positive economic effects. And it's probably going to be more of a factor in voters' decision making in 2020 than any amount of the impeachment circus, which is currently occupying so much of our attention.

Charles Payne: Michael Starr Hopkins, certainly the impeachment -- I'm going to borrow Dominic's terms here -- the impeachment circus hasn't stopped us from having what appears to be a record-breaking holiday spending spree, a huge stock market rally for the market in December, and overall pretty good optimism in this country this month.

Michael Starr Hopkins: Yeah. I mean, when you look at the president's economy, you would think that he'd be on a march to reflect2. Instead, you're seeing vulnerability because of a lot of the unforced errors. I mean, if you look at the comments he made about Debbie Dingell and her husband, you're looking at the battle he's had with Nancy Pelosi, and the trade war with China, those are losses that he hasn't been able to really overcome so for.

Charles Payne: Yeah.

Michael Starr Hopkins: So, it's going to be interesting to see.

Charles Payne: I will push back on one thing. The trade war stuff, you know, I read a recent Democrat survey. They surveyed all the Democratic candidates in New Jersey and they actually said that Democratic candidates wished that Democrats were as strong on China as President Trump is. I don't see how that could be a loss when millions of American jobs were shipped to China and those are the very people that voted for President Trump. I think they cheered him on for the China trade war. No one else had the guts to do it.

Michael Starr Hopkins: Well, if you look at the effects it's had on farmers, in places like Iowa, it's had a really devastating effect. We're at historic highs for defaults for farmers, and that's something that's really going to play into his reelection chances.

Charles Payne: All right. We'll see. Jim, I want to get the read from you because, you know, you've been around the track. You've been able to corelate the markets with the economy. A month ago, there were three economic surveys, one from Moody's, one from Yale, and one from Oxford Economics. They all said that at the current pace President Trump will win in a landslide. One of the surveys actually said he would steamroll his Democratic opponents if this economy holds up. By the way, the track record for these guys are absolutely phenomenal. They took into account the states, electoral college, and they said if it holds up like this it's going to be a landslide.

Jim Awad: Well, I think that's quite likely. People always vote with their pocketbooks. They vote with their pocketbooks around Labor Day, just as they are approaching the election season. And it looks, based on what you're seeing now, that the economy is good and it's probably going to get better. The vulnerabilities are that he's not likeable and many people will -- they don't like him personally, but they'll vote with their pocketbooks. And then there's always the case, the possibility, that the economy gets so good that interest rates are going up and it starts to spook the financial markets and the economy. So, it's not a slam dunk, there are risks out there. But based on what you see today, you would have to say the economy is good and his chances are pretty darn good.

Charles Payne: And ironically, Jim, I think you hit on one thing. I think probably the greatest risk for President Trump, he could be a victim of his own success. If things start to get wobbly three months into the election, and wobbly in a sense that they don't maintain a certain pace, the media will certainly say, "Hey, we're starting to crater." But we'll see. I want to kind of shift gears a little bit, folks, because over the weekend New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually blasting the economy and the stock market. Take a listen.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: GDP skyrockets, and the Dow goes up, and the Nasdaq and stock prices continue to skyrocket is not an economy that's working for us.


And if we're measuring our success based on stock prices and not wages, we've got a problem.


Charles Payne: I wish I had brought my wage chart with me. I've been taking this wage chart with me on every Fox News hit that I do, Dominic, and what it shows is wages over the last 30 years. And one thing that we don't, we see over the last 30 years is that never in the last 30 years have blue-collar wages outpaced ordinary wages to the degree that they have in the last 14 months. It has been absolutely remarkable. I don't think AOC wants us to start showing a wage chart but let me have your thoughts.

Dominic Green: Well, I think this is in the category of unforced errors that the Democrats are making. If they put up a hard-left candidate -- for instance, a Bernie Sanders -- they're going to have enormous trouble convincing people that their idea of reality matches the ordinary worker's idea of reality. And the same, perhaps, will go for Elizabeth Warren, who's also pushing a message of economic grievance.

Charles Payne: Michael Starr Hopkins, where will the Democrats focus? Will it be on somehow, okay, the economy is booming but it's not trickling down enough? The president, we don't like his mean tweets or what he said about Debbie Dingell's husband. Where is the focus going to be?

Michael Starr Hopkins: Yeah, I think it's going to be on rebuilding the American dream. I think, at the end of the day, Democrats will put forth a moderate candidate. You know, I don't think Bernie Sanders is going to end up being the nominee for the Democratic Party, partly because he's not a Democrat. But I think that what Democrats need to do is tell a story and talk about how, you know, yes, the stock market may be doing very well, but the average American doesn't -- isn't invested in the stock market and, if they are, it's through mutual funds. So, I think what we need to do is talk about how we, you know, make college more affordable, how we make it so that everyone is invested in the American economy and not just those at the top level.

Charles Payne: Gentlemen, thank you all very much. Merry Christmas. Always appreciate your insight -- and thoughts.

Michael Starr Hopkins: Merry Christmas.

Jim Awad: Thank you.

Dominic Green: Thanks.

Charles Payne: Well, Nancy, you're on the clock. Meet the legal scholar who says Mitch McConnell should put a deadline on House Speaker Pelosi in delivering those articles of impeachment, next.


Charles Payne: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still sitting on those articles of impeachment against President Trump. My next guest says that if that's the game she wants to play, then Mitch McConnell should set a deadline for delivery. Quinnipiac law professor, John Pavia, joins us now. John, thanks for joining us. So, the ball is in -- still in Nancy Pelosi's court, but you say there are things that Mitch McConnell should be doing right now, as well.

John Pavia: Yeah, the ball is in her court, right? It's up to her to transfer those articles over to the Senate and name her House managers, which, by the Constitution, triggers, then, the Senate's authority to then take control over this process and run the trial. At that point, the Senate rules on impeachment kick in, right? And what's interesting here is these rules have been in place pretty much since the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. And here is where the president's strategist, and on the Democratic side, as well, they are reviewing those rules. And you really got to use these rules, just like any court trial, to your advantage. Because every trial, no matter where it is, is an exercise of persuasion. And I think, right now, in the court of public opinion, I think the Democrats are doing a better job in using the rules than the Republicans are.

Charles Payne: In what sense?

John Pavia: In that, you know, right now, the Republicans keep complaining about the unfairness of the House impeachment proceeding, right? All the polls show that's not really resonating. I know that the Republicans are raising money off of that. But in the pub -- in the polls that I'm seeing --

Charles Payne: Well, not only that, though, but the impeachment itself has gone down dramatically, particularly amongst independent voters.

John Pavia: It has.

Charles Payne: Yeah.

John Pavia: It has. But what I -- I guess my point is, I don't think there's a bunch of people out there saying, "Boy, this was so unfair that they should stop the process right now." So, right now, by saying -- by Lindsey Graham coming out, and McConnell saying -- coming out and saying, "Look, we are not going to be impartial; we are definitely partial," I don't know how that helps the president. I think they should -- they need to play the game, and say, "Look, we're going to listen to the evidence and we're going to make our decision in an impartial way."

Charles Payne: Right, because no one believes that any Democrats are going to be impartial. No one believes [LAUGHS] -- I mean, no one believes that anyone involved in this is -- quote, unquote -- "impartial."

John Pavia: Exactly. But if you listen to Schumer, Schumer -- I mean, every comment he makes, he is going to be "Mr. Impartial."

Charles Payne: Well, I know. But do -- I'm saying I don't think the public will -- you could wear black; you can say, "It's a solemn day;" you can say what you want. I don't think there's anyone on either side of the political aisle that thinks Schumer doesn't have a preconceived notion of what he wants to achieve once this process happens. But to your point, in the last 24 hours, Lindsey Graham's been pretty active on Twitter. On one, he says, "Democrats are treating impeachment like an open bar tab. Time to cut them off, take their car keys away, and end this insanity."

John Pavia: Yeah.

Charles Payne: Do you -- is --

John Pavia: I don't like that strategy.

Charles Payne: You don't like that?

John Pavia: No. I mean, look, in a criminal -- any trial, right -- I mean, when I used to be a prosecutor, the training was, as soon as the jury walks in the room, as soon as they walk in the room for jury selection, the trial starts then, right? And the way you stand up, the way you make eye contact, everything you do, it's an exercise in persuasion and --

Charles Payne: But we know the jury already in this particular case, right? The jury is the Senate

John Pavia: -- court of public opinion.

Charles Payne: Right, okay. But there's no signs or evidence, at this moment, though, that the White House and/or Republicans are losing the overall impeachment thing. I mean, I honestly, to be quite frank with you, I think most Americans are tuning it out, particularly right now, you know, Christmastime, holiday seasons, the markets rocking. It feels like there's so many things going on. I mean, this is our job. We you know, we're always intensely focused on it, you know? But the Michigan of -- University of Michigan sentiment report a week ago you know how many people talked about that?

John Pavia: Yeah, nobody.

Charles Payne: One percent.

John Pavia: Yeah.

Charles Payne: One percent.

John Pavia: Right.

Charles Payne: It's crazy.

John Pavia: I got you. And I don't disagree with you. I don't think any -- and there's any -- been, you know, fatal wounds, so far, right, or fatal mistakes. My point is the trial has started.

Charles Payne: So, what should Mitch McConnell do Thursday morning or whatever he comes back to the to work? What should be the first order of business for Republicans to get this thing moving in their direction --

John Pavia: I think if was Senator McConnell, I think his first statement should be, "Look, we want to reach across the aisle with our Democratic colleagues and we want to open a dialog on the right way to run this proceeding." Forget about what they really want, right? Just in terms of the presence and what they're presenting to the public, I think they've got to do that because that's what the Democrats are doing right now. And as they go through that process, then use the rules. But, now, remember, just as one example, right? In the Senate impeachment trial, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides. And he looks like the judge, but he's not the presiding judge. He's the presiding officer. So, if he makes a ruling, that ruling can be overruled by a majority vote. Any senator can say, "Well, you know, I disagree with ruling and I want to put it to a vote." And if 51 percent of senators vote against the chief justice, the ruling is overruled.

Charles Payne: Bottom line, though, ultimately, McConnell will have a greater say in this than Nancy Pelosi. And, ultimately, the Senate will vote on this. I mean, that's the way it works, ultimately.

John Pavia: Ultimately. But she's got to send those articles over. And it's going to be very interesting to see how long she holds out.

Charles Payne: It really will be. Thank you very much.

John Pavia: Great.

Charles Payne: Appreciate it. Been a long time, but fantastic stuff. Hey, well, forget about those gifts under the tree tonight. Should we be focusing on the gifts in the sky? No, not from Santa, from North Korea.


Charles Payne: Santa not the only person Americans are tracking on Christmas Eve. We're also keeping a close eye on North Korea's Kim Jong-un who is promising to give us a Christmas gift, whatever that might mean. Lucas Tomlinson is at the Pentagon with the very latest. Lucas.

Lucas Tomlinson: Charles, after addressing U.S. forces from Mira Lago, the commander in chief says this gift from North Korea might not be so bad.


Donald Trump: Maybe it's a nice present, maybe it's a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test. Right? I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don't know. You never know.


Lucas Tomlinson: Officials here say North Korea might not test a long-range missile for the first time in more than two years, as many are speculating. But they could test any range of components used for long-range missiles even if a shorter range missile is fired. One official described to me the intelligence is "murky." North Korea has already tested a dozen short-range missiles this year after testing none in the previous year. And then in a previously unreported incident more than two years ago, one of those North Korea missiles came uncomfortably close to the international space station I'm told. North Korea does not coordinate its missile launches with anyone. New satellite images from Planet Lab shows another concerning development in North Korea, a factory linked to making long-range nuclear missiles has expanded. It's the same place Kim visited before his last long-range missile test in November 2017. Earlier this month, North Korea performed two separate engine tests just as it did ahead of those long-range tests two years ago. Highlighting the danger on the Korean peninsula, the FAA has issued a warning to all commercial aviation to be on the lookout for any North Korea missiles. Charles?

Charles Payne: Lucas, thank you very much. Well, if North Korea isn't enough to worry about, Iran is showing off a new nuclear reactor. And ISIS is reportedly making a comeback in Iraq. So how concerned should web? Well, let's ask former USS Cole Commander Kirk Lippold. Commander, thanks for joining us.

Kirk Lippold: Thank you, Charles. Merry Christmas.

Charles Payne: Let's start with North Korea. You know, some are saying this was sort of expected. There have been some rumblings particularly, you know, over the last few weeks, and it's a typical stunt by Kim Jong-un. But people are concerned because, you know, he -- we don't know how far he will go when he wants this sort of attention.

Kirk Lippold: You're absolutely right, Charles. We do have an end-of-the-year deadline to come back to the table to negotiate a pathway to nuclear disarmament for North Korea. But as of right now, Kim Jong-un has steadfastly shown that he is not going to give those nuclear weapons up willingly. China and Russia continue to aid and abet the violation of sanction that's continue to prop up the regime. And as usual, he wants to stir things up and bring attention to himself, hence the statement about a Christmas surprise.

Charles Payne: Whenever we get that photo of him on that white horse, we know something's coming. So, he's got this inflated ego. President Trump has tried to play to that ego. And some are saying, well, that could be a critical mistake. Maybe someone like this, a tyrant, a dictator, we've got to go at him really hard. We need to resume the sort of military exercises that were a show of force. We need to make the sanctions even more biting and stronger. What do you think?

Kirk Lippold: Well, Charles, I think when you look at it, the orthodox didn't work. It didn't work through the Bush administration, the Clinton, the Obama administration. None of them worked in effectively trying to rein in control from North Korea building and then gaining nuclear weapons. They have them. That is a fact. So, President Trump tried the unorthodox. It has not necessarily worked to this point. What we have given them, unfortunately, is time and space for the research and development in not only the ballistic missile technology, but potentially the miniaturization of the weapons themselves. I think at the end of the year, if they haven't come back to the table, then, as we've seen, a former national security advisor and Ambassador Bolton pointed out, we're going to have to reimpose sanctions and this time make them bite, not only to North Korea, but to China and Russia as well, and make them all start paying that price for allowing North Korea to behave this way.

Charles Payne: I want to move on to Iran, but quickly, I mean, is -- and we've had this discussion before. But it's the -- is there an end game here that does not involve serious violent consequences?

Kirk Lippold: I think there can be an end game, but we have to make sure that first and foremost North Korea knows what the consequences are going to be. We have both the capability and credibility that we have to back up to do that. But more importantly, let's face it, the only military ally that North Korea has ever had is China. China is going to be made to understand that if we have to go to North Korea, they're expected to step aside and stay out of the way. To date, they have avoided even coming to the table to discuss it. They're the 800-pound gorilla in the room. But if they want to stay like that, that's fine. It gives us more free rein.

Charles Payne: In the meantime, Iran has begun operations of -- at a new nuclear reactor. Again, what should we be -- how concerned should web here? We know what their ultimate goal is. Many believe that they were on the path toward being able to have nuclear weapons after they signed the prior agreement with the prior administration.

Kirk Lippold: Charles, there is no guesswork. Iran is on a path and continues to do those things that will get them a nuclear weapon at some point in time. What we have to look at is the new heavy water facility that Iraq, even though Britain's -- the British are working with them to develop a peaceful nuclear energy solution, at the end of the day, they're taking baby and incremental steps, some in violation of the JCPOA, or nuclear arms -- or the Iran nuclear agreement.

Charles Payne: Right, right.

Kirk Lippold: And what you're going to see at the end of the day is they're going to continue, just like North Korea. They're going to make research and development progress toward a weapon. And that's what we have to worry about because the breakout window now starts to get shorter and shorter, which means they can gain capability quicker than we expect.

Charles Payne: Commander, quickly, before I let you go, the reconstitution of ISIS, we know it's an idea that's hard to kill, and that makes it easier to try to put it back together. But how far along do you think they could be?

Kirk Lippold: I don't think they're far along at all. I think their leadership at this point has been decimated, even with al-Baghdadi killed. Yes, you're right, Charles. The ideology is going to be out there. It's going to continue to exist. We still have the forces there even though we have pulled back. The Kurds are still willing to fight on our behalf in that area. But at the end of the day, we're going to have to work the deal with the devil and make sure that in coordination with both Russia, Syria, and Turkey, that we make sure that that -- any force that starts to develop gets crushed quickly and ruthlessly.

Charles Payne: Well, we saw a unique combination of cooperation to kill Baghdadi so to your point, maybe they happen again. Commander, you're fantastic. Thank you very much. We always feel a little safer after talking with you.

Kirk Lippold: Well, thanks you, Charles. Very find. Have a merry Christmas, and best to you and your family and every one of the listeners.

Charles Payne: You too. Now, some House Democrats want U.S. attorney John Durham to -- and Attorney General William Barr, they want them out. As Russia probes [unintelligible] end on former CIA director John Brennan's role in the Russia probe. We'll straighten it all out, next.


Charles Payne: Several House Democrats are calling on Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham to resign claiming he doesn't possess the personal integrity to serve in the Department of Justice. This amid reports that Durham is scrutinizing former CIA Director John Brennan's role in the origin of the Russia probe. Now, the same lawmakers are also calling for Attorney General Barr's resignation. Former federal prosecutor Steven Mulroy joins us now. Is this a good strategy, Steven, attacking their integrity?

Steven Mulroy: Well, if you're asking for simply, you know, is this a politically viable strategy, I suppose attacking the integrity of the investigator preemptively in case he says anything negative about the initiation of the 2016 investigation by the FBI into alleged Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, I suppose maybe from that perspective it is. But it's a little bit of a tougher case to make in the case of Mr. Durham, who has had a long reputation for being a, you know, pretty much straight shooter, career prosecutor who tells it like it is.

Charles Payne: Yeah. Throughout this process, these career straight shooters that everyone exalts. And you know, once they start saying things that one political side of the aisle doesn't like, they're the worst, you know, most politically driven people out there. They shouldn't be on the case. They're careers mean nothing. I mean, this sort of thing the public has endured over and over again when it came to the Mueller investigation. Do you think it will have any sort of impact, ultimately, on the outcome of these investigations?

Steven Mulroy: I doubt seriously they'll impeach the outcome of the investigation, although I should note that in the case of Mr. Durham, he did do one thing which I think provided ammunition to his critics. He, half an hour after Attorney General Barr publicly criticized the inspector general's report -- the inspector general of the Department of Justice -- Mr. Durham then also made a critical comment. This was highly unusual for a career prosecutor to do, A, about the inspector general who usually has a reputation for being nonpartisan and well respected; and B, to make such a comment while his own investigation -- Mr. Durham's -- was ongoing. That unusual move, I think, has provided fodder for some of his Democratic critics to question whether he's really going to be a straight shooter this time like he has been in the past.

Charles Payne: Well, Steven, what about Brennan now since that, as more information comes out, that there's been a greater sense that he should be the focus of this sort of instance, scrutiny and investigation, his calls and other things? Are you okay with this? Do you think that he is a legitimate, he's a legitimate person of interest in regard to all of this?

Steven Mulroy: I think it's certainly legitimate for Mr. Durham to request documents and maybe even answering questions of Mr. Brennan because the CIA was at least secondarily involved in the initial investigation back in 2016. However, I think it might be the case that the real focus here is on an FBI agent, Kleinsmith, who allegedly falsely denied in a warrant application to get a search warrant that he had gotten some of his information from the CIA. I think the focus may be on him, from what we've been hearing; and if that's the case, then CIA Director, former CIA Director Brennan is really kind of a material witness as opposed to actually being the target of the investigation himself, or at least that's what is -- it might be the case.

Charles Payne: Although, there's some, there are some assumptions that we don't know how far up the ladder, the, you know, the chain of command any of this goes. And would --

Steven Mulroy: Of course.

Charles Payne: -- someone be a rogue? Would a, you know, variety-level, field-level agent being so rogue that they would take it upon themselves to do some of the things that have been accused? We'll find out. Steven, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Steven Mulroy: Thank you. Thank you.

Charles Payne: You know -- so, folks, while it's smooth sailing for most holiday travelers now, why their trip back might not be so nice, next.


Charles Payne: Well, a white Christmas will be nothing but a dream for most Americans this year, as warmer temperatures move across the country. AccuWeather's Regina Miller is here with a holiday weather update. Regina?

Regina Miller: Well, Charles, I don't know about you. I like snow for Christmas. I like it for New Year's. After that, I'm done with it. But even the folks that really wanted a white Christmas, a lot of places that we would typically see it are just not seeing it. In fact, take a look at this: southern Wisconsin, for example, much of Michigan, no snow out there. In fact, you have to go farther northward, places like Fargo and Duluth, in order to guarantee some snow on the ground. In fact, we've got some spring-like warmth here, across the north central U.S., and we have high temperatures, typical of what we would see in March or April. Now, for Christmas Day, much of the country is mild here. And we do have a little bit of freezing morning drizzle across parts of Wisconsin; also, into southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. That'll be something to watch out for, where that warmer air is kind of clashing with some colder air. And we've got snow and rain in the West here. California: mountain snow and rain at the coast. But for Christmas Day, we're going to see a high temperature in Chicago of 53 degrees; St. Louis checking in in the 60s. In fact, Chicago, our temperature is running 20 degrees above average for this time of year. Thursday, we're looking at a temperature of 56. And then, also in Milwaukee, our temperature's running 20 degrees above the average daytime high of 31 degrees. It's staying warm here on Thursday, as well. Now, during the middle of the week -- you talked about travel back, so maybe folks are heading back home after the holiday — we've got a storm system that could possibly form in the center of the country. It's going to be very warm and — out ahead of it, but colder air coming in behind it. This is just one of our global models. But we'll have to keep an eye on it because there's a chance for rain and snow on the back edge of this in the midsection of the country and, then, pushing towards the east as we head towards Sunday. That would create travel problems from Minneapolis down to Kansas City and Dallas on Saturday, moving eastward from Maine down to the Gulf Coast, as we head through Sunday. So, if you're traveling this weekend, keep an eye on it.

Charles Payne: Regina, thank you, very much appreciated. Meanwhile, folks, tech gadgets are so popular, Santa may have to send an IOU. After this.


Charles Payne: Still need to do a little last-minute shopping? Well, you may have some trouble finding these gifts. founder, Jennifer Jolly, has the most popular gadgets under the tree this year. Jennifer, lay them on us. I know -- I know, without a doubt, we begin with Apple AirPods, right?

Jennifer Jolly: Yeah, that is the big, hot gadget that is sold out across the board. If you come across a pair of Apple's AirPod Pros, then you better snatch them up because they will be the very last that you see for a good month or so. Right now, if you go on Amazon, you can order them now and get them delivered around January 25th. So, you snooze, you lose on the hottest Apple gadget this year, without a doubt.

Charles Payne: Jennifer, my wife went to the store, like, three or four days ago and they had them there. And some people were saying they deliberately kept some in stores to lure us in there. I know she went to buy the AirPods and bought a whole bunch of other things. So, maybe the strategy worked with her. I mean, is there is a chance that your local Apple store could have some?

Jennifer Jolly: You know, I looked. I searched the world over, at all the local Apple stores. I went onto I actually saw a pair of them when I was going through an airport in New Jersey last week. So, if you see them, snag them.

Charles Payne: [LAUGHS]

Jennifer Jolly: I think they're really, really tough to get your hands on, at this point. I mean, I have a pair that I'll sell for maybe a five times markup or something. But, yeah, it's -- Apple does definitely do that. They'll put out kind of a limited number or just as many as they need. But I think everyone's been a little bit surprised at how popular that these have been compared to some of the newer phones or the newer laptops. The -- even the Apple Watch 5, the latest watch, has not been as big of a seller as Apple hoped it would be, or as any Apple gadget was, say three years ago.

Charles Payne: But these AirPods have been absolutely phenomenal. Now, up next, I want to ask you about the Amazon Smart Oven because I've never heard of it.

Jennifer Jolly: Right. Well, smart ovens are a huge tech trend. We've seen the June Oven, the Brava Oven. And then, of course, Amazon came out with their own. It's around the $250 range. And what this is, is a four-in-one gadget. It's a convection oven, a microwave oven, an air fryer, and a food warmer, all rolled into one, with a lot of smart aspects and features to it. So, you can say, "Elect --

Charles Payne: Oh, wow. We're talking about gadgets and it looks like [LAUGHS] -- it looks like we got a gremlin in our gadget system because Jennifer -- Jennifer is back with us now. Jennifer, we had a little snag there, as you were telling us about all the features. I do want to ask you about one thing I am familiar with, this Nintendo -- this Switch. I've been buying the switch lights in different colors and bought it from Boys and Girls. That seems like it's going to be a real popular gadget.

Jennifer Jolly: Yeah, the Nintendo Switch -- the neon blue and neon red joycons, those are out-of-stock. That is the quickest of the out-of-stock and sold-out gadgets to be restocked. Those are due in around January 3rd to January 5th, so -- if you buy it today and you're a member of Amazon Prime. If not, it could take a while to get that one, as well.

Charles Payne: The makeup artist who did me today said that -- yesterday, said her son wanted that Xbox console his brother had, the older ne, never shared it him. And she got it for him. But he said -- she said there was some competition to get it. Is it really that hot?

Jennifer Jolly: Well, a lot of the bundles -- so, it's always better to buy a console bundle. You get a better bang for your buck when you get some games thrown in, some extra features like that thrown in. The Xbox One S, one terabyte console. This is the "Star Wars" Jedi: Fallen Order bundle, completely sold-out, out-of-stock, maybe never going to be restocked. That was definitely a limited time only sort of deal with the new "Star Wars" movie out. So, if you didn't get your hands on that one, I would check eBay, any kind of resale site. That's your best bet. But then, also, a word of warning. When you're buying resell, make sure that it's from a reputable reseller. make sure that it is what they say it is. And you buy it with a credit card that will give you your money back if, for any reason, you get something that's not what you think you ordered.

Charles Payne: All right, Jennifer, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Merry Christmas to you. All right, folks, well, that's --

Jennifer Jolly: Merry Christmas to you as well.

Charles Payne: That's all I have for today. I will say that the Dow was off today, but NASDAQ right now is on one of the best winning streaks in history. The Dow pulled down by Boeing which, of course, we know has some issues of its own. But we appreciate you watching today. And make sure you watch tomorrow. We've got a special Christmas edition of "Your World" at 4 o'clock.

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