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Trump Meets with Romney This Weekend; Trump Taps Hardliners for 3 Key Posts; Trump University Lawsuits Settled for $25 Million; Trump Fills Key Posts with Controversial Hard-Liners; Trump, Romney Meeting Face-to-Face on Saturday; Did Bogus Stories Shape the Election?; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 18, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:49] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is 9:00 p.m. here in New York and at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Donald Trump will be meeting tomorrow with the man who he called him a con artist, 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. We'll look ahead to that in this hour. And look closer at the three men that Trump has tapped to run the CIA, the Justice Department, and be his national security adviser.

We begin though with breaking news. A settlement in the cases against so-called Trump University, which wasn't really a university at all. Six thousand people who forked over tens of thousands of dollars, some even taking out new credit lines to pay the tuition, and all claim that the real estate seminars were nothing short of a fraud.

Donald Trump during the campaign vowed again and again never to settle. Today, his lawyers settled. And while they did not admit any wrongdoing and he still does not admit any wrongdoing, they did pay and pay big league. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the late details and joins us now.

Phil, what are you learning tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John Berman, big league to the tune of $25 million. That's the total of the settlement, as you noted, that will go out to about 6,000 students of the for-profit education institution, I guess we can with call it.

Look, an interesting element here is this. Donald Trump in the trial that was looming in this case was facing the very real possibility that as president-elect, he would have to take the stand. What this does, what this settlement does? It takes that off the table. It puts to bed an issue that not only had been plaguing his campaign for much of the last 18 months, but have been plaguing his personal business operation for the last couple of years. That is now gone.

Now, as you noted, the Trump Organization, very keen to point out that they admitted no wrongdoing. Actually saying they felt like they could have won this case. But when it comes to what was important going forward, clearing the decks, getting this off the table, getting this off their plate was a very important component of things. And when you look at what's on Donald Trump's plate from here on out, John, you can probably see why.

BERMAN: Yes, sitting for deposition what have been complicated right now to say the least.

So, Phil, what more can you tell us about the newest choices from Donald Trump to fill some of the high-profile national security positions in his Cabinet?

MATTINGLY: You know, one of the most interesting elements, actually, one of the more interesting e-mails I got as I was reporting on this throughout the day was from Republican official, who had been kind of in the Trump orbit, who said, look, if you're surprised by any of these picks, you haven't been paying attention the last 18 months. All three of these picks track very closely with the national security message Donald Trump campaigned on. This was Donald Trump the candidate, now trying to turn his candidacy and his campaign into Donald Trump the president of the United States.

When you look at all three of these picks, two of which can absolutely be called controversial, Senator Jeff Sessions, Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, those two were two of Donald Trump's closest advisers throughout the campaign and remain two of the most powerful advisers inside Trump's inner circle. Now, the third, Mike Pompeo, the congressman, a CIA -- the pick to be the new director of the CIA.

John, this is an important pick for a couple of reasons. Most notably, Republicans are very happy with this pick, but also, Democrats on Capitol Hill, while they might not have been thrilled about Congressman Pompeo's targeting of Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi investigation, they have been very complimentary of his work on the Intelligence Committee, of his work as a member of Congress. So, a bit of an olive branch, if you will, but no question about this, Mike Pompeo's credentials, they are very conservative and they track very closely with what Donald Trump has been touting is his national security policy throughout the course of his campaign.

BERMAN: All right, Phil, Donald Trump not where you are at Trump Tower, he's at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he's got some big meetings this weekend. What's in store?

MATTINGLY: Yeah, he left and actually shut down New York traffic a couple of hours ago as he motorcaded the hour and a half away out to Bedminster.

Look, we're all focused on one meeting in particular, no question about it, Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee called Donald Trump a fraud, called him a con artist, now sitting down with him. I think it's important to note, while a lot of the people who were against Donald Trump over the course of the campaign eventually came around and said they would vote for him if they didn't feel like endorsing him. Mitt Romney was not one of those individuals.

Now, the question becomes, is this meeting a head fake or is this for real? Now, Trump advisers say, there is a very real possibility that Mitt Romney is being considered for a Cabinet position. But, John, something that's I think more interesting tomorrow are some of the other names that are meeting with Donald Trump, probably more real prospects for Cabinet positions.

[21:05:00] Marine General -- Retired Marine General James Madison, hearing repeatedly from people in and out of the Trump orbit that he is being considered strongly for Secretary of Defense. Also, two potential Education Secretary picks to keep you very close eye on. Michelle Rhee, obviously we knew about her as the chancellor of the D.C. Schools. And also, Betsey DeVos, who is a big-time Republican donor, but also runs in education circles, very in line with some of the education themes that Donald Trump was pushing during his campaign. Keep an eye on both of those names as well. Also both meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in Bedminster. John?

BERMAN: All right, Phil Mattingly, a lot of information there. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

More now on retired General Mike Flynn, how he sees the world and how it could shape the way that the Trump administration operates. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the background.


LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, (RET) U.S. ARMY: The next president of the United States, right here.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, once a registered Democrat will now be the president-elect's closest adviser on the greatest threats to U.S. national security, but with views that are a marked departure from long-held U.S. policy of both parties. He has called Islam itself, not radical versions of it, a threat. In tweets such as this one during a campaign, "Fear of Muslims is rational," he wrote. And in public speeches, calling Islam a cancer.

FLYNN: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.

SCIUTTO: More broadly, he supports a significant reversal of which states the U.S. views as threats. He has identified longtime ally Saudi Arabia as a danger, while growing U.S. adversary Russia, who the U.S. blames for invading Ukraine, atrocities in Syria and meddling in the U.S. election. As, at worst, an exaggerated threats at best a potential friend. This is a view that contradicts the U.S. Intelligence Community and senior Defense officials from both parties.

He has also unsettled U.S. allies by arguing that military commitments to NATO and other treaty allies should be conditional.

FLYNN: I've been called an angry general. I'll tell you what, I'm -- you know what? I'm not angry. What I am is I'm very determined to make sure that this country is ready for my children and my grandchildren.

SCIUTTO: Flynn's military record is impressive. As an intelligence officer, he is credited with helping turn the tide against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and ISIS's predecessor in Iraq. And yet, when he served as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency his management style antagonized many in the intel community leading to his being forced out.

Since then, he was Vladimir Putin's dinner guest in December last year accepting an undisclosed speaking fee. And Flynn's for-profit consultancy was still working with a foreign client while he was also attending classified security briefings with Donald Trump during the campaign. The ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Oversight is now questioning Flynn's ties to lobbyists, requesting more information on his foreign connections, as well.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: He has a reputation as an iconoclast and an independent thinker, and some of that is good and necessary. I think the deeper problem, potentially, is that he has publicly said that, you know, he thinks this war can go on for several generations. He's probably called for expanding the war to basically any Islamist militant around the world. Any of that comes with some potential downsides.

SCIUTTO: Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: All right, thanks to Jim for that report.

Back now with our panel, joined this hour by former CIA officer, Bob Baer, and Reza Alan, host of CNN's "Believer with Reza Aslan".

And, Reza, I want to start with you here. I want to get your thoughts on the appointment of Mike Flynn to be the national security adviser given that Mike Flynn has called Islam a cancer, and has said, "Fear of Muslims is rational."

REZA ASLAN, CNN HOST, BELIEVER WITH REZA ASLAN: I think it's a dangerous appointment. I think that this is a man who is about to be in-charge of what is a very important, very complex fight against an international cabal, a militant organization that does see the world in very cosmic terms. That does believe that this is a battle between good and evil, between Islam and Christianity, between America and the very religion of Islam. And having someone in the NSA, running the NSA, who is very much engaged in the same kind of rhetoric only bolsters the propaganda of our enemies, only makes us, I think, more threatened by the possibility of these kinds of Jihadist attacks.

BERMAN: Kayleigh, you know, you are a Trump supporter, a supporter of Mike Flynn, when you hear criticisms like this, your response?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: My response is that Mike Flynn is the exact person who needs to be in this role. Back in 2012, 2013, 2014, when the Obama administration was coming out and saying al-Qaeda is on the run, we know Centcom was actually charged with painting a rosier picture of ISIS back in 2014, 2015 than what actually was happening on the ground, Mike Flynn was the one in the administration sounding the alarms saying, we need to be worried, al-Qaeda is not waning, they are in fact growing, we need to be worried. There's a new movement of radical Islam taking over the Middle East and he was right. He was right, he was let go of his job because of it. And he is the person who I want having the ear of the president. [21:10:23] BERMAN: But Reza, now, you heard Kayleigh right there. Is that different though in your mind from his overall criticisms, his overall statements, Mike Flynn's statements, about Islam in general?

ASLAN: He's a very good military general, and that's where I think his strength comes is I think even his biggest supporters would say that the issue here, of course, is that we are in a place, no matter what Kayleigh or anyone else thinks, in which ISIS is on the run. We are in a place where this organization has taken severe hits, in which its very capitol, the capitol of its caliphate, Raqqah, is on the verge of collapse.

And there is a reason why ISIS is celebrating Donald Trump's victory, why they are calling it a gift from God. It's precisely because of people like Michael Flynn who will just simply bolster the propaganda that ISIS uses in order to draw Muslims to its cause in this imaginary battle between Islam and America.

BERMAN: Bob Baer, if I can, I want to bring you into this conversation because you worked out there in the field. And you know what role a national security adviser can have in an administration. So when you're out there on the front lines, whether it be as a CIA operative, or as a soldier, or as a marine, what can views like that, what impact can that have?

ROBERT BAER, FORMET CIA OFFICER: Well, Michael Flynn, I've watched him for years, especially his assessments on Afghanistan, and they were brilliant. I mean, he's said things no one else would say. His taking on Saudi Arabia as well is going to be a big change. His position in the White House is not going to be welcome in the intelligence community where there's consensus.

I think he's experienced, at the same time, I worry about conflict of interest, especially Russia. In fact, he worked for R.T. He's too close to the Russians, the Russians are not our friends. And in that, we have to come to terms with that country, in particular and all these conflicts of interest. And now there are certain elements that are accusing him of taking money from Turkey on the Gulen extradition getting this dissident out. So, again, it's a conflict of interest that bothers me, but so I'm, you know, 50 percent for Flynn.

BERMAN: 50/50. Matt Lewis, you were sitting there nodding during that?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY CALLER: Right. So, look, as you know, John, I mean, I did not -- I was a never-Trumper in the primary, I did not support Donald Trump, I did not vote for Donald Trump in the general election, but now he is our president-elect. I think that we should be rooting for his success. And part of that is allowing him to surround himself with the advisers -- hopefully he has a team of rivals, different people whispering in his ear offering different advice ...

BERMAN: But you haven't seen any evidence of that yet, have you?

LEWIS: Well, I've seen Mike Pence who is a mainstream conservative as his vice president, I've seen Reince Priebus, who is an establishment Republican, but not with these picks. I mean three picks today that are pretty consistent. So I would like to see more diversity, not just in terms of ethnicity and gender, but also in terms of world view.

But we could see that. We could see Michelle Rhee, for example, with education reform. We could see a Mitt Romney possibly. I don't predict that, but it's within the realm of possibility. It's very early to say this, but, look, Mike Flynn served in the military for 30 years, headed the DIA, three-star general, I do worry about his political judgment and some of the things that he has said, but if you put that in the context of this whole career and the knowledge he has about, you know, about military issues, I think you've got -- this is a respectable, decent pick.

BERMAN: But Islam is a political ideology hiding as a religion? That in and of itself is not ...

LEWIS: That's a problematic thing to say. He needs to say ...


LEWIS: Well, it's problematic. Look, you could talk about Islamism, you could talk about radical Islam, but to attack an entire religion like that I think is very dangerous.


CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE: THE LIFE OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: This is not a decent appointment. And that is, Donald Trump and one of the best things he said, he was going to be the president who drained the swamp. It's not draining the swamp when your national security adviser has been paid by the Russians to come to dinner, when the Turkish government has had him in their employ and influence. Also, when your daughter, your son-in-law, and your family does not have a blind trust for your holdings and is going to run these things.

So instead -- you know, Kayleigh was talking about unity that the president talked about, that Hillary Clinton talked about, and then she said something about the left, the left doesn't want to give him a chance. I think people do want to give him a chance.

[21:15:11] But I think what he's done here is, by a series of signals, he has undercut any ability from the start to get off on the right foot and say, we're going to pull together here. We are going to be a reform administration, and instead, we are knee-deep in a news swamp of his making and he isn't even to January 20th yet.

BERMAN: Jonathan, you were waiting patiently?

JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I just wanted to add, the point is that when you have somebody, the national security adviser, it sort of goes to what Karine said about Bannon being the whisper into the ear of the president. You've got the national security adviser who will filter everything that comes in to the Oval Office about national security. You've got a guy who says that the fear of Muslims is rational, who talked about the spread of Sharia law, and that's quite dangerous for our country.

I think back, actually, going to back to the Nixon administration, when Henry Kissinger, one of the Great War criminals of our time, whispered into the ear of President Nixon, and they conduct an illegal war, bombing war in Cambodia and Vietnam that killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed Southeast Asia. You have a guy like Flynn who thinks of all Muslims in this way, and the way that Matt talked about, that's quite dangerous for our country and our position in the world.

BARMAN: Reza, you were waiting from afar here. You've been listening to this conversation. Do you want a last word on Michael Flynn?

ASLAN: I just want to say one thing. Over and over again, we have talked about on this panel and earlier on CNN that Michael Flynn has said repeatedly that Islam is not just a cancer, but that it's not a religion, it's an ideology. And we've been tossing this around, but I want you to understand very quickly what Michael Flynn means when he says this absurd, ignorant canard that Islam is not an ideology. What he means is that therefore, Muslims should not have religious protections in the United States. That's what that means. That means that the 3 1/2, 4 1/2 million Muslims in the United States should not be protected by the constitution.

And I know that a lot of viewers right now are kind of looking at this and saying, well, this has to do with Islam, it doesn't have to do with me. But if you think that this kind of autocratic tendency, this sort of abuse of power is going to stop only at Muslims, then you don't know your history.

BERMAN: All right. Kayleigh, I know you're going to want to respond to this. Let me give you a chance right after the break.

MCENANY: Thanks.

BERMAN: We're going to take a quick break, we're going to pick up and we're going to have a closer look, not just to this issue, but also the congressman now chosen to run the CIA, Mike Pompeo. What he stands for, what makes him tick?

And later, the real news about fake news. How phony stories passed around the web and ended up bamboozling Donald Trump and Michael Flynn just the name two people and there were many, many others who retweeted these stories. Stay with us.


[21:21:27] BERMAN: I want to pick up our conversation on the new Trump national security team. Before the break, Reza Asland warned that retired General Mike Flynn calling Islam an ideology and not a religion effectively strips American Muslims of their constitutional protections.

I want to bring back in Kayleigh McEnany, Donald Trump supporter for well over a year now, to get your reaction on this.

Again, to be clear, Mike Flynn said that Islam is a political ideology masking as a religion.

MCENANY: Right, and it's important to understand why he made that statement. You have Andy McCarthy, a very respected former federal prosecutor, "National Review" columnist, who has written extensively on this and what he said is that, look, 90 percent of the Koran is in fact a legal doctrine, it is Sharia. He's not saying that as an insult to the religion, but that is in fact structured differently than typical-type, you know, Christian religions or Jewish religions the way those books are structured. So, that is what he's meaning academically.

And then also I think it's completely unfair to say that he called Islam a cancer, because when you actually listen to the whole statement in context, he says, look, this ideology is being use for people to cut off other people's heads, to commit mass atrocities across the globe. That's a problem, that is a cancer. He was referring to the way it is being used, the radicalized version of Islam.

So to just caricature him as being anti-Islam and take bits and pieces of his statement and to suggest that Muslims are not going to have constitutional rights under the Trump administration I just think is absurd hyperbole and I really don't think it's a responsible way to speak.


ASLAN: I mean no offense to Kayleigh, but you really don't know what you're talking about when it comes to either the Koran or the Bible. About 120 verses of the Koran have to do with legal matters out of tens of thousands. And if you've actually read the first five chapters of the Bible, you would know that it is mostly law.

All religions are about not just your faith, but about the way that you conduct yourself in the world. So in a way, all religions are about ideology, however you define that. But that's not what Michael Flynn was saying. Michael Flynn was saying and it seems as though you may agree with him, that Islam is different. It's not like other religions. And so it has to be treated differently. Not Islamic radicalism, not Islamic extremism, but Islam, and by definition, the 1.5 billion adherents of it regardless of their political or military views, and that includes the 1 percent of the American population, citizens here, under the United States constitution, that actually follow Islam as a religion.

MCENANY: Well, Reza, I just want to quickly respond, because, you know, when confronted with facts a lot of times the other commentators descend into ad hominem attacks, which is what you just did to me. I have read the Bible.

ASLAN: I corrected your facts.

MCENANY: And there are academic scholars that disagree with your facts, Andy McCarthy, I named him, former federal prosecutor who would completely disagree ...

ASLAN: He is not a scholar of religion.

MCENANY: ... with your characterization. So just -- let's not descend into ad hominem attacks. The worse than that, let's not descend into absurdities and suggest that Islamic Americans will not have constitutional rights. They have all the constitutional rights that I have as a Christian. President-elect Trump has never suggested otherwise.

And it's irresponsible to come on here and cry racist, Islamophobic and use these terms and misconstrued people's words. It's very sad. Let's give him a chance and let's listen to President Obama and give him a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fear of Muslims is rational, that's what he said.

ASLAN: President-elect Trump at various times in his campaign has called for banning all Muslims from the United States, he's called for monitoring Muslim neighborhoods, he has peddled a lie that American- Muslims celebrated 9/11, and even after that lie was repeatedly exposed, continued to say that lie.

[21:25:11] These are not opinions, Kayleigh. I am actually stating observable facts. And by the way, it doesn't matter what an attorney has to say ...

MCENANY: Well, let's start with the first thing he said which was a redaction of the facts, not the facts, per se. You said a complete ban of Muslims. He said a temporary ban until we find out what's going on. That was on the heels of someone getting into our country, Tashfeen Malik and taking 18 lives. That was on the heels of that. It's since been reformed to be people who come from terror hotbed countries.

Let's get our facts right, because nuance matters. And to come on and say, a complete ban, you leave out all the nuance, you leave out the temporary, you leave out until we figure out what's going on you scare a heck of a lot of people.


ASLAN: Actually, the truth, Kayleigh, is that Donald Trump has yet to actually clarify the ban on Muslims is still on his website. It's still part of his platform. We've gotten numerous indications, back and forth, from his campaign about whether that actually means a religious test or whether that's from Muslim majority countries, which in and of itself is quite problematic, because that's not where all the terrorism is.

I mean, look, the fact of the matter is that anti-Muslim bigotry has been the hallmark of Donald Trump's campaign throughout. And now, he has brought together a Cabinet, so far, of people who tend to agree with his views about Islam and about Muslim and that has to be problematic.

And again, to this whole constitutional element thing here, it's really just math, Kayleigh. If Islam is not a religion, then Muslims don't get religious rights, period.

BERNSTEIN: There's also the whole element of the propagandas for this Islamophobia, and that's Bannon. We are looking at a unified view of Islam that is antithetical to the notion of our Democratic principles of saying, instead of the President-elect, Bannon, the whole group there saying, our primary concern is to see that our Muslim citizens, like all citizens, are protected, and from there, let's look at problems of immigration, let's look at problems of terrorism. But nobody in this cohort is saying, our interest is to protect the rights of Muslims in America, all our people. That should be the first thing ...

MCENANY: President-elect Trump, that's the first thing he said. He said, I want to be a president for all the people, all religions ...

BERMAN: OK, what we're going to do, guys. This is actually a great conversation.

BERNSTEIN: Kayleigh, this is ...

BERMAN: We're going to take a quick break and we're going to get to some of these opinions I know you all want to say right after this.


[21:31:32] BERMAN: We've been talking about Donald Trump selecting retired General Mike Flynn to be his national security adviser and what some consider the controversy over things he has said in the past about Islam, a really interesting heated discussion here.

Philip Bump of "The Washington Post", you have been listening patiently, jumping out of your chair at times. Choose to say whatever you want but let me suggest this question, you can choose to answer it or not. A lot of this discussion is within the parameters of things that were crystal clear during months and months of this campaign. Donald Trump's position, Michael Flynn's position. And it doesn't mean that people shouldn't voice their views right now, but it does mean that voters had a choice on this subject a week and a half ago.

PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL RPORTER: No, that's very true. And Donald Trump was, from the moment that he captured the Republican nomination, there was an expectation he was going to moderate what he was saying to appeal more broadly to the general electorate. He never did that.

There were times in which he hinted, and hinted that he was going to do that, he didn't. He continued to be the same person that he was in the primary through the general election, and ended up winning. He ended up winning more electoral votes. He did not end up winning the popular vote. And that's important here because, Kayleigh is right that President Obama and Donald Trump have both said, give me a chance, you know, let's unify around my presidency, but it's incumbent upon him to also do some of that unifying.

And I think part of the challenge that we're seeing with these picks is that he's showing no signs of actually trying to recognize the reasons that people were dissatisfied with him as a candidate. And so I think one of the things that (inaudible) what happens over the course of the weekend, to Matt's point, we'll see, you know, these conversations with Mitt Romney, whatever it happens to be and what his next picks are. But that said, he has a responsibility to, if he wants a unified United States of America, to help do something unifying, he hasn't done that yet.

BERMAN: And Karine, I want to bring you in here because I'm fascinated by the Democratic response. And it started with Steve Bannon and it's continued all the way to today. Where really, all they can do, they've written strongly worded letters, literally ...


BERMAN: ... that's what they've done, but to an extent, that's all they can do.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I mean, they're in a really tough spot. I do want to bring this point up. The Justice Department released a report today on hate crimes and how much it's increased since Donald Trump has been elected. When it comes to the Muslim community, it's gone up 66 percent. And that's the fear, you know, when we talk about brown and black people in the Muslim community, what's the fear, that's it. Sixty-six percent for the Muslim community.

So, that is also the problem with Mike Flynn, who doesn't give -- continuously doesn't give a distinction between Islam and ISIS. And so, just wanted to make sure that we're aware that hate crimes ...


BUMP: That increase was from 2014 to 2015. That's not actually since the election.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yup, sorry.

TASINI: And he's right that Donald Trump has not moderated. And what we've seen, actually is it's true, to your point. Donald Trump is acting in the same way he acted in the campaign when he basically fomented hate and racism against Mexicans, against Muslims, and he generated that. So, in fact, he is acting exactly as he acted ...

BERNSTEIN: The life of Donald Trump for one second. It is about getting result and it doesn't matter to Donald Trump and it has never mattered in his life how the hell he gets there. Who gets run over, what happens to those students at Trump University. He is all about results. Whether you pay people 12 percent back on your loan you took and you cheat them out of the money, it's about the results in Donald Trump's pockets.

And what we are seeing here is, Donald Trump is moving now to get the results that he wants, he thinks he ran on this.

[21:35:06] He's going to get the results by driving this sledgehammer home. With these picks, with this strategy, and that's where we are. But let's not forget what his life has been like ... BERMAN: And what if -- hang on one second, Matt, because I do want to bring up my Mike Pompeo, whose Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA. Mike Pompeo is a guy who graduated number one in his class from West Point, he sat on the intelligence community, Bob Baer. But in your mind, again, as someone who has worked in the CIA, does he have the right experience to run the CIA?

BAER: No, he's not qualified. I mean, he is -- being hipsy doesn't count for intelligence experience. John Brennan had been in the CIA for many years. I think he is much too partisan, but he had been in Riyadh. He knew the intelligence community. George H.W. Bush knew it. He had been ambassador to China. And I could go on and on. Porter Goss, all these directors.

And what's -- what worries me is the CIA's very partisan right now and if you take a congressman, and you put him -- and he's been very straightforward on Benghazi, that was a failure of the Clinton administration, and breaking with Iran, undoing this agreement. So he is a partisan choice. I had hoped Trump would go into this and pick a professional or somebody that was fairly neutral.

And so I think as a choice, he's actually worse than Flynn, because he has less experience that's -- as a former professional ...

BERMAN: Just be clear, you would rather not see a politician, period, running the CIA?

BAER: I would get somebody out of the ranks or I would get a general four-star.

BERMAN: All right, guys, stick around. A lot more to discuss.

Next, he wasn't Donald Trump's biggest fan. Mitt Romney, who, as you know, has a weakness for chocolate milk. The question now is, is he ready for a sip of Kool-Aid? We'll talk about the possibility of him joining the Trump administration right after a quick break.


[21:40:51] BERMAN: As we have said tomorrow, President-elect Donald Trump will meet in New Jersey with one of his harshest critics, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, former governor of Massachusetts. I know, awkward, right? This is a taste of the words the two traded during the last year.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Mitt was a disaster as a candidate.

ROMNEY: He's playing the members of the American public for suckers.

TRUMP: Romney let us all down. He was a very poor campaigner.

ROMNEY: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.

TRUMP: Romney choked like a dog, he choked. He went ...

ROMNEY: His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

TRUMP: I have a lot of friends. No, I have a lot of friends. By the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them.


BERMAN: So Mitt Romney has told friends, he would like to serve in government again, and particularly he would like the job of Secretary of State. This is according to a senior Republican with knowledge of the transition.

Rudy Giuliani also said to be under consideration for a Cabinet position, along with South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, who also met with the President-elect. That happened yesterday at Trump Tower.

Joining me now, CNN political commentator, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who worked on both of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns, also, Katon Dawson, former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Kevin, you just heard there, President-elect Donald Trump and Governor Romney. They were more than just the usual political ruthless against each other. I mean ...


BERMAN: ... these were deeply personal. And I also think deeply serious attacks between the two men. So given that, how do you think Mitt Romney goes into this meeting this weekend? How do you think he approaches it?

MADDEN: Well, I think Governor Romney is very aware that there's a hot rhetoric of a campaign and then there is bringing people together and trying to find areas where you agree as you look towards governing. So I think -- but I also think Governor Romney, while very polite and very gracious, as he always is, and is known to be even by his harshest critics, will be very direct with some of the differences that he has with President-elect Trump. And I think the very direct about some of the challenges that he expects President-elect Trump to face when he deals with foreign policy and national security issues.

These are issues that Governor Romney has studied very closely. These are issues that he's written about and talked about, and campaigned on -- during his 2012 campaign. He is very serious about them. And I think that he is going to try and pass along as much insight as possible.

Look, he is somebody who is driven by a sense of duty. He is driven by a curiosity about these issues. And I think he will do everything he can to be helpful to President-elect Trump. He knows that this is an awesome challenge, an awesome responsibility that he's assumed as president-elect. And that effort to be helpful, I think is something that he's going to be very focused on to meet.

BERMAN: How do you think he would try to reconcile those major policy differences with Donald Trump, if asked to serve? And I'm not even talking about the differences where Mitt Romney thought that Donald Trump was a fraud and Donald Trump didn't think that.

MADDEN: Yeah. I think it would require a certain degree of concession, quite frankly. There would have to be a meeting of the minds of -- on something issue like this. These are not small differences.

If you look at Governor Romney and President-elect Trump's positions on the threat that Russia presents, the importance of NATO as part of a national -- American's national security posture, trade, for example, as not only an economic issue, but a diplomatic one. These are very big differences that I think Governor Romney would require some element of -- not concession, but an element of understanding that you have to have a much more comprehensive approach on many of these issues, if he were to try and advance a foreign policy platform in a Trump administration.

[21:45:03] BERMAN: So Katon, up until the Mitt Romney meeting that's happening this weekend, the meeting that raised the most eyebrows that the President-elect has had is with Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina who was the critic of Donald Trump during the primaries, especially, although of a different order, frankly, than Mitt Romney. She is a friend of yours. I mean, what do you think it would take for her to leave her job as governor of South Carolina and join a Trump administration given that she has a couple years left on her term?

KATON DAWSON, FORMER CHAIRMAN, S.C. REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I've been asked the difference of Ann and Mitt Romney. Mitt is probably in the twilight of his political career. Nikki Haley is just become vice chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. Soon in 2018, to be chairman of the Governor's Association. She's got one of the best jobs in politics. I mean, she's the governor of the state of South Carolina, that came out today with a 4.7 percent unemployment ratio, the lowest we've had in modern history in South Carolina, done a tremendous job. She's a patriot. Nikki is fiercely conservative, a good leader, and I think it would take a tremendous sense of duty and the right fit for Nikki to leave the governor's post in South Carolina.

And it's hard when you've got a president or president-elect that's asking you to come help. But then again, I think it would have to be the right fit. And unlike the Romney's and I'm a big fan of Mitt and Ann Romney's, and I hope he finds a place in the administration, because he brings a lot of value to the Trump team. And Nikki's got a job right now that -- I think she would be hard-pressed to leave it, John, honest with you. But we'll see what happens. She would be a great pick for any administration.

BERMAN: Quickly, we have just a few seconds left. I'd like to get the answer from each of you. Katon, you first, do you think this is for real, these meetings with Nikki Haley or Mitt Romney? Do you think they're really up for jobs or do you think this is just appearances? Katon, you first.

DAWSON: You know, you've got to look at the map that elected Donald Trump and what he did, whether Kevin and I a lot of times haven't agreed with the rhetoric or how the tone was, but what I can tell you, John, is he is doing exactly what we thought. He is putting away his personal grievances with anybody and looking for the best team he can put together to enact what he said he was going to do running for president. And he won. And I think the panel keeps missing it.

This guy won. Look at the red on the map and see what the expectation was. So he's got to put together a team regardless of his personal preferences. He's going to put -- or other one is going to do what he needs to do.

BERMAN: Kevin, for real or appearances?

MADDEN: I think it's a little bit of both. I think the appearance part of it is important, John. I think the transition team is trying to send a message that they are open to voices that they don't necessarily agree with, and they're looking for insight across the spectrum. And as a result of these conversations, very real agreements or understandings can be -- can come to, where you do have job offers to people that might necessarily not fit what you would think for -- what would be a Trump Cabinet.

BERMAN: Now, that's a good point. Even if they are just appearances, the appearances do matter here and they do count for something. Kevin Madden and Katon Dawson, great to have you here with us, I appreciate it.

DAWSON: Great to be with you both.

BERMAN: All right, a flood of fake news saturated social media during this presidential election. The question is, did it shape the outcome?


[21:52:09] BERMAN: In just about every conceivable way, the 2016 presidential election was like no other, including the role that social media played in the flood of fake news stories that were posted and shared. The volume of bogus news stories across social media is coming under growing scrutiny. Tom Foreman reports.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the final weeks of the raging election, stunning news, Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump, an FBI agent linked to Hillary Clinton's e-mail is found dead, and a person is paid $3,500 to protest Trump. Finally, the truth comes out, his son tweets. The problem, those stories were all flat out lies.

Fake news, which media analysts say hit this election like no other. According to one analysis, even being shared more than legitimate news stories. DAN GILLMOR, PROFESSOR, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY: We have an epidemic of false information racing around, using social networks as the accelerant.

FOREMAN: Here's one.

KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR FATHER: You have sacrificed nothing.

FOREMAN: When the Muslim family of that slain U.S. soldier grabbed headlines by criticizing Donald Trump, this story soon appeared claiming they were paid almost $400,000 by the Clinton Foundation, complete with a bank document as proof. It was all fake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pledge allegiance to the flag.

FOREMAN: Another story said President Obama had outlawed the pledge of allegiance in schools and federal offices. There was even a photo of him signing the executive order, turns out this false story was a recycled old one and still fake.

Some times even mainstream media gets taken in. Sean Hannity came across a story about Twitter and the investigation of Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren have unfollowed Hillary Clinton as well as scrubbing their timelines of tweets about her.

HANNITY: Wow. That means they know it's huge. You know what? Because Obama is implicated.

FOREMAN: Hannity found out the tale was false and apologized.


FOREMAN: Right before the election, retired Army General Michael Flynn now in line to be Trump's national security adviser tweeted a link tying Hillary Clinton to money laundering and pedophilia. Not a word of a true and on and on the stories go.

After Donald Trump won the electoral vote, a fake story appeared saying he took the popular vote too, though Clinton beat him by about a million ballots. And another story claimed Ireland and Canada were offering political asylum to American's fleeing the Trump presidency. No.


FOREMAN: The problem is so big. Facebook and Google have announced plans to try to block some of this fake news, but that could be tough. Many of these stories originate with rabid partisans or websites that make money out of publishing this propaganda and who don't much value the truth. John?

[21:55:09] BERMAN: Right. Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Shifting gears, if you're looking for a break from politics, don't miss "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" on Sunday night. This week's destination, Buenos Aires. Expect meat, a whole lot of meat and some beautiful scenery, also meat. Bourdain and Anderson recently talked about it. Take a look.




COOPER: I have not spent a lot of time in Buenos Aires. I don't ...


COOPER: Yeah. I ...

BOURDAIN: It's a perfect city.

COOPER: I -- yeah, I feel like you're either team Brazil or team Argentina. And I go for Brazil, so I haven't really dedicated time to Argentina.

BOURDAIN: It's a beautiful city with a forlorn, bitter sweet quality to it that we wanted to capture. So it's a very, very, very visual show. It's not particularly about food, though I will say if you're a vegetarian, don't go to Argentina because in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, chicken is considered a vegetable. I mean, even I, after like four days in Buenos Aires, I'm like thinking, Jesus, I need a salad. You know, it's like please someone bring me something green.

COOPER: Right.

BOURDAIN: But very beautiful place and I think, you know, we've made a lot of shows and we try to make them as visually interesting and unique and as beautiful as we can. This is easily among the most beautiful we've ever shot, maybe the most beautiful.

COOPER: That seeing a lot.

BOURDAIN: We worked really -- this was a cinematographer's dream, is when we really put it all out there. And it's got a dream like quality. If you're looking for pure travel porn, this is it.


BERMAN: And who isn't? We'll be right back.