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Trump: The President Can't Have a Conflict Of Interest; Source: Romney Seriously Considering Secretary of State Job; Trump Arrives In Florida for Thanksgiving Vacation; Trump Vs. The Media; Undiplomatic Suggestion?; Britain to Trump: "No Vacancy" For Farage as Ambassador; World Leaders Try to Figure Trump Out; Deadly School Bus Crash. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 22, 2016 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:02] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect heads to his Florida home after telling "The New York Times" that the president, "Can't have a conflict of interest and he could run his business and the country perfectly at the same time." More about that meeting and the president-elect's plans, that's next.


BERMAN: Top of the hour now, the question of the night on night one of Donald Trump's Thanksgiving vacation is more than merely fascinating namely. Will he spend his time down in Florida talking not just Turkey, but Romney, as in arch-rival, Mitt Romney, who our sources say is among the front-runners for the Secretary of State job.

More now from CNN's Jason Carroll who joins us not far from Mar-a- Lago. Jason, two new possible cabinet appointments floating out there. One a loyalist, another adversary, what can you tell us?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course you're talking about Mitt Romney, who used to be an adversary, now perhaps a political friend. And also Ben Carson, up for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Both of these men similar in two ways, both of these men seriously considering these positions, both of these men consulting the people very close to them, Mitt Romney consulting his advisers, some of his family members about this position, seriously considering it. Ben Carson, as well.

You know, Trump said of him once, he said, he's a talented person who loves people. And this is an area that Ben Carson cares very deeply about urban areas, and he has also said that he has a long-term interest, "In urban areas and urban development." Both of these men, John, said to be using the holiday weekend to take it all under consideration.

BERMAN: During -- what's on now at Mar-a-Lago this Thanksgiving weekend, you're close by the president-elect arrived there a short time ago. Do we know what his plans are for the next few days? Is this a working vacation? CARROLL: Well, there are a couple of things. I think it will be work, in part. Jason Miller has said that he wants -- he believes that Donald Trump will use the Thanksgiving day to have some downtime with his family, although tomorrow, there is expected to be a transition call early, not expected to have a transition call on Thursday, though, so perhaps this will finally be some downtime for Trump and his family.

We are expecting Donald Trump to release a video tomorrow. You know, there's been so much talk about Trump releasing these videos, going around the press. He hasn't had a press conference in two weeks or more. So perhaps what he's going to do tomorrow, we're hearing, is release a video about Thanksgiving, directly to the American people. much like he did when he released that video about what he would be doing, what he hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days of office. Again, that Thanksgiving video expected to come out tomorrow. John?

BERMAN: All right, Jason Carroll, not far from Mar-a-Lago in Florida, thanks so much.

[21:04:59] Before leaving down, this town, Donald Trump made headlines in a place where they know a good headline when they see one, the newspaper that Donald Trump has practically made a career out of trashing. Today, though what CNN's Jim Acosta reports, it was a different story.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Today, Donald Trump met face to face with one of his favorite targets, "The New York Times." And the newspaper's reporters were live tweeting the highlights.

To all of his supporters calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed over her e-mails in the Clinton Foundation, Trump hinted he's leaning against pushing for any sort of prosecution, saying it would be very, very divisive for the country. It's a reversal for Trump, who shattered presidential campaign enormous by threatening to imprison his opponent repeatedly.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF UNITED STATES: I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.

ACOSTA: On his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who's been accused of showcasing racist views on his Breitbart news site, Trump said it's very hard on Bannon. I think he's having a hard time with it, because it's not him. And Trump even moderated his stance on global warming, which he once called a hoax, telling "The Times," I think there is some connectivity between humans and climate change.

With his inauguration getting closer, the president-elect has no shortage of flames to put out. From a new revelation in "The Washington Post" that the Trump Foundation admitted to the IRS it was engaged in self-dealing, and illegally misusing charitable donations to the mounting conflicts posed by his business affairs overseas. Trump told "The Times," In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this.

MICHAEL FLYNN, RETIRED UNITED STATES ARMY LIEUTENANT GENERAL: We are facing another ism, just like we faced Nazism.

ACOSTA: And there are new questions about Michael Flynn, who's tapped to be Trump's national security adviser, after the retired general's comments on Islamism last August.

FLYNN: This is Islamism. And it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet. And it has to be excised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Carson. Dr. Carson.

ACOSTA: Trump also met with rival-turned-supporter, Ben Carson, and tweeted he is seriously considering the doctor to run Housing and Urban Development, even though a Carson adviser just last week said Dr. Carson doesn't think he's qualified to run a federal agency.

Trump has mostly tried to bypass the media since his election, revealing his upcoming agenda in this transition-produced video.

TRUMP: My agenda will be based on a simple core principle, putting America first.

ACOSTA: A top supporter's message to the press, get used to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But now Donald Trump's going to, you know, make his own way with the press and he's probably going to do a lot of those videos, I would imagine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where it's straight to the American people, go around the press.

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: All right, thanks to Jim for that.

Back now with the panel and joining us, "New York Times" conservative Op-Ed columnist, Ross Douthat, who was there inside the room for that meeting. Also Carlos Watson, editor and chief of, a conservative Trump critic, Tara Setmayer.

Ross, I want to start with you. You were there, more than a fly on the wall, an active participant in this hour long on-the-record question and answer session with the president-elect, which is more than -- really the American people have heard from him over the last several weeks. What struck you?

ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: A couple of things. I mean, I think Jim mentioned one of them already. Just that he came in and was with fairly conciliatory. There was a certain amount of time that he spent sort of rehashing the glory days of the campaign and a certain amount of time he spent complaining about his press coverage, particularly from "The New York Times."

But when the subject turned to public policy, he spent a lot of time saying, well, I'm open to this, I'm willing to do deals on this, and so on. And basically cast himself as he has in certain situations in the past, as a kind of, you know, Rockefeller-Nixon kind of Republican. Someone who's going to, you know, build infrastructure and make deals and sort of goose the economy, without being sort of, you know, intensely ideologically conservative. So that was part of the story. So you could see that as sort of outreach to "The New York Times," in certain ways.

But the other part was that he was, again, the quotes were sort of suggestive, he was fairly, you know, nearly defiant about sort of his business and his intention to not put it in a blind trust, to have his children run it, to continue to see his children, to, you know, do things like photo ops with people who have investments with Trump enterprises, the Trump organization around the world and so on.

So, I thought that was fairly striking, I think, as a preview of what's likely to be an ongoing sort of, you know -- an ongoing shadow, in certain ways, on his presidency.

BERMAN: When he tells you he doesn't see any conflicts of interest there. When he tells you that he can do his business and the country's business at the same time ...

DOUTHAT: Right -- I mean, he ...

BERMAN: ... you take him at his word.

DOUTHAT: In fairness, you know, he would say, well, look, we're going to create some sort of, you know, some sort of separation between the White House and my business.

[21:10:00] But he was ado careful to say, but I don't have to, right? And he was also -- and anytime anything specific came up, these photo ops, the case where he was supposedly and he basically confirmed this sort of said to British politicians, oh, you shouldn't put up wind turbines near my golf course. You know, he wasn't apologetic about any of that.

BERMAN: Tara, what about you? What do you make of that? And also, what do you make of this like operatic meeting that happened to begin with? Because when I woke up this morning, it wasn't happening. Donald Trump was tweeting that the rules had been changed which they hadn't.


BERMAN: And that he wasn't going and then he ended up going and not just going to a meeting, they actually went to "The New York Times". SETMAYER: I find this whole thing very telling about Donald Trump and his personality and his character. And this is exactly what we saw on the campaign. Remember, Donald Trump came out, would say, oh, don't worry, I can be so presidential when we want to be. We saw a glimpse of that on election night and then we haven't seen it since.

His priority has always been his own reputation, how he feels, what -- it's about him. That's part of the narcissism of his personality. And the fact that he has railed against "The New York Times," he's tweeted umpteen times again how horrible "The New York Times" is.

BERMAN: Yesterday.

SETMAYER: Right. That's right. That was like 6:30 in this morning. But then it's "The New York Times" that he gives his first major print interview to or, you know, on the record interview too. Because he understands that, you know, you don't go up against someone that has barrels of ink to print.

He knows his whole life has been about building up a persona in the media. So he -- and manipulating the media in his favor. So he throws a temper tantrum when it doesn't go his way, but then he also is savvy enough to realize, OK, once he takes a deep breath and go, you know what? I'm going to have to deal with these folks, continuing to write about me for the next four years, maybe longer. I need to massage that relationship.

So, this back and forth of, you know, the tweets, the temper tantrums, but then he goes in and he's, you know, all of a sudden now everyone's wonderful with "The New York Times," it's an interesting dynamic. And I think it's something you're going to continue to see.

The fact that he was so defiant about the conflict of interest stuff shows you, again, where his priority is. It's still worrying about the Trump organization, the Trump name, and that he's going to do what the hell he wants to do, and to hell with what, you know, the conventional wisdom is or what we've done before. But if he can get away with it, he will, and the American people better be ready for the continued conflict of interest issues coming up because it's not going away,

BERMAN: Kayleigh, quick word on the conflict of interest?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yeah. I would say -- you say he's going to -- he's not going to do what's been done before or we've never had a situation like this before. We've never had someone with a $10 billion brand being president of the United States. He's trying to do everything right. I think it's unfair to suggest that he put this in a blind trust which would mean take it away from his children.

Really at the end of the day, what this comes down to is Donald Trump is going to have to navigate the thickets of this and he's going to do so with lawyers at his side and that the White House council at his side to do so. But his priority is not his business, but the American people. BERMAN: But to be fair, we haven't seen any of that yet. Any of how he's going to navigate it, because so far, you know, his daughter has been in the room for meetings with the Japanese prime minister. So far, he's been taking pictures with Indian businessmen over here building a hotel. So far, he tells "The New York Times" that he sees no conflict of interest and, in fact, that it can't exist. So when he says he's going to navigate it, we haven't seen evidence of that yet.

MCENANY: But we also haven't seen the meetings Kellyanne Conway has told us that go on every day, with accountants, of lawyers, how do I deal with this, what is kosher, how do I move forward and to what is an unprecedented situation. We haven't seen that, but they are happening.

BERMAN: Carlos, it's a testament to how much other news was made that were an hour and 15 minutes into the show right now and we haven't brought up the fact that the Trump team and Donald Trump today basically said he's not going to go after Hillary Clinton. Lock her up. It was such a big part of the Trump campaign. He said he was going to ask for a special prosecutor right when he got into office, which, by the way, he would not have had the power to do anyway.

But today he seems to say, no. He isn't going to try to launch an investigation or press any charges against Hillary Clinton. What do you make of that?

CARLOS WATSON, EDITOR AND CHIEF, OZY.COM: You know, besides the fact that the Clintons were at his wedding and they clearly were buddies before this, and so it doesn't stoke fear of a conspiracy thoughts that they were buddies all along and this was a show? Maybe. But the truth of the matter is, he's been pragmatic on some levels. Certainly when you hear what he says about Obamacare, he already saying about climate change and you hear him backing off in some ways about how much he'll unwind NAFTA.

So, interesting how quickly he's done that. When you saw the last person, we saw do this much of it, it was Ronald Reagan, to some extent, but he took much longer in that regard. But I still think he's getting a little bit more of a pass. I think not only Democrats but the press at some level have been cowed.

And you heard the critique about Steve Bannon, but what you haven't heard said enough, and when you hear the whole shortlist of the cabinet, you don't hear many women in the running in their any meaningful way. You don't hear people of color, despite the fact that we heard about Ben Carson today and maybe Harold Ford Jr. And I think that's a real issue about whether or not you're taking advantage of the full talent of the country.

And I think that the fact that the press and the Democrats are cowed will remain interesting, including on questions of conflict of interest. And you may be right, Kayleigh, that there ultimately may not be an issue and he may put in place things, but the fact that there's not meaningful monitoring going on, on these other issues makes you wonder what's really going to happen.

[21:15:07] BERMAN: I don't know if you watched the last hour, he didn't get much of a pass here in the last hour.


BERMAN: We were sweating in the green room. But Maria, quickly, you know, on the Hillary Clinton issue, when he said that today, did Clinton supporters breathe a sigh of relief?

MARIA CARDONA, HILLARY CLINTON 2008 SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Not really, I don't think we were afraid of it one way or another because there was any there, there, as, you know, demonstrated by Jim Comey himself, twice, by the way. But I will give him credit for having said that and then saying going after her would be very divisive to the country, because it certainly would have been. I wish he would go further and apply that same, you know, way of that same view in terms of the divisive rhetoric that he has used throughout his campaign for the past 18 months if he did that, if he stepped up to the plate and this goes to re whole Alt-Right issue, he could have so much goodwill from the people who right now are nothing less than terrified of his presidency.

BERMAN: Right, coming up next, because Carlos was taunting us right there. We're going to return to the conflict of interest question about some hard facts on the table to help sort of flesh out this picture. Stay with us.


BERMAN: We spent a lot of time on Donald Trump's many potential conflicts of interest of interest between the people's business and the Trump's family business, as you've been hearing. He told "The New York Times" in so many words that what many experts believe is a problem is no problem at all. It might not be so simple, what with the lawsuits, the tax questions, the absence of tax returns, and more, Tom Foreman reports.


[21:20:08] TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Donald Trump open his billion dollars Scottish resort in 212 he had big ambitions.

TRUMP: We wanted to build what we determined could be easily, the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.

FOREMAN: But soon he was tilting at windmills, embroiled in a legal fight with the Scottish government over a wind farm just offshore ruining the view. A fight he lost less than a year ago. Shortly after his election, he met with British politician Nigel Farage, who helped lead the Brexit movement. And did they discuss wind farms again? Just today Trump told "The New York Times," I might have brought it up. The story embodies everything political watchdogs are worried about.

ALEXANDRA WRAGE, TRACE: Whether a position is abused or there's just the potential for that abuse, there's just the opportunity to abuse it, either way, it's undermining of confidence in government. FOREMAN: The billionaire politician told "The Times," in theory; I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly, adding, however, he's facing that out now, letting his children take over. But a firewall has clearly not gone up yet, so the president of Argentina says when he called to offer congratulations, Trump's daughter, Ivanka, was on the line, too. The transition team says no business was discussed, but the Trump Organization is working on a 100 million dollar project in Buenos Aires.

When the Japanese prime minister came calling, there was Ivanka, again, with the Trump Organization doing business with at least 150 companies in 25 countries, the potential for professional ties colliding with politics is huge. Will the new president recognize the new envoy from the Philippines picked just before the election? Sure, it's his former business partner.

Lawsuits are also a worry, such as the one over Trump University, which he just settled for $25 million. So are reports of questionable behavior and bookkeeping at the Trump Foundation.

And even that fancy new D.C. hotel he so proudly opened recently, it is on property leased from the very government he will now lead.


FOREMAN: Even as the president-elect promises to step away from all these entangle, it remains unclear when he will complete that step. But one thing is very clear, he's confident this will not be a problem. Telling "The Times," the law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest. John?

BERMAN: All right, Tom Foreman thanks so much.

More now on this, joining us, David Frum, senior editor at "The Atlantic" and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

So, David, Maggie Haberman, a "New York times" reporter who was in the meeting today, tweeted that Trump said, the law's totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest and in theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this. That's what he says of this tangle. So what are we supposed to make of this?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR THE ATLANTIC: To make that you're to keep in mind the lesson that with this president, unfortunately, anything he says must be independently verified. He has a bad habit of saying things that are not true and what he said in that tweet is not true.

First, the law does not say that the president can't have a conflict of interest. What the law says is that the conflict of interest rules laid down in the ethics government act of 1978 do not apply to the president and the vice president. The president can certainly have a conflict of interest. It's just that there is no enforcement mechanism to prevent it. What there are -- there are some disclosure rules. They are, however, very, very weak. Today United States has mostly relied on the honor and good sense of the president of the United States to avoid wrongdoing. In the current case, relying on Donald Trump's honor and good sense is obviously not a sufficient protection.

BERMAN: So if there no enforcement rules to keep him from doing it, there's nothing to stop him, correct?

FRUM: Well -- no, no, that's the second sentence. And that's also not true. There are rules, there are rules in seeking bribes, there are rules against accepting gratuities. There are a whole series of laws that are designed to prevent corrupt activity by the president. But they have some holes, for example, those laws tend not to apply to members of the president's immediate family.

And of course, then, there are definitional issues. What exactly, is a bribe? If, for example, the government of Argentina decides to go easy on the zoning rules, about the Trump Tower that is rising in Buenos Aires, that's not a tower that Donald Trump owns, but it's a tower that is licensed in his name, it's not a bribe? What if China suddenly discovers that it needs 100 Trump-branded towers and casinos, each of which pays a franchise fee to the president of the United States, is that a bribe? We will have a lot of definitional issues.

[21:25:05] These could be avoided if the president would do things like release his tax returns or liquidate his assets, but again that relies on honor and good sense, and those are not Donald Trump strong sense.

BERMAN: Yeah, liquidate his assets, set up a blind trust that that's even possible here. Do you think there is anything ...

FRUM: I thought that's some -- No, I'm sorry, that is not asking the impossible, that's asking the perfectly reasonable. What the president has done is redefine the possible to mean the inconvenient, the disobliging.

Or actually, he's redefine the impossible is meeting something that will not allow him to maximize the economic value of the presidency.

It is perfectly possible for him to liquidate his assets. Assets are liquidated every day. That's why we have financial markets for.

BERMAN: Who's going to force this, though? I mean, there are other rules that you say that do exist. There are the rules that are enforceable, some that may be not enforceable, but who is going to be the watchdog here? Because short of Congress, really, stepping in, unless you see a sign that I don't see.

I don't see the Republican-led Congress standing up and saying, "stop" or do something about this. What's going to make it better in your mind?

FRUM: Nothing's going to make it better it's going to be worse. We are plunging into a period of crisis and, you know, I would say is we're going to have ethical crisis followed by constitutional crisis. We are going to have -- as soon as the Democrats get hold of either branch of Congress, or as soon as one -- I think two or three Republicans decide they can't stand the extension of it anymore and join with the Democrats in the Senate to authorize investigations.

We are going to have a period of congressional investigation of alleged wrongdoing by the president-elect and by his family that's going to consume the politics of the United States.

As it had an honorable person, even a dishonorable person with some good sense would act now to head this off.

BERMAN: He said last night on one of his made tweets. He said, it's just the crooked media talking about this. He says that his business interests were well known before the election and people still voted him.

And I should tell you that we did a poll that came out just this morning that's a 59 percent of Americans don't think the president- elects Trump plan to prevent conflicts of interest goes far enough. I'm not sure there is a plan at least one that know of. Go ahead?

FRUM: He has a plan to maximize his conflicts of interest. He has his plan. And by the way, I think we need to stop using the term, conflict of interest here.

A conflict of interest is a temptation to do something wrong. The issue is not that the president might possibly be tempted to do something wrong. The issue was that the president has told us he fully intends to do things that are wrong. These are conflicts of interest. These are outright acts of using the office of the presidency to enhance his wealth and that of his family.

BERMAN: David Frum, clearly very passionate about this. Thanks so much for being with us.

FRUM: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Just ahead, more on president-elect Trump's meeting today at "The New York Times", the latest chapter in his long-running love/hate/hate relationship with the media.


[20:31:44] BERMAN: Donald Trump's visit today to "The New York Times" was out of character in at least one respect, namely, he went there instead of receiving people at Trump Tower.

In other ways, though, as you got a hint off at the top of the hour, it was vintage Trump. More on that from CNN's "Reliable Sources" Anchor, Brian Stelter.


TRUMP: You have so many dishonest reporters.

A bunch of phony low-lives.

The world's most dishonest people.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES" ANCHOR: The candidate who declared war on the media,

TRUMP: We have to fight the media.

STELTER: ... is not changing. Donald Trumps is the president-elect now, but he's still acting like a professional media critic, calling the press crooked and venting about unfair campaign coverage.

This morning, he woke up and announced on Twitter, "I canceled today's meeting with the failing "New York Times" when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice." Not nice?

TRUMP: "The New York Times" is totally dishonest.

I think "The New York Times" is one of the most dishonest media outlets I've ever seen in my life. I call it the failing "New York Times."

STELTER: Hours later, he flip-flopped and headed cross town to "The Times" headquarters. He left the hour-long interview calling "The Times" a crown jewel, proving once again his love/hate relationship with the news outlets that made him famous.

Back on Monday, he invited executives and anchors from five major T.V. networks including CNN to Trump Tower.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: There's no need to mend fences. It was an off-the-record meeting. It was very cordial, very productive, a genial, but it was also a very candid and very honest.

STELTER: Honest, indeed. Sources say Trump vented about media coverage, attacking NBC and CNN, in particular, but he also listens to the reporters who argued for improved access.

Candidate Trump always wanted the press' attention, but on his own terms. And since Election Day, Trump has repeatedly ditched the "Press pool", that's the small group of journalists assigned to cover him at all times.

JEFF MASON, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT'S ASSOC: The reason it's important to have a press pool so close is basically because news can happen even when it's not planned.

STELTER: Today, Trump said, I think you'll be happy with his commitment to the First Amendment. He clearly embraces his own free speech freely blasting the people who cover him.

TRUMP: They're scum. They're horrible people.

STELTER: Horrible people trying to tell the truth about an unpredictable Trump presidency. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Horrible person's Brian Stelter joins us now. Brian, thanks for being with us, also with us, CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley.

And Doug, I want to start with you here. You know, the transition is supposed to be the honeymoon period between the president-elect and the press.

I mean, this really is, in some cases, is as good as it gets, yet there is this incredibly contentious relationship here. There's really no historical precedent for this.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There truly isn't, but we have to deal with the new media environment I think.

Look, Donald Trump has 15.6 million Twitter followers. He's going to inherit about 12 million that go with POTUS.

He's going to suddenly have 25, 30 million Twitter followers, whenever he wants to go over the mainstream media, he's going to use Twitter. He also will use these infomercials site we saw yesterday, 2 1/2 minutes of film, talking directly to the American people.

[21:35:01] But add to that, he's got conservative media on his side. He has Fox News. You know, he has Breitbart. He's got "Drudge". He's got "The New York Post." So, he's kind of isolating what the elite media, so to speak, "The New York Times," "Washington Post," CNN, and wants to play good, some days bad with them, bat them back and forth. And so it's going to be a very contentious time with those news media sources, including us here at CNN, trying to cover Trump, because he wants to isolate us.

BERMAN: Right.

BRINKLEY: And will play us how he feels like he needs to for expedient's sake on a day-by-day basis.

BERMAN: And Brian in fact, Laura Ingraham, who could end up as a press secretary for Donald Trump suggested that Donald Trump, the President-Elect, and then president will try to go around the press with these video releases, the likes of which we saw yesterday, the likes of which we think we're going to get tomorrow. Does that work even with 15 million followers? Yeah, you can go on Twitter, people can click on the videos, but it doesn't mean that the press and the reporting goes away?

STELTER: It only works to a point. And that's why we saw Donald Trump actually go all the way over to "The New York Times" building, a mile away from Trump Tower today. You know, this was actually a sort of show respect to go to "The Times" headquarters, even though he complained about the coverage "The Times" gave him, even though he complained to network executives yesterday. You know, tonight, over on the other side of Manhattan, I was over a lot of story the media political journalists were having its annual fund-raising dinner tonight. And the theme is really about press freedom close to home.

Normally this fund-raiser is about threats to journalism and other countries, but the subtext tonight is all about the United States. CNN President Jeff Zucker saying, we will hold this administration's feet to the fire. New Yorker editor, David Remnick saying, that this is a crucial time to show other countries how much we value the first amendment. That's the kind of language, the kind of rhetoric we're hearing from top journalists. I think it foreshadows the more adversarial relationship, whether that's the intent or not on the journalist's part, Trump is trying to set the media up as his opponent, as his adversary for the next four years.

BERMAN: You know, Doug, it is interesting that the trip to "The New York Times" today was fascinating. An hour-long on-the-record discussion with a group of reporters is terrific, I mean it's the kind of thing that any reporter, any news organization would welcome and it's good for all of us and good for the American people to see that kind of conversation. Donald Trump hasn't done a full press conference, Doug, in edges, I think since July. And it is certainly something that previous president-elects have done during the transition period, certainly by this time during the transition?

BRINKLEY: Yeah, I was very surprised when he was rolling out his new cabinet selections, that he didn't show up with a press conference, introduce them, have a little bit of a give and take. He's really kind of been in hiding, in some ways in Trump Tower, now down in Florida. So I don't think we're going to be getting the John F. Kennedy treatment of press conferences with the give and take. With that said, you know, the great poet, Walt Whitman famously said, so I contradict myself. By and large, I contain, multitudes. That's Donald Trump. He thinks he's so large, that he can contradict himself. One day he can say, loser, one hour say loser "New York Times", scum, the next day they're crown jewels. And he'll go back and forth, because it keeps the press confused. And in confusion, he seems to be able to excel. And so we'll have to be find new ways to cover him and the key is going to be does he break the law, conflict of interest.

BERMAN: Right.

BRINKLEY: It's really about finding the illegal activities like David Frum was suggesting in your previous segment, that the press is going to excel in the area of Trump.

BERMAN: Well, the press will keep on working. In fact, David Fahrenthold with the "The Washington Post" today had a report saying that the Trump Foundation admitted that it broke some rules over the past several years. So the press continues to work hard. Douglas Brinkley, Brian Stelter Thank you so much.

Just ahead, President-Elect Trump breaks protocol and suggests that Nigel Farage, the pro-Brexit British politician would make a great ambassador to the United States. The problem is, it's a job that's already taken. It's a job that's not his to give. I'm going to speak to CNN International Correspondent, Christiane Amanpour about Britain's response. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:43:03] BERMAN: President-elect Trump has made no secret that he's a fan of Nigel Farage, the interim leader of Britain's populist anti- immigrant UK's Independence Party, but the president-elect raised eyebrows on both sides of "The Atlantic" when he tweeted many people would like to see Nigel Farage represent great Britain as their ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job.

Just one small problem. Britain already has an ambassador to the U.S., which a member of parliament pointed out, well getting in his own dig at Donald Trump.


SIMON BURNS, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Although there is no vacancy, would the Foreign Secretary think this is extremely generous of Donald Trump to suggest who should be our ambassador in the United States? And in that measure of fraternity, might he suggest that the best person to fill the vacancy of the ambassador to the United Kingdom next year would be Hillary Rodham Clinton. Though I suspect the last thing she'd want to do is be associated with the incoming administration.


BERMAN: Gee, Nigel Farage, you recall, was a staunch backer of Britain's withdraw from the European Union and outspoken and supporter of Donald Trump during the campaign.

CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, has had a front row seat to British reaction to the U.S. Election and she joins us now.

So, Christiane, on this tweet from President-elect Trump of Nigel Farage, you know, first of all, the UK already has an ambassador to the United States. But second of all, I mean, how unusual is it for a president, let alone a President-elect to dabble like this in another nation's foreign policy?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look it's obviously very unusual. But, you know, John we live in an unusual world right now. Politics, diplomacy, the press, all these relationships are being turned on their head. And so what Nigel Farage is doing is much like what he did during the Brexit campaign, much like how he sort of enabled Donald Trump to do during his campaign. In other words, do an end run around the establishment and seek to make your own relationships. And because Nigel Farage has led a populist revolt in England and was the first British political leader, although he's not an elected MP in England, he was the first to meet with Donald Trump.

[21:45:20] I interviewed him when he came to the convention in Cleveland. He's had a very close relationship and I guess they both feel they have this personal connection. It's just outside the realms of diplomacy. BERMAN: You know, the reaction was so typical, when it has to do with Donald Trump. The reaction initially was people were saying, this isn't how it's done. This just doesn't happen like this. Yeah, exactly, that's Donald Trump.

AMANPOUR: You know, I think that we're all in, again, a very, very unusual political dynamic right now. None of what's happened is very usual. That's why people have been so surprised by the Brexit win in England, by the Donald Trump win here. People were surprised. It took people by surprise. And so, a lot of the sort of, what goes into making a presidential campaign or transition or relations with foreign governments, all of that is now being done on a different basis than what we've been used to.

BERMAN: Nevertheless, these European leaders, no matter how unusual it is, they're all going to have to deal with President Trump.

AMANPOUR: That's right.

BERMAN: ... after January 20th. What are they saying about that?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, ever since on November 9th, when it was clear what the result was. I interviewed a whole panoply of them from my perch in London. And they all gave the pro forma deregur (ph) response that they should. We respect the American democracy, we respect the choice of the American people, we look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump.

Some of them added addendums. For instance, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who you know, has had a very, very close relationship with President Obama, believes in the, you know, US-European Global Alliance. She actually said that, yes, I will work closely with President-elect Donald Trump on the basis of our shared values. And went on to list the shared values of tolerance, of gender equality and respect, of all sorts of orientations of respect for refugees, all the different things that make up the global and universal values. And that was quite interesting to see her put that sort of conditional offer on the table.

In Europe, we face a populist uprising, much the same as happened here. As happened in Britain. There are elections coming up in Germany and in France, there are, you know, elections and referendums coming up in Austria and in the Netherlands and in Italy. And all of those could really end up turning the status quo on its head. And that's why everyone is very carefully looking what is actually happening in public space right now.

BERMAN: You know, American elections are always important around the world. This one, maybe in particular.

AMANPOUR: Very much so, that's why everyone is looking very, very carefully who the national security, the state, and defense officials for Donald Trump will be, very, very carefully.

BERMAN: What about that? Rudy Giuliani, a former Mayor of New York City, rumored as one of the two maybe possibilities for Secretary of State?

BERMAN: I would say, and I haven't asked them, but I would is a I based on the -- what's probably likely, that he would they would prefer it to be, if the other is one in contention is Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney because they know him better. They know that he has spoken on foreign affairs before that he has certain views that it might be more of an establishment, you know, all get together kind of candidate.

BERMAN: Interesting. No, I mean, Rudy Giuliani is not exactly anti- establishment.

AMANPOUR: That's right.

BERMAN: He's been part of the structure of government for decades, and not completely unknown.

AMANPOUR: No, but doesn't really have foreign policy leanings.

BERMAN: Christiane Amanpour, thank so much for being with us.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right coming up next, we're going to update you on the investigation into that horrible bus crash that took the lives of five elementary school students, killed in Tennessee.


[21:52:44] BERMAN: A community in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is in shock and grief tonight after five children died in a school bus crash. The bus full of elementary school students had just left school yesterday afternoon, no students had been even dropped off yet when this crash happened. Now the NTSB investigation has just begun. Martin Savidge reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A school bus flipped off the roadway. It's occupied with children. They believe there's ejections.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A drastic accident. According to his mother, that's how driver of this mangled school bus described the crash that killed at least give children Monday afternoon in Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the back I can see an arm moving.

SAVIDGE: The driver, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, has now been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Authorities' key focus now is speed.

CHRISTOPHER HART, NTSB CHAIRMAN: The police are aware of a following car, so that witness we have but we are looking for other witnesses who may know not only about this event but also we talked about previous behavior of that driver. SAVIDGE: According to a newly obtained arrest affidavit, Walker was traveling on a narrow winding road, driving the bus at a high rate of speed, well above the posted speed limit of 30 miles an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was going real fast and he hit a garbage bag and we hit a mailbox and then we flipped over and hit a tree real hard.

SAVIDGE: Witness statements and evidence indicating the bus was off the road, hit an elevated driveway and the mailbox then swerved again, hitting a telephone pole and tree as it overturned.

DWIGHT WILSON, VOLUNTEER HOSPICE CHAPLAIN: Broken ribs, broken legs, broken arms, bleeding kidneys. Our hearts have been going out to these families.

SAVIDGE: 37 school children ranging from kindergartners to fifth graders were riding that bus with Walker when it crashed. A dozen remain hospitalized, some being treated in intensive care.

ANDY BERKE, MAYOR OF CHATTANOOGA: There are no words that can bring comfort to a mother or a father and so today the city is praying for these families.

SAVIDGE: One father told ABC News he'd had concerns about the bus driver before.

CRAIG HARRIS, FATHER OF CHILD ABROAD BUS: There has been times where I've seen him going a little faster than he probably should be going. That's the reason why I've tried to be there in the mornings when he's pulling up so I could get a rhythm for what he was doing.

[21:55:05] SAVIDGE: The driver's mother tells CNN her son was "terrified" when he called her shortly after the crash telling her he tried to pull children from the wreckage. She says he is the father of a three-year-old son who worked two jobs and has never been in trouble before. The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the incident, hoping to use video and informational boxes on board to find out what just happened on this bus and whether it could have been prevented.


BERMAN: Martin Savidge joins us now from Chattanooga. Martin, what are you learning about the conditions of the children who were injured in the crash?

SAVIDGE: John, there are still 12 that are hospitalized, six in critical condition tonight. There were 19 other children at one time that they treated as the walking wounded. So crowded in the ER, and so many families converged to find out if their child was OK. They had a problem with identification because many children couldn't speak. They were so traumatize, so they began using photos.

Photos of any family members had in their phone. They would match the photo with a child in the back in the ER. Until they had one family that they had a photo that they knew there was no child back there. It was a very, very hard night.

BERMAN: So difficult Martin. We're thinking about those families tonight. Thank you so much for being with us.

We'll be right back.


[22:00:04] BERMAN: That does it for us. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, starts now.