Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Military Suffers First Combat Casualty in Syria; Israel Wildfires Spreading, Thousands Flee; Donald Trump's Potential Conflicts of Interest; Remembering the Life & Career of Florence Henderson. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 25, 2016 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:18] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The U.S. military suffering its first combat death in Syria on Thanksgiving in an IED blast. The tragic loss of life underscores the dangers that U.S. soldiers face each and every day in the fight to defeat ISIS.

Joe Johns is live for us at the White House with the very latest.

Joe, good morning.


Not a lot of information on this at this at this time from Central Command. We do know, as you say, a U.S. service member in northern Iraq near Raqqa -- northern Syria, I should say, in Raqqa was killed. This apparently was caused by an improvised explosive device. There are at any one time as many as 300 U.S. troops operating in Syria, working in an advising role but we don't know precisely what they were doing.

The Defense Secretary Ash Carter did release a statement yesterday that said in part, "I'm deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting the U.S. from the evil of ISIL. You say, Brooke, it points up the danger in Syria, even though these people are supposed to be working in an advisory capacity.

Back to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joe Johns at the White House, thanks so much. Our hearts go out to that family.

A California mother has been found alive on the side of the road three weeks after she went jogging and never came home. Police say 34-year- old Sherri Papini was bound and dumped on the side of Interstate 5 and managed to flag down a passing car. This is about nearly 150 miles from her home. Police are now looking for two armed women who allegedly abducted her. BALDWIN: Federal investigators are now leading the manhunt for the

gunman who killed two people and injured four during a holiday football game in Louisville, Kentucky. Family members tried to run to their loved ones after gunfire erupted during what they call the Juice Bowl on Thanksgiving in City Park. Police say the mayor was safely whisked away after being just 200 yards from those bullets. The motive for the shootings is still unclear.

BERMAN: Arson terrorism, that's how Israeli officials are describing what is happening in and around the city of Haifa. Raging wildfires forced tens of people from their homes. Authorities believe many of the fires were set deliberately.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Haifa with more this morning.

Good morning, Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we're getting the latest information that at least 12 suspects now have been arrested and detained in starting these fires. There's a bit of good news, though. Many of the neighborhoods here in Haifa, in northern Israel, the hardest hit cities, many of those people are now being allowed back home.

But police say and authorities say they're still fighting hot spots that are reigniting. We have seen some fires tear apart the center of the city. Take a look here to my left. This is one of the buildings in the hardest hit area. This building entirely gutted. This in Haifa, fires breaking out across central and northern Israel, as well.

You can see this video -- firefighters from all over the country here, almost three-quarters of the firefighters in the country trying to get these fires under control and get them out before they reignite in these very dry, very windy conditions. This has become at this point an international problem. The Turks, the Russians, the Americans, the Greeks all sending in help as well as the Palestinians who had to deal with their own fires in the West Bank -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. Oren, thank you so much. We'll stay in contact with you throughout the morning.

Meantime, 56 days to go until President-elect Donald Trump puts his hand on that bible on Inauguration Day in Washington and with so much controversy swirling around who will he pick for his cabinet. The question we're asking this morning is, will he be ready to lead? We'll tackle that next on NEW DAY.


[06:38:06] BALDWIN: In just 56 days, it will be President Trump. From cabinet appointments to conflicts of interest, he is facing all kinds of questions about his readiness to lead this country.

So, will Trump address it all by day one?

Let's bring back Errol Louis to discuss. So, when you look at some of the numbers as far as whether or not

Americans approve or disapprove on how he's handled all this thus far, it's kind of right down the middle -- 46 percent today approve, 45 percent disapprove. And also, when you look at previous presidents, the numbers aren't that high in some cases.

Do you think people are being too critical and transitions aren't always, you know, perfect?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this particular transition has its unique problems that other presidents haven't had to face. He is a plurality president, in some respects, depending on you look at this, right? He didn't get the outright majority of the popular vote and that number keeps changing. He won these critical states by less than 1 percent if you're talking about Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Michigan hasn't really even formally called.

So, he has a little bit of that that he has to contend with, but he's also got in an interesting kind of new problem which is that people don't know whether to be -- people who are uneasy about Trump. They don't know to be concerned he's going to do what he said on the campaign trail or whether he's going to not do what he said on the campaign trail. So, you know, there were some things he said were reassuring to people but we don't know if he's going to do those things.

There are a lot more things that he said that were deeply troubling about torture and about prosecuting Hillary Clinton that he seems to be backing away from. What it creates is an overall uneasiness that we don't really know.

BALDWIN: It's the unknown.

LOUIS: Sure, we simply don't know. You can almost pay money to people to find out what the urban policy is going to be. What is he going to do about transportation?

He's made these broad, sweeping claims like, oh, it's going to be so great. We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare. We're going to replace it with something that is going to be so beautiful, right? What does that mean, right? And there's an entire sector, what, 14 percent of the economy rests on the answer to that question and we have no idea where it's going to wind up.

[06:40:04] BERMAN: You can be vague for about 56 more days.

LOUIS: Yes, well, that's exactly right.

BERMAN: And then you can't be vague at all because everything you say and do matters a lot to a lot of people. You said, you know, you make a great point, too, which is he can be accused of flip-flopping, and a lot of people think that's a good idea.

One area where he hasn't budged, oddly enough, and this is the interview with "The New York Times", is on the areas of his own potential conflicts of interest where he doesn't really see any conflicts of interest but some people do, right?

During the transition, he met with his Indian business partners. Ivanka Trump sat in with a meeting with the Japanese prime minister. You know, the Trump children are involved with the transition, including son-in-law Jared Kushner may be involved in negotiating Mideast peace. There is a lot going on with this family and his business and Donald Trump is fairly defiant on this.

LOUIS: Well, absolutely right. In fact, what he keeps saying, what he has said repeatedly and said at "The New York Times", is that the president can't a conflict of interest. That's kind of an overstatement of the reality. The reality is that there are very specific conflict of interest rules that apply to all federal employees, but it has been decided that you can't constrain a president and, frankly, vice president by putting those restraints on them.

But that's not the same as saying I can't have conflicts of interest. There are going to be conflicts all over the place. This is almost, I think, going to be a full employment bill for investigative reporters, because we can add to the list you already gave. The loans from the Bank of China, loans from Deutsche Bank, which is supposed to be regulated by the federal government, that D.C. hotel down the street where diplomats are already saying, yes, we're staying here because we want to curry with the president of the United States.

BERMAN: Saying it out loud, by the way.

LOUIS: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: But the question being, would anyone ever cry foul? I mean, my friend Alisyn Camerota who was sitting on that sit yesterday brought up a great point with Republican Ben Ferguson. She was saying, if you were to replace the name Donald Trump with Hillary Clinton and replace Ivanka with Chelsea Clinton, Republican heads would be exploding.

LOUIS: Well, that's exactly right. And then, it raises the question, what are the remedies? If there is a conflict and the remedy is not the same legal process that would apply to any other federal employee. That doesn't mean we're helpless to just sort of live with these conflicts and hope they don't cause a huge problem. What it means is that other institutions, including the media, including Congress, which does have investigatory impeachment power if it comes to that point.

This doesn't go away because Donald Trump can't be subpoenaed on some of these things, or he thinks he can't be sort of held to account in any other way any federal employee can. And so, I think his team understands this because they're at least giving some lip service to trying to resolve this. Although we have gotten no clear guidance on what that's going to look like.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you. BERMAN: So, there was a cornucopia of football to go along with all that holiday turkey. The Steelers, Cowboys, Lions, they all feasted on their opponents. We'll have details next in the "Bleacher Report".


[06:46:44] BERMAN: Turns out the Dallas Cowboys might be pretty good. They just won their tenth game in a row.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, they may be the best rookie combo in NFL history. It's just incredible what they've done so far this season.

Cowboys hosted the Redskins to their annual Thanksgiving Day game. In second quarter, Dak rolling out here and he's going to find Terrence William for the touchdown. And check out the replay, Williams getting his tippy toes down, an incredible catch by him. That made the score 17-3.

Fourth quarter, Elliott going to get in for a second touchdown of the game. Cowboys hang on to win 31-26 for their tenth straight win.

Now, throughout the entire game, Dez Bryant and Josh Norman were going at it. After the game, during handshake, they actually had to be separated on the field.

All right. The appetizer yesterday, the Lions beat the Vikings, but it was Aretha Franklin's rendition of national anthem before the game that stole the show.


SCHOLES: Now, the anthem lasted 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Got to be close to a record. Twitter had an absolute field day with this. One of my favorite tweets was we were able to eat the turkey, eat the turkey and have dessert and Aretha was still singing the anthem.

BALDWIN: Nice. Andy, thank you. Happy day after Thanksgiving.

Meantime, just a painful first for the U.S. military now fighting ISIS in Syria. We have details of a Thanksgiving tragedy, next.


[06:52:48] BALDWIN: While millions of Americans were enjoying their loved ones, breaking bread on Thanksgiving, half a world away, an American serviceman was killed in northern Syria. U.S. defense officials say he was part of the multi-national force fighting in Syria. Joining us now, CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He's the former Army commanding general for Europe and the Seventh Army.

General Hertling, as always, thank you so much for joining us.


BALDWIN: You know, obviously, our condolences go out to, you know, his family, his friends back here at home. We don't have a lot of details surrounding exactly how he was killed other than the fact that it was by an IED, an improvised explosive device.

Will you just underscore the dangers in this part of the world for our military men and women?

HERTLING: Sure. In Syria, this is our first fatality. This young soldier gave his life for his country and helping whoever he was advising and assisting. Not sure if it was Syrian defense forces or Kurdish forces that were trying to surround Raqqa and stop the terrorists from leaving that city.

It -- the advise and assist role is very misunderstood by the American people, Brooke. It is not leading others in combat, but it's certainly right there with those who are leading, giving some thoughtful perspectives of the battlefield from an experience standpoint. But, also, providing some assistance with intelligence feeds, perhaps calling in air which is critical in this time of campaign. Anytime you have a desert operation, you've got to have overhead aircraft supporting you.

So, these guys are right at the front. And there are about 300 of them in Syria.

BALDWIN: I think people are waking up this morning, some people thought we didn't have boots on the ground but, yes, we do. Yes, we do. We have these Special Forces.

Let me move on and ask you about what is happening in Mosul. We are talking about undersecretary of the army yesterday visiting troops in Kuwait. We know that Iraqi-led forces have totally surrounded Mosul. Obviously, this means they're able to squeeze in on the city but what other advantages did this provide for allied forces there?

[06:55:00] HERTLING: Well, what you have to understand is that Mosul is surrounded by a desert. So, getting to the outskirts of the city is relatively simple. But even somewhat challenging because there are small hamlets and villages all over the place.

But once inside the city, Brooke, make no mistake about it, this is going to be a bloody example of urban combat. This is a huge city. Very different from Fallujah or Tikrit or Baiji where the Iraqi security forces have fought in the past. And it is challenging because of the number of civilians inside this city. When you go block to block in Mosul, it is a tough city to be in.

I've been to that city many times. Truthfully, it is so combat and complex that you sometimes are in certain neighborhoods and don't even know where you are or what direction you're facing just because of the streets and the tunnels and the markets. It's just a very difficult city to fight in.

And all of this fighting is going to be the most intense in the western side of the city. And the Iraqi security forces have not arrived in that part of the city just yet.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you also now about someone you had worked for in your time in Iraq, someone who could prove to be sort of the dark horse selection for secretary of state. I'm talking about General David Petraeus, that he would be willing to serve, if he were to be asked.

Do you think -- I mean, obviously, as an extraordinary resume, although we know about his conviction from the past. Would that prohibit him from serving? Do you think that he should, if offered, take the job?

HERTLING: Well, let me -- let me just tell you what I know about General Petraeus. He is an extremely intelligent and savvy operational and strategic commander. Much like the other day when I said General Mattis was warrior, a monk. General Petraeus is a soldier scholar.

He knows a lot about the world. As central command commander where he served for almost two years, he was dealing with all the nations in the Middle East in a diplomatic role. He was also the CIA director. So, he had all kinds of contacts with government and understands the policies and the divisiveness of Washington.

But when he was my commander in Iraq, he was also consolidating allies from over 35 different countries in support of the war there and they did the same thing in Afghanistan. So, this is an individual who not only knows strategic operations and strategic actions, but he also knows how to deal in a diplomatic sense with other governments. And he has done so on many occasions.

So, certainly, he has the kinds of experience you need to serve in this kind of a role.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. General Mark Hertling, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

HERTLING: A pleasure, Brooke. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We are following a lot of news this morning, this Black Friday. So, let's get to it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this special holiday

edition of NEW DAY. Chris and Alisyn are off. So, it's me and Brooke Baldwin.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

BERMAN: Nice to see you all.

We do begin with some really sad, breaking news. The passing of an icon. Florence Henderson so many of us remember as Carol Brady, that wonderful show in the early 1970s. She passed away overnight.

BALDWIN: The beloved 82-year-old actress died overnight in Los Angeles. We know celebrities, fans have been reacting quickly to her death.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now with a look at her and her storied career.

You know, all morning as we have been talking, I have "The Brady Bunch" theme song in my head. She was like America's mom.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She was like America's mom. We let her into our hearts and our homes and now we have to say good-bye to this lovely, lovely lady. Her manager confirming she passed away on Thursday night, she was hospitalized on Wednesday. Very unexpected. She was surrounded by her four children. And she moves on to our memory.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Florence Henderson captured hearts across America as one of the most beloved TV moms, Carol Brady.

FLORENCE HENDERSON AS CAROL BRADY: Good luck on your debate today, Jan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Do I look okay, mom?

HENDERSON: Oh, sweetheart, you look lovely. Don't be nervous about a thing.

SANCHEZ: Starring as the matriarch of a blended family, her career would forever be defined by her character on the 1970 sitcom "The Brady Bunch."

HENDERSON: I created the kind of mother that I wished I had and I think that everyone longs for.

SANCHEZ: Taking on the role was something Henderson embraced.

HENDERSON: I get so much fan mail from all over the world. And everybody was a hug from me.


HENDERSON: And I hug everybody.

SANCHEZ: And in the decades following the show, Henderson never shied away from the limelight, returning to her iconic Carol Brady for multiple spinoffs of "The Brady Bunch".